On Christmas Eve Robert and I feasted on fresh raw oysters, a fresh whole baked trout with lemon and herbs, and parsley potatoes before opening gifts in the evening. Unlike in the States, Germans (along with many other European countries) celebrate Christmas on the 24th, Christmas Eve, with a big family dinner and  gift exchange in the evening.

On Christmas Day we made dukatenschnitzerl, or little fried balls of pork and fried potatoes with a lemon-thyme salt and fried parsley. This dish reminds me of the classic British fish and chips dish, but pork instead of fish. (Is there honestly anything better than fried pork??!) It´s a classic Austrian dish. We used a recipe from the Wiener Küche cookbook by Susanne Zimmel. FYI:  “Dukaten” is an old word for “coin” and the pieces of pork and potato are roughly the size of coins, which is where this dish gets its name — “little coin schnitzel.”

First, here is a list of ingredients you will need:

  • Potatoes
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh parsley
  • Lemon
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt & Pepper

To get started, boil the potatoes until they are soft, about 30 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, remove a few sprigs of thyme from the stem.

Then, get out your mortar and pestle to make the lemon-thyme salt. First, place the thyme inside and add the zest of one lemon. Crush well. Then, add salt and pepper and crush well once more. (As you can see, we also added a few dried tomatoes because we had them, but these are not required.)

While the potatoes continue to boil, cut up the pork tenderloin into bite-sized pieces. Also, set up your flour-egg-breadcrumb station (from left to right) as you can see below. At this point, the potatoes are likely soft and can be removed from the boiling water. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit and are easy to handle, peel them and cut into bite-sized pieces as well.

Pork tenderloin cut into small pieces
Flour + Eggs + Breadcrumbs
Boiled potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces

Next, put the butter and the lard (schmalz) into a big pot, which is what you will use to fry the pork, potatoes, and parsley. Allow the butter and lard to melt and then raise the temperature to 150ºC for frying. Add the potatoes to the pot with butter and lard and fry until they´re crunchy like french fries or chips.

Next, fry a few sprigs of fresh parsley in the same pot of hot butter and lard. Make sure to have a plate or bowl lined with paper towel nearby where you can deposit the potatoes, parsley, and ultimately the pork after frying so that any excess frying grease can be absorbed.

Fried Potatoes
Fried Parsley

Now, take the pork pieces and dip into the flour, then the eggs, and finally the breadcrumbs before placing into the frying pot. Be sure the butter-lard is still at 150ºC for frying. Fry the pork until golden brown in color.

Now that the potatoes, parsley, and pork has been fried you’re ready to assemble! We served our dinner in newspaper cones as if it were street food. Just load up the cone with pieces of the fried pork and fried potatoes and top with slices of lemon, the fried parsley, and the lemon-thyme salt …and bon appetit!


Early Expat Life

Almost five months ago I said goodbye to my life in Chicago and moved to Stuttgart, Germany. I’ve been thinking a lot about how my life has changed and what I’ve accomplished in the last several months. So, I thought I might share a bit of my “everyday” life here. Of course there’s been a bit of travel and lots of dining out and exploring and learning, but my life isn’t nearly as glamorous as it may look!

I’m really happy to report that I’ve completed my first 4 weeks of German language school at the Anglo-German Institute (AGI). (My classes take place at the Ulrich-Walter Schule on Calwerstraße downtown, as pictured below.) It’s hard. Really HARD. Before I moved here I talked to people in the U.S. and told them that I’d be learning German and I’d hear one of two things in response: “Oh, German’s easy!” or “Good luck. German’s a tough language.” Well, I can confirm that the latter is true for me. Perhaps it’s that I’ve never been good at learning foreign languages, or that I haven’t been in school for so many years and my brain is out of practice, or maybe German is just a tough language. My next 4-week course begins at the end of November and in the meantime I’m spending time studying and making flash cards. The upside to school is that I met some nice people in my class — Mirela from Romania, Simona from Italy, Sama from Iran, Tessa from New Zealand, and Louie from England.


Outside of school, my friend Sabine gifted me 10 weeks of beginner’s yoga just down the street (one U-Bahn stop) from my apartment at Yoga Vidya. This is my first-ever attempt at yoga and I’m loving it so far. The class is in German (not English), but I don’t mind at all. My teacher speaks English and she’s really helpful with me, and I do a lot of looking around to see what I should be doing. 🙂 It’s the highlight of my week and does a body and soul good. When we were in München a couple of weeks ago I bought a yoga mat and belt and now I’m on the lookout for good beginner yoga YouTube channels to help me at home — recommendations welcome!


I can’t talk about my life here without mentioning my favorite little store around the corner, Feinkost Panzer in Stuttgart West at Arndtstraße 38.

(In case you’re wondering, that strange looking “B” symbol loosely translates to “ss.” For example, “street” is “strasse” or “straße.” -See! I’m learning!)

