Black Currants

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Currant bushes are more common in Europe than here in North America.
We grew up watching (and later on helping) our mothers and grandmothers picking the berries, turning them into delicious jam or freezing them for a later use;
hopefully for our all favourite cake: Black Currant Kuchen.

No wonder we bought three bushes a few years ago,
when we discovered them in a nursery close by:
one with black, one with red and one with white berries.
We were curious which one would grow best:
the black currant was announced without any doubt to be the winner.
Not only is the taste more intense,
the black berries are twice the size  of their red and white cousins, and on top of everything else they convince with their nutrition facts.

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Here is a comparison between blueberries and black currants:

                                100g Blueberries:                                     100g Black Currants:
Vitamin A            2%                                                                     7.5%
Vitamin C            1.5%                                                               301%    (no I did not forget a comma)
Vitamin E             4%                                                                    –
Vitamin K            13%                                                                  –
Calcium                0.5%                                                                 5%
Iron                        3.5%                                                                19.5%
Magnesium          1.5%                                                                 6%
Zinc                        1.5%                                                                  2%
Copper                    –                                                                       9.5%
Manganese            –                                                                     11%
Phosphorus           –                                                                      8.5%

…and the antioxidants: the darker the fruit the higher the antioxidant content.
No surprise that a study in Britain by
Dr Stewart, claims the humble black currant to be the N0 1 superfruit!

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When I prune my bushes after the harvest in fall, I push the canes directly into the soil. It is surprisinng how easily they grow. By doing this for years, I now have an abundance of black currant bushes and as result plenty of frozen goodness in my freezer!
We love them for breakfast with yoghurt and oats, in smoothies, in homemade ice cream, as sugar reduced jam and of course in the above mentioned Kuchen.

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Simple Decorations with Driftwood

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On my last walk on the beach
I collected smaller driftwood pieces to make a sun for the garage door.
This is an easy and fast project.
With a glue gun I secured the pieces on a round wooden disc.

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At the end I attached some beach glass and shells.

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Because there were so many driftwood sticks left,
I created another work of art for the garden shed.

Last week I used all kinds of beach finds and stung them on twine, or in the case of the beach glass onto wire. Now they hang from a bigger drift wood piece. Doesn’t this look great on the old cedar shingles on our barn?

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A Wreath out of Bread Rolls

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My plan was to bake some bread rolls for my friend’s birthday.
While the dough was resting and rising,
I had the idea to form  the dough into a wreath like looking circle.This was after I braided a wreath out of wildflowers for her as well.
I suppose my mind was in wreath production mood.
While I was able to take two pictures of the bread roll wreath, the battery on my camera died before I could do so with the flower wreath.

When I was at the Bulk Store the other day,
I discovered that they now sell different kinds of sprouted flour. I had read so much about the health benefits of sprouted flour, even considered sprouting some grains myself.
However the lengthy process involved for this method discouraged me.
So, I was pretty excited to find a resource for sprouted flour.

You don’t need to use sprouted flour for this recipe. You can substitute the Rye and Spelt flour with any flour, or only use unbleached  or all purpose flour (1kg)

Recipe:
750 g unbleached flour
150 g sprouted spelt flour
100 g rye flour
3 tsp dry yeast2tsp sea salt
750ml water

Weigh and measure all your ingredients.  Use a small bowl or cup and mix yeast, about 150ml of water and 2 Tbs of flour, stir until all  lumps have dissolved. After 30 min. you should be able to see how the yeast mix is rising. Now combine all the ingredients (add the yeast paste into the bowl with the remaining flour and the salt, pour most of the water in and start kneading your dough. If the bread dough is to dry, add the rest of the water). If  you have a Stand Mixer, it will do the work for you. Otherwise just keep kneading on your working surface until the ball of dough is smooth. Put a tea towel over your bowl and wait at least for one hour. If your dough has doubled in size, you are ready to shape your rolls. Put them on a greased baking sheet and brush them with milk (or water) before you sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds over them. This will make them stick better. Before they go in the oven use a sharp knife to cut each roll.

Bake at 200 C / 400 F  for about 25-30 min.

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Treasures from the Beach

Every once in a while eight year old Alberta comes for a sleep over.
Usually we spent some time outside,  knit together, play games,
and do some crafts among other things.

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A while ago I had made a WELCOME sign by gluing beach glass
and tiny appealing pebbles on a driftwood piece.
Alberta had expressed her wish to create such a sign for her family.
We went down to the beach to collect all the material, necessary for the project.
With eyes wide open, we searched the shore, determined not to miss any of the treasure, camouflaged between the rocks.

We got rewarded with pieces of different coloured beach glass, beautiful pebbles and sea shells. In addition we carried an armful of driftwood and sea washed boards to the car.

