Filed under: summer seasonal food | Tags: borage, edible flowers, horned violet, mexican marigold, nasturtium, rose, scotch marigold
To eat flowers is to eat something with no other sustenance but sheer beauty. They have mostly hardly any taste, contain no calories or nutrition for the body, but they will greatly nourish your Inner Fairy. What other would be a favourite meal in the eternal twilight in the Land of Fee, but a dinner that constitutes of flowers and a drop of nectar? In order to not forget what really is important in life, I try to cultivate some edible flowers every summer, to have that feeling of luxurious vanity in the every day life that can sometimes get a bit dreary.
Basically all flowers of edible plants are edible, though some of them may not be so very delicious. All of them can anyhow be used to decorate food. My favourite ones are the following:
Nasturtium(Tropaelenum Majus) is extremely easy to cultivate and has a very nice mustardy aroma, and is nicest in savoury dishes. It comes in several colours, ranging from orange to white.
is one of the species of the Viola. It’s very pretty and tastes slightly tangy. It is perennial and therefore easy to cultivate, and produces a lot of small flowers.
has a very distingtive sweet smell and taste, and the tiny flowers look great on top of cupcakes etc.
All species of rose are edible, but the less cultivated varieties taste nicer. I usually use Japanese Rose (rosa rugosa). Rose petals can be used also in a pancake mix, or added into other kind of doughs when baking. The white part of the petal tastes bitter and should be removed before eating.
(Calendula Officinalis) The petals can be used in salads or to decorate food. It has been used also to subsitute saffron, because it gives a nice yellow colour to food, though the taste is quite bland. Marigold is also a commonly used herbal remedy, it is said to enhance the healing of wounds and be generally good for the skin. Marigold should not be eaten by pregnant women, since it can add the production of estrogen in the body.
(Borago officin al is)is a flower that quite often grows as a weed in home gardens, at least here in Finland. The flower is one of the rare blue edible things, and tastes very sweet. There is some information that you should not eat any other parts of the borage plant, but in Central and Southern Europe also the leaves of borage are eaten. The flower should be safe to eat.
Also many of the wild flowers in Finland are edible, like fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), clover (Trifolium repense, Trifolium pratense) and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Dandelion buds are said to be nice deep fried, but I’ve never tried that myself. Clover can be added to bread dough or dried and used in herbal tea mixtures. The flowers of yarrow (Achillea millefolium) have a taste that reminds of black pepper. Yarrow also has some medicinal qualities.
Also the flowers of spice herbs are often nice looking, like the flowers of oregano, anise hyssop, and basil, though some of them may be a little too dry to be actually delicious.
In order to preserve the flowers, you can freeze them in ice cubes, e.g. on an ice cube tray or in plastic bags. The ice cubes can be used in drinks, or melted and then used as decoration. Some of the flowers can also be used dried, like scotch marigold or rose, especially in herbal tea mixtures.
Filed under: Cooking, Salad | Tags: beetroot, bulgur, chilli, communal eating, mint, nectarine, pecan nut, pineapple, raw food, salsa
Every August, my community reclaims the street that I’m living on with dinner tables. No cars are allowed in a whole day. People bring food and drinks, and the whole neighbourhood eats and socialises together. What a lucky person I am, to be living on such a street, the only one in Finland!
Eating together keeps a community alive, and reclaiming a space in a city by eating in it is a revolutionary act if any . When we eat together, we share so many other things with the food: the substance of our lives, our values and creativity. Even in today’s western world of continuous abundance, the act of sharing food has still not completely lost some of its ritual significance: if I am willing to share my piece of bread with you, you are for me worth more than the risk of going hungry.
What is proper to eat, is a question that can lead to some really heated debates – we all have our opinion on that. But I guess that amidst all the guilt that can be felt for eating food that is not sound ecologically, ethically, or health wise, it is good to remember that food also has another function in society: the festive, ritual aspect of sharing food that is common for all human cultures. Food is nourishment for the soul too: for thriving communities and fulfilling human relationships.
In the afternoon, the tables slowly start to appear on the street, and people gather around them. Food is brought out , presented and accordingly admired, wine bottles and beer appear on the tables. We sit and eat and talk, the whole sunny day. Passers – by are offered food to taste (“come, have some of these beetroot shells Salla has made!”) and of course drinks. People move from table to table, children run along with painted faces. At dusk candles appear, people find their instruments and sounds of drumming and singing fill the street. The stars that we haven’t seen in a couple of light summer months flicker in the warm, dark August night.
