Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Cowberry Jam

Not far from where I live, there are some quiet pine woods where the ground is covered with sphagnum moss, bilberry bushes and lichen. The moss is so deep and thick that if you put a blanket over the top of it, it would make for an extremely comfortable night's sleep. Out of this moss in many widespread areas, grows a thick ground cover of cowberry bushes.  These are called Lingonberries in Scandinavia and mountain cranberries in North America.  They are well-known in Austria, but perhaps not so well known in England or even where I live, in Germany. The cowberry is a low-growing shrub which loves the shade of the pine canopy.  It is an evergreen shrub with small waxy bright green leaves and bell-shaped pinkish white flowers which develop into shiny bright red berries. It has two flowering periods at the beginning and end of summer, and can often be seen with both flowers and berries growing simultaneously.

Ray Mears ('Wild Food') p.269, says that cowberries (vaccinium vitis-idaea) contain benzoic and oxalic acid, which make them mildly toxic when eaten to excess, (but so would anything when eaten to excess). They're rich in Vitamin C and the benzoic acid is anti-microbial. They have many health benefits. They've been an important food for the peoples of Northern Europe Asia and America for thousands of years. They can be added to cakes, used to make spirits, fruit leathers, as well as jams.

Well, we went out a in the middle of October and again today, and picked enough to make two or three 250g jars of jam. The great things about them is that you don't need to add any pectin.

I used:
  • Half a kilo of cowberries/lingonberries
  • 100 millilitre of water
  • 400 grams sugar
I put clean, wet glass jars into the oven at 100C° to sterilise them. Then I put the berries and sugar into a large saucepan with 100ml of water, brought it all gently to the boil and let it boil for 40 minutes, stirring every now and then. The resulting jam was as you see below. It's really good with quark on toast. Put a few berries on top of your muesli with a bit of yoghurt  - delicious.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Goodbye to SFG

After a very enjoyable 5 years with a garden where I was able to try out Square Foot Gardening, I have moved. I only have the possibility to garden in pots now, but it's all I need. So, goodbye to all that, and goodbye to this blog... at least for a while. Who knows what may one day develop?

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Grand October SFG Clear-Out.

I've had so much work over the last 18 months, plus other commitments which have put SFGardening right at the back of my mind, but the poor patch has been screaming for attention since July, when I last did anything worth while there, and two very kind friends came over and helped me bring it back into shape. We had a wonderful day working together, the weather was fabulous, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
I've removed all the grids and washing line which formed SF squares in the beds. The wooden grids were rotten anyway, and if I add new humus, compost and vermiculite next spring (I still have a couple of bags of horse manure waiting to be used) it will be easier to do without the grids there. I'll use fresh washing line which will look cleaner and nicer anyway.
I'll buy another couple of packs of plastic bed edging to replace the 4x4 which is really falling apart (where I had the squashes growing a couple of years ago). The great thing about this bed edging is that it also has holes in the upper surfaces exactly where the grids have to be positioned. The edging comes with pegs which can be inserted in case you want to add another layer on top, thereby heightening the raised bed. These pegs will act perfectly to wind the washing line around, creating a new 16 square grid.
This might be the last time I write about the garden this year...we'll see.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Recipe from 'Jerusalem' by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice. p.184

This was really easy and dead delicious.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Choc-Crunch Cake – (men LOVE this)

This was originally a Woman and Home recipe – I cut it out of the magazine sometime between the years 1994-1995.

I’ve added two pictures to show a couple of variations that you can make.

For the cake:
340 g plain chocolate
2 tablespoons golden syrup (if in Germany and you don’t have any, use Zuckerrübensirop – just as good – otherwise, Agave syrup or even honey would do)
140g butter
170g cornflakes (or crunchy nut if you like, but that’s more calories)

For the filling:
280ml double or whipping cream
230g strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
Blueberries, or any other fruit, bananas, apricots kiwi, whatever you like

To complete:
Icing sugar for dusting
110g strawberries and/or other fruit for decoration (optional)

I put a piece of greaseproof paper on a cake stand/plate and stick an adjustable gateau form (Tortenring) on top. If you don’t have such a form, line a cake tin (24cm) with greaseproof paper, so that the resulting cake can be easily lifted out.

1.       Put the chocolate, syrup and butter in a saucepan and melt on a low heat. Stir frequently. Remove pan from heat when everything is melted. (Or warm up in the microwave in a plastic bowl on the lowest setting for about 3-4 minutes).
2.       Tip the cornflakes into a large bowl. Pour the chocolate mixture on top. Mix until thoroughly combined.
3.       Pour the mixture into the cake or gateau form and spread evenly. Leave in a cool/cold place for 1-1,5 hours. Once chilled, removed from tin. Dust with a bit of icing sugar.
4.       Whip the cream until thick. Spread on the cake, or mix with some of the (sliced) strawberries … basically decorate as you like. I poured a bit of melted chocolate-butter-syrup over the top of the whole thing at the end, this time.  There are lots of decorative variations you can do with this –make it either in two smaller layers and stick a cream/strawberry layer in between, or do it in one, and mound all the cream etc., on top. I find the latter easier to cut, but it’ll probably break up anyway, so  if you mind if your relatives complain if their piece of cake breaks up when you put it on their plate, make something else. ;)  Another alternative would be to make small, individual amounts in muffin cases and decorate with cream and fruit.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Pesach: What to do with Lovage

We had a frost last night, which resulted in my lovage plant, which had grown to about a metre in height over the last four weeks, partially collapsing. It's an impressively fast growing herb, but apart from throwing the odd frond into a bowl of soup, I hadn't really come up with much of a use for it, except to look at as a centre piece for the SFG. So, knowing that in a few weeks' time the stems would become somewhat stringy, I decided to cut all the collapsed fronds off and make them into pesto. So here it is. A large trug full of lovage, some olive oil, three cloves of garlic, salt and pepper and a generous slosh of pomegranate syrup, which mitigates the rather sour lovage flavour, and there you are. It's amazing how little it concentrates down to. We're having lamb and couscous today, and I think this will go rather well with it, like Pesach bitter herbs. I expect in another few weeks I'll be able to do the same thing again.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

December Square Foot Garden

December Square Foot Garden
All the garden has been cleared up and weeded. Old growth has been cut away. So far we haven't had any snow, and it's still fairly mild. We only have 8°C today. There's a bit of chard left (Bright Lights) a few herbs plus the winter-hard shrubs.