Sonntag, 26. Juni 2011

A delicate Portuguese scent...

... spread through our house yesterday. The reason were these little pasteis de nata - little pudding tartlets. Delicious.

You want to taste them? Here is the recipe but pleeeeaaaase forgive me for the bad bad english translation... I've never written an english recipe and it's really difficult, but I hope you understand it and can make these delicious tartlets :-) ):


1 packet of puff pastry
1/2 l of milk
100 g of sugar
35 g of flour
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of butter
1 egg
5 egg yolks
1 packet of vanilla sugar

Unfreeze the puff pastry, put the single parts on top of each other and roll them out to a rectangle of 40 x 20 cm. Then roll up the pastry beginning at the short side and lay the pastry roll into the freezer to cool it down a little bit (do not freeze it again, it just has to become firm). Cut it into slices of 1 cm thickness and form little cups that you put into a muffin pan.

For the cream, cook the milk with the butter and when it's boiling add the sugar, the salt and the flour. Keep stiring it and boil it up. Then let it cool down a little before you add the egg, the yolks and the vanilla sugar and stir it again.

Fill the cream into the pastry cups and put it in the pre-heated oven (225°C - 250°C) for aprox. 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving if you like.

Bom apetite!

Donnerstag, 23. Juni 2011

Practicing an ancestral ritual

I don't know if I did mention that although I was born and raised in Germany my family is from Spain, better to say an almost unknown part of it: Galicia. Some of you might know it because of its Road to Santiago. And this little spanish region calls itself the land of witches (terra de meigas). Here it is:

You wanna know why they call it like this? Well, Galicia has celtic roots (the national instruments are not castanets but bagpipes!). Many people believe in witches, evil eye, magic - short to say, mysticism is still alive and especially the power of nature is a basic element of this believes.
As the days around Midsummer are the longest of the year where nature achieves its maximum strength the galicians have developed many rituals to acquire this special force of nature.
At St. John's Eve (June 23) they collect medicinal and aromatic plants, but also such that repell the evil like witches, deseases, maledictions etc., put them into water (at the best water from seven different fountains) and let it stay all night outside (in the moonlight). The next morning they wash themselves with this magical water for protection during the whole year and because of its great medicinal properties. Then the plants are dried and hung up in the house to protect it from tempests.
There are also traditional bonfires and even a special punch - all to purify and protect oneself from evil.
So... I know those rituals from my holidays to Spain and I really love this mystic atmosphere. And as an ethnologist that I am I love to observe this rituals. And I find one of them especially beautiful: I love to collect those plants and to put it into a bucket of water. So I decided to try my best to find all those plants here in Germany. There are many, many plants and I found most of them on a walk this afternoon: St. John wort (of course ;-), roses, ferns, walnut leaves, mallows, chamomile, common mullein, common yarrow, ribwort, elder, blackberry leaves, ... And in my garden I found the other ones (the more mediterranean): rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, lavender, mint, oregano, rue, verbena, catnip, foxglove, lemon leaves and more roses.
I'm really proud, you guys! This are almost all plants they collect in our galician village (you got to know that each region has its special plants but all agree in the basics). And you can't imagine how good it smells... I put the bucket outside and tomorrow I will wash my face with the filtered water. It will be like the best natural fragrance ever. :-) And look how nice it looks. I love it:

And for those of you that have this debility for ethnological contents like me, I'll post some more pictures of the St. John's night. But at first the Wikipedia passage (I think it gives a great overview):
"Midsummer tradition is also especially strong in northern areas of the country, such as Galicia, where one can easily identify the rituals that reveal the pagan beliefs widespread throughout Europe in Neolithic times. These beliefs pivot on three basic ideas: the importance of medicinal plants, especially in relation to health, youth and beauty; the protective character of fire to ward men off evil spirits and witches and, finally, the purifying, miraculous effects of water. What follows is a summary of Galician traditions surrounding St. John's festival in relation to these three elements.
  • Medicinal plants: Traditionally, women collect several species of plants on St. John's eve. These vary from area to area, but mostly include fennel, different species of fern, rue (herb of grace, ruta graveolens), rosemary, dog rose(rosa canina), lemon verbena, St John's wort (hypericum perforatum), mallows (malva sylvestris), laburnum, foxgloves (digitalis purpurea) and elder flowers. In some areas, these are arranged in a bunch and hung in doorways. In most others, they are dipped in a vessel with water and left outside exposed to the dew of night until the following morning (o dia de San Xoan -St. John's day), when people use the resulting flower water to wash their faces.
  • Water: Tradition holds it that the medicinal plants mentioned above are most effective when dipped in water collected from seven different springs. Also, on some beaches, it was traditional for women who wanted to be fertile to bathe in the sea until they were washed by 9 waves.
  • Fire: Bonfires are lit, usually around midnight both on beaches and inland, so much so that one usually cannot tell the smoke from the mist common in this Atlantic corner of Iberia at this time of the year, and it smells burnt everywhere. Occasionally, a dummy is placed at the top, representing a witch or the devil. Young and all gather around them and feast mostly on pilchards, potatoes boiled in their skins and maize bread. When it is relatively safe to jump over the bonfire, it is done three times (although it could also be nine or any odd number) for good luck at the cry of “meigas fora” (witches off!).It is also common to drink Queimada, a beverage resulting from setting alight Galician grappa mixed with sugar, coffee beans and pieces of fruit, which is prepared while chanting an incantation against evil spirits."
And here are the pics:

A big bonfire in the city:

Its dummy:

The Queimada-punch:

And a bagpipe band:

Mittwoch, 15. Juni 2011

Small but handsome ;-)

The last couple of days I made some easy little sewing projects.
The first one is a cover for Lucas' medical checkup book. I like it but I had to see that I need much more practice with appliqué... The letters looked great at first but when I did the edges I spoiled it. ... Never mind... it still looks cute.
Inside I made a little pocket for the insurance card and the vaccination certificate booklet.

And this is the other project - hmmm, it doesn't really deserve the name "project" because I made it in no time from the leftovers of the ipod cover.
It's a crackle cloth (or how do you call it?) It makes a little crackle sound when you squeeze it.
I thought it would be fun for little Lucas - and it is :-)

Sonntag, 5. Juni 2011

Train your senses!

Thursday we had a holiday in Germany and my niece came to sleep over at our house. So we decided to go on a little trip to a barefoot park and make some new experiences :-)

The path which we had to follow was 2,5 km long and was featured with different materials and surfaces.

It was a great afternoon and we had a lot of fun.

Enjoy the pics!

(Click to enlarge)