Upgrade Your Flavors!

We have a lot of new items to share your way! These come in the form of mustards, sauces and condiments! If you need to flavor up your food, we have the perfect suggestions for you! We want to introduce to you the Hengstenberg 1876 line-up, all the way from Germany! They have been available for a little while now, but let’s get YOU acquainted with them now!

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What can we say? They are all packed with different types of flavors to tingle your taste buds! These are perfect for adding to your regular BBQ grilling, everyday sandwiches and snacks and more! All of these items are made with the finest selected ingredients. All of these items are also BPA, gluten and lactose free! How awesome is that? These little friends come ready to serve, packed in resealable glass jars. They fit easily in the fridge and here’s something even more – they are vegetarian and vegan friendly! Even more awesome!

We wanted to show you what we have been up to with these new items! For starters, we’ve been busy learning a new smoker, so we decided to use the Whole Grain Mustard on our rub for pork butt, which ended up as pulled pork for sandwiches or on its own with other side dishes! Take a peek at some of the pictures we took along the prepping and cooking process! We will admit, it *is* hard to get a great looking photo of pulled pork once it’s all said and done, but trust us… it was OH SO YUMMY!

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Need a little snack? Need to flavor up your tailgate parties this season or need new flavors in general when it comes to dips for your appetizers? We made our own toasted bread and enjoyed the Sweet & Spicy Dipping Sauce on top for a nice flavor packed treat! By the way, it’s super easy to make a quick toasted bread spread. Just heat the oven to 350°F and slice up some pieces of baguette. I covered mine with a light layer of olive oil, garlic salt, black pepper and parsley. Keep an eye on them while they are in the oven, I think mine were in the oven for about 20 minutes, and be sure to turn them over a few times if you can. We simply opened the jar and spooned on some of the dip and enjoyed while the toasted bread was warm!

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And finally, we also smoked some MORE pork with the Smoked BBQ Sauce, however, we forgot to take photos of it when it was all said and done! But we can tell you this, it was DELICIOUS! This sauce would also be great for ribs! Also great for marinades and rubs, so think about adding these flavorful sauces to your next meal!

For more ideas and recipes – the Hengstenberg 1876 website is full of ideas to make your plain and ordinary meals into something of flavor!

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Olympic Spirit!

We thought we would take a quick break from all things food and beverage related for a quick announcement! Gourmet International employees have been placed into teams representing the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Norway. This Thursday/Friday, as the official Winter Olympics begin, we will have our own opening ceremonies and carrying of the olympic torch!

I hope to get some good photos and maybe, if I am lucky, I can grab some video of everyone enjoying the following itinerary of events:

  • Friday, February 9 – Opening Torch Ceremony & First Event: Paper Plate Discus
  • Monday, February 12 – Broom Hockey Shoot Out (might get upgraded to a real shoot out!)
  • Wednesday, February 14 – Chair Rowing
  • Friday, February 16 – Paper Plane Javelin
  • Monday, February 19 – Balloon Sprint
  • Wednesday, February 21 – Cookie Monster
  • Thursday, February 22 – Synchronized Chair Dancing
  • Friday, February 23 – Final Synchronized Chair Dancing & Closing Medal Ceremony

Now, there is an “Official Rule Book” – with rules and instructions on how to participate in these events! I will share those on the actual day of events! We hope you stick with us as we take a fun break and enjoy some company rivalry!

What are some of your favorite events that take place during the Winter Olympics? I’d have to say that I do enjoy a lot of the skiing and ice skating events, as well as, of course, HOCKEY! Luge is another fun one… so many to choose from! Oh and curling… I’ll just stop now, because I will probably just list all of the events!

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No Waffling On This Decision.

There will be no waffling on the decision to enjoy this Bahlsen cookie treat today! I told you earlier this week I am on a winter cookie craze, and today I present to you something that I love to grab on the way out the door to my car with my traveling coffee mug. I love that these little waffle cookies are small, have a bit of actual chocolate on them and they have a little bit of waffle action! It’s easy for an adult to pop one of these and head out the door, my children though – like to find any possible way to make a simple cookie super messy! So while I can enjoy grabbing one of these Waffeletten‘s on my way out the door, the kids – mainly my youngest – needs to quickly take several bites before we make it to my car!

