Red Beetle

While taking some photos of wild strawberries the other day I noticed this beetle on a late-flowering Veronica.

A giant ladybird?

No, a Cryptocephalus bipunctatus. (My sister identified it for me!)

I’ll just call her Dotty.

By the way, the German name (Zweipunktiger Fallkäfer) translates as a Double-Spotted Falling Beetle, as it apparently drops to the ground suddenly when threatened.

Summery Flavours: Lemon Thyme

Thymus × citriodorus

(Otherwise known as Lemon Thyme)

Some of my thyme is flowering already.

Thyme to harvest some. Thyme and tide wait for no man. 😉

Lemon Thyme is lovely in salads and, with its attractive variegated leaves, it also looks pretty as a garnish. Herb butters are a good way to preserve the fresh flavours of herbs, and by adding a little lemon or orange zest they can be quite tasty. I have been looking for uses for my lemon thyme, which has a very distinctive citrus aroma – fresh and tangy – and made this:

Lemon and Lemon Thyme Butter

  • Zest of one organic lemon
  • 125g softened butter
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 4 or 5 sprigs of lemon thyme, finely chopped
  • Tiny squeeze of lemon juice

Mix all the ingredients really well and either just chill and use immediately, or press into ice cube trays, cover with foil and freeze.

Tastes delicious on new potatoes. Also good with pasta or gnocchi and parmesan. Or with baby carrots…


Lemon Blueberry Bites

Sweet lemony berry treats

I just love simple recipes and this one is easy peasy! It is more or less Maria and Josh’s recipe from Two Peas and their Pod. If you’ve never seen their site, take a look. It’s fabulous!

Berry season is here and these sweet treats are perfect to celebrate. They are ideal for a warm day for two reasons: a) they do not need hours in the oven, and b) they are great served chilled and can be cut into small pieces for a little treat with afternoon tea!

Lemon Blueberry Bites

For the base:

  • 250g digestive biscuits (or similar: graham crackers, hobnobs etc)
  • 100g butter
  • zest of half a lemon

Crush biscuits. Mix with melted butter and zest. Press into a square 20cm cake tin lined with greased baking parchment. Bake for 10 mins at 180°C. Leave to cool a little.

For the topping:

  • 400g (14oz) tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • juice of 2 lemons (about half a cup)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)

Whisk milk and eggs until well combined. Whisk in lemon juice and zest. Stir in berries and pour over base. Bake for 20 mins at 180°C. Leave to cool in the tin, then chill. Cut into small squares just before serving – they are very sweet, but very delicious!

Thanks for stopping by, and have a nice day!

Fragaria vesca

Fragaria vesca

(Otherwise known as Wild or Woodland Strawberries or Fraises de Bois)


Since much of my garden has a “wild” touch to it, these fit very well into the landscape. The name is misleading as they grow in open sun, and not only woodland. They are, however, very wild! They send out runners and spread quickly, and as ground cover are wonderful. Not only is the greenery welcome, but the pretty white flowers from May onwards and the first fruit a few weeks later create a magical, fairytale look.

Moreover, they taste and smell delicous, although they rapidly lose their flavour when picked.

Sweet treats for the gardener!

(And for the dogs – one of which has learned to pick them herself) 😀

Strawberry Ice Cream

I adore strawberries, but most of them seem to disappear before they can be processed into anything… 😉

It has been too hot to bake in any case, but the perfect weather for ice cream. My ice cream inspiration comes, more often than not, from David Lebovitz. I love his book “The Perfect Scoop“, which is jam-packed with ice-cream, sorbet and granita recipes. I also enjoy reading his warm and entertaining blog, describing his life in Paris. This is one of his excellent recipes, with slight quantity changes.

Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

  • 400g hulled strawberries
  • 140g sugar
  • 1 tbsp kirsch
  • 150g sour cream
  • 275ml cream
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Slice the strawberries and mix with the sugar and kirsch, then let

stand at room temperature for an hour. In a blender briefly

mix strawberries, lemon juice, cream and sour cream, leaving a

few chunks. Chill and then mix in an ice cream maker.

Then freeze.

Don’t forget to remove it from the freezer about 15 minutes before

serving, so you can form nice rounded scoops!

Delicious on its own – even better served with strawberries 😉



Today is Johannistag – St. John’s Day

St John’s Wort – Johanniskraut

Not only was this once considered to be the date of the summer equinox, it is also the last day for harvesting your rhubarb and asparagus! And it is also the latest date for making hay – still adhered to in the nature reserves here, thus allowing wild flowers and grasses to go to seed. The equinox is actually a few days earlier, on June 21st, but old traditions die hard…

Alpine Meadow 2010

In Bavaria,  24thJune is an important date for forecasting the weather and thus planning the harvesting season… yes, even today it can be fairly accurate! There are many sayings connected with Johannistag. Here are a few I have rewritten in English in order to make them rhyme!

  • When the glow worms start to glow, it is time to go and mow! (Wenn die Johanniswürmer glänzen, darfst Du richten Deine Sensen)
  • Before St John’s Day pray for rain, after it will spoil the grain. (Vor Johanni bitt’ um Regen, nachher kommt er ungelegen)
  • Cherries red, asparagus dead! (Kirschen rot, Spargel tot!)

The word Johannis is heard often in different contexts in June:

Johanniskraut, St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), is named after this saint since it usually flowers on or around St John’s Day, and is harvested then.

Redcurrants are called Johannisbeeren in German, as they ripen around this date.

Glow worms are also known as Johannis bugs, as they typically appear towards the end of June.

It is time to cut your beech hedges, as they send out new shoots at this time of year; the Johannis shoots!

And the Johannis herbs – herbs used for herbal remedies -are harvested at this time, such as chamomile, moon daisies, cornflowers, burdock, wolf’s bane, larkspur, wild poppies, thyme, mugwort, verbena, calendula, verbascum, and of course St John’s Wort. A small wreath is traditionally made with nine herbs, and displayed on the door as protection against sickness and evil.

Alchemilla mollis, Lady’s Mantle… a herbal remedy for women in particular:

Leucanthemum vulgare, Moon daisy… a healing herb dedicated to St John:

In the south of Germany the night of June 23rd-24th is celebrated with ancient customs. Across the countryside you can see beacons lit on hills – the Johannis fire – as a pagan symbol for the sun at the summer solstice, later being changed by the Catholic Church into a symbol of light and hence Christ.

In some communities there may be a dance, or other festival, and re-enacted rituals involving herbs, especially St John’s Wort.

Are there any special traditions for Midsummer where you live?