Christmas, Germany, holidays, staying home, Wiesbaden

Christmas victuals…

After we opened our presents and cleaned up all the pretty paper and bows, Bill got to work on making dinner. He had plans to sous vide a couple of Cornish hens stuffed with wild rice and clementine dressing, using the Anova Precision Cooker I got for him a few years ago. Accompanying our hens would be mashed potatoes, peas, and homemade cloverleaf rolls. For dessert, we had the trifle Bill prepared on Friday. Of course, there would also be plenty of wine, music, and canine company.

The sous vide process took about four hours, and involved sealing the chickens in special bags, which Bill found under the tree yesterday, along with a handy stand for the precision cooker when he’s not using it. After four hours at 150 degrees, Bill would put the hens in the oven to broil, so the skin might crisp.

I think I prefer the baking or broiling method of cooking Cornish game hens. But Bill only uses the precision cooker for steaks, most of the time, so he really wanted to try this method. Supposedly, it keeps the meat from getting too dry.

The end result of Bill’s experiment turned out to be basically okay, except I thought my hen was a little underdone. A little more time in the oven quickly fixed that issue, and I’m perfectly well today, so I obviously didn’t get sick from eating underdone chicken. I do think the chicken stayed moist and flavorful, but the glaze Bill used got a little too brown. I guess I’m a purist when it comes to these things. We also enjoyed a couple of nice Italian wines we purchased through Sommelier’s Choice, an Italian purveyor. A representative is in the wine group I run.

I think my favorite part of the meal were the rolls, which were perfect. I’m proud to report that I taught Bill how to make rolls. When we met, he could cook only a few things. Now, he’s become a real chef. Or, at least in our house, he’s a chef. I seem to have retired from cooking. I used to be pretty good at it, back in the day. I also loved the dessert, although I didn’t come close to finishing it! We have leftovers.

We used the good china and silverware, which we probably ought to break out more often. We also lit candles and a fire, which made the living room look cozy. However, curiously, I neglected to wash the tablecloth. It got a good cleaning this morning.

I got Bill a fondue and raclette grill for Christmas. I did hesitate on that, since I don’t eat a lot of cheese. I do like very specific kinds of cheeses– they have to be mild and melted (it’s a texture issue). If you go to Switzerland for raclette, the whole restaurant smells like ass. I do enjoy fondue, though, and would probably love raclette made with cheese that smells less like ass or a barnyard. Maybe we’ll have a chance to try it today.

I bought Bill a fondue cookbook, as well as a really beautiful cookbook with Alpine recipes, featuring Austrian, Swiss, French, and Italian favorites. Actually, I went a bit nuts on cookbooks, just like I always do. There were SIX of them under the tree! I just couldn’t just pick one or two. I buy them, but we don’t use them very often. I just like to have them around. Some of them are genuinely fascinating. For instance, a few years ago, I bought Bill a copy of The Flavor Bible. He loves it, because it offers a scientific look at cooking. Anyway, now we’re going to need another bookshelf.

I would count this year’s Christmas as one of the better ones. Bill got to talk to his daughter on Skype, and he got to see his cute grandchildren… especially his granddaughter, who is apparently quite a ham. And his daughter is expecting another baby in 2022. Bill told me that when he was talking to her, it felt like everything in the world was alright. That’s a wonderful way to feel, especially in these troubled Corona times.

Below are some pictures from our Christmas dinner…

I hope you all had a nice holiday meal! I look forward to 2022… and some exciting new travels.

Germany, staying home

How we spent our Sunday… Bill plays with his new toys!

A few months ago, Bill told me that for Christmas, he wanted an Anova Precision Cooker.  He’d seen it advertised on Facebook and thought it looked “cool”.  A friend of mine in California bought one and was raving about it, so I ordered one.  I hoped it would arrive in time for Christmas, but it only got to us a couple of weeks ago.  Anova Culinary won’t ship to APO and I didn’t want to have it sent to my German address because I feared the duties I’d end up paying.  And then, it appeared that they had a backlog of orders, so although I ordered it in November, it didn’t get to my mother in law until December 23.  She sent it to our APO box, but I guess it got put on the slow boat.

We bought the version that is 220 volts because we may be in Germany for awhile.  You can also get a 110 volt version.  I believe there are a few accessories one can buy for this gadget, too.

Anyway, Bill decided he wanted to try his new toy yesterday, so he bought a duck breast and used the Anova Precision Cooker to prepare it.  I made a video of the experience, which some readers might find interesting.  The duck breast turned out great, although the process of cooking it took a few hours.  I think it’s cool that this gadget runs off your phone or an iPad.  Check it out!

You can use this thing to cook all kinds of meats…  Bill is having fun learning how this new (for him) way of cooking.


Besides cooking duck breast, Bill also brewed his first batch of beer since we moved back to Germany in 2014.  When we lived here the first time, from 2007-09, we were under the impression that homebrewing was illegal.  But then from 2009-11, we lived in Fayetteville, Georgia for about 18 months, and Bill got hooked up with a great homebrewing guru who had a store.  He learned the basics of brewing there and then continued his hobby until we moved back to Germany.  Because he thought homebrewing was still illegal, he left his equipment in the States.  He has since purchased new equipment from Austin Homebrew Supply.  Although shipping costs were a bitch, the stuff made it to our APO box with no problem.

So I made another video of Bill as he brews beer.  It’s about fifteen minutes, but it covers the first steps in making beer.  I’ll make another video in a week when the brew has had some time to ferment and we move to the second step.

Bill makes beer!

I should mention that I filmed all of this on a new camera I bought last week.  My filmmaking skills are still developing, but I think Bill did a good job!