Pumpkin festival in Germany/Ludwigsburg

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The fall is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate than to visit the world’s largest pumpkin festival in southwestern Germany? You probably never knew that there are 800 different kinds of pumpkin in the world and at the Blooming Baroque (Blühenden Barock), the gardens surrounding Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, is home to this annual event with over 600 varieties and over 450,000 pumpkins on display for all to see.

Facts: Each year the festival chooses a new theme keeping return visitors coming back again and again. The theme for 2016 was Rome, 2019 was “Fantastic World of Fairytales” and this year, in 2020 the theme is “Music.” As you make your way around, be sure to have your camera ready. You will see hundreds of thousands of pumpkins transform into interesting creations. The imagination and planning put into the design of these displays are mind-blowing. My respect to all of those working hard behind the scenes to make this event a success! Chapeau!

Food: Be sure to bring your appetite. There are plenty of pumpkin-inspired foods and drinks, and if you are lucky some free samples along the way. Delicious pumpkin beers, pumpkin lattes, champagnes and wines are available. The food menu has plenty to offer to range from pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin burgers, (it was excellent) spaghetti with pumpkin and the list goes on and on. Not a fan of pumpkin? Don’t worry there is plenty of traditional German fare to choose from, as well.

Shopping: For those of you eager to take a pumpkin home, there is a large array of pumpkins for purchase and even carving kits, too. In a shopping area and vendors to find decorative and food items such as: pumpkin Secco, pumpkin tea, a variety of pumpkin spice mixes for soups and other dishes, pumpkin ketchup, pumpkin fruit spread, roasted pumpkin seeds and so on, endless…

Just walking the grounds of Ludwigsburg’s Residential Palace warrants a trip in itself. As one of Germany’s largest Baroque palaces, the palace and the grounds are a must-see while visiting the area. If time allows, guided tours of the inside of the palace are offered in multiple languages. Not to mention, by purchasing admission to the pumpkin festival you will also have access to the infamous fairy tale gardens with over 30 scenes and activities for children big and small. The gardens include a funky little cave/tunnel that leads you from one part of the gardens into a little aviary where you could see a small collection of birds and ducks.

From the well-manicured landscaping to the dreamy fountains and impressive architecture, this is definitely a sight you will not want to miss. Add in some seasonable fun and it makes a perfect day trip for the whole family. Something that I did not expect to see was a huge display of pumpkins labeled with their origin country. I found it fascinating to look at all the different varieties of pumpkins and to see where each one originated from. I definitely recommend stopping by this interesting showcase of pumpkins.

Events: The festival hosts numerous special events on designated dates (from the end of August-to the end of December). Ranging from pumpkin carving contests to smashing pumpkins, to pumpkin weigh-ins to ‘tales from the pumpkin patch’, a beloved storytime for children, to the largest pot of pumpkin soup in Germany cooked and served to visitors.

But my favorite event of all is the German pumpkin paddling championship. Where competitors race in giant hollowed-out gourds to victory across the castle lake!

Germany’s biggest pumpkin soup

In keeping with the tradition, the pumpkin chefs of the Pumpkin Gourmet whip up the biggest pumpkin soup in Germany each year.  This way, the Pumpkin Festival at Blühendes Barock in Ludwigsburg can once again did a good deed: for every dish of the record-breaking soup sold, they donate up to 1 Euro to the Helferherz campaign in the district of Ludwigsburg! And to raise as much as possible, the soup has to be enormous: the pot holds 555 litres of pumpkin soup and around 2000 servings. The pumpkin chefs are happy to swing their wooden spoons to ensure that even this huge amount of soup will taste delicious. If the pot is finished, the Pumpkin Festival organizer (Jucker Farm) will donate a further 50 cents per portion, to make the donation amount 1 Euro per portion consumed. So “lick your bowls clean” on one weekend and have set a goal of finishing the enormous pot of soup not just once, but twice!

August 14th is the feast day of the beer and St Arnold’s

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Saint Arnold was a decent bloke. Starting out as a soldier, he quickly bailed on the army to chill in a French abbey and live like a hermit for years. Going onto become a priest, his real passion was brewing beer, which he encouraged local peasants to drink, instead of water, due to its “gift of health.”  St Arnold regularly depicted with a mashing rake in his hand (an essential tool of the brewer), he is still honored in his home country of Belgium with a parade in Brussels on the “day of beer” in July 18th and 14th of August, but the rest of us can raise a toast to him on any old Thirsty Thursday. 

His curriculum

Soissons or Arnold or Arnulf of Oudenburg (ca 1040–1087) is a saint of the Roman Catolic Church, the patron saint of hop-pickers and Belgian brewers. Arnold, born in Brabant, the son of a certain Fulbertus was first a career soldier before settling at the Benedictine St Medard’s Abbey Soissons France. He spent his first three years as a hermit, but later rose to be abbot of the monastery. His hagiographystates that he tried to refuse this honor and flee, but was forced by a wolf to return. He then became a priest and in 1080,  bishop of Soissons, another honor that he sought to avoid. When his see was occupied by another bishop, rather than fighting, he took the opportunity to retire from public life, founding the Abbey of St. Peter in Odenburg.

