Category Archives: Life in California

Xmas Baking Recipe: Peanut Butter Blossoms à la Anne-Kathrin



Peanut Butter Blossoms

Growing up, baking cookies for Christmas was an established tradition by my grandmother and me. We used to bake a specific kind of sugar cookies and then decorate them with fun stuff like edible glitter and chocolate lentils. When I was older, the tradition continued with friends. During the month of December, a couple of my girlfriends and I would meet at one of our homes and bake the afternoon away, making about 3-4 batches of our favorite cookies.

Nowadays, I am still an avid cookie eater during the Holidays, but I have been researching some healthier options.  I still love to indulge and don’t believe in depriving myself of anything I like, but I do prefer to have a healthier alternative here and there. So today I’d like to share a recipe that I discovered from Tone It Up, a fitness community for women who I have been a part of for several years now.

The recipe doesn’t require many ingredients and is quickly made, two things I am a big advocate for as I personally don’t enjoy standing in the kitchen for hours and hours.

Happy Baking!


1 Cup Unsweetened Creamy Peanut Butter

2 Scoops Vanilla Protein

¼ Cup Egg Whites

1 Tea Spoon Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt

18 Chocolate Kisses

Coconut Oil Spray


STEP #1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

STEP #2: Combine all ingredients, except the chocolate kisses, in a large bowl and stir.

STEP #3: Form one tablespoon sized balls and put them on a cookie sheet greased with coconut oil.

STEP #4: Bake the cookies in the oven for 10 minutes. Once you removed the cookies from the oven and let them cool for a couple minutes, press one chocolate kiss onto each cookie.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Image: Anne-Kathrin Schulte

Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at) and place her name in the subject line.




Xmas Baking Recipe: Christmas Rum Cake à la Merrill Lyew Emanuel

Christmas Rum Cake

This is the recipe for a delicious rum cake that our CaliforniaGermans contributor Merrill grew up with. It’s a treasured recipe from his mother, who used to make many smaller cakes from this recipe instead of one big one. It stayed a tradition for him and his family and every holiday season they are the delight of everyone in his family.



1. 1/2 Pound Cake Fluor
2. 1/2 Pound Sugar
3. 1/2 Pound Butter
4. 5 Eggs Separate the yolks from the egg white
5. 1/2 Cup Evaporated milk
6. 2 Tea Spoon Baking Powder
7. 1 Tea Spoon Vanilla
8. 1/8 Tea Spoon Salt
9. 3 Table Spoon Burned Sugar (see procedure)
10. 3 Table Spoon Raisins and cut Prunes soaked in Rum for several weeks
11. 1/3 Cup Chopped Walnuts
12. 1/4 Cup Red Cherries cut into Halves
13. 1/4 Cup Green Cherries cut into Halves
14. 1/3 Cup Dark Beer
15. 1/8 Tea Spoon Grinded Nutmeg
16. 2 Table Spoon Orange Juice
17. 1 Orange Skin Grated orange peel


STEP #1: Burn the 3 tablespoons sugar to a dark syrup then add 1 tablespoon of water, keep to a thick consistency. Let it cool down.

STEP #2: Mix butter with sugar, add dark syrup from STEP #1, grated orange peel, vanilla, nutmeg, orange juice. Add egg yolks one at a time. Add evaporated milk little by little.

STEP #3: Strain flour, baking powder, and salt together in separate bowl and add to the batter.

STEP #4: Add the cherries, prunes, chopped walnuts.

STEP #5: Whip the egg white apart and add to the batter at low speed. Add the dark beer.

STEP #6: Pour into a buttered 9-inch mold.

STEP #7: Bake at 350 ° F for around one hour

Bon Appétit!


Merrill Lyew EmanuelAs a recent retiree, Merrill Lyew Emanuel now has time for his old and new hobbies. Within his hobbies are writing fan fiction in German, solving chess puzzles, repairing things at home that are not broken, doing a little bit of social media, reading every and anything that looks like a book, traveling a little, and taking snapshots with his mirrorless camera.

Having lived in Germany, Costa Rica and the USA, he is fluent in the languages of these countries. As a professional geographer he traveled profusely throughout Latin America. He is living in Southern California for over thirty years. Find more of his work at


Christmas and the First Sunday of Advent Is Near- Are Your Christmas Cookies Ready?

It’s Holiday Baking Time!

This Friday marks the 1st of December and while we can start opening the first door on our advent calendar (Yay!), we still have to wait a few days to lighten the first candle on our Advent wreath. The first Sunday of Advent is near however and on December 3rd we will officially enter the 4 weeks of Advent before Christmas Eve.

Typical for the Christmas season in Germany is having an Advent calendar helping you countdown to the 24th December, an advent wreath that is the centerpiece in the dining room or living room, and… lots of homemade Christmas cookies to share with family and friends! And some families do take holiday baking really seriously! It’s not uncommon for some families to sport up to 15 different cookie varieties. No kidding!

So…, how is your holiday baking coming along this season?

If you are still struggling with deciding what to bake and want to get inspired, check out our posts on Thursdays. Every Thursday until Christmas one of our CaliforniaGermans contributors will let you in on his or her favorite baking recipe for the holiday season. 

We hope you’ll discover your favorite one among them!






I have been to Las Vegas countless times.  My first time was when I was 15 during a three week road trip with my family. I will never forget how I was asked to leave the bar my parents were having a drink at because I was under 21. I started crying because I didn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to sit down, and so my first initial impression about Vegas wasn’t the most welcoming in my eyes.