Frau Panzer, the woman who owns and operates the store, is an absolute gem. I first met her over a year ago when visiting Robert last summer. She speaks English, she carries the best products, gifts, veggies, and fruit, and she makes great sandwiches and soups. I’ve always dreamed of having a “shop around the corner” and now I have this special place! She sells all types of fresh fruits and veggies, juice, milk, cheese, sliced meat, dried pasta, chocolate, cookies and sweets, gifts and specialties from this region of Germany, wine, gin, and the list goes on and on and on. It really is a special place run by a special woman. I’m so happy to have this place (and woman!) in my life.


Finally, here is a picture of the U-Bahn train, which I take to get most everywhere in Stuttgart. It’s like a breath of fresh air — clean, quiet, fast, and reliable, unlike the transit system in Chicago! Also, a photo of Robert’s Vespa (I’m still nervous and excited every time I get on!) and a picture of our street, Seyfferstraße.

Outside of all of this (school, yoga, travel, time with Robert) my life is pretty uneventful. I do a lot of laundry, a lot of cleaning, and A LOT of recycling. But, the reality is that — despite some stress and a few panic attacks — I am really happy here. It hasn’t been an easy adjustment, for sure, but my husband (so grateful for him) and the Germans (despite any negative stereotypes) have made my life joyful and meaningful. I look forward to the months and years ahead.

Marcella Hazan’s Lasagna

You may have read in my Roma & München blog post that I missed out on the famous lasagna at Tavernaccia da Bruno while in Rome so Robert and I decided that, once back in Stuttgart, we would make Marcella Hazan’s classic lasagna with bechamel and bolognese sauce. Hazan is by-far my favorite Italian cookbook author. I make her easy tomato sauce at least once a week. My favorite book by her is The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which is where we found this lasagna recipe. I bought this book in Florence, Italy in 2001 while studying abroad so it also carries a lot of special memories. Here I will include the recipe with photos.


First, we made the Bolognese sauce. Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 45g / 1.5oz butter
  • 85g / 3oz onion, chopped
  • 3 sticks  celery, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 350g / 12oz ground beef
  • 250ml / 8oz whole milk
  • nutmeg
  • 250ml / 8oz white wine
  • 500g / 1lb + 2oz canned Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with juices

The first step is to chop the carrots, celery, and onion. Then, add the butter, oil, and onions to a medium-heat pan (I used Le Creuset) and cook the onions until translucent. Then, add the carrots and celery and cook altogether for a few minutes. Add the ground beef to the mixture and salt immediately, separate with a fork, and cook until no longer raw. Add a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg. Then, add the milk and cook until the milk completely boils away.

Then, add the white wine and tomatoes and let simmer for at least three hours. The waiting is tough as it already smells so good! And, that’s it for the Bolognese sauce! Just wait, wait, wait… 🙂


Then, when the Bolognese sauce is ~10 minutes from being finished, get started on the Bechamel sauce.

Ingredients for Bechamel sauce:

  • 450ml / 3/4pint milk
  • 50g / 2oz butter
  • 47g / 1+3/4oz flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Add the milk to a pot and bring just to the verge of boiling. While heating the milk, melt the butter in a separate saucepan and then turn the heat down to low. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the hot milk (a couple of spoonfuls at a time) to the flour/butter mixture and continue stirring. Once all ingredients are incorporated, turn the heat down to low, add salt, and stir until the sauce has the consistency of sour cream. Done! Finally, add the bechamel sauce to the bolognese sauce and stir well.

Now it’s time to assemble the lasagna and stick it in the oven!

Ingredients for Lasagna:

  • Lasagna noodles (fresh or store-bought)
  • Butter (for greasing the baking dish)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese , shredded (for the top of the lasagna before baking and serving)

Cook the lasagna noodles in salted boiling water according the directions on the package if store-bought, or for just a few seconds if using fresh pasta. Once boiled, rinse the pasta in cold water and lay flat. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400ºF. Grease the lasagna pan with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with lasagna noodles. Spread a thin layer of the bechamel-bolognese sauce on the noodles and top with shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat the last few steps until you have at least 6 layers of pasta — make sure to reserve enough bechamel-bolognese sauce for the top layer. Once complete, sprinkle the top with Parmigiano-Reggiano and a few dollops of butter. Bake for 10-15 minutes…and ENJOY!!




A friend from the U.S. recently saw my blog and said, “great blog, you need a picture of yourself on it though!” He’s right. So, here are a few photos of me.

On the upper-left is a recent picture of me in Chicago. On the upper-right is a picture of me and my sister Lauren at a wedding in Minnesota a couple of years ago. There are also pictures of me as a toddler (wasn’t I a cutie?!), a picture of me eating something delicious at JY’s in Colmar, France, a weird picture of me playing with my necklace, and me (again!) eating an oyster in Savannah, Georgia.