The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

A weekend at a Kurklinik

As this was to be Linda’s last weekend at the Kurklinik, we had agreed that I would come up for the weekend, now before you say that I could do with a Kur, may I just say I am perfectly fit, well if you discount all of my ailments, aches and pains.
So I set off at lunchtime on Friday and had a smashing clear run up and done the trip in about 4 hours which was quite good considering that for half of the journey I had decided to travel on none motorways.

The weather was fantastic for the journey and was still smashing when I arrived. I took my case up to the room and then Linda took me around for a tour of the grounds. The clinic is part of a group called The Damp Group and they have rehabilitation clinics situated all over the North of Germany.

The Lehmrade clinic specialises in the rehabilitation of people that have just been through cancer operations and the atmosphere is very relaxed. It is situated in what was once a Gutshof (Manor), most of the buildings have long since been demolished, but there are a few still standing and in use that gives an idea of what it once was like. It is set in a park landscape and it has the relaxation and well-being of the patients first and foremost as its goal.

I was able to photograph all manner of bird life in the grounds and the surrounding countryside, the area is famous as a resting place for cranes and storks on their journey south to their breeding grounds in the south of France and Spain, some are also sedentary and breed in the area. I saw a few flying overhead but alas was not fortunate enough to see them on the ground doing their courtship dance.
But I was able to catch many of the other birds billing and cooing, the air in the whole area was alive with the cacophony of bird noise.

We had our Abendbrot  and then had a  walk through the area, I did a bit of surfing, watched a bit of TV, listened to kur guests dacing to the rythm of Deutscher Schlager from the 70s and had an early night (the patients have an early start and breakfast is from 07:30).
Breakfast was very substantial (German style) and then Linda went off to do her power walking, I went out (none power walking) into the surrounding area to get myself a bit orienteered with vicinity. First stop was across the road to see what the noise was all about, it was a pond full of frogs many in a marital embrace.

I then walked through the country lanes doing a bit of bird spotting, this was not at all hard as every hedge, tree and bush has some member of the bird family calling out for company.

I returned to find Linda finished with her physical exertions for the day and so as we had decided to go out for the day said we wouldn’t be in for lunch or evening meal .

So of we jolly well went to Schwerin, I had been to Schwerin once before, it was when the DDR was still in existence, but the wall was no longer a dividing factor, I could remember very little other than we went to the castle which was in a desolate condition, but then that was a normal state of affairs for most of the Bauern und Arbeiterstadt.  What difference, it is one of the places that one can see where the solidarity money, paid by all to build up the former communist state, has gone.

We parked at the water front not far from the opera house and theatre, this is just across the road from the Island castle, this is now almost completely renovated to its former glory, a most impressive building and no longer a dowdy, run down ruin.

Once the home of the Dukes and Grand Dukes, now the seat of local Government "The Landtag"

As we crossed the bridge to the island, I looked down and saw a pair of Great Crested Grebes doing their courtship dance; I was also able to catch a one just coming up with a fish in its beak.

In all I have never seen so many pairs of Great Crested Grebes strutting their thing, there must have been at least 50 pairs.

The island castle has now been turned into the state parliament and access wasn’t possible, but the exterior was quite splendid and also the view across the Schweriner lake was fantastic. The bronze plastics and marble statues have been replaced on their plinths around the sunken winter garden.

Taking the bull by the horns!

we took a stroll through the schloss-park with its bird life 


 and then into the Altstadt (now also completely renovated).
We even managed to find a couple of fantastic cheese and wurst shops, one actually selling Blue Stilton, not normal in most places in Germany. There was also a smashing historical weinstube, alas I was driving.

We wandered back to the car and decided to head up to the coast  for Lunch, we had settled on Wismar, I had been there 18 months previous for a weekend with my Kegeltruppe (skittle group). We parked up and it was funny but in the distance of 45km the temperature had dropped from 20°C down to 8°C and a chilling wind, grey and overcast. We popped into an Easter Market taking place in the new market hall, it was nice and there was a lot of artisan art on sale some of it very well made.
Brauhaus am Lohberg
We then headed for something to eat and as we were on the Baltic then it was to be fish, of course. We settled on a place that I had visited when I was last in Wismar called Brauhaus am Lohberg, bier was first brewed here in 1452 and even when this part of the Baltic was under Swedish rule it was as a vittling house. At one time Wismar boasted 180 places brewing their own beer as well as 148 hop gardens. Most of the microbreweries are long gone and with them the hop gardens, but since 1995 beer is once again being brewed at the Lohberg. They also serve traditional Mecklenburg food and more to the point traditional Baltic fish dishes.
I was driving so could this time not sample the brau-meisters wares, but I can vouch for it from the last time, well worth a taste, or three!

Linda ordered the fish salad platter and I ordered the Baltic fried herrings, apple and onions, with fried potatoes and a side salad.

Well Linda’s plate of food was really ginormous, three different sorts of fish filets and a wonderful salad.

