Monthly Archives: October 2011

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My english is crappy, but are there enough swedes out there who care?

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Autumn’s gifts

Sweet lord of jesus it is laaaate! And yet here I am writing a blog entry in very poor english while listening to the same songs over and over again. I feel a slight regression….

So! Today was an exciting day! Me and my beloved husband went to the beach to get some mulch material in the form of seaweed! In the spring we also made a crappy sheet mulch with a bit of seaweed but because it was spring and people starting showing up at the beach a big ass tractor came and removed it all. Now in the fall there is a ton of seaweed, so go get some for your compost or your garden beds!

When we got to the alotment the lawnmowing man (I’m presumptously assuming it’s a man) had mown all of the lawn on the outside of our plot, which meant even more mulch material in the form of grassclippings (a very good mulch material)! Plus leaves are falling like crazy so you just say thank you and gather it all in a pile. We don’t have a rake but luckily for us there is a golf course right beside our plot and there they have these pits of sand with rakes in every single one of them! Plus a huge mountain of old trees and boards and other useful stuff that they probably use for burning witches. Yeah cus they burn it all down and then we are left with a bunch of ashes to get, which is great to mix into the soil. So many gifts!

So in the amazingly beautiful autumn mist we finished the sheetmulching we had started, we still have alot left but next week we are both “free” and now that the good lord is sending us mulch materials in all kinds of forms we might just have mulched the whole thing next week. What is sheet mulching and why does it seem so important you ask? Sheet mulching is a way of getting great soil withouth disrupting the soil and dig it to pieces. It’s basically putting a bunch of organic material like compost and manure under (or over, depends on the technique) newspapers that will prevent any weeds from growing and at the same time create a soft humid compost soil underneath. You usually top it with straw and then you just sit back, relax and have a smoothie while nature does all the work!

Rachid thought I should bend over a bit so that mulching looks like work, which it's not.

Our plot is in dyer need of this treatment, when we got it in April this year it was an abandoned plot that no one lasted very long on. It was a meadow of weed, it still is. Very beautiful, but the soil was so compact and had a greyish layer once we got to see it. A bit like cement. We made two keyhole beds in the spring with horse manure, but thats about all the improvment we could manage since we spent all summer in Spain. Now the whole plot is covered in grass and other evil plants. They shall all crumble under the sheet of mulch!

Then we planted garlic! Yeeey! Planting garlic is very easy, you just put it in the ground. That’s pretty much what we did. We covered it with grassclippings as an indication to the grass that we will mulch there so there is no point in growing. We’ll se how that goes.

And of course, I made a delicious meal when we got home. On the alotment I have alot of time to think about what to eat later. I got nostalgic and made a dish I used to make as a vegetarian teen, with mock chicken and microwaved potatoes. Now I’m a grown up, a woman, a wife. So I made

BAKED POTATOES WITH CURRIED PUMPKIN AND TUNA FILLING

We picked a pumpkin from the plot in the park about two weeks ago and I have already made 5 dishes with it and I can make at least two more with it. It was a Dill’s Atlantic Giant pumpkin, they can get as big as 600 kg, so this one was a teeny little baby in comparison.

For this dish you need baked potatoes, DON’T buy special big potatoes for baking, like I did, they are just big potatoes that cost four times more than normal potatoes. Just get the biggest ones of the regukar cheap ones instead.  Bake them in the oven 220 degrees for about an hour if they are big and 45 minutes if they are ordinary.

For the filling you grate a piece of pumpkin (about 300-400 g), slice one onion and one clove of garlic. Fry the onion in oil until soft, add garlic and currypowder, fry for a minute or two and then add a can of tuna (can be excluded of course or replaced by chicken which makes much more sense than tuna) fry another minute and add the pumpkin. Now for the pumpkin needs to fry for quite a while to get that soft, sweet flavour. It will give up juice that it will boil in. Only after about 20 minutes does the sweetness come out (this is the case with this yellow pumpkin anyway). When the pumpkin melts when you put it in your mouth it is done. Add cream fraiche and voila! Serve with sallad and go to bed happy!

Tomorrow I’m gonna talk about chickory!

Gonatt!

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Twisting and turning in the system

The system! The Man!

I’m glad I got that out of my system. Systeeeem!! It’s a weird word, system. Sounds like syster and cysta and stem and something a bit sci-fi. I am writing to you today since I left me apartment to join other systemized people in the library of the system, to study the system from the systems point of view (haha I was reading Hamlet). It was ridiculously full of people, all wanting their piece of the system. Stuffing there heads full of it while consuming the edible parts of the system from aluminium wraps and plastic bottles with vitamin signs. Eagerly they were leaning over their laptops and books, as if they were a herd of thirsty desert animals that after days of walking finally found a stream. But as the minutes past on the clock on the wall their faces looked more and more drained, their posture weakened as they slouched more and more on their chairs and I just kept blowing my nose.

