This year's Stollen, which the Grand Duchess snapped a picture of after dusting it with powdered sugar. It is and has been wonderful.
Der Stollen is da! The Grand Duchess came through yet again and baked us our annual Christmas stollen last night. Authentic Dresdnerstollen baked using the usual recipe from one of Sonja's German language cookbooks. A few weeks late, sure, but then she is a busy lady in her recent associate dean guise of the last two years. One final bit of Christmas in any case. A stollen to honor the arrival of the three kings then.
Needless to say, the house smelled heavenly once the baking began thanks to the yeast and butter, and you should taste it. Holy cow! Melts in your mouth is something of an understatement. I was surprised with an inaugural sample slice and some chocolate milk while in bed very late last night, and I'll enjoy a second piece with fresh coffee for breakfast in just a little while after I wake The Young Master who, no doubt, will join me in an orgy of stollen induced reverie.
The particular cookbook that contains the recipe Sonja relies on to make our stollen each year. The title in English is something akin to Unforgettable German Recipes (Excuse any errors in a more precise translation.) and also includes recipes from former German territories to the east of present day Germany.
Long-time visitors might recall that the name for this ongoing project and related blog first occurred to me way back in early December 2005 (Before we were even married. . . Shhhh. Don't mention that to the children!) as the Grand Duchess baked us one stollen and a second to share with her German students during final exam week prior to Christmas break. Tormented by the aroma wafting through our apartment from the kitchen, the name came to me: The Grand Duchy of Stollen.
The Grand Duchy, its arch rival The Electorate of Zichenau (ruled by the conniving Princess Antonia III and her consort General Phillipe de Latte), and several smaller related territories, including the long-contested Mark of Schleiz, sit at the eastern end of the Baltic Sea, more or less in the vicinity of present day Latvia. East of the sun and west of the moon, so to speak, kind of, sort of analogous to the historic Duchy of Courland with a healthy dose of Kleinlitauen (Lithuania Minor) and the city of Riga thrown in.
The time always seems to be just post-SYW in the 1760s stretching into the early '70s before things grew nasty in the American colonies. The Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II has distant ties to the Hessian duchies further west, but his own insignificant holdings are a blend of Hanseatic and Baltic German culture and administration superimposed over a panoply of ethnic Poles, Lithuanians, Letts, Russians, some German and Dutch settlers, along with a few remaining Danes and Swedes from an earlier age. Much like the historic area in question once was prior to the upheavals of the 20th century.
Anyway, while tracking down of the then out-of-production Revell SYW sets began early in '06, which formed those early units, I began the blog the following August after our camping honeymoon in Minnesota and the Dakotas in direct response to reading an article by Greg Horne on hobby-related blogging in an early issue of the much missed independent Battlegames.
Greg is, of course, the man behind The Duchy of Alzheim blog, which was highly influential and responsible, in part, for bringing me back into the wargaming fold and lighting the fire beneath my own mid-18th century aspirations, an era that first tickled my fancy during the summer of 1994, when I found and purchased an old paperback reprint of Charge! Or How to Play War Games. At the time, his blog detailed Greg's collection, painting,and gaming activities using primarily RSM95 figures. While Greg's blogging activities are less frequent these days -- like me he has started a family in the years since -- but The Duchy of Alzheim is still well worth visiting for interesting reading, lovely examples of painted figures, and related hobby inspiration.
Speaking of soldierly things, I spent an hour or so last night examining the drawer full of carefully sorted and stored lead, to see what might be next in the painting queue for 2019. I selected a number of Minden Miniatures possibilities that include another command vignette of Marshal Soubise and aide (highly do-able given that we are talking about just two figures), a regiment of Austrian infantry, and/or two squadrons of Uhlans de Saxe (more fanciful at this point given the sheer number of figures). I may change my mind, of course, but then daydreaming about everything is part of the fun. Here's to more painting in 2019! Onward and upward!