Friday, December 21, 2012

No trip to Germany but the Glühwein still flowed...

It has become one of our lab holiday traditions to have a German inspired cake hour.  The Germans are particularly adept at Christmas and after all they did come up with the Christmas tree.  If you haven't had the opportunity, a trip to Germany in early December is a good thing. That is when all the Christmas markets start up and you can really get into the spirit.  The special Christmas cookies called Plätzchen suddenly appear and are ubiquitous, the Stollens are also everywhere and all the fine hand crafted ornaments can be found in the dozens of booths at any given market.  At any given Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market should you suddenly encounter a crowd you can pretty easily guess what it is all about.  You've come to one of the Glühwein stands.  They attract a lot of attention.  This is the hot, mulled, sweetened wine that is served to warm up the body and the soul.

The Christmas Market in Dresden is one of the oldest!
Many years ago one of our German colleagues had a Glühwein cake hour.  Although he has moved on yours truly made frequent pre-Christmas trips to Germany and usually brought back some Glühwein to continue the practice. Thus has it become one of our traditions.  This year, however, the airlines were not cooperating with the idea of a pre-Christmas trip to the land of Christmas.  Early December is considered the off-season and even a few years back you could go round trip for about $400-$500.  This year the fare never dropped below $950.00!!  As the amount of time to make the trip was limited, it became clear that it was a bit too much to pay for a five day trip.  Thanks, Lufthansa for almost killing our Christmas cake hour.  Not to fret, however, over the years I've become adept at making my Glühwein and did so to ensure our cake hour tradition endured.

Glühwein spread 2012!

You gotta have Stollen so get one at Marshall's!

If you can't make it to Germany, make it at home!

And of course some small Plätzchen like cookies! 

Christmas shapes thanks to the new cookie press!
Time to get started!

Preparing the cups!

Teaching the proper presentation!
Now you try!
Orange slice adds the final touch!

Taihen oishii....kampai!

I'll give it a try!
This is pretty damn good!
It actually is not that difficult to make.  It's basically a decent - not expensive but not rotgut  - red wine heated with cinnamon and cloves with some orange slices or orange juice.  Heat it up but don't let it boil and then turn it off and let it steep. At the end you add some rum and/or amaretto and serve hot.  You can let it cool down and rebottle it to bring it into cake hour and that is what I did.  By getting wine with a screw cap you make the travel with the Glühwein a lot easier. 
Toasting another year!
A newcomer to Glühwein! 

I left my clinical work to make sure I got here in time!
We like it to even though he looks like he has attitude!

To round off the refreshments we had someone pick up a Stollen from Marshall's of all places (you do what you gotta do) and I prepared some homemade vanilla sugar cookies; the small kind made with a cookie press as they are the most similar to what you get back in the old country.  Heat it up, serve it in a glass or cup rimmed with sugar and an orange slice and your holiday seasons is off to a great start!  We had a few neophytes join this year and they all had a grand time. How could they not. As the Germans say "Frohe Weihnacht und ein gutes neues Jahr.!"

Make your Christmas merry with a little  Glühwein!

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