The guy in front of me in the quite reading section of the library left after I came, guess it was unbareable for him to sit opposite of such a beautiful young woman, I mean how could he concentrate on whatever boring thing he had dedicated his life to pursue with me on the other side of the table? He left understandebly and all was divinly quite and I couldn’t start blogging, or cleaning or make a new recipe or nothing so I dived into Hamlets weird danish world and was quite consumed by it and my own parallel line of thoughts about it when a girl made an entrance and very loudly dumped all of her five thousand things on the by the man oh so distracted by my beauty, abandoned seat in front of me, while examining the titles of my books. She disappeared for a while and I went back to Denmark. She returned and the first thing she did after putting her humungous book that i suppose was the book of the swedish law with lots of colorful marks in it, on some sort of bookstand was to get a bunch of papers and rip them apart in quite a dramatic fashion.

Uh-oh I thought, this will be a distracting person. And right I was, after that she started glueing papers to her notebook, rip the sides of papers, flip the pages of her notebook and distribute tiny stickers on them for like half an hour. I was like AAAMAGAWD what is wrong with you!?!? Can’t you do that at home? Must you pollute the air of this disciplined place of system worship with your noise and glue? I tried to manifest my disapproval of her noisiness with sighing and looking up from my book every now and again with a stern look. But she was in her own world of glue and stickers. So my study time was justifibly ruined since I could do nothing but observe this creature on the other side on the table and wonder; who the fuck was she? Why do some girls my age get so obsessed with glue and rubbers and stickers? Is their idea of a great time going shopping at the office supply store? Do they have blogs of their own where they go all like “Today I got a new stapler! It’s grey!” Did something horrible happen to her to make her so manic? She seemed to get upset at her notes all the time and was filling in already perfectly visible letters with her mouth tightly pursed. She scared me. She had a pen from the swedish church. Was her father an evil priest that abused her as a child? Or was her father a very strict christian that brainwashed her with fear? These things I will never know, and I didn’t finish Hamlet either.

Autumn is here for real now, grey sky for all eternity until spring arrives. Good thing about the system in these times is music! Tom Waits has a new album! And I just found Lana del Rey, the kings wool.

Enjoy it!

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Forest garden inventorial, tutorial try out….or something

Hello Everyone and welcome to yet another day of persistent and fantabulous bloggin!
For all you permaculture freaks out there (Rachid, this one’s for you. Nananana nana nanananaaaa….while soft piano plays alluring tones), today I was at a sort of recon meeting with a bunch of weirdos with nothing better to do (like myself) at a site on the outskirt of one of Malmös many horrendous housing project very close to the highway. And you know close to the highway means, what now? That’s right, alotments! (Whooo! Whooo!) Anyway the city of Malmö is planning some sort of recreational park there, with a barbecue area, a water thing that will run all along the city (I picture a very long waterslide or flumride) gardens with plants from different parts of the world, and a forest garden! The last thing is why I was there, mainly because Rachid couldn’t go since he had school so someone had to represent the Mesbah’s.

(I still have no idea what a forest garden is, apart from the fact that it is an edible forest which may be all you need to know, although that could be misleading as it sounds like a gingerbread house kind of deal.) The little grove where we will make the forest garden in had been planted by one of the elderly permaculture dudes about thirty years ago so he had a whole bunch of information about the place that he gladely shared while I drifted in and out thinking about my blog and what would I say about this on the blog and would this picture be good on the blog and so forth. You see how seriously I take this blogging career!

So this forest garden project that we all are oh so very interested in is actually quite exciting because the actual, physical creation of it will not start for at least a year which means we have a ton of time to get to know the site, to design it thouroughly and invite people who live in the neighbourhood to take part and give there point of view. This part excites me alot since alot of permaculture and ecological edible landscape projects usually take place in the countryside, making them very inaccessible to city folk. And housing projects like this one house so many different people with so many different experiences and points of view so if we can get the “locals” in the mix I think it could get really exciting! Problem is that these sort of activities are usually run by already very well informed people who might have a hard time letting go of their projects, and these projects need a certain level of education about permaculture which is a problem in its own when wanting to involve the locals, since it’s such a hard thing to grasp and learn in a short time. So how this will work out is also very exciting!