As abbot in Oudenburg, Arnold brewed beer, as essential in medieval life as water. He encouraged local peasants to drink beer, instead of water, due to its “gift of health”. During the process of brewing, the water was boiled and thus, unknown to all, freed of pathogens, making the beer safer to drink. The beer normally consumed at breakfast and during the day at this time in Europe was called small beer, having a very low alcohol content, and containing spent yeast. It is likely that people in the local area normally consumed small beer from the monastery, or made their own small beer at the instructions of Arnold and his fellow monks. During one outbreak of sickness, Arnold advised the local people to avoid consuming water, in favor of beer, which advice effectively saved lives.

One miracle tale says, at the time of an epidemic, rather than stand by while the local people fell ill from drinking water, Arnold had them consume his monastery brews. Because of this, many people in his church survived the plague. This same story is also told of  Arnulf or Arnold of Metz, another patron of brewers. There are many depictions of St. Arnold with a mashing rake in his hand, to identify him. He is honoured in July with a parade in Brussels on the “Day of Beer.

Miracles that were reported at his tomb were investigated and approved by a council at Beuvais in 1121; Arnold’s relics were translated to the church of Saint Peter, Aldenburg in 1131.

St. Arnold’s feast day is 14 August, cheers!

Star hours and Stefan Zweig

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Star hour in Germany is a metaphor for decisions, deeds or events that fatefully affect the future. The concept of astrology, which postulates that the status of the stars at the time of birth, determines the further course of life, is borrowed. In colloquial terms, Sternstunde is also used for an extraordinary or glamorous event in a positive sense.

The term gained particular popularity through Stefan Zweig’s well-known 1927 book “Star Hours of Humanity”, in which he illustrates historical transformation processes in 14 essayistic narratives based on events taking place during this period (e.g. “The Discovery of the Pacific Ocean”, “The Martian Ice Ise is created” or “The First Phone Call on the Ocean”). In the foreword, he explained the term as:

Such dramatically concentrated, fateful hours, in which a time-consuming decision is squeezed to a single date, a single hour and often only one minute, are rare in an individual’s life and rarely in the course of history. I have called them so because they shine brightly and immutably like stars over the night of transience.”

Zweig was a prominent writer in the 1920s and 1930s, befriending Arthur Schnizler and Sigmunf Freud. He was extremely popular in the United States, South America and Europe, and remains so in continental Europe; however, he was largely ignored by the British public. His fame in America had diminished until the 1990s, when there began an effort on the part of several publishing.

Critical opinion of his oeuvre is strongly divided between those who praise his humanism, simplicity and effective style, and those who criticize his literary style as poor, lightweight and superficial. Michael Hofmann scathingly attacks Zweig’s work. Hoffman uses the term “vermicular dither” to refer to a passage attributed to Zweig and quoted in 1972, though the passage does not occur in Zweig’s published work. Hofman adds that in his opinion “Zweig just tastes fake. He’s the Pepsi of Austrian writing.” Even the author’s suicide note, Hofmann suggests, causes one to feel “the irritable rise of boredom halfway through it, and the sense that he doesn’t mean it, his heart isn’t in it (not even in his suicide)”.

But Zweig is best known for his novellas (notably The Royal game, Amok, and Letter from an Unknown Woman – which was filmed in 1948 by Max Ophüls), novels ( Beware of Pity, Confusion of Feelings (homosexuality), and the posthumously published The Post Office Girl) and biographies (notably of Erasmus of Rotterdam, Ferdinand Magellan, and Mary Queen of Scots, and also the posthumously published one on Balzac). At one time his works were published without his consent in English under the pseudonym “Stephen Branch” (a translation of his real name) when anti-German sentiment was running high. His 1932 biography of Queen Marie Antoinette was adapted byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a 1938 film starring Norma Shearer.

Zweig’s memoir The World of Yesterday, was completed in 1942 one day before he committed suicide. It has been widely discussed as a record of “what it meant to be alive between 1881 and 1942” in central Europe; the book has attracted both critical praise and hostile dismissal

Zweig acknowledged his debt to psychoanalysis. In a letter dated 8 September 1926, he wrote to Freud “Psychology is the great business of my life”. He went on explaining that Freud had considerable influence on a number of writers such as  Marcel Proust H.D. Lawrence, and James Joyce giving them a lesson in “courage” and helping them overcome their inhibitions. “Thanks to you, we see many things. – Thanks to you we say many things which otherwise we would not have seen nor said.” Autobiography, in particular, had become “more clear-sighted and audacious”.

Zweig enjoyed a close association with Richard Strauss, and provided the libretto for Die schweigsame Frau (The Silent Woman). Strauss famously defied the Nazi regime by refusing to sanction the removal of Zweig’s name from the programme for the work’s première on 24 June 1935 in Dresden. As a result,  Goebbels refused to attend as planned, and the opera was banned after three performances. Zweig later collaborated with Joseph Gregor, to provide Strauss with the libretto for one other opera, Daphne in 1937. At least one other work by Zweig received a musical setting: the pianist and composer Henry Jolles, who like Zweig had fled to Brazil to escape the Nazis, composed a song, “Último poema de Stefan Zweig”,based on “Letztes Gedicht”, which Zweig wrote on the occasion of his 60th birthday in November 1941. During his stay in Brazil, Zweig wrote Brasilien, Ein Land der Zukunft (Brazil, Land of the Future) which was an accurate analysis of his newly adopted country; in this book he managed to demonstrate a fair understanding of the Brazilian culture that surrounded him.

