Strawberry and blackberry jam

I love the street market! Every Wednesday and Saturday, our city has one in the old part of town. Whenever I can, I love to go there, especially for fresh fruits (except mangoes, I have had rotten mangoes thrice now, all from the street market, and I’m done with it). Last week, I got deliciously sweet strawberries. Small and red, so you don’t need any sugar with them. My absolute summer favourite.

Sometimes I buy to much fruit… Today, I still had 200 gram of strawberries, two apples and some blackberries I picked when walking back from work. Perfect ingredients for a small bottle of jam! I just cleaned and cut up the fruit (leave the skin on the apples), heated it until the fruit got soft (with a bit of lemon juice to stop it from burning) and then put it in the blender. You can take the apples out before you put them in, but since I had so little fruit, I decided to keep it in. The apples and the lemon juice provided enough pectin to set the liquid, and the strawberries were sweet enough to not put in any sugar 🙂 It looks great with a vibrant red-purple colour. I’m really happy with the way it looks. It tastes a bit acidic, but hey, I can always add sugar when I really think I need it. Next time I’ll use a little less lemon juice, though 😉

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A healthy BBQ

blogalong buttonFirst of all: I have committed myself to posting every day in August. This is more than I have accomplished in the past year, but I want to start again, and the blogalong with Effy might just provide me with a new start and a way to find out what I really want to write about.

Healthy living is a big issue nowadays, with obesity rates increasing in both adults and children. With the temperature approaching 37 degrees centigrade and not a cloud in the sky, many people in the Netherlands have chosen today or the weekend for an easy outdoor barbecue. My uncle, who is a butcher, and my cousin recently went to visit family in Canada and rejoiced in a typical Canadian barbecue with half a cow on the roster. Meat, meat, and some more meat. In the past, most barbecues were hosted for carnivores such as my uncle. Meat lovers, and since men traditionally tend to the barbecue, meat was all we got.

Luckily this is changing. I like my piece of meat with every meal, but one piece is quite enough as I enjoy my veggies as well. Though not everyone realizes it yet, a barbecue is also perfect for all sorts of vegetables and even fruits, making it much healthier compared to a traditional BBQ. Read on for a few suggestions for a real, healthier summer barbecue.

  • Instead of stuffing yourself with baguette and garlic butter while you wait for the meat, try  a lighter bread with tzatziki or even better, make a salad to start off with.
  • Do you always have big chunks of meat over the fire? If you put smaller pieces on skewers it’s easier to cook and you can add vegetables between the meat. I particularly like a beef skewer with paprika in different colours.
  • Courgette, eggplant, corn, paprika, just a few of the veggies you can easily grill on the barbecue. If you want smaller veggies, wrap it up in some tin foil with a few herbs and spices and put it on the barbecue indirectly for 10-15 minutes.
  • You can use the BBQ for lovely fruity deserts. Make fruit kebabs with mango or strawberries to put on the grill, have slices of pineapple you heat a bit to bring out the sweetness even more or put half a peach on the grill and drizzle with honey once it’s on your plate. Possibilities are endless!
  • Finally: pay attention to the sauces you serve. Peanut sauce and mayonnaise pack a lot of calories (even though they taste very good). Go with red sauces such as ketchup and sweet chili sauce or try yogurt-based sauces. These can add a lot of flavour as well. Though you might need less if you marinate the meat to add taste 😉

Though I hope it will cool down a bit, the weather will stay good for a BBQ for quite some time. Enjoy!

Lammas preparations

Lammas is just around the corner! And what better way to celebrate a harvest festival than with food? Today and tomorrow will be entirely about making food and during a BBQ on Friday we can actually enjoy what I’ve made. And to set the scene, the weather forecast is sunny with 32 degrees Celsius. A perfect summer setting.

As the first harvest festival, for me it’s about summer fruits and veg, seeds that spread to enable new growth during spring and the celebration of the bountiful earth in general. I’ve taken a walk earlier this week as part of my walking challenge, seeing cornflower, poppy and chamomile together (planted there), making a wonderful mosaic of colours. I hope I’ll be able to collect some seeds and grow some of my own next year! On my table is a vase with (to me) enormous sunflowers as a sign for spring and my fruit basket is filled with apples, pears, peaches and mango… strawberries I keep in my fridge, obviously.

Contrast in bloemen Schaduwspel Wandeling polder Leiderdorp Wesp op bloem

I love the sweet summer fruits the first harvest brings and plan to use them optimally: fruit skewers with mango and peach, peach and strawberry salad and compote made of pear and apple. Lammas or ‘loaf-mass’ is also a festival of corn and grain and the bread you can produce with it. Even though I have some corn for the BBQ, I’m planning to make the bread for the BBQ myself. It’s been quite a while since I last made bread, because I need almost the entire day for it, but the smell alone makes it worthwhile, not to mention the satisfaction of eating home-made bread.

Many people don’t feel comfortable with chanting individually, and I am one of them. I tend to feel insecure – am I doing it right – even though I know there is no right and wrong and there is nobody to listen to me. It feels weird because I’m not used to it. So rather than talking or chanting out loud, I say what I want inside or write it down, and conduct my own little rituals. Even though making the meal is already ritual, I read something very nice on a BBC blog, by someone who spent some time on the island of Mull in Scotland and celebrated the sabbats. It is a food altar! You make an altar on the ground with food, making patterns or a picture and leave it there, returning something to the earth.

lammas food alter

I’m planning to do something similar, though it may not be done exclusively with food, but perhaps also with some of the small stones I recently brought back from my father’s house.

For now, I wish you all a blessed Lammas and hope you may enjoy the earth’s bounty once again.