6 fine gifts from nature

Winter spices & precious natural treasures from the forest give as gifts!

by Silja / 15. Dezember 2022 / Culinary World / Nature

Winter Gewürze Puch Magazin - Foto: Silja Parke - Wilde Möhre



Christmas time the time of giving in Salzburg

Advent is a magical time. It is the darkest time of the year, it is gradually getting cold and the plants outside are in hibernation. By candlelight and with hot drinks we now make ourselves comfortable with our loved ones and get in the mood for the arrival of the bringer of light and the rebirth of light at the winter solstice. Christmas is associated with the hope and confidence that a new light-filled and fruitful year awaits us.

Advent and Christmas is also a time of giving. The tradition of gift-giving is said to date back to the ancient Romans, who hoped for good fortune in the new year from mutual gifts. This custom found its way into the celebration of Christ"s birth, and according to tradition, the Magi, who paid homage to the newborn child and his mother, brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In the same spirit, we too can now delight loved ones with small gifts. And because homemade always goes down well, I have a few nice ideas for you here. In addition, small delicacies such as hot chocolate with orange cinnamon blossom syrup and sweet Waldkipferl for the small timeouts and moments of pleasure.



Beautiful things from winter spices for your own well-being in the Advent season or as a gift for loved ones

 

1. winter spice syrup with orange & cinnamon blossoms.

Certain spices, such as cloves, allspice, star anise, vanilla and cinnamon are simply part of the Christmas season. Their scent gently envelops us and has a grounding and relaxing effect on the psyche. Just the right thing in the often somewhat hectic Advent season. With the orange cinnamon blossom syrup, you can create small, fine moments of relaxation and get into the Christmas spirit a bit. The syrup is also always a nice gift!

Winter-Gewürze - Foto: Canva.com

Precious spices

In addition to their good smell, spices also have preservative and health-promoting properties. Among other things, they are digestive, often antibacterial or antiviral, and much more. Cinnamon is even said to have a positive effect on blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. In the past, the preservative properties of spices were used to make food more durable, and the scent and their ingredients were used to keep away storage pests. No wonder, then, that spices were considered precious and expensive.

Cinnamon: Ceylon versus Cassia

Back to cinnamon: There are cinnamon flowers in the syrup. When dried, they look almost like cloves. They are the unripe, dried fruits of the Ceylon cinnamon tree (Cinnamonum zeylanicum). They have a warm, sweet, slightly peppery aroma.

Cinnamon sticks, on the other hand, are the rolled-up bark of the cinnamon tree. The main aroma substance is cinnamaldehyde. Coumarin, a secondary plant ingredient, is also found in cinnamon bark. An overdose can damage the liver, which is why there are consumption recommendations. Did you know that most processed foods contain cassia cinnamon (Cinnamonum cassia)? This contains 2g of coumarin per kilo, while Ceylon cinnamon contains only 0.02g. Accordingly, children should not eat more than four and adults no more than 8 cinnamon stars a day. The best option is to bake your own instead of buying and use Ceylon cinnamon, like here in our syrup!

Recipe: Orange cinnamon blossom syrup

✨️ Ingredients for approx. 500 ml: 300 ml freshly squeezed orange juice (approx. 4 oranges, depending on size) | 200 g sugar | 2 Ceylon cinnamon sticks | 1 tbsp. coarsely ground cinnamon blossoms* | zest from one orange.

*Cinnamon blossoms are available in well-stocked spice shops, but you can also ask at the pharmacy if they can be ordered. Source of supply among other things:  Zimtblüte | Gewürze der Welt (gewuerze-der-welt.net)

Preparation:

✨️ Gently heat orange juice with the sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved in the juice.
✨️Add the cinnamon sticks, cinnamon blossoms and orange zest and simmer gently, covered, for 20 minutes.
✨️Hot fill into sterile bottles and as a gift still provide with a pretty label and decorate the bottle if necessary with a slice of dried orange and a cinnamon stick.

 

The syrup is always a pretty and noble gift and also in the own kitchen it finds versatile application.

Recommendation for the use of orange cinnamon blossom syrup

The syrup goes wonderfully with creamy and fruity desserts as well as with fresh or pickled fruits with cream, with ice cream or yogurt. We especially like it with hot chocolate and as a Christmas aperitif with ice-cold champagne or with gin and tonic on ice. Of course, you can also simply spritz the syrup with water or use it as an ingredient for mulled wine and punch.

Oragen-Zimtblütensirup und Heiße Schokolade - Foto: Silja Parke - Wildemöhreblog.at

2. hot chocolate with orange cinnamon blossom syrup

Lots to do in the office, appointments, deadlines, writing Christmas mail, crafting or buying gifts, planning the Christmas menu... Often the to dos and deadlines crowd tightly during Advent. Sometimes you just need a little time out to catch your breath. How about a hot chocolate, all cozy by the warming light of a candle?

Here is the recipe:

✨️ Ingredients for 2-3 cups: 500 ml milk, additional milk for foam if needed | 100 g chocolate | 1 tsp real vanilla sugar | 1 tsp orange zest | 1 pinch salt | 50 ml orange cinnamon blossom syrup | 30 ml rum or alternatively homemade plum seed amaretto**.