I get know my neighbours much better, since I’m new on this street. They tell me some gossip, like why there is such a hole in the hedge between our house and the neighbouring one: the husband of the lady next door used to originally live there… Also while sitting at the table, we four ladies from my house make a decision: next summer, our house will be painted pink, and the wooden panels in the hallways Mediterranean turquoise.
Pineapple and Mint Salsa
1 fair trade pineapple
2 – 3 dl chopped spearmint
2 red chillibean
1/2 tsp salt
I peeled and chopped the pineapple, the mint and the chilli, then I blended the whole thing with a hand held blender. We ate it with some tortilla chips.
Boulgur Salad with Nectarines
4,5 dl boulgur
9 dl water for cooking
200 g cherry tomatoes
2 red onions
2 dl chopped rucola
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 of a purple cauliflower
1 and 1/2 lemon, juice and zest
3 dl olive oil
First I cooked the bulgur: I added it to boiling water, with a bit of salt in it, and let it simmer for about 8 minutes. Then I set it aside to cool. I chopped the rest of the ingredients roughly, except for the garlic, which I chopped finely, and mixed them together with the bulgur. Then I made the dressing: I squeezed the lemons and grated the zest, and whisked it together with olive oil. I poured the dressing into the salad and mixed carefully. This amount of ingredients make up about 4 litres of salad. It is also a good thing to remember that if you are intending to have this kind of food standing in sunshine for many hours, it is quite important to remember to cool it down properly, preferably in the fridge, before serving.
1 long beetroot, or 3 round ones
100 g pecan nuts
3 tbsp oil (sesame, pumpkin, olive…)
3 tbsp water
2 tsp lemon juice
This little dish is a nice raw foodie thing, unfortunaly not of my own invention..
First, I sliced the beertoot really really thinly with a cheese slicer into round thin slices. You could use a mandolin slicer as well, or a sharp knife. Then I made the nut paste that is the filling of the shells by simply mixing the ingredients with a blender. I made the shells by sort of glueing two beetroot slices together with the paste. The thinner you cut the slices, the nicer the shells are to eat, but if your slices are a bit thicker they keep better,otherwise they’ll start to look a bit dry and greyish in a couple of hours.
Filed under: Cooking, summer seasonal food | Tags: agrarian revolution, beetroot, black currant, herb oil, horse radish, mangold, parsley, salad dressing, summer food
In the States these so called 100 mile menus seem to be the new fad in restaurants. Basically it means that the ingredients for the menu are grown within a hundred miles. Also, in London there is a restaurant, which sells food that originates within the subway network of London. This menu that I’m going to write about, is not a 100 mile dinner, but a 15 meter lunch, since most of the ingredients were from a garden patch just 15 metres away.
I think that ideally we all should live like this, with lunches and dinners that are really picked just 15 metres away from the doorstep, and not bought from supermarkets. The commercial farming systems that produce the majority of our food at the moment are killing the planet, draining the water resources, turning independent farmers into slaves of the system, and suffocating natural ecosystems. We need a new agriculture. Monocultures must go.There aren’t many good alternatives, though. We are far too many people to be fed with grace, and some destruction of natural ecosystems is inevident in order to produce enough food for all.
But it’s not hopeless! There are things to do! You should all do it! Decentralization is the way to go with the production of food and energy. Small, intensive farming systems can produce amazing amounts of calories, if they are closely integrated in the everyday lives of people. Eat local, crop mob, depave, guerilla garden! Learn and teach permaculture, make a transition town initiative in your hometown, get an allotment garden, eat the seasonal food, and support your local organic farmers. And most important of all, do not despise what older people have to tell you, since many of them have the skills and knowledge from a life that was much more self – sufficient than our current lifestyle.
Recently me and my cousin made a trip to this old farmhouse, where our dads grew up. These days no one lives there, and that whole part of the countryside is full of empty houses, since the people have found their living in cities. There is a strange, almost haunted feeling in these places, with the rosty old farm machines in the barns and the empty gravel roads, once so busy.
But anyhow, we both felt very peaceful and happy there, among the ghosts of our grandparents. The garden was also abundant, since my uncle and aunt had been tending it every now and then. Among the chickweed we found horse radish, potatoes, swedes, onions, carrots, beetroot, broad beans, mangold, salad, parsley, garlic and dill, and a monstrously big bush of lovage. And of course lots of black and red currants, which were the aim of our trip. This is some of the simple summer food we made.
