The Secret Garden (Caramelized Pear and Pine Nut Cake)


This past weekend we experienced a glorious Saturday.  The weather was amazing and all of the Tyroleans were outside soaking up some much needed Vitamin D, tending to their young seedlings, and preparing for the upcoming Easter weekend (which, unfortunately, will be snowy, wet, and cold!)

We had a lovely visit with some friends... who have the coolest garden!  I call it 'The Secret Garden' because no matter where I looked, I was hoping to find a small hidden doorway to another world.  It was a well loved garden complete with green house, pond, compost spot, outdoor shower (and tub!!!), and a bread oven,  TWO seating areas, AND roof top garden.  Incredible!  

In the pond, there was a family of frogs living there... complete with a thousand (or more!) eggs... guarded by very protective parents!  And protective they should be since over half of Europe's amphibians are predicted as being extinct by 2050!!  In Germany and Northern Italy, many roads have underground tunnels to help the little guys cross the roads without ending up as road kill!

Why should we care... and what can we do??? Endangered Species International has a few good ideas.

Already our friend is doing one good thing - giving an aquatic refuge for these little babies! I hope to see these guys in the next few weeks when they are tadpoles!






My husband surprised us all with a lovely dessert - made from scratch!





A splendid afternoon treat! It was delicious - caramelized pears, a perfect crust with toasted chopped walnuts, a soft dough, and more caramelized pine nuts all over the top.  The dusting of powdered sugar made it all the more tasty!

My husband said the recipe was all in his head... so, unless you know of this recipe already, here's a little cheat sheet to help you.  It's in German, so have you'll have to translate the page (Google makes it easy!)

Verbascum, King's Candle, Königskerze

While exploring the garden, I came upon this very large Verbascum plant - King's Candle, as we call it here.  It was huge! The largest I've ever seen.  I've tried twice unsuccessfully to keep this plant... and Harry's friends were so kind to give me, not one, but TWO plants to keep on our terrace!  They have such faith in me!

Legend has it that farmers would look at the flowers of these plants to infer if the winter would be a good or bad one!  These plants are so recognizable in the wild.  They look like blazing candle sticks!


[Credit:Link]

In Austrian tradition, this plant, as well as many others, was used as an herbal remedy.  In my internet sleuthing about this plant, I found out that Austria has a very rich history in traditional folk medicine - so rich, in fact, that there is a database being compiled to archive this knowledge.  In contrast to Chinese medicine, traditional European medicine (Austrian ethnomedicine included) has hardly been explored.  Very exciting!

Also, I did not know this, in the town of Schwaz, not far from where I live, Paracelsus once lived for a short while in his twenties... and later died in his forties in Salzburg, where his is now buried.  Who is Paracelsus, you ask?  (Don't worry, I asked who he was, too!)


Paracelsus [Credit:Link]


Paracelsus:
+ founded the area of toxicology
+ named zinc, the element
+ first combined chemicals and minerals in medicine
+ believed heremetic philosophy - that bodily illness is the result of an imbalance of man with nature
+ made many discoveries in botany and medicine
+ strongly practiced medicine combined with astrology
+ became a gypsy physician and travelled far and wide
+ studied miner's diseases in Hall-in-Tirol (my current town!) and Schwaz
+ strongly urged medical students must learn chemistry with their studies and training
+ is the namesake of the Paracelsus Medical University of Salzburg




Ahh, so back in Hall, our town square was having its weekly Farmers Market AND its Easter Market!
People decorated their windows with spring flowers and hid tons of painted eggs and sweets for the kids to find!


Found some!

All of the local artisans were out selling their crafts - all Spring and Easter (and bunny!) related, of course!


Traditional Crafts for Sale

The girls even got painted eggs from Miss Bunny!







With every special occasion, the farmers bring in their pigmy horses and goats to ride and pet.  I asked if El was up for  a ride on the horse.  She replied, "Not quite yet."  Fair enough.






Lil, the little horse whisperer, was very keen about talking to the horse.  The horse was more keen on the egg in her hand.  




Close by, a new baby goat got a captive audience.  Cuteness always works with us!




Sadly, the day had to end... but we got a few more minutes of mayhem in before going home.



Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Servus! xo



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