Category Archives: Food

Growing ginger, waiting for rain

Heyheyhey!

Today I’ve finally done some work in the garden! Inspired, and a bit stressed, by the prospect of rain. The clouds are heavy and very present, the air heavy with humidity. And we haven’t finished mulching! This is no disaster but better for us if we mulch while the grass is dead, to keep it that way. So today we went around the village of Puerto Engabo and asked for cardboard and got mostly old egg cardboard. Then we rushed on home thinking it would rain any second and mulch as much as we could with the small amount of cardboard we had gathered. And then I remembered I had bought ginger (that already had sprouted a bit) at the market in Playas and that now was the perfect time to do it as the rainy season will start any second now.

About growing ginger: it doesn’t like direct sunlight, but filtered so I put it in the one shady and sheltered spot furthest away in the garden since we wont be harvesting in a long time and not often. It needs a lot of mulch since it likes humidity, the soil must never dry out! We sheet mulch so the soil will probably, hopefully, be rich and moist and happy. I chopped up some extra cow manure that Rachid had brought to make sowing soil and sprinkled it over the dry grass we had gathered in a panic.  Then I put the cardboard on top, cut holes in them and inserted the ginger about ten centimeters into the mulch. Then I breastfed Soleiman that could bear it no longer that mommy was doing something else than giving him my full attention, as Rachid did the final touches and added the seedless straw on top. Now it better rain like crazy!

Ginger is a beautiful plant, looks like a sort of grass and it makes bulbs that you then harvest (after a looong wait). It is not the root, you can read a better text about growing ginger here. I have only grown ginger once before in not-at-all-tropical Sweden, indoors and that went great although I kinda neglected the plant. I highly and strongly recommend growing ginger wherever you are, as it is delicious, healthy, beautiful and so easy to grow. Yesterday I also took bits of a lemongrass plant and put them on the banana circle, so soon, Nadija my friend and the owner of this garden, will be making all sorts of amazing thaifood. Mmm….

Enjoy photos!

Ginger

Ginger

Cardboard puzzle, you have to overlap them so that no grass can come through!

Cardboard puzzle, you have to overlap them so that no grass can come through!

Ginger anyone?

Ginger anyone?

Sprouted side up!

Sprouted side up!

One bed mulched!

One bed mulched!

Will the lemongrass survive?

Will the lemongrass survive?

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Omagad we’re back again…

Yes, it is a Backstreet Boys song and yes I am back and yes and yes and yes! Why on earth did I just stop blogging those of you who googled sloeberries and have no idea about my withdrawl from the blogworld, might wonder. Well I got pregnant that summer, and was nauseas most of the time and had no interest in growing anything but baby. Although the old plot was quite beautiful that last summer, my own plot however was just filled with dandelions and so Rachid won that war but I won the who can give birth without any painkillers war. Now the old plot is but a memory and evened with the ground. Sad yes. So why am I starting the blog up again those of you who get an email whenever I post might wonder. Well, I have a new exciting new plot challenge to fail at and of course I want you all to be a part of it!

I am in Ecuador! In Puerto Engabao on the coast were my good friend has opened up a hostel.  She wants an edible garden and who do you call when you want a garden? Me so I can tell Rachid. And so here we are, in som sort of dry tropics (contradictory I know) by the sea where you can grow practically anything that is delicous. Rachids dream come true! (This blog is sponsored by Rachid) So yes, and I’m here too, pretending I know and care but really just getting lost in litterature and hammock hanging. And childcare of course. But still, looking and thinking at an about the garden is filling me with joy, let’s see how the work feels. So it’s gonna be a permaculture garden, of course. It actually already has a banana circle and Rachid went and picked donkey poop and dried grass from our extremely ugly surroundings consisting of just that. But soon the rains will fall and appearantly everything will turn green in accordance with ones image of south american coast lines. So first thing to do, as always in permaculture is to design and mulch.