Beetroot with Horse Radish
a 3×3 cm piece of horse radish, peeled
1/2 dl extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
water for cooking
First I sliced the beets thinly, and boiled them and the finely grated horse radish in a shallow amount of water until done, about 20 minutes. Then I drained off the water and added the oil and some salt. If you like more horse radish, you can grate some more and add at this stage for a stronger aroma. This dish can also be made into a bread spread, by using a hand held blender.
Herb Oil with Parsley to Go with New Potatoes
2 dl extra virgin oil (olive, canola etc)
1 dl finely chopped parsley
1 clove garlic
This is such a simple thing, the ingredients are simply combined. It so delicious when made of fresh parsley. It is very nice together with new potatoes.
Salad Dressing with Black Currant
2,5 dl black currants
2/3 dl extra virgin oil
The black currants should be ground through a sieve, in order to get rid of the peels. The resulting black currant mush is then mixed with oil, salt and sugar. It depends a bit how sweet you’d like to have it, you don’t necessarily need much sugar if you like it with a bit of a tang. We had it with some lettuce combined with a bit of mangold and marigold petals.
Mangold Stir Fry
10 mangold leaves
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp jeera
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
a pinch of chillipowder
oil for frying
The mangold leaves were first roughly chopped, as well as the onion and garlic. Then we fried the onion, garlic and the spices on a frying pan, and then tossed in the mangold, just for a minute or so.
Filed under: Baking, Cooking | Tags: almond paste, cake, chocolate, pasta, zucchini
Do you know the feeling: nothing is no good, life is boring, no one likes you (least the significant person) and indeed, your not – at – all – fascinating garden appears to be overflowing with stupid zucchini! I bet at least some of you ladies out there know what I’m talking about here… So beriddled with this cursed bad vibe and heaps of zucchini, I decided to make some comfort food for myself. Keeping in mind that chocolate and carbohydrates should do the trick, I made some pasta with a sauce with almond paste and a chocolate zucchini cake, using a recipe that used to be my favourite once. The cake did not turn out very well, since it was not sweet enough, and the pasta was way too salty. Buhuhuhuuu!!
Pasta with Zucchini and Almond
1 clove garlic
1/2 dl almond butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
oil for frying
2 dl whole wheat pasta
3 liter water for cooking
I chopped the onion and garlic, and fried them on a frying pan for a couple of minutes. Then I added the sliced zucchini. I fried this until the zucchini looked more or less limp. Then I added the almond butter, the lemon juice and salt, and kept stirring it a couple of minutes on medium heat. Meanwhile, I had also boiled the pasta in salted water and drained it in a colander. Some people say that the cooking water for pasta should be as salty as the mediterranean sea, but tin this dish I definetely overdid the amount of salt. At last I mixed the pasta and the sauce, and decorated the dish with a few marigold petals.
Zucchini and Chocolate Cake
6 dl all purpose flour
4 dl grated zucchini
2,5 dl sugar
1,5 dl cocoa powder
1 dl chopped hazelnuts
2 dl canola oil
2 tsp baking soda
1,5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp egg replacer
1 tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla powder
3 – 4 dl soy milk (depends a bit on the zucchini how much liquid you need)
1 tsp white vinegar
This is easy: if you have already chopped up your hazelnuts and grated your zucchini, then you just need to mix the dry ingredients, and after that add the milk, vinegar and oil. Mix thoroughly but don’t overdo it. The batter should have the consistency of a very thick pancake mix. Pour the batter into a greased, floured cake tin (about 24cm in diameter) and bake in a 180°C oven for about 45 – 60 minutes. The vinegar is in the recipe, because it helps the raising agent (baking soda) function better. Don’t ask me what’s the actual chemical reaction, since I don’t know, but I’m sure there are lots of people who can explain it splendidly. One explanation I found here.
And also, the amount of sugar should be right in this recipe, I added some when writing it down, since the cake that I made really was not sweet enough for my sweet tooth. I don’t know why the recipe was not so good this time, since I’ve really baked a lot with it, even made a wedding cake with the recipe! But I am suspecting the type of muscovado sugar I was using, since it really is not that sweet. Check also out the zucchini and chocolate cake Sara from Innocent Primate made.