|We took a plane out of Rome and landed that afternoon in Stuttgart, Germany. I rented a car so me and Ziggy could see the countryside. We heard of a US Base in Heidelburg, Germany so we stopped off to say hi to our troops stationed there. The Heidelberg community and 26th Area Support Group became U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg. They were all glad to see and meet us as were we.
This is where Ziggy meets Sergeant Bilko. This was a huge tabby cat that was Ziggys age and had seen alot of the world in his travels. Because Sergeant Bilko knew Berlin and had been there on numerous occasions, he asked he he could accompany us. Of course, we both agreed.
All the way to Berlin, Ziggy and Bilko played Go Fish in the backseat. At one point, they were screaming at each other so much, I threatened to take the cards away from them. But I didn't have to take the cards away from them.
Two minutes after I made the threat, Ziggy tossed them out the window. I made Ziggy sit in the front seat while Bilko chuckled on the drive into Berlin. For several miles, Bilko told us of the history of Gingerbread which we found quite interesting.
He told us Lebkuchen (gingerbread) is first mentioned in old German documents approx. 600 years ago, and Gingerbread on wafers appears in a 1395 Zinsbuch (rent-roll) of Franconia. The name "Lebkuchen," in the Middle Ages called "Lebekouche", possibly stems from the middle high German "lebbe" = sweet or the name "leb" may have been derived from the Latin word "libum which means "Fladen" or cake. As do the wafers, used for the host during services, honey cakes and wafer gingerbread most likely originated in the monasteries. The wafer, consisting of flour and starch is edible, and has a natural taste. It holds together the Lebkuchen mass, which contains very little flour to bind it.
To make the many candles they needed in the monasteries, the brothers cultivated fruit trees and kept bees for the wax. By spreading the dough, made with honey, on wafers, they produced a nourishing and healthy food. It served well on journeys and was brought to the infirm and the sick.
We stayed at the Steigenberger Berlin Hotel. Bilko said that was the best. And it certainly was!
We dumped our belongings in the room and headed towards this place called Kirche des grauen Klosters (Grey Monastery). It was of Gothic style Monastery and you could smell the aroma of Gingerbread baking as soon as you entered the gates. They've been making Gingerbread the same way since the Middle Ages. Man Oh Man! Was it ever guut! Here's the recipe!
1 lb. Honey - Organic, or something made with a flavored flower blossom, etc., but feel free to use your favorite. Just remember that the final product is affected by the flavor of the honey you choose.
Bread Crumbs - up to a pound, maybe more, maybe less. These must be UNSEASONED bread crumbs, though either white or wheat, or a combination, is fine. Be sure that they are finely ground and not soft in any way.
ginger (optional!) - up to 1 Tbs.
cinnamon - up to 1 Tbs.
ground white pepper - up to 1/2 tsp.
pinch saffron, if desired, but not important here
few drops red food coloring (optional)
Bring the honey to a boil and skim off any scum. Keeping the pan over very low heat, add the spices, adjusting the quantities to suit your taste. Add the food coloring "if you will have it red." Then begin to slowly beat in the bread crumbs. Add just enough bread to achieve a thick, stiff, well-blended mass. Remove from the heat and turn the mixture into a container or bowl to cool. When cool, take a rolling pin & spread the gingerbread evenly out into a square shape, 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Trim the edges with a knife, then cut into small slices to serve. Decorate with small leaves (real or candy) attached to each piece with a clove.
You're probably asking yourself if we had anything but Gingerbread in Berlin. Well, the answer is no. We also had room service dleiver us a steak with baked potato and a bowl of tuna. I had the steak. Sergeant Bilko and Ziggy had the tuna. Ziggy wanted to walk Sergeant Bilko to the door so he could catch a cab back to the airport. After 30 minutes or so passed by, I thought I would go look for her. You know by now how she wanders.
I didn't see her anywhere so I asked the Concierge guy and he knew right away where she was. He pointed to this night club disco in the hotel so went to get her. There she was, in the middle of the dance floor dancing up a storm.
After the dance was over, of course she had to sign autographs. We went up to room and went right to sleep.
Tomorrow, we are in Warsaw, Poland and have to leave for an early flight. This should be an interesting visit. Ziggy has been drooling since she went to bed. She has a surprise for me and I have no idea what it could be.