Samberton Farms' Swiss Adventure

We are two girls and one dog and we are going to live in Switzerland for a while. And we're going to tell you about it.

easter snow trip photoset 2

while the snow had melted long ago at our home level, we decided that we wanted to head to the snow for easter weekend. some of the upper swiss alp ranges were still covered and malachi loves the snow so. it was a beautiful train ride, up twisting mountain paths with ancient rock railway bridges and snowy cliffs to the side. arosa is a ski resort, famous for having good snow even when the rest of europe has already melted and it didn’t disappoint. it snowed most days we were there for at least part of the day, covering malachi’s thick fur in soft snowflakes on our short walks around the city. malachi is moving pretty slow these days, but he gets so excited about snow! tail wagging, munching on the bits in his path. crunching on snow with his face in the snowdrifts as we walk. and then he needs a nap, that’s a lot of adventure for a very old yellow dog and we leave him to sleep in the warm motel room while we head out to play. we went on walks around the beautiful frozen lake, explored the town, and went sledding! a ride up the ski lift and then down as fast as gravity can take us on little wooden sleds. sam says she always wants to live in a place with real winter. uh oh.

easter trip to the snow photoset 1

This was one of our favorite walks when we were in Rotkreuz, a lovely little 1mi loop out a part of the Wanderweg & around a pond.

Kahlua!
Or at least something like it.
You can find Kahlua in Switzerland, but instead of costing around 15USD, it’s more like 33-35USD. And I just have a problem with that. But as it turns out, you can make a pretty decent approximation of it at home, with stuff you probably already have. And it’s dead easy, with little hands-on time.
I started with this recipe, but scaled it way down - this is an experiment, after all. The first batch I made was ok, but it didn’t taste much like Kahlua. It didn’t have the right consistency or flavor profile. It was thin, just like coffee, not the slightly syrupy viscosity of Kahlua, and it just tasted like sweet, slightly alcoholic coffee. Which, don’t get me wrong, is not a bad thing, and it still made a tasty White Russian (which Amber & I took to calling a ‘White Czechoslovakian’ as it wasn’t quite Russian… and doesn’t technically exist anymore… or something), but I didn’t feel like I’d nailed it yet. I could do better.
Upon further interweb research, I found that many people think that it develops in flavor if you let it age for two weeks or more after making it. Ok, I can dig that. I also took into consideration that a few people boil down the coffee & sugar a bit to thicken it up.
So here’s what happend: 150g brown sugar + 40g raw sugar (I didn’t want to open a new bag of brown sugar so I made up the difference with raw) went into about 600mL freshly brewed coffee, and I slowly brought that to a boil over pretty low heat, let it boil just for a few minutes then turned off the heat & let it cool. Once cool I mixed in 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla* and about 210mL vodka**, and poured the mix into two clean Eichhof Bügelbräu bottles (400mL capacity each).
And down into the cellar they went. To wait patiently…
2-week taste test results: it’s pretty delicious. Even the original batch, while still a bit thin & one dimensional, improved greatly after a few weeks of aging. But this second batch beats it. It’s deep & sweet & slightly syrupy & rich & altogether quite tasty. I’d have to taste it side by side to say for sure, but I think I might even like it better than the real Kahlua. It has an edge & a real, present coffee flavor that I think Kahlua seems to lack. Kahlua is all soft edges & approachability, and I think it lacks the muscle of a real, good cup of coffee. And I think this homemade version has that. I’m looking forward to using it in some delicious desert-in-a-glass White Russians.
Bottom line - it’s cheap, easy, fun, tasty, and gratifying. It’s just cooler to make your own stuff. Win.
*I would love to try making it with fresh vanilla beans
**Unfortunately you can’t get grain alcohol (such as everclear) here, but if I end up continuing to make this I may try to bring a bottle over from the states, as I think using a higher proof alcohol would make a better, more concentrated product

Kahlua!

Or at least something like it.

