O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!
How often you give us delight
In brightly shining Christmas light!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me
That hope and love will ever be
The way to joy and peace for me.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me.

For the original German lyrics click here: O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

Brussels Sprouts

Brassica oleracea (var. gemmifera)

Brussels were possibly cultivated in ancient Rome, but the sprout we know today gets its name from later cultivation in Belgium in the 14th century.

(Do you call them brussels? Or sprouts?)

They can be bitter, and therefore the saying that they need a good hard frost before being harvested has much truth in it, as they then become milder.

To ensure even cooking, putting a cross at the stem end is important.  But even more important is not to overcook them, as they then go mushy and taste stronger. (That’s why so many people claim not to like them!) You also need to preserve all that vitamin C and the other vitamins, minerals and iron!

They are a traditional part of the British Christmas dinner. But we also like them steamed and then briefly sauteed in garlic oil, served with a dash of lemon juice and a tad of grated parmesan. Yum! (They go well with grilled cheese and croquettes!) The best ones are around now. I find they don’t taste so good later in the winter, but they do freeze well…

How do you like your sprouts?

Frozen Treasure (and my 100th post!)

I discovered some home-grown rhubarb in the bottom of my freezer the other day, and while pondering what to do with it (how long does it keep frozen?) I kept thinking about my winter spice syrup recipe…

So, to celebrate 100 posts on Words and Herbs I made this:

Milchreis (rice pudding) with winter spice syrup and stewed rhubarb.

The rice:

250g short grain rice

1 litre milk (use almond or soya for the vegan version)

pinch of salt

A little cream

Bring the milk to the boil, remove from heat and stir in the rice and the pinch of salt. Put back on a very low heat, put a lid on the pan and leave to barely simmer for about twenty-thirty minutes, stirring now and then. Mix in a little cream before serving. Serve warm.

The rhubarb: simmer over a low heat until soft and then turn up heat to reduce some of the excess liquid. If very sour, add a little sugar.

The syrup:
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp allspice
6 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp ginger

Bring all ingredients to a simmer, stirring constantly to combine. Strain through a mesh sieve.
Can be kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but may need straining again.

Now put a little of each in a dish and enjoy!

By the way, the syrup tastes good in fruit tea, mixed with sekt or ginger ale, and is especially fine on pancakes or even porridge…

Baloo’s Word of the Day

For a change, a German word! And perfect for this time of year, I feel.

Gemuetlichkeit

noun; cosiness, feeling of comfort and warmth, easy-going atmosphere, homeliness

(adjective: gemuetlich)

There are many words in German that create problems when trying to translate them into English… in some cases these German words have thus been adopted into the English language. For example: Zeitgeist, Schadenfreude, kitsch…

In the Disney film The Jungle Book there is that wonderful song “The Bare Necessities“, where Baloo sings about taking things easy and forgetting about your worries. The German version uses this word Gemuetlichkeit (Probier’s mal mit Gemuetlichkeit) which describes the feeling of sitting down with friends and feeling comfortable with them, the world, and life in general. Taking life easy!

Can you think of any German words you use in everyday language?