Hello 2018!

Happy New Year! Happy 2018! Let’s start off the New Year with a new name! As you can see, All Things Gourmet, sounds like a nice little fit! What you’ll find here won’t change at all! There still will be recipes shared, gourmet food items to be showcased and shared, along with the sharing of information and traditions and so forth! But don’t worry, there will be little Gourmet Nibbles to be had and I will make sure you can follow my crumb trail!

The month of January is busy and filled with lots of new things, recipes and adventures ahead! There are some sauces and soups to be made, special national days to celebrate – all of course – featured around FOOD! Then we have to face it and admit it – Valentine’s is right around the corner! Yes! I know! We just finished up the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and YES! We must move on to Valentine’s and do I dare bring up the Easter Bunny?! Well, I sort of have to, because we can’t avoid them! And here they are…!

Just a few to get you started!

Over the course of the next year I also plan to keep up on the latest health and food trends, and so far there are a few similar themes I keep seeing popping up! Tumeric  and other spices seems to be one trend. “Gut-friendly” fermented foods such as sauerkraut has hit the list and then don’t forget about your foods filled with probiotic! And as for gut-friendly foods, we have that and we’ve got you covered!

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There are a few things about coffee I may look into – I keep reading that coffee is good for your liver and there may also be other coffee trends that I am going to try to keep my eye on. Is coffee the key to prevent premature death?I don’t know, but there are reports to claim there may be an association to drinking coffee and longevity by reducing the risk of cancer, stroke, heart and liver disease!

And coffee… that’s in stock as well!

So there’s a lot to look forward to in 2018! And it’s time to get started!

 

 

Winding Down 2017.

2017 is winding down and I’d like to thank our friends and followers that have been with us on our gourmet journey! We shall continue on into 2018 with more information, ideas, recipes, fun and more! Since the end part of September, we have brought you some fun gift ideas for your holiday season, some fun videos and shared some German traditions.

2018 will be filled with lots more gourmet adventures ahead! There are many more recipes to be made and shared and many more new products to enlighten you all about as well!

Stay tuned, we are winding down and slowing down a bit as this year ends, but we will be in full force come 2018!

THANK YOU!

“Wrapping Up” The Past Few Days!

We hope that all of our friends and families that celebrate the Christmas holiday had a wonderful weekend! We “wrapped up” our past week on Friday with a holiday party that was full of holiday cheer and also had some wonderfully awesome ugly Christmas sweaters! The staff of Gourmet International all enjoyed a holiday meal together and shared in some time just enjoying each other’s company! Staff all had to pick numbers to find out where they would be sitting, it was a great time to meet new people who you didn’t know before!

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We’d like to thank Monica and Mike, pictured here with their mother Erika (in the middle), for putting on the holiday lunch!

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And no matter how you say it, the meaning and spirit of Christmas comes across in all languages! I loved this sign of the different languages shared by the many people who work within Gourmet International!

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The Ugly Sweater contest was really fun to judge – there certainly were quite a few choices to choose from, making a decision difficult!

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We hope that everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday weekend, it’s another short week as we prepare for the next adventure… New Year’s weekend! We have a lot to look forward to this upcoming year and we hope you all continue the adventures with us!

 

Christmas Traditions, Customs & More.

I thought it would be fun to search around for some sources to share some German Christmas traditions. My family background is mainly Latvian, pretty much everyone in my family (except my brothers and I), were all born in Latvia. My father and his family were from Latvia and then there is my mother who actually was born in Germany to Latvian parents. So while I, myself, am not German per say, there are some European traditions that are similar in nature from country to country.

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For fun, here’s an Advent and Christmas Quiz from the website, “The German Way & More“. My score? I received 7 out of 10 correct! Look at the brain on me!

From Advent, to the German glass pickle ornament myth, to yuletide, here’s an A-to-Z Guide to Christmas traditions. This “guide” offers some insight into the many different Christmas customs from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

If you were wondering what the differences are between Christmas in the United States and Germany is, try here to find a comparison chart with links to more information. One custom I can relate to is that my family always open presents on Christmas Eve. In the United States, the customary thing to do is to wait for Christmas Day to open gifts. I always thought I was really cool and special to be able to open gifts before all my friends. Growing up we never really left any cookies and milk out for Santa, maybe we had some stocking stuffers to open the next day on Christmas Day, but everything else was done on the Eve. Church, dinner and then gifts! While at the link provided above, you’ll find some good seasonal etiquette if you are traveling to Germany during the Christmas season.

I hope you find some interesting information while browsing through those links I provided. What are some of your holiday traditions? Share them with us in the comments!

