Gardening goes better with delicious cheese sticks

spring and winter hands in hands We are beginning a new chapter in our countryside life: spring has started. Although it was snowing the last week, I still need to put fire in the tile stove and winter and spring walk hands in hands, there are obvious signs of change.
Every day is a surprise. I didn’t expect any snowdrop under the bushes but there are a lot of them and they are beautiful. Every day I check the growing flowering bulbs in the flower bed next to the house. In our morning walks with Little Dog we check each fruit tree, its buds, we are greeting each new leaf of grass and I am making plans. In a huge garden like this there are a loot of things to plan.
The first task on the list is the kitchen garden. Not a big one for the first time- a reasonable size for some herbs, tomatoes, peppers, onions maybe courgettes and eggplants and a few specialities. I try to keep my dreams and desires under control, since I would love to create something much more bigger then we are able to handle beside of everyday life. On the top of it we still have to learn a lot about gardening.
I take out the treasure box of the cupboard which I inherited from my grandmother. When she died my father gave me the seeds that she had preserved in small jars. In each jar I find a piece of paper with the name of the plant carefully written by her unmistakable handwriting. There are mostly flower seeds but I discover some herb seeds as well and her remarks make me smile (mimosa- really beautiful”). I don’t know whether they are still good and I am wondering if they will sprout even if I am not as experienced gardener as my grandmother was. seeds from my grandmother
seeds from my grandmotherseeds from my grandmotherOur fruit trees need some care as well. I ask for advice Marika, our neighbor who was actually good friend with my grandmother since their childhood. 8 years ago unprofessional hands damaged the trees while pruning. I still shudder when I recall this memory and I don’t want it to happen any more. Marika recommends András, who is a quiet young man and a type of person who doesn’t like wasting words and only speaks when it has importance.
It turns out that he was looking after the garden a long time ago so he knows it by heart. He has a writing pad and a pen in his hands, he quietly observes each tree, makes some comments aloud and takes notes. It is worth to look after the sour cherry trees, he recalls the good harvest they had that time.
“Oh, I can’t wait to prepare some sour cherry jam, syrup, pie”- I am telling him with enthusiasm and the first time since he arrived he begins to smile.
“ Huh, I am getting hungry…I love cherries! ”
We keep on walking from one tree to the other. The cherry trees are too high, too old- it is too much work and he would need special equipment for that. Our apple trees are also quite old, maybe 75 years he says. He is not really enthusiastic about them although we are assuring him about its wonderful apples and good harvest. Still they would need some care. The summary: four sour cherry trees, three cherry trees, an apricot, three nut trees, a plum, a greengage, a pear and four apple trees.
There is nut tree growing in between another nut tree and an apple tree. There is not enough space for the three of them so a nut tree has to be cut down. I remember that one of the them had amazing big nuts but I don’t know which one. We agree that we will check this autumn and decide later although secretly Áron and me would love to keep both trees. We agree in price and probably he can start the work already next week.
When he is leaving I explain to him that my family has planted these trees with a lots of love so they are close to our hearts. And also they are important for me because I am a cook…
Suddenly I see the same enthusiasm in his eyes like when we were talking about sour cherries and he takes a look at his writing pad again.
“Oh, really?…Then maybe i can do something with the old trees as well…”
So we say goodbye and now we are sure that our trees will be in good hands.
I know that we are going to spend whole days in the garden so we definately need a snack that we can just grab whenever we are hungry. I prepare cheese sticks according to my mother’s recipe. I knead the dough quickly cut them into long stripes and bake them in the oven in 15 minutes. While we are preparing the kitchen garden I just pick up a few sticks in the kitchen and put some into my pocket as well, as a reserve for later.
The first spring sunshines dress our naked trees in a golden light. We prepare spade, rake and all other garden tools. So far everything seems to be barren and dead but in my mind I already see pruned leafy trees, green grass and growing seedlings. Soon this time will come…

Cheese sticks
Ingredients:
250 g butter or margarine
250 g flour
250 cheese like cheddar or edam + 50 g on the top
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black or mixed pepper
egg whites for brushing

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees. Grate the cheese and the butter and knead into a dough with other ingredients. Roll it out to 1/2 cm thick and cut it into stripes. (I think the thinner they are the better they taste) -Brush the dough with the egg whites and sprinkle with grated cheese. Lay them on a baking paper-lined oven tray and bake them until golden brown. (ca. 10-15 minutes) cheese sticks from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen cheese sticks from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen cheese sticks from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen

 

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer is a food photographer, chef and writer living in a small village in Northwestern Hungary. Her bilingual blog, Taste of Memories is about life in the Hungarian countryside. While she is bringing new life into the 90 year-old house and orchard of 18 fruit trees she cooks and bakes her family’s old recipes and tries to preserve traditions and old knowledge about how to live in rhythm and harmony with nature.

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