Filed under: Drinks, Guerilla Gardening, spring seasonal food | Tags: drink, rhubarb, spruce tip, sweet cicely
Guess what? I’ve been busy. That’s why there has been no movements in this virtual space for a while. Spring is the time to start new gardens, and for a person or organization promoting urban food production and gardening it is crazy busy. But now there are several new guerilla gardens and many new urban gardeners in Helsinki, gardening in places you never thought a carrot could grow in. But that’s not my doing, but an effort of many people.
And, there is a website on urban farming! Kaupunkiviljely.fi it is called. I’ve been one of the people making it. Unfortunately so far all the texts are in Finnish, but maybe later there will be something in English too. But there are many pictures of all our projects, gardening tips for urban spaces and a blog, which you should order if you are interested in urban gardening, in Finnish.
And me? I’m a wreck. Now, I’ve been cleaning my house for two days, and slept for fourteen hours, and finally I’m starting to come to my senses again. It’s not easy to be making a movement, at least for me. Urban gardening is a lovely activism: there are no contradictions, no conficts, and even the authorities are mostly in fave of a group of people turning every unused plot into a garden. We are like pandas, cute and no threat to anybody. And a garden is easily removed when no longer liked. It is very rewarding to be part of a movement that is really for everyone: the grandmothers can join, as well as activists, and everyone will love you for what you do.
I’ve always been a girl for direct action: no demonstrations or signing petitions for me, but actual deeds that turn the world into a better place. But of course, there is not that much that you can do with a shovel when it is about turning a whole city into more garden – then the work is done by email, phone and facebook instead of a garden – hoe. And that is for a person like me very difficult, and takes up a lot of resources. And I do have to battle a lot of inner demons that tell me constantly that I have no right to do the things I’m doing, and especially not be successful with my actions. Previously, I was never aware of such monsters existing in my mind! So, power is a new trip for me, and not an easy one. I feel like a dentist: having to yield nasty tools in order to accomplish something for a greater purpose.
Burnout or not, who cares? Now I can have a peaceful moment, sit by the open window, smell woodsmoke and grass clippings, and hear the birds chirping in hedge. Besides, I dare say: Helsinki is changed city because of us, the Dodo Urban Farmers!
Rhubarb and Spruce Tip Drink
There will be some recipes at the kaupunkiviljely.fi – website, with the emphasis on seasonal food. This is the first, for spring or early summer. At least in Southern Finland the spruce tips are already past their prime, and have turned to actual needles, but this recipe could be made with rhubarb only as well. Sweet cicely or garden myrrh is an almost forgotten, but really nice, aniseed – tasting perennial herb that thrives in many gardens. I’m a bit embarrassed to post a recipe which is definetely no more seasonal, but I hope my readers will forgive! There is a good reason for it!
2 l spruce tips
2 l rhubarb stalks
some leaves of sweet cicely
0,5 kg sugar
25 g citric acid (works as preservative)
4 l water
Chop the rhubarb and rinse the spruce tips, and boil them with the water and the sweet cicely leaves for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the citric acid, and let the drink cool down overnight. Following day, add the sugar and citric acid, and bring to boil again. When the drink has cooled, you can pour it into bottles that should be kept refrigerated. The drink keeps two weeks.
Spruce tips should be harvested in Finland during May or early June, when they are still light green and tender. Never heard of spruce tips? They are the year – growths of spruce trees that appear in the spring. Later in the summer they turn into regular needles. Traditionally the spruce tips have thought to have medicinal properties, and used in cough – potions. Their taste is fresh and tangy, and in my opinion resembles somehow eucalyptus.
Filed under: Drinks, Sweets | Tags: chai, chocolate, nut, rocky road, vegan
Once upon a time, in the faraway land of Australia, there was a strictly vegan Christmas celebration, up the road leading from the hamlet of Channon to Protestors Falls (which are indeed named after a group of successful environmental activists). There lived Mel and Jane, my two gorgeous Australian friends, in a house that was perched midway on a hill, like so many houses are in that region.
