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!

Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice

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Cardamom

A fragrantly warm winter spice – I love it and the cardamom season is getting into full swing in my house where two of our top seasonal favourites flavoured with freshly ground cardamom are:

Winter Fruit & Spice Cake

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and

The BEST Gingerbread Biscuits

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The Feast of St Martin

The Feast of St Martin is upon us: time to bake “Martinswecken”!

German recipes for Martinswecken are legion, this is the hugely versatile curd cheese pastry recipe that I use to make them:

https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/making-baking-and-mellow-fruitfulness/

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Sloe Gin Time

This post is for Chris & Debbie, gin connoisseurs of note. You know who you are!

Sloe Gin glass with copyright

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness will soon be making way for frosts and mellow indulgence: get the sloe gin going in time for you-know-what (begins with C…) 🙂

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  • Pick as many sloes as you fancy (either after the first frosts or when ripe and then freeze overnight before using – the freezing/frost breaks down the sugar in the fruit making it easier to release its flavour).
  • Prick them all over with a pin.
  • Pour a bottle of gin into a large (sterilised) jar with lid (or two large jars), add the sloes together with one (or more depending on your taste) slit vanilla pod.
  • Leave in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks (can be left for much longer too) before filtering and bottling. Will keep indefinitely and matures with age.

Cheers!

 

 

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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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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Garlic Walnut Bread

“A bubble of warm air” is how our local German weather forecaster described the nearly double-digit temperatures we enjoyed last weekend, so that had us out in the orchard for a round of winter “grilling”, to use the literal translation from the German.

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And on the fire, apart from the ubiquitous “Bratwürtschen”:

Garlic Walnut Bread

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Made using my

Garlicky Cheese and Walnut Dip recipe

– which will of course work just as well indoors.

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Which is where I  shall be this coming weekend as we have quite the opposite of a “bubble of warm air” coming in for the start of the new year:

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