Moving to the country and Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) for Thanksgiving

Monday night, its SEVEN degrees outside and we are staying warm in front of the fire place, watching TV, – the perfect time to finally share what has happened over the past 5 months. I have to apologize  upfront for the ultra-long post, most of it though are fun photos to look at :-). Lots of BIG decisions have been made in the past 3 months – we sold our house in Redmond, Mike retired, I changed into a new role at AWS and we moved to Eastern Washington to Lake Roosevelt.

In my last entry I was sharing the possibility of living in Ocean Shores on the Pacific, but after some research and 1st hand experience, as beautiful as it is to live on the ocean, over 200 days of rain make living in the the nicest place on earth miserable. So we went back to the place we always favored but couldn’t’ find a decent property – the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. Eastern Washington has 4 seasons and very little rain and a very nice and warm summer, much longer than our Seattle summers (although Seattle summers are the BEST but they only last 6 weeks!) And as luck had it, we found the perfect property, right on the water so that Mike can fish his heart out, with plenty of room for our crazy high energy dogs to  run, a horse barn for me and a beautiful house for all of us. I think by now we have very well adjusted to our new home and have already met more people here in our neighborhood in the first six weeks than we had in 15 years in Redmond. Above you can see the birds eye view of our new house and below a few interior shots of the “industrial country” style house we now call our home. We are still in search of the perfect name for our place …Bounds Landing, The Sanctuary, Traumland (Dreamland) and Heeler heaven are in the race for now.

But yikes – what a journey has it been to get here….the months leading up to our move, have been some of the most exhausting of my life….If you ever wonder what it would take for your brain to be completely overloaded without you really knowing it and as a result making a huge mistake (like overpaying your credit card by 10x) you didn’t even realize you made – selling a house, buying a house, decluttering and staging your house, applying for a mortgage and permits and changing jobs will do it!

August through October have been an absolute roller coaster of finding our dream house, learning that it was pretty much as good as sold and no opportunity for us to put an offer down, to suddenly owning the house and working through endless amounts of paperwork that is needed for securing a loan and possibly losing that loan because a railroad crossing permit is needed prior to the loan approval and government agencies are not known for speed. Then there is  cleaning out and staging your own house we lived in for 15 years (and accumulated an ungodly amount of STUFF that had to be packed up and stored – to be precise 14,000 pounds!!!) and making sure its immaculate every day for possible sellers to see. I had no idea how stressful that can be, especially when you have 2 extremely shedding dogs and work from home, but at the same time you are happy people want to look at your house and hoping you get an offer for your asking price and worrying if all the will work out. Throw on top organizing a move, changing jobs and your husband is retiring!

Now all of that excitement led me to my aforementioned brain scramble and I added one “0” too much to my credit card payment and instead of $5k I paid $50k!! I had no idea until I walked into the bank to get a cashier’s check and the banker told me that I don’t have sufficient funds in the bank – and there it was the panic moment that someone stole my money from my bank account aka fraud “Swordfish style” (really cool movie in case you haven’t seen it). But thank god that didn’t happen and we figured out pretty quickly that I had a brain fart and completely over paid my credit card by 10x! Yeah and now try to get that money back, not an easy task, banks like to hold on to your money for a looooong time before they give it back to you and as you can imagine, when you buy a house you need cash!! On top of that, now imagine being in overdraft with $50k for 30 days – yikes – that really was not the additional stress I needed! But in the end I received my funds back and everything worked out fine.

Now it was time to focus on packing the endless amount of fourteen thousand pounds of stuff into hundreds of boxes. We had so many boxes that Mike and I decided to drive one huge load of boxes already to the new house in September and get the lay of the land of the new house from the current owner (Rhonda). We unloaded the boxes in the shop and most of them are still there and most likely will sit there now for the next 15 years ;-). Rhonda explained everything there is to know about the house, the property and the neighbors and even took us out to the local restaurant in town (Rivertown Grill – which btw. we learned last week has THE BEST prime rib). We also stopped by at the local country fair in Colville which happened to happen right at the weekend we were in town. Below is the local dive bar – Kuks – be aware of the “leisurely lady” in the top left window and the deer in front of the bar. I also stopped by at “The Barn” in Northport which hosts 45 artists as well as a coffee roaster, definitely one of my favorite places in this area.

Once back from Colville, there was a constant flow of coming and going of our friends, family and neighbors at the Redmond house, who helped with packing (thank you Astrid), hauling stuff away to be donated (Thank you Allison), took us for our “last meals” to our favorite restaurants (thank you Sam & Sam) and said our final good byes. And just as fate had it, it was raining on moving day and the movers couldn’t get up the drive way with their truck, so they had to carry all fourteen thousand pounds down the driveway. Maybe it was a sign leaving Redmond in the rain, since this was one of the main reasons for me to move (besides the insane traffic).

Moving day was hard on Mike and I and we had to say good bye to the house we had made so many memories in over the past 15 years. I named it the “king of the hill” house, since we were perched up on a hill and overlooked the neighborhood.

Mike already left a day early with (“boy”) Sam and the dogs en route to Northport to get everything prepped in the new house and I stayed back for the actual moving day and left mid-day with my cat Jack for the 6 hour drive to Northport. It was a very very strange feeling (and misty eyes) when I drove down the road one last time leaving the “Redmond tech life” behind me.

Our friends the Sudore’s came with us on moving day and helped us get settled in Northport and I would have not survived the first 2 days in the new house without (“girl”) Sam’s help. I wish I had taken pictures of the hundreds of boxes stacked up all the way to the ceiling and the absolute chaos in the new house, I almost cried when I woke up the first morning, thinking of having to unpack all of this in one weekend since I had no vacation left for unpacking, I had taken my vacation the week prior to declutter the Redmond house and pack boxes. But with Sam’s help we unpacked 3/4 of all boxes and the rest was done slowly over the next 2 weeks in the evenings and weekend.

