Easy Rhubarb Tarts

Rabarber_Toertchen_2804If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it… exactly 11 times, (since I started writing the recipe post for Coop@home over at www.LivinginLuzern.info) their recipe section is easy to make! These easy rhubarb tarts are no exception. To start, find the list of ingredients here, and the recipe here. Im not even jokin y’all – I made these twice in twenty four hours- they’re that good!


Confession: This southern girl had never cooked with rhubarb. It’s just one of those exotic yankee ingredients that grows up north in cold weather.  I can whip up a batch of okra blindfolded, but I had no idea what to do with a raw stalk of rhubarb… until today! 


chopped rhubarb

I weighed out my Rhubarb so that I could follow the recipe with exactness, but you don’t have to. You can use 2-3 stalks of rhubarb. Chop it up a little and put it in a small saucepan with the water and syrup. Let it cook till softened. Meanwhile make the tart shells be cutting out circles in the prepared dough and fitting them to your muffin tin, small bite-sized ones are really cute but I prefer the normal sized ones that hold more filling.

dough

Make sure to poke holes in the bottom of the crust so that the pie shells don’t bubble up. You can also purchase pre-baked pastry shells at Coop (if you live in Switzerland) so I am sure you can find this stuff locally anywhere in an English speaking country.

pastry shells

Once the filling is cooked till soft, strain it through a sieve, extracting the syrup and leaving the warm soft rhubarb to fill the pastry cups.

strain rhubarb

Finally, reduce the left-over syrup by boiling it for some minutes until you have about 2 1/2 tablespoons left. Whip cream and add the syrup for a light tangy pink cream to top the tarts with. Don’t forget to garnish by sprinkling on the chopped pistachios, the color contrast makes them look more appetizing and beautiful.

I was impressed at how little sugar is actually added to these tarts, especially because Rhubarb can be quite sour. I think the creaminess of the whipped cream helps tame the tartness of the filling. And because they were practically “healthy” we all helped our selves to seconds! These little guys are always so helpful like that.

kids love tarts

 

Last Minute Mothers Day Gift Idea- repost

2mothers-day-all-in-one-1024x778This idea was originally posted in may 2013, not long after we moved to Switzerland. We had such fun doing this photoshoot in front of our apartment (and in front what seems like 1/2 the village). I remember thinking “if they thought we were strange before, what on earth must they think of us now?”. So I am reposting this idea because it deserves a few more views and because I LOVE it so much!

If you waited till the last minute, gather up the family and use your iPhone to take some photos, send them digitally and let the mothers in your life de-scramble the message?

Happy Mothersday!

Swiss Facilities Grounds Keeping Department

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One of my brothers who occasionally reads this blog tells me how he loves to see little insights into daily life in a small village in central Switzerland. Because we have been here two years now and it’s beginning to feel more like home, I sometimes forget how different it is to living in the United States. Today as I was walking back from a doctors appointment (difference #1), I stopped to admire the landscaping crew working effortlessly at the company located just 500 steps down the hill from my house. I often stop to greet them and practice my best swiss sounding German accent ( difference #2). I sometimes wonder if they can even hear me above all of the noise they’re making working away at the groundskeeping. 

Personally, I enjoy the sound of the tinkling bells, wouldn’t you prefer a lawn mower that sounds like a wind-chime (difference #3)? And did you notice the little temporary fencing that they used to contain the crew? It’s portable and extremely flimsy but I think that the sheep aren’t trying to escape, the fence was secured by the boss to make sure the people don’t interrupt them while they’re working.

The best part is once they’re finished working at the end of the summer they’ll probably be eaten for dinner. My friends in landscaping back home can appreciate this difference (difference #4). 

The perfect 7-day Itinerary for a week in Central Switzerland.

Last fall (I keep telling you it’s the best time to visit) my Sister-in-law and nieces came for a visit and had the best time- here is what we did!

