Traveling this time of the year has been interesting, to say the least. We stayed close to home due to the snow, rain, and medical reasons. But we certainly were busy entertaining friends, baking gluten-free treats, and exploring our neighborhood.
One episode we encountered was a surprise visit to the hospital. Lutz needed a vein in his leg repaired that was causing some circulation issues. Since he is so tall, 2 meters, circulating his blood from top to bottom can be challenging. Plus, they slid us in before our flight to the USA. All is well, and we are up and running.
One of the Christmas Markets we always enjoy visiting at this time of year is Gengenbach, Germany. It has the largest advent calendar in the world!
Plus, the entire town comes together to entertain the young and the old!
One of my favorite guests and her daughter visited during the snowfall. I have known Marilou for twenty-two years and her daughter, Alyiah, for seventeen years. They are as dear to me as my daughter and grandchildren, and I was so excited to show them both our little town and the opening of Wolfach’s Christmas Market.
Of course, we took the plunge into our Jacuzzi as the snow fell!
Their visit made this Christmas special since my daughter was in the USA celebrating.
I was introduced to a Christmas Bread from the Black Forest area, Spitzweck Brot, this Christmas. It is a lightly sweetened bread and comes in different sizes.
It’s not gluten-free, or I would have eaten the entire loaf. But I did have a taster!
One of the best Christmas gifts this year was from Philipp, Lutz’s son, and his family. They slid in a pre-Christmas visit with the boys, and we shared gift-giving with their family and Doris and Dieter, Lutz’s sister and husband. Seeing them with such a busy schedule meant a lot to Lutz and me. Of course, I went into cooking mode! Rouladens were prepared in advance and heated up for a special pre-Christmas meal.
Lutz has been recovering from COVID and what we believe to be the RSV since he’s been coughing for over three weeks and not having much energy. He even spent a few days in bed, which was surprising. But we did manage to keep up our walking and exercising most days. We walked to the mountain behind us and checked out the new kindergarten built in the wilderness.
Can you imagine growing your veggies for lunch or hiking at recess? Check out this view! I would have had a ball teaching in this little schoolhouse on the top of the hill.
We have been so busy that we haven’t had a date night in months—just the two of us. So we went to our favorite restaurant in town, The Hecht.
Lutz had a secret motive for going out to eat. I do not cook liver. It is one meal I have never enjoyed, and you can ask my mom. When I was twelve years old, we moved from Manhattan Beach to Del Mar, and behind the refrigerator, she discovered wads of napkins filled with dried liver! Since I rarely cook meat, I ordered mustard-crusted steak! Still, I wouldn’t say I like the smell or texture of liver to this day, but this is Lutz’s favorite meal.
After contacting family, friends, and relatives, Lutz finally found his mother’s chocolate Christmas cookie recipe.
He did a marvelous job, and even though they were not gluten-free, they were amazing. Yes, I had to check one out…ok maybe two.
We walked to the top of the mountain behind the old train station, which is now a Music School. This photo was snapped earlier in the week when there was snow.
All the snow had melted this day, and the deer were out jumping around. They were sure happy to see us and came running expecting a Christmas treat. We are fortunate to have such a great view of these beautiful animals. You can see our home in the background.
At the top of the hill is a little monument placed in 1888 that highlights the views and draws hikers to the area. Lutz’s father and grandfather repainted the gold ball in 1966. It’s a pretty scary bridge. The drop is quite a distance.
The views and hiking area of Wolfach are spectacular, and I love how they place benches for meditation, sleeping, or surveying the sites.
The town of Wolfach performed a music concert in the street during this holiday, which we walked to town to enjoy. Everyone was out and about.
On the way home, I captured some pictures of our little town!
The city goes all out for this time of the year.
Lutz has discovered salt saunas to loosen his cough. I joined him one day. For an hour, we cleaned out our lungs and meditated! Yes, it was chilly.
One of our journeys this month was pretty scary as we downed our gear and explored the depths of a local mining company that Lutz’s father and grandfather had managed years ago. They have been mining silver and BaSO4 (barium sulfate) for over one hundred years. So glad Doris came with us. Safety in numbers, right?
I’m not a fan of closed-in places, so this was a real step of faith. I had seriously reconsidered when we were handed gas masks and oxygen tanks.
I was asked if I had problems with closed quarters. Before I could respond, we were ushered to one of the work vans and headed toward the tunnel entrance of no return that took us to the center of the earth…ok, almost.
This was our first stop. It wasn’t comforting at all. A short prayer to Saint Barbara, the mining saint, was in order.
There were so many twists and turns and tons of tunnels. A guy could get lost in here and never find their way out!
We drove about 10 K, circling to 125 meters below sea level. The red lettering indicates sea level! It felt like the center of the earth to me.
It was so dark and damp. I was surprised to see many employees working alone in dark tunnels that sprang off the main road. What’s up with that? I thought the buddy system was mandatory. I would be scared to death to be alone down here.
The cool thing I learned is that for every tunnel they dug out, they refilled it with dirt and rocks from a new tunnel. So there was no waste. I can imagine years from now, aliens discovering these crazy ant hills and thinking, “what on earth were these people doing here.”
Surviving the journey to the center of the earth (ok, sort of) gave me a new appreciation for air and seeing the sky. I couldn’t imagine working in the dark all day long. When I asked our tour guide what the turnover is like, he said, “rarely do these guys leave; they love their jobs.” They are like Big boys playing with big toys.
Well, I love my job too, so I immediately when home and started cooking! Since it was just Lutz and me for Christmas Eve, I served up a delicious traditional Mexican meal of Barria and Polenta.
And for our Christmas meal, a traditional German meal of duck and all the fixings! I have never cooked duck and only tried it in an Asian restaurant. Germans tend to have schnitzel, goose, or duck at this time of the year, so I gave it my best shot. I will tell the truth here. I bought it in the gourmet section of Aldi. Boned and ready in 30 minutes! It was delicious, and I will definitely be buying more.
Thanks for following me to the center of the earth and around Wolfach this month. I hope your holiday was filled with someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. I’m sure we all have the new year to look forward to. Happy New Year, and I hope you are all well and at peace. We spent New Year with friends by the fire and in our Jacuzzi watching the fireworks!
This New Year’s Eve, we plan to serve appetizers and soup while sitting in the Jacuzzi and watching all the fireworks. I’ll post pictures next month of all the luscious bites! But I wanted to share this soup recipe with you so you could make it part of your Season this year. Make this Dairy-Free Seafood Soup and keep it warm in your crockpot.
Helping Children Set Realistic Goals for Meeting their Resolutions! This resource is for adults to help children set new resolutions. Check this out for the New Year! It’s a great start for assisting kids to be more community-minded and spreading kindness.