Strawberry Paradise 

Summer is finally here and I am fully in jelly-making-mode.  I want to preserve all the delicious flavors of summer in a hundred different ways.


Recently, I’ve been busy with rhubarb and elder flowers, and now strawberry is where it’s at.  This Spring I preemptively prepared a strong tee made from freshly picked sweet woodruff on one of my hikes bc it pairs wonderfully with strawberry.


Yesterday we drove out to the small town of Wolkersdorf where there is a strawberry plantation, and we picked 9 pounds of tiny super intensely flavored strawberries.


It’s hard work picking strawberries, and I have really soar thighs today from crouching through strawberry patches for 2 hours.  It was well worth it however!  Ironically, there were so many people who passed by us and we continuously heard “there are no more strawberries left to pick”.  I guess they don’t know that you really have to get down on your hands and knees to find them hiding in the shade of their own leaves.


As you can see from our bounty, we picked quite a few white-tipped strawberries.  We did this on purpose since partially ripe berries have a stronger more intense flavor, and when made into jams and jellies the flavor come out better.

I spent an hour plucking off the green tops, but it was well worth it – the smaller the berry the more flavor that is jam-packed inside.  And, of the nine pounds of berries I made strawberry jam, strawberry-sweet woodruff jam, strawberry-tarragon jam, strawberry-kiwi jam, and strawberry-chocolte-mint jam.  A little goes a long way and there are so many combinations.  Another favorite of mine is strawberry-pineapple jam.

No matter what combination of fruit I use, I always use a 3:1 ratio of fruit to sugar, and top off each boiling pot with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon.  Get out and get jamming to preserve the flavors of summer!

Trekking to Bird Island


We are taking advantage of the beautiful weather around here and drove out to Muhr am See – a tiny town on the Altmühlsee (Old Mill Lake).  From here we gave the kids the task of leading the way to the lake where we wanted to visit the Vogelinsel (Bird Island) – a sanctuary built in the 80s for the local bird population.


I was a bit sceptical about the kids leading the way, but we made it – by walking through a field – to the island.  The sanctuary is actually made up of many little islands and visitors can only reach a few by way of a series of bridges.  It is a beautiful walk through shaddy grove.  We didn’t see birds along our entire walk, but we definitely heard them, and there is a great lookout post built on one of the islands close to a beach filled with tons of different birds.  We were really glad to visit at this time of the year because there were so many baby animals.


This is a really beautiful corner of Franconia, and if you are up for a longer trip, you can ride your bike around the entire lake on the smooth bike paths and stop and swim in the lake on one of its beaches or join one of the many wind surfers.  There’s plenty to do here for the whole family.

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!

Red Apples & Golden Sunflowers

Let’s get some thing straight here – I am not an apple person.  I grew up in south Florida where apples were imported from those far away cold states.  They were always mushy, sandy, over ripe, and over waxed. I have to admit, they are a pretty fruit and come in so many shades and shapes, but when given the option between an apple or, let’s say, a mango, guava, raspberry, banana, orange, grapefruit, cherimoya, strawberry, blueberry…apple will always lose – always.  I just can’t get excited about them.

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Here in Germany, apples are THE local fruit – everybody loves them, and no one seems to understand how they cannot be loved.  It seems to be a pretty important fruit around here.  So, when October rolls around, Fürth holds it’s yearly Apfelmarkt (Apple Market) – and it’s packed – shoulder to shoulder.  Everybody comes to see, taste, and smell the latest harvest.  Visitors chat up the local farmers about this years crop, and taste to compare flavors.

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The smell of warm waffles sits heavy in the air, and swarms of lady bugs glide through the air savoring the last warm rays of the early Fall sun.I trek out every few years to enjoy the bounty of colors.  And, because, well, my kids love apples…I guess that’s what happens when you grow up here.

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The white blossom covered trees have all basked in the summer sun and dropped their fruit to the earth.  The leaves are starting to turn – Fall is just a few weeks away – and we are left with an amazing colorful bounty of apples, plums, nuts, honey, and late summer flowers.

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Day Trip to Oberrimbach

Today we took a trip down memory lane and visited the tiny village where my mother-in-law grew up.  Oberrimbach (Germany), is nestled between farm fields, hills, and the Steiger Forest.  Nowadays, there isn’t much out there – no grocery store, bakery, doctor’s office, post office – nothing except a little bed and breakfast with a restaurant that has been around since 1935.

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After a nice franconian country-lunch, we took a walk around the village and visited the old family bakery, the house where she grew up, her favorite place to sled on her book bag in the snow on the way home from school, and the little community pool built in the 1940s that she swam in every summer – for an entry fee of 10 cents!

We strolled past the farm houses that her friends lived in, visited the church where she made her confirmation, and picked apples in the church yard and fed the horses in the neighboring fields.

Oberrimbach (as well as the entire Steiger forest region) is easy to reach by car from Nuremberg.  It’s a great place to go hiking or just drive out for a Sunday stroll with the family to enjoy the colorful Fall landscape.