I have already started a design that’s inspired by the surfwaves that roll by on the beach since this hostel is basically a surf shelter (although anyone is welcome! This post is also brought to you by Hostel Puerto Engabao). Pictures of the plot before can be seen below and this time I swear to produce some kick ass after pictures! Or as kick ass as a tropical permaculture garden can get after three months.

Stay tuned!

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Summa summa summatime!

Almooooost….sooooo cloooose….sooooon….aaaarrrggghhh my fingers are itching like crazy to get the fuck away from this here keyboard and out into the world of winds and fragrances and sensations. But first I have to finish my class in humanecology and write about the importance of gardening. It’s very interesting stuff but my mind is tired now and my body awake and ready to work. Meanwhile on the new plot, I have dug with the assistance of some young charming chaps and made a maze of soil so far. It looks amazing and I will get back to you with pictures. I have sown lettuce, beets, onions, salsify, broad beans, flax, carrots and spinach. The flax is green manure, meaning that it gives the soil nutrients as it grows, and I have made sort of a half circle with it to make a windbreak and a suncatcher in the keyhole. The other stuff is growing except the carrots and the broad beans that haven’t emerged yet. In the eye-shaped bed I have planted artichokes, marigold (the edible kind) and mangold. Thai basil and regular basil also but I think they are dead….Oh and comfrey in the keyhole bed.

When school’s out for summer I will read up on companion planting, fix the pond once and for all and dig up the last beds on the new plot. The new plot is so beautiful, the apple tree just flowered in white and pink and below it is a meadow of wild strawberries. And now I have an island of raspberry plants and I harvested some rhubarb (what was left of it after someone had stolen some of it…allotment criminality…I want their heads on spikes around the plot (yes I watch Game of Thrones, who doesn’t?)) that was delicious. And yesterday on the old plot we harvested big and beautifully red radishes from our own saved seeds, some spinach and ruccola that is delicious. Also some sage and thyme and a tiny undeveloped garlic. The developed garlic plants are up to my knee now…I’m so looking forward to harvesting them! We made a sallad and put some flowers from the chives on my new plot in it, yummy! Each flower has a whole bunch of small flowers that each have a very distinct chive taste. That was our first real harvest, the first of millions to come! I love summer!

 

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Another plot for independence + pond update!

Yes, finally I have my own small parcel of laaaaand! I was sent the letter with the plots available about two weeks ago, there were only five! The demand for allotments is really high right now and I take full credit! Haha no but really, it is amazing seeing all these people working really hard to produce their food, every single allotment is occupied on the sunny weekends, everyone hard at work planting, sowing, even mulching! And a whole bunch of young people are invading to the veterans of the place great amusement. My plot is beautiful! One we were thinking about chosing over the one we did chose before when we could choose the first time, but this one is 130 square meters and not 150 as the other one. Therefor this one will be more of a leisure garden as the other one is under intensive cultivation, there’s not even room to sit. My plot alreaady has a full grown and producing apple tree, strawberries, rhubarb, morrocan mint, lots of raspberries, chives, wormwood and what I think is lovage (libbsticka). So there’s not a whole lot I need to do to make it a perennial garden. I will plant more herbs, the benifical flowers that I presented in this post and sneak in some vegetables in between. A greenhouse has to be built as well, we have a ton of tomato and chili seedlings, some pepper and eggplant that need the warmth. And of course I will dig a pond!

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So what happened to the other pond on the other plot? Well I soaked it with water and used its own soil as plaster so that when it dried it would be like the wall of a mud house. This worked very well except for the fact that I didn’t return the next day to fill it up so it got all cracked. But cracks aside I will fix this today and make another layer and fill it in and I’m sure it will work great! Other news on the other plot is that the garlic is growing like crazy, looking really good and healthy. The husband planted comfrey, and he and Nick have been sowing lots of leafy plants and some peas and carrots while I was at home writing an essay about Detroit and about reclaiming the power over food. The husband was in a bit of a hurry in the beginning of the season and planted peas that died instantly and sowed leafy plants and carrots that never came up, this was a month ago. Now the weather is fantabulous and there seems to be no risk for frost so hopefully they will all emmerge through the mulch. Meanwhile at home, we are drowning in seedlings, and they just keep coming!

