Thursday, July 2, 2009

Conversation and a Wonderful Meal

"A couple of winters ago, we set a snowfall record with 172 inches of snow," was Don's (Chuck's cousin) simply-stated response to our question about winters in Coeur d'Alene, ID.

Sitting by the Coeur d'Alene Resort on the lake of the same name on a sunny June day, we found it hard to conceive of winter, let alone 14+ feet of snow. The city has become known as the Lakeside Playground of the Pacific Northwest.

Within walking distance of the Resort is the campus of North Idaho College and the city's main shopping district.

Several streets have these baskets of flowers adding beauty to already-welcoming city blocks.

These two shops added a lot of color to the street scene. The sign for the Pita Pit on the right is hidden.

I just liked the architecture of this building.

Later that afternoon we headed to the home of Chuck's cousin Don and his wife Janis.

After caring for her two very energetic grandsons all day, Janis was still able to prepare a wonderful German dinner for Don, their son Kirk (visiting from California), Chuck, and me.

The main course was a delicious pork roast cooked with sauerkraut. Now I love sauerkraut. I remember my mother making spareribs and kraut, and she almost had to put a lock on the pan lid. Every time I walked into the kitchen, I would steal a generous pinch of the kraut from the pan. So generous were these pinches that come dinner time there was almost no kraut left in the pan. So this dish, with its juicy and tender meat and sauerkraut, infused with pork flavor, brought back memories of my mother the German cook.

So if you are having pork and kraut, what is the perfect side dish? German potato salad, of course. And Janis’s, from a recipe of her mother’s, was an outstanding version. Served warm, it was not too vinegary and not to sweet, and the potatoes were mixed with hardboiled egg and a copious amount of bacon. I can imagine how good the leftovers would be for breakfast the next morning.

The other side was a refreshing cold salad with corn, beans, peas, celery, scallion, and pimentos or roasted red peppers in light vinaigrette. I have never seen corn kernels that small and wish I had thought to ask Janis where she found them.

After we had eaten all of this, Janis asked if we still had room for dessert. There is always room for dessert and this one was extra special. Again using one of her mother’s recipes, Janis served a German cherry soup with dumplings. Now I come from a long line of Germans, but this was new to me. Local cherries were cooked in light syrup that hinted of cinnamon. In with the cherries and syrup were small dumplings to which Janis had added just a touch of nutmeg. This was the perfect finish to our German dinner – a little tart from the cherries and a little sweet from the syrup.

Again, we were fortunate to share the 5.0 Addie hospitality and food with another Dannenberg cousin.

After dinner, we shared family news, addressed some national problems surrounding education and mental health, and developed an idea for a new TV show starring one of Kirk's good friends.

It was a fun evening.

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