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Every time I have one of these little waffle wafer cookies, I also taste a hint of cinnamon or something. So to be sure that I wasn’t going crazy, I did check the back of the packaging and the ingredients do list “spice”. But it does not list which spice is added. But it’s a perfect little blend of flavor – waffle, chocolate, spice… yummy!

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My youngest likes to bite the chocolate end of and then peer through the wafer like a telescope, so not only do they provide a snack, but these Bahlsen wafers can provide some imaginative fun for the kids! I’m not done with the Bahlsen cookies, I do have another one I’ll bring to your attention soon! But this is one of my favorite little cookie treats that I don’t feel bad giving the kiddos – even if it’s the only thing they had in the morning before breakfast or getting on the school bus! Shhh…! Don’t tell anyone! They are the perfect little bite size munchy snack!

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But First, Coffee.

Coffee. You’ve seen the different slogans, sayings and cartoons about people and their coffee. It’s what powers most people in the morning, or for some, all day long!

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Cup of Joe. Cuppa Joe. Java Joe. OCD – Obsessive Coffee Disorder. Today’s Mood is Brought to You By Coffee. The list goes on… So let me ask you, are you a coffee person? Do you take it black or with cream or sugar? And what exactly is in that cup of that you are drinking? For me it’s always Dallmayr from Germany! With over 300 years of experience of outstanding product and quality service, you can’t go wrong with this coffee! Dallmayr caters to all varieties of coffee drinkers, from delicate to robust, they have the perfect kind of coffee to suit your coffee needs!

 

This is the one brand of coffee that I can drink that will not anger my stomach. A lot of times I might be out with friends or family and I have no choice in the brand of coffee there is to drink. I notice when I drink other coffees that my stomach may get upset, but I don’t have that issue with Dallmayr. While today I had the Dallmayr Classic in the coffee pot this morning, my favorite is the Dallmayr Prodomo! Depending on the day or my mood, it will depend on what is brewing in that coffee pot of mine!

Dallmayr explains how you should assess your coffee:

Assess coffee like the experts.

The overall impression that we get of a variety of coffee is a result of the interplay of its aroma, body and acidity.

The aroma is perceived through the smell (the nose) and the taste (the tongue). Whilst the nose can distinguish between an infinite number of nuances, the tongue is restricted to sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami.

The body is the impression which the coffee leaves in the mouth. To get an idea of this, simply imagine the difference between water and milk in your mouth.

The acidity describes the lively, fruity properties of the coffee – which are particularly desired in arabica coffee.

Source: Dallmayr Website

So there you have it. And did I forget to mention… HAPPY NATIONAL GOURMET COFFEE DAY! I hope you enjoy your coffee today, no matter where you get it from or what brand you drink! But if you haven’t tried Dallmayr, you are missing out! And if you haven’t had Dallmayr, go get yourself some!

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Take the Bitter with the Sweet.

Yes, go for it! Go ahead and be bitter! Today you can be! Today is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day! Start indulging in your favorite chocolate until the bitter end! Am I getting a little carried away here? I’m sorry! I don’t mean to be obnoxious, but there are just to many perfect ways to express today’s bittersweet day! And just because it’s a day for bittersweet chocolate, it doesn’t mean you have to forget about your milk chocolate. Because we’ve got them all covered today to celebrate Hachez all the way from Germany.

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Let’s first explore what makes chocolate bittersweet:

  • Legally, at least 35 percent pure chocolate with some small amount of sugar added.
  • Also known as: dark chocolate, when it is a European brand.
  • Characteristics: Usually darker and less sweet than semisweet.
  • No legal specifications for the term so not always darker and less sweet.
  • Semisweet and bittersweet can be used in baking interchangeably, depending on personal preferences.
  • Specific sweetness and color intensity varies by manufacturer’s recipes and cacao bean sources.
  • Uses: Baking and eating.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens (Chocolate Types, Selection & Storage)

So, let’s get this (tasty) bitterness out of the way, shall we? Let’s start with these two bittersweet chocolates made by Hachez. The Ecuador green package is a 58% cocoa and the São Tomé blue package is 73% cocoa. How bitter do you like to go?! Missing from our group would be the Madagascar in blue-violet package at 75% cocoa.

