Hallo! Today’s chef du jour is Silke, who for the last eight years, has been living in the delightful port city of Bremen in northern Germany. Silke left North Rhine-Westphalia and her high-pressure job of executive assistant to the CFO of one of Germany’s largest companies and relocated with her family to the seaside. Here she is able to practice sailing and horseback riding regularly as well as growing some of her own fruits and vegetables.
I’ve known Silke for over two decades and have made several culinary experiences with her. The first time I ever had Glühwein (warm mulled wine) was with her at a Christmas market while I was studying in Freiberg, Germany. We travelled to Berlin together and subsisted on Nutella and Berliner Weisse and her mom is always tasked with preparing Sauerbraten, Knödel, Gulasch and other typically German dishes when her “American daughter” comes to visit.
When she’s not putting her cherry red Kitchen-Aid mixer to use, Silke is writing for a local publication called Horner Magazine as well as freelancing for other locals magazines. This opportunity has allowed her to develop her writing and photography skills but has also helped her discover her new city by conducting interviews with local personalities and business owners. She’s able to keep using her grey matter and be home when her son and daughter are out of school. She has a great eye for photography and is also an art lover. I was fortunate to spend time with Silke while she visited the Louvre and let’s just say that she may be the reason why the Mona Lisa is smiling.
While I love the simplicity of a French baguette (remember always go for the “tradi”) the Germans are expert bread makers. Their bread and rolls with pumpkin seeds are what I dream about at night. Here is Silke’s go-to recipe for whole grain bread. This recipe is easy to follow and it demystifies the art of bread making. It is wonderful when it is fresh from the oven, but also good over 3 to 4 days.
Dinkelbrot mit Körnern- Spelt bread with grains
500 g Whole meal spelt flour flour
150 g seeds (Silke likes to take 70g sunflower seeds, 30g flax seeds and 50g sesame seeds)
1 yeast cube
2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons vinegar (Silke recommends white balsamic- although in the US it might be easier to use apple cider vinegar)
500 ml of water (start with just 480, otherwise it could be mushy)
Mix all ingredients – I usually let the yeast cube dissolve in the water first and then add it to the flour & seeds.
Put parchment paper into loaf pan (doesn’t matter that it is a little bit crumpled) and pour the dough into it.
Put it into the oven for 1 hour at 200 degrees Celsius (top and bottom heat) – DON’T preheat!
Then remove the bread from and loaf pan and take off the parchment paper, leave out to cool and then enjoy!
Silke’s tip on what not to miss in Bremen:
Should you visit Bremen, you must visit the statue of the Bremen Town Musicians (Bremer Stadtmusikanten), which is the main symbol of the city. The fairytale by the Brothers Grimm tells the story about the donkey, dog, cat and rooster. They escape from their owners who don’t treat them well and are heading for Bremen to become town musicians (however, they never arrive).
The bronze statue was created in 1953 by Gerhard Marcks and stands outside the town hall. But don’t expect a huge statue – much like the Brussels Manneken Pis, Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid or da Vinci’s Mona Lisa our image of it often makes it seem like it is going to be larger than life. The statue is said to bring you good luck if you rub the legs of the donkey. It is important to use both hands and rub both legs to be lucky!
I think it is a really cute statue, and kids especially love it and the fairytale. Throughout the city of Bremen you will find more statues of the Town Musicians in all different variations and colors.