Apple Strudel

My German “Oma”, in fact my partner’s grandmother, was famous for her apple strudel… the creamy, crispy edges, the juicy filling, and the soft strudel dough would make your mouth water. She often made one for us for Sunday lunch, and this was an event to be looked forward to!

The recipe was never written down (there WAS no recipe!), and her instructions were often contradictory… so her secret touch remains elusive. I’ve tried before to make her strudel, and this time it came pretty near… I shall continue to strive to recreate those edges, but in the meantime this one is not only original, but is also an extremely tasty, appley, creamy delight. No soggy pastry, no nuts and raisins, no icing sugar topping or cinnamon flavouring, no custard or ice cream, and hardly any added sugar. No, this is pure strudel!


Here’s the recipe:

Apple Strudel

For the dough, mix together 350g (2 and 3/4 cups) strong/bread flour, a pinch of salt, 3 tbsps vegetable oil, 125ml (1/2 cup) lukewarm water, and 1 veg egg (1 tbsp soya flour and 3 tbsps water). Knead for at least 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide into two pieces. Put in a clean bowl, brush with oil, cover, and leave in a warm place to rest for 30 minutes.

For the filling, mix 1kg (2 lbs) aromatic apples, peeled and thinly sliced, with 3 tbsps sugar and 1tsp cornflour.

Preheat the oven to 190°C, and butter a baking dish (36 x 18cm/14 x 7 in). Roll out each piece of dough to a 20cm/8 inch square. On a floured teacloth, continue to roll out the first one as thinly as possible, retaining the rectangular shape as far as possible, to about 45 x 30cm/18 x 12in. Put half the filling on the dough and spread almost to the edges. Brush edges with a little melted vegan butter. Using the teacloth to help, roll up the dough and slide into the dish. Do the same with the second piece of dough, using the teacloth again. Brush with a little oil or melted butter.

Bake for 40-50 minutes… but now comes the most important partevery ten minutes or so, open the oven door and pour over a little vegan cream! (I used 200ml altogether, which is 3/4 to 1 cup.) Don’t forget to breathe in deeply and sigh, each time you open the oven door! It smells so good!

Enjoy the pure apple flavour!

Blogging Anniversary: One Year of Words and Herbs!


I did it!

374 posts in one year!

Yes, a whole year has flown by and Words and Herbs has developed into more than I ever imagined!

And that is all down to you – fellow bloggers and dedicated readers!

Time for thanks and reflection

You have all been such a fantastic source of motivation for me, and I’d like to thank you for all the Likes and Positive Comments. 😀

I thought I’d review the year by looking back at some of my favourite posts… perhaps you’d like to join me? Just click on the photos if you’re interested!

November 2011: this soup helped me get through a tough week…

November 2011: German traditions have edged into my home  – well, I have been here for 19 years now! I particularly like the tradition of coffee and cake in the afternoon…

February 2012: A very bitter cold winter made for a few surprises – our canal/river froze over!

April 2012: Spring was so welcome this year. A walk in the countryside was inspiring…

April 2012: Beware of the bears – they’re after my bears’ garlic pesto!

May/June 2012: A wonderful idea for honey, inspired by a Bavarian TV show…

June 2012: Words and Herbs on Midsummer’s Day

July 2012: Thalictrum “Elin” flowered beautifully for me this year…

July 2012: Zucchini Ricotta Pizza, with home-grown zucchini

July 2012: So many different hawk-moths visited the flowers in my garden in the summer…

August 2012: Seedheads as impressive as the blooms themselves

A couple of reflections…

  • I have posted something every day for a whole year… and I’m still enjoying this venture as much as in the first few weeks, if not more so! However, I may slow down a bit… three, maybe four posts a week are also okay, aren’t they?
  • Awards are a fabulous way of promoting new blogs, and I have been SO grateful for those I have received, but they are very time-consuming. So I will no longer post about them, but will try and feature other blogs/posts occasionally instead. I may even try “reblogging”. (Haven’t done that yet!)
  • A saying that comes into my mind every single day is “Keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds” … This is an ideal motto for a gardener, and for a blogger too. Blogging allows a rare freedom, confidence and modesty, and complete and utter honesty. I have found this honesty in many other blogs I read regularly, and am more hopeful and optimistic as a result.

😀 😀 😀

As always, your thoughts and comments are very much appreciated.

Thanks for visiting, and please stop by again if you feel inclined!

Book Review: “Afterwards” by Rosamund Lupton

Last year I read Rosamund Lupton‘s novel “Sister” and loved it. The twist at the end was absolutely ingenious, making me want to read it all over again!

Last month I read her second novel “Afterwards“, again a detective story.

This time it is not the sister, but a mother trying to solve the crime committed against a member of her family. Except this mother is lying in hospital in a coma…

On a summer afternoon a terrible fire breaks out in the primary school. As it is sports day the building is practically empty. However, Grace, our protaganist, knows her teenage daughter is still in there, standing in as school nurse for the day. Grace tries to rescue her, but both are badly injured and burned. This is where the story begins.

I’d call it a fantasy detective novel…

In a state between life and death Grace and her daughter Jenny are able to walk around the hospital, invisible to everyone, and listen in to the investigations and conversations around them… It is actually Grace’s sister-in-law who has to solve the crime of who laid the fire, since Grace is unable to communicate with the real world.