As I wrap up this quick post for today, the elves are working up some holiday fun at Gourmet International for our holiday party! Stay tuned, we hope to share some photos and cheer from festivities that are to take place on Friday afternoon!

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Travelin’ Man.

Well, Christmas is almost here and I have to say some fun has been had leading up to the big day! Between sharing stocking stuffer and gift ideas with you all here, our Riegelein #TravelingSanta, all the way from Germany, has been having some fun of his own on Twitter. He’s been seen all around our lovely Mitten State and he’s taken residence in my home, car and lodging wherever my family goes! He refers to my family as his host family, which really is kind of cute. While he’s fun to travel with, he can be a little difficult at times as he doesn’t care much to be in the sun too long, nor does he like to be near heat.

So as we all prepare to get our final holiday to-do lists complete and shopping done, I thought it would be fun to recap a little bit of what #TravelingSanta has been up to and then maybe share what’s up next for #TravelingSanta.

#TravelingSanta had some reflecting moments in Cadillac, Michigan.

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#TravelingSanta got to learn the game of hockey during his stay with us. Although we are NOT a travel team, we still do travel quite a bit. This time he was in Holland, Michigan with us at Griff’s Ice House West.

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#TravelingSanta in Holland, Michigan at Griff’s Ice House West.

#TravelingSanta is having a good time in the car with us, his host family, on the way to St. Ignace, Michigan where yes, again, hockey! This was the Battle at the Bridge hockey tournament.

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During Thanksgiving break, #TravelingSanta went for a hike, did some chores around the house and gave some advice to those who needed turkey help.

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#TravelingSanta celebrated National Gingerbread Cookie Day.

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#TravelingSanta helped us pick out our Christmas tree this year.

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#TravelingSanta enjoyed our first big snow storm of the season!

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And #TravelingSanta asked me to share some photos of him and our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy. They’ve been talking with each other quite a bit lately. They are good friends and they are keeping very close tabs on my boys, making sure they are behaving!

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And last but not least, only seen here, #TravelingSanta wanted me to share these photos of him with some of our many ornaments from our White House Christmas Ornament collection from the White House Historical Association.

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So what’s next for #TravelingSanta? I’m not sure yet, I guess we shall just have to wait and see what Christmas holds for all of us! Stay tuned to Twitter and see what happens! So far he’s been a really great guest and he’s kept my kids occupied, however, one child in particular keeps giving him some kind of crazed look… so not sure what that is all about!

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#TravelingSanta enjoying some chocolate and cookie samples.

Sweet Tooth.

One of my favorite types of candy would be hard candy. I am often one who carries a little tin of mints around to keep my mouth fresh, but there are days I need something other than spearmint, wintergreen or peppermint to flavor my taste buds. What better way to explore the world of hard candy today on National Hard Candy Day!

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Enter Mangini to the playing field. Some of their candies you will know by their iconic fruit wrappers as seen above. I remember being a kid and I’d be visiting family and there might have been random candy dishes out and about. You knew you hit the jackpot and were lucky to snag one of those pretty little fruity labeled candies, because you knew the rest of the hard candy in the dish was junky toffee or coffee flavored something (not the GOOD ONES, the horrible ones), more suited for the “old people who you were visiting! I’m sure karma will hit me in the tush later for making that comment!

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But seriously, if there was a candy dish or jar out and about, I was looking for the wrappers with the fruit on them! The hard shell was tasty and you had to work your way to the soft filled center. It was like waiting for a fun little party to happen on your taste buds once you hit that soft center! You knew you were the cool kid in the room that got the jackpot from the dish! I would glare at my brothers if they found the candy dish first and grabbed out all the “good ones”! I also love these citrus flavored ones (again, pictured above). There’s always something fun and refreshing with a citrus flavored candy: orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit. Nothing like a little zing for your taste buds!

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I also remember going to celebrations at church or maybe it was a birthday party at a friend’s house and sometimes you’d get a little treat bag. I would always scope out the contents of the bag to see what kind of hard candies were inside!

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Mangini keeps its candies true to flavor, as close to the actual flavor you’d get as if you’d picked it straight from nature itself! Mangini also has a range of other hard candy products – and they even have – yes, coffee and cream flavored candies – the ones I would run and hide from! But these taste waaay better than the “other” candies you’d find in the candy dish! If you’re looking for a hard candy to enjoy, look no further than Italy’s own Mangini, making confections for over 35 years! They have quite the product line and flavors and varieties. From fruits, yogurt, coffee, mints, caramel, cola flavored, licorice to candies that are even rhubarb flavored and can aid in digestion, toffee, to some that offer other health benefits and some have vitamins included!