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Back at our house, Alberta started with sorting out what she wanted to use for her sign.
With a pencil she wrote the letters on the wooden piece.
We used carpenters glue to attach
the glass – the pebbles – and the shells
to the wood.

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Every time my little friend spends time here, she wants to make presents for her siblings.
This time it would be a piece of drift wood with their names painted on.

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The second day of her visit ends with a dinner invitation for her whole family.
We planned a potatoe, cabbage and beef Casserole and apple crisp for dessert.
Although cooking kept us busy all afternoon,
we were able to squeeze in some time for board games!
Dinner was enjoyed by everyone and Alberta’s gifts were happily received.

Alberta’s question at the end of the day:
When can I come again?

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Tarte Tatin, an upside down apple tart

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.   Beside the unpretentiousness of the tarte, it will surprise you with bursting flavour and  apples steamed to perfection under the short pastry.

While  the  original French tart uses sugar in the crust and the caramel,
I replaced refined sugar with maple syrup.

Fot the short pastry:
200g unbleached flour
80g unsalted butter
1 egg
1-2 Tbs maple syrup

Mix ingredients knead together and form a ball.

For the caramel:
20g unsalted butter
2 Tbs. maple syrup
30g sliced almonds

Melt butter in a saucepan , add maple syrup,
bring it to a boil and add almonds.
Pour into the baking dish and spread caramel evenly over the bottom.

Take 3-4 apples like Cortland
Rinse, core, peel, and slice apples in eights
Arrange them in a circular pattern over the caramel in the baking pan
(9-10 inches/ about 24cm)
Don’t use a spring form, the juices would escape and burn in the oven.

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With a rolling pin roll your pastry into a circle, a bit bigger than the diameter of  your dish.
Lay it over the apples and tuck in the overhanging dough.

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While the oven is preheating to 350F/180C, I place the oven ready dish in the freezer.
In case you are wondering, this is to eliminate the step where you put the dough for 30 min in the fridge before rolling it out.
When the set temperature is reached bake your tarte tatin for 35 min or until it is golden.
Take the pan out, and loosen the sides of the crust with an knife.Place a cake plate on top of the tart and flip it over.

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Serve warm. It’s delicious on its own, but could be accompanied by ice cream, whipping cream or Greek yoghurt.

Bon appétit

A Knitted Birthday Card & A Poem

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Perhaps you have seen the post about my knitted linenstitch scarf
and  how I love that its look could be mistaken for being woven.

When the birthday of our daughter was around the corner and I was playing with ideas for her card, the linenstitch theme appeared again.
I  delight when the motive on a card, is not only appealing but points to a deeper meaning, is acting as a symbol.

One needs two different coloured yarns to make the effects of the linenstitch visible.
I opted for a red yarn going from beginning to end.
For the “other” I chose different colours and all kinds of wool types.

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I hoped this would turn out to become a picture of our lives: dark colours and rougher yarns showing tougher and more challenging times,
while brighter colours and softer wools
would symbolise the delightful days and seasons.
I saw the red yarn as a never changing, always appearent support:
God as the thread of our life’s  story .

This thought reminded me of a poem from Corrie ten Boom.
Here it is:

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem) by Corrie ten Boom

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

Ofenschlupfer or Baked Bread & Apple Pudding

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Ofenschlupfer means: slip out of the oven

My mama served this dish often when there was too much dry bread in the bread drawer.
Indeed, when I was growing up, many  kitchen tables had one deep drawer and this was the common place for storing bread.

Here is the recipe:

250g baguette or breadrolls (1-2 days old)
4-5 apples
300 ml milk
3-4 eggs
2 tsp. sugar mixed with cinnamon
some crushed almonds or other nuts (optional)
small piece of butter

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Peel apples and cut into thin slices
Slice the bread
Butter an oven proof dish and start with a layer of bread
followed by apples and nuts. Repeat this step. Your last layer should be bread.
Mix  eggs and milk well and pour evenly over the bread.
Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and some
pats of butter.
Preheat oven to 180C/375F and bake for 30-40 min.

The Ofenschlupfer tastes delicious by its own.
But pairing it with vanilla sauce (custard sauce) takes the experience onto a new level.

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Recipe for Vanilla sauce:

500ml milk
1 egg yolk
half of a vanilla bean (cut in half lengthwise)
20g cornstarch
1-2 tbs sugar

Bring 400ml of milk and the piece of vanilla to a boil.
Mix the remaining 100 ml of milk with the egg yolk, the cornstarch and sugar well.
When the milk is boiling, take your pot off the heat. Take out the vanilla
(careful, don’t burn yourself) and scratch the vanilla goodness back into the pot.
Pour the egg yolk/milk/sugar/cornstarch mix into the hot milk while whisking it constantly. Put the pot back on the hot stove, still stirring until the milk mixture thickens.

