Passport to Fun - Switzerland!

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You'll remember that I came up with a pretty awesome idea for G's Christmas gift this year.

If I've never met you before, or you just have a memory like a sieve, then feel free to wander on over to this post to read all about it.

I'll wait.

For our second "trip," we headed to a country I almost visited just before Gv was born, when we had plans to explore Turkey with a stop in Bern along the way.

That plan got totally adjusted once I realized it would just be too torturous to pass up tasting all the weird new treats that the Grand Bazaar had to offer.

And pass it up I would have, since I was halfway into my pregnancy and still retching at even the thought of food as bland as a hard-boiled egg.

(Side note:  This is exactly why G thought I was extraordinarily awesome for completely finishing this meal that was placed in front of me on the trip we ended up taking!)

I'm sure the fact that G had been all over both Switzerland and Turkey, but not three of the four countries we did visit on our adjusted trip had nothing to do with it.

Even though that took my "countries of the world" lead down from five to two after all was said and done...

Anyway, it all totally worked out, but until we have a chance to flit back overseas and explore more of this great world of ours, this little trip-to-Switzerland-from-the-comfort-of-our-living-room is my only experience there.

February:  Switzerland

Set the Stage

I added the next stamp to G's passport so he'd see where we were going, then left it out where he'd find it the next morning before he went to work:

What to Decorate With

To keep things simple, yet do something to lend an air of the locale, Gv and I again made a flag for the wall next to our front door, which would greet G as soon as he got home from work.

Red & White for the 2nd month in a row!

What to Dress Like

Since we don't have lederhosen or gaudy, colorful Michelangelo creations lying around the house, all I could come up with was this:

Watches and a Swiss Army Knife!

Note:  Michelangelo didn't actually design the Swiss guard uniforms, but this oft-cited myth is more exciting to mention than some story about Commandant Jules Repond, who actually created the flamboyant uniforms. 

What to Listen to

Although I searched high and low for a copy of this music (head about 40 seconds in to get to the good stuff), I had to be content with my rather substantial collection of polka music (over an hour's worth!) along with a few other specific selections, such as The William Tell Overture, The Lonely Goatherd, this soundtrack and track 9 off of this album

What to Eat

Like last month, I chose to travel to Switzerland at this time of year primarily because of the food I knew I wanted to fix.

Switzerland immediately conjures up pictures of ooey, gooey cheese stringing the distance between mouths and fondue pots.  If I'd had a raclette grill, I'd have gone with some of that too, but alas, I merely possess a simple fondue pot.  (this one is fantastic, by the way)

Of course, when it came time to actually prepare the standard cheese fondue that I've made countless times before, I couldn't find my fondue pot anywhere.  

Even after tearing up the house to look for it.

And I can't imagine getting rid of something that I've enjoyed using so much, so all I can figure is that I loaned it to someone for a special occasion.

Was it you?

If so, I'd like it back, please.

Luckily, I knew I could also make my fondue dish in a regular old pot.  The downside would be that we wouldn't be able to cook it all right there at the table, and we'd have to gobble it up so we could finish it before it got all cold and slimy.

No fondue pot?  No problem.  Still cheese, still good.

All that cheese needed something to dip with, so I baked up a loaf of this bread, which went just perfectly with that pound of Emmentaler.

Fancy fondue forks and plates remain hidden, but regular old forks work, too.

I also fixed Basel Flour Soup, which is the traditional dish that launches the legendary Basel Carnival.  I'd read it was bland, but we really like soup, so I figured it was worth a try.

Boy, was I glad that I did, because we thought it was delicious and will be adding it to our regular soup rotation.

I filled out our veggie-less meal with giant rösti  pancakes.  Even though this began as a breakfast dish, it's now eaten at all hours and the fact that it is considered a national dish meant that I needed to include it in our menu.

Plus, we just really like potatoes.

I have to say, usually I find potato-pancake-type dishes to be a pain in the patooty, but this was simple and easy, and turned out to be delicious, as well!

For dessert, it was pile on the chocolate.  I'd planned to break out some of my special Swiss chocolate bars, but then decided to create something a bit more involved.

It had nothing to do with the fact that I'd rethought my sharing of said bars (CoughOnlyChild) with the others in this house...nooo, nothing at all...

I planned to go all Little Debbie and recreate the classic Swiss Cake Roll, but then G put in a request for cookies, which also involved loads of chocolate, so I opted for a fruitier roll, instead.

Both my Swiss Cake Roll and Basler Brunsli Cookies (they're gluten free!) were huge hits, so I'm happy I ended up making the extra effort with dessert.

Basel Flour Soup

What You Need

3 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat)

1 finely chopped onion

1 minced garlic clove

4 cups of bouillon or stock (beef is best, but I just had chicken and it worked fine)





1/2 cup red wine

a bit of shredded cheese (Emmentaler or Swiss, preferably)

What You Do

1.  Brown the flour in the butter (don't let it burn!)

2.  Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, then remove from heat.

