If Elder (Sambucus nigra) grows in your part of the world you may be seeing the frothy white flowers this week or even enjoying a whiff of the heady fragrance. For us the elderflowers are a little earlier than usual. Time to make cordial, perhaps some sorbet, and definitely pancakes. ‘Hollerkiachl’ as they are called in Bavaria. 😃
We are lucky and have several trees/shrubs directly on our doorstep and in our lane, away from traffic and foraging passers-by!
First I made the pancake batter. Here is my recipe for about 8 small pancakes:
- 200g (1 3/5 cups) flour
- Pinch of baking powder
- 2tsps sugar
- 425 ml (1 4/5 cups) almond milk (unsweetened)
- 2 ‘veg eggs’ or 1 large tbsp soya flour mixed with a little water
Whisk all the ingredients together to make a smooth batter. Leave to stand while you cut your elderflowers.
The best time here to cut elderflowers is late morning on a still and sunny day. The aroma seems to be at its peak then. You will need about 8 -10 flowerheads, one for each pancake. (It depends on their size so cut a few extra if you aren‘t sure.) Shake off any flies and beetles. Bring them indoors and shake again over the sink, then place on a yellow surface. This attracts any remaining tiny flies to crawl out.
Heat a little sunflower oil in a pancake pan. Dip an elderflower head in the batter, holding it by the stalk, and drop it in the pan with an extra tablespoon or two of batter.
You can now cut off as much of the stalk as possible so you can turn the pancake once you see little bubbles forming. Fry until golden brown on both sides, and sprinkle with a little sugar. Continue until you have used up all the batter.
As restrictions are slowly in the process of being removed in most parts of the world, this will be the last of my vegan store cupboard recipe series for a while. It has been an interesting exercise in seeing how long I can eat a varied diet without popping to the shops regularly. However, I do hope we will all be able to return to our usual routines soon!
The ingredients for these tarts are bound to be in anyone‘s store cupboard or refrigerator. And when that craving for something sweet grabs you, why not whisk up a batch of these! They are very quick and easy, and go beautifully with a cup of tea. Just in case you have never made these before, here is the recipe.
For approx. 18 tarts you will need:
- Some muffin or patty tins, greased, and a cookie cutter
- 250 g (2 cups) plain flour
- 125 g (1 stick and 1tbsp) very cold margarine or vegan butter, cut into small chunks
- a little cold water
- Jam of your choice
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)
Make shortcrust pastry by rubbing the margarine into the flour with fingertips until fine and crumbly. Add just enough cold water to bring the dough together into a ball. (Tip: shortcrust pastry freezes really well – I only made 12 tarts and froze the remaining pastry for a rainy day. 😃)
Roll out on a floured surface to about 3mm (about 1/8 inch) and, using a cookie cutter that fits your patty tins, cut out shapes and place in the tins. Add a heaped teaspoon of jam to each. I used several different jams – strawberry, apricot and blackcurrant.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the pastry starts turning golden and the jam is bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing from the tins.
Modern art, you may ask?
No, it’s a young Gingko tree, given to us by friends when we moved here, and wrapped up in garden fleece!
In Germany the final frosts of the year according to ancient folk sayings are mid-May, on the four Saint‘s Days from 12th to 15th May. And until today they are surprisingly accurate. Last night the 11th-12th was Saint Pankratius and we had a couple of degrees of frost. Tonight is Saint Servatius and temperatures could drop below zero again… a nightmare for gardeners who have been tempted by an exceedingly mild and warm April and early May to plant up pots of Pelargoniums and vegetables and sow annuals…
Thank goodness for garden fleece and various bits of packing materials saved for wrapping up sensitive plants. And for our trolley, which came in handy for gathering up these pots to put under cover for the night.
The zucchini and butternut are in pots this year as the ongoing drought deterred us from starting a vegetable bed again this spring. Maybe next year… In the meantime, it means wrapping up pots overnight. These looked a bit peaky this morning when I took the photo, but by the afternoon they had perked up, albeit with some slight leaf damage despite the fleece wrapping.
With our greenhouse plans also postponed for at least another year, I invested in this mini patio greenhouse. It has been worthwhile, with room for twelve trays. And with a bit of garden fleece it stays above freezing overnight. It was delivered in a trillion pieces though, so don’t ask how long it took me to put it together! 😫
At the beginning of our lockdown in mid-March I panicked a bit and worried I would not get any tomato plants, as even if our garden centres ever opened again there would be a rush for them. So I ordered a mix of tomato seeds from a Russian lady not far from us who has a private nursery and usually sells young plants in spring. They are all old varieties brought over from Russia by her parents, and so are not EU certified (so I can‘t eat them… 🤪🤣😉) and ALL of them germinated! So I now have 28 healthy young plants and cannot give them away as I can‘t visit anyone! I think I will be spending all summer watering…
Some dahlia tubers freshly planted in pots were brought indoors, as were my Lemon Verbena plants. I have been coddling these darlings, bringing them indoors every night.
I love lemon verbena tea and dry the leaves so I can enjoy it all year round. Last year my plants did not thrive and I had to ration my remaining tea. I hope this year I can refill my stock. 😀
The last of our Ice Saints is the dreaded ‘kalte Sophie’, cold Saint Sophia on the 15th, and it looks like that might be our last frosty night…. I do hope so as the wrapping up and unwrapping is getting a bit ridiculous!
How do you cope with late frosts? Is there a specific date for the last ones where you live?
I have been craving sweet stuff recently and made myself some flapjacks. After all, you only need sugar, margarine and oats! If you have golden syrup even better. Mine were bit crumbly, but this recipe I am linking to uses half sugar and half syrup, so give yourself a treat and give it a go!
Of course, mine were vegan, using margarine instead of butter. And I added a little maple syrup. Other options for spicing them up would be adding a teaspoon of cinnamon or cardamom. Or a handful of dried cranberries.
The second recipe is one I have been meaning to post for years! It is an old favourite for a quick and tasty dinner when there are no fresh veggies left in the fridge. I think it was originally a rice salad that ‘evolved’ into a hot dish. I call it simply ‘Curry rice’. 😃
All you need for two to three portions is:
- 200g basmati rice
- About 2 tbsps margarine
- 1-2 tbsps curry powder (depending on how hot your curry powder is!)
- 200g (frozen) green beans
- 200g tin of sweetcorn
- Salt and black pepper
Warm a large serving dish in the oven. Cook your rice and your green beans separately, according to the instructions on the packets. When the beans are cooked, turn off the heat, add the sweetcorn and leave for a couple of minutes to warm through. Then drain.
Mix the rice, beans and corn, the margarine and the seasoning thoroughly and place in your warm serving dish.
We like this with homemade naan bread or spicy fried tofu cubes. You could in fact serve it as a side dish but we like a big portion, so it is a main meal in our house!
Hope you too are eating well during lockdown. 😉
P.S. Here are a few more recipes that can be made with minimum ingredients: