Elderberry Flower Juice

A summer tradition – as soon as the elderberry trees starts blooming, I am on a mission.

Ice Cold Elderberry Flower Juice

Ice Cold Elderberry Flower Juice

I get out early in the morning while the sun is rising and the mist hangs low on the fields, to pick the beautiful white and deliciously smelling flowers.  It’s a Danish tradition, we look at it as a confirmation of summer – the elderberry flowers are blooming and the first strawberries are ready. Then I know summer is here!

Elderberry flowers

Elderberry flowers

Since I moved to the West Coast of Canada I have not seen any Elderberry bushes anywhere. Last year I told my friend how much I missed that tradition and she said – “but I have one!”

So this year she, the dear soul, donated every single flower to my mission – that’s generosity!

Elderberry Flower Juice

40 Clusters of flowers

3 organic lemons

1 1/2 kg Raw sugar – (the original recipe asks for caster sugar to get a clear blonde juice, but I prefer to use the healthier raw sugar)

2 liters of boiling water

Rinse the elderberry flowers, put them into a big bowl. Wash the organic lemons, slice them and put them with the flowers.

Getting ready

Getting ready

Add the sugar – pour over the boiling water and stir till the sugar has dissolved.

Leave it to cool – cover it and put it in the fridge for 3 days to “brew”. Take it out and stir every day.

Brewing

Brewing

On the third day strain the juice through a cloth pour it in to distilled bottles. There is no preservative in the juice and therefore it will not last long. What I do to keep it fresh is to freeze it in ice-cube trays, then I can take it out as I need it. Use them as flavorful ice cubes – ie in white wine or in apple juice.

It’s delicious!

Even on strawberries with freshly chopped mint……

Local Strawberries

Local Strawberries

Enjoy!

On Ice

On Ice

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Let them know it’s Christmas …………

I love traditions and Christmas is filled with them. Traditions bring coziness and hygge, comfort and joy.This year there was something missing and I couldn’t quite put a finger on it. Then one day I came in to the kitchen and my daughter had put cloves in to the oranges and the whole kitchen was filled with an intense smell of Christmas and tradition. The smell always reminds me of how my mom stuck cloves in the oranges, put red ribbon around them and hung them in the kitchen windows .

That lead to the idea of making hot wine (Gløgg) or mulled wine. Christmas in our house means a warm glass of Gløgg with marinated raisins and slivered almonds and a handful of pepper nuts or baked œbleskiver. Gløgg and peppernuts/œbleskiver are served  everywhere in Denmark and the smell of spices fills the air and adds to the feel of Christmas.

As I prepared the gløgg and the peppernuts, the smell of freshly baked cookies, cinnamon, cloves, orange and cardamom filled the air – a smell of hygge and old tradition filled the house. I took a deep breath and realized I felt that Christmas had finally and fully arrived 🙂

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I prepared a traditional gløgg and an non-alcoholic gløgg

Both equally flavorful and delicious.

Traditional gløgg

You need to make a flavorful intense essence first – preferably allow it to work its magic by making it hours before you need to use it so the spices come out in full bloom.

You need:

One cup of red wine

1/2-1 cup of brown sugar or raw sugar (depending on how sweet you like your drink)

2  cinnamon sticks

15-20 cloves

15 – 20 cardamom seeds

1 orange

Heat it up and put it aside to work.

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Now marinate the raisins

you need 3/4 cup of raisins

1 cup of port wine

Allow them to stand next to the essence to soak up the port wine and become soft.

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Now make the almonds – don’t buy the bagged slivered almonds – they tend to be dry and have lost their flavor.

1 cup of raw almonds – pour boiling water on them and allow them to stand for 10 min to soak. Drain them and take off the skin – which just pops off and make the almonds go flying around the kitchen easily.

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When you are ready to make the gløgg

add the rest of the bottle of red wine into a pot

along with one orange

pour the essence through a strainer and into the pot.

Add the raisins along with the port and the slivered almonds – and a dash of brandy. Heat it all up.

Serve in glasses with a spoon to scoop up the goodies.

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The non-alcoholic gløgg

You can make this delicious drink with apple juice, elderberry juice, or grape juice and cranberry juice – excellent if you don’t want an alcoholic drink and the kids will love it!

