Filed under: Cooking, winter seasonal food | Tags: dessert, funnel chantarelle, hemp, lingonberry, rye, vegan croquettes
Permaculture, in case you never heard the word before, is the art of designing sustainable habitats by imitating natural ecosystems. I was invited to one permaculturalist – gathering in one ecovillage, and then to another ecological community, to teach permaculture on an Ecovillage Design Education – course. Permaculture is a design system that searches for solutions for ecovillages, organic gardening, sustainable agriculture and social change, or anything else that gears towards a more sustainable life. The first ecovillage I visited was young and punky, and the second one a bit older and more established, but anyway it was interesting for me to do this little road trip to my past.
I was picked up from the trainstation by the old Hiace full of backbacks and hippies, and we hit the dark snowy roads towards Central Finland. The three – year – old chattered away on the front seat, I got the see mobile phone photos from a demonstration in England, and we stoppes and peed in a row on the roadside snow (yes, alternative people do that). Late at night, we arrived at the ecovillage, and got greeted with a plate of broad bean soup and a house full of friendly people, children and dogs. It was the eve of Spring Equinox, and everybody in the house was bursting with energy for outdoor life, after a winter spent indoors.
In the second ecovillage I get to teach on a Ecovillage Design Education – course, so we talk about permaculture principles: 1. Follow nature’s patterns. 2. If you are not having fun, you are not doing it right! 3. Imagination is the only limit to the system’s yield 4. Start small, observe and interact! 5. Design from pattern to details, et cetera. We also think about closed loops and sustainability. What kind of system is sustainable, and why?
After permaculture we discuss local food and the eco – footprint of different foodstuffs. Which is better, ordinary tea or organic coffee? Which has a heavier footprint, organic local cheese or a canned coconut milk? Sometimes we teachers even don’t know the answers, but after the class we do a hands – on approach on local food, and cook seitan, hemp sauce, nettle pancakes with lingonberries and oven cooked whole oats for the group, and as dessert some whipped rye with berries. It’s chaotic, and fun, and the food is delicious.
In the evenings the communal kitchen is lit and the people clean away the leftovers of dinner. They laugh softly, talk about small things: ” We should put more dish rags on the shopping list!”, somebody leans on the counter, sips a cup of herbal tea. Somehow, I’m a little jealous of that easy companionship, the fellowship of the kitchen counter, even if I once lived here and doomed it not to be for me.
The course is very interesting, and I’m becoming very fond of the morning heart sharing circles: I simple excercise in which we four randomly chosen, very different people talk about our lives and the expectations we have for it. It’s very powerful, and in the end there is no way but to like the people in my group very much. The last morning, we do the hippie classic, a group hug, and it feels like the most natural thing to do in the world.We have woven a surprising little web of connection, in this time and space.
Most likely, if you are a Finnish person trying to eat locally grown food, you are at this time of the year pretty stuffed with root vegetables, delicious that they are, after eating them for months. Now the first green wild veggies are sprouting in the nature, but you can still use some imaginative recipes that don’t require too many fresh ingredients.
Hemp and Funnel Chanterelle Croquettes
These are delicious vegan croquettes, though they ask for a fair amount of mushrooms. But last autumn was really good for funnel chantarelles, so there is plenty to eat. These patties stay together very well, thanks to the proteins of hemp.
This recipe I learned from my friend Aino, thank you!
2, 5 dl dried funnel chantarelles, soaked
2 dl hemp meal
2 dl bread crumbs + 1/2 dl for breading
1 – 2 dl oat milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried paprika
1 tsp dried basil
oil for frying
Soak the funnel chantarelles in water for 10 minutes. Chop the onion finely, and the mushrooms too. Sauté both on a pan, in oil, for a few minutes, then mix together with the hemp meal, bread crumbs and spices. Add oat milk, enough to make a nice dense paste that can easily be made into patties. Let the paste sit for a few minutes, and then make small balls or patties. Roll them in bread crumbs, and fry both sides in oil.
Hemp meal can be easily ground using a food processor.
Serve with mashed potatoes, lingonberry mush and sauerkraut.
Whipped Rye with Berries
This is a surprising dessert! The rye flour will turn light and fluffy, if you have the patience to whip it for several minutes. You can make it with lingonberries, blackcurrants or any other slightly tangy berries
1,5 dl extra fine rye flour
2,5 dl boiling water
0,5 dl sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 dl berries (if frozen, thawed)
Blend all the ingredients, and whisk with an electric whisk for a few minutes, until fluffy.