Except for arrival day these are in no particular order because each one can be done in one day traveling to-and from Ennetbuergen. Obviously the days you visit Lauterbrunen and Hike would be enjoyed more in Sunshine weather, so try to plan accordingly.  Also a list of alternative ideas are at the bottom.

Arrival Day (Thursday):

When arriving from a long flight most people have the inclination to sleep -(I always need a nap) be careful  no to nap to long and stay up till evening if possible – this will help you re-set your clocks. If you can just walk around the village-


 ennetburgen church

  • Check out the church – yes its okay to go inside, and even take photos, just be reverent and respectful.
  • The graveyard behind the church is lovely
  • The seeplatzli park on the lake front is a must do even if you don’t have small children its lovely to sit at the benches overlooking the lake and watch the swans.
  • Stop at the only place in town to find Gelato.
  • Take a boat trip (check for schedules) from the “ship stop” in Ennetburgen just past the Gelato place and make sure to sit on the outside balconies for fresh air.
  • Take a walk up on the top of the Burgenstock (click here for suggestions).

top of burgentock viewsmap

Day 2 (Friday):

colmar

Spend a day (or a day and a night and another day) in Alsacs- Colmar and  Riquewihr, France Click here to see 40 of the last storybook towns.

Day 3 (Saturday):

engleburg

If you don’t stay in France try checking out Engelberg…… Lots to do!

Day 4 (Sunday):

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Tour Lucerne-

  • Visit the local LDS church for services in German and with English translation. Service begin at 9:00am.
  • Although Sunday isn’t a market day and the shops are closed- it can be a perfect day to walk around the city for a tour. I give a really good tour that takes about 2 hours. For walking tours in English or German meet at the train station but book in advance and check the schedule for seasonal availability. For market days you’ll have to visit before noon  on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Shops stay open a little later on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Day 5 (Monday):

meggan

Interlaken area is a must do, and the most popular tourist area in Switzerland. Lucky for us it’s only about an hour by car or 1 and a half by train. I always recommend the train because the ride takes you through beautiful mountanin scenery, that is best enjoyed on a train where you are free to walk around an take photos from the windows.

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  • My favorite place in the Bernard Oberland has to be Lauterbrunen. This picturesque valley was the inspiration for Rivendale -Tolkins magical land of the elves in the Lord of the Rings Trillogy. It’s a great place to bring a picnic and take a walk to – Trümmelbach Falls.
  • From Lauterbrunen catch a mountain train to Murren or Wengen.

swiss flag murren

Day 6 (Tuesday):

trotti bikes

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Day 7 (Wednesday):

Head to the french region- its a lot to pack into one day so get an early start!

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  • Visit the chocolate factory in Broc . We like to visit the Chocolate factory first then head to Montreux to tour the castle.
  • The Castle Chillion in Montreux-  it is beautifully situated directly on the lake. My favorite part was the dungeon! There are lots of lake front restaurants in Montreux but you’ll be on a bit of a tight schedule to fit all three of these attractions into one day so I recommend bringing a picnic an enjoying it by the castle.
  • Then head to Gruyere (one of the 40 storybook towns left in Europe). Click here to see what there is to do . I have been to the cheese factory- home to a little museum exhibit,  but the real pleasure is just to walking around this walled village soaking up the beautiful views. My children played on the ramparts of the city walls for over an hour, using their imaginations to travel back in time. Watch the sunset and have dinner under the stars.

gruyeres

Some alternative ideas:

  1. Alpamare– This is a really fun waterside park- go in any weather. Buy tickets online so you don’t have to wait in lines- plus it’s a little cheaper!
  2. Stein am Rhein– I haven’t been yet, but I want to go and it has come recommended often.
  3. Basel Zoo- Basel market is great too- make a day of it and hit both places, they aren’t far from each other and the trams in Basel are fun and easy to use.
  4. A day in the Italian Canton  of Ticino:
  • We love the beach in Ascona (its free).
  • Locarno is fun to walk the promenade.

