Category Archives: PLANTS

國殤紀念日 Remembrance Day

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每年11月初在英國, 可以看到許多街上的行人在胸前別着一朵小紅花, 甚至有些車的車頭也粘著小紅花。雖然知道這起源於記念一次世界大戰(結束於1918111111時)中犧牲的將士, 也曾在書中讀到關於戰爭的故事, 但佩戴小紅花的心情似乎距離我十分遙遠。一直到連續看到一位曾經參與二次世界大戰(1939~1945) 情報工作的長輩不厭其煩地每年配戴, 才開啓了我一探究竟的好奇心。

Every early November in Britain, many passengers, even cars, are seen wearing little red flowers on the streets. Although I am aware of it’s origin being commemorating the sacrificed soldiers in WWI (ended 11 o’clock, 11th of November, 1918), not until I kept seeing someone I know wearing it year after year, I started feeling curious about it.

機緣巧合下, 我看了一集播出中的英國廣播公司國殤紀念日的特別節目, 其中, 一位九十歲的老先生, 述說他在二次大戰服役中倖存的心情。 比爾在戰時參與了皇家空軍的轟炸機指揮部, 身為轟炸機的後方射擊手, 他的任務是偵測及阻止敵機從後方攻擊, 後方射擊手的傷亡率很高, 出這個任務可能短則兩週就喪命。除了攻擊, 也包含了空投救援物資以及收集情報, 其中一項收集情報的方式是空投載有問卷的鴿子, 冀望牠們不要落入敵手, 而我方的朋友能填寫問卷後寄回。在一次出任務返回途中, 比爾的所搭轟炸機的機尾爆炸了, 飛機整個落入海中, 雖然比爾和同機大部分的人員生還, 但他卻只能看著機長以及一位情如兄弟的同袍呼喊著沈落大海, 卻絲毫使不上力戰後許多年, 他都仿佛一直聽到那呼喊聲在耳邊回響幾年前, 英國最後一位一戰生還者去世了, 再過一二十年, 也許像比爾一樣的二戰生還者也會逐漸隕落, 今日大多數沒有經歷過戰爭的普羅大眾, 會為了什麼目的而佩戴小紅花呢?國殤紀念日會不會變成只是軍事家鼓動大眾愛國情懷的工具呢?

Accidentally, I watched a BBC program about “Remembrance Day”, in which, a 90 year old gentleman sharing his experience in WWII. Bill participated in the Bomber Command of Royal Air Force in the war. Acting as a rear gunner, his job was to detect and prevent the rear attach from the enemy. Rear gunners’ life expectancy could be as short as two weeks. Apart from attacks, they also delivered supplies or collected information through dropping secret agents or message pigeons. Once on the return journey of a task, the back of their aircraft exploded and fell into the ocean. Bill and most of the crew survived, however, his best friend and the captain sunk into the deep water. Bill could still hear their screaming and feel the helplessness in his mind many years after the war. A couple of years ago, the last WWI survivor died. After ten, twenty years, the survivors from WWII, like Bill, will decease too. Will Remembrance Day become something that militarists uses to manipulate the patriotism of general public ?

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一向有著反戰情結的我, 帶著質疑的心情, 來到了英國政府所在地的白廳White Hall), 在這裡廣大的馬路上, 矗立着兩座戰爭紀念碑, 一座建於1920, 碑面簡單地刻着『光榮的死者』; 另一座有著現代化的風格, 雕刻着戰時女性的裝束, 是專為紀念二次世界大戰中犧牲奉獻的女性而設計。就在紀念碑附近, 可以看到學校老師帶著學生, 解說著戰爭的歷史及國殤紀念日; 馬路的另一側, 有參與英軍作戰的廓爾喀人(來自印度尼泊爾, 一支驍勇善戰的部族), 為爭取與英國籍軍人平等的退役權利而靜坐; 他們的隔壁, 則有絕食抗議斯里蘭卡種族屠殺, 陳請政府抵制即將在斯里蘭卡舉行的英聯邦集會; 當然, 更多的是警察、路人及觀光客。如此忙碌且時空交錯的情景, 帶給我一絲複雜的心情~

