Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Müller Cloth Mill - Industrial Museum "Tuchfabrik Müller" in Euskirchen (Germany)

The Müller Cloth Mill (Tuchfabrik Müller) is located in the City of  Euskirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany). It is part of a growing group of the so-called "Museums of Industry". This delightful Museum provides interesting and unusual insights into the production process of a Cloth Mill by showing fully working machinery and equipment from around 1900.

The Museum opened its door to the public in 2000. The Museum preserves the Cloth Mill's state exactly as it was when it was closed down for business by the owner Kurt Müller in 1961. He simply walked out the door and locked it behind himself.

This industrial Museum is at the heart of the "European Route of Industrial Heritage" and a central stop on the "Wool Route".

The factory started life as a papermill in 1801. A few decades later things changed quite a bit. In the mid-19th century the building was used to scoure and spin wool and to full the cloth. From 1860 onwards the increasing demand of power supply lead to the installation of a new steam engine, which replaced the old mill wheel.

The building was purchased in 1894 by Ludwig Müller who decided to set up a Cloth Mill.

For the first time, the whole process of production was then brought together under one roof. Like most other regional mills at the time, Ludwig Müller offered coarse woollen cloth, "loden" ("Loden") and uniform cloth. The machinery that was purchased around 1900 together with the "new" steam engine that dates back to 1903 set the production on a firm basis.

After Ludwig Müller's death in 1929, his son Kurt Müller led the Cloth Mill. In 1961, it was finally closed down, due to a lack of orders. It is hard to believe, but the equipment was never changed or replaced until the factory was closed.

Despite the fact that he had to close down his factory, Kurt Müller had always hoped to start production again one day. However, during the years following the close down, nothing really happened that would have justified re-opening for business. In 1988 the "Rhineland Museum of Industry" ("Rheinisches Industriemuseum") seized the opportunity and took over a completely fitted factory nearly untouched since the last day of work.

The unique building, the machinery and thousands of small pieces of equipment were to be preserved. The building had to be carefully stabilized and the Cloth Mill had to be restored. Today the Cloth Mill turned Museum is providing an insight into the production of woolen cloth, into the different working processes and into the life of the workers. During guided tours through the mill, the old machinery from around 1900 is set in action.

All of the equipment and machinery was restored into conditions that they were in at the time of the closure of the factory in 1961. Therefore the most important machines, the "heart" of the Cloth Mill, such as a "carding machine",a "spinning machine", a "threading machine", four "weaving looms" and a "steam engine" can all be set into motion during guided tours and you can admire the fact that they have been lovingly restored to make them work properly like they did until 1961.

Some machines that are not in action nowadays were also restored by carefully preserving all traces of usage  to provide an authentic insight into the life of a Cloth Mill.

The acids that were necessary for mixing the different dyes were kept in these original glass bottles, some of them leaning up against the wall.

Restrooms for the workers (ladies and gents).

Time for a break.

The following tag was attached to the acid bottles. It is a comment by one of the former worker of the Mill. It reads "Black is the simplest color to mix. But you have to be careful not to mistake one acid for another. Only if the acetic acid has boiled for a half  hour, are you supposed to add the formic acid. Three to four workers were in charge of adding the wool to the mixed dyes."

Tags with wonderful quotes from former workers can be found throughout the Mill.

A belt that was repaired with some metal clips.

Wrenches and metal chains of different sizes that were left right in this spot.

A scale with some orange-yellow wool thread (one of my personal favorite "still lives").

Some of the original machines.

This is the so-called "secret" recipe for mixing one of the dyes. The guide told us that the "recipes" for the dyes were known only to the owner of the Mill and that he would always mix the dyes himself, except for this one time when he had to tell one of his trusted workers how to mix a dye. The worker marked it with white chalk on this wooden door. So much for a secret...

A window where one of the workers had his workspace and kept all his tools close at hand.

One of the bicycles with the original leather saddle used by the former owner to get around the factory premises.

An assortment of spindles all lined-up and with ready to use yarn.

More spindles, this time piled up.

And more spindles - love that striking blue yarn.

One of the most difficult tasks in a Cloth Mill was getting rid of or preventing the infestation of moths. These bags of moth powder were left in this wooden tool box next to some solid looking nuts and bolts.

And a natural way of fighting those pesky moths.There were little white cotton bags filled with dried lavender  in every room. Definitely another one of my personal favorite "still lives".

Wool threads leading from the spindles to the loom.

The finished wool cloth, dyed in different colors, rolled up and lined up for a final inspection.

Handwritten notes in the office of the former owner.

The final fabric was packed up and stored in the office of the owner - no one else was to enter this storage room.

Some glass bottles with different dyes.

What a wonderful "Pfaff" sewing machine.

The brook that flows along the brick walls of the Cloth Mill.

A sample of the different colored wool threads after they were dyed and aligned for weaving.

This Industrial Museum is certainly worth more than one visit - there is also a nice Shop where you can purchase some of the cloth that is still being produced in very small quantities at the Mill. And there is also a wonderful Coffeeshop where you can relax and ponder this charming Museum that you just visited, promising yourself that you will be back soon.