Zweig was a passionate collector of manuscripts. There are important Zweig collections at the British Library, at the State University of New York at Fredonia and at the National Library of Israel. The British Library’s Stefan Zweig Collection was donated to the library by his heirs in May 1986. It specialises in autograph music manuscripts, including works by Bach, Haydn, Wagner and Mahler. It has been described as “one of the world’s greatest collections of autograph manuscripts” One particularly precious item is Mozart’s “Verzeichnüß aller meiner Werke” – that is, the composer’s own handwritten thematic catalogue of his works.

Wedding with Italian pastas

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July is a perfect month for a beautiful wedding! Couples always strive to make their wedding one of the most memorable days of their lives. Choosing a destination wedding can lead you to beautiful beaches, breathtaking mountain views or the enchanting setting of a foreign country like Italy. Italy is so ideal and wonderful place for your destination wedding, but you may want to know about some of the wedding customs in Italy before you start planning!

1.The rehearsal dinner is a highly celebrated event filled with pasta dishes and family. Traditionally, there are two common toasts that are giving during the rehearsal dinner. The Hundred Years or “Per cent’anni” toast is given from the best man to wish luck to the newlyweds. The “evviva gli sposi!” or “hooray for the newlyweds” is the second toast given. Both of these wedding customs in Italy are done with glasses of Prosecco or Italian champagne in hand. Green is a color of good luck and most Italian brides will wear a green sash or emerald brooch at the rehearsal dinner. Brides who are bold enough can find something green to wear to really stick with this tradition.

2. Italian weddings are intimate gathering. The bridal party is kept small usually, only consisting of a best man and maid of honor. A ribbon is tied across the doorway of where the nuptials are taking place to let everyone know there is a wedding being held. The bride and groom also do their part to bring as much luck to the union as possible. Most grooms will ward off evil spirits with a small piece of iron kept in their pockets, while the brides will make a small rip in their veils to welcome good luck.

3. The reception dinner of course focuses on food and some Italian weddings have been known to carry on through fourteen course! You don’t have to adhere to those wedding customs in Italy like this one, but foods should be fresh, seasonal and savory. Start with an appetizer of prosciutto or olives with a main course that is a pasta dish with a thick sauce. Veal and Venison are common traditional main course options. For dessert offer wanda (bowties) which are fried dough twisted and dusted with powdered sugar.

4. The garter and the groom’s tie: Many cultures around the world practice some variation of a bridal garter tradition. According to Italy Magazine it dates back to the 14th century and is said to bring good luck. In the U.S. the groom removes the garter and tosses it to a group of bachelors, lined up at the event. The one who catches it is said to be the next to wed. In Italy the garter is torn to pieces and given out to guests. If the bride is found garter-less her right shoe is removed and thrown.

5. In Italy there is also a tradition surrounding the groom’s tie that is similar to the garter. Before sitting down to eat his tie is removed, cut into pieces, and given to male guests who offer the newlyweds a cash contribution for it

5. La tarantella: Guest will wish the newlyweds good luck through a dizzying dance known as “La Tarantella”. Guest will circle around the couple and move in a clockwise and counterclockwise direction to music that will gradually speed up in tempo. The speed of the music increases and the dancers will reverse directions until the group succumbs to the music.

6. The vehicle: raditionally, Italians will pave the way to a sweet life by decorating the front grills of their vehicles. Instead of roping cans to your cars after a wedding, Italians will place flowers and ribbons to the front of the cars.


Food and wine are major issues of Italian wedding traditions. It is such an integral part of the culture in general that it naturally has a primary emphasis at an Italian wedding reception. Receptions here tend to be quite lavish starting with the traditional Aperitivo. For western society it is similar to cocktail hour, but with a great deal more food. After aperitivo the full meal is served, which generally includes primo – often two or more pasta dishes, then secondo of a main meat dish and sides. There is a funny tradition at the traditional Italian wedding’s to have a dish from two different pastas. It’s called the Maritati Pasta/married pasta and it is a combination of pasta containing half orecchiette (female) and half handmade maccheroni (male) in the shape of small penne or penis (in Italian there is a word for this pasta: “minchiareddi” which means small penis)! Together they represent the union of  man and the woman! 

This custom is originated from Puglia, from one of the most beautiful region of Italy. Nowadays this pasta represents the traditional Sunday lunch dish as well and is characterized by the combination of orecchiette and macaroni together.

For dessert Italian brides have adopted the American and English tradition of a grand tiered wedding cake. They have also started creating an Italian version of a ‘candy bar’ with a table of different flavored sugar almonds called ‘confettata‘, spread out among candles, flowers, cages, and other decor. You will find candy coated Jordan almonds, confetti, served in place of a wedding cake at traditional Italian weddings. These candies represent the bitter and the sweet future that lies ahead of the couple in Italy. Mille-foglia is an alternate to a wedding cake you can serve, which consists of layers of filo pastry, chocolate or vanilla cream, and strawberries.

