Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Family=3, maybe 4, no more than 5!

The parent coffee hour before our first aid training yesterday was a good opportunity to "see" into the thinking of the german mind. Germany has one of the lowest birthrates in the entire world. The German government is trying to give couples incentive to have babies. They receive a large amount of money every month and more for each additional child. Dresden has had a baby boom so to speak and has seen an increase in the birthrate, up to a little above 1%! There are also laws that allow women to keep their job for up to 3 years after the birth of the child so they can stay home until then. Many women will plan their children exactly 3 years apart.

As we were eating cookies and drinking coffee, the parents began to discuss how difficult it is to find cheap places to vacation with large families. The couple had 3 children I think. Jason volunteered that we have 4 kids. Everyone was surprised we had so many. It seems that 1 child is typical, 2 children is becoming more common, 3 children is pretty rare but not so bad, but apparently 4 children is too many, over the top! Someone made some comment about 5 but unfortunately I didn't hear it. We know several families with 3 kids in our neighborhood, and our neighbor actually has 4 daughters, and another family in our church has 4 but they are the only exception I know of! So, we were not exactly normal in the states but we are definitely just strange here in Germany!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recipe, Schmecipe

Life in another country is often very similar to life in the United States. Or at least it is after one gets over culture shock and learns the language and how things work. I am very fortunate here in Germany to find many things or even the same things as in the US. I still buy Bounty paper towels and Charmin toilet paper and the kids still get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (just with less sweet pb and no grape jelly). I can even buy some luxury items (like cake mixes and Pop Tarts) if I am willing to pay the astronomical prices! We bake and cook a lot of things from scratch and they usually are as good or better than what we would have had in Texas.
But, as I was preparing to bake a cake for a collegue, I ran into the problem that makes cooking and baking here in Germany a challenge. I first looked for a recipe for strawberry cake. (Sure was missing the cake mixes from the states!) I found a recipe that went a little like this:

One white cake mix (why do they do this?)
1 Package frozen strawberries (how much is that exactly? and can you switch that to metric?)
3/4 package powdered sugar (it has been over 3 years since I bought a package of anything and so I can't remember how much comes in a package.)
1/4 of said package strawberries hold back for icing (aghhhh!)
3 oz. strawberry jello (2 problems with this: one, no strawberry jello, two, jello packages here are different sizes and don't come with sugar, that must be added)

Well,my cake turned out okay even though I guestimated the amount of strawberries and used strawberry pudding mix instead of the jello. One must be flexible when baking here and open to failing when trying new recipes! I won't even go into the difficulty that arises when trying to make anything that calls for Cool Whip or cream cheese! And I haven't found anything comparable to Rotel and creamed corn, so a few recipes must be sacrificed.