Mine wasn’t any less spectacular, consisting of three crispy fried fresh herring, a pile of fried potatoes and a nice fresh and pickled salad. Quite wonderful and neither of us could not finish the meals.

We finished our meals and decided to walk along through the old harbour frontage (Wismar had been one of the old Hansiatic trading cities) much of it has either been or is being renovated to its former glory. The fish market takes place on the small inshore fishing boats complete with their smoke ovens.
The house over the river, it is holiday appartments

The old water gate, now home of the "Maritime Club"

One of the boats selling smoked fish

We then returned to the car, it was my original plan to travel along the coast to Travemunde but the weather was so miserable and the sunshine inland so inviting that we headed South before reaching the mouth of the Trave and back into Sunshine. We had originally said we wouldn’t be back for evening meal, but as we arrived just as it was being served, we decided to participate.
That evening we went bowling, the girls that I chaperoned where very well behaved and we all had a very nice time.
Tomorrow we planned to go out for the day , but that is for tomorrow

Lambs shanks St. Patrick

I had been thinking about what to do for St Patrick’s day (it was on the Saturday, but I didn’t fancy anything heavy on Saturday evening so decided to make lamb shanks on the Sunday. It was made Irish by doing it in Guinness and serving with champ and cabbage and bacon.

I had popped into my local Turkish shop, the one with the lady butcher, I had a look and they had loads of lamb and mutton, but I couldn’t see any lamb shanks, on inquiring, she went into the butchery place at the rear and came back with four. She said, take all four and I’ll give you a special price. I said, ok, what are they going to cost? She said €20 for the four. What a bargain they weighed in at over 2 kg. (Though until a couple of years ago they would have cost only half that)!


4 lamb shanks

1 large carrot

1 piece of celeriac

White of a leek

1 large onion

1 sprig of parsley

1 sprig of mint

½ l of stock (what ever you have at hand, chicken, lamb or vegetable)

1 can of Guinness

Splash of port

Bouquet garni (Thyme, marjoram, sage)

1 tsp of rosemary needles

2 bay leaves

1 piece of mace

2 cloves

4 garlic cloves

100g of bacon chopped into lardoons (I used ready prepared speck)

Salt and pepper mixed

Next day, I was going angling so was up early (though as I am always up early this was nothing new).

Rubbed the shanks all over in the salt and pepper mixture

Diced and sliced the vegetables, nothing pretty as it was to add to the stock and be cooked for a good few hours

I softened the speck and onion in a little oil in a large frying pan at the same time browning the shanks in my skillet.

Popped 3 garlic cloves or it may have been 4, into the bottom of my large 6½ litre SC put ½ of the bacon and onion mixture into the SC along with the vegetables, then in went the herbs and spices.

Pour in the stock, then the rest of the onions and speck.

Pour in the Guinness and the slug of Port, lid on and out fishing.

A little aside, I got to the lake, paid for my day ticket (maximum 10 fish), got a nice pitch and sat about chatting to a few of the others that had been even earlier, many had about their limit. I got a bite almost straight away, out came a nice Lachsforelle oh ho, this is going to be a good day thought I. Alas just then the heavens opened up and it poured down. It looked as if it would be a long one, so I took my fish to the station and had it gutted and cleaned. The owner said, you not staying? I said no, it looks as if it will be quite a long rain spell, he then gave me a voucher for ½ a days fishing saying pop back in a couple of weeks. Now I thought that was a nice gesture, he didn’t have to but he is just a very nice man.

So as I had a bit of time to spare I decided to go to the Steinhorster becken a set of lakes that had been set up as a relief against flooding on the river Ems, this has been turned into a nature reserve, but it was still pouring down and even the birds didn’t feel like flying in this weather.

I next popped down the Ems a little further to the Rietberg wet lands, here the rain had let up and I was able to have a good view of the geese and herons in the wet meadows and take a few photos.

Next it was home, out of my wet clothes, pealed the spuds and celeriac, into salted water and then the spitzkohl (pointy cabbage). Everything ready for later, phoned a taxi and went out for a pint or three as one does on a rainy Sunday.

Returned home to the smell of delicious lamb wafting through the apartment.

Popped the spuds and cabbage on. Diced a leek, and some bacon, softened this in a little oil, removed a couple of ladles of stock from the SC put it into a small sauce pan and reduced it until it was thick and glistening.

Mashed the spuds with loads of butter and cream, 1 table spoonful of mustard and S&P to taste. Stirred in the chopped spring onions and there it is Champ.

Mixed the blanched cabbage with the leek and bacon, added a teaspoon of fennel seeds adjusted the seasoning and that was it ready to go.

The finished meal.

The cabbage, leek and bacon to the left the lamb shank in the middle with fantastic Guinness sauce and to the left the Champ.

