Friday, November 19, 2010

Break Out the Whisky..... It's Lepkuchen Day!!! (And Other Delightful News)

Actually, I've never really had whiskey... it's just an ingredient in that most delectable and tantalizing German Christmas cookie, the Lep Kuchen (or lepkuchen or lebkuchen). So bring it on!

About six years ago, we met an absolutely delightful couple, Dale and Pat. Dale's mother had made a habit of making Lepkuchen in November before Thanksgiving, so when Dale married, he and his wife created their own "official" holiday - Lepkuchen Day, to be celebrated on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and to be dedicated to the making and eating of Lepkuchen cookies.

We thought it was a splendid idea, and after enjoying a Lepkuchen Day at their house (they hold an open house on L. Day to welcome neighbors and friends), we decided that we simply had to join in the fun. We were newly married, and needing some traditions of our own that weren't just adopted from our individual families, and so Lepkuchen Day became our new holiday tradition.

Tomorrow we will celebrate our fourth Lepkuchen Day (or third active Lepkuchen Day, to be honest, since we skipped one when we had just bought our house). I am so excited! I have three batches of Lepkuchen Dough waiting in the fridge (it's made a week in advance), and we have invited our friends and neighbors to join us (last year we had a grand total of one guest, but it was something!). I am really looking forward to it. Lepkuchen Day has become a very real holiday to us, and we love it!

And so, may I be the first to wish my gentle readers...

..... A Very Happy Lepkuchen Day!

And here is the recipe! 

~ Lep Kuchen ~

There are certain things that are nice to know, especially when the world seems to go not well -- the King is coming, my family loves me, and at Christmas there are Lep Kuchen. The following recipe goes back more generations than I know, but probably came from Germany where the K's and H's (my mother’s family) have their roots. Enjoy making the batter, listen to Christmas music while baking them, and then savor the taste...and the memories. DFK

INGREDIENTS (Use high quality ingredients only)

• 2 lb. brown sugar
• 5 eggs (large)
• 2 tablespoons molasses
• 1 teaspoon allspice
• 1 “ nutmeg
• 1 “ cinnamon
• ½ “ ground cloves
• ½ cup whiskey (Seagram’s 7 Crown is very good.)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda (Dissolve it in the whiskey.)
• 1 cup chopped walnuts (If you buy walnuts that are already chopped, be sure to check them for any pieces of shells.)
• ½ lb. pitted dates (Use very cold scissors or knife to cut up into pieces slightly smaller than a raisin. Better to cut up your own dates than to buy already chopped ones.)
• 1½ to 1¾ quarts flour (This is about 2 lb. Use a liquid-measure container.)
• Box of powdered sugar (for the glaze) and a pastry brush


A. The Batter
1. Cut up the dates and the walnuts (check for pieces of shells).
2. Thoroughly mix brown sugar, eggs, molasses, spices, and baking soda dissolved in the whiskey.
3. Stir in nuts and dates.
4. Add flour slowly (i.e., ½ quart at a time). Dough should be sticky, but not gooey. Don’t add too much flour. 1½ to 1¾ quarts usually is just about right.
5. Mix well. Use hands to blend ingredients.
6. Allow dough to stand 1+ week in covered container in refrigerator.

B. The Baking
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spread a thin layer of flour on the cutting surface.
3. Have moist hands and moist rolling pin (cold water) to pat down and roll out dough (about ¼” thick, more or less to personal preference).
4. Cut dough into diamond shapes using a cold, wet table knife.
5. Use a non-stick cookie sheet.
6. Bake 8-10 minutes. Test the first tray to determine if you need to bake them shorter or longer.
7. Allow the cookies to cool, then spread a thin glaze on each. Make the glaze by adding water to powdered sugar until it forms a pasty consistency (a little thinner than Elmer’s glue).

1 batch makes 85-100 of the best cookies on earth.


In other happy, happy news!

Point #1 - Our insurance has tentatively agreed to pay for the more detailed genetic testing for baby! Hurray!!! I say "tentatively" because their letter was rather confusing - they said "yes, we'll cover it, but we don't guarantee payment." Hmm. However, our geneticist's office considers it sufficient to go ahead, so we'll be getting the test done after Thanksgiving and should have results sometime in January. When we get results, we will either (1) have answers, hurray, hurray!, or (2) know that this is the end of the road, and that we will just have to treat symptoms without having a diagnosis (because there is currently nowhere else to go in terms of testing - this is it). So either way will be a conclusion!

Point #2 - We saw baby's GI doctor this past Wednesday. If you will remember, our geneticist wanted us to do a brain MRI and a reflux test to see if baby's back-arching could be due to either neurological causes (the MRI) or reflux (the reflux test). We are not keen on the reflux test because it requires fasting, barium drinking, possible intubation, and most likely restraint for X-rays. So very fun. Plus the fact that baby doesn't really show signs of reflux. But we went ahead with the pre-procedure consult, and thankfully the doctor seemed to agree with us without us even having to voice our concerns! I think her main thought was "And you are here because....?" Or rather, she was concerned about completely different issues! (Baby's low weight concerned her, but I don't think she was concerned about reflux.) Anyhow, in brief, she said, "We could test for reflux by doing test A, B, C or D, but since those are really unpleasant for baby, let's just treat him for reflux and see if it works." If it works, we'll know his back-arching was caused by reflux, and if not, that it wasn't! Hurray! So we'll be going back there in 2 months, and hopefully that will be it.

Off to take advantage of nap time! Good night, all!

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