 

 

 

 

 

Spanish Birthday Cake

DSC_0426On my Birthday “Week” I had a few of my friends (and old neighbors) come over for tea. Sonia (who is famous for her cakes) surprised me with a special cake in my favorite color! Not only was it beautifully perfect to look at but I loved it and so did the kids!!! I think it would be a good cake for brunch- especially if you skip the frosting and served it with fruit? Or just sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking- which is the traditional method,  but it really tasted better with aquamarine icing and sprinkles!

sonia and grandmother

Sonia explained that this cake recipe was passed down from her Grandmother who grew up in the Valnecia region of Spain. She said they did not have ovens in their homes so they could mix up a cake and bring it to the neighborhood bakery and pay a little money to have them bake it. Perhaps I wouldn’t be baking so many sweets if I had to take it somewhere to bake? Maybe thats why dessert used to be for a special occasion? With all my New Years fitness goals I am cutting way back on the treats but this cake is on my splurge list- in my defense, it has less than a 1/2 cup of sugar. I think the subtle cinnamon and orange flavors make it feel like perfect comfort food for the winter weather.

Sonia’s Spanish Birthday Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 50 veg oil
  • 50ml orange juice
  • 125 ml Milk
  • 200 gr flour
  • 1/5 package of baking powder
  • lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. cinammon

1. mix sugar and eggs

2. add other liquids

3. add powders and zest

4. pour into a greased 9inch cake pan

5. bake 10 min @ 200 C and 25 @175 C

 

New Years Gingerbread houses

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As a child I was enchanted by gingerbread houses. I don’t remember ever making one.
I even have a Pinterest board of beautiful candy crusted gingerbread houses that I admire.

Many years ago I swore I’d never do this with my kids again.
I decided it’s a non-kid project.
Some how I found myself unable to resist the lure of gingerbread kits at a shockingly fantastic bargin again ( thank you ikea) because it was on sale after Christmas. Of course the candy (which I also bought at IKEA) probably cost $20!

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We tried again for New Year’s Eve and I watched my son suspiciously have accident after accident that caused pieces to break, after each time he would say ” oh that’s okay, I really just want to eat it”. (He’s pretty transparent).

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Determined to have a result that reflected some representation of all my effort, I sawed pieces on to new shapes and created a cute cottage and shed.

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My daughter, on the other hand, may have provided me with the hope I need to continue this tradition forever. She picked up the tweezers and patiently placed sprinkled by sprinkle into the window box ” planting colored flowers”. I admit it, it was a proud moment for me, just imagine what she will be able to do in a few years. I like to think that it’s good practice for surgical skills. A doctor in the making.

Axel turned 10 ~ Birthday Interview

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So I should have posted this two- yes T W O months ago (I’m a little behind on this here blog) but here it is for your viewing pleasure. The following video is not as riveting as some of the more entertaining ones we post, but it’s part of a tradition that will be a treasure for the future. It may be a good idea for your family to adopt. I ask the kids the same set of questions every year and someday it will be really interesting to see how it all turns out. As Axel is now entering the stage where acting cool is important, it seems like his reaction to the camera is a little more stiff, and lets face it my narration is pretty boring too. But for the grandparents and Axels friends it will be interesting. Pop some corn and kick back to enjoy 7 minutes of documentary film making.