Guten Appetit

Mediterranean Rabbit Pie – Mittelmeer Kaninchenpastete

You will require a rabbit preferably wild, but a hutch rabbit is not to be sniffed at!
1 tsp of fresh ground game spices
Pepper for seasoning
2 heaped tsp of mustard (medium heat such as Dijon or as I used Bautzener)

1 large onion
1 clove of garlic crushed and chopped
100g of bacon or speck chopped into lardoons
1 piece of peeled celeriac or a stalk of celery diced
2 carrots peeled and cut into discs
3 parsley roots peeled and diced
3 cm piece of a thick leek, white only cut into rings
1 handful of brown mushrooms
100g each of frozen chanterelles and cepes
2 bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme and marjoram
1 teaspoon of rosemary needles
1 level table spoon of dried wild garlic
1 level table spoon of dried oregano
1 piccolo of sekt (I wanted to use cider but had none)
Olive oil for frying (I used olive oil because of it’s Mediterranean influence but you can use whatever cooking oil you have at hand)
1 Schnapps glass of white wine vinegar
1 Table spoon of sherry vinegar
2 anchovy fillets
1 Tsp of capers
1 small handful of Kalamata olives (bought from my local Turkish butchers)
500ml of vegetable stock (marigold low salt -I would have used home made chicken stock, but I had taken it out of the freezer, left it in the warm kitchen for a couple of days to defrost and it had turned sour)

First put your rabbit in water overnight to get rid of any blood, this had been a ferreted rabbit so had no shot to be picked out.

Remove as much of the second skin as possible (it will shrink and can go tough). Joint the rabbit and place in a bowl with vinegar water (this will whiten the flesh)

In the mean time chop all of your veg. etc.
Put a dessert spoon of oil into a frying pan and slowly fry the bacon pieces, then add the onions and garlic, don’t burn! Add the rest of the veg. and soften a little, add the dried herbs and sauté to get everything coated with the herbs and oil.

Remove the rabbit pieces from the water, dry with kitchen paper and season with the game spices and pepper, brown in a little olive oil

and add the mustard,.

Pour in the  stock and then add the sekt, bubble up to remove the alcohol.

Add the sautéed vegetables, give it all a good mixing add the bay leaves and the bouquet garni (the fresh herbs bound together for ease of removal), chop the rosemary needles and add.

Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer, after about 15 minutes add the, chopped anchovies add the olives, capers and mushrooms, continue to cook until the rabbit meat is just about falling off the bones.

Carefully take the rabbit pieces from the stew (as this is what it is now) and remove the meat from the bones, pour the rest through a funnel sieve, you now have the Mediterranean stock to make the sauce. Mix the rabbit and vegetables together and mix in the sauce that you are about to make.

For the sauce

Enough stock from your rabbit vegetable cooking liquor
200ml of cream
Knob of butter
1tbl spoon of flour

First make a roux with butter and flour, adding the stock little by little until it is quite a thick sauce, remove from the heat and stir in enough cream so that the sauce coats the back of a spoon season to taste, though you shouldn’t need any extra seasoning. It should have a deep herby, mustard and slightly tangy acidic flavour.

Make your short crust pastry ( (Be-ro method) though I used all butter, the recipe calls for half lard and half marg, as I didn’t have any lard to hand and  I never have margarine in my kitchen.

1 beaten egg for the egg wash. 225g of plain flour
100g of butter
Pinch of salt
Enough cold water to just bring it all together into a firm dough.

I allowed the pastry to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours (the time it took to get a taxi to the pub, down 4 pints and get back home).
Divided the pastry into two balls. 1 ball to be slightly larger than the other. Grease your loose bottom tin (for our German readers Tchibo has them in at the moment, they are great for flans and this type of flat pie!).
Roll out the larger ball. Line the bottom of the tin, put in the filling and cover with the top disc,

sealing the edges. Wash with the beaten egg.
Put into a medium hot oven until golden brown.

I also had braised chicory in a cheese sauce
2 heads of chicory halved and braised in a little vegetable stock with some sliced mushrooms.
Make a roux, add the liquid from the braised chicory and some of the left over stock add a handful of grated cheese (I used Edam but any cheese will do). Pour the resulting sauce over the braised chicory and mushrooms, put this into the oven alongside your pie for the last 10 minutes.

Polenta medallions
100g medium polenta
250ml of vegetable stock
A good knob of butter
Pepper to taste

Bring the vegetable stock to the boil; pour the polenta into it in a steady stream while stirring, reduce the heat and keep stirring for about 10-15 minutes, add the butter and stir it in and cook it until it is smooth. Pour out onto a smooth surface and spread about 1cm thick allow to cool. Cut out discs with a 5cm circular cutter (I got 2 and then formed the remains into a 3rd). Fry in an oiled skillet until golden brown.

Serve immediately with your rabbit pie, braised chicory in a cheese sauce and minted peas.

Just to keep the meal Mediterranean, I also made a nice side salad with fennel, courgettes, tomato, red peppers, olives, capers, orange segments and feta cheese.

Note those are my diabetic pills  to the left of the fork!!!  
To drink, well, a cold Picpoul de Pinet from the French Mediterranean area.

And all that was left of my Sunday lunch! A few olive stones.
NB If doing it again for guests I think I would use pitted olives as I realise that some would bite into the stones and break their teeth.