For the past few months I’ve been part of an organising crew of a big urban festival and a seminar with the theme of food. What is good food, what is environmentally sound to eat, who produces it, what will we eat in the future? Those questions in mind we launched into organising the 4th Megapolis – festival, called Megapolis2024. Finally, it is getting together, and the next Saturday 26th of September the work of many months will bear its hopefully delicious fruit. If you live in Helsinki or nearby, you should definitely check out the website and come! We will have as our speakers Pietro Leemann, the only vegetarian chef with a Michelin star restaurant, John Higson from Stockholm who has introduced farmer’s markets and other urban projects, Majora Carter from New York Greening the Ghetto – project, and many, many others, in addition to film screenings, hemp burgers and an afterparty with Jimi Tenor. And, as dessert, a free brunch on Sunday, with Michelin star vegetarian food, organised by the Finnish Carrot Mob! Want to meet me in person? I’ll be there, cleaning tables…
Working in voluntary organisations is interesting, frustrating, and often requires patience and a slightly anarchistic mindset. Money is scarce, so personal connections and persuasiveness are put to good use. People get irritated, attracted, form alliances and friendships, or in worst case, stalk off and never return. Issues of control and power are lurking in the background, but we try to put them aside by politeness and understanding. Because, aren’t we all on the same mission towards a sustainable future, and grown up people as well?
While following 50 emails long winding mail – threads, having heated discussions with the lady from the Department of Housing about a truck container – that – actually – is – really – small – sized – container – indeed, and having nightmares about organising something or other every night, it is easy to forget why you actually got into the whole business originally. Then the happening is over, and so what? Did we have an impact, do few more people think at the table and make a better choice? Did they understand that with every bite, they can change the world? Who knows, since we cannot measure these things. We can only hope, and make a batch of super – unhealthy lingonberry squares for the next meeting, to keep our spirits and blood sugar levels up.
This recipe is basically a traditional Finnish pastry, called Aleksanterin leivos, Alexander’s Tart. I think it is named after a Russian Emperor. I tweaked the recipe a bit with lingonberries and spelt flour, but they are still very sweet, a bit too sweet for my taste actually. Okriina from Kahvila Vegaani made some really nice healthy lingonberry squares that you can check out if you understand Finnish.
300 g vegetable margarine, nondairy butter etc.
2,5 dl sugar
2 dl whole spelt flour
4 wheat flour
2 tsp egg replacer
1,5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar
5 dl lingonberries
3/4 sugar with pectin
5 dl powdered sugar
3,5 – 5 tbsp lingonberry juice
First I made the batter: I mixed the dry ingredients and then kneaded in the margarine. I put it to the fridge to wait, for 30 minutes.
Then I cooked the jam: I put the lingonberries in a cooking pot, and heated it until steam started to rise. Then I added the sugar, and let it boil for some minutes. When it started to look like jam, I took it off the stove and allowed it to cool some time. You can of course use ready made jam as well, you should have about 3,5 dl of it.
Then I assembled the pastry. I divided the dough into two parts, and rolled the other half in between two layers of baking parchment, so that it was about the size of an oven plate (35cm x 25 cm). Then I put in on an oven plate, and covered it evenly with the lingonberry jam. After that I rolled out the other half, which I then carefully transferred on top of the previous one, with the help of the baking parchment. I did have to patch a bit here and there.
I baked the pastry in 200 ºC for 30 minutes. I allowed it to cool, and then made the icing, by mixing the lingonberry juice and powdered sugar. I made also some white icing, with powdered sugar and water, and made some crazy swirls on top of the pink layer (it was late at night…) I didn’t have any juice, so I made some by grinding some lingonberries through a sieve. Finally, when the icing had set after a few hours, I cut the pastry into small squares using a sharp knife.
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