Elder Flower Syrup

People, it is elder flower season and that means that it’s time for make elder flower syrup!

If you’re unfamiliar with the elderberry tress it can seem like every other green tree, but when the first warm days of late Spring and early summer roll around, you just can’t miss them.  Elderberry trees grow like weeds here in Germany.  Everywhere I have been in the last few weeks I have seen at least one. They grow on the sides of roads, at thw edge of rivers, in the midst of forest, along sidewalks, in the middle of farm fields…the list goes on.  They can be spotted by their large white flower clusters, and when you get close by their intensely sweet floral scent.

Making a syrup with the flowers is pretty easy and not very labor intensive.  And, afterwards you are rewarded withe a unique syrup for making your own sodas and cocktails year round.  My favorite combination is elder flower syrup topped off with spritzy water with a squirt of fresh lemon juice and Granada-Mint leaves muddled it – and served super cold of course!

For the syrup you will need:

20 Elder Flower clusters, debugged

400g Sugar

500ml Water

1 organic Lemon, cut into rounds

To prepare:

Place all your cleaned elder flower clusters in a large wide-mouthed jar or a bowl (if you use a bowl you may need more lemon rounds).

In a saucepan, heat water and sugar over high heat, stiring frequently, until all sugar is dissolved and the mixture has reached 80C.  Pour the simple syrup over the flowers while it is still hot.

Using the lemon rounds, layer them above the flowers the keep the flowers submerged beneath the syrup.  Let the syrup sit in a cool dark place – unrefridgerated – for 24 hours.

Strain syrup through a fine sieve and discard the flowers and lemons.  Place thw syrup in a sauce pan and heat it to 80C before pouring it into prepared jars for canning.  Pour into the jars and close with a lid and allow to sit on your counter, undisturbed for 24 hours.  Alternatively, you can leave you syrup uncanned and can use it immediately.  Once opened, keep refrigerated.

Makes about 1 Liter.


Frühjahrslust – Spring Garden Festival @ Wolfgangshof

Wolfgangshof is one of my favorite places to visit – it’s like traveling back in time.  Luckily, there are festivals heald on this private country estate a few times a year that are open to the public – and they are always great!  I always feel swept away by the rustic charm surrounding me.

A few months back we visited a rustic Christmas market held here, and now that Spring has come into bloom, the Frühjahrslust has come (and saddly gone) in one weekend.  It was such comfortable sunny weather.  After walking around all the garden stands and “acquiring” a decent amount of organic herbs to plant in my balcony garden, we sat by a stone fountain, listened to giggling children, sipped espresso, and soaked in some rays.

I was really excited to find out that this great event comes twice a year – the second event is in September and is called Grüne Lust. Even if I don’t need any new plants for my garden, it is still so much fun to visit for the day and eat yummy food!

For lunch I had a vegan Spaghetti Bolognese with Carrot-Sunflower seed Pesto and a lemon-mint soda from a local restaurant catering at the festival.  Not to mention that I also thoroughly enjoyed freshly fried handmade potato chips and an vegan orange gelato….ahhh vegan food love!


Raising Avocados

When I first moved into my last apartment, there was just something missing.  It took me a little while to put my finger on it, but when I did, I realized that I was missing life in my new home.  One day, while eating lunch, I looked at the avocado pit I had just cut out of my creamy bright green avocado, and decided that I would plant it.  I needed plants – lots of plants to fill my new home and breath in some life.

I asked a friend how to go about planting it – I remembered something about toothpicks and a glass of water – but nothing ever came of those childhood experiments.  He told me to just push it half way into a pot of dirt and water it a lot.  A few weeks later, I was the proud owner of my first sprouting avocado pit.  I was hooked, and planted (almost) every avocado pit and seed I could get my hands on – grapefruit, lemon, and tangerine seeds and pineapple tops.

Avocado trees are really that simple:

Avocado pit + Soil + Water = Avocado Tree

My avocado trees are now 3 years old, and just keep growing and growing.  Last year, they really started to branch out sideways.  I have transplanted them once a year into a slightly larger pot with more soil, but other than being watered regularly, they don’t need much.  They like a nice warm sunny spot on a windowsill, but if you don’t get lots of sunshine, just pick the sunniest spot you’ve got and they will work with what they have.  And, when they are thirsty, they will let you know by wilting their leaves.  On hot sunny summer days, I bring them out a few hours at a time on my balcony and let them get some intense sun.

Ideally, I could one day plant my trees into the ground, but I live in a rather cold climate, and I don’t think my trees would like that.  Has anyone had any luck with transplanting their indoor avocado trees outside into the ground?