For more information:

Tuchfabrik Müller
53881 Euskirchen


Monday, January 28, 2013

Living Kitchen 2013 - Cologne Trade Fair (Part II)

Today, I am posting a few pictures of two dishes that I prepared following the recipes that were posted by one of the participating cooks of the Cologne Trade Fair last week.

The first recipe that I prepared is a type of  Pizza Bianca, Focaccia or Flatbread (that´s what the cook who created this recipe calls it) with a delicious topping of very thinly sliced white potatoes, a layer of crème fraîche, fresh rosemary, herb salt and freshly ground black pepper.

This recipe by cook and cookbook author Christina Richon is called “Kartoffel-Rosmarin-Fladen mit Heidelbeer-Thymian-Sirup” which can be translated as "Potato-Rosemary-Flatbread with Blueberry Syrup".

Carefully slice the potatoes very thinly (about 2mm) for the topping. In order to get the thinnest slices possible, you are well advised to use a good mandoline slicer.

Cutting the potatoes into paper-thin slices will result in a delicious topping with some lightly browned and crunchy bits that are essential to the wonderful rustic taste and look of this Flatbread.

The freshly baked Flatbread gets a delicious and fancy finishing touch of a Blueberry Syrup which consists of blueberries (you can use frozen ones if they are not in season), a bit of white sugar, fresh thyme and fragrant rosemary.The baking of the Flatbread and the preparation of the Blueberry Syrup will fill your entire kitchen will incredibly wonderful smells.

While I had baked a Pizza Bianca or Flatbread topped with thin potato slices before, it certainly had never occurred to me to top the baked Bread with a few drops of a homemade delicate Blueberry Syrup which tastes ever so slightly like the herbs that it was infused with. Absolutely delicious! And certainly worthy of numerous repeat performances!

And even the kids devoured this wonderful savory and pretty appetizer -  love the fact that they will try just about anything, even Potato Flatbread with Blueberry Syrup.

* * *

The second recipe that I am featuring today was also written by cook and cookbook author Christina Richon. It is called “Butterkuchen mit Äpfeln und rosa Pfefferbeeren” which can be translated as "Buttery Cake with Apples and pink Peppercorns".

This is a deliciously moist cake with lots of apple slices using the wonderful baking apple “Boskoop”. This apple was discovered in the Netherlands around 1863 and is still a favorite with bakers around here. While this winter apple tastes somewhat tart it was just right as part of the topping for this cake.

In addition to the apple slices, you will add freshly ground nutmeg and cinnamon, some white sugar, butter and slivered almonds to the topping. It smelled so good while baking...a real comfort style of a cake and a wonderful wintertime treat.

We really enjoyed this wonderfully moist cake and ate it with some decadent Crème Fraîche alongside. It still tasted wonderful the day after I baked it, just make sure to wrap it well.

And if you are an adventurous taste tester, do not forget to add the beautiful Pink Peppercorns as a finishing touch to this cake – let me assure you, this is one very memorable taste experience! If you rather not venture down the somewhat unknown route of pairing sweet cake with mildly spicy pink peppercorns, just do not use them as part of the topping, the cake is absolutely delicious without them too as well.

Pink peppercorns technically are not really peppercorns at all because they come from a different plant but they certainly add a wonderful rosy hue and peppery touch to your baking or cooking. Dried pink peppercorns can be found in some supermarkets and spice stores. They have a delicate warm pepper flavor, just crush them in a pestle and mortar to get that peppery aroma going. You can also use them combined with white, black or green peppercorns as a seasoning for savory dishes or mixed into a salad dressing.

Following are the links to the original recipes. If you need a translation, do not hesitate to contact me at

Potato-Rosemary-Flatbread with Blueberry Syrup by Christina Richon:

Buttery Cake with Apples and pink Peppercorns by Christina Richon:
( ).

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Living Kitchen 2013 - Cologne Trade Fair (Part I)

Last week I went to a Trade Fair called Living Kitchen 2013 in Cologne (Köln), Germany. Always love to find a reason to go and pay a visit to my hometown...It was the second time this Trade Fair took place and my second time there so I knew that I had to take a few pictures while visiting. 

This is Alfons Schuhbeck, the most famous of all German cooks. He not only makes regular appearances on television, has published about twenty stunning cookbooks (I own a few of them) such as "My Bavarian Cookbook" (translated into English in 2007) but he also owns restaurants, bistros, an ice cream parlor and spice store in Munich (München)....

...but is also one of the most talented cooking instructors that I have ever met.

He is a firm believer in the health benefits of using high-quality oils in cooking. As you can see he also sells his own line of oils including Greek olive oil, argan oil and oils high in omega 3-6-9 fatty acids.

He is well known for using lots of fresh herbs and spices such caraway seeds, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, argan nuts...

...and also cardamom, cumin, black cumin and fenugreek.

Alfons Schuhbeck has created an extensive line of herbs, spices and herb mixes. His favorite spice is vanilla and he loves using vanilla beans in conjunction with fresh ginger.

