Sunday, September 24, 2006

yes, my little dumplings, I am still alive and cooking

(Can't sleep, may as well blog)

Soo... just in case you've been wondering where I've been hiding, after talking like a pirate all day Tuesday, I spent Wednesday and Thursday coming down with a wonderful head cold that kept threatening to turn into something worse. But by Friday the sniffles were forgotten when I met up with part-time expat Ginnie in Hannover. We spent the day talking (as usual), exploring a new cafe and restaurant and taking care of various errands - some important and some just for fun. I enjoyed playing simultaneous interpreter and I think we managed to confuse quite a few people, which is always interesting. Ginnie helped me get through the day by lending me some of her boundless energy and enthusiasm for life and I didn't crash until I got home and realized how tired I was.

Not to tired to venture out to IKEA yesterday, though! Ever notice how all IKEAs seem to be about a million miles away from where you live? That's going to change soon, because come mid-October we're getting a brand spanking new store about a 20 minute drive away. This is a Good Thing since it looks like I'll be getting a new kitchen in the next couple of months, and we wanted to see what the Swedish guys had to offer. I wasn't all that enthused with what I saw, but we're still in the planning stages. Once we got going checking out all the stuff, there was no stopping us. Not even an announcement that Pippi Longstocking was visiting the store Saturday and Saturday only could tear us away from arguing about cupboard doors and stainless steel sinks.

We also resisted the world-famous 1 EUR hotdogs because I had planned something special for dinner - Zwetschgenknödel - plum dumplings. Yep, there are those plums again. Still got a million of 'em, but this recipe used up a quite a few.

Plum dumplings are really popular in southern Germany, Austria and Hungary and I grew up eating them every summer because they're one of my Austrian dad's favourite dishes.

To make the dumplings you start with a potato dough made from cooked, grated potatoes, eggs, salt and flour. Here's one recipe and there are many more about the web if you're interested.

The plum pit is replaced with a sugar cube and the plums are wrapped in the dough and placed in boiling water for about 10 minutes and then removed to drain a bit.

The cooked dumplings are then rolled in breadcrumbs that have first been browned in butter in a frying pan.

Here you can see what the dumplings look like inside when they're all done. They're delicious just as they are, but can also be served with a plum compote or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar if desired.

And they're VERY filling. We each managed about three or four at dinner and will be feasting on the leftovers for breakfast.


At September 24, 2006 4:21 a.m., Blogger Betty said...

I'm surprised to hear there are IKEAs in Germany. I was also surprised to learn that Nutella exists in Europe and is apparently better there. But I thought IKEA was a Scandivanian-American chain. I remember Jay Leno making fun of their furniture on his show. I like the store myself.

At September 24, 2006 7:53 a.m., Blogger J said...

As with just about everything you make - yum!

Glad you and Ginnie had a great time, as usual.

At September 24, 2006 8:42 a.m., Blogger jen said...

OH MY GOD, Christina, those look delish.

Betty - Ikeas were here in europe before they made it across the pond. the first warehouse opened in the 60's. And they're everywhere, even the middle east. They pronounce it differently here. I always feel so odd saying "Eee-kaya" instead of "Eye-Keya".

And I think nutella also orginated over here, in italy in the 50's.

Those hotdogs are the only way I can get spaky to even consider an outing to Ikea. He loves piling them igh with the onions and pickles.

At September 24, 2006 9:19 a.m., Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Is there anything better than a trip to IKEA? Well, maybe those dumplings. But you know what I mean. I've never once escaped an IKEA without blowing $200.

Scarier still, last week I receieved an IKEA catalog (a big one) in my mailbox. I've already circle 14 items in it with a black pen.

I might be lucky to escape with only a $200 hole in my pocket next time.


At September 24, 2006 11:21 a.m., Anonymous Kinuk said...

Ikea is addicting. We trek out to the northern suburbs of Warsaw for our fix. On public transport, no less. I am seriously addicted to the hot dogs (which cost 1 zloty here, one fourth of 1 Euro).

Btw, those plum dumplings looks v familiar! Poles don't roll theirs in breadcrumbs, though. Yum!

At September 24, 2006 2:36 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

You know, Christina, I have never been to an IKEA in my life, though I've seen one in Chicago and one of the Scandinavian countries we visited this summer--can't remember which. So glad you're tackling your kitchen as one of your goals. But those dumplings take the cake (again!). A cube of sugar in the center of each one, huh. Just don't tell Donica (diabetic). So glad you have so many ways of using up those plums! And GET WELL soon! (Do I really have that much energy?! HA!)

At September 24, 2006 6:33 p.m., Blogger Carol said...

OK, I have an idea. Could you just come to Seattle, plums in tow, and we'll bake up a storm together?! Zowie -- good stuff!!

And regarding IKEA -- we're headed there today, likely to fill 2 or 3 carts, as my baby sets up a household!!


At September 24, 2006 9:53 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Betty - IKEA is everywhere! I think Ingvar Kamprad (wouldn't that be a good name for a cat??), the guy who started it all, is one of the richest men in the world. And Nutella is all over the place too - the kids eat it instead of peanut butter.

