Glücklich zuerst von Mai / Happy May Day!

I can’t believe it is already May 1st!!! Here in America, as well as in Europe, today is marked by holding meetings, marches, and giving public speeches in support of laborers and unions.  But the first of May has long been a day of celebration for Germans since pagan times; festivities can include bonfires, the raising and decorating of a tall maypole, or Maibaum, and dancing and partying around it.  A few years ago my husband and I were at Penn Brewery for May Day and got to see traditional German dancers twirling ribbons around a small maypole. Perhaps they had already sampled the beer, but their intricate dancing and weaving looked rather tricky!

The great thing about this time of year is the increased opportunity to visit the Biergarten (beer garden), although there are not as many open air venues here as I would like.  The most popular and accessible place to drink good beer in the sunshine is at the Hofbräuhaus Pittsburghbut sometimes you want to try a new place. I’m hoping to visit the Biergarten on top of the beautiful Monaco hotel downtown soon, the pictures of food look so good! Last weekend we went to the brand new brewery right across the river in Coraopolis, Cobblehaus Brewing Co. and their beers were great!  This weekend we’ll be heading to the public Maifest being held at the Teutonia Männerchor – last year we went to their Reinheitsgebot fest and had a lot of fun 🙂 Really, any excuse to drink beer and wear my dirndl brings a huge smile to my face!!!

Before I go I also wanted to let you know that April 26th was National Pretzel Day!!! If you missed it, that’s ok, you can still honor the most amazing baked good ever by baking some at home from scratch – don’t worry, it’s easy!!! Check out my sister’s step-by-step recipe below; they taste very close to the real one that can only be gotten in Germay.

Recipe for Bretzeln

Makes 12 pretzels


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 Cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 Cups flour (more or less depending on humidity)
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • A butt-load of baking soda
  • Coarse salt


  1. Dissolve yeast in water. Mix with oil, sugar, and half of the flour. With electric mixer, beat the mixture for about 3 minutes or until it becomes smooth.
  2. Stir in remaining flour until it forms a loose ball.
  3. On floured surface, kneed the dough until it is smooth and elastic (about 5 min).
  4. Put dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or wet tea towel. Place in a warm place until it doubles in size (about an hour).
  5. Empty dough onto oiled surface – a clean kitchen counter will do – and punch it down. Divide it into 12 equal pieces.
  6. Form each piece into a rope that resembled a skinny snake (takes you back to childhood play-do days, eh?) Twist the dough into a pretzel shape.
  7. Place formed pretzels onto 2-3 oiled baking sheets, allowing the room to grow. Cover and let them rest for 30 min.
  8. In a large pot, boil 10-12 cups water and add 1 Tbsp of baking soda for every cup of water in the pot – yes, it is a lot!
  9. This next part can be tricky – Gently place one pretzel into the water at a time and let boil for 20 seconds. Remove and place back on baking sheet, sprinkle with coarse salt.
  10. Bake the pretzels for 13 minutes or until nicely browned in a 450°F oven.
  11. Serve warm with butter, or cut them open and top with jam, nutella, etc.  Warning: Pretzels will not be good the next day, so eat ’em while you can!

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