Sunshine, Where Are You?

No, not the title of a song!

After a week of grey skies and fog, I decided to look back at some sunny pictures: remember summer? Wasn’t it wonderful!

Despite some extremes – heat, drought or rain – you all posted such wonderful photos all summer long. How about showing us a few to cheer up our November days? Here’s my offering!

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😀

Look forward to seeing a few of your sunny photos too!

Amaryllis Exotica

I planted an Amaryllis bulb for myself last year and decided to make this a tradition. This year I chose a different colour to the traditional red, and I rather like it!

Amaryllis “Exotica”

Planted in the first half of October, it grew rapidly, perhaps a little too tall, and opened within 5 weeks.

There are now four flowers on the first stem, and a second one is growing too!

Do you grow Amaryllis (Belladonna Lily)?

Hazelnut Pastry and a Savoury Tart

Last year our squirrel family must have found alternative lodgings, as we did not see them all year, and we enjoyed eating our own nuts. This spring our squirrels returned, so the hazelnuts have long been harvested! I know/suspect it is the same family, as one of them always builds this above my balcony…

He doesn’t live there, but seems to take an afternoon nap there in winter occasionally when the sun shines on it!

At our autumn market a few weeks ago (how time flies!) I bought some hazelnut flour/meal. The smell when I opened the packet was delectable! This would be a wonderful choice for Christmas cookie dough, instead of ground almonds.

However, there’s plenty of time yet till Christmas cookies are on the agenda, and I had plans for pastry. I like experimenting with pastry, and this tart crust was absolutely delicious – aromatic and hazelnutty – and from now on I will definitely use hazelnuts in pastry more often!

Hazelnut Pastry Mushroom and Leek Tart

Here’s the pastry recipe, and the recipe for the leek and mushroom filling too.

  • Grease a 28cm/11 inch flan dish. Preheat oven to 200°C/425°F.
  • Sieve 100g (7/8 of a cup) plain flour, 50g (2/5 of a cup) wholemeal flour, and 50g (2/5 of a cup) hazelnut flour/meal (or very finely ground hazelnuts) with a pinch of salt. Cut 115g (1 stick) cold butter into the flours and rub in with fingertips until crumbly. Add a twist of nutmeg. Stir in just enough cold water to form the dough into a smooth ball. Do not kneed it, but try and handle it as little as possible. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Roll out to a circle large enough to fit your flan dish. Press into dish and prick base with a fork. Bake blind for 5 minutes.
  • Thinly slice 2 leeks and sauté in a little butter or oil until very soft. This can take about 20 minutes. Add 400g (14 oz) sliced mushrooms and cook until tender. In a bowl, mix 2 eggs, 150ml ( 3/5 of a cup) crème fraîche, 2 tbsps milk, 1 tsp mixed herbs (I used bear’s garlic), salt and lots of black pepper. Pour the leek mixture into the tart and cover with the creamy mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Look at that lovely crust!

(P.S. I had a tiny bit of pastry left over, which I used to try a sweet filling: nutella, bananas, chocolate etc. Very nice BUT – I couldn’t taste the hazelnut pastry with all that sugary sweetness! I therefore suggest sticking to savoury fillings!)

😉

Conversion Tables: http://www.traditionaloven.com/tutorials/conversion.html

Reading for a Foggy Evening

Need something to read on a grey November evening?

The BBC website is one that I return to again and again. The recent scandals about the BBC have been worrying – to say the least, but I can still only praise this institution for its wide spectrum of informative articles, blogs, news and views. Being an “expat” (a term I detest!) I feel this is a link to my home country reflecting the general situation and atmosphere there at the time.

Here are a few things I found this morning on bbc.co.uk which I’d like to share…

I enjoyed reading this article about some of the mysteries of nature:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/20273855

I also found this history of mealtimes quite revealing:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20243692

And this article about the poorest president in the world made me very thoughtful:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20243493

If you’re in the UK, recent news about a terrible ash tree fungus will not be new to you. Here is the latest on how the disease is to be contained:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20253767

Finally, one more link, not from the BBC this time. I was made aware of this by A French Garden. Take a look at this blog about conservationist Miranda Gibson, who is despearte to save trees from logging in the Tasmanian rainforest:

http://observertree.org/

Have a cosy evening reading!

Tuesdays At Two (13th November)

Have you heard of the View Club? Bloggers take a photo of one particular view at a fixed time and post it regularly. That way we get to see the change in the seasons all over the world!

So I’m joining Marie, from My Little Corner of Rhode Island, who posts a daily 4 o’clock shot, as well as Claire at Promenade Plantings in the UK, and a bunch of others too. My shot will be weekly; taken every Tuesday at 2pm. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing a Bavarian garden view through the seasons.

I’m standing at the top of my rockery, looking down across the grass. Right at the bottom of the garden there used to be a large pond (before we came here) which is now our compost heap! Behind our trees you can just make out the woods on the hills across the other side of the river in the valley.

Let’s see how long I can keep this up! And if anyone else wants to join in there are NO rules! You can link to others if you like, but it’s completely free and easy!

Foehn: A Fall Wind

More blue sky! (See my last post!)

Autumn is definitely coming to an end here, but in September and October, and even early November we often have what is called Foehn weather. (I’ll explain Foehn in a minute.) In our area this means clear blue skies, dry air, and fantastic views to the south.

On the first November weekend, the south of Bavaria basked in sunshine and blue skies, while we were stuck in the fog again!

Here are some pictures taken at the end of September, on the hills above our village, when the mountain wind was strong enough to come as far north as the Danube. We enjoyed a couple of days of perfect Foehn weather; hot sun and a warm breeze…

Foehn is the name given here for a warm, dry, downward (or fall) wind that occurs when the weather system comes from the south across the Alps; warm, damp air is blown towards the wind side (south) of the mountains, where the air then rises. Since it is very heavy with moisture, rain then falls, and now the warm air is dry, cooler and lighter and continues to rise and cross the mountains. It then drops rapidly on the lee side (the north), warming up as it falls.  It can cause dangerous gusts and is often quite strong, but mostly it means good weather and clear skies for southern Bavaria. (Only a few days ago the mountains had Foehn again: 150 kmph winds up on the mountainsides and 17°C in the valleys!)

It is typical for autumn and spring weather, but can in fact happen at any time of year. If you’re skiing it can produce fantastic sunshine and warmth! Within a few hours the temperature can change tremendously, and many people are sensitive to this sudden rise in temperature and to the change from moist to very dry air. Symptoms are usually headaches, or slight dizziness. I feel it sometimes too, but usually I simply enjoy it! There is an adjective in the German language used to describe this sensitivity towards the weather; wetterfühlig.

Are you wetterfühlig? 😀

Are there particular weather patterns for autumn where you live?

The Bright (Blue) Side of Life

When we look up from our garden to the woods, in a northerly direction, we observe a strange phenomenon… the sky is bluer than anywhere else. This was about a week ago…

 Magic!

Whatever the weather, there is so often a patch of blue up there!

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There is a German saying “aus heiterem Himmel” (out of the clear sky), meaning out of nowhere, suddenly, “out of the blue“. But the word “heiter” usually means cheerful, or light-hearted.

I also like the expression “pie in the sky“, but then I’m obsessed with food… 😉

Other expressions regarding the sky:

The sky’s the limit

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; Red sky at morning, shepherd’s warning

Reach for the sky

Sky-high

Can you think of any more?

😀