3.  Add  everything else besides the wine and cheese and stir well so that you don't get any lumps.  I know I was very un-specific about the amount of salt, pepper, nutmeg and marjoram to include, but it's just a shake or two of each to taste.

4.  Return pot to stove and simmer on low for about 45 minutes.

5.  Remove pot from heat again, stir in the wine, then grate just a bit of cheese over the top before serving.


This is so easy, it's ridiculous.  I will never make hashbrowns another way again!

Grate your potatoes (I used 5 for the 3 of us).  I just stuck the shredding attachment on my food processor and let it do its thing.

Dump the potatoes onto a paper-towel-lined plate and cover with another paper towel.  Let it all sit for a good long while to get as much moisture out as possible.  I think mine sat for about 2 hours, although I'm sure 30 minutes would be fine.

Swirl some butter in a pan over medium heat, spread the potatoes out over it (I used half my taters at a time), sprinkle with salt and pepper, squash it all down with something like this and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes (until it's crisp on the bottom).

Drop a Tablespoon of butter on the top towards the end, so it melts before you flip it.

Flip the whole thing over (this is the trickiest part, but even if the giant pancake breaks, it's tasty) and cook that side for another 10-15 minutes.

These sound plain, but were delicious.  Crisp, golden, and tasty.

Basler Brunsli Cookies

Alas and alack, we gobbled these up before I managed to get a photo of these delicious treats.  But they were brown and they were soft and they were incredible.  Just imagine a brownie-cookie hybrid and you're probably on the right track. 

What You Need

8 ounces almond flour (I just processed almonds in my food processor until they turned into powder - but before becoming almond butter!)

1/3 cup honey

6 ounces chocolate (I used semi-sweet chips for this batch)

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons kirsch (this is a brandy made out of cherries and is also an ingredient in traditional fondue - but I just used some cherry dessert wine and if I hadn't had that, I would have used any other type of wine or just left it out and I'm sure it would have been fine, because I've done that plenty of times with fondue before)

What You Do

1.  Pulse everything in a food processor and then pour it out into a large baking sheet.  I made sure my baking mat was down first and it made dealing with these cookies a snap.

2.  You will wonder what in the world I'm high on as you pour this liquid "batter" out onto the sheet and it runs everywhere and looks nothing like cookies, but trust me, it will all work out.  It just needs to sit for three hours to dry out.

3.  After the three hours is up, you can use cookie cutters, but of course that doesn't jive with my lazy leanings, so I just used a knife to score the whole pan into a grid.  Pop it into the oven and bake it for 12-15 minutes at 300 degrees.

4.  Set the tray on a rack to cool and then enjoy.  These cookies are known as "Swiss brownies," but we just called them "delicious!"

Swiss Cake Roll

What You Need

6 eggs (separated)

6 Tablespoons honey

6 Tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat)

dash of salt

whatever filling you want (whipped cream with fruit, melted chocolate, cream cheese frosting, etc)

What You Do

1.  Beat the egg whites until they form peaks.

2.  Add the honey a little at a time, then do the same with the egg yolks, then the same with the flour and salt.

3.  Spread the batter in a baking mat-lined baking sheet, cover with foil (don't let it touch the batter), then bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.

4.  Remove the foil and bake for 2 more minutes.

5.  Flip the cake onto a towel covered with powdered sugar and then roll the whole thing up to sit until it's completely cool.

6.  When it's cool, unroll it and slather on whatever filling you've decided on.  I used this coconut milk to make whipped cream, fluffed in a bit of cream cheese and vanilla, spread it on the cake and then topped the whole thing with sliced strawberries from last year's haul.

7.  Roll the whole thing back up again and then slice and serve.  Mmmmm....

What to Do

We took it a little easier this month with just two short activities.

First, we watched this video to teach ourselves how to dance.

Then, once our thighs were nice and red, we used this to learn how to properly yodel, which I should have somehow recorded to put on here, because the entire process would have you rolling with laughter, I guarantee.

What to Watch

I'd gathered three great movie selections for G to choose from this evening:  this version of Heidi, Swiss Family Robinson, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service (which was primarily filmed in Swizerland and happens to be one of my favorite Bond films).

He picked the movie about the big treehouse, and it couldn't have been a more perfect decision.  I'd forgotten how many animals were in it, which probably helped keep Gv riveted to the screen throughout the entire film.  

We all enjoyed watching it.

And that wrapped up our second "trip" together for the year.  It was another huge success and we can't wait to jet off to someplace new next month!

Travel all over the world, without leaving your living room!  Come back each month to see where we head next.  Can you think of any other ideas to add for a trip to Switzerland?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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Want more?  Check out some of our other trips:

Italy - India - France - Africa - Ireland - Canada Greece England Germany

Love this idea, but want the easy, made-for-you-and-all-you-do-is-print-it version?  Click here to get your own pack and see what inspired me to create this series!

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