But then I learned about the “casino for kids” at the Treasure Island hotel. From that moment on I would spent the majority of my time over there while the adults had their fun at the “real” casino, and I made amends with Vegas.

The next time I came to Sin City was when I was over 21 and able to join in all what the adult fun had to offer.  I have been to the major clubs, have danced to the music of incredible DJs playing on stage, and had the occasional “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” experience.  But this last time was very different from any other trip I took out there.

In my last post, I wrote about my friends coming to visit from Germany, who I met up with in San Francisco. When we were planning this trip way back in the beginning of 2017, we decided to fly down to Vegas for a couple of days, since my one friend had never been.  We had planned to leave on Thursday, October 7.  Even in our wildest dreams, none of us could have ever imagined what happened only five days before our trip to Las Vegas.

On Sunday, October 1st, the deadliest shooting massacre in modern U.S. history happened, where more than 50 people lost their lives.  I had watched the reports on TV news; I had seen the videos on social media, where you could hear the horrific gunshots the shooter fired on those innocent concert goers; I had read the stories about the victims. But nothing can prepare you for what you are going to see when you are at the actual place.

The first night of our arrival in San Francisco, we talked about what happened. We weren’t scared of going, but we were clearly in shock and unable to grasp such an event. Would it still be ok to visit a club and dance the night away? Would it be fine to have a couple drinks, celebrating our reunion after not seeing each other for two years? Would it be disrespectful to have fun at a place where such a tragedy took place only a few days before our arrival?

The morning of our flight to Las Vegas, I wasn’t able to function well; partly because I didn’t sleep the night before and we had a very early flight, and partly because I was nervous about what to expect.  The moment the plane touched down in Vegas, we could witness the aftermath of the tragedy: we spotted the broken windows of the hotel room. It felt surreal to actually see a crime scene in real life rather than on TV.

The view of the broken windows followed us along all the way from the airport to the hotel. The sight definitely impacted our moods, but we still wanted to make the best out of our time being in Las Vegas. Since our room wasn’t ready at the time we arrived, we decided on walking along the strip for a bit to find a breakfast place.

It was a nice warm day out, but the bulletins we saw along the strip made me chill.  Where tourists were usually being bombarded with bright light advertisements, people could read messages like “We’ve been there for you during the good times. Thank you for being there for us now.”

We walked past a restaurant that had a poster displayed in its window, mentioning that all first responders who were present at the time of the tragedy trying to help would receive a free meal.  Plastered along the streets was the hash tag #VegasStrong. Thank God for sunglasses in moments like this, because I was about to start crying whenever we passed one of those billboards or placards.

I can’t really describe the feelings that went through me during those three days.  My friends and I still enjoyed the warm weather and what the city has to offer, but it did make me feel guilty.  One night, we watched the amazing water show in front of the Bellagio hotel. A few steps further down from where we stood, people had built a memorial with candles, signs and flowers. All three of us grew quiet when we passed by it.

While we were reading the messages, a couple feet further down, two women dressed up as showgirls were trying to get tourists to take pictures with them. That is Vegas for you: no matter if during the good or the bad times, the city is still trying to give you what you came for: an escape out of everyday life.

We didn’t end up going to any clubs or shows this time rather than just relaxing by the pool, indulging in some good food, and exploring the city. At the end of our three day trip, Las Vegas bid farewell to us with the same scene it welcomed us: the view of the broken hotel windows.

It is really hard to grasp such a tragedy and witnessing the aftermath first hand. But it is also beautiful to see how a city stands strong and brings strangers together during hard times like this. #VegasStrong


Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at) and place her name in the subject line.



EUSTORY, an International History Competition for German and French Youth to Reflect on Peace

Students of a German School in San Diego learn how to write a movie script

About a month ago  German Pacific School San Diego and San Diego French American School collaborated in preparing for an international competition that invites them to reflect on the concept of peace before, during and after WW I.

EUSTORY, an international history competition wants to guide students to a greater understanding of historic events but also engage them in finding relations between today’s events and events in the past, and overall help them become productive citizens of the world.

Both schools decided on choosing film as a medium for their project, and to learn the ‘nuts and bolts’ of scriptwriting they participated in an intercultural scriptwriting seminar. In the following read more about their experience:

German and French students collaborate on international competition

( by Lenni Elbe)

An excited buzz fills the air as groups of French and German students discuss their ideas. They are preparing for an international history competition, called EUSTORY.

On October 14, students from San Diego French American School and German Pacific School San Diego partook in a seminar run by a professional scriptwriter, Diane Alpaio, to help prepare them for the competition in Spring.

The script writing workshop led students through a pre-written script in order to learn the basic elements of story writing. First, they watched and analyzed a short film. Then, they were split into small groups and wrote their own scenes using those basic elements such as dialogue, conflict, and characters.

The students left with a greater understanding of how movie scripts are written, and with plenty of ideas on how to continue their own EUSTORY project. “Working with the French students was great and I didn’t expect the seminar to be so much fun. It really got everyone excited about the competition” said Jack, a student at GPSSD.

The script writing seminar was just the start. Students will continue to meet on a regular basis throughout the script writing process. Instructors from both schools are guiding the students, including Mr. Baron (SDFAS), Ms. Brouder (SDFAS), and Ms. Elbe (GPSSD).

EUSTORY was started in order to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the events of World War 1, to work together, and to foster cross-cultural understanding. This year’s theme is: “Peace in War Time, Peace in World War 1.” This initiative is representative of the creative potential in students, and broadens young people’s perspectives, giving them the tools and skills required to become productive citizens of the world.

The short film will premiere this coming spring at an event at SDFAS.
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Images: German Pacific School San Diego – GPSSD