And here’s a dish the husband made out of nettles, pine nuts and raisins that was amazlingly yummy and almost free!

Today is a great day for digging! I will keep you posted on pond activities and new design for new plot! Meanwhile, grow with god!

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Pickled herring!

So christmas is coming along and I am every day more and more like Martha Stewart. It’s quite frightening but a better kind of psycho to be than say Breivik or that guy that threw grenades and started shooting people for no apparant reason. Those are the scariest ones. The ones with no reason. But let’s not get too upset in these times of happy consumerism and overindulgence. Let’s pickle some herring instead. This is indeed a must on the swedish christmas table as we call it. We usually never have it in my family, we’ve always had a half swedish christmas. No ham, no herrings. Maybe just one symbolic jar that my father would struggle to eat just for the sake of it. But now times have changed, the children have grown up to be confused by their eating habits and after having wandered through the paths of veganism and different stages of vegetarianism we have ended up on the adult side of life. Where you just shut up and eat. And being that I’m not only carnivora ultimata I am also swedish food local produce freak. So this “morning” I went down to the fishermen that are always so nice and bought some salted herring and asked a bit about pickeling it. It’s such a great place to be, not only because they sell fish from their own tiny fishing boats but the general atmosphere is great. Everyone exchanging recipes or just stopping by for a chat. There is almost none of that beautiful communtiy feeling left in todays supermarket ruled world so everytime I run into it I get ridiculously sentimental.

Now for the pickeling, it is one of those long ass processes that I love. And it starts with making a solution for the herring to pickle in and then putting your salted herring in water for 1 hour if you keep the water running over it, 4 hours if you change the water once, and 8 hours if you just put it in water. I’m using a recipe from this book, but this is just the chemical part that pickles the herring and gives it a bit of flavour but the real flavouring comes a week later.

PICKELED HERRING

1 ltr of water

7 dl sugar

3 1/2 dl vinegar (12%)

2 red onions

1 small leek

1 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp allspice

4 bay leaves

Slice the vegetables and boil it all up, let it cool overnight. I will let it cool over day. Then for the good stuff.

6 salted herring filets

1 carrot, finely sliced

1 leek, finely sliced

1 yellow onion, finely sliced

5 cloves

10 allspice seeds

4 bay leaves

Put the herring in stone or glass jar, layer the vegetables in between the herring and put the solution over it all so that is covered good. Let it sit for a week in the fridge. Cut it into fork sized pieces, that is the end of the fork. I will get back to you with the flavourings. I’m thinking a classical mustard one, then a juniper berry and red onion one, and the last one I’m not sure yet. Any ideas? I’m also gonna pickle beet roots with the same solution as the one above but I will get back to that another time. Until then, yeeeeey!

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Root loaf!

So yes this is indeed turning into a food blog! Dear god noooo! But don’t fret I will soon post something about the almighty plot! Meanwhile I’m going crazy in the kitchen making weird food and other stuff. Lots of glögg of course. I watched an episode of the very annoying guy at River Cottage‘s show and he made a gratin of salsify and some other similiar root. I love salsify and will grow the hell out of that next season! Being that half of the show consisted of him eating various delicious foods I got pretty hungry and since the only thing I had at home was roots I went ahead to make a gratin myself. But I didn’t want to wait for big chunks of stuff to get cooked in the oven and I didn’t want to cheat and boil them first so I grated all of it. A nice arm workout. While mixing it all together, looking at the red colour and feeling the consistency I thought of meat loaf and how I could turn this into a loaf.