Here is the recipe of the maritati pasta

Ingredients: 1/2 pound homemade Orecchiette, 1/2 pound homemade Maccheroni Casarecci, 1 onion, chopped finely, 56 ounces crushed tomatoes, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, 1/2 cup white wine, 1/2 pound ground beef, 1/2 pound grated Pecorino cheese, 1/4 pound bread crumbs, 4 large eggs, 4 cloves garlic finely chopped, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper, oil for frying

In a sauce pan, add 4 tbs of EV olive oil and the onion finely chopped.

Once the onion is translucent add the white wine, let it evaporate for 1 minute and add the tomatoes and two leaves of basil cut in large pieces by hand. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan and cook at medium flame for about 15 minutes.

Meantime, prepare the polpettine (meatballs).In a bowl, add the ground beef, the cheese, bread crumbs, eggs and the parsley and garlic both very finely chopped.

Mix all the ingredients very well and roll the polpettine about 1/2″ in diameter or smaller.

Once you have made all the meatballs, lightly fry them (1-2 mins) in olive oil.

Put all the meatballs in the sauce and continue to cook for another 15 mins. with the pan uncovered.Cook the Maritati Pasta to an Al Dente consistency, pour in a large platter, mix with the sauce and meatballs and serve. Garnish with grated pecorino and fresh basil.

Celebrating Midsummer night in the vodka belt region

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Midsummer is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary among different cultures. The celebration predates Christianity, and existed under different names and traditions around the world. In Scandinavia, young people visited holy springs as “a reminder of how John the Baptist baptized Christ in the River Jordan

On Saint John’s Eve and Saint John’s Day, churches arrange Saint John’s worship services and family reunions also occur, which are an occasion for drinking and eating.

In Denmark, the solstitial celebration is called sankthans or sankthansaften (“St. John’s Eve”). It was an official holiday until 1770, and in accordance with the Danish tradition of celebrating a holiday on the evening before the actual day, it takes place on the evening of 23 June. It is the day where the medieval wise men and women (the doctors of that time) would gather special herbs that they needed for the rest of the year to cure people.

Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional, although they are built in many other places where beaches may not be close by (i.e. on the shores of lakes and other waterways, parks, etc.) Bonfires are lit in order to repel witches and other evil spirits, with the burnings sending the “witch” away to Bloksbjerg, the Brocken mountain in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day. Some Danes regard this tradition of burning witches as inappropriate.

As in Denmark, Sankthansaften is celebrated on June 23 in Norway. The day is also called Jonsok, which means “John’s wake”, important in Roman Catholic times with pilgrimages to churches and holy springs. Today, Sankthansaften is largely regarded as a secular or even pre-Christian event. In Western Norway, a custom of arranging mock weddings, both between adults and between children, is still kept alive. The wedding was meant to symbolize the blossoming of new life. Such weddings are known to have taken place in the 1800s, but the custom is believed to be older.

In Sweden, the Midsummer “Midsomer” is such an important festivity that there have been proposals to make the Midsummer’s Eve into the National day of Sweden instead of June 6. (In Denmark and Norway, it may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.)

Acquavit (vodka) sherry, elderberry drink

In Sweden originally a pre-Christian tradition, the holiday has during history been influenced by Christian traditions and the celebration of Saint John, but not as much as to it changing name, as in neighboring Norway and Denmark. A central symbol nowadays is the ‘midsummer pole’, a maypole that is risen on the same day as midsummers eve. The pole is a high wooden pole covered in leaves and flowers. Participants dance around the pole and sing songs. One another Swedish midsummer tradition is that girls should pick seven flowers from seven different fields. The flowers should then be put under the pillow during the midsummer eve night. This night is supposedly magic and the girl is then while sleeping supposed to dream of her future husband. Another tradition common in Sweden is to make midsummer wreaths of flowers. Greenery placed over houses and barns was supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; this old tradition of decorating with greens continues, though most people no longer take it seriously. To decorate with greens was called att maja (to may) and may be the origin of the word majstång, maja coming originally from the month May, or vice versa. Other researchers say the term came from German merchants who raised the maypole in June because the Swedish climate made it impossible to find the necessary greens and flowers in May, and continued to call it a maypole.

Other traditions include eating pickled herring with fresh potatoes, often the first from the seasons harvest, served with sour cream and chives, and often accompanied by drinking snaps. It is the biggest holiday of the year in Sweden, and with Sweden being a part of the vodka-belt, getting drunk and feasting all the whole day and night is common.


Farmer girl in veil” Swedish dessert

In melted butter fry 350 gr bread crumble or use the German pumpernickel bread. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar to it. When it is golden brown pour the crumble into a bowl and let it cool.

Make layers: smear evenly from this crumble to a cake plate, then add apple mousse, then add one layer crumble again and smear raspberry jam on the top, add one more bread crumble layer…etc.

Whip 500 ml cream stiff, flavor with vanilla sugar and cover the crumble cake with it (not only the top but the sides as well). Decorate the cake with raspberry coulis. Easy and delicious midsummer’s cake!