J - You know you're welcome to come on over any time you're in the neighbourhood!

Jen - Thanks! They take a bit of time but they're really easy. I bet Mutti knows how to make 'em. Next time we got to IKEA we'll definitely be pigging out on the hotdogs.

Sal - You're so right, it's almost impossible to get out of IKEA with your wallet intact. That's why I purposely only had about EUR 40 with me since it was supposed to be an information-gathering mission. We still managed to spend almost all of that and got two pillows, 12 plastic bowls, some candy and some Swedish mustard. If I'd had enough left over for the giant fuzzy killer whale I would have bought that too.

kinuk - Thanks for visiting and hooray for the 1 zloty hotdogs! What a deal. When we still had the DM here some naughty people used to use a 1 zloty coin instead of a DM 1 coin in the cigarette machines. Don't know if it still works with the EUR.

Ginnie - Well, the next time you're in Hannove you'll be able to visit one. They open October 18. Lots of stuff I'm sure you'd like.

The sugar in the plums is what makes it - it gets all melty and syrupy.

And yes, you DO have that much energy! You inspire me.

Carol - Maybe someday - who knows? :-) I bet your mom was familiar with these as well, huh?

Hope you got some good deals at IKEA. I love pouring through the latest catalogue.

At September 24, 2006 10:06 p.m., Blogger hexe said...

Yum! Those look good!

At September 25, 2006 1:52 a.m., Blogger Cathy said...

I am jealous jealous jealous...meeting fellow bloggers and going to ikea and eating those scrumptous dumplings!

Take care!

At September 25, 2006 6:10 a.m., Blogger Expat Traveler said...

oh wow - yeah for the energy Ginnie gave you! I can't wait to feel that when she arrives here...

and your cooking, wow that looks good. A new kitchen is nice especially being the awesome cook you are. ;-)

At September 25, 2006 8:02 a.m., Blogger Karen said...

Those look scrumptious - thanks for posting the instructions. I had some in a "Wirtshaus" not long ago and they really are absolutely delicious!

At September 25, 2006 5:59 p.m., Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

Oh.My.Goodness! Those looks absolutelz yummy! Is it some kind of niedersächsisches dish? Because I've never heard of sweet Knödl before...Might try it out one of the day...

At September 25, 2006 7:53 p.m., Blogger melusina said...

I love IKEA. Adore it. But last time we went to ours, they didn't have their lovely pizza pans they used to have that I need to replace. Grrr.

We have to find kitchens too, for our house. I like the IKEA stuff ok, but the prices confuse me. We will probably look at Neoset too. On the other hand, we passed a Miele store with lots of *really* nice kitchens. My husband offered a compromise - we can have Miele appliances, with an IKEA or Neoset kitchen. Ah well, you can't win them all.

Yummy looking dumpling. I'm hungry now.

At September 26, 2006 12:07 a.m., Blogger Dixie said...

Mmmmm...dumplings. They look great.

Ginnie can wear you flat out, can't she? And you have the best time while she's doing it. She and I were go, go, go the whole day today and wouldn't have traded it for anything.

At September 26, 2006 6:46 p.m., Blogger EuroTrippen said...

Am I the only who sees it... ikea is evil and to be avoided at all cost!!!

The dumplings look yummy... but as maggi mixes almost seem too complicated for me, I doubt I'll ever get around to trying a fresh one. Darn it.

At September 27, 2006 12:10 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Hexe - Thanks!

Cathy - The grass is always greener, eh? :-) But if you ever visit Germany again, you're always welcome.

Expat - Yep, Ginnie gives you as much energy as three cups of coffee. And yes, I will be SO happy to get a new kitchen since the one we have is 18 yrs old now!

Karen - There's something about the dough and the tart taste of the plums that really go together, isn't there?

Elemm- No, it's not common to Lower Saxony at all - they don't traditionally eat any kind of dumplings up here. I think it's probably originally an Austrian/Hungarian/Polish thing that moved over to southern Germany. Tastes really good with apricots or Marillen too.

Melusina - Man, I was eyeing those pizza pans wondering if they were any good. Maybe next time. A Miele kitchen would totally blow the bank for us, I think. We don't need new appliances, just the cabinets so we're still looking around to see what's available.

Dixie - You should try 'em out - really easy. And I always have the best time with Ginnie. Glad you did too. :-)

Eurotrippen - I'll probably be cursing them when the time comes to put together the kitchen. The dumplings are almost as easy as making mashed potatoes. Almost being the key word. ;-)

At September 27, 2006 10:13 p.m., Blogger Tim Rice said...

Yum! Those dumplings sound and look good. It's making me hungry. :)

At September 30, 2006 11:03 a.m., Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

wow, the plum dumplings look delicious! yum!

we also just got a new IKEA near us here (ancona, Italy), and we're really excited about it. Plan to go next week (well, I plan to go...hopefully I can convince my husband to come along!)



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