Hachez can impress even the best dark chocolate connoisseur. I thought I was a dark chocolate expert until I had some of the darkest Hachez chocolate (I believe 88% is my favorite) and I was blown away! It’s not overly bitter, it’s not “dry” or tastes chalky, it’s just a smooth, chocolatey taste that is very enjoyable! I tried both of these below and they are very good!

 

Back in 1890 Joseph E. Hachez refined superior cocoa from South America according to a simple recipe. The secret to perfect chocolate quality involves roasting the cocoa bean batch, meticulous conching and use of natural ingredients. We still adhere to this recipe today. Enjoy our chocolate compositions handcrafted with love and painstaking care.

Source: Hachez (Product Packaging)

Even though it’s “bittersweet” day, below I thought I would share a photo of some of the Hachez superior milk chocolate, influenced by Venezuela at 43% cocoa and in a yellow package. Silky, smooth milk chocolate, very dreamy and delicious!

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We will be exploring Hachez chocolates some more in the future, so expect to see more delicious chocolate from them coming to the blog! We will also be exploring Hachez’s Taste Navigator in a future post, so look out for that, soon!

To end the post for today, I had to share one of my favorite songs from back in the day, “Bittersweet” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Enjoy!

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Put This Honey On Your “Do” List.

I’m going to tell you about a honey that you *DO* need to put on your grocery list the next time you are out and about shopping! All the way from Germany and 100% natural, Breitsamer Honey offers a range of products that are carefully chosen and have nothing but the highest and most exquisite quality standards. The Breitsamer Honey business has been sharing their love and passion of honey for over three generations.

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I enjoy honey in a nice cup of tea, I use it to make my own homemade granola and sometimes I may use it in place of sugar in a recipe if I can. We even keep hemming and hawing in our house about getting our own bee hive to have on our property. A neighbor a few houses down from us has a bee hive and he says it’s not terribly difficult to maintain and get your own honey! But in the meantime, when we can find the time to do more research and actually go forth with our own bee hive, we will enjoy the many different varieties of honey that Breitsamer Honey has to offer! Breitsamer Honey also comes in a variety of different sizes, such as the one that is pictured in this post – it’s just a little guy – only 2.36 ounces, so it’s a perfect little size to have along when traveling!

Honey has a plethora of health benefits. High-quality honey can offer some antioxidant power. Honey has phenols, enzymes and compounds like flavonoids and organic acids (Source: HealthLine.com). Check here for more information on honey and antioxidants.

It’s also been studied that honey can help aid cough suppression in children. While you should never give honey to children under the age of 1 year for risk of botulism, children that are older in age can take a bit of honey to help their cough symptoms. Studies have offered some foundation that honey may be more effective than some cough medicines on the market (Source: HealthLine.com). Here’s a link for the following: Honey may be a preferable treatment for the cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infection. (Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine (PubMed))

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When purchasing honey at the store, please skip the little bottle of honey in the bear jar or bottle. Just don’t do it! Get yourself some quality honey, such as Breitsamer Honey! Did you know that honey does not spoil?

It crystallizes over time and changes its taste but can always be consumed and enjoyed. Why does its label have an expiration date? This is a formality that has been required by law for several years. In practical terms, a given shelf life for honey designates neither possible spoilage nor the time of crystallization.

Source: Breitsamer – Wonderful World of Honey

The best way to store honey is to keep it in a dark cupboard or space at room temperature. Keep honey out of direct sunlight as that tends to speed the crystallization process of honey. But have no fear, just because the honey has crystalized, that does not mean you have lost any nutritional value along the way!

So we have explored some health benefits of honey, but we’re not done! We’ll come back to honey at some point, because there is more that this natural bee creation can offer! There are different kinds of honey that Breitsamer has to offer and they are unique as well, so we will take a look at that in a future post. Also, if you are thinking about pre-planning your spring and/or summer gardens while the winter months pass by, consider looking into bee-friendly plants and flowers that will help the bees! Ask a local greenhouse or gardener about the plants and flowers native and local to your area that will bring bees to visit and pollinate and maybe encourage some butterflies your way! “Bee” Green!

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Thank You for the Fun #TravelingSanta!

As promised, we wanted to share our love and fun of #TravelingSanta!

The children will miss #TravelingSanta until next year! Thank you #TravelingSanta for the fun we had this past Christmas holiday season! Farewell, until we meet again!

We hope you enjoy our little video of the adventures we all had together!

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.

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.