You can find Kahlua in Switzerland, but instead of costing around 15USD, it’s more like 33-35USD. And I just have a problem with that. But as it turns out, you can make a pretty decent approximation of it at home, with stuff you probably already have. And it’s dead easy, with little hands-on time.

I started with this recipe, but scaled it way down - this is an experiment, after all. The first batch I made was ok, but it didn’t taste much like Kahlua. It didn’t have the right consistency or flavor profile. It was thin, just like coffee, not the slightly syrupy viscosity of Kahlua, and it just tasted like sweet, slightly alcoholic coffee. Which, don’t get me wrong, is not a bad thing, and it still made a tasty White Russian (which Amber & I took to calling a ‘White Czechoslovakian’ as it wasn’t quite Russian… and doesn’t technically exist anymore… or something), but I didn’t feel like I’d nailed it yet. I could do better.

Upon further interweb research, I found that many people think that it develops in flavor if you let it age for two weeks or more after making it. Ok, I can dig that. I also took into consideration that a few people boil down the coffee & sugar a bit to thicken it up.

So here’s what happend: 150g brown sugar + 40g raw sugar (I didn’t want to open a new bag of brown sugar so I made up the difference with raw) went into about 600mL freshly brewed coffee, and I slowly brought that to a boil over pretty low heat, let it boil just for a few minutes then turned off the heat & let it cool. Once cool I mixed in 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla* and about 210mL vodka**, and poured the mix into two clean Eichhof Bügelbräu bottles (400mL capacity each).

And down into the cellar they went. To wait patiently…

2-week taste test results: it’s pretty delicious. Even the original batch, while still a bit thin & one dimensional, improved greatly after a few weeks of aging. But this second batch beats it. It’s deep & sweet & slightly syrupy & rich & altogether quite tasty. I’d have to taste it side by side to say for sure, but I think I might even like it better than the real Kahlua. It has an edge & a real, present coffee flavor that I think Kahlua seems to lack. Kahlua is all soft edges & approachability, and I think it lacks the muscle of a real, good cup of coffee. And I think this homemade version has that. I’m looking forward to using it in some delicious desert-in-a-glass White Russians.

Bottom line - it’s cheap, easy, fun, tasty, and gratifying. It’s just cooler to make your own stuff. Win.

*I would love to try making it with fresh vanilla beans

**Unfortunately you can’t get grain alcohol (such as everclear) here, but if I end up continuing to make this I may try to bring a bottle over from the states, as I think using a higher proof alcohol would make a better, more concentrated product

winter is ending

the snow is melting in all but the highest mountains

bulbs are pushing up shoots, blooms opening

trees are budding & greenery is returning

tiny baby sheep are showing up in the groups in the fields

i’m looking forward to the spring

from what it has already shown, it promises to be - like every season we’ve seen here so far - beautiful

but i will miss the winter

i have loved living in the snow

i loved the way it blanketed everything, the resulting stark, monochromatic landscape

the feathery snowflakes flurrying around as they fell, the fluffy powder as it piled up

i loved the cold

the way everything felt quieter, softer

there really is something magical about it…

…goodbye, winter, i will miss you…

…til next year

“In the feeble light between the drawn-in houses of a winter village, you can hear the breathing of something with ice for a heart.”

—   Barry Lopez, from Arctic Dreams

st patty’s day goodness - a couple irish coffees & some mini car bomb cupcakes. and hot air balloons!

California in late Jan/early Feb

and my first trip back to see my family since we moved here.

France! Alps! Snow!

some pics from our weekend there in a little village called Sixt-fer-à-Cheval at the end of January.

Snowshoeing & waterfalls, and knitting & games…

and Amber clearly likes rolling around in the snow.

as usual

we’ve got some catching up to do…

surprised?

probably not.

at least this guy isn’t. but he is disappointed…

This sloth kind of feels like you should update your blog more frequently.

(via buzzfeed)

sheesh