In Case You’re Playing Along at Home

Here’s the recipe for the cake.

Wedding Cake with Mixed Berries, Cream Cheese Frosting, and Lemon Curd

Buttermilk Pound Cake
• 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3 cups granulated sugar
• 6 eggs, separated
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 ¼ cups buttermilk
• ½ cup 1 or 2% milk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut two circles of parchment paper to fit the bottom of each cake pan. Line each pan with one of the circles (be sure it lies flat), then grease and flour the sides of the pans.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light; add the egg yolks and vanilla, and mix until well incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Mix the buttermilk and milk together, Add half of the milk mixture into the butter and mix on low speed until barely incorporated, then add half of the dry ingredients. Alternate wet and dry, again being careful not to overmix.
Whip egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold the whites into the cake batter and distribute the batter into the prepared pans. The pans should be half-full. Bake the cakes 35 to 50 minutes, until the center of the cake springs back when touched our a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool on wire racks and wrap in plastic until ready to use (up to 2 days) or freeze up to 3 weeks. Wash and prepare pans again and repeat entire recipe to make the second layer for each tier.

(Note: each recipe is enough for one small, one medium, and one large round cake pan. Additional note: ye gods, don’t make both recipes of this – you’ll be eating cake for weeks. A single recipe of the batter can be baked in one 13×9 sheet pan and cut in half using a serrated knife once the cake is cool. This will leave some leftover batter – maybe for cupcakes? Do use the parchment paper in the rectangular pan so that it’s easy to get out of the pan, and by all means go crazy with the round pans if you’re feeling fancy!)

Lemon Curd Filling
Makes 6 cups
• 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
• 7 eggs
• 9 lemons, juiced
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
Using an electric mixer, whisk sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes; add lemon juice and whisk until blended.
Pour the lemon mixture into the top of a double boiler. Using a wire whisk, stir constantly over simmering water until very thick, 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let the curd cool to room temperature and refrigerate until needed, up to 4 days.

Cream Cheese Frosting
This cream cheese frosting is best made 30 minutes before frosting the cake. Two batches are needed to frost all of the layers. After making each batch, refrigerate it for 15 to 20 minutes before using.
Per Batch:
• 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 7 cups sifted powdered sugar

Notes: Use the lemon curd as a filling along with mixed berries (especially raspberries.) Continuously dip your spatula in hot water while frosting the cake. In one iteration we used way less butter in the lemon curd. This makes it less firm when it’s cold, so make sure that it is eaten quickly!

Administrative Details and a One-Woman Cake

Due to some amount of confusion over which German ‘the German’ is, and in recognition of the lengths to which my new husband has gone to change his name (researched opening a new Facebook account, Googled Rosenbaum+family+crest before remembering we’re not Scottish, notified both his company’s HR department and his parents,) ‘the German’ will henceforth be known as Herr Rosenbaum, or Herr R for short. Please feel free to try to say Herr R out loud.

The wee one’s name has not yet been established, but its hearing is apparently working already, so it will continue to be known as Smidgen (rather than ‘the leech’ or ‘little pukemaker’) while Herr R and I continue to decide between Hans and Franz or Anna and… Anna.

I’ll be making a cake this weekend in celebration of the new Herr R, a sour cream cake with lemon filling and cream cheese icing. It is the same cake that we had at my first wedding. This is a nod to the way our past informs our future, a measure of the fondness that I have for those present at that wedding, and a damned good excuse to eat a really delicious cake.
I haven’t been lonesome here in Hamburg, and it was our choice that the only guest present at Friday’s wedding was our interpreter, so don’t feel too sorry for me when I say that I wish my sister was here to make the cake with me. I love you, Nanner.
Funny that I’m OK with getting married by myself, but when it comes to the cooking part of the celebration I want my people around.