In Sweden Midsummer’s day is a Saturday between June 20 and June 26, but as is usual in Sweden the actual celebration is on the eve, i.e. a Friday between June 19 and June 25. Midsummer’s Eve is a de facto public holiday in Sweden with offices and many shops closed

Saint Sophie’s day is over

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The Ice Saints are St. Mamertus (or, in some countries, St. Boniface of Tarsus), St. Pancras and St. Servatius. They are so named because their feast day fall on the days of May 11, May 12, and May 13 respectively, known as “the blackthorn winter” in Austrian, Belgian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, North Italian, Polish, Slovak, Slovene and Swiss folklore.

In parts of the Northern Hemisphere, the period from May 12 to May 15 is often believed to bring a brief spell of colder weather in many years, including the last nightly frosts of the spring. Pupils of Galileo confirmed this weather pattern for the years 1655-70 and reported a marked cold snap over the days of the Ice Saints. However, in 1902 William Dines, President of the Royal Meteorological Society, used modern statistical techniques to demonstrate that the Ice Saints were a myth, brought about by selective reporting. On the other hand, a review from 1941 to 1969 showed that 13 May was usually the warmest day of the month, and was followed by a sharp drop in temperature.

In 1582, the replacement of the Julian calendar by the Gregorian calendar involved omitting 10 days in the calendar. So if the folklore predates the calendar change, then the equivalent dates from the climatic point of view would be May 22–25.

St. Mamertus is not counted amongst the Ice Saints in certain countries, whereas St. Boniface of Tarsus belongs to them in other countries (Flanders, Liguria, Czech Republic, etc.) as well; St. Boniface’s feast day falling on May 14. St Sophia, nicknamed Cold Sophia (German kalte Sophie) on May 15 can be added in Germany, Alsace (France), Poland, etc.

In Poland and the Czech Republic, the Ice Saints are Pancras, Servatus and Boniface of Tarsus (i.e., May 12 to May 14). To the Poles, the trio are known collectively as zimni ogrodnicy (cold gardeners) and are followed by zimna Zośka (cold Sophia) on the feast day of St. Sophia, which falls on May 15. In Czech, the three saints are collectively referred to as “ledoví muži” (ice men or icy men) and St. Sophia is known as “Žofie, ledová žena” (Sophia, the ice woman). Sisymbrium sophia, called the Sophienkraut in Germany, and it’s named after her.

In Sweden, the German legend of the Ice Saints has resulted in the belief that there are special “järnnätter” (Swedish for “iron nights”) especially in early June, which are susceptible to frost. The term likely arose out of mistranslation of German sources, where the term “Eismänner” (German for “ice men”) was read as “Eisenmänner” (German for “iron men”) and their nights then termed “iron nights,” which then became shifted from May to June.Eisheilige-kalte-sophie


Frisian cake with plum mousse

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Friesen torte is a North and East Friesland specialty. A combination of cake and tart, it is rich, creamy, absolutely delicious and now a popular treat throughout Northern Germany. Made from Short Crust pastry, Puff Pastry, Whipping Cream and Plum Jam or Puree, often homemade, it is the calorie bomb “special occasion” cake that accompanies a  Frisian tea ceremony, Friesen tea on Sundays and celebrations. Or coffee at a Kaffeeklatsch, a coffee morning or afternoon.
It is a reward worth waiting for after a bracing walk along the Friesland sea shore, and through the dunes battling a North Sea wind.

Despite its simplicity there are as many variations for Friesen torte as there are families in Friesland, but here is a very quick and easy recipe that uses some ready made ingredients. Although it is of course possible to make the basic ingredients yourself if you prefer.Citromkrémes fríztorta

Frisian Cream Cake

Ingredients: 1 lb Puff pastry, 1/2 lb Short crust Pastry, 1 Jar, (1 lb) Plum Jam or Puree
20 fluid oz Cream, Vanilla Flavoring, Confectioner’s Sugar
(It is not necessary to be absolutely exact in your measurements)

If you have a baking spring form it does make your “building” work a bit easier, but it is also not difficult without.

Cut out four circles from baking paper, either to the shape of the springform or free hand.

Roll out the short crust pastry and cut to the size of the spring form if you have one, otherwise just make a circle from the pastry, prick with fork and place on a lightly greased, or baking paper covered baking tray.

A short crust pastry base makes the cake more stable than it would be with one made from puff pastry.

Preheat oven to just under 200C/400F/Gas 6 place short crust pastry circle in center and bake until golden brown. (Dark baking trays tend to cook pastry more quickly)

Cut out three same size circles from the puff pastry, place on baking paper

Prick with fork

When the short crust pastry has cooked, remove and turn temperature of oven up to 400F.

After it has reached the correct heat place the three puff pastry circles in oven and bake until risen and golden brown.

Allow the pastry bases to cool completely.

Whip the cream with a sugar and vanilla flavoring to taste until it is stiff.

Fríz torta

If the cake is going to stand for sometime and is not all going to be eaten the same day, which does not usually happen, then it is best to add some melted gelatin to the cream while whipping, this will make sure it does not collapse!

