Archive for July, 2010

Gooseberry Fool

Living thousands of miles from home (in a different hemisphere no less), does have its compensations. Consider the strange pleasure of eating foods one cannot eat back home. Fresh berries are one of those things that defy the insane distances traveled by much of our food. Until I arrived in Europe, I had never tasted a gooseberry. For a long time I’d had a strange obsession with the idea of gooseberry fool from reading the following:

The Bennets do a lot of eating in the film, so Ron [Sutcliffe] the standby props man, asked me what I liked to eat. I told him gooseberry fool was my favorite pudding and he kindly provided it for me. It was so delicious that during the first two takes of the scene I gorged myself. At the other end of the table Alison Steadman [Mrs Bennet] cannily toyed with a couple of grapes. It took two days to shoot this and I shall never be able to eat gooseberry fool again!

Benjamin Law (Mr Bennet), The Making of Pride and Prejudice.

Well, today I ate gooseberry fool. The markets in Stuttgart are fairly flooded, and alongside the glassy green variety I found these plump, wine-coloured gems. There seems to be some debate about the inclusion of custard in gooseberry fool, along with the fruit and cream. I opted for a recipe using only the latter, and claiming to be Elizabethan in origin. The meeting of tartness, sweetness and cream exceeded all my expectations. I could almost imagine myself on the set of Pride and Prejudice, seated at the Bennets’ dinner table. I wonder if they had high chairs?


Frugality begins at home

Words like “frugal”, “simple” and “green” are bandied about no end these days, and seem to provide endless fodder for the blogosphere. But frugality took on a new meaning for us this week. Due to the ongoing saga of our car, Tony and I found ourselves still a week from pay day with only twelve euros in our pockets. I wouldn’t want you to think of us as reckless, irresponsible people who don’t have room in their budget for unforeseen expenses. Believe me when I say that this particular car saga has involved some extremes of trouble and mischance. Chastened by the knowledge that we were in no real danger of going hungry (unlike so many others), I decided not to dip into our emergency funds or accept the kind offers of others. Instead, I would make our twelve euros last. It was exactly the sort of challenge I needed. The first thing I did was cash in our bottles. Germany has a brilliant system of bottle recyling, whereby a price includes a deposit for the bottle (something like 8-25c). An intimidating machine swallows them up and spits out a voucher, redeemed at the register. Chaching! The next thing was to put a stop on transport. With no car and the bus trip costing five euros, Tony worked from home, while Rose and I made our fun in Botnang’s parks and playgrounds. Gaining momentum as the week went on, I mastered a few of the of the thrifty cook’s tricks. Lessons learned:

* Soup is the thrifty cook’s best friend. Using lentils from the cupboard and a few senescent carrots, I made a soup that lasted three meals using no other ingredients than water. I did throw in the rind of some old Parmesan for flavour; a dollop from a forgotten jar of pesto made the whole experience more palatable. 🙂

* Apples go a long way, especially with small children. They take more chewing, and last longer than other fruit. Exchanging peaches, apricots and bananas for apples made our fruit budget go further. A couple of lucky apples made it into Heidi Swanson’s Unfussy Apple Cake, which (claiming only pantry ingredients), filled our tummies nicely.

* Mouldy food is not scary, it is merely seeking attention. Mouldy cucumbers were rescued just in time to be part of sushi (made with tinned tuna, the remaining carrots and some avocado). After mould was rinsed from the rind of an orange, Tony observed that the flavour seemed, if anything, enhanced.

Well, pay day has now arrived and we are flushed with funds, but I do hope frugality will stay with me. In all seriousness, food wastage is an enormous problem. We all need to work on it. Are there any thrifty ideas out there people would like to share?

More with Less Cookbook (hard cover/spiral binding) - Click Image to Close

No Christmas in July

Peaches, cherries, cool mornings and hot evenings, living in singlets and sipping cool drinks. It’s definitely summer, but where is Christmas? As Germany continues its merry course around the sun, the tastes, smells and sights of summer are taunting my senses with a mirage of the festive season. Since this year’s will be my very first Christmas without summer’s delights, I figure there’s no harm in my getting excited now?

Doves and Silver Circles Paper Garland

Doves and silver circles paper garland by paperacorn

Christmas lights - PDF KNITTING PATTERN

Christmas lights PDF knitting pattern by kooklacreations

Vintage British Wool Blanket Stocking

Vintage British wool blanket stocking by XmasMuse

Vintage Card - Christmas Greetings and Love Daughter

Vintage Christmas card by starmango

snowflake ornament - design 1

Snowflake ornament by smallpackagess

Green Stained Glass Christmas Tree 5.5 x 3.5 inches

Stained glass Christmas tree by GustineStreetGlass

mod christmas reindeer - hand carved stamp

Mod Christmas reindeer hand carved stamp by paperfruithair

flora note cards with matching swing tags pack of 5

Note cards with matching swing tags by Ruby Victoria

Felted Wool Angels

Felted wool angels byandreabeth

Skirts for summer

At long last, my newly designed Liberty print skirts are now up in the MavisandFrank shop! The idea is to show off the beautiful fabric with as simple a design as possible. With a wide elastic waistband and girlish ruffle, they can be worn high on the waist or lower on the hips, wherever your heart desires. A big thank you must go to my model – the gorgeous Keren Moran.


Stuttgart loves a good festival! This weekend the cobblestones of Karlsplatz had been commandeered by the Hamburg Fishfest. If the theme of “fish” seemed strange to anyone but us, I couldn’t tell. Alongside the inevitable crepes and wursts, fish of every kind were available. To enhance the theme were any number of fishing nets, plastic lobsters, rubber life rings and tattooed nautical figures. I love the way people get into things in Germany.

Erdbeer Eis

Our little rosebud is usually as sweet as her name might suggest. But lately it seems her sunny world has somewhat clouded over. Put another way, she’s become an unbearable whinger. No doubt there’s a fair bit of toddler attitude in the mix, even a blinkered parent would have to admit that. But it seems the departure of her grandparents, new teeth, plane trips, heat and the upheaval of travelling may have taken their toll on our happy girl. In an effort to draw out a smile (and still the sound of constant grizzles), I did what any baffled first-time parent might do; I made her strawberry ice cream.

Elderflower Cordial

Forgive me, but I’m still dreaming of England…

Elderflower Cordial

3L boiling water
900g granulated sugar
50g citric acid
2 lemons, sliced
25-30 elderflower heads

Pour the boiling water over the sugar, stir and leave to cool. Add the citric acid and lemon slices, and stir in the rinsed elderflower heads. Cover with a tea towel and stir occasionally over the next 24 hours. Strain through muslin and pour into sterilised glass jars.

Recipe from the July Country Living.

About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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