Filed under: Cooking, Desserts | Tags: fruit salad, lemon, lemongrass, lime, risotto, salad dressing, tahini, tofu
My childhood school was a Walldorf – school, for thirteen years. So ask me any question about the Finnish school system, and I won’t be able to answer you. But I learned how to make pretty sheep out of carded wool and pipecleaner, how to work with copper, how to flutter backwards and left in the eurythmics class, when there is a Minor cadence in the music, and several little poems to say thanks for the food, in the beginning or at end of the day. And yes, since there are many superstitions regarding Walldorf – education, we did learn our maths, biology and physics according to the state curriculum, along the other approaches to life.
Maybe the most valuable lesson of a Walldorf – school is that most likely you end up spending most of your thirteen years there with the same classmates, and most likely the same teachers too. A Walldorf – school is a community, and in like any community the people don’t always get along with each other well at all, and don’t like each other either. But somehow, when you rub onto each other for thirteen years, finally the worst edges are gone and maybe you have learned something about the human nature as well. And still, after years I finished school when I meet some of my old classmates, I feel an instant familiarity with them, stronger than with any of my other friends.
This Good Friday I spent comfortably with one of my old classmates and her partner. We are such old friends, hold no surprises for each other. My friend always cooks by the recipe; I always cook by the feel. She keeps a beautiful, colourful, neat and clean house, and the story of her life is artistically arranged in photo books. My house is chaotic and mostly outright dirty, and I can’t even recall what I did a year ago, let alone have a photo book about it. We have always been different like that, and I guess we will always remain with our ways. But it is amazing to have a friend that stayed in your life since you were seven years old.
Being secular people, we made Easter food already on Good Friday. In our families there are no strong traditions of what savoury foods to make on Easter, so we somehow ended up cooking citrus – themed food, which does have a feeling of Easter to it, maybe because the yellow colour of lemons. Anyway we made an intensely lemony risotto, a salad with a tangy tahini dressing and citrus – infused fruit salad as dessert.
Lemon – Tofu Risotto
This risotto is from the cookbook Tofukeittokirja (a Finnish cookbook on tofu), slightly modified.
400 g firm tofu
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp apple vinegar
2 tbsp honey
a pinch of allspice
1 tsp salt
3 dl arborio rice
8 dl vegetable stock
1 lemon, juiced
grated zest of ½ lemon
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp oil
50 g vegetable margarine
salt to taste
a pinch of turmeric
almonds and fresh mint for decorating
Mix the ingredients for the marinade, cut the tofu into small squares and mix in, let it marinate for a while in the fridge, preferably overnight.
Chop the onion and heat up the oil and margarine in a cooking pot. Throw in the onion and turn it for a minute or so. Add the rice, and let it sauté until it’s translucent. Remember to keep stirring! Next add the lemon juice and zest. Add vegetable stock little by little, stirring so that the rice is submerged all the time. Let simmer, stirring and adding the stock, for 15 to 20 minutes.
Fry the tofu quickly on a pan, and add it to the risotto, along with a bit of turmeric for a nice yellow colour. Using a cup as mold plate the risotto and decorate with almonds and fresh mint.
Tahini Salad Dressing
1 dl lime juice
1/2 dl light tahini
1 garlic clove
a pinch of salt
Blend everything with a hand held blender. If you prefer a runnier consistency, add some water, but I think it dilutes the taste unnecessary. Our salad contained thinly sliced kohlrabi, green apple, mung bean sprouts, oven roasted cherry tomatoes and dried cranberries.
Lemongrass – marinated fruit salad
This is vaguely the recipe I used as an inspiration for the fruit salad and lemongrass syrup. The result was delicious, though when cooking the marinade it smelled strangely of Indian incense. Here are also good instructions on how to segment citrus fruit. Segmenting citrus is definitely worth the bother!
1/2 cantaloupe melon
1 pink grape fruit
1 dl mint shavings
2 dl citrus juice, from the segmenting + lime juice
1 vanilla pod
2 stalks of lemon grass
1 dl honey
Zest of 1 lime
Segment the citrus, and catch the extra juices in a bowl. Make the syrup: cut the lemon grass stalks to 3 cm long pieces, scrape the vanilla pod and grate the lime zest. Add all the ingredients to a cooking pot, bring to a boil and let simmer a few minutes.
Cut up all the fruit, and add the strained marinade and the finely chopped mint. Let marinate for an hour or so.