With a spring form you can build up the cake layer by layer inside it, starting with the short crust base, otherwise place the base on a plate and begin.

Spread one third of the Plum Jam or Puree on the short crust base, and one third on each of two puff pastry circles.

Top the plum filling on the discs equally with whipped cream.

Layer the two cream and plum covered puff pastry shells in layers on the short crust base

Finish with the third puff pastry shell and sprinkle this with confectioner’s sugar to decorate.

Remove the spring form if you have used it, and your Friesen torte is ready to serve.

Various “extras” can be added to the plum mixture, for example crushed walnuts, a little rum or other alcohol, cinnamon, and sometimes both the top and sides of the cake are covered with another thick layer of whipped cream, and then decorated with additional half plums, caramelized or natural, and toasted almond slivers.

The other classical variant of the Frisian torte is filled with apple mousse or lemon curd!


Gentleman cake with white wine cream

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The lilac is a very popular ornamental plan in gardens and parks, because of its attractive, sweet-smelling flowers, which appear in early summer (rather late spring, in May) just before many of the roses and other summer flowers come into bloom.

During centuries it has been widely naturalized in western and northern Europe.

Lilacs are often considered to symbolize love (see language of flowers). In Greece, Lebanon, and Cyprus, the lilac is strongly associated with Easter time because it flowers around that time; it is consequently called paschalia.

In the poem ” When Lilacs last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”, by Walt Whitman, lilacs are a reference to Abraham Lincoln.

In a sign of its complete naturalization in North America, it has been selected as the state flower of the state of New Hampshire, because it “is symbolic of that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State”.

Some cultivars

Between 1876 and 1927, the nurseryman Victor Lemoine of Nancy, France introduced over 153 named cultivars, many of which are considered classics and still in commerce today. Lemoine’s “French lilacs” extended the limited color range to include deeper, more saturated hues, and they also introduced double-flowered “sports”, with the stamens replaced by extra petals.

Lilac in the kitchen

I didn’t know that the flowers of the lilacs are edible and even have some medicinal qualities. But eating a single flower raw was a flavor exploding experience with slight astringency (drying to tissues), almost bitter, and very floral.

Medicinal lilac

Medicinal uses are still a gray area when it comes to just the flower. Most resources that I have found (a Modern Herbal) list that the medicinal benefits of Lilac come from the leaves and fruit. Apparently used as a tea or infusion historically it has been used as a anti-periodic. Anti-periodic basically means that it stops the recurrence of disease such as malaria. There has been some studies that indicate a febrifuge action which may help bring down fever.

Lilac flowers have astringent, aromatic, and a little bitter qualities. Astringents tighten, draw, and dry tissues such as skin. So a wonderful application would be a cold or warm infusion to use as a toner on the face. Or using the same method but apply to rashes, cuts, and other skin ailments.

An aromatic action causes irritation to the place that it is touching (think GI tract) and irritation brings blood flow and blood flow equals healing! Eating the flowers raw may help with gastric issues such as flatulence or constipation. Making an herbal infused oil may be a great way to capture the aromatics for healing purposes and to make your own fragrance oil as well as making lilac jelly syrup, wine liqueur, ice cream, or lilac honey. I would say the lilacs are best for garnishes and edible flower displays on pastries rather than whole meals.

One more point of interest. Lilac wood is supposed to be one of the densest in Europe and has been historically used to make musical instruments such as pipes or flutes. We had to cut down one of our lilac shrubs I am sad to say, however we kept all the branches. I will choose one to make a pipe (hopefully one day soon) and will describe the process in another blog post.

Cake for gentleman

From where I got the inspiration to make a cake with lilac flower? From a German magazin, the Wohnen&Garten. In Germany, like all other countries, meeting up for evening coffee and cake and all the chats is usually a lady‘s thing but there is one exception to bring men on such gatherings, and it is the Herrentorte, the Gentleman’s Tart. In German language Herrentorte means “Cake for Gentlemen”. This dessert consists of several individually baked layers of sponge cake and two layers of wine cream so it tastes less sweet than normal cakes. It is an unwritten traditional that in Germany the birthday cake for men is the Herrentorte.

Recipe for the sponge base: 2 goose eggs or 4 normal hen eggs, 160g brown sugar or 150g caster sugar , 150g plain flour, 1 Earl grey tea bag, Lemon curd or marmalade, 300ml double cream, 5 tbsp icing sugar, Juice of half a lemon, Fresh lilac flowers

For the wine cream filling: 180 ml white wine, 120 gr sugar, 200 gr butter, room temperature, 2 egg whites, and some marzipan

Methods: Preheat the oven to 180c 350f

Grease and line two swiss roll tins.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the eggs and sugar and mix together until pale and thick  (about 5 minutes)

Empty out the contents of an earl grey tea bag and mix with the flour then tip in the flour 1/4 at a time and fold in gently.

Once combined separate between the two tins and tip the trays to spread the mixture to the corners. Don’t spread it out it will knock out the air.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes then tip out onto a sheet of baking paper dusted with icing sugar (i used lilac sugar) or tip onto the work top and gently peel off the paper.