Northern New South Wales is full of alternative people and back – to – the – landers, colourful markets where hippies try to rip off tourists, ecovillages hidden in the bush and endless parties, with groovy music, vegan chocolate cakes and cuppas of chai. The hills grow other stuff than just eucalyptus, and that is one of the reasons for the prosperity of the local hippies. In Northern New South Wales it is not unusual at all to visit the monthly market dressed in a pair of wings, three layers of colourful skirts and curve – tipped fairy boots. And the parties! How they dance, dreadlocks flying, skirts swinging and the whole house going up and down with the beat of the didgeridoo! And afterwards, you jump with your friends into a van that runs on homemade biodiesel and drive an hour to the nearest beach, to have a plunge in the moonlit waves.
Around Christmastime, I happened to be staying with Mel and Jane up the Channon road. Their house was a vegan sanctuary and they were quite strict not to allow any animal products in the house. They had decided to celebrate Christmas by holding a gathering for their friends, and prepared vegan delicacies for the occasion. There was vegan sushi, vegan mudcake and vegan rocky road on the menu, as well as vegan lasagna, if I remember correctly. Christmastime is full summer in Australia, and extremely hot, so we went with our picnic down to a little creek that runs nearby. That lazy hot afternoon with non – traditional Christmas food is still one of my funniest adulthood Christmas memories, and so since I now happened to get some vegan marshmallows I decided to remake part of the memory.
There are certainly a thousand different rocky road recipes on net, generally they contain nuts, peanut butter, turkish delight, marshmallows and chocolate in some form. The idea is to drizzle the ingredients on a non- sticky surface and then cover with melted chocolate so that everything will stick together. Mine was simply accomplished by combining all the ingredients I found in my cupboard. For some reason this chocolate is really sticky, and I’m not sure whether that’s because of the honey. If you simply melted some chocolate, the end result would certainly be less sticky, and you’d get a pretty surface with all the goodies neatly layed out, instead of boring brown bars like I did.
1 dl vegan marshmallows, cut in halves
1 dl hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 dl coarsely chopped dried apricots
1 dl dried cranberries
1 dl toasted pumpkin seed
a small handful of dried chokeberries
a small handful of cocoa nibs
150 g cocoa butter
2 dl cocoa powder
280 g organic honey
a pinch of chillipowder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp bourbon vanilla powder
2 tbsp cognac
First I sprinkled all the nuts etc. on a greased round oven pan (27 cm in diameter). Then I carefully melted the cocoa butter on low heat, and blended in the cocoa powder, spices and honey. Then I poured this mixture over the nuts and other things, and allowed it to cool down in the fridge (in a hurry? Just stick it to the freezer for 10 minutes, I have learned from Yaelian).
Chai is the favourite hippie sweet drink. I’ve never been to India, and I have no idea how the original thing is made, but I’ve learned that there are as many ways to making chai as there are hippies in the world. Basically chai is a very sweet spicy milky tea: you can make it with organic dairy milk, with rice milk, with soy milk, with coconut milk, with or without black tea. My chai is made with seven heavenly spices: ginger, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, vanilla and cardamom. I usually like a bit of black tea in it too, and for sweetening I think honey is just right. Clove is a slightly dangerous spice, so use it with caution!
5 dl water
5 dl rice milk (etc)
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, cut into rounds
5 black peppercorns
15 green cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
7 whole cloves
a dash of bourbon vanilla powder
1/4 of a whole nutmeg, chopped
1 black teabag
1 tbsp honey
Filed under: Baking, Drinks | Tags: apple, apple pie, autumn, carrot, ginger, juice
I must admit it: the summer is over. Last week me and my neighbours finally put back the corridor windows that we have been repairing the whole summer (or, to be honest, my neighbours much more than me). The day was warm, but it didn’t feel like the last summer day, but like the first one in autumn. Suddenly, the night fell at half past eight, and it caught me up right when I was picking the apples and plums that lie all over my yard. The neighbours were fixing the last window, and the lights were on in the corridors. I stood in the darkness of the yard, and listened to the crazy autumn wind blowing all over the place, and to the faint traffic noises of my new home city. I am scared of the winter and the darkness it brings, and the long winter nights. How will I deal with it now that I live by myself?
I was trying to cheer up by thinking: Colourful leaves! Lingonberries! Mushrooms! But it didn’t really help. I felt like the Tove Jansson’s Moomin – book character Nuuskamuikkunen, Snufkin. When the autumn comes, he lifts his backback, plays a little tune on his flute and leaves who knows where, to perhaps return with the sun. Don’t we all just love him, we who cannot leave our commitments.