At the Trade Fair he and his sous chefs cooked up a storm. We got to taste Pasta Aglio e Olio with the addition of fresh cherry tomatoes, sliced garlic, broth, cheese, lots of fresh chopped parsley and some spices.

There was also Spicy Chicken (using one of his spice mixes), cubes of tender spicy chicken breast.

The breakfast treat was soft Quark (fresh farmers cheese) with Müsli ("muesli"), berries and a few drops of best quality linseed oil.

And there was a very colorful Fruit Salad that consisted of chunks of freshly cut seasonal fruits with cold pressed Greek olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. I had never tasted a fruit salad with pepper before - what a taste experience.

One of the see-through walls was graced with a huge picture of these determined looking young chefs.

There were a lot of  vases and pieces of art for the kitchen with a pearlescent finish...

...and huge bowls and trays in all kinds of modern shapes and sizes.

I loved this "wall" from "Schüller Küchen" ("Schüller kitchens")  which was entirely made of wooden pallets.

This nice vintage scale from a fruit monger and crates of apples caught my attention...

...and I admired these glass domes and étagères...

....and vintage-look potato sacks with the lovely imprint "Gott segne Ackerbau und Viehzucht" ("God bless farming and cattle raising").

Pretty bags of artisanal flour, this being "Weizenmehl" (wheat flour)  and tons of cake stands and cake pans (springform pans, gugelhupf pans) in different materials...

...and more artisanal flour, this being "Dunstmehl" (very fine flour).

I spent quite some time at the kitchends of "Neff", absolutely enjoyed the cooking demonstartions by well-known cooks, cookbook authors and cooking instructors Christina Richon and Frodo Schäfer...look at these "free induction" stoves they were using.

Frodo Schäfer prepared delicious bite-sized Carrot Pancakes with a topping of crème fraîche, smoked salmon and a drop of local beetroot molasses...

...and Christina Richon made Pizza Bianca with thinly sliced potatoes, rosemary, crème fraîche and a bit of a delicately herb-infused (rosemary and thyme) blueberry syrup.

We also got to taste a very tender and moist Apple Cake with almonds, cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg and delectable whole pink peppercorns.

Since I liked the food so much, I prepared two of the recipes today and will post them tomorrow. My taste testers agreed with me that both dishes tasted absolutely wonderful. Thanks to the wonderful people at "Neff" who posted the recipes on the company´s website right after the Trade Fair!

There were pots with fresh herbs (rosemary, different types of thyme and lavender) absolutely everywhere - they really looked wonderful in these huge planters next to the "Neff" stoves.

There were big white porcelain bowls filled with lots of spices....

...used in Christina Richons recipes...

...such as these fragrant cinnamon sticks...

...and these colorful bright pink peppercorns.

There is a saying in German "Der Himmel hängt voller Geigen" meaning that "someone sees the world through rose-colored glasses" but if you translated this German saying literally, you would say "the skies are filled with violins"  so, this display could be a little play on "the skies are filled with pots and pans"...

...the so-called "long pepper" (long pepper has a similar, but hotter, taste to its close relative the black  pepper) and whole nutmeg.

Jams, jellies, salts, breads, sandwiches, coffee beans, coffees and teas and many more things from "aran" a Munich (Münich) based company.

A "volcano/gas wok burner"...

...and a "still life" with kohlrabi,a loaf of bread and a bottle of white wine vinegar.

Love those "Nolte Küchen" ("Nolte kitchens") from the City of Löhne...

...huge modern porcelain vases in black and white on display in a kitchen with the predominant colors of black, grey and white...

...and a silver work of art hanging on one of the walls in one of the many kitchens...

...and more modern porcelain vases in white...

...and black glass vases on display on a black kitchen counter and filled with long stemmed dried black plants.

A very interesting white see-through wall for the "Nolte" coffee shop (time to catch one´s breath for a little while). The coffee shop was decorated in the colors of the company, namely bright yellow and white.

There were more huge white bowls with dried white plants that looked like a piece of art...

...and huge white vases filled with dried white twigs...

What a wonderful kitchen with hanging lamps that look like they have crocheted white lamp shades...

...and another terrific design kitchen with more large white vases, serving platters and dried plants.

"Huge" seems to have been the "word of the day" for this Trade Fair, even these humongous knife, fork and spoon were on display in one of the kitchens...

...and this rather large "ball" of red wool, what a true eye-catcher.

More colorful orange-white bowls.

And well known chef, cookbook author and cooking school owner Carsten Dohrs gave a cooking demonstration and explained the different salts that he uses for his dishes. I got to taste some of his Asian stir-fry with chicken, noodles, and a red curry and coconut sauce.

Look at these wooden, hand-crafted barrels.

This was, by far, my very favorite catalogue from the Trade Fair, it is by "next 125", a German kitchen manufacturer from Franconia. I really like their vintage pictures.

Tomorrow, I will post two recipes from the dishes that I tasted at this Trade Fair in Cologne. Wonderful and really interesting flavors...