When I was vegetarian I used to look longingly at the picture of the nut steak that looked suspiciously much like a meat loaf in the good old Crank’s cook book (AKA the vegetarian bible). I made it one day and was disgusted by that dry log on my plate. This is a much better alternative, it is so much cheaper, much juicier and it’s bright red! Looks like christmas on your plate with some rice and yoghurt. Try it out bitches!

ROOT LOAF WITH BAKED LEEKS

4 beet root

2 carrots

1 piece of root sellery

1 parsnip

3 cloves of garlic

1 dl white wine

1 dl bread crums

1 dl cream (optional)

2 twigs of fresh rosemary, chopped

a pinch or two of cayenne

salt and pepper

sesame seeds (optional)

2 whole leeks

Heat the oven to about 200-250 degrees. Grate all the roots and mix in the other ingridients. Form a loaf in an oiled ovenproof thing spread sesame seeds over it and place the leeks beside them. Bake for about 45 minutes. The leeks will get burnt but just peel of the burnt parts. I have never baked leek before but I will again and again cus that was of the chaaiiin! Of course you can use any old root to make this. Just stay away from potatoes and you’re good to go! Good luck!

Rachid rates this 5 Selmas out of 5! A top score earned by creativity he says.

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Meaty stew!

So now that I am carnivora ultimata mega plus I am eating all sorts of meat! The other day my beloved made moroccan meatballs and right this second I am making a stew. Moroccan meatballs are beautiful, cooked in a sweet cinnamon smelling tomatoe sauce. I didn’t like these ones though, they were, as they should, made out of lamb meat. I have a childhood trauma with minced lamb meat, my grandmother would always buy real nice organic lamb mince and make traditional swedish meatballs with it. If you know what traditional swedish entails you might shiver yourself, it means absolutely no flavour. I tried to kill the sharp flavour of lamb with black currant jelly. The other thing about lamb is that it really taste of lamb, the animal. And since I’m a newbie on the meat eating scene I can’t eat it. Another reason is that the lamb tastes like the smell of the meat shop were the man in a bloody apron slams down your change with meatstained fingers. Don’t want store tasting meatballs, no not me. I can eat grilled lamb no prob.

So anyway now I’m making a stew using beef, good old boring beef. I couldn’t decide what kind of stew to make, I have never made a stew out of actual meat before. I have only made copy stews out of fake meat and chickpeas. They are also nice but without the bloooood it’s not the same. First I thought I’d make a french stew with wine, then a traditional swede one but both french and swedish have a no taste profile so I thought I’d make an ethiopian, like one I tried in Uppsala at the ethiopian restaurant. After about five hours of indecisivness I chose Selma style! (I am Selma). Selma style usually means cumin and cayenne (such a nice title for a food blog or my own restaurant!) and this is no exception, or it means copying what you once have eaten and adding cumin and cayenne and most probably lemon or its the ladder but with many different dishes. The stew I made today belongs in the that category, it’s basically fusion. It’s has swedish touches such as whole black pepper, bay leaves and carrots, and then a spicemix that is like the moroccan, the ethiopian and the sudanese cuisine all together! Here’s how that turned out:

SELMA’S STEW

1 kg beef

1/2 dl vegetable oil

2 big red onions

3-4 big tomatoes

4 cloves of garlic, sliced

2 big carrots

4 bay leaves

10 black peppar seeds

SPICEMIX

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ginger

1 tbsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Slice the onions into thin slices, cut the carrots in three and slice the garlic. Cut the meat into pieces about 3 cm big. Heat the oil, fry the meat until it gets brown around the edges. Add the onions, garlic and carrots. Stir every now and again. Add the bay leaves, the pepper and the spicemix. Chop the tomatoes very finely and add them too. Let it simmer for a while and then add boiling water that just covers the meat. Let the stew simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring and adding more water on occasion. Salt after preference.

I have no camera so I took very, very bad photos with the webcam. They are a disgrace to humankind so if you want to know how the dish looks, make it!