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With an anti-war attitude and doubts, I cam to White Hall. Standing on the broad street are two war memorials. One built in 1920, on the cenotaph simply written “The Glorious Dead”; the other is a modern style sculpture of women’s war time clothing symbolise the women in WWII. Near the memorials, there were teachers explaining the history of war to the students; Gurkha soldiers protesting for equal treatments as other British troops; and someone having a hunger strike urging the government to boycott the Common Wealth Meeting in Sri Lanka, whose purpose to denounce the massacre of Tamils conducted by the present Sri Lankan government…. Of course, there were no lack of police, passengers and tourists around. Such busy, mixed scene made me feel complicated….

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臨近白廳西敏寺大教堂周圍, 1928年開始, 在國殤紀念日前後就會有一段時間設立『虞美人之原』, 讓民眾在草地上種下紀念的十字架。虞美人, 就是那小紅花的名字。以虞美人紀念戰爭犧牲者的起源, 來自於一位一戰軍醫所寫的詩法蘭德斯戰場。這曾經戰況慘烈的戰場, 據說盛開著如士兵鮮血般鮮紅的虞美人花… 雖然西敏寺大教堂一年四季都充滿了觀光客, 當我站在虞美人之原, 卻自然而然升起一股莊嚴肅穆的心情, 那滿佈十字架與虞美人花的原野, 流動着無形的平靜能量。所有的十字架是如此地低, 不論是要種下十字架, 或只是想仔細端詳的人, 都必須彎下腰、低下頭- 在死者的面前,沒有誰比誰高人一等。現場有許多老年人尋找着親友所屬的戰時編制, 在他們的區域獻上緬懷之情, 也可以看到年輕媽媽帶著小孩進行追念。我留意到某一區的每個十字架都有照片,走近一看, 發現那是為最近幾年在阿富汗陣亡將士所設; 在那一區斜對面不遠處, 一群十字架中混雜着月亮及六角星,也許死者是回教徒或猶太人吧, 而他們所屬的區域是『情報單位』…

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Not far from White Hall is another famous tourist attraction, Westminster Abbey. Since 1928, a “Poppy Fields” was set at the abbey’s court yard for people to “plant” remembrance cross with poppy flowers. Poppy was first taken as a symbol of remembrance from a poem called “In Flanders Fields” written by a military doctor, John McCrae. The first line of the poem says “ In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow between the crosses, row and row”.Even though Westminster Abbey has always filled with tourists all year round, when I stood at the poppy fields, the busy atmosphere suddenly froze and on the fields, the energy of quietness and peace flew.

The crosses are so low that whoever wants to plant one or look at them has to lower their knees or bow down- nobody is higher than anyone in front of the dead. You can see old people trying to find the areas their friends belong to or young mothers bringing their kids to join this ceremony. I noticed that one area has got photos attached on all the crosses and discovered it was for the troops fighting in Afghanistan (very new…). Not far across this group, in the secret agent’s zone, one can see some crescent moon and stars of David amongst many crosses. I guess they are probably to memorize muslim or Jewish people….

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當另一半知道我拜訪了虞美人之原, 他從抽屜裡拿出了外祖父及叔公在戰後獲頒的勳章, 他說:『叔公從土耳其作戰回來後, 從沒提過戰爭的事, 他的勳章, 一次都沒佩戴過』 是的, 在英國大部分的家庭, 多少都有親友曾經經歷過兩次世界大戰。也許幸運地生在堪稱和平時代的我們, 不能體會他們當時所經歷或現在仍然經歷, 生離死別的種種; 雖然戰爭代表着人類的愚蠢, 然而, 沒有許多人在這樣極端狀況中發揮的智慧與勇氣, 今天的我會過著怎樣的生活呢?或許軍事家們確實汲汲營營地試圖操控大眾對戰爭榮耀的想象, 我的國殤紀念日小旅行, 卻帶給我謙卑及感恩。

