In a Vase on Monday: A Winter Solstice Posy

It is the shortest day of the year, but also a Monday, so I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden again for her Monday meme. Every week Cathy invites us to join her in putting some materials from our gardens into a vase and sharing it. Not easy at this time of year, so I dared to cut a flower off my newest Hellebore. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My little pottery church tealight holder came from a Christmas market many years ago. And the tiny pottery vase was bought at another Christmas market one year,ย actually with snowdrops in mind. It contains a winter Hellebore flower, a Heuchera leaf and some silvery artemisia foliage to signify spring, a Scabiosa bud for summer, and an Allium seedhead and some Sporobulus grass for autumn. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

My thoughts are with all those separated from their families this Christmas. Wishing you all a wonderful, peaceful and happy Christmas, however you are celebrating!

๐ŸŽ„โญ๏ธ๐Ÿค—

 

 

(Not) In a Vase on Monday: Advent Wreath

It is Monday again (where did last week go?) and time to join Cathy (Rambling in the Garden) for a vase. Instead of searching (quite possibly in vain) for something to cut today, I decided to have a go at making a wreath. The neighbouring farmer is very good to us and came over specially to bring me some ‘premium’ fir branches he had saved. Some spruce was cut down near us last week, but he insisted fir was better. After years of calling all evergreens ‘firs’ I am slowly learning to remember the difference. Living on the edge of the Bavarian Forest and having a small area of woodland too means I must make the effort! Having two languages as well as botanical names makes it a bit tricky. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The finished wreath:

Well, thank goodness for YouTube videos as I immediately got the hang of it after watching one and the result was better than I had expected and certainly easier than attempts in previous years! We have no berries left for decorations, so I added some of my favourite little tree decorations and placed a new candle at the centre. Many people have four candles on their crowns, one for each sunday in Advent. But I chose one large candle I had in reserve for the middle.

There are such pretty candles in the shops and at the markets here at Christmas and I always buy far too many… I was so glad of this as I had plenty of unused ones in my ‘stash’ for this year. My decorations are mostly from the Christmas markets and this pewter one is one of my favourites…

Do you make a wreath or crown for Christmas? What materials do you use? And do you have a favourite Christmas decoration?

Wishing you all a lovely week full of little pleasures and joys as appropriate (and necessary) for the season!

๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿฅจ๐ŸŽ„

Vegan November 2020: Sweet and Simple Buns

As November is traditionally Vegan Monthย I thought a traditional recipe from Bavaria might go down well. These are simple buns, made with a yeast dough, sweetened slightly and served dusted with sugar/icing sugar.

They have various names here, depending on where you live, but my Man of Many Talents knows them as ‘Rohrnudeln’ – oven noodles! His Grandmother used to make them and they were a filling treat for hungry boys.

Here is my vegan recipe for them.

Sweet Buns

  • 300g strong flour (2 1/2 cups)
  • 100g plain flour (3/4 cup). (or all plain)
  • 50 g (raw cane) sugar (1/5 cup)
  • 1 packet instant yeast (7g or 2 1/4 tsps)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 150 ml lukewarm water (5 oz)
  • 150 ml lukewarm soya (or other non-dairy) milk (5 oz)
  • A little soya milk or cream and melted vegan butter/margarine for brushing
  • Extra sugar (caster sugar or icing sugar) for sprinkling

Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and add the yeast. Stir in the water and soya milk. Mix and then knead briefly until it is a soft ball of dough. Place in a clean bowl, brush all over with a little vegetable oil, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 190ยฐC (375ยฐF)

Punch down the dough and roll out into a long sausage shape. Cut into twelve equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place close together into a greased ovenproof dish (my dish is about 24 x 20 cm … 9×8 inches?) and leave to rest another 15 minutes. Then brush with milk/melted butter or margarine and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

When golden brown, remove from the oven and brush with milk and butter again, and immediately sprinkle caster sugar over them. Leave to cool a little before serving, dusted with more sugar/icing sugar as desired.

They remind me a bit of doughnuts. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ They are best eaten fresh, and taste very good with custard, but on the next day try slicing them and spreading jam over them! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Lovely Lemon Verbena

Herbal tea is really popular in Germany, but there is one sort I will not buy from a store or market. Lemon Verbena. Or Vervain. It simply does not have that gentle rounded flavour you get when you grow your own. So some years ago I started growing my own.

Lemon Verbena, also know as Lippia citriodora or Aloysia triphylla, is sadly not hardy enough for our climate, so I grow it in pots. In a sunny and sheltered spot, with some shade from the strong afternoon sun, it thrives. I have managed to harvest enough to last me through the winter already this year. (I drink one cup a day). So my next harvest will be for gifts, especially for my niece who also appreciates this lovely tea.

Harvesting is simple. Just snip fresh growth, shaping the shrub as you go, and taking care not to shorten it by too much as to weaken the plant. I cut mine by about a third (in autumn by about half). In spring and summer it will start producing new stems and leaves immediately.

Drying the leaves thoroughly is very important if you want to store them. I strip them from the stems, spread them out on a baking sheet and leave them in an airy place, out of direct sunlight, turning them every day. Within a few days they have withered completely and can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year. (I always add a piece of pasta to absorb any possible remaining bit of moisture).

If I have some strong healthy plants in autumn I will overwinter them in my stairwell, which is very light but not heated. I will water very very sparsely and most of the leaves will turn yellow and drop. But as soon as the plants are given some warmth and water in spring, they start regenerating. By the middle of May they can go back outside and be gently acclimatised to sunny conditions. From my experience night-time temperatures shouldnโ€™t be below about 10ยฐC. However, I always order new organic plants for the Spring in case mine donโ€˜t revive. I can never have too many! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Do you grow Lemon Verbena? Perhaps you have some tips I havenโ€˜t mentioned?

Here are a couple of links to some recipes using this herb that I have posted in the past.

Lemon Verbena/Lemon Verbena Sorbetย (vegan)

Lemon Cakeย (not vegan)

Or simply add a couple of leaves to an iced drink.

They smell wonderful. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Now, talking of iced drinks…

Stay cool! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜€๏ธ