I admit I had real problems with this situation at first. The word “far-fetched” comes to mind. Yet after my brain had accepted this state of affairs, with the two main characters existing outside their bodies, I was able to focus on the story itself.

With loads of suspense, lots of red herrings, and plenty of emotions, it’s quite a roller-coaster ride! I got completely caught up in it, and found it riveting (even though I had to keep telling my common sense to switch itself off!).

A mother’s limitless love, an aunt’s fierce protective nature, a child’s fear and trauma, the strong connection between husband and wife…

… these are all portrayed with depth and emotion. Rosamund Lupton creates a drama with almost flawless family relationships. Perhaps this is what kept my attention most.

There ARE  flaws in the storyline, and my constant struggle with this out-of-body thing distracted me the whole time, but despite my first impression that it was weird(!), it got good later on and with all the false leads and the dramatic suspense I found it a very enjoyable read.

Only, the ending was not what I would have wished…

If you have read it, I’d love to hear what you think!

Persicaria capitata

Persicaria capitata

also known as Pink bubble persicaria

(and some know it as Japanese Knotweed, but not that knotweed!)

This Himalayan perennial is (for me, surprisingly) not very hardy, but manages to return year after year by self-seeding. Originally bought as a summer plant for a pot, it can now be found in the crevices of our stone steps, or at the edges of the flower beds. Even after a very cold winter the seeds germinate… I tried saving seed from one plant and scattering it in the rockery, but it is choosy and only grows where IT wants!

As ground cover, a very useful plant. It tolerates drought and harsh sun. The foliage is pinkish brown, and the little pink bubblegum flowers only grow to about 10cm high. The flowers appear from August onwards, and the colour of both flower and foliage intensifies later in the year.

Beware – if you have a mild climate with little frost, this could become a thug! (But a pretty one!) 😉

Chocolate Plum-and-Apple Crumble

I am always pleased to receive gifts from other people’s gardens, and this year was quite good for fruit. Eva’s plums and my neighbour’s apples are combined with Swiss chocolate here, for a tasty twist on the traditional seasonal crumble.

Chocolate Plum-and-Apple Crumble

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F

  • 500g (1 lb) plums and apples, sliced (I used about half and half)
  • 70g (1/2 cup) wholemeal flour
  • 30g (1/3 cup) oats
  • 55g (1/2 stick) vegan butter/margarine
  • 75g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
  • 50g (almost 2 oz) good quality dark (vegan) chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Put the fruit in a deep pie dish, and press down firmly. Sprinkle chocolate pieces over the top. Mix the flour and oats together and chop in the vegan butter. Rub it in with fingertips, then stir in the sugar. Place over fruit, but do not press it down. Bake for 45 minutes.

Serve with vegan cream/ice cream, and ENJOY!

Link for conversion tables:

Chocolate Chip Cake

To celebrate International Chocolate Day – which was yesterday, the 13th (they should make it International Chocolate Week!), here’s one of my chocolatey recipes…

Some time ago now I fancied a simple cake, and as I’m not really a chocolate chip cookie fan I decided to try adding chocolate chips to cake instead… and it worked beautifully! It was also very simple. A piece of cake, in fact! 😉

Chocolate Chip cake

  • 120g (1 stick) softened butter
  • 1oog caster sugar + 20g vanilla sugar (1/2 cup in total)
  • 120g (1 cup) self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 or 3 tbps milk
  • approx. 30g (1 oz) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Grease and flour a baking tin. (I used a 22cm x 22cm square one – 22cm is about 8 or 9 inches).

Cream the butter and sugar/vanilla sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs. Gently fold in the sieved flour/baking powder and the milk. Pour into the baking tin and sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with a few more chips while still warm if you wish!



Link for conversion tables:

International Chocolate Day!

Today is International Chocolate Day!

(Guess what my favourites are!)

I was sent the useful tips below by my sister years ago, but have no idea where they originated. Although I do not consider myself a chocoholic, I refer to them regularly… 😉

Tips for Chocoholics

  • If you get melted chocolate on your hands, you’re eating it too slowly.
  • Chocolate-covered raisins count as fruit – eat as many as you like.
  • How to transport chocolate safely home from the shop in a hot car – eat it in the car park.
  • Diet tip – eat a chocolate bar before each meal – it’ll take the edge off your appetite.
  • A nice box of chocolates provides all the calories you need for the day in one place. Now isn’t that handy?
  • Store chocolate on top of a high cupboard – calories are afraid of heights and will jump out to save themselves.
  • If you can’t eat all your chocolate it can be kept in the freezer, but if you can’t eat all your chocolate, it could be a sign of a deeper problem.
  • A balanced diet is essential; eat equal amounts of white and dark chocolate.
  • Put “eat chocolate” at the top of your “to do” list today.  That way, at least you’ll get one thing done.

So, do tell…

Are you a chocoholic?

Do you wake up at night craving chocolate?

Do you put chocolate on your shopping list, or do you never forget to buy chocolate?

Do you eat it in secret or do you share?

Reveal your thoughts on chocolate to me. I promise I won’t tell on you… 😉

  • While you’re thinking about what to write (or what NOT to write!), why not vote on this poll…

I’ve got a couple of recipes using chocolate to share in the next few days after all, chocolate should be eaten regularly, not just on International Chocolate Day! 😀