Lunch for One

People try to overfill my plate, explaining to me that I’m eating for two. Tiny-Rubble weighs something in the neighborhood of 5 ounces now, and I weigh 2,720 ounces, so although T-Rubble has nutritional needs that I would do well to take seriously, I am not eating for two. I am eating for one and one five hundred and forty-fourth. Let’s call it one and a smidgen. I would prefer to be eating with a larger army, though, because it might make my dream lunch a possibility. Here’s what sounds best for lunch today:
• The crispy edges of almost-burned cheddar from a grilled cheese sandwich
• Two spoonfuls of Greek Gods honey yogurt
• Five pomegranate seeds
• One big bite of a picadillo empanada (the kind with raisins in the meat)
• A little bit of roasted sweet potato
• One small dulce de leche cookie
• Half of a crispy Empire apple with a little peanut butter smeared on it
• A large floret of lightly steamed broccoli
• A handful of cherry tomatoes
• Half of a deviled egg
• A bite or two of a cold meatloaf sandwich with mayo on sourdough
• and some cottage cheese.

The above list is included for informational purposes only, because it’s not like I’m making meatloaf so that I can have one bite of a sandwich (and no man can eat only half of a deviled egg.) Here’s what’s coming Smidgen’s way instead:

• A few microwaved frozen shrimp shumai dumplings
• A nectarine
• A slice of baguette with almond butter
• A glass of milk

It tastes pretty good, it’s reasonably healthy, and it doesn’t leave me with a tornadoed kitchen and twenty pounds of oddments crammed into the fridge. My goal for this week: a balanced, diverse diet with no leftovers. Herr Rosenbaum has requested salade Niçoise for dinner tonight, so I will have the satisfaction of steaming 10 green beans, using the one-egg setting on the egg cooker*, ordering three anchovy filets from the fishmonger, etc. I’m looking forward to it.

*If you regularly eat boiled eggs (or want to) and you don’t have one of these, let me know and I will happily send you one! I thought that RonCo had captured the market on single-purpose kitchen tools and that I lived above that kind of storage-intense organizational nightmare, but I was totally wrong. The electric egg cookers in Germany are brilliant: they’re no bigger than an egg carton, they have a water measure with specific markings for hard/medium/soft and various numbers of eggs (one through six,) they last forever and they work alarmingly well. Just add the right amount of water to the bottom, put your eggs in, and plug it in. It heats the water, steaming the eggs, until the water is all evaporated. This sets off a buzzer, letting you know that your eggs are done. It takes about five minutes for two eggs, the shells never crack prematurely, there’s no clean-up, and it’s very easy to make yolks exactly done to your liking. Neato.
Also in this category: a very, very sharp, heavy-duty breadknife. I thought that it was superfluous to my contentment, but it’s not.

The geniuses at Wal-Mart carry an electric egg cooker highlighting a feature of egg cooking I would not have chosen to highlight. In case you don’t want to go soil your mouse by clicking a link straight to the headquarters of child labor law violations and systemic gender-based wage discrimination, here’s the web page (emphasis added):

Hmm… I was trying to decide between the E-Z Kleen model and the No-Lead-Coatings-Guaranteed model, but this one seems so appealing…

Update: our egg boiler is a Siemens model. It is so sturdy it is like a joke.

Great Weekend

Why was the weekend great? Not because there were zero (0) pregnancy-friendly cheeses on the cheese cart at the fancy restaurant, not because I mistakenly gave Tobias a mean ‘I can smell your feet’ look when the cheese cart was rolled out, but because the food and the company were so good that I wasn’t even bratty about not getting any cheese.
Also, I saw a real live…sorry, no, a real dead badger! In the wild! On the side of the road! Hands down (no offense to that eagle I saw outside of Gunnison) the most amazing roadkill ever. A BADGER!


I know I’ve been diluting the theme here lately, what with my political rants and pregnancy announcements, so let’s go whole hog and play:
It’s Summertime! Who’s the Hottest?
Part word game, part juvenile man-baiting, to play this game simply watch the video, then choose from the options below.
Here’s Mungo Jerry’s 1970 hit In the Summertime. Now, who’s the hottest?
a.) the guy blowing into a huge bottle. His breath is fogging it up in there!
b.) the lead singer, Ray Dorset. Mutton chops like that should be illegal from May-August.
c.) the legitimately attractive keyboardist.
d.) the B-side of the original record, which features a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Dust Pneumonia Blues”.

But is it Brand Spanking New?

Welcome to Gooseberry Season, population: few. Gooseberries are ripe in late summer, so by the time you’ve turned to them you’ve already gorged on tomatoes and peaches, juicy nectarines and sweet dark cherries. You’re sick of strawberries, bored with the selection of green and gold and black plums, and want something different. In German the word is Stachelbeere, the Sting Berry, which sounds perfect. The berry itself is pleasantly daunting, with funny stripes and a tail at both ends. Raw, it is tart and complex. It tastes like it is very good for you.

The most common recipe on the internet for gooseberries is the Gooseberry Fool: berries boiled with absurd amounts of sugar, then folded into whipped cream.

So, that’s gooseberries. Turns out they’re kind of like the mean kid in junior high: interesting at first, but pretty boring once you get to know them.

Countdown to first meal in France: 83 hours.
Countdown to first meal in a 2-étoiles restaurant: 100 hours. I’ve been watching an absurd number of online videos about the chef and the restaurant (that absurd number is 6. It’s absurd because I have no idea what’s going on in them – I don’t speak French.) Here’s what the French media had to say about the restaurant when it received its second star:
Après l’obtention en avril 2009 d’une deuxième étoile au guide référence en matière de gastronomie, l’hostellerie le Castellas méritait bien une nouvelle toilette.
And here’s how that translates into English:
Close the achievement in April 2009 of a second star to guide standard for cuisine, the inn Castellas deserved a new toilet.

Obviously, I can’t wait, even if the toilet won’t be quite so new by the time we get there.

Great News!

Chris and Nanner,
Excellent news – the homemade ricotta was not only delicious, but also dead easy. From pouring milk in a pan to eating crepes with berries and ricotta was a mere 90 minutes, and most of that time was spent waiting! It’s so good that Tobias is thinking about changing his name to Rosenbaum. Seriously.
We’re having the rest of it with pepper and olive oil on toasted french bread in hopes that it will be something like the ricotta dip I had with you, Chris.
Hope you try it!
p.s. I made it with 3 cups whole milk and 1 cup cream. Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised that it tasted dreamy.


One of the things that I love about Hamburg is that the central shopping district is, well, central. The big department stores, high-end fashion boutiques, and sporting goods stores make up the main drag, and there are zillions of little specialty shops filtered in and around them. The whole mess is steps from the main train station, and the serious historical government buildings are right there, too. This means that I don’t have to go to strip-mall suburbia to find running shoes, and it also means that the German and I can shop, if not together, in fairly close proximity. Let’s play…
Impulse Buy
In the following list of items purchased by the Eifert/Rosenbaum household today, try to decide which items were purchased by the author, and which by the German.
• Calfskin boat shoes as a birthday present for a parent
• Smoked Chinese-style ham (I hope, even though it was labeled ‘Vietnamese pork roll’)
• 1.5 kilos of beautifully fresh young ginger
• A really slick-looking pair of dark blue loafers with white soles
• Dumpling wrappers

If you guessed that I forwent fancy shoe shopping to go to the Asian grocery, you’re right! I love the workout that my German/English/Spanish/American Sign Language skills get in the Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Vietnamese/Taiwanese store, and after buying one maternity shirt and one pair of maternity jeans yesterday, I’m done with clothes shopping basically forever (I can just wear a poncho when my one outfit is in the wash, right?)

