For the second year in a row, we didn’t get to go to the inaugural Great North American Oktoberfest in St. Louis (and at this point, I’m kind of thinking that the event will never happen), but we did have a happy Markel Family Oktoberfest at home! I started last week by assembling all of our favorite German foods from Aldi’s Deutsche Küche:
For lunch, we had cheddar and beer fondue with homemade pretzels, German pickles, and Nürnberger Bratwurst, plus more pretzels with beer mustard and nacho cheese sauce for those who don’t like fondue:
Dinner was schnitzel with optional Jäger sauce, spaetzle, sauerkraut, artichoke and cheese strudel, and red cabbage with apples:
And dessert was, of course, Black Forest cherry torte:
I also had a fun Oktoberfest celebration with my neighbors in Animal Crossing: New Horizons:
It wasn’t quite the Oktoberfest I had hoped for (again), especially after I derailed our pretzel-making to go to Urgent Care to have a splinter removed (that was unpleasant!), but it was a fun day of celebrating our German heritage!
St. Patrick’s Day is one of our favorite holidays, and I was determined to celebrate it as we usually do, which honestly wasn’t too difficult, because our observation of the day very rarely takes us out of the house!
I started preparing for the day a few weeks ago, which in retrospect was probably a good thing. New this year: a lot of my supplies were purchased at Aldi!
I was so well-stocked that our celebration began last night, with a dinner of Irish-style ale & onion bangers, plus homemade colcannon:
We set our leprechaun trap as we usually do, and, as always, caught no leprechaun. We did find some nice mint patties, though!
We enjoyed our traditional breakfast of Lucky Charms, and Irish Breakfast tea for those who weren’t interested in coffee:
We had a few special treats with lunch:
Even with nowhere to go, I wore green for St. Patrick’s Day (and Mary Blair March!):
And we enjoyed our traditional dinner of corned beef and cabbage, roast potatoes and carrots, and soda bread with Irish butter (plus leftover colcannon from yesterday):
And for dessert, we had our favorite Guinness cake:
We celebrated as we always do, and it was a fun and delicious day. There was something low-key about it, though…it’s hard to ignore world events, even when we’re having fun at home!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my grocery shopping habits, how they’ve changed over the years, and how they’ve influenced how I cook.
When Ryan and I were first married, our number one priority in buying groceries was sticking to a (small) budget. And really, that continued to be the driving force behind how I planned meals and wrote my shopping list for at least a decade. I shopped sale ads and clipped coupons. I was shopping at our local grocery store chain for the most part during that time, because Walmart Supercenters weren’t a thing in St. Louis back then, but if I could have shopped there, I would have. I did whatever I could to spend as little money as possible.
In recent years, while I still have a grocery budget (who doesn’t?!?), it is bigger, and I have more flexibility in what I can buy and where I shop. I do the bulk of our grocery buying at Walmart (now that we have Walmarts with groceries), because it’s both convenient and helps me save money. But I’ve added in some stores that I visit at least semi-regularly, which has really changed how I cook.
One store that you would have thought I would have shopped at during my more budget-conscious days was Aldi. Apparently, that would have made too much sense. I have to confess, I used to be a snob about Aldi. I thought that they sold items of lower quality. But a few years ago, when a new store opened in our area, I decided to give it a try, and I was pleasantly surprised! Now, it’s my go-to store for cuts of meat that I either can’t easily find other places (lamb, I’m looking at you!), or can’t afford at other stores (like the standing rib roast we had at Christmas and the tenderloin I prepared for Ryan’s birthday).
The other store that we’ve been visiting regularly for the last few years is the Asian market. Actually, “Asian” really doesn’t begin to cover it, because they carry other ethnic food items, as well. But we’ve encountered so many new items, some we’d never even heard of before, and that has really broadened our culinary experiences. Now one of our favorite things to do is just wander through the store for a while, looking for new things to try!
Here’s an example of some of the meals we’ve enjoyed in the last week, all influenced by my current grocery shopping habits. There’s gyros (which I’ve made before, but only after Easter with the lamb leftovers we sometimes have, because that was the one time of year I knew I’d be able to find lamb pre-Aldi!) made with lamb from Aldi and served on pita bread from a local bakery that Pan-Asia stocks. A new recipe of Moroccan lamb tagine (again made with Aldi lamb) appears in the center, prepared with some spices with which I don’t usually cook. And finally, beef shawarma, again served on pita bread from Pan-Asia, and also prepared with a marinade and topped with tahini I found the last time we wandered through the store.
I’m so glad I was both able to branch out and try new stores, and that I was finally able to let go of some (wildly incorrect) preconceived notions about where I shop…we’ve definitely benefited from both!
I don’t cook German food very often, certainly not as much as I should, but when I do, it’s always a popular meal! I fried some pork schnitzels I found at Aldi (my new favorite store!), and made a jaeger sauce to go with them. I also made homemade spaetzle and served it with sauerkraut, also purchased at Aldi.
I do have to admit, it’s not a very interesting plate to look at…Turkey commented on how everything is pretty much the same color…but it certainly was delicious!