Go out and enjoy National Hard Candy Day today! Please share with us what some of your favorites are!

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Christmas Markets of the United States.

Christmas Markets have become a popular place to visit during the Christmas season. What does a Christmas Market entail? And when did it begin? Widely popular all throughout Europe, Christmas Markets have had a long tradition of being an important aspect of the season. Taking a look back at some history, Vienna, Austria, was first to have “December Market” in 1298. As for the Christmas Markets opening in Germany, there have been different answers: Munich 1310, Bauzen 1384 and Frankfurt 1393. From there the Christmas Markets spread across Europe and beyond. Below is a photo from the Christmas Market in Nuremberg.

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Christmas Markets are also known as Christkindlmarkts, otherwise known as Christ Child Markets. This dates back to the days of Martin Luther where he wanted to take focus away from the Saints Nicholas and Martin. Before the 1530s, gifts were exchanged on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day) or November 11 (St. Martins Day). Martin Luther’s children received gifts on the 24th of December, from Christkindl or Christ Child, and as that continued some of the Christmas Markets called themselves Christkindlmarkts.

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I’d like to make sure we give credit to German Girl In America for a lot of the data and information that I shared here with you all.

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Christmas Markets have spread all across the United States and have gained popularity among larger cities. Just take a moment on Google and you can search the many markets across the States. I’ll list a few here:

Note that all the Christmas Markets have different operating dates, times and such. Do check out their websites prior to visiting and research what is available and open during certain times of the holiday season.

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These Christmas Markets offer a variety of seasonal treats, foods, candies and an assortment of gifts, festivities and fun for families and friends to enjoy. Have you been to a Christmas Market? If you have, what are your favorite things to do, to see, or to buy?

If you are searching for a Christmas Market near you, try looking at ChristmasMarkets.com to help you with your search!

The photos that are seen throughout this post are all under Creative Commons CC0 and were obtained by Pixabay.

 

The History of the Cinnamon Star.

It’s a common holiday item that can be seen on store shelves or fresh out of the oven in kitchens. Have you ever wondered what is the cinnamon star, also known as zimtsterne in German, all about? And did you know at one point cinnamon stars were considered illegal in Germany? And speaking of “points”, the traditional cinnamon star has 6 points! Let’s dig into the history of the cinnamon star!

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The cinnamon star arrives during the Christmas holiday season and is offered during the Advent season. Made with almonds and cinnamon, these little stars are full of flavor. Back in the 1600s, cinnamon in Europe was expensive and a rare spice and almonds had to be imported. Food items such as these were usually considered reserved for royalty. Since cinnamon and almonds were expensive and scarce, this helps offer a reason as to why these two staples were only enjoyed one time a year at special occasions like Christmas. Traditionally these zimtsternes are baked before Advent, stored and shared during the holiday season. (Source: The Spruce)

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And so what is this about cinnamon stars being illegal in Germany? I stumbled upon this NPR archive when searching for the history of cinnamon stars. Well, back in 2006, a scientist in a government food safety lab smelled something strange. The scent was bitter and strong and it turned out to be coumarin.

Medical Definition of coumarin: a toxic white crystalline lactone C9H6O2 with an odor of new-mown hay found in plants or made synthetically and used especially in perfumery and as the parent compound in various anticoagulant agents (as warfarin); also : a derivative of this compound (Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online)

Coumarin found in cinnamon can have a toxic effect on the human liver. The scientist at the government food safety lab found coumarin levels up to 40 times higher than what is traditionally allowed. By the time it was discovered how much coumarin was in the Christmas cookie, many of them were already packaged and placed upon store shelves waiting to be purchased. Officials hemmed and hawed on what to do about the situation and in the end decided to alert consumers not to eat too many or too much of any food with cinnamon in it. You can bet that political lobbyists have had their way and sway within the German government. Coumarin levels in German food was supposed to drop to legal levels after that particular holiday season. Rest assured, cinnamon stars are no longer illegal in Germany, but what an interesting turn of events that happened just over 10 years ago! (Source: National Public Radio)

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Take it from me, and my little elves, we all agree that the cinnamon stars are delicious and we promise not to eat too many at one time! As most traditional treats I’ve been posting about this holiday season, these cinnamon stars are delish with coffee or tea! These specific cinnamon stars are made by Wicklein.

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Melting Away. Literally…

It’s cold and snowy out. Or maybe it’s cold and rainy out where you live. Or maybe it’s just cold. Or maybe you’re just in a blah mood and need a pick-me-up. You don’t really feel like tea, but you don’t really want coffee. The next best option for a happy medium to enjoy would be hot cocoa.

