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A Glass Filled with Fragrant Memories

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A Glass Filled with Fragrant Memories

This time around, Milena prepares a vinegars with juniper and herbs, so that the taste and smells of summer can also be enjoyed during the winter months.

In spite of the many trails and hiking possibilities available in the Bregenzerwald, the area often invites me to instead head out in search of adventure without a particular destination in mind.The further from the beaten path I get, the more authentic the places and moments become and the details become clearer: The various trees, individual plants, their stones, and my thoughts.

I often think of our minds as storerooms filled with glass jars. At the beginning, the chamber is empty and yet with time we begin to collect experiences about all sort of things in different order: A jar filled with joy, one with passion, a dark container of fear and a hidden glass of rage.Over the course of our lives, we fill all the jars with moments, memories, tastes and feelings. Our bodies store the sum of our experiences. Sometime we consciously retreat to these chambers as we consciously recall old stories and memories to the forefront.

Since the beginning of humanity, we’ve searched for methods to conserve and preserve. Salting, burying, fermenting, cooling with snow and ice, smoking – these are the ancient methods. And our memories and stories are much the same. We write, paint, photograph, boil something down to its essence, all in an attempt to hold on to memories in order to conserve the here and now and to preserve memories.

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Making my way through Bregenzerwald, I stop to cut a branch of juniper and the smell is wonderful. The berries are scarce, but the branches themselves also contain plenty of aroma, which can be infused in vinegar. This tastes delicious along with venison and autumn dishes. Back at home it’s just a few steps to mama’s garden and at this time, everything is blooming: Nasturtium, marigold, yellow and orange, Thyme. Chives and marjoram glow pink. And yet this time of blossoming is so short, like the appearance of yellow dandelions in spring. The view out over such a field of flowers is one I want to conserve year round. So I begin to collect individual blossoms, and today I’m struck like never before by the many gardens big and small that surround me.

 

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Working in the garden and in nature and the use of old methods in the kitchen are all often referred to as trends. But these developments are the exact opposite of a trend. When I work with old techniques, old recipes, methods or simply cook with fire, I don’t do that to feel contemporary, I do so to feel at one with the currents of time. Such work, I notice in my own life, is work on oneself and with one’s own identity. I cut the juniper branches into small pieces and I fill them into a large preserving jar. The many blossoms are then also cut into small pieces. As I do so, my hands begin to smell wonderfully of summer. So that I can remember this fragrance in winter as well, I fill the small glasses to the top with apple cider vinegar. I close the lids tight and store the colourful glasses in a cool place and let time do its work. Sometimes I shake them and as time passes, the aromas of the blossoms and leaves slowly infuse the vinegar. It’s a picture, a memory, or perhaps simply another full jar:We see, we taste, we feel and we embark on a small journey.

Author: Milena Broger

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Recipe: Juniper vinegar

Ingredients:
- Juniper branches
- Apple vinegar essence or diluted vinegar essence

Preparation:
Cut the juniper branches into small pieces and place them into a clean jar. Fill the jar with vinegar, close it tightly and let it sit for at least three weeks. Shake the jar occasionally so that aromas can spread out.

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Recipe: Herb vinegar

Ingredients:
- Herbs and blossoms (e.g. thyme, marjoram, rosemary, parsley, marigold blossoms, nasturtium, everything that you can find in the garden)
- Apple vinegar essence or diluted vinegar essence

Preparation:
Cut the herbs and blossoms into small pieces and place them in clean jar.Fill the jar with vinegar,
close it tightly and let it sit for at least three weeks.Shake the jar occasionally so that aromas can spread out.