IMG_5318Knowing I have visited the “Fields of Remembrance”, my other half showed me the war medals of his grand father and grand uncle. He mentioned “Grand uncle never said a word about the war and never wore his medal ever since he came back from the fight in Turkey.” Yes, many English family has connections with the two world wars. Born and living in this reasonably peaceful period, it might be difficult for the majority of us to feel how those experienced the war have suffered or are still suffering. Wars might have presented the stupidity of human beings. Militarists might be busy exemplifying the glory of wars. However, without the wisdom, courage and efforts that many people shown at such extreme conditions, what kind of live would I have been living today? My little trip of Remembrance Day has brought me a sense of humbleness and gratitude.

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有趣的蔬菜:義大利麵瓜 Lazy bone’s pasta: Spaghetti Squash

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星期六的早上做什麼好呢?忙了一週, 既想放鬆心情, 又得把平日沒有處理的家事照顧到. 對我來說, 逛農夫市集是最有意思的了!一方面可以採買下週所需的食物, 另一方面, 又可以在各式各樣的攤子之間, 享受挖寶的樂趣.

Saturday morning, a time to relax, but also a time to deal with the housework that has to be done…. What a struggle! Well, ever since I started visiting our local farmers market, my dilemma has simply disappeared! I can do the food shopping for next week while hunting for treasures amongst interesting stalls~

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接近萬聖節的時間, 不只是南瓜, 在市場還可以發現許多其他的瓜類, 有的小巧且色彩繽紛, 有的則是頭好壯壯, 以體型取勝. 上一週我們在農夫市集看到一個佈置十分鮮艷的攤位, 有趣的是, 整個攤位只賣一種看來有點像冬瓜的產品義大利麵瓜 (又稱魚翅瓜), 而這些瓜全都是這位同樣衣著十分鮮艷的女士種的, 我們就暫且稱她為Maggie.

When Halloween approaches, you find pumpkins as well as many different squashes at the market- some are small and colourful with various shapes, some are simply BIG! Last week, we spotted an attractive stall which only sells one product- spaghetti squash. And these squashes are all grown by this very brightly dressed lady! Since I don’t know her name, lets call her Maggie here.

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Maggie 的攤位停着一輛接著拖車的自行車, 我們一開始想:她大慨住不遠, 所以一路載著她的瓜寶寶們來市場賣. 聊了一下才發現她的菜園在英格蘭西南的Somerset, 這個地方到倫敦大概有三小時車程, 哇!她真的很有心哪!雖然只有一種產品, 我們到的時候幾乎快賣光了. 比較成熟的瓜風味較深, 但子也多, 需要把子挖出來另外烤; 年輕一點的瓜, 則是除了瓜柄外的每個部分都可以吃.

Maggie’s stall has a bicycle with a trailer. We thought she does not live far in the beginning but only discovered that her allotment is actually at Somerset (3 hours drive from London) after a chat. Mmm… She really has made quite a bit of efforts to share these produce! Even she only sells one thing, by the time we saw her stall, her squashes were almost all gone. The riper ones have deeper flavour, but the seeds needs to be baked separately; apart from the pedicle, every part of the young ones can be consumed.

