The holidays have been cozy and filled with delicious foods again. The main Christmas holiday is December 24th in Germany, not the 25th as in most other countries. As usual, the day began with setting up and decorating the Christmas tree while listening to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

In the afternoon, my two grandmoms came to my parents’ house, and we all had tea and coffee together and talked, since they had not seen me in such a long time. For the ones who wanted, there were sweets to enjoy.

~ cream-filled Christmas cake my grand aunt had sent us ~

~ Niederegger marzipan chocolates, a delicacy from my hometown ~

With exception of the cake, everything was gluten-free this year: My parents both switched to a gluten-free diet several months earlier, due to my dad’s aggravating and increasingly harmful bowel issues. When the doctors recommended to raise his consumption of fibers by eating more whole grains and legumes, I had suggested to try a gluten-free diet first, to rule out the possibly he had developed a wheat sensitivity after getting bowel surgery a couple of years ago – thanks to my friend Panda who once mentioned that food intolerances can result from having an infection or undergoing surgery, especially in the belly and bowel area. In that case, increasing (gluten) whole grain consumption might have had very unfortunate effects.

I am very happy that the gluten-free diet seems to work for my dad: He has not had a single attack in the last half of a year, and has not been to the hospital, which he was every three or four months before, when he got the most severe cramps and obstruction of the bowels. My mom cooks a lot of potatoes, and sometimes rice or other gluten-free grains, and my dad eats gluten-free bread and the like. Now, my mom has made her traditional Christmas stolen with gluten-free flour for the first time, and an accomplished baker she is, she immediately found out that gluten-free dough is likely to need an egg more not to become dry and crumbly, since it lacks the elasticity provided by wheat gluten.

~ my mom’s gluten-free stollen ~

For Christmas dinner, we had fish this year – salmon and cod caught by my dad on his last fishing vacation in Denmark – with vegetables and potatoes, and a fruit salad for dessert. The fish was prepared differently so everybody could have it the way he liked it best, or try it all.

My dad had marinated the salmon with olive oil, lemon juice, and a Mediterranean spice mix, and roasted it in a large, heavy pan.

Part of the cod was breaded with a mixture of egg-yolk and gluten-free flour, and roasted as well.

The rest I carefully cooked with slices of fresh ginger, dried lemon leaves, and tarragon.

Sides were potatoes, green beans and carrots, and a green salad my mom just seasoned with a little light olive oil, lemon juice, and a dash of sugar (northern German style ).

For the fruit salad, I undertook the task to deseed a pomegranate, and this was a great occasion to try out the pitting technique I had seen on a blog a while ago, and had not tried out so far (while being very curious about it). The idea is to simply cut the pomegranate into halves, and then holding one half with the cutting surface downwards, and tapping the half from above with a blunt object. I used a wooden thing actually thought for flattening meat cutlets (or so), and it worked amazingly well. The seeds fell out undamaged, and the whole endeavor could be done without giving the kitchen a pink pomegranate juice shower.

~ melon, mandarin, banana, and pomegranate fruit salad ~

I leave you for today with a picture of my Christmas dinner plate. In the next post, I will show you what happened to the many leftovers we had.

What did you have for Christmas dinner this year?

After a 7 hours trip, I have safely arrived at home. Long train rides exhaust me quite a bit because I get headache and nausea from the constant shaking, and all the chatter and noises around do not make it better. Therefore, I was happy to change trains twice and had two little rests on the way.

~ changing trains at Frankfurt main station ~

The train to Frankfurt was incredibly full (although not as badly as last year), and I sat on the floor all the way, but in the other trains, I was happy to get a seat. Before leaving, I had prepared a big batch of cooked chicken, onions, and tomatoes which made up for two servings enjoyed in the train, and I also had tea, water, and a bottle with almond milk, so everything was fine regarding food. As I ate and drank my way through all of this, my baggage weight reduced remarkably.

My parents picked me up at the station, and we spent a nice and relaxed evening together. I was excited to play the piano my parents had arranged to be repaired before I arrived. This is my grandmom’s piano which she gave to me when she recently sold her house, some time after my granddad had died, since she could not take it to her current apartment and I did not want it to be sold. I love that it is an old piano with ivory and ebony keys, and it has a beautiful, mellow sound. Now that it is tuned and all keys respond evenly again, it is wonderful to play, and I know lots of playing will happen during these holidays.

Food-wise, I am living very well here. My mom had made a venison pot roast before I came, which she flavored with star anise, and it is delicious.

The pot roast makes up for countless servings, so you can easily cut a slice off it as a basis for a quick meal. These were the first two meals I enjoyed at home. And probably, today was also the first day in many, many months that I did not eat any chicken.

~ venison pot roast with carrots and brussel sprouts ~

~ venison pot roast with roasted onions, fresh tomatoes, and parsley ~

So you see, I am incredibly well here. Tomorrow, we are going to do the last Christmas preparations and set up the tree, and I am looking forward to a relaxed holiday, after the rather stressful pre-Christmas time. I hope you are all fine and enjoy the time with your loved ones as well!