As observant readers you most likely realized that my vanilla sauce looks more like a custard and not saucy at all. I was using 30g of cornstarch which proofed to be to much. So I changed the amount to 20g in the recipe, with that the sauce should flow nicely off the Ofenschlupfer.

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Bon appétit

Sourdough Starter & Sourdough Rye Bread

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I’ve always thought
making my own sourdough would be
difficult, challenging and time consuming…
…..until I tasted a delicious sourdough rye bread at a friend’s house
and was taught  how to make this

easy Sourdough bread starter:
take 3/4 cup of rye flour and mix well with 3/4 cup of water.
I use a glass bowl with a tight fitting  lid.
(A 1ltr. mason jar works too.)
That’s right, only two ingredients and the right temperature will turn this
into a wonderful smelling sourdough.
Close the lid and find a warm, but not overheated place for the bowl.
My sourdough sanctuary is located in the cupboard above the fridge.
After two days a well and alive sourdough starter should show active bubbles and a pleasant sour smell should be noticed.
Don’t be  surprised when the energy of the bacterias
lift off the lid of your bowl.

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For the sourdough rye bread
mix:
500g whole rye flour
1500g unbleached flour
sourdough starter
1-2 tbs seasalt
3 flat tsp dry yeast
about 1500ml water (roomtemp.)

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Keep 250ml of the water back and add slowly if needed.
Now you have to mix the ingredients well and knead the dough  thoroughly.
This step can be done by hand.
Because rye flour doughs are pretty sticky, I prefer to use a Danish Dough Whisk.
This works marvellous!

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Yes, I do use a bit of yeast for my bread.
Sourdough purists most likely would object doing so.
My experience, with only adding sourdough starter as an raising agent, resulted in a flat and dense bread. Many baking sessions helped to create the recipe above.

After mixing all the ingredients well, cover the bowl containing the bread dough with a plate and give the sourdough and yeast time to work overnight.
Next morning preheat your oven to 450F  (210C)
Shape your breadloaves,  -rolls, or -sticks;  because ryeflour dough likes to stick, make sure to use enough flour doing so.
Place them on a greased baking tray.
They don’t have to look perfect, I think a more rustic look fits them.

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Smaller pieces, like these bread rolls can go straight in the preheated oven and should be baked for 30-40 min. While they are in the oven the remaining loaves or rolls have time to raise.

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Depending on the size,bread loaves will take 40-50 min. to bake through.

This receipe made 10 bread rolls and three loaves.
What I don’t need right away ends up in the freezer.
It freezes well and the bread still tastes delicous.

Happy baking!

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Advent

Again we have entered the time  of Advent, leading us towards Christmas and preparing our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Some rituals and traditions can be helpful in doing so…

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In our home it is a tradition to have an Advent wreath on the table.
At every meal we light the candle(s).
Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent,
so this week we only burn one candle.
Every Sunday one additional candle is  lit up, until the light of all  four candles brightens the darkness. It stands as a count down for Christmas and a symbol for the light Jesus brought into this world.

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We also decorate the outside and inside
with garlands made off evergreen boughs.
One garland decorates our deck, before you enter our house,
the other sits on our mantle and is decorated with stars made of straw and some lights.

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Tomorrow we will take out the nativity scene, for which we have collected moss and bark and other materials found in the forest.
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May the beginning of your Advent be filled with the warmth and joy that Christmas time brings

My Linenstitch Scarf

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Last Spring I walked into a wool shop
and was drawn to an exceptional scarf, which was displayed in the corner.
It looked like it was woven on a loom
instead of being knitted;
and I do love handwoven beauties.
I could hardly believe it, but indeed the scarf was knitted.
The pattern is called: The Linenstitch.
The best way to show off the stunning effects of the linenstitch
is to use two different variegated yarns.
I bought some sockyarn and the pattern, eager to start my own scarf.
Well, it took me a while to figure out how exactly to knit this magical
– so called- Linenstitch.
I confess that I did not understand the instructions on that purchased pattern.
I blamed my way of continental knitting and searched for help on you tube.
I find it much easier to watch how something is done,
than breathing life into written explanations.
Finally I understood and was able to start knitting.

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With the linenstitch method you only knit every second stitch.
On the front side you knit 1 stitch,
take the yarn in front of the next and slip the stitch onto the other needle.
Keep taking turns in knitting one and slipping the next off with the yarn in front.
On the back side, pearl one, put the yarn behind your work and slip next stitch without knitting,continue like this to the end of the row.
By doing this you actually only knit every second stitch, meaning to knit a whole row you have to knit two.
Confusing?
It’s not surprising that this way of knitting takes more time, but in my opinion, looking at the beautiful result, it’s so worth the extra effort:

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I finally finished my scarf and wasn’t sure if I should attach fringes or not.

As you can see I started with one fringed side.I like it and now will do the other side as well.

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