Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What A Grimm Day!

Today is the birthday of Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm. Grimm was born in Hanau, in Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel). He was a German philologist, jurist and mythologist. However, what you may know him best is as one of the Brothers Grimm, as the editor of Grimm's Fairy Tales. It was in Hesse that Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859) Grimm, both law students, were persuaded to study ancient German folklore. Among the best-known story tellers of folk tales from Europe, the brothers collected, wrote, and compiled hundreds of folk tales, many from Hesse including the enchanted Rheinhardswald, the fairytale forest, which is part of the largest forestry area in Germany.

What a fun day to celebrate! You could, of course, watch The Brothers Grimm starring Heath Ledger and Matt Damon.

Most likely I'll watch Grimm on On Demand. Okay, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Jacob or Wilhelm Grimm, but I like the show!

There are several foods to choose from. Remember those gingerbread houses you made last month? The gingerbread house became popular in Germany after the Brothers Grimm published their fairy tale collection which included "Hansel and Gretel" in the 19th century. Early German settlers brought this lebkuchenhaeusle - gingerbread house - tradition to the Americas.

For something completely different, try some green sauce on your potatoes.  A favorite in Frankfurt, Hesse is this sauce made from borage, chervil, cress, parsley, burnet, sorrel, and chives that's often served with hard boiled eggs.

Grüne Sosse (Green Sauce)

1/2 c. plain vegan yogurt
1 c. vegan sour cream (schmand)
1 T. lemon juice
1 small onion, finely diced
1 1/2 c. finely chopped herbs, see hints below
1/2 t. sugar
salt, pepper

Mix everything together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Cover and put in fridge for at least 1 hour. Serve cold with potatoes cooked in their skins.

Use vinegar instead of lemon juice.
Replace sour cream with vegan mayonnaise.
Use any combination of herbs. Traditional herbs are borage, chervil, cress, parsley, burnet, sorrel, and chives. You can also include dill, tarragon, and/or lovage.
Omit onion if desired.

Have some French toast.  The earliest official mention of French toast may have been in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes dating back to the 4th or 5th century, but The Brothers Grimm mention it as Arme Ritter in the Deutsches Wörterbuch, quoting from the Buch von guter Spyse, which dates back to the 14th century.

The Brothers Grimm collected and retold the fairy tale in Das Märchen vom Schlaraffenland (The Tale About the Land of Cockaigne). Cockaigne or Cockayne is a medieval mythical land of plenty, an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease where physical comforts and pleasures are always immediately at hand and where the harshness of medieval peasant life does not exist. While the first recorded use of the name are the Latin "Cucaniensis", and the Middle English "Cokaygne", one line of reasoning has the name tracing to Middle French (pays de) cocaigne "(land of) plenty the German equivalent is Schlaraffenland (also known as "land of milk and honey".

To celebrate the *land of plenty*, how about a dish with an abundance of vegetables?

Zesty Veggies

4 medium unpeeled red potatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch diagonal slices
2 T. chopped green onion
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. vegan butter, melted
1 T. Dijon mustard with a little agave nectar mixed in
½ t. caraway seed, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add potatoes to boiling water and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add carrots, cover and continue cooking until vegetables are just tender, about 7-10 minutes longer. After adding the carrots, combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Place the cooked vegetables in a serving bowl, add the remaining ingredients, toss gently to coat, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve immediately.

Germans believe Der Zweck einer MahlzeitDessert, or the purpose of a meal is dessert. The Black Forest is 4,600 square miles of woodland in the southwest corner of Germany, not far from France and Switzerland. The name came from the Romans because very little light shone through the trees. The Black Forest is so dark and mysterious that much of Germany's folklore, including many of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales comes from the area.

Consider making a Black Forest Cake! You can find a recipe for it here. I'll admit I've never made one before, but if I can veganize it, I will!

So have some fun with The Brothers Grimm today. And just think, you can do it all over again on February 24 - Wilhelm Grimm's birthday!

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