This is what you say in a Walldorf – school, to bless the meal:
Earth who gives to us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear Earth …. Dear Sun
By you we live
Our loving thanks to you we give…..
Bon Appetit for everyone!
Filed under: Guerilla Gardening, Salad, winter seasonal food | Tags: beetroot, broccoli, dried apricot, fennel, ginger, hazelnut, orange, pear, red cabbage, sesame oil, winter salad
This city is drowning in snow, but I can feel the spring edging closer. The days are longer and the little birds have started chirping, and the sunlight feels warm on my cheeks. It reminds me of the fact that the summer will come.
Last summer we built a secret garden in one desolated spot in Helsinki, amidst old trains, rose bushes and general junk. It became a tiny paradise, with the biggest mangold leaves, abundant mint and sky – reaching branches of dill. And those rows of huge carrots and beetroot! It was a common effort by many brave guerilla gardeners, who did learn about the miracle of growth in the process. We were loved by the media, frequented by all kinds of visitors, from art students to radical activists and old ladies interested in gardening. Not to mention Helsinki’s recent dominant pest, the Urban Bunnies, a feral, red – eyed, formerly domesticated little nuisance.
I remember those early summer evenings, dry, light and warm, lugging the heavy watering cans and letting the plants drink. What a delight is water for the dusty earth and for yourself, after a hot day. And I isn’t it strange, how the little grey, inconspicuous – looking seeds turn black soil, water and sunlight into edible green leaves and colourful tubers? If you never grew your own food, how could you possibly appreciate that? No one can control that magic! We can help and enhance it, but it happens by its own will. For new life to grow, there needs to be first death and decay, and what is living now, will finally be compost that feeds new growth. A difficult lesson to learn.
Harvest party pictures courtesy of Päivi Raivio, thanks!
If I could stay in that moment, in the secret garden, with the heavy watering cans, I would. But time’s current is a force that only takes you forward. The green growth will take its own way, and is not stopped by blocks of concrete or urban sprawl. When you open your fist, what you grabbed, a rock, a leaf, a piece of soil, has been pressed down to a diamond, a beautiful memory. That is for your keeping, for ever, even when a secret garden is too small a dream.
But they are sleeping there, under the blanket of snow, the little seeds. Soon, soon, it will be their time, to sprout and make a green revolution. What revolutionary dreams do they dream? Stay tuned to the channel…
The Odd Salad
We recently had a meeting to plan some urban gardening visions. A member of our group suggested on our mailing list, in English, that we could share “an odd salad”. That caused a major confusion: Some people thought he meant “a strange salad”, some people thought the expression referred to a potluck dinner in general, and some people even somehow got the idea he meant a mixed – gender sauna, because there was also talk about heating up the sauna at our meeting place. Finally, I think everyone understood what the expression means, but the “odd salad” was indeed delicious and the sauna very hot too.
Salad with Dried Apricots and Broccoli
A head of broccoli
two handfuls of dried apricots
half a leek
50 g hazelnuts
3 tbsp walnut oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp maple syrup
a pinch of black pepper
Soak the apricots overnight in water. The following day, separate the flower heads of the broccoli, and steam them just a couple of minutes, until they are a little tender. Cut the leek diagonally into strips and very quickly fry it in oil. Slice the apricots and toast the hazelnuts on dry pan. Chop the hazelnuts roughly. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and toss the salad, decorate with chopped hazelnut.
Asian Beetroot Salad
This is a version of a dish a used make out of our guerilla – gardened beets last summer.
1 big beet
1 big orange
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp lemon juice
Slice the beetroot thinly, and steam for a few minutes until tender. Slice the orange. Mix the ingredients for the dressing and toss the salad. This salad is much improved if you have time to marinate it for a while.
Pink Salad with Fennel and Pear
200 g red cabbage
1 bulb of fennel
2 tbsp raspberry vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp honey
a pinch of fleur de sel (or any other salt..)
Slice the cabbage and fennel very finely. I used a cheese – slicer, but you could use a mandolin as well. Cut the pear into thin slices. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing, and mix the cabbage and fennel in a bowl. Pound the cabbage and fennel a bit, or give them a squeeze with your fingers. Mix in the pear slices and the dressing.
