Advent, Advent

Featuring four candles representing the four seasons enjoyed during the course of the year, the candles on the Advent wreath are lit one at a time on each of the four Sundays preceding the “Wend”, the Winter Solstice, now ‘Christianised’ as Christmas Eve (in Germany) or Christmas Day (in the Anglo Saxon realm).

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In our family we celebrate Advent as a four week festival of remembrance of all the good things the four seasons have brought us in the past year.

Join us on social media for a daily stroll through the seasons this Advent: TheOrchardScribe

 

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More Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice

For those of you who do not already know it, meet:

Galangal

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Think: mild ginger with a soupcon of camphor and a peppery punch if you use lots of it!

A root related to ginger, widely used in Far Eastern cookery, and described by German medieval medicine woman Hildegard of Bingen as “warm and healing”, particularly for those suffering from “heartache”.

For those with a bad back she recommends Glühwein with galangal.

In the kitchen Hildegard of Bingen paired galangal with quinces (as well as with pumpkin, fruit salads, jams in general and marinades).

Clearly a lady after my own heart and so I have followed her example: the very last of this years’ quinces have become

Quince Jelly with Galangal

And what a very good idea that was: love it!

If you are quick you can get a jar with a subscription from our Online Orchard Shop – limited edition!

Spring Shades

Two years ago, Mini-Kraut and I had great fun colouring our own eggs for Easter:

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Mini-Kraut is now more into more technical creations and I am lucky enough to be involved with our local community supported agriculture initiative where Gerhard, our “summer farmer” (who delivers organic, free range (i.e. normal!) eggs throughout the winter – his hens sometimes take their winter break in summer) – has hens who lay blue eggs:P1190772

Perfect for our Easter decor this year!

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And if you want to know what determines the colour of a hen’s eggshell, here’s the answer, click on the link: The Colour of a Hen’s Eggshell.

 

 

 

 

Spring in the South

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Orchards and groves: close relatives, worked, or working, trees, they occur throughout Europe as both rich habitats and heritage features in the landscape.

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I am paraphrasing Ian Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University here – a man far more knowledgable than I on the misunderstood and threatened resources that are orchards and groves. (Orchards and Groves: Their History, Ecology, Culture and Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology and Ecology, Vol. 7, 2008, published by Wildtrack Publishing).

I do know how to appreciate them, though, and was privileged to be able to visit the almond, citrus and olive groves of southern Spain’s Andalusia at the beginning of March – a pre-season dose of spring for this traditional orchard fan(atic) from north of the Alps!

In fact, with elements of spring, summer and autumn all happening at once, it was a real feast for the senses!

Some almonds in blossom, some already fruiting, depending on location and elevation.

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Citrus, ripe for the picking and on your doorstep, literally…

Magnificent, majestic symbols of the heritage of which they form part: olive trees,

many still resplendent with olives as the harvest season draws to a close.

The feast for the senses continues at Malaga’s main food market: olives, almonds and so much more, by the bucket load!

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With many elements of local distinctiveness on offer too!

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Carrot Jam

This is a recipe that has grown out of a task I took on last autumn: volunteer vegetable photographer  for our community supported agriculture initiative here where we live in Germany. A nice gallery of veggie photos we have built up in the process too: Veggie Gallery.

And, while the orchard is enjoying its winter rest, I have been pickling and preserving my way through the produce 🙂

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Carrot Jam

 In the Orient a classic, for us, something different for the breakfast table

1kg carrots, peeled and grated

Zest and juice of 1 untreated lemon

Zest and juice of 2 untreated oranges

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

½ tsp crushed cardamom seeds

500 g brown sugar

250 ml apple juice (naturally cloudy i.e. unfiltered)

 

  1. Combine the grated carrots with the sugar in a bowl, cover and leave to draw overnight.
  2. The next day, place the carrots and sugar in a large saucepan together with the remaining ingredients and stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, remove the lid and boil for 30 to 60 minutes until the liquid has reduced to the consistency of jam (test for a set if you want to be sure).
  4. Place in sterilised jars and seal immediately. Keeps for several months if stored in a cool, dark place.

 

Makes about 1.3 kg

The Return of the Light: A Gallery

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Imbolc 2017

“Lichtmess”, or Candlemas as it is known in English, is the Christianised name for an age-old European festival celebrating the return of the light in the northern hemisphere, its roots going back to the Celtic festival of Imbolc celebrated on the evening of 1st February.

As of February, the increasing hours of daylight start to become more noticeable and the day’s work again begins and ends in daylight.

In the country calendar “Lichtmess” or Candlemas also marked the end of the annual employment contract for farmhands and maidservants: traditionally presented with a farewell gift of a new pair of shoes from their farmer employer, come Candlemas on 2nd February, farmhands were free to seek new masters for the next year.

Neither farmhand nor in need of a new master, Imbolc always lightens my spirits, just knowing that the light is back. Be it with candlemaking or a ritual “back to the light” hike or bike tour, it is cause for a personal celebration:

 

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