Monthly Archives: April 2010

Easter in Germany

I’ve spent the day teaching my youngest daughter the art of making chocolate rabbits.

I’ve been a scavenger of German flea markets for years, and one of the things you happen upon from time to time are old chocolate moulds. After nearly twenty years in Germany, I’ve amassed quite a collection.

There are a few things you need to know about making your own chocolate forms. First… getting the chocolate into the mould is simple, if sticky. Getting the chocolate figure out of the mould, on the other hand, takes a bit of a knack. With metal moulds, it’s definitely worth greasing first with a little sunflower oil. Once you’ve added the chocolate, put the whole thing in the freezer to set until it’s really hard…. otherwise it will disintegrate when you try to get it out. Of course you will then have to eat the broken bits. (Alright… technically you could melt them again and have another go… but who does that, when there’s chocolate to be had? Huh?)

Anyway… after a hard afternoon’s work, our kitchen is now overrun with rabbits and chickens  (well… they do seem to multiply…)

Oh… and for good measure there are still some hot cross buns left from the batch I made yesterday. It promises to be a good Easter!

Happy Easter everybody!


Filed under About Germany, food, Life in Germany

Creating an English vegetable garden in Germany

Do you ever take on home improvement projects which seem like a doddle… but somehow turn into monstrous multi-headed hydras that eat you up and spit you out exhausted and twitching in a corner? Let me show you my beast of a project…

There’s a patch of land next to our house which was nurturing ambitions to become part of the Amazon rainforest. Late last year I decided to do the rapacious logger thing and chop it all down in order to cultivate it. A vegetable garden was my goal. Fresh produce straight from the garden, I thought… Yum!

Of course what looked like a simple thing on paper, turned out to be much more complicated and arduous than I’d ever imagined. For a start the soil in my garden consists of 50% earth and 50% weed seeds. The moment I’d turned over a clod of earth, I found I’d inadvertently planted another few dozen nettles or buttercups. An epic battle started which involved grubbing out roots and sifting soil…   by Autumn the entire plot looked… frankly quite dismal.

Fortunately (from an aesthetic point of  view) for much of the Winter, the entire thing was blanketed in snow.

Unfortunately (from a practical point of view) it was in January that I ordered the new headquarters of my vegetable empire… the greenhouse. Delivered flat packed… it sat desolately out in soggy cardboard boxes under a mound of snow for a month while I waited for the thaw to set in.

Building a greenhouse is a complicated task. One look at the instruction manual (which ran to 70 pages) told me that this was not something I should take on when my best qualification was once making a small garage out of lego.  Luckily I have a delightful,  practical-minded and adept neighbour who came over and systematically worked through the instruction manual page by page until the greenhouse was up… in all it’s glory. Of course I’d love to claim credit for this achievement… but my only role was providing cups of hot soup and bowls of pasta.

The vegetable beds were a different matter. That was all down to me.  Once again I dug over the whole plot (why is it when you’ve dug it once it doesn’t seem to stay dug?). I also sacrificed the compost heap that I’d been building aimlessly for years… and spread that all over.

Meanwhile, inside Veg-plot HQ, I’ve started off a whole lot of seedlings, ready to plant out when the weather will allow it. Plus some like tomatoes and melons which will enjoy the warmth inside the glass for the whole summer.

Now if only the warmer weather would kindly set in….  pretty please….


Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany