A special report from Button Soup’s Senior Backyard Correspondent, Lisa Zieminek
With Allan in Austria, I have been tasked with keeping him informed of what’s happening in our new yard, and documenting developments with copious photographs and notes.
A couple weeks ago, the several lilac trees scattered throughout our yard burst into full bloom, filling the air with sweet perfume. Last year we learned that these flowers are edible. The tiny flowers can be added to salads for a splash of color. They can also be made into beautiful, delicate candies that last long after the blossoms have fallen from the trees and their sweet smell has left the air. Rather than keeping the memories of spring with mere photographs, … Continue reading.
A nifty trick I picked up at Looshaus, a hotel and restaurant in Kreuzberg, Lower Austria.
Pick evergreen “buds” (the small bundles of new needles that appear in late spring), simmer them in simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar), and transfer the whole mess into glass jars. The syrup takes on a fantastic, minty, pine flavour, which the Looshaus chef says gets even better with a few months storage. Strain the needles out before using the syrup.
Some ideas for usage:
- sauces for game meats (think: evergreen gastrique)
- ice cream
- in sparkling water (beer flavoured with young spruce needles was once common in Canada…)
- pork brines
The same process can be used for other common backyard plants, like dandelion … Continue reading.
Lisa had a great method for making a stained glass effect on gingerbread houses, so we decided to make a church.
Our gingerbread is this standard recipe. This was my first time making gingerbread, and also my first time realizing that most of the tastes I associate with gingerbread are actually from the molasses.
For the stained glass, we bought hard candies and crushed them to make coloured sugars. After the gingerbread was baked off, we set the cookies on parchment, then filled the window-holes with the coloured sugar. After baking for a few minutes, the sugar melts, and once it cools it resembles glass.
Just as the windows come out of the oven, the melted sugar can be … Continue reading.
Throughout late summer I found myself craving winter food. When I was filling my rumpot with fruit and canning my sauerkraut it was twenty degrees outside, but I was thinking of the dead of winter, and the rich, warming, comforting food I would enjoy.
Preservation of food has become central to my idea of local cuisine. I’ve always included meat in my concept of preserving for the impending winter, but I recently realized that this doesn’t make much sense.
Before refrigeration, fresh meat could only be kept in the winter. Of course you could kill a chicken in the summer and eat it for dinner, but what if you were to kill a cow and not have a … Continue reading.