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我們躍躍欲試地買了半顆嫩瓜, 回家後把外皮沖了一下水, 淋上一些橄欖油, 放進烤箱以大約200ºC 烤個40分鐘, 就可以享用了典型的懶人食物. 烤完後的瓜肉呈現麵條(或魚翅)般一條條的質感, 對於不想吃太多米麵類食物或是吃素的人, 是增加飲食變化的好選擇; 因為它有趣的特質, 即使不喜歡吃菜的小孩們, 也很難抵抗它的吸引力. 食用時可以當成麵一般, 搭配醬汁、烤蔬菜、咖喱或燉菜一起吃. 吃不完的話, 隔天做成濃湯或混合麵粉做成炸餅應該也很可口. 我們當天晚上有一個小Party, 把瓜瓜麵就着泰式咖喱吃, 別有一番清新風味, 因為太受歡迎了, 沒有剩菜可以實驗濃湯或炸餅

We bought half a young one with excitement and just simply rinse the outer skin, sprinkle the flash with olive oil, and stick the half squash into a 200ºC oven for around 40 minutes, then it’s done! The cooked flash has the texture of spaghetti. For people who do not want to consume too much rice or pasta, spaghetti squash offers an alternative. It is a fun vegetable popular to children- even those who don’t like veggies! It goes well with various sauces, stew, curry, roast vegetables…etc.. The leftover squash can be made into soup or croquette the next day. Very versatile indeed! We served our baked squash with Thai curry in a dinner party that night and we hadn’t got enough leftovers to try out the soup or croquette!

想拜訪更多倫敦的農夫市集嗎? To know more about London’s Farmer’s Markets:

http://www.lfm.org.uk/

 

有趣的水果:榲桲及貼梗海棠 Quince and Japanese quince

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有趣的水果:榲桲及貼梗海棠 Quince and Japanese quince

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這些蘋果不像蘋果, 梨子不像梨子的水果們, 大的叫榲桲, 小的叫貼梗海棠. 今年倫敦的氣候對於水果生長特有利, 這兩種金黃色的果子, 我們收了整整一大盤, 擺在客廳, 滿室生香, 讓人忍不住想咬一口~ 美中不足的是, 這哥倆們又硬又酸, 得加工過後才能發揮潛質.
今天一早上我就忙著把小顆的做成果醬, 煮的時候整屋子蜂蜜的味道, 做成的果醬散發着橘紅色的光澤, 很是可口的樣子. 下午茶時間把果醬搭着山羊乳酪和餅乾一起吃, 絕配!至於大顆的呢, 通常我們喜歡把它加在中東風味的燉羊肉以降低油膩感, 或者, 酌量加在蔬菜咖哩也很不錯喔!


This year, we have got reasonably good harvest of quinces(big) and Japanese quinces(small). When they are ripening, they fill the room with such sweet cent that you can’t resist wanting to have a bite on the fruit. But wait a moment!! Do you have very strong teeth and stomach??
These golden apple (or pear) alike fruit are definitely edible, however, best being enjoyed when they are cooked; normally hard and sour when eaten raw….
I like cooking Persian style lamb stew with quinces and making jelly from Japanese quinces. After a morning’s hard work, yes, quince jelly with goat’s cheese and biscuits is my reward of the day!

這兩種水果雖然同屬薔薇科植物(和玫瑰、蘋果、梨子同家族)且味道相近, 但是外觀卻差很多. 榲桲是個子高大的喬木、樹葉形狀接近長橢圓形、花朵為淺粉紅色、花瓣尖長, 雖然如今不是那麼流行,在中古世紀果園裡卻佔有一席之地. 17世紀英國的食譜裡, 榲桲的食譜比其它水果都多, 人們通常將它做成鹹派、甜派或果餅, 講究一些的會在果餅上用木製圖章印上美麗的圖案. 貼梗海棠是有刺的灌木, 在英國的庭園裡常栽植作為籬笆, 以阻止閒雜人等接近, 在中文世界裡, 我們通常稱它為木瓜花, 是受歡迎的盆栽植物, 葉子比較圓且有著鮮艷的桔紅色花朵, 我的舅舅曾經有一盆木瓜花盆栽, 我到現在還記得他拜倒木瓜花裙下那著迷且興奮的神情! 貼梗海棠開花的時間接近農曆新年, 在英倫寒冷的冬天, 這個時間庭園裡並沒有很多的植物開花, 我們剪了幾條花枝, 把刺去掉後插在花瓶裡很喜氣!