What we did on our first studygroup visit to the grove that is the become a forest garden was to look at what was growing there. There were all sorts of things that had been planted there 30 years ago to “imitate” nature explained the former park technician. We found a whole bunch of hazel, a whole bunch of alpine currant (Måbär), there was some elderberry bushes (fläderbuskar) som hip bushes (nypon) and sloe (slånbär) and black currant. Moreover there was mallow leaves (malva), which are edible, wild cherry (fågelbär) and hawthorn (hagtorn, inte att förvirras med havtorn som är nåt helt annat). There were also alot of trees that we probably will get rid of like beech trees since they shade everything underneath them, although you can appearantly eat its nuts and they say it is delicious. There were also maple trees and birch which both give good syrup. So the edibility rate of the place was already quite high.

Home of the forest gardenHazel and alpine currantThe projects, a part of the grove and alotments!

What’s the next step in making a forest garden? Someone is making a map, that’s all I know for sure. If you want to know more, stay tuned for more happy forest garden days! (Next time is in a month, if anyone lives in Malmö and is interested, everybody’s welcome!) I will soon go to my own garden and do more sheet mulching which is a must at our plot, and plant garlic! The autumn is a very exciting time to be in the garden. More about that another day. Good night to you all!

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And now, the first mandatory recipe of the blog!

Good evening dear readers!

I have not made an herb spiral as of yet but I have however retreived the plants required for it from another plot in a park here in Malmö. While there I also got a bunch of kale! I love kale and it grows really well in this godforsaken climate and tastes even better as the cold bites harder. So being that today was the first real autumny day with grey sky, icy wind you know the works, I decided to make a delicious meal. And a delicious meal I made, I present to you:

POTATOE AND KALE GRATIN WITH TURKEY FILET AND APPLE SAUCE!

For the potatoe and kale gratin you need:

A bunch of potatoes

Kale

cream

onion

garlic

salt n pepa (s here and we’re in effect want you to push it babe…..)

cheese!

You slice and boil the kale in salt water for a while, about 15 minutes. Slice potatoes, garlic onions and put a layer of this in an ovenproof thing, spread over some kale and repeat. Cover it all with cream and cheese. In the oven for about 45 minutes?

Now you make apple sauce, which is like äppelmos but I made it savory. For this you need:

a bunch of apples

some lemon peel

lemon juice

cinnamon

a bit of sugar (I had some white sugar and a smidget of clayed sugar (farin socker))

salt n pepa (s here and we’re in effect want you to pusch it babe…..)

peel the apples and dice em, put them with all the other ingredients in a pot to boil for about 15 minutes or until soft and gewy. Add a bit of water for more saucelike character.

And the turkey you fry on all sides and then pop it in the oven with a thermometer until it says 70 degrees then it is done. Salt n pepa (you know the drill!) and slice and serve with the other goodies! Enjoy!

The time has come to plot for independence!

So, here we are, me and my husband Rachid, in the middle of the small city Malmö in the south of Sweden following the path to grown up life by taking student loans and studying. All the while wishing we had our own parcel of land somewhere where we could make our dream of self-suffiency come true. We have tried, with little success to live outside of the system in Morocco but we found the system reeling us in again and again. Finally we gave in and said to ourselves “why not use the system to get what we want?”. Therefor we came back to Sweden, where I grew up, to study and get more or less high-paying, but more importantly, stable and meaninful jobs that could give us the opportunity to save money and buy a piece of land somewhere.

So, here we are, living in a big flat in the middle of the city, letting the system get us. But we wont let it swallow us whole, so this spring we got an alotment! An alotment is here in Sweden, a small piece of land, in our case it’s 150 square meters, that the city allots among anyone who is interested. You simply stand in line. wait for a letter that gives you an overview of the area of alotments and you pick one. You sign a contract and pay a small fee every year for water. If you live in Sweden just search for odlingslotter on your towns homepage. If you don’t live in Sweden and have never heard of this sort of deal, find out if your town or city has this and if not demand it! Every future city should have a huge amount of alotments close to where people live to end the complete reliance of the countryside to supply food for cities. Another thing you can do is ask your town office for a piece of land in the city that is not being used and make a community garden.

Our lite plot is not very close to our apartment. In fact it is, like most alotments, placed on the very edge of the city closed to a highway and/or railway. Why are the alotments here you ask? Well simply because you can’t build houses so close to the road. Luckily for us we have found a place next to a golf-course, where an old and no longer used railway seperates the golf course from the alotments. It is still pretty close to the highway but you still get a sense of peace and a slight image of what life on the countryside must be like. Pure bliss! Now I just talked to our Nicholas who share our alotment with us about going there to make an herb-spiral. I will get back to you with pictures of our success! Until then, start plotting!