Autumn Elders

Now, I tend to get excited about the elder trees in late spring, when their dusty, creamy flowers promise oodles of flavour to add to gin, vodka or cordial to name but a few. I have to admit that I didn’t even know that the berries were anything special, or even edible. I was brought up to be wary of berries that you weren’t 100% sure about, and although I loved eating sloes in front of school friends who were convinced that they were poisonous (along with pulling the flowers off dead nettles and chasing some of my more gullible class-mates), my knowledge of autumn’s berries didn’t extend much further than that.

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Continue reading “Autumn Elders”

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We went a-foraging

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Autumn is my favourite season. I know I’ve said that before, and I’ve said it about other seasons. But autumn is absolutely my favourite. It’s the time when you can see nature at work around you, busy with the last push of productivity before winter sets in. It’s a great time to get out and nick gather or forage the wonderful goodies that nature puts out there for us. It seems that, for most people, foraging doesn’t really go beyond picking a few blackberries out of the hedges by the footpaths. But if you spent most of your childhood Octobers being dragged around the hedges looking for sloes and crab apples, you’ll be aware of how much more is out there. And I’m sure I only know a fraction of what’s available for the hard-core forager. Continue reading “We went a-foraging”

Respect your Elders: Two Ideas for How.

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It’s just about the middle of the elderflower season here. Since any blossom is only out for a short time, the differences in timing across the country is quite stark. For example at the weekend we took a wander up the hill (these are Swiss hills, you understand, not little English mounds,) to a village that is 530 ft higher than the city, and their lilac was still in full bloom, whereas ours was more than a month ago. And my boyfriend’s parents had the peak of their elderflower season a good few weeks ago, and their village is a good 700 or so feet closer to sea level than I am.

But I digress. Every year, I see the flowers on the elder trees and bushes and I think “oh I must make some elderflower cordial / champagne / gin / vodka.” I love foraging, the idea of making scrumptious things from natural ingredients Continue reading “Respect your Elders: Two Ideas for How.”

My Muesli

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I have two breakfast seasons: the first, from roughly late September until late March, is the porridge season; the second, is the muesli season. (Or perhaps the muesli season comes first, and the porridge second. Chicken, egg, chicken, egg.) Of course it had to be Muesli, I am, after all, in the land that invented it. It was “invented” (as far as that term can be applied to roughly mixing a list of ingredients) just over a hundred years ago, as a healthy meal for his patients, by Dr Bircher-Benner, a physician who had ideas that fruit and vegetables that hadn’t been cooked to within an inch of their lives were good for you. Continue reading “My Muesli”

Slapdash Roast Chicken with Stuffing

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Sorry, is that an inappropriate picture for a post about roast chicken? I love chickens both alive and cooked, and I just don’t have enough opportunities to post pictures of them in the former state.

I remembered on Saturday night that I wanted to make a Sunday roast with the chicken that was sitting in my freezer taking up valuable space that could be filled with vegetable peelings (I’m running out of my homemade stock by now, you see, and I need to save my veggie scraps to make some more.) However, I was already half asleep, and the thought wasn’t sufficiently nagging to keep me awake or persuade me to get up now and take it out of the freezer. Continue reading “Slapdash Roast Chicken with Stuffing”

Melting Moments

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Sometimes you need a bit of comfort baking. Not necessarily because you’re feeling down, but baking is a special kind of frivolous cooking that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling and far too much cake than you can reasonably eat on your own.

These are absolutely the most delicious, simple little things to make after lunch in time for a cup of tea at four. I remember making these with my mother when I was little, and she had the recipe from her mother. I love a good family recipe! Continue reading “Melting Moments”

Spicy Roasted Squash Soup

I’m still clinging to the squash season, there are two of my autumn squash hoard left, sitting outside my window keeping cool (well, pretty cold now, actually.)

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Since the snow’s set in (although just a light dusting by Swiss standards, it would be enough to constitute a fall of a good 20% in the British economy…) it’s great to have something easy to warm up at lunchtime, and this does the job nicely for me. You can add extra tabasco for more of a kick, but this is just right for my taste buds. Continue reading “Spicy Roasted Squash Soup”

Green things that may be eaten raw. (Or made into soup.)

squash (n.)
“gourd fruit,” 1640s, shortened borrowing from Narraganset (Algonquian) askutasquash, literally “the green things that may be eaten raw,” from askut “green, raw” + asquash “eaten,” in which the –ash is a plural affix.

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I discovered the wonderful world of squash just a few years ago. Before that, the only contact I’d had with them was as pumpkins that we hollowed out and carved at Halloween (that was the extent of our Halloween celebrations.) But I never connected the giant round orange thing with triangle-eyes and an orthodontist’s nightmare grin with a vegetable that I could eat. Continue reading “Green things that may be eaten raw. (Or made into soup.)”