Spread a thick layer or curd or marmalade onto each sponge and sprinkle over some lilac flowers cut into equal strips horizontally rather than diagonally. (As it is marmalade being spread on this can be done while the cake is still hot but if you want to use cream or buttercream then the sponge has to be cool so roll up one strip and let cool in a rolled position then unroll and spread on filling and roll up again).

For the white wine cream: you need the egg whites, 180 ml white wine, 125 gr sugar, 200 gr butter and some marzipan.  Then put everything in a bowl, place over waterbath and stir until it will be creamy.

Start with the first strip and roll up into a tight roll then get the next piece of sponge and place it where the last piece ended and continue rolling until all the strips are used and you are have large cake. (I made a small one as my tins are not very big)

Now let cool completely. Whip the cream and icing sugar until thick  (I added a little color). Then spread onto cake with a pallet knife and smooth out. Decorate with more lilac flowers.

Orgona torta


Kohlrabi recipes

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Kohlrabi is also called German turnip, is a biennial vegetable, a low, stout  cultivar of wild cabbage. It is the same species as cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Savoy cabbage, collard greens, and  gai lan.

It can be eaten raw or cooked. Edible preparations are made with both the stem and the leaves. Despite its common names, it is not the same species as turnip.

Kohlrabi is an important part of the Kashmiri cuisine where it is called Mŏnji and is one of the most commonly cooked vegetable along with collard greens (haakh). It is prepared with its leaves and served with a light soup and eaten with rice. Kohlrabi is cooked by itself or with lentils. It is a good accompaniment with the Indian chapati or with steamed rice. In Cyprus it is popularly sprinkled with salt and lemon and served as an appetizer.

Kohlrabi with pasta

Low-calorie & gluten-free Kohlrabi “Linguine” are the new pasta substitute you need to try. The “pastabilities” for flavor combinations are endless!

Made into fritters

This is a great way to get kids to eat their kohlrabi! Shred it and mix with an egg and a few tablespoons of flour or breadcrumbs. Heat oil or butter in a flat skillet, drop on small mounds, and flatten slightly with the back of your spatula. Turn after a few minutes, and serve when both sides are crispy.


Like most other vegetables, when roasted in the oven, the outside of the kohlrabi caramelizes, and the flavor sweetens and mellows. We like to toss it with other roasted veggies like eggplant and potatoes for a hearty side dish.


This is kind of a cheat suggestion because kohlrabi can be used in literally anything once steamed. We throw steamed kohlrabi into frittatas, stir-fries, and pasta dishes. We also like to purée it with a little cream and simple spices. There are even recipes for stuffing steamed kohlrabi into empanadas and calzones!

Stuffed Kohlrabi

With meat and rice stuffed Kohlrabi dish is very popular in Hungary, Austria and in the Balkan.

Kohlrabi with radish and Lillet

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 large bunch globe radishes (about 12), halved, plus leafy green tops for serving, 1 large or 2 small kohlrabies (about 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges, 1 cup Lillet Blanc, salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high. When it boils, reduce heat to medium; simmer until foamy. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pan, until foam subsides, butter turns golden brown with a nutty aroma, and milk solids separate into brown specks that sink to bottom, 2 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add radishes, kohlrabi, Lillet, and 3/4 cup water. Generously season with salt and pepper. Boil, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze that evenly coats vegetables, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl; let cool 5 minutes. Toss with radish greens; serve.vegetable-and-pesto-stuffed-kohlrabi

How can we replace the flours during corona virus time

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Because of the corona virus (COVID19), people have been raiding the shops here in Bavaria/Germany. Before I’ve come to my senses, I ran out of oil, flour and sugar. I’m not a hamster type so that all that’s left for me is to look for products that replaces flour. That was how I found fantastic products, partly gluten-free ones. The biggest sensation was to me the coffee and apple flour!

So there’s always something good about every bad thing! Let’s see my discovery about gluteen-free products. Here is my list:

(When flours do not contain gluten, they are suitable for people with  gluten-related disorders, such as coeliac disease, or non celiac gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy sufferers, among others. Contamination with gluten-containing cereals can occur during grain harvesting, transporting, milling, storing, processing, handling and/or cooking).

Acorn flour is made from ground acorns and can be used as a substitute for wheat flour. It was used by Native Americans. Koreans also use acorn flour to make dotormuk (acorn jelly, specially at autumn celebrations).

Almond flour is made from ground almonds.

Amaranth flour is a flour produced from ground amaranth grain. It was commonly used in pre-Columbian meso-American cuisine and was originally cultivated by the Aztecs. It is becoming more and more available in specialty food shops.

Apple flour is made from milling apple pomace, the solid remains of juiced apples.

Banana flour has been traditionally made of green bananas for thousands of years and is currently popular both as a gluten-free replacement for wheat flour and as a source of resistant starch.

Bean flour is a flour produced from pulverized dried or ripe beans.  Garbanzo and fava bean flour is a flour mixture with a high nutritional value and strong aftertaste.

Brown rice flour is of great importance in Southeast Asian cuisine. Edible rice papier can be made from it.