I used grape juice and cranberry juice

For the essence you need:

1 cup of grape juice if you are using apple or elderberry use this to make the essence too

one orange in slices

2 cinnamon sticks

15 cloves

15 cardamom seeds

1/2 -1 cup of raw sugar or brown sugar

Heat it all up and allow it to stand to let all the spices work their magic – at least a couple of hours

Now soak 3/4 cup of raisins in some freshly squeezed orange juice

Prepare 1 cup of almonds as above for the traditional gløgg

When you are ready to make the gløgg –  strain the essence into a pot and add 1 cup of grape juice and  2 cups of cranberry juice. Heat it up, add the raisins and the almonds – see if it needs more sugar.

Serve and enjoy!

Gløgg is always served with treats – traditionally with œbleskirver ( I thought this blog with a delicious recipe for œbleskiver  was pretty cool) ( I know my friend, Somer, at Vegdedout makes amazing vegan œbleskiver)

AND, I made peppernuts another Danish tradition. Little cookies that are eaten in large quantities throughout all of December – by the end of December you sweat you will never eat another peppernut in your life! But in by the end of November the following year you cannot wait for the first peppernuts to come out of the oven!

Peppernuts –

300 g of butter

300 g of raw sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon of ginger

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of cardamom

1/2-3/4 teaspoon of white pepper – ( all depending on how strong you like them)

600g of flour

Mix it all together in a bowl- I use my fingers to make it into the perfect dough. (It takes a little while until that happens – just keep mixing it together with your fingers)

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Now roll them into little balls like this

peppernuts

Place them in a 360F hot oven and bake them for about 12-14 min

Another little treat I made – as filled dates. They are easy, delicious and healthy!

filled dates

I used Medjool dates  and filled them with a little piece of marzipan, topped them with a mix of 50 g of melted  70% dark chocolate and 1/2 cup almond butter.  So to assemble, place a half date, add a small piece of marzipan, a scoop of chocolate mix and place a whole almond on top. A perfect treat.

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Let them know it’s Christmas!

 

Have your health and Easter eggs too!

This morning I went for my morning run – in the rain – at 6:30. The smells were intoxicating as everything is blossoming now: cherry trees, daffodils, rhodos, hyacinths and crocus are filling the air with their fragrances and the rain made everything ever so fresh. Rabbits and squirrels jumping around me and deer crossing the road in front. When I came down to the beach the sea was completely calm – serenity hit me and I just stood there breathing in this beautiful morning. A seal came swimming in gently cutting through the water as I stood there watching in awe.

On my way back I thought about traditions and how much I love them. I am a Dane with lots of traditions and I hold them all dear to my heart. Many traditions are about eating and special foods.

We  talk about healthy choices and we make recipes that are low fat or non fat – often these creations leaves us feeling that we are missing out and feeling unsatisfied. But does it have to be all or nothing? Does it have to be that we have to say nay to a slice of the beautiful cake that has been made in the family for generations perhaps from that recipe from your great-great-grandmother?

What if we, before going out to Easter lunch, got up earlier that morning and went for a long walk or a jog – or even just a walk? What if we, for breakfast instead of bacon and eggs that day, made a delicious green smoothie and some scrumptious raw food oat meal? What if we had another green healthy juice drink just before we went out to lunch, to satisfy the worst hunger and eliminate the chances of over indulging! What if, when we finally sat by the table surrounded by family and gorgeous foods, we ate some of the healthy veggie dishes first and then had a slice of roasted lamb with rosemary and garlic, deviled eggs, glaced ham or whatever is the tradition where you are? It is so much more satisfying to fill up on healthy foods that satisfy the body and still be able to enjoy family favorites and be part of the celebration.

I had generic high cholesterol and was told I had to be on medication for the rest of my life. Today I am off medication and my cholesterol is normal. I can say yes to all my family favorites and Easter eggs, yes!, I can, because I exercise and enjoy a plant based diet 80% of the time.

One really inspiring source is Mark Bittman, the New York Times journalist, who writes about food and has published many wonderful cook books. I love his story – read it here

Wishing everyone a very happy Easter!!