Gulf Coast Sunshine and Swiss Snow in Aug. – 2014

 The problem with waiting six months to post about your summer vacation is that many of the details are lost to memory. Thankfully I started a post in August, just after the first snow. I hope I haven’t left out any highlights…

AUG. 2014- “Snow on Sunday helped me come to terms with the sad fact that summer time in Switzerland is over. I mean it’s mid August after all. Back home people are complaining about the temperatures passing up 100F. I wish they’d trade places. I also realized that if I dont try and catch up on my summer I might not have lovely memories to go back and enjoy during the dark cold October winter. So I am back to work and cant wait to do some braging about the kids, the beach, and tell you about how spending nearly a month with my parents has me wanting to move next door- I couldnt be more suprised either.”

learning to sew

In the evenings or rainy days we stocked up on craft supplies and the kids spent their time doing old fashioned activities like learning to sew, making up puppet shows with their cousin, and mowing the lawn with a lawn mower. You might be thinking that lawn mowing isn’t so old fashioned but here in Switzerland there is very little space for personal landscaping. Most of that is likely done professionally and the few private lawns are often taken care of by robotic lawn mowers. They are fascinating to watch! Because we live in the land with extremely high labor cost, robotics are very popular. My children have no chance to learn to mow lawns for pocket money, unless they are at Grandpas.

puppetshow

Of Course we spent most of our time at the beach.

great view of watercolor beach

Wouldn’t you?!

burried in sand

kids everywhere

We made new friends, and played all day…

sudden downpour

even when it rained.

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We hung out at the beach with old friends,

watercolor beach

and with cousins who met who came  all the way from Arizona to see us at Grandpa’s house .

happy day

kids backs

We had fun watching the air-show and fireworks at the Destin harbor on Rhonda’s new boat- Unforgettable!

boating with rohnda

 And most importantly we visiting with family that wont be around forever.

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group shot

grandma pruitt and Wayne2

lunch with carolyn and bob

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Sophia's love list

New Year 2015

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Hello and Happy New Year. 2015 is looking good. I thought I would peek my head up and let you know that we are still alive and better than ever. Our 2 year anniversary since moving to Switzerland is sneaking up on us quickly, why just this week my husband Spartacus began the paper work to renew the annual permits. There is no end in sight, which of course is good and bad. I had 2 wonderful trips to the States the year and both times wished I was moving back, but then I returned home and felt content and happy here too. I realized ~ life is just good.  Chronologically speaking I have a lot to catch up on~ for the sake of posterity of course:

  • A few details about summer vacation.
  • Tips for finding a flat in Switzerland.
  • Moving to a new house and tips for successful moves in Switzerland.
  • Cleaning a flat and passing inspections in Switzerland.
  • The perfect Swiss Itinerary for a week in Lucerne.
  • Nates wedding~ I have a new little sister.
  • Southern California I love you.
  • Gabes 10th Birthday interview
  • Spanish Birthday Cake
  • Munich at Christmas
  • Christmas Vacation in our own back yard

Which brings us to Resolutions and starting a-new and all those wonderful things we strive for in the beginning of the New Year. Funny enough- last year I learned a lot about chilling out and watching TV at night- haha. This year I am cracking my but back into action (literally with my first Cross Fit class this morning. And man-oh-man how I am paying for that right now. Why doesn’t the pain show up on the scale with in hours, thats what I want to know! ). As usual I seem to struggle with balancing the should do’s with the want-to-do’s and the if-I-could-only-do’s against the must-do’s.

Monday I made 12 freezer meals to use on work-out mornings and German class mornings. I would post about it but there are so many people out there putting out better information. Maybe I will just accumulate the list I made and link the recipes etc. I do find that many of these freezer meals are too lacking in the crunch of  fresh veggies so often find the ones that are truly the most time saving ready-to-eat-when-you-get-home- a little boring or unhealthy, I suppose I will be paring them with a lot of salads. I hope to get that taste v/s time thing figured out too. I have a month of meal planning done and now to keep up with posting for moxiblog plus my monthly commitments to livinginluzern.com, painting, church work, and there is the whole family needing my attention occasionally. I don’t know how other woman manage full time jobs too? And just in case anyone else is reading this, I want you to know that this last paragraph was mostly just for me to remind me, once-again, to work on balance and priorities. I am totally aware that everyone has busy lives and I so much admire others for all the hard work and good they do in the world.