While my work on the new house was pretty much done once everything was unpacked, now Mike’s work just started. Mike’s friend Troy stayed with us for 3 weeks and the two accomplished an ungodly amount of work from fencing almost 1/2 of 12 acres, building a second shop/garage, getting a concrete sidewalk poured, replacing a washer and dryer, installing gutters, hanging cabinets in the house, clearing out parts of the property, building a fire pit, installing outdoor lights, putting in a gravel driveway and a bunch more stuff…and because all of that hard works makes really hungry, we had some amazing dinners. A few of those were cooking Trip Tip on the firepit outside, fresh Walleye Tacos and Chicken Florentine.

In between house projects we also took some time out to explore the neighborhood and enjoying our home:

Being surrounded by beautiful nature, no traffic, very nice people and a slower pace of life, is soothing for the soul and we have acclimated very well to the new style of country living. We lived in Redmond for a long time and poured a lot of heart and sweat into making it our own, so I thought I share the pictures of our labor of love. It took us 13 years of yearly projects and the one or other bigger remodel job to turn the house exactly to our liking. Here the photos the real estate agent took to list our house – now I wish I had pictures of the house 15 years ago when we took it over and comparing it with the below pictures of the house 15 years later. Oh well it’s still fun to look the pictures and admire our work ;-).

As you can see we traded the “contemporary city style” for industrial country style (which I am loving a lot) and gained this beautiful view which never gets old and having a beach in front of the house is something I always wanted.

My food intake has significantly increased with Mike trying out new breakfast recipes….my two favorites being Avocado toast with Egg and Apple Pie French toast. Biscuits and gravy is also on top of my list as you can see…

I am also benefitting from Mike going fishing with our neighbor Terry who is a “Walleye” legend and has shown us how to properly filet a Walleye and has cooked us the most delicious walleye in cheese sauce.

I already mentioned the outstanding Prime Rib at the local restaurant The Rivertown Grill and the owners (Donna and Gary) invited us for Thanksgiving to their house and we had fun mingling with Donna and Gary’s friends and had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, ham and prime rib. I contributed with my prosciutto twisted “meat bread” and made a Black Forest Cake for the first time.

It has been a winter wonderland since Thanksgiving and Mike stays busy keeping the property plowed so that we can get out and run errands in town.

Right after Thanksgiving I did a little business trip to Spokane, then got the house in shape and decorated for Christmas. We had a nice and low key Christmas with the kids and some fun times in the snow.

A nice side effect of living in a really cold climate is that you can chill your champagne with your own icicles :-).

Last but not least, my blog entry wouldn’t be complete if I wouldn’t post some pictures of my furry family members, who truly enjoy the new house and its surrounding as you can see.

Ok now that we have caught up on the past 5 months (mainly via photos), on to the recipe. As I mentioned above, I made a black forest cake for Thanksgiving and it was the first time that I ever made it and it came out superb. It’s a little bit involved making this cake, but be assured that most likely your friends have not ever tasted this chocolate cherry delight and you will absolutely wow them. If you would buy this cake in a bakery, it would easily cost you $50 if you could even get it here in the US. Black Forest cake is a staple in Germany and you will find it an most German bakeries.

Black Forest Cake

Ingredients

Almond – Chocolate Biscuit

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons of warm water
  • 150 gram + 50 gram of sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 200 gram flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 30 gram corn starch
  • 50 gram cocoa powder
  • 100 gram ground almond flour

Biscuit Soaking Liquid

  • 4 Tablespoons of cherry juice
  • 6 cl Cherry Schnapps (Kirsch)

Filling and Decoration

  • 250 ml cherry juice
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 500 gram sour cherries (catch the liquid in a separate bowl) – approximately 2 cans, set 16 cherries aside.
  • 750 ml heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon cherry schnapps
  • 30 gram chocolate (grated into thick chunks

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 10 inch, round, cake pan; cover bottom with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks, water and 150 sugar creamy. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with 50 grams of sugar until very stiff and gently fold into the egg yolk mixture.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa over the egg yolk mixture and mix.
  • Fill mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 50 minutes  or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to a rack  to cool completely, ideally overnight.
  • Next day cut the cake with a long serrated knife horizontally twice so that you have 3 even cake layers.
  • For the filling:
    1. Whipped Cream filling: Combine whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar in a chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form and beat the cherry schnapps into it. Keep one cup of whipped cream aside to decorate the cake.
    2. Cherry filing:  combine the cherry juice with the corn starch bring to a boil. Take off the stove, drop in the cherries (keep 16 cherries aside for the decoration). Set cake layer on a “turn table” and pour 1/3 of the soaking liquid over the bottom cake layer, then spread the cherry mixture evenly on the first bottom cake layer and top the layer with the prepared whipping cream. Top with second cake layer (pour another 1/3rd of the soaking liquid on top of the second cake layer). Top with a thick layer of whipping cream. Now top it with the last cake layer, pour the rest of the soaking liquid on top and push the layer it down slightly.
  • Frost the side and the top of the cake with whipped cream. Now sprinkle the chocolate on top as well as the sides. Spoon reserved whipped cream into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe 16 stars on the top rim of the cake and set 1 cherry on top of each cream star.
  • Let the cake chill for a couple of hours before serving.

Guten Appetit!

I am wishing everybody a great start into the New Year!

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