Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Tag: spices

DIY Fey Christmas Presents for the Adventurous Gourmet

Hey, how are you holding up in the mad rush of the pre-Christmas days?

We are flying out of Doha on Friday but the suitcases aren’t packed yet. Too much ginger bread house making events (every child has their own event at school because their age gap is so big), last Jiu Jitsu training before the Xmas break, Christmas concert for our young piano player …

While looking at last minute gifts, I just came across a product from a Dawanda-Shop that I thought you guys might like. The shop’s name is Erbstuecke which means “heirloom pieces” in German.

They sell a set with 6 vials with a dry dip base and 6 vials of olive oil. Each vial contains only 10 g (dip) or 20 ml (oil), so if you made your own,  you’d have a enough for several gifts from one mammoth fruit-veggie drying session.


Dips sold by Erbstuecke at Dawanda. Click on photo for link.

How do these dips work?

The Italian way to sample some nice fresh bread is: pour a very good olive oil into a small bowl or plate. Drop a few drops of a mild, good Aceto Balsamico vinegar into that, add a few sprinkles of ground sea salt (or another salt of your choice), stir with a piece of bread and enjoy.

For dried dips like this, you need olive oil as a base.

You can either dip bread in olive oil and then dunk it into the dip (which works but isn’t very pretty), or you dip the bread, then scatter a tiny bit of the dip powder over the bread. We use this kind of stuff the way Dukkah powder is used in the Middle East: you add a little bit of the powder to a bit of olive oil, stir it in well and then let it sit for a bit before you scoop it up with bread or use a teaspoon to transfer it to your bread.

What’s in a dip?

Erbstücke, the Dawanda Shop, combined some interesting stuff for their dips.

They say that their dips are made from dried and ground fruit and vegetables with NO ADDED ANYTHING. (Some of the dips have sugar and salt.)

I imagine if elves do the bread-and-dip thing, they’ll use exotic mixes like these for the dip. :-)

The 6 tastes at Erbstuecke are:

  • Carrot-Pineapple: carrot, pineapple, coconut, ginger, salt
  • Red beet-Pear: red beet, pear, orange peel, vanilla, salt
  • Red bell pepper-Mango: red bell pepper, mango, almonds, oregano, chili powder, sugar, salt
  • Pomegranate: pomegranate seeds, lemon peel, cardamom, cumin, cinnemon, cane sugar, pepper
  • Spinach-Ginger: spinach, garlic, ginger, vanilla, salt, pepper
  • Eggplant-Sesame: eggplant, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, salt, garlic

Since Dawanda is Germany’s answer to Etsy, Erbstuecke might not ship abroad, but if you have a dehydrator — or some time, patience and an oven– you can make these as Christmas presents at home.

All you need is dehydrator/oven, good quality fruit and veggies, and some nice containers with a stopper, like vials. We have also used the small jam glasses you get in hotels to the same effect. Sometimes you can buy a tray with 10 or 12 of the small glasses at the supermarket. Keep them when the jam is gone – they make lovely packaging for edible Christmas presents.

Dry the fruit/veggies in a dehydrator according to your machine’s settings. If fruit is very wet, use silicone inlays or baking paper that you poke holes into for circulation.

In the oven, heat it up to 330 degrees F / 170 degrees C, leave the door a bit open and stir fruit/veggies every 30 minutes. The slower you dry, the better the taste, but unless you have a dehydrator, you might go for higher temperature and be done in 6 to 8 hours.

Let the finished dried fruit / veggies rest for a day, then grind them in a food processor. Then play around, mixing and matching. :-)

I hope you enjoy — concoct something that would make Harcos, the elf, proud. ;-)


If you’re wondering who Harcos is: He plays a big part in my 2012 Christmas novel “Three Days of Christmas”. At the moment, I took it down from Amazon because I’ve been trying to make it permafree, without success. You can find it on Smashwords and iBooks.

The spam trolls eat this blog for breakfast if I leave comments open, so I close them. But I’d love to hear what you think, so talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.


brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson writes Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. Poison Patch just came out, Book 2 of the Astoria Files series. You can find Brida at, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a kobold who still pretends she’s a cat.

Using your BBQ to indulge your spiritual side

Playing with fire is one of the best ways (especially for parents*) to cleanse the mind after a stressful day.

Fire on its own is already a great way to literally burn away stress: the warmth, the concentration on lighting the fire/coals. You can add to that effect by tossing herbs on the fire/coals — either instead of regular BBQ or after you’re done with the food.

Different spices/herbs/resins have different properties.

via Flickr. "Burning Coals" by HereStanding, Creative Commons

via Flickr. “Burning Coals” by HereStanding, Creative Commons

* Why is this a good idea for parents?

Fire is one of the few areas that are off-limits for kids. When you tinker with a BBQ or a fireplace, they need to keep their distance. Which instantly promotes that feeling of “I’m finally doing something grown-up here” after a summer-day spent running after toddlers. ;-) And way better for the figure than that other “I’m a grown-up”-action, drinking a glass of wine.

via Flickr. "Untitled" by A Pillow of Winds, Creative Commons

via Flickr. “Untitled” by A Pillow of Winds, Creative Commons

Ingredients for cleansing smoke

What you need you probably already have in the kitchen.

How about tossing on

  • a stick of cinnamon bark
  • rosemary, peppermint or thyme sprigs
  • dried sage leaves
  • dried juniper berries
  • dried camomile blossoms (the kind you can buy for tea)

You can also use mixes and resins on the BBQ which are especially sold to be used for incense burning, e.g.

  • myrrh
  • a mix of sweetgrass/juniper/white sage
  • pine resin

All of these have been used for ages in burning incense, each chosen for their different properties.

  •  Sage (on its own or in mixes) is ideal for promoting a clear head and relaxation
  • Cinnamon is perfect when you’re feeling hassled – no wonder we scarf down cinnamon rolls when we’re feeling stressed ;-)
  • Thyme helps fight feelings of fear
  • Pine resin when you’re feeling exhausted and can’t find the energy to do anything.
  • Peppermint when you’re feeling restless.
  • Camomile induces a feeling of relaxation and release.

If thinking about any deeper effects feels too esoteric for you, just enjoy the scents. :-)

How to

Simply toss a sprig/ pinch of one or two ingredients on the hot coals at a time. Don’t mix too many or you’ll run for cover ;-)

via Flickr. "Coals on Fire" by Areeb Anwer, Creative Commons

via Flickr. “Coals on Fire” by Areeb Anwer, Creative Commons

In case you’re wondering: This blogpost came about while researching relaxation techniques for my new book “Mama macht mal Pause!” (“Mom’s taking a break”). Since the book is in German, I thought I’d share some of it with you over the next weeks. :-)


If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.


brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

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