Ancestry DNA Results

For half my life I have been building my family tree (and have helped many others do the same) and have traced it to the Mayflower and way beyond in some places, and in other places no further back than an arrival in this country. I did the DNA test in hopes of breaking down brick walls in my family tree, and hoped that it would help me figure out what stories were true and which were lies. 

Like the Ancestry commercial, I was raised to believe that Germany, and then England, were my two primary countries of origin, and the records have supported that. I even wore a dirndle for International day in 3rd grade… that is how German I thought I was. To quote the great Clark W Griswold, “If I woke up with my head stapled to the carpet, I wouldn’t be as surprised as I am right now!”

Onward to the results.

So 27% Scandinavian? At first I was very surprised by this, but as I researched this, I found that it is very common for people with deep English ancestry to have Scandinavian dna because of migration patterns. I knew I had some because of my family history research, but I was expecting this to he more like less than 10%

21% Europe West. I thought this would be higher. This encompasses all of my lines that came from Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. I was expecting this to be considerably higher. 

21% Italy/Greece. This was my biggest shocker. I am still not entirely sure where this is coming from, but I suspect it is coming from my Dad. His mom’s family comes from a small town in Zurich, and when I put my raw dna into Gedmatch, I was able to clarify that it is mostly Northern Italian with a little Tuscan and Serbian thrown in for good measure. It is not a huge leap to say that they migrated from one side of the Alps to the other. We have always wondered where the dark hair and olive toned skin comes from, but we will find out for sure when we get his DNA results back. Here is where it is like the commercial: turns out that I am more Italian than I am German, when you consider that the Europe West encompasses many regions. And there is still alot I don’t know about Dad’s family… 

15% Ireland. I am pretty sure that this is coming from the same place as the Scandinavian. When I organize and pivot my DNA (yes, I built a pivot table), Ireland is commonly associated with one particular line of my mom’s family. 

7% Iberian Peninsula. This is well and truly a shocker. I have an idea of where this comes from, but I will pause on this for a moment so I can tell the story. GedMatch breaks this into several regions within Spain, plus Portugal for good measure.

6% Great Britain. I was expecting these numbers to be reversed with Scandinavian, but it makes sense, now that I have reseached it. 

Trace Regions of 2% NW Russia and 1% Europe East. Not sure whether this is Mom or Dad, but either way I am not surprised. 

So back to the Iberian Peninsula for a moment. Is everyone tucked in for a good story? 

My great grandmother had three girls with, whom I thought was, my Great Grandfather. When my gram was three, they split and the two older girls were sent to live with great-grandfather’s family in NJ, while my gram stayed with her mother in Queens, NY. In recent months, in trying to understand why a family would be split that way, the idea occurred to me that, who I thought was my gr-grandfather might not actually be my bio-great grandfather. And it turns out that I was right. I have no DNA match to that family. So the search begins to fill this new gap in the tree. And this is where I believe the Iberian Peninsula comes from, but again, we will see for sure when my parents get their tests back.

So yeah. I said coming into this that I was not expecting many surprises… that I thought I knew mostly what would show up. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Does this shift things for me? Yeah, it does, and I am super excited to better understand all of this, and of course to figure out who my gr-geandfather actually was! I feel like I have more questions than before, and as some of those answers unfold, I will share them with you! 

If you want to know more about my gedmatch breakdown, let me know in the comments.

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Tuesdays With Dorie – Chocolate Truffles 

This is a particularly simple recipe… really as simple as making a chocolate ganache with a little corn syrup to stabilize, and then adding whatever you like to it (or not).

I added Biscoff to the ganache… not too fine, but enough that you could enjoy some small chunks in the truffles. I then pulverized more Biscoff cookies and rolled the truffles in the crumbs when I was forming them. The more the merrier!

Thr only thing I would do differently is cut the hardened ganache into cubes rather than use a small cookie scoop, as I did. It would make the handling much easier, I think. And I didn’t use plastic gloves, though I might recommend that during the forming phase… unless you want to lick your hands like a 3 year old. Not that I speak from experience or anything… 😇

Another batch will be made; this time with Peppermint, and then rolled in crushed up Ghirardelli Peppermint bark. I think that will be quite delicious! And, they make perfect gifts, though I wish I lived close enough to my friends and family to do so. Oh well. We will have to eat them all over time ourselves. Such a hard knock life. 

Posted in Baking Chez Moi | Dorie Greenspan, Dessert | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Tuesdays With Dorie -Pfefferneusse

For me, Pfefferneusse are my favorite Christmas cookie. I have a significant amount of German ancestry, and my dad grew up in a German community in NYC. We had three German bakeries nearby that we frequented. I have actually written about Pfefferneusse before, with a recipe for, what I consider to be, the gold standard of Pfefferneusse. They are what I am most familiar with when one would mention the delectable holiday confection.