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The next time you want to prepare yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa, reach for the following item: Butlers Chocolates Hot Chocolate Drink.

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Without the obvious risk of myself repeating myself, but in a different way…

How are you going to enjoy National Cocoa Day, which happens to be TODAY? I’ll tell you how: Butlers Chocolates Hot Chocolate Drink.

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I have to admit. I was skeptical. What was this going to taste like? Does this really work? Does it really taste good? It seems a little too good to be true. Yes, I am that crazy lady who stashes the Butlers Chocolates in her cupboard and hides the stuff from the children, and well… now I have something else to hide! Yes! These little pucks of chocolate joy are AH. MAZE. ZZZZING! A cup of smooth, hot, chocolate silky delight is only a matter of minutes away on your stove top. Simply heat some milk or cream on the stove top and add one (or two) of these chocolate discs? Pucks? Awesomeness? Let it melt thoroughly, pour into a mug and ENJOY! Sit back and just MELT AWAY with this hot cocoa! I truly do not use words such as “divine” – very often. Today I shall. This hot chocolate beverage is DIVINE! After you prepare yourself a cup of this divine mixture, you will then realize why this might be hidden away from the children… would they appreciate this deliciousness? Is that even a word? I guess it is, because by the time you read this – I’ve spell checked myself! 😉

 

If you have just come in from the cold – maybe you were sledding, skiing, snowmobiling, building a snowman, shoveling your driveway… and you’re freezing cold… time to make up some of this hot chocolate drink. You’ll melt away as you sip this and defrost yourself inside!

 

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If you’re looking for some facts and information, and actual sources cited where it is explained that cocoa is nutritious for you, look no further than this link from the Michigan State University Extension. Cocoa is known for having antioxidants and being good for heart health. Cocoa can also help aid with memory and of course… MAKES YOU HAPPY! So check out that link from MSU Extension and get the lowdown on cocoa today!

This morning we’ve got a winter storm warning in our area, hoping that people drive safely today and when I am all set and done with being out and about today, I will come home and enjoy some peace and solitude in the form of hot cocoa!

 

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Run, Run… As Fast As You Can…

Run, run… as fast as you can, but no one can stop the demise of Mr. Ginger, the DSC_0013Gingerbread Man! As I was shopping in one of the local stores in town, I passed by Mr. Ginger, the cute and friendly gingerbread man who brings holiday cheer all the way from Belgium’s Belfine chocolate factory. I couldn’t pick up just one, I had to pick up several. We have friends and family visiting later this month and he makes the perfect little addition to any gifts or treats we will be passing out or having on hand when company arrives. He’s super cute, made of chocolate and he appears to be a friendly little fellow. Unfortunately I could not save him from the demise of my youngest son. And what can I say, I suppose it was entertaining to watch Mr. Ginger see a cruel and horrific fate!

But before I share the downfall of Mr. Ginger, I’d like to also share this little gift package I bought the other day that was sitting right next to Mr. Ginger! It’s the cutest Santa with his sleigh and some reindeer! It’s the perfect gift for any child, young OR old, boy OR girl! It’s currently sitting on my kitchen counter, and there have been several eyes lurking at the prize inside! Sadly, this little gift package is NOT for my children, it will be given away to company visiting later this month! It’s actually torturing my youngest child who cannot wait for his friend to visit! He keeps asking me if it’s Christmas yet, I sadly let him know that it is not. He keeps asking me if his friend is arriving soon and if he’s in town already, I sadly once again let him know that it’s just not time yet. SOON! Very soon!

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I have to admit, I have come close to opening this package of Santa and his reindeer myself… I keep thinking to myself that it would be fun to nibble off the antlers on those four-legged sleigh transporters. But seriously? How cute is this? Anyone would love receiving this little box as a gift for the holidays!

I am seriously impressed with these gorgeous Belfine chocolates – I just love the designs they come up with and I love how they package their products. Belfine seems to be a really creative and fun company to work for! I did write about their process of chocolate character making earlier this year in this blog post. It’s really neat how the chocolates are all made unique and have their own name. What I also espeically like about these chocoloates are the bright colors these treats have! They are made well and you can tell just by looking at them that these are a quality product! Let’s also not forget – they are GMO free!

I told my mom about the cute Santa and his reindeer for gift giving ideas, when she actually saw the package on my counter she was pleasantly surprised even noted how cute the set was! I kind of think that she would have rather been the first one to see it and buy it herself for gift giving purposes! I beat her to it!

And now… I bring your attention back to poor Mr. Ginger. Someone had waaaay too much fun chomping off his head… the poor little gingerbread dude never stood a chance! At least it was quick?!?! 😉

Nibble, nibble!

 

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