Friday, June 1, 2012

Elderflower Fritters - A Tribute to my Grandmother


I have been wanting to write about my grandmother for quite some time now. She and my grandfather used to live about three hundred kilometers from where I lived back then and where I live now with my family. My grandparents used to live in a rural community, we live in the city but would love to live in the country. They owned a red brick house with a great big vegetable garden and in addition to all the vegetables and fruits that my grandmother had planted and always faithfully tended to, there was a huge elderberry shrub  growing in one of the corners of her wonderful garden. Although we have neither really found the time nor   had the patience to plant a vegetable garden, thankfully, there is a large elderberry shrub growing in our garden.




My two sisters and I usually spent three weeks during the summer at my grandparents` house. Sometimes we would even stay for a week or two in fall or around Easter time. I have nothing but fond memories of all the times that we stayed at that house. My grandmother grew up with twelve sisters and brothers. She, on the other hand, had two children, my father and my aunt. My grandmother was incredibly hard working, even as a very young girl.




When my great-grandparents considered her "to be old enough", they sent her off to the Netherlands, to another family with lots of children, so that, according to my great-grandmother, her daughter would “learn how to cook and how to ran a proper household” - I believe she could have learned a lot at home as well, but sending her away for a few years probably meant much more than just that...




By the time my grandmother was allowed to return home, she had become a wonderful cook, having dutifully studied the recipes in those vintage cookbooks that were the only resources available back then.





She baked her own breads and rolls and lots of waffles – I do not remember her baking cakes, though. She  made juice and then filled her homemade juice (such as elderberry juice) into glass bottles. She canned huge amounts of green beans, red beets and other vegetables from her garden.




She picked the sweet cheeries from her cherry tree and canned them too. Then she would line all those bottles and jars up on these old but sturdy looking wooden shelves in the cool basement – canning time was a huge event at her house, steam everywhere and at the end of a long day or two spent doing nothing but juicing and canning, my hard working grandmother always emerged from the steam, relieved and proud. To this day, I cannot walk past those canning jars in a store (or in my basement) without thinking of her.




When I think of her, I cannot believe that I do not have one, not even a single one of her original recipes. No one seems to have taken any notes. I guess, no one was interested back then.



















A few years ago we decided to take our children to the very house that my grandparents used to own. I had not seen it in a long long time – the garden was still there, the trees and the elderberry shrug too, although it is not a shrug anymore but rather a tree. The present owner runs a music store from the house, the house looked different but it also still looked the same.




During our trip we talked a lot about how absolutely happy and safe I always felt when I was around my grandparents. When I was pregnant with my first child, I was convinced that it was going to be a girl, a girl that would be named after my grandmother, her great-grandmother. It turned out that I had to be a bit more patient than I had thought and that I had to wait a few years more before I was able to pass on that very name, Klara. Our daughter Klara turned eleven in May.




So in honor of my grandmother Klara, I am posting a recipe for Elderflower Fritters – while I do not own the original recipe she used, I found an old recipe. I am sure she would have liked it, my food memories tell me that my Elderflower Fritters taste like or very similar to the ones grandma Klara used to prepare once a year. I made this recipe yesterday and everyone liked the fritters quite a bit. Writing about my grandma and trying to find a recipe that would do her cooking skills justice gave me the chance to take a trip down memory lane, again. I am endlessly grateful for all those memories...




Sources:
Some of the photos were taken by my at the Open-Air Museum in Lindlar, Germany
http://www.freilichtmuseum-lindlar.lvr.de)
Cookbook: Henriette Davidis, "Praktisches Kochbuch" - "Practical Guide to Cooking" (1906 and 1924 editions - part of my vintage cookbook collection)
Canning glass: "Weck" (http://www.weck-glas.de)



Elderflower Fritters
(Recipe in Memory of Oma Klara)


Ingredients (serves about four persons)
                 
125 g AP flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 pinch fine sea salt
1 egg, preferably free range or organic
250 ml sparkling mineral water, room temperature
4-8 heads elderflowers (or as many or as few as you want)
Oil for frying (I used sunflower oil)
Confectioners´s sugar for dusting (you could also use cinnamon sugar)




Preparation

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, egg and mineral water together until smooth and set aside for 30 minutes (at room temperature).
Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 180 degrees Celsius
Using a pair of kitchen scissors, snip the elderflowers into individual florets, or leave the florets whole, leaving on as much stem as possible. Clean off any dirt or tiny critters.
Dip the florets into the batter and drop into the hot oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Dust with confectioners´ sugar and enjoy while still warm.

Serve with just the dusting of sugar or serve alongside fruit or compote (like the strawberry/rhubarb compote I prepared and filled into a large Weck jar without having to use a rubber ring since we ate it right away).




Enjoy!