Needless to say, I have had a number of versions of the cookie… some more like gingerbread, some more like the cookies I have referred to above (made with molasses and anise seed), none as delicate as the version we made for Dorie’s cookies. I have never had a version that didn’t have anise seed in them, and the dough color was so blonde going into the oven, that I worried I had done something wrong. I found the flavor of these to be quite delicate… almost too much so. I used the powdered sugar because, again, that is what I am used to seeing on a Pfefferneusse, but considering how delicate the flavor of these cookies was, I wish I had used the chocolate instead, as I felt like the powdered sugar didn’t really do anything to enhance the flavor.

What did you think, dear reader? 

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Cook the Book Fridays – Grated Carrot Salad

I wound up making only one portion. Or at least one me-sized portion. I do so love a good salad.

Honestly I intended to make enough for me and my hubs for lunch (I am working from home until January), but I was having real problems getting this grated. First, it looks like I must have lost the stem for my grating attachment for my cuisinart, so I took the whole thing out just to have it put it back. Then I was going to just use my box grater, when I was entranced by David’s tales of long curly carrots. I thought, “Ah! I should use my julienne attachment on my mandolin!”, so I used that but my guard kept me from using the whole carrot. I gave up after I had enough for one me-sized serving because I would have had to take PTO for the rest of the day just to get the rest of 1 lb grated.

I liked this salad. I liked the sweetness of the carrots against the lemony vinaigrette. What I really liked was the mouthfeel of the julienned carrots, and the way that it felt when I chewed them. I know that sounds weird, but they were not entirely firm, a little bit soft, with a great bite. And it was surprisingly filling. I would probably make this again… it would go well with roast chicken or grilled meat of any kind. 

If you would like to make this for yourself, you can find the recipe here on Food52. It tells you to add an avocado which the book does not call for, but it is otherwise the same. 

Posted in My Paris Kitchen | David Lebovitz, Sides | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Tuesdays With Dorie – Caramel Tart

At this point I have to say that we are a little overstock.com on desserts. Between the cookies and the Chocolate Caramel Tart from CtBF, and this tart… oy!

I also had plans to make three new desserts to take to my sister in law’s for Thanksgiving, but my hubby has come down with an upper respiratory infection AND pink eye in both eyes, so we are going to be be staying home for the big day. I think, in our 13 years of marriage, we have only done Thanksgiving alone once… since it is just the two of us, we are always generously invited to another family member’s home. So, I think it will be fun! I am going to make Ina Garten’s Ham with Mango Chutney glaze, and then our most favorite trappings. I will pick up a crumb cake and a stollen for us to watch the parade with, which was tradition in my home growing up. And I have a delicious Red Schooner on standby (Voyage 3! The new vintage! A Caymus Malbec!).

Anyway, caramel tart. I finally had enough of my very french-baked tart shells. They have just been too dark! I reduced my heat to 375 and only cooked the tart shell for the initial 25 minutes required. I think I could have cut the time a little more, and have been just fine, too. 

The caramel came together quickly and easily, though I wasted two eggs, which had very delicate yolks that broke too easily. I whisked the eggs and sugar in my stand mixer rather than by hand, and then added the caramel sauce in on the lowest setting. The mix came together easily without any foam created. I did have to bake my tart for 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for; the center was entirely too loose, but was perfect after an extra ten minutes in. And of course, followed up with a chill in the fridge.

To serve I made some Chantilly and I think the tart definitely needed it to balance the richness of the caramel. It was definitely delicious though. Such clear caramel flavoring. We really enjoyed it, and I am happy to say that there are plenty of leftovers for Thanksgiving Day. I can say that I would definitely make this again. So simple in its execution and appearance, but so delicious.

Well, to all of my readers, I wish you and yours and Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for this baking and cooking community we have! 

Posted in Baking, Baking Chez Moi | Dorie Greenspan, Dessert | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Cook the Book Friday – Chocolate Dulce de Leche Tart

Man this was delicious. Also, I have never had occasion to make Dulce de Leche before (tl, dr; put a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of simmering water for like 3.5 hours. The end.), and I could have just purchased La Lechera in the store (we have all sorts of things like that being so close to Cuba and the Caribbean), but why go the easy route? I have almost never taken the easy route. Complication helps me remain intellectually stimulated!

Obviously I was not careful about spreading the Dulce de Leche evenly in my tart shell because I was too obsessed with eating the rest of the can of Dulce de Leche. 

My top looks mottled because of the Malden flakes I sprinkled on top… but the salt sprinkled into the crust and on top was a really nice added touch – it really helped to cut the richnesd of this. And that chocolate custard on top! Ummm… it was all so delicious, and my husband described it as the best brownie but not a brownie ever (ok? Not sure about his description but whatever…). ::Heart Eyes::

Posted in Baking, Dessert, My Paris Kitchen | David Lebovitz | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Tuesdays With Dorie -Peanut Butter Change-ups

This week the Peanut Butter Cookies. One of my husband’s favorites! Since this week has two challenges (both these and the Chocolate Dulce de Leche tart for CtBF) I didn’t get to have any before my non-paleo days were over (we went to Epcot Food and Wine on Saturday, and I preferred to have a slice of tart over cookies) That, however, did not stop my husband, and said he loves these very much. He loves that they are both crunchy and soft at once!

And of course they were quite easy to make, assembled in between tart steps. 

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