Buckwheat flour is used as an ingredient in many pancakes in the United States. In Japan, it is used to make a popular noodle called soba. In Russia, buckwheat flour is added to the batter for pancakes called blinis which are frequently eaten with caviar. Buckwheat flour is also used to make crépes bretonnes in Brittany. On Hindu fasting days ( Navaratri mainly, also Maha Shivaratri), people eat food made with buckwheat flour. The preparation varies across India. The most famous dishes are kuttu ki puri and kuttu pakora. In most northern and western states the usual term is kuttu ka atta.

Cassava flour is made from the root of the cassava plant. In a purified form (pure starch), it is called tapioca flour.

Chestnut flour is popular in Corsica, the Périgord, and Lunigiana for breads, cakes, and pastas. It is the original ingredient for polenta, still used as such in Corsica and other Mediterranean locations. Chestnut bread keeps fresh for as long as two weeks. In other parts of Italy it is mainly used for desserts.Japanese souffle pancake

Chickpea flour (also known as gram flour or besan) is of great importance in Indian cuisine (see pakora) and in Italy, where it is used for the Ligurian farinata (flour).

Chuno flour is made from dried potatoes in various countries of South America.

Coconut flour is made from ground coconut meat and has the highest fiber content of any flour, having a very low concentration of digestible carbohydrates and thus making an excellent choice for those looking to restrict their carbohydrate intake. It also has a high fat content of about 60 percent!!! So be aware of it!

Coffee flour is flour usually made with either coffee cherrys or coffee beans. Coffee beans are nestled inside a fruit called a coffee cherry. After harvest, the edible fruit is often discarded, but some companies are now drying the cherries and grinding them into a soft “flour”.

(I’ve made blueberry muffins and brownies, one using the regular recipe and the other swapping 20 percent coffee flour for wheat flour. Then my taste experts,- was my hubby and my two daughters, and some friends,- did a blind taste test. “The coffee flour muffin had a notably citrus and a bit bitter taste.-said my hubby. But I have to say I hardly noticed a difference in the brownies.”

(For a quick health boost, try a tablespoon of coffee flour in a smoothie. You’ll get a caffeine boost, too: 1 tablespoon has about 70 mg, the same as in 6 ounces of black coffee. Further more the coffee flour has no coffee taste, and it contains the same amount of caffeine such a piece of bitter chocolate).

Corn (maize) flour is popular in the  Southern and Southwestern US, Mexico, Central America, and Punjab regions of India and Pakistan, where it is called makai ka atta. Coarse whole-grain corn flour is usually called  corn meal. Finely ground corn flour that has been treated with food-grade lime is called masa harina and is used to make tortillas and tamales in Mexican cooking. Corn flour should never be confused with corn starch, which is known as “corn flour” in British English.

Cornmeal is very similar to corn flour (see above) except in a coarser grind.

Corn starch is starch extracted from endosperm of the corn kernel.

Glutinous rice flour or sticky rice flour is used in east and South-East Asian cuisines for making tangyan, etc.

Hemp flour is produced by pressing the oil from the hemp seed and milling the residue. Hemp seed is approximately 30 percent oil and 70 percent residue. Hemp flour does not rise, and is best mixed with other flours. Added to any flour by about 15-20 percent, it gives a spongy nutty texture and flavor with a green hue.

Mesquite flour is made from the dried and ground pods of the mesquite tree, which grows throughout North America in arid climates. The flour has a sweet, slightly nutty flavor and can be used in a wide variety of applications.

Nut flours are grated from oily nuts—most commonly almonds and hazelnuts—and are used instead of or in addition to wheat flour to produce more dry and flavorful pastries and cakes. Cakes made with nut flours are usually called tortes and most originated in Central Europe, in countries such as Hungary and Austria.Coffee-Walnut-Cake-3

Peasmeal or pea flour is a flour produced from roasted and pulverized yellow field peas.

Peanut flour made from shelled cooked peanuts is a high-protein alternative to regular flour.

Potato starch flour is obtained by grinding the tubers to a pulp and removing the fiber and protein by water-washing. Potato starch (flour) is very white starch powder used as a thickening agent. Standard (native) potato starch needs boiling, to thicken in water, giving a transparent gel. Because the flour is made from neither grains nor legumes, it is used as a substitute for wheat flour in cooking by Jews during Passover, when grains are not eaten.

Potato flour, often confused with potato starch, is a peeled, cooked potato powder of mashed, mostly  drum-dried and ground potato flakes using the whole potato and thus containing the protein and some of the fibers of the potato. It has an off-white slight yellowish color. These dehydrated, dried, potatoes, also called instant mashed potatoes can also be granules or flakes. Potato flour is cold-water-soluble; however, it is not used often as it tends to be heavy.

Rice flour is ground kernels of rice. It is widely used in Western countries especially for people who suffer from gluten-related disorders. Brown rice flour has higher nutritional value than white rice flour.

Sorghum flour is made from grinding whole grains of the sorghum plant. It is called jowar in India.

Tapioca flour, produced from the root of the cassava plant, is used to make breads, pancakes, tapioca pudding, a savory porridge called fufu in Africa, and is used as a starch.

Teff flour is made from the grain teff, and is of considerable importance in eastern Africa (particularly around the horn of Africa). Notably, it is the chief ingredient in the bread injera, an important component of Ethiopian cuisine.

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