If you’re thinking that our comparative shopping preferences are a window into the transitory nature of my ‘home’ making, with my preference for goods that are literally consumable, versus the German’s long-term committment to life in the Fatherland evidenced by his choice for more durable goods, let me remind you that I, too, own blue shoes. So there.

Now I’m off to find some super-fresh milk for tomorrow’s ricotta project, along with chicken backs, shrimp, and ground pork for soup dumplings. All that says about me is that I’m hungry, and that I like to cook. I also seem to remember that the recipe for soup dumplings makes a quantity that will last almost as long as a pair of shoes.

epilogue: just got back from the grocery, and got chicken wings, legs, and a whole fryer instead of the chicken backs, and a combination of fresh side and pork neck instead of the ground pork. Don’t get me started on what I’ll be substituting for the ricotta’s cheesecloth. My redemption at the grocery came when a nice woman asked me, in German, the difference between hefe and backpulver. I smoothly replied that backpulver is backpulver, and hefe takes time and with beer. Then we switched to Spanish and, relieved, I launched into a lengthy explanation about the hefe eating sugar and burping out bread bubbles. She thanked me and chose the “white powder to make it bigger fast.” After being thwarted in the meat section, it was really nice to be able to straighten out that confusion in the baking aisle.

That Is One Tan Arm

Because I am relatively far removed from day-to-day, in-person interaction with most of my nearest and dearest, my loved ones often wonder if I am showing yet. Well, kind of…

Let’s play:
Name That Picture!
Review the caption choices below, then decide which of the following best describes the gestational state in the picture.

a.) Someone who couldn’t decide between the peach and the blackberry cobbler at the Salt Lick.

b.) Skinny puppy with a bad case of worms.

c.) Clearly pregnant, because what else could explain that glowing* skin?

*glowing white, that is.

*glowing white, that is.

In other news, the German and I are getting married next Friday! And we’re going on a quickie honey/babymoon next weekend to an area of France that is famous for its wine and cheese production. Odd, no? Last time I was there I ate tons of oysters, the rarest of foie gras, and a really astonishing selection of unpasteurized cheeses, and I washed it all down with lunchtime bottles of wine and multiple espressos. This time, I have scheduled a visit with my new OB before the trip so that I can ask, with all the naivete that I can muster, if avoiding soft cheeses while pregnant is really more of a First Trimester Concern, and whether the baby’s need for iron outweighs any risk that a good pâté might carry. I think it’s only sensible, don’t you? I’m happy to avoid wine and caffeine, those acidic bastards, but denying all consumption of organ meats while in rural France seems a bit cruel. Look how pale that belly is! It needs the vitamins!

Estoy Relleno

You know how in women’s journal’s there’s an occasional (ha!) article about orgasm, with a question and answer section, and there’s always some question from a reader saying, “I think I had one, but I’m not sure…” and the advice-giver in the magazine says, “Oh, you’ll know. You’ll know.”?
I think that telling the difference between a growing, mid-trimester uterus and one too many last-meal-in-the-Southwest burritos will be like that. There’s something there that’s taking up space and pushing things around in there, and I think it’s Tiny, but it might just be the extra chile relleno.

Last week the German and I went rafting with my parents, uncle, and some family friends. I spent a LOT of time watching the German and my Dad delight each other. Feel free to count the units of joy in the following exchanges:

The German: I will go break down the toilet since we are packing up camp.
Dad: No, don’t worry about it. I’ll get it in a minute.
The German: But I would like to learn how.
Dad (in his head): I love you.

Dad: Let’s put our chairs in the river and sit in them and let the water run over us!
The German: We can do that?! Wow! OK!
After they set up chairs and showed us how to sit in them, they skipped rocks for an hour.

The German: I am sorry that we are leaving today. I wish we were staying.
Dad (not in his head): I’m going to wear my sunglasses so that you can’t see that I’m crying.
Mom: I’m happy.
Me: Me, too.
The German: Me, too.
Dad: Me, too.