Spring is here! And so are edible and benificial flowers

Oh ma gad oh ma gad oh ma gad!! Spring is here!!! With the promise of new life, love and general fulfillment (unless it rains all summer, then you have general suicidalness, but let’s hope not…) And a new growing season promising an abundance of life, love and food (unless it rains all summer…)! So I hope you have all planted your chilis and your artichokes and are ready for the intense planting that is about to take place these coming months when we pre-cultivate like maniacs to get a good start at the growing season! In our sunnyside window we have artichokes, chilis, celeriac (the root kind, appearantly wont grow unless you pre-cultivate it), sugar peas, comfrey, spinach and salad. And we tested radish seeds that we saved from our own crop last year and they all came up!  At the alotment the husband has bravely sown some different types and colored carrots, onions and radishes. Problem is the water is not yet turned on by the city and wont be for another month or so and it hasn’t rained for days…All the more reason to pre-cultivate inside where the water-supply is never ending.

I’m so excited about this season since it will be my first real one where I’m actually present, observing, harvesting and planting planting planting! We have decided to precultivate almost everything and keep on doing so throughout the season so that when one plant is harvested it is immediatly replaced by another. This way the garden will always be full of edible plants! But not all edible plants are vegetables and berries, we also have our edible and benificial flowers. Some of which an organic gardener can’t live without. Check it out! (And if you don’t want to read about these fascinating plants, please skip ahead to the motivational speech below.)

 

Borage is actually classified as an herb but has lots of blue edible flowers. Borage is great for your garden as a companion plant to tomatoes and brassicas among other things. It’s also edible and have many medicinal uses, it is said to help with PMS!

Calendula is very well known for its medicinal properties. It is a great flower to put in your salad, it dyes your food yellow and can be dried and used for tea. Very versitile plant and very pretty. Technically it’s a perennial but usually cold winters kills it. Good companion plant that brings out the neighbouring plants own repellents.

Marigold/Tagetes very well known plant that you can’t live without if your planting organically. It is very benificial since it repells bugs and nematodes which is a parasite worm, and supress weeds. Some varities are edible, like the one in the picture.

Flax/Linseed an amazing plant that gives very healthy seeds and makes a great fibre of which you can make almost anything from building materials to clothes. It’s also very beautiful and a good companion plant to potatoes and carrots.

Evening primose/Sun drop this beautiful flower blooms only at night! It is highly edible, the entire plant from root to seed can be eaten. The flowers for salads, the roots must be cooked and are said to have a similiar taste to parsnip and salsify. Very medicinal, oil from the seeds treat PMS, thrombosis, hyperactiveness, rheumatism and acne. Tea can be made from leaves and stalk to cure coughs and creams can be made of the same to treat eczema. Quite a tremendous plant that grows in poor soils.

 Echinacea very famous medicinal plant that is extentivly used in both modern and traditional medicin. Also a pretty flower and a perennial!

Marsh Mallow not to be confused with fluffy candy (althought it could be used to make it…) this is maybe the best example of a plant you should, you must have in your garden! It’s a perennial and that is always good for your garden, it is highly edible and medicinal and can be used for all kinds of stuff. The root can for example be used as a toothbrush! See link for all the gory details of this amazing plant that also has pretty flowers!

Doesn’t this just want to make you jump out of the window and start gardening? The sun is high up in the sky, the birds are singing frenetically and seeds are bursting with longing for that damp soil. So are my fingers, my hands my spirit. The garden is not just a good excuse to get outside and be active, it’s not only a provider of healthy food but it is also a direct connection between you and nature. A connection that has long ago been lost in our modern world but that we need to revive, despite the systems devious ways to keep us seperated. I strongly encourage any type of connection to the soil. If you don’t have a garden, an alotment or a balcony. The windowsill will do and if it gets to crowded, get out and put plants in places where you see a need for some aspiring life. It will make you and a lot of other people happy!

Garden power! Garden lust and love

Garden garden garden

A postponing post and a new challenge!

The word procrastinate fits me eeeeeeeew like a glove (two words: Ace Ventura). I’ve been meaning to post a long list of seeds that we bought and the design for the plot and some wise words about stuff I know absolutely nothing about, but nothing happens and now I see why. I can’t have a garden blog. A garden blog is for gardeners, biologists or retired housewifes niether of which I am even close too. Ok maybe the gardener is quite close since I do have a garden, and I’m about to get another one, but I have no right to actually go around calling myself a gardener as if I knew anything about manipulating nature.

