See, You Know Plenty of German

German restaurants can be fun. German food can be tasty.  Although we’ve not made it to the European continent, we have sampled “authentic” German food at restaurants in several cities here in the U.S.A.

A musician with an accordion serenaded us when friends treated us to a farewell dinner in the Twin Cities.

Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit

Bill Koncar, the cop by day & strolling accordian player by night

When we lived in Columbus, Ohio, we tried the lunch buffet as well as dinner at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus.


Juergens, where we ordered bakery treats and (not-so-great) coffee, was also in Columbus’ German Village neighborhood.


In New York City, we stumbled upon Hallo Berlin, where they had a satisfying $10 lunch special.

NYC Hallo Berlin Lunch Special

North of Philadelphia, some people think that Otto’s is a great place to eat, but we prefer to drive into the city for sausages. We enjoyed the currywurst at Reading Terminal Market, then tried lunch at Brauhaus Schmitz restaurant on South Street.

Wurst Platter: PFEFFERBEISSER and KÄSEWURST with sauerkraut and potato salad


Usually, an entree at any American restaurant is more than enough for me. Even when I think I might have room for dessert, the price tag reminds me that I have cookbooks and ingredients at home.  This past weekend, the weather cooled down a bit after a few days of 90-degree temperatures, so I baked and boiled to try a few recipies from The Best of My Grandmother’s German Cookery.

If I’d paid more attention to the boiling eggs and potatoes, the Kartoffelsalat would have had a better texture. My dash of salt could have been a bit stronger, too.

The Apfeltorte was pretty straight out of the oven, but the flavor and moistness improved after 2 days under glass.

Apple Flan Cake




Categories: Food and drink, German food, Restaurants | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Highway Fare: Lansing, IL


Road trips often include hours in which you are stuck sitting in traffic. We flew to Chicago several weeks ago and rented a car. It wasn’t necessarily suprising to us that we got stuck in traffic between O’Hare and downtown Chicago. Nevertheless, I started to look at the signs for restaurants and wondered if it wouldn’t be a good idea to get off, find something to eat, and wait for some of the traffic to clear. When you aren’t from the area, finding a neighborhood where you will feel safe stopping can be tricky, though.  We didn’t end up stopping in Chicago.

Our travel was booked through Priceline. We got a good deal but, as they say, you get what you pay for. The neighborhood architecture was far from charming: it looked like the building across the street was a recently-closed Kmart. Our Red Roof Inn did not offer anything more than coffee for breakfast, but IHOP was right next door.

We stayed for a few days, so we tried a couple of  non-chain restaurants.  Two you might try if you find yourself near Lansing, IL:

Round the Clock Restaurant:

“Lunch”  includes everything (soup or salad + rolls + entree + choice of side + dessert), and they are in generous portion sizes. I chose the gyro with sweet potato fries + salad. When the waitress came to tell us that dessert was also included, I had her box up a piece of cheesecake.

Saturday’s special was 4 for $4. We each knew, just looking at the menu, that 1 thing from each of the 4 categories was going to add up to too much, but economically it made sense to order the special rather than a regular entree or a la carte.

Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop:

I especially liked the decor. They have different-styled seating areas to suit your purpose. It was nice to have cajun food as an option.





Categories: Breakfast, Dessert, Desserts, Food and drink, Restaurants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Appetzier Assignments

It has been a season of invitations for us. We had thought about having people over for a feast of sorts, but we were included on someone else’s gues list before we could put together our own.

Thankfully, we just had to show up for the office party this year. The restaurant took care of decorations, ambiance, and all of the food: from beverages to rolls and salads to sides, entrees, and most important of all: dessert. Bella Tori at the Mansion had a good variety of miniature desserts that not only looked festive but had good flavors and textures as well.

The next Wednesday, just the ladies went out for a lunch break before Christmas vacation. We’re starting a tradition of lunch at Mandarin Garden. We all pay for our own entree, and the restaurant has been generous in bringing out a mountain of scoops of ice cream “on the house”. When we’ve cleared away the empty dishes, we exchange gifts, then hurry back to the office.

Our mid-week home group of people from church decided to have a Christmas party complete with a white elephant gift exhange. Instead of pitching in toward the cost of our usual meal of salad and pizza, each family was to bring an appetizer to share. Unfortunately, Joel wasn’t feeling well, so we missed out on the fun.

Saturday evening was the next thing on our calendar: 7 p.m. bring a food item to share. Hmmm. Rather than risk appearing a Scrooge, I brought a “vegetable”, protein, and dessert. Aldi made two of the items quite easy: they sell a trio of fancy meats already fanned out on a clear plastic tray, and they have a box of 12 fancy macaroons in their frozen foods section. The only work I had to do was to stir together some spinach dip. I was somewhat suprised that people liked it so much, considering that mayonnaise and cream cheese aren’t at the top of this “healthful-minded” generation’s list of ingredients. A good time was had by all, and the evening sped by in conversation rather than any parlour games.

Sunday we gathered at church as we would any weekend. After the service, we stopped at home to get a few things our refrigerator before driving on to our host’s house. Since I hadn’t fiddled around much with holiday treats this season I had decided to put a little bit of effort into presentation for my appetizer.  A basket of red seedless grapes with some sliced havarti was the easy part. The stuffed dates and figs were a little more fussy to prepare.

Spinach Dip

I was winging it on the spinach dip, so I’m going to give you a list of ingredients that I may or may not have used in the quantities listed. You’ll  have to whip up your own batch to taste. Serve with very thin tortilla chips or baby carrots.

Fresh baby spinach, finely sliced and sautéed in 2 T unsalted butter
A bit of onion, finely chopped
½ t paprika
4 oz cream cheese
¾ c half & half
½ c mayonnaise
½ c sour cream
8 oz water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
½ t salt
¼ t black pepper


Categories: employment, Food and drink, Restaurants, work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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