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Although quince and Japanese quinces are both in the family Rosaceae (same as rose, apple and pear) and taste similar, they have very different appearances- quince being tall, big tree and Japanese quince being thorny shrubs. Quince has been grown as an orchard plant since the 13th century. It may not be so common nowadays, but in the medieval time, people used to make quince paste stamped with beautiful patterns and many sweet and savory quince pie recipes were recorded in the cook books then! Here in England, Japanese quinces is often grown as hedges to stop intruders. However, in the oriental world, Japanese quince or Chinese quince are popular bonsei plants! My uncle used to have one of these and I have always remembered how much he was fascinated by its orange-red flowers! Japanese quince flowers in late winter, early spring. There are not many garden plants in bloom this time of the year. A few flowering branches of Japanese quince will certainly brighten up the living room and create festive atmosphere to your home!

番紅花蕊 (新鮮現採的喔~)Freshly picked saffron stamens~

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番紅花蕊 (新鮮現採的喔~)Freshly picked saffron stamens~

你可能對這些細緻的紅絲覺得陌生, 但喜歡吃西班牙海鮮飯的朋友, 對這道菜那獨特的香氣及金黃的顏色一定不陌生. 提到這道菜, 就想到我的西班牙美女朋友Antonia, 她雖然住在倫敦, 是一位在大公司上班、忙碌且現代化的上班族, 煮起這海鮮飯, 不論是選材或烹煮, 卻都依循着媽媽的食譜跟做法, 一點也不馬虎. 感覺上, 因為人們對於食物美味的堅持, 生活文化也就如此傳承下來了~

番紅花蕊, 以重量換算, 曾經比黃金更加珍貴, 就是那香氣及顏色的來源. 紫色的小花在秋天盛開, 花蕊又細又小, 每一根都要在花謝之前採收, 大大地考驗眼力與耐心呀!貴, 不是沒道理的. 正因它的珍貴, 不論是食用藥用或作為染劑, 它都獲得宮廷或寺廟的青睞呢!

這個週末做道紅花米飯來宴請貴客吧~

I love freshly picked saffron stamens! The vibrant colour and unique fragrance brought one into an exotic and mysterious world. So light, as if they are the essence of an invisible golden age, the supreme offering human beings are able to find on earth!

Saffron reminds me of buddhist temples. Water coloured golden by saffron stamens is poured into hundreds of small glasses or big bowls, placed on the tables as an offering which said to bring happiness and wealth provided the person is sincere. It also reminds me of my lovely Spanish friend, Antonia. Although Antonia is a modern and busy office lady living in London, when it comes to cooking saffron flavoured paella, she is as serious as you can imagine- from choosing the materials to the order and tips of cooking, she follows the family recipe passed down by her mum. Her genuine will of preserving the home taste of paella seems to have preserved part of the Spanish culture!

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我們種植番紅花的因緣來自一位愛好種植的朋友Marianne, 因為她種的球根繁殖迅速, 她很慷慨地送了我們50. 這小紫花其實也不難種, 只要是排水良好、陽光充足的地方, 它都長得好!每年夏末秋初把它們種下, 給予充足的水分, 陽光普照的日子裡, 就可以看到花兒們迎風搖曳. 我們把它們種在陽台以方便採收, 花謝後葉子持續長長並垂下, 像是綠色長髮似的!這長髮一挂就挂到來年4~5月才變黃髮. 此時把球根挖出來放在乾燥的地方, 可以重覆使用~

We bumped into our allotment enthusiast friend, Marianne, on a Sunday morning. Her saffron plants have multiplied so much that she has got no extra space to plant them! She invited us to grow the surplus and very generously gave us 50 bulbs. We have planted them in the window box for easy picking. They thrive at a sunny position with well drained soil. You just need to water them well until they flower. The leaves keep growing long as if the princess dropping her long hair down the tower! These green hair turns yellow in April to May suggesting you to dig the bulbs out and store them for next season~

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