On the other hand the whole point of this blog is to make people see that you don’t have to be a specialist to take care of your own needs like food. You don’t have to know anything or even be inclined towards gardening and still have a succesful outcome and an empowering experience. The thing is I have a lovely well red, natural science kinda husband who very well could qualify under the expert tab. I get no say in nothing because all my inputs about anything else but the aesthetics just proves how much I don’t have a clue about anything that has to do with creating life (in the non-human world that is).

Thats why, ladies and gentlemen, I’m getting my very own garden plot! Me and the beloved husband will have a show-down, allotment style! I am completely confident that he will win because I can’t abandon the original plot that would be like leaving your child during its first year when all the exciting things happen to it and when it needs you the most. But still, I shall prevail and be the proof to you all that with no, or very little knowledge, you can grow your own food! It’s not rocket science, it’s not even science, it’s pure survival baby.

By the end of this growing season you won’t have any excuse, so start growing basil on your windowsills and get some batik clothes cus come 2013, you are all bound to be a tad selfsufficient! WOHOOOOO!

and look, here’s the design! Pretty cool eh.

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Back and hungry for revolution!

Yes I know, I must’ve given you all quite a scare disappearing like that. Well I’m back now as a better, more noble me since I nowadays attend the very distinguished Lund University where I spend my time watching movies like this and wishing my professor would spontaneously combust after presenting his 60th slide on his powerpoint presentation that mainly consist of his half assed theories and google searched pictures.

That movie is amazing though, you must all watch it and that’s an order! It brings you back to the romanticizing days of Che in the jungle. This is just like Che in the jungle only much, much, much, much better. It’s called The Coconut Revolution and tells the tale of resistance and the first ever succesful eco-revolution. Very impressing indeed. And the most impressing thing is not how the inhabitants of the island Bougainville overthrow a powerful british mine company and kick them out using nothing but good old sabotage and then fight the Papa New Guinea army with homemade weapons and later win independence, no this is not the most impressing thing. And it’s not the fact that they live on a blocked island and manage to be completely self sufficient in fuel, medicine and all other things using only what the island has, what the mine company and various soldiers left behind and lot’s of creativity and will. This is very impressive, but it’s still not the most impressive thing about this movie.

What threw me the most was the pure and truly genuine feeling of responsibility these islanders had for their environment and coming generations. The guerilla leader worked for the mine company at first but when he saw what it did to the jungle, how it kept ruining it making the mine bigger, polluting the riversystem and moving the people from their homes into shantytowns where they saw none of the million dollar profits the company made of their land, he decided to take matters in his and his peoples hands. It started with sabotage and then continued with an armed conflict and ended up in a whole new society built by the islanders themselves without anything coming in from the outside. They have huge gardens, their own alternative medicine practice (that to me looked similiar to homoepathy) and even their own hydro power system that gives electricity 24hours a day. They are using the most unique gift of the human race; their creativity. And they fuel their own joy of living by putting this creativity into practice and making up life as it goes along. By their own rules and by their own belief, and all the while they are happy that they were blockaded by Papa New Guinea or they would still be kept in the chains of capitalism.

So why can’t we smart and amazing westerners feel the same thing about our environment? True we don’t have that much visible environmental problems that really visualize the extent of the pickle we have put ourselves in (and when I say we I mean our parents, bastards!) but still, we are fully aware and we keep cutting down forest, polluting streams and oceans and think nuclear is the answer. Why don’t we realize, like the Bougainvillers, that we must live in union with nature because we depend on it and our children depend on it? It is so simple and yet we wont lift a muthafuckin finger to do a god damned thing about anything. Well I say ENOUGH!

GO GROW A GARDEN FULL OF NECESSITIES AND GIVE YOUR CHILDREN, YOUR GRANDCHILDREN, YOUR GRANDGRANDCHILDREN AND SO ON A CHANCE AT A BEAUTIFUL, HARDSHIP FREE,  EXISTENCE IN A CLEAN AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD FULL OF LIFE!

Fade out professor-style with a googled image of a forest garden in Bougainville.