I shivered, even if it wasn’t cold, picked up the bucket of apples and went inside. There I saw my reflection in the mirror: a yellow leaf had stuck into my hair. There was no way but to admit the facts: I went to the calendar and turned the page from August to September, 10 days late.
Apple, Carrot and Ginger Juice
My mom brought me this juicer that I guess originates from the 70’s. It is a funky thing, though notoriously hard to clean. In the apple season I love it, since freshly made apple juice is just so good. This is my favourite flavour combination:
For 1 big glass you need:
3 small apples
2x2cm piece of ginger
Throw it all in the juicer, and then mix the resulting juice with a spoon. No need to peel anything. If you like ginger, you can very well add some. This works really well for that gloomy autumn feeling…
Apple and White Currant Pie
This pie is like the apple pies made in the States, and doesn’t resemble a Finnish apple pie at all, since the Finnish pies are never covered like the American ones. This recipe is a vegan version of this recipe, though since the apples that grow in my yard are sadly not of the tangy variety, so I replaced some apples with white currants, in order to create a similar effect. For jams and similar things tangy and hard apple varieties are most suitable, and of the Finnish varieties e.g. Antonovka is good.
The Pie Batter
150 g vegetable margarine
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
4 1/2 wheat flour
1 dl ice cold water
10 small apples
2,5 dl white currants
1 3/4 dl sugar with added pectin
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp wheat flour
1 tbsp vegetable margarine
First, I made the pie batter. I simply mixed first the dry ingredients and then added the margarine and til last the cold water. Then I put the batter into the fridge for about half an hour.
Then I made the filling: I sliced the apples and removed the seeds. Then I mixed in the rest of the ingredients, except for the margarine.
Then I divided the batter into two, and rolled it out using a rolling pin so that it would fit a round baking tin (24cm in diameter) that I had greased and floured earlier. I had the batter in between two layers of baking parchment, and it helped a lot with the process. Then I filled the pie, added the margarine in a few lumps on top, rolled the other part of the batter, and covered the pie. The edges I squeezed together and then made a few holes on top the pie with a fork.
I grated the pie in the oven in 200°C for 15 minutes, and then lowered the heat to 175°C for 45 minutes.
As a footnote, I ran into this concept in the internet: a veggie trader! Isn’t that a good idea! In the harvest time those people with red currant bushes, apple, plum or cherry trees, or zucchini plants, are usually in trouble with all the produce, like me with the apples. At Veggie Trader you can find people to swap your produce with! We should have that here too, because that is also one way to overrule the wholesalers that dominate our food consumption today.
This is an extremely simple drink I made on hot day. Again I found some use for the mints that try to overtake my yard..
1/4 of big watermelon
1 handful of spearmint leaves
1 tbsp freshly squeesed lemon juice
1 tsp muscovado sugar
I blended it with a handheld mixer and served it with ice cubes. This yielded about 7 dl, just enough for me and my guest.
There is some very offensive mint plants growing in my yard. I thought to use them for something, and wanted to make some cool sweet drink for sunny weather. Also, in my freezer there is some frozen banana, which is a great base for vegan “milk”shakes and sorbets. I usually freeze the bananas, if for some reason I have forgotten them and they have become completely black. This way they make the best sorbet. This is what I came up with this time:
Mint – Coconut – Pineapple Smoothie
1 frozen, overripe banana
1/2 can of canned pineapple
1 small handful of spearmint leaves
3/4 dl coconut milk
I blended it all with a handheld mixer.
1 dried apricot
½ tsp cinnamon
1 dl red currants, frozen
1 ½ dl soy or oat milk (if you live in the North, make it oat for a better world)
I try to remember to put the almonds and the apricot to soak Friday night. This is very challenging for me, but sometimes I get it done. Saturday morning, I peel and chop the apple, and blend in all the ingredients with a hand held mixer. This smoothie is very thick, but I really like that consistency and usually eat it with a spoon.
Then I put on some chilled music, this time it was Emma Salokoski Ensemble, and enjoy my smoothie to it. This is the best way to celebrate the fact that I didn’t have to wake up at six a.m. like on weekdays!