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?

Valeriana officinalis

Recently my post on Red Valerian/Jupiter’s Beard (Centranthus ruber) was perhaps confusing for some, since there is another Valerian:

Valeriana officinalis

On a recent walk near the river I found this pale one already in flower.

Valeriana officinalis is in some ways similar to the red valerian – in its flower shape and general appearance – but it is a different species. This wild one usually grows near water and is often much taller than the red one, has a sweet scent and a thicker stem, and quite different foliage. It has a much more delicate-looking pale flower, which becomes pinker as it ages. Known in Germany as “Baldrian”, Valeriana officinalis is frequently used as a recognized herbal sedative – for sleeping disorders it is reported to work well with no side effects. As mild relief from tension, nervous stomach cramps and headaches, I have known many students take it in the weeks preceding an exam!

And it is so pretty.


Summery Flavours: Orange Mint

Mentha citrata

(Otherwise known as Orange Mint or Bergamot Mint)

There are a lot of different types of spearmint in my garden (which are spreading a little too much), occasionally used when cooking potatoes, or added to a salad. But the orange mint has remained in a pot next to my lemon verbena and citrus thymes. Not being a great lover of herbal teas, I was a little worried about finding a use for it.

Well, I took the plunge and picked a few leaves, popped them in the teapot and poured almost-boiling water over them. A few minutes later I poured some into a teacup and… it was delicious! Nothing like the dried tea I’ve had before. This tasted smooth and almost sweet. Not at all bitter. And not what I associate with the tea prescribed for tummy aches or indigestion!

It tastes very refreshing cold too.

Other uses:

  • Mint goes very well with beetroot
  • One or two leaves added to a salad gives a nice element of surprise
  • Use the flowers as decoration (or eat them!)
  • Simply chewing a leaf now and freshens the breath
  • Add a couple of leaves to some other finely chopped herbs, to mix into cream cheese

Perhaps I’ll be a little more adventurous with mint later in the year…

What do you do with mint?


In school I learned that the German word Brotzeit is the time when an evening meal is served…

However, it is in fact a snack at any time of day and an important part of Bavarian beer garden culture; many restaurants or pubs have a separate “Brotzeit” menu, which includes cold meat, sausage or cheese served with bread.

Here is a vegetarian Brotzeit enjoyed in a beer garden recently…

I love these old weathered wooden bread boards used for serving. Above, local cheese with caraway seeds. Below, Emmental cheese platter.

It was so delicious I just had to share!