Friday, February 8, 2013

Animals in Switzerland


There are many animals that live in Switzerland- deer, marmots, beavers and Wild Ibex, but when I think of Switzerland one animal comes to mind - the St. Bernard!

Descended from the Swiss Mountain dog, or Sennenhund, the St. Bernard was a dog bred and used for rescuing stranded travellers in the Swiss Alps.  These huge dogs can weigh up to 250 pounds and are very strong and intelligent.  The classic St. Bernard has changed over the years, when many of them were killed during some particularly hard winters and those that remained were bred with the Newfoundland breed.  That breeding gave the St. Bernard a furrier coat which froze more easily in the deep snow.  They no longer are used for rescue but are still a popular dog- a big, huge, loveable,DROOLY dog!

FYI- The name St. Bernard came from the traveler's hospice where they were first used, Great St. Bernard Hospice, which is, coincidentally, located on St. Bernard's Pass in the Western Alps.  And they never had casks of Brandy around their necks!

Barry the Bravest St. Bernard
One of the most famous St. Bernard's in Switzerland was Barry.  He was reported to have saved between 40 - 100 lives, including a small boy who he persuaded to climb onto his back and brought to safety.  He has been honored with statues, had books written about him,and his body is preserved at the Natural History Museum in Bern.

We are watching a movie about a different St. Bernard tonight.  No, not Cujo , that movie scared the bejezzus out of me!  We're watching Beethoven.  I haven't seen it for years (decades?) but I remember it being a fun movie that I'm sure the kids will get a kick out of !! Seriously, who doesn't love a big ol' drooly dog??

On the Menu Part 2: Swiss Food

 Guten Appetit!

That is "good appetite" in German, one of the 4 languages in Switzerland.  Our little adventure in cheese just wasn't enough to whet our appetite so we went online to search for some recipes.  We found this recipe (and many others that sounded good) at The Swiss Center . It's a recipe for Zurich-style "cut meat" or sliced steak, called Zurcher Geschnetzeltes.  It's not a low calorie meal but it was easy and delicious and the ingredients are easy to find!  

Zurcher Geschnetzeltes-
For the recipe you will need:
  • 1lb. veal.  I don't eat veal so we used top sirloin- sliced into strips.
  • 1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 med. onion sliced
  • 2 oz. butter
  • 5 oz. white wine
  • 7 oz. cream- beaten slightly to thicken
  • 1/2 lemon- juiced
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
1. Heat butter and lightly brown the meat.  Remove from pan and keep warm while preparing the rest.
2.  Fry mushrooms for a few minutes same pan. Add the lemon juice.  Add onions and cook until browned.
3.  Add wine to deglaze pan.  Lower heat, cover and cook for a few minutes.
4.  Return meat to pan, raise the heat (not boiling) and stir in cream.  Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for a few more minutes to bring everything up to the right temperature.
5.  This would traditionally be served with "rosti", which are similar to hash browns, but I served them with egg noodles, even though I have hash browns in the ingredients picture.

The whole family liked this dish, although my husband picked out the onions and the kids only ate the meat and noodles (and some broccoli).  The sauce was delicious - lemony, creamy and really good over the noodles and broccoli (no noodles for me).  If all the food in Switzerland tastes this delicious, sign me up for the next flight!!