Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bamberg Part 1

          Bamberg is a city in Upper Franconia with approximately 70,000 inhabitants. The city was built on seven hills like Rome: Cathedral Hill, Michaelsberg, Kaulberg/Obere Pfarre, Stefansberg, Jakobsberg, Altenburger Hill and Abtsberg. Bamberg was spared during the bombings in the Second World War, and carries the title of ‘UNESCO World Cultural Heritage’ because of the well-maintained medieval and baroque architecture. Not only the beautiful old town and ‘Little Venice’ on the banks of the river Regnitz attract many tourists; the city is known for its diverse and independent beer tradition. And, after 69 years of US Army presence in Bamberg, USAG Bamberg closed in September 2014.
          In 1007, the German King Henry II created a new Catholic diocese that would aid in the final conquest of paganism in the area around Bamberg. The Catholic hold on this area remained securely intact with every new territory they acquired. For a short time Bamberg was even the center of the Holy Roman Empire. And they enjoyed many a century of power, until the reformers challenged their position. The first was Jan Hus in the early 15th Century and then, one hundred years later, the more well-known Protestant Martin Luther.
          Then in the 17th Century, Bamberg suffered greatly during the Thirty Years War. The plague returned to Germany along with regiments of mercenaries. The country was experiencing what they call the ‘Little Ice Age,’ the cold-crisis that no expert could explain.
          But what was it that turned organized religions, Catholics and Protestants alike, to seek blame for bad weather, failed crops and plagues of vermin among the city’s inhabitants? Women, children and any sorts who fell out of the ranks were accused of witchcraft and brutally tortured and executed. Were they really to blame for the atrocities of the Thirty Years War?
          The guidelines for the proper handling of potential witches were printed in 1488 by two German Dominican monks with the authorization from the Pope. This guide was called the Malleus Maleficarum, or Witches Hammer. This book offered the church fathers an explanation for the climactic problems, the plague or any of the other epidemics in general.
          Was it just a book or was it some kind of collective insanity? Bamberg was the center ring of the witch executions of 17th Century Germany, along with the city of Würzburg. All in all, during this 20 year period between 1616 and 1636, 1000 women, children and the occasional man (even the city’s mayor and the city council) were executed in Bamberg in the most brutal ways. Some sources say that the victims of this senseless wielding of power number 40,000 – 100,000 throughout Europe. Some go as far to say it was closer to a million. 

…you did WHAT?!

It depends on the cookie, really. What would you do for a vanilla wafer, a sugar cookie, or a store-bought ginger snap? Or a chocolate covered oreo, a warm chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream melting on the top, or a chocolate-chocolate chip macadamia that was taken out of the oven after just eight minutes, so it’s still a bit raw in the middle?
I never did a lot of cooking. I only really started doing more than noodles or potatoes or an occasional boiled chicken ten years or so ago. But I’ve been baking cookies for as long as I can remember.
I like to experiment with the recipes and, like anything else in the world, there are just a few ground rules. It’s like a science project, right Cathy? You need some dry stuff, some wet stuff, some fatty stuff and something to glue it all together. Sounds appetizing.
Adding an extra egg makes the cookies cakey-er, but that isn’t always the desired result. American recipes call for salt and baking soda, but I find they get too salty, especially if I’m leaving some of the sugar out, or using this wonderful dark-dark brown sugar. I substitute baking powder and get good results. And I never let them bake all the way. I take them out just before they are really done–with chocolate cookies even more so, because mine are so dark, you can’t see if they’re brown or burnt. Maybe I should turn the light on.
So, here is my Top-Ten List of my favorite cookies:
1. Store-bought oreos
2. Store-bought chocolate covered oreos
3. Homemade molasses spice cookie with lots of spice and a bit of black pepper
4. Kiffels with Lekvar (Yeast dough, not cream cheese dough, and no, I have never attempted to make them)
5. Classic Toll House aka chocolate chip
6. Chocolate chip recipe using M&M’s or even better, chopped up Toffee Fee
7. Warm chocolate chip that isn’t quite baked through
8. Warm chocolate chip peanut that isn’t quite baked through with ice cream melting on the top
9. Chocolate-choco mint chip, warm, ice cream, whipped cream
10. Chocolate-Ghiradelli chocolate chip with cashews or macadamias, warm, ice cream, whipped cream and choco syrup.