18 comments:

  1. What a sweet post. I named my eldest after my grandmother as well - I never considered any other name for her.
    I am very intrigued by elderflowers - I have heard much about them, but they are not common over here.
    Congrats on the award! Well deserved :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Cher and congratulations on your nomination as well - you know how much I enjoy reading your wonderful stories! Somebody was just faster than me in nominating you!

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  2. I adore your post. As I type this my Grandmother is dying, and I am not with her, but I am re-living my childhood as I read your post.

    what lovely thought/pictures/memories

    thank you for the nomination - it is a huge honor and I am so gratelful

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    1. I am very sorry about your grandmother Heather...and I am very touched that you liked my post, thank you so much.

      Do take care of yourself!

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  3. What a beautiful and touching post about your grandmother! I lost my grandmother in January and carry with me such fond memories of my times with her, many memories include my time in the kitchen with her!! When my daughter is born this coming Oct she will share the same Hebrew name as my grandmother. I'm sure grandma Klara would just love these little fritters and be so happy about the wonderful cook you have become-even without her recipes!
    Congrats on your nomination and Thank you do much for nominating me!!!

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    1. Beth, I am very sorry to hear about the recent loss of your grandmother...but it is wonderful that your daughter will be named after her! It is so nice when the grandchildren are named after their grandparents!

      With respect to the nomination: you are very welcome - you certainly deserve it!

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  4. Wow, everyone who wrote here have such touching memories of their grandmothers! Well, mine is currently in hospital and she's at the last stages of her life now (she's 90). I was close to her growing up, and from what you wrote, it seemed that our childhood with our grandmas was very similar. Mine was very hardworking too like yours, she was always doing something with food and crafts. If I have another daughter in the future, I'm going to name her after my grandma for sure.

    I'm sure your Oma Klara would be proud of all your accomplishments today. These fritters are testiment of her wonderful culinary legacy to you (even without her exact recipe)!

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    1. What a nice comment, Maya, thank you very much!

      P.S.: Do you know how many times I have walked past bananas (in the store/market) since I read your post on the Banana Chocolate Tart and saw the picture of the plastic snake in your mum`s tree? Many, many times and every time I do, that picture comes to my mind, no joke!

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  5. Such a lovely story about your grandmother! So nice you have all those wonderful memories of this grand lady! You would make her very proud! My mom was still alive when her great granddaughter was born and was so very touched when my daughter named her baby after her! Have a great weekend, Andrea!

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    1. Kathy, I never realized that there are so many grandchildren being named after their grandparents - that is just wonderful. It is nice that your mother was still alive when your granddaughter was named after her!

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  6. Lovely story and lovely, too, that you've been able to recreate a childhood food memory to share with the next generation.

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    1. Thank you Teresa - I am still a bit dismayed though that I do not have any "real" original recipe, although I think my version is probably close to my grandmother´s version.

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  7. Lovely. Just wonderful. I've read this twice and find more to enjoy from it each time. Please don't send your little Klara off to the Netherlands! I suspect that your Grandmother worked very hard but also got more attention than, perhaps, she would have received with all the brothers and sisters. My daughter and I are looking for and storing properly all the recipes that were handwritten by my mom. It's important that we do than, isn't it?

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    1. Mary, it is wonderful that you are looking for and storing properly all the recipes that were handwritten by your mother - it is so important and so wonderful that you and your daughter take the time to do this.

      And no, I will not send Klara to the Netherlands...certainly not to "learn how to work properly"...but we do go there quite often, I love taking trips to the Netherlands - my favorite place to go visit there is only an hour and a half drive from here and I am working an a post of that "place to visit" this week. "Prettige dag"!

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  8. This post brings memories to me also. My grandmothers and my mother all made the best elderberry jams and syrups. Until about 5 years ago, due to age, my mother always made at least a dozen jars of wonderful elderberry syrup for my family to enjoy...a real treat. She went to a canyon near home and picked the berries and made the syrup. I do family history and genealogy regularly and among the treasured items I collect for my posterity are treasured recipes of all these wonderful women, many written in their own hand, and all worn with delicious use. Many, many of our ancestors immigrated here from Germany (and a few from the Netherlands) and I appreciate my heritage. Always a pleasure to stop and spend time at your site.

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    1. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment - it is no nice that you are able to collect the original handwritten recipes! I am sure that thanks to your grandmother and mother you have wonderful recipes for the elderberry jam and syrup!

      Thanks again for your lovely comments, it is nice that you enjoy visiting my blog - have a good week!

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  9. What a lovely post and memories of your grandmother. I am sure she would have loved this recipe and would be so happy that you made the fritters in her honor.

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    1. Thank you, Elaine - the fritters are fun to prepare and just a bit different and we just loved eating them - so next year when the elderberry shrug in our garden will be in bloom again, I will certainly prepare the fritters again.

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