*NOTE: Cinnamon products should be avoided during pregnancy. ** For the plum seed amaretto, plum seeds are soaked in vodka for 14 days, strained and seasoned with rock candy.

Preparation:

✨️Heat milk, but do not boil.
✨️Add chocolate, vanilla sugar, orange zest and salt, melt chocolate and let steep covered for a few more minutes on lowest setting.
✨️Finally add syrup and alcohol and strain through a sieve.
Pour into glasses or cups, cover with milk foam if desired, sprinkle with coffee spice and enjoy!



3. vanilla body oil

Vanilla is also one of the most popular Christmas spices. But it is not only good for vanilla crescents & Co., it is also super nice for winter body care. Vanilla causes a warming skin feeling and is relaxing, harmonizing and mood-lifting on the mental level. Here is a very simple recipe for a wonderful vanilla oil.

Vanille-Öl - Foto: Wilde Möhre - Silja Parke

️Ingredients: 100 ml almond oil or alternatively almond and jojoba oil mixed in the ratio 1:1 | 1 vanilla bean.

Cold extract lasts 3-4 weeks:

✨️Cut vanilla bean into many small sections and place in a sterile screw-top jar.
✨️Pour the oil over the crushed vanilla and screw the jar shut.
✨️Leep in a warm place, not directly in the sun, for 3-4 weeks and shake daily.
✨️After the end of the extraction time, fill into a sterile amber glass bottle.

 

Warm extract, if you want it to go faster:

✨️ Cut vanilla bean into many small sections and pour into a sterile, heat-resistant jar.
✨️ Extract in a water bath for about 2-3 hours and filter into a sterile amber glass.

 

Recommendation for the use of the vanilla oil:

The oil can be used as a body care oil or further processed in other cosmetics, for example, to creams, body bars or scrubs. For the amber glass bottles there are pump dispensers to buy, these are practical in the dosage without the oil thereby spread everywhere. A vanilla oil extract can also be used in the kitchen, for example as an ingredient in baking. For this purpose, for example, a neutral sunflower oil can be used.



4. body bar with fragrant vanilla oil.

Now in winter, the skin is often stressed by cold or dry heating air and grateful for a rich care. These fragrant body bars are not only a boon for the skin, with their delicate scent of orange and vanilla they are also an experience for the senses.

Body-Bar - Foto: Silja Parke

The plant butters melt through the body heat. When you stroke the body bar over the skin, the plant fats spread delicately and provide a nice skin feeling. You can use pretty silicone molds to make the bars. The decorative bars are then also nice gifts. You can give them away nicely in a small box.

Body Bar Recipe:

Ingredients:*

✨️90 g shea butter
✨️90 g cocoa butter
✨️30 g mango butter (if you do not have mango butter, take shea butter and cocoa butter in equal parts = 105 g each )
✨️10 g beeswax
✨️10 g vanilla body oil or alternatively almond oil
✨️If desired, essential oils, 1-2 drops per 10g base, e.g. 30 drops of orange (Citrus sinensis) and 6 drops of vanilla extract (Vanilla planifolia).
*Butters and essential oils can be purchased in natural cosmetics stores or ordered from the Arnica Pharmacy. I prefer to use organic ingredients and unrefined butters oils. When it comes to essential oils, I very much like to use Primavera oils. These can also be ordered from the Arnica Pharmacy.

 

Preparation:

✨️Melt shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, beeswax and vanilla/almond oil in a sterile, heat-resistant glass in a water bath.
✨️Finally, if desired, stir in the essential oils and pour the liquid melted fats and oils into silicone molds.
✨️Either leave to dry in the room for several days or, if you want it to be quicker, leave the body bars to set in the refrigerator.
✨️Remove from the molds, if necessary place briefly in the freezer to make it easier to remove from the mold.



Fine things from the forest

Spruces and firs are closely interwoven with the Christmas season. They decorate our living rooms as Christmas trees and who doesn"t love the "winter wonderland" when spruces and firs in the forest are thickly powdered with snow?

For many, the Christmas tree is simply part of the Christmas celebration and provides not only for children for shining eyes. The custom of decorating with evergreen plants at the winter solstice goes back a long way. The Romans already garlanded their houses with laurel and the Germanic tribes decorated their houses with branches.

Fichtenwald - Foto: Silja Parke

Evergreen plants are a symbol of vitality, of the eternal circle of life, and they represent the joyful expectation of the light-filled season and spring.

The Christmas tree became popular only in the 18th century, but was still reserved for the wealthy. Those who could not afford a tree made do with twigs. From the middle of the 19th century, many spruce and fir forests were planted and the Christmas tree thus entered the living rooms. But who knows that the Christmas tree, as long as it is organic and untreated, can also be eaten?

TIP: The needles of fir and spruce have a woody, fresh and slightly lemony aroma. Give it a try! For example, the finely chopped needles can be used to make an extraordinary herb butter. The needles are folded into the soft butter and seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon zest.