Rachid, the husband, has rated the dish to 4 Selmas out of 5! Right on!

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Mission completed! (Well kinda…not really…but hey!)

The saft is done! I looooove loooooong ass processes, like making sprouts or of course grow plants. To watch the seed pop up from the soil and every step of everyday of its tiny little  life. I want kids! They are so small. I had this baby, the saft and it wasn’t at all as hard to make as I thought it would be. It felt like we bounded during the days the berries were soaking. So I present to you

SLÅNBÄRSSAFT

for about a liter you need

1 kg sloe berries

1.5 liters of water

5-6 dl sugar

Thats it! Now the first thing to do if there has been no frost is to freeze the berries for 24 hours. Then boil the water and cover the berries, let them sit for another 24 hours. Repeat, using the same water, three times. The fourth time you add the sugar to the water and boil it, skim it and bottle it. Voila! Delicious homemade saft! To make the glögg you just add spices, but I’m gonna get back to you with the perfect formula! Until then, cheers!

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Slånbärssaftglögg step 1

My life is just a big sit in front of my computer. I thank the almighty lord (this blog is making me very religious) for the small glimpses of “nature” that I’m allowed. The garden, which we are still mulching with great success, is like a fairytale. I will soon post our design, it is very ellaborate and cool (I had absolutely nothing to do with it)! And this weekend we will go buy berry bushes inshallah. Exciting exciting indeed! I picked one of the chicory heads (and a few tiny ones that were too close to other heads) that I have so beautifully portrayed in my chicory post and I will make a pasta with that and some leek and parsley also from the garden. Yesterday when we were there the frost was there in the shape of waterdrops ready to freeze and yet everything is still growing. It’s amazing. The chicory is getting redder and redder everyday and is so beauitful I am really in love with this plant! Another plant I have fallen in love with is sloe. I have started the saft (cordial?) and am amazed about this procedure and about the fact that there are tons of these delicious berries out there for free! It’s like a weed that the city plants out! Can’t get any better than that.

So step one of the saft is to take the frozen or frost “bitten” berries, measure them up and cover them with the same amount of boiling water. Let them sit for 24 hours or so, the water drains the berries of their goods. After 24 hours, strain the now completely red water and boil it and cover the berries with the same water again. Repeat for about 3-5 days depending on how you want it. My red water already has that distinguished taste of sloe that is so rich and deep, but I will keep at it until at least sunday. I love it! The next step is to boil the sloe water with sugar. Stay tuned!

Sloe love

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Slånbärssaftglögg! (Sloecordialmulledwine?)

Helloooooooo! Today was (yes it’s 3.30 pm and the day is coming to an end. Scandinavia! Whoo! Whoo!) a gorgoeus sunny day and I checked the paper to see if we’d had frost here yet. We had so that meant I could go down to the beach and pick some slånbär (sloe) to make saft! Saft is a swedish thing that I am oh so grateful for that I have never seen anywhere else, except other scandinavian countries (Scandinaviaaaaa!! Whooooo!). It’s basically a very concentrated fruit or berry juice that you mix with water right before you drink it. It has tons of sugar so it lasts forever and it is delicious! Although we allegedly already had frost, I put the berries in the freezer. I did this because they contain some sort of toxic cyanide that makes the berries really bitter and sour but that goes away with the frost. After that it’s a three day process to make the saft and after that I thought I’d use it to make glögg! Glögg is another swedish invention that I’m very grateful for! It’s a spiced wine that you drink warm at christmas with chopped almonds and raisins. I will not make the alcoholic version, swedes tend to put vodka and other stuff in their glögg, but I go all saftglögg! I will get back to you with the details.

Sloe grows everywhere around my parts and in all of Europe, you can even find it in north africa! It grows like a weed and has tons of berries that most birds don’t like due to its toxicity before the frost. So if you see berries like these, pick them and make saft! It is truly delicious!

Tootles!

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