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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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The worlds cheapest and healthiest ice-cream!

Heeeello!

This blog is my positive side, where I use lots of exlamation marks and sound real chipper all the time! Throw in a recipe and Martha Stewart can go **** herself!

I don’t dumpster dive, but guess who has done that for me? Yes, that’s right. In the dumpster of the supermarket there is always a shitload of bananas. When I was living with a dumpster diver she always used to make an ice-cream using bananas and cocoa. I didn’t really appreciate it because I was back in Sweden after having lived in Morocco where there is no edible icecream and Sweden is the land of dairy so I was just eating regular ice-cream (and loving it!). But today I made it out of desperation, I don’t have any chocolate in the house!!! And it was great, almost free and healthy! (Martha Stewart…you cow…)

BANANA ICE-CREAM

frozen bananas

cocoa

Put the bananas in some hot water for a few minutes so that you can peel them. Cut them into pieces, mix them with a blender add cocoa and voila! You can also not add anything and have a banana ice cream. Or just add your favourtie berry. I’m gonna try raspberry next time.

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Slånbärssaftglögg – the recipe

Hello everybody! I am currently visiting my grandmother in the capital of christ, Uppsala north of Stockholm. Living in Malmö is great for its multiculturalism but it’s good to see the “real” Sweden, especially in winter time. Lots of old traditions here. And today the sun is shining bright and the wind is biting my cheeks with fresh winter cold. Will it snow? Haha I’m at the library and there’s a man having a speach about how Uppsala is such a great town. But that is beside the very important point of the slånbärssaftglögg! The final outcome was a marvel and here is the recipe:

SLÅNBÄRSSAFTGLÖGG (Sloe berrie mulled qwine, or sloe sangria if you will)

For about a litre you need

5 dl concentrated sloe berry juice

7 dl water

2 tablespoon sugar (this depends on how sweet you want it and how sweet the juice is, mine was quite sour)

2 cinnamon sticks

7 cloves

5-10 cardamom seeds

3 pieces of dried bitter orange peel (pomeransskal)

Boil the ingredients for about 10-15 minutes. Enjoy with raisins and almonds!

Now my internet time is running out, I’m such a dedicated blogger I can’t believe it!

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This is my mans plot (but it would be nothing without me!)

Salamu Aleikum! Now that winter is here and we are all dead from the inside and out, it is time to plan for better things to come. Like spring and a new growing season. In these theoretic times that acquire knowledge and a hunger for information, I am so lucky to be married to a natural science interested teacher! And to share our plot with a soil expert is another bonus. I just can’t stand natural science! As soon as I here the word my ears switches on the mute button and my mind drifts to the fuzzy and warm world of the Humanities. Aaah…people. Knowing about plants and what they do is a must, and unless you are willing to spend the rest of your life getting all the emperics and then pass on the knowledge to your grandchildren, you better start reading. I don’t, my husband does all that for me!

Wherever I go in the flat there is a bunch of papers with plants written on them, or drawings of the plot and which hour the sun sets in which month and so on. On every paper the sides are filled with scribbles about the natural world. He reads about every plant and remembers it! In this very moment he’s writing about polyculture that he thinks we should try. Thank god for him!

He is the one who, well actually we both have designed the plot but he is the one who knows what we are doing and why. It’s not like I’m completely clueless, but I find myself wondering what I would do if it was my plot and mine only. Strongwilled as I am, I don’t think much would be different. Except for example, Rachid thinks we should have alot of edible perennials, I agree but would I do the research to find those perennials? No! Would he? Oh yeah! I’m gonna try to force him to write a post about it all, so that I don’t accidently learn something.

News from the plot: we bought berry bushes! At this place, which was awesome! We go four raspberry bushes, two yellow and two red. And two blackberry, without thorns! One gooseberry, one blueberry plant which is very exciting. And one white currant and two black currant. We planted them along the sides, to shield a bit from the wind. Slideshow time!

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On the way home we passed a yard sale and Nick bought a huge glass thing in which we hopefully will brew beer from our own hops. Does anyone have any information about beer brewing? I went in to the swedish beer brewers organizations website and they we’re all like “yeah it’s real easy, as long as you know about…….” 5000 things I’ve never heard about.  So I don’t. But I am very excited nonetheless! Someone will do the necessary research, and it wont be me!

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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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