For the Advent coffee I have here another sweet Wald-Kipferl recipe for you.



5. forest croissant recipe

✨️ Ingredients for the "forest powdered sugar": 100 g powdered sugar |10 g spruce or fir needle powder* | grating of 1 orange | 1 tsp vanilla pulp | 1 pinch of salt

Wald-Kipferl Foto: Silja Parke - Wildemöhreblog.at

Ingredients for the croissants:

✨️300 g flour
✨️80 g grated nuts (walnuts or almonds)
✨️80 g powdered sugar
✨️2 tsp spruce/fir needle powder*.
✨️Pulp of a vanilla pod
✨️1 pinch of salt
✨️200 g butter
✨️2 small egg yolks
✨️150 g chocolate coating

Preparation:

✨️ Spruce/Fir needle powder is prepared by grinding the needles into powder in a high-powered blender. Since the needles are fibrous, the powder is sieved through a fine mesh sieve and the fibers left behind are discarded.
✨️ For the sugar, grind the powdered sugar with the other ingredients in a mortar or blender.
✨️ For the croissants, mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
✨️ Add butter and egg and knead until a smooth dough is formed.
✨️ Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least ½ hour.
✨️ Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
✨️ Divide the dough into equal-sized sections and make into sausages.
✨️ Also divide the sausages into equal-sized sections, shape into croissants by bending, and bake on baking sheets lined with parchment paper for 12 minutes, until they begin to brown subtly.
✨️ Let the croissants cool a bit, as they will be crumbly when hot out of the oven.
✨️ Carefully roll the crescents in the "forest powdered sugar" while they are lukewarm.
✨️ Gently melt the chocolate coating in a water bath and dip the ends of the croissants in it.
✨️ Let dry on the baking paper and carefully peel off.
 *CAUTION! If you collect the needles of spruce and fir and eat them, you should be sure that it is spruce or fir and not, for example, the poisonous yew!

 



6. pitch ointment - the "forest classic".

Pitch ointment is one of the classics in the alpine herbal and home pharmacy. Pitch is the vernacular name for resins. For trees, resins are natural wound plasters and protect them from bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms entering the wounds.

In the medicine chest, we take advantage of the antibacterial, analgesic, circulatory and emollient effects of resins. Pitch ointments are used to heal wounds and as traction ointments to pull splinters and slate out of the skin. Ointments containing resins are also useful for inflammation, boils, rheumatic complaints, pain of muscles and joints, and colds and flu-like infections.

It is always good to have a fragrant pitch ointment in the cupboard, so it is also a nice gift.

The resins can be collected yourself, and it is best to take them from already closed wounds. It is best to collect not the soft resin, but the resin that has already hardened, which often forms beautiful golden drops that are particularly easy to break off when it is cold outside. Hardened resin can be easily scraped off. If the resin is still soft, it should first be allowed to dry thoroughly at home. This may take several weeks to months.

 The recipe for pitch ointment:

Ingredients:

✨️ 100 ml olive oil or calendula oil extract.
✨️ 30 g spruce resin or for a traction ointment 60 g spruce resin*.
✨️ 20 g beeswax
*alternatively, you can also buy liquid larch resin at the pharmacy and use the same amount.

Preparation:

✨️ Clean and disinfect tools and work surfaces.
✨️ If necessary, crush spruce resin with a mortar and gently extract in the oil for 30-45 minutes in a heat-resistant, old glass (resins stick, therefore do not use good dishes). The resin does not dissolve completely, a residue remains.
✨️ Strain the oil, add beeswax and melt in the oil while stirring in a water bath.
✨️ Stir the ointment to hand heat and fill into sterile jars.

 

Pechsalbe - Foto: Wildemöhreblog.at

Application of pitch ointment

Apply the ointment thinly as a wound ointment, use for wound dressings and scar care. For rubs in rheumatic complaints, for muscles and joints. Apply to chest and back area for cough and bronchitis. For sinusitis, apply to forehead, root of nose, nostrils and in cheek and jaw area. The ointment has a shelf life of about 1 year.



Christmas greetings from Puch near Salzburg

Now I wish you still a beautiful Advent time and a light-full celebration. Even if it sometimes gets stressful in Advent on the last days of the year, we should remember to deal lovingly with ourselves and others and in all the hustle and bustle just pause once and give us and our loved ones joy and time. I"m glad if I could give you some inspiration with my post and I"m already looking forward to next year!

Rauhnächte - Foto: Silja Parke

TIP: Finally, I would like to refer you to my article from last year about incense and the Raunächte, because it is not only the time of giving, but also of incense and the Raunächte are imminent.

Sincerely yours

Silja

Silja Parke mit Barbarazweigen - Wildemöhreblog.at

TIP: Take part in the Pucher ADVENT CALENDAR competition here in PUCH MAGAZINE or on Instagram and win one of the great prizes from Puch, such as a smoking set from me and dmein book "Ganz schön wild". My door with the "Elderberry punch recipe" has opened on December 9 - Good luck!



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