Filed under: Cooking, Uncategorized | Tags: beetroot, blin, blintzke, buckwheat, condiments for blinis, vegan
Now it is the season of carnivals all over the world, from the most famous one in Rio, to the Austrian Fastnacht, Venetian Masquerade and the rather timid Finnish Laskiainen that is celebrated by downhill sledge- riding and pea soup. Carnival – tradition is about turning everything upside down: kings become slaves and servants rulers, men become women and women men. For a short while, the rules bend and laws are made ridiculous, sacred profane, and the pompous reveals its true trivial nature, like a cancan dancer, kicking up her fishnet – stockinged leg… It’s a short lived illusion, a spectre of power, but something that brings a relief, an easiness to go on with the everyday life. The Trickster celebrates with a mad leer, takes over the King’s throne, and those with no power make the rules of the game.
My carnival this year was a night with Russian food and burlesque. Burlesque is the true carnivalistic entertainment: I’m in love with the big, tattooed ladies taking off their clothes on stage, with the madly cheering audience, and that feeling of a rock concert, but without the pretense of music, just sheer sexiness and wildness and visual stimulation. This party was like travelling with a time machine, full of creatures from other realms, men or women, animal or human, human or alien, 15th century or future, who cares, just corsettes – heels – glitter – colour – lace – frills – and – futuristic contraptions everywhere you lay your eyes. I felt like innocent Alice in Wonderland, with my angel wings and white tutu.
We, meaning Namu Natasha ( Sweet Natasha), Esteri Pippuri (Esther the Pepper), Bliny Blinotshka (well.. something to do with bliny, obviously), Printemps (Spring) and Angelita started the night with bliny, Russian pancakes that are traditionally eaten in Finland this time of the year. The Russian blin or blintzke is a thin pancake, a crêpe, bought from a stall on the street and eaten as a snack. The Finnish blin is a thick fat pancake, made of sourdough, finely served with caviar, sour cream, mushrooms and other delicacies in a festive occasion. It’s a short way to Russia, but quite obviously something happened on the way…
At least six hours prior to baking your bliny, mix the following ingredients and let ferment in room’s temperature:
2,5 dl oat milk, luke warm
2,5 dl buckwheat flour
2,5 dl wheat flour
20 g yeast
Just before baking add:
2,5 dl beer
1 tsp salt
1 dl soy yogurt
You’ll need oil for frying
Fry the bliny in a frying pan, with lots of oil. Use medium heat, so that they will cook inside too. Nicest bliny are fried in pancake pan. Flip them over a couple of times.
Sidedishes with Bliny
You should have many different sidedishes with bliny! Five is minimum in my opinion! Nice vegan things to go with your bliny are vegan seaweed based caviar (at least in Finland available), vegan sour cream, chopped red onion, chopped pickles, honey, and mashed avocado with a bit of lemon. We also had these things:
Beetroot with Honey
Slice some beetroot thinly, and chop some garlic. Fry quickly with oil in a wok, add salt and plenty of honey.
Mushrooms with Sour Cream
I bought some wild mushrooms preserved in brine, and made a simple condiment of them by draining off the extra liquid and adding some chopped spring onions, black pepper and vegan sour cream.
An open heart is something to I’d like to wish everyone, open to hold the world, open for freedom and commitment both. No sweet Valentine’s gifts from me, no junk to show that I care. Since I don’t, at least about any businesspeople getting rich with people’s earnest needs to be loved and cared for. Or maybe I’m just bitter since the only Valentine’s Day greeting that I can count on comes from dear Maman? But a pair of lovely yellow mittens, knitted with guaranteed love to protect my hands is not bad at all, maybe enough to turn my hardened heart a bit soft on Valentine’s Day… So suddenly I found myself thinking about red food, and about a pretty red cake, and maybe a pink smoothie to go with it.
Being not keen at all on artificial colourings and such I went for dear old beetroot in search of a red hue (did you know that beetroot can be used to make a home made lip gloss?). My previous experiences with beetroot baking had not been so very splendid, so a retake was in order. But alas, after baking my oh – so – pretty pink batter I found out that the insides of my reddish beetroot cupcakes were a shade of a bright yellow! Yellow is the colour of envy and jealousy, versus red as the colour of love and passion. Perhaps not the message you should convey on Valentine’s Day…
Beetroot Cupcakes with Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread
4 dl wheat flour
1 dl sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp egg replacer (optional)
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1/2 dl shredded coconut, toasted on a dry pan
1 dl oil
2 dl oat cream
1 dl oat milk
1 tsp strawberry vinegar
120 g hazelnuts
1 dl coconut oil
1 dl powdered sugar
1 dl cocoa powder
a dash of vanilla
a pinch of salt
I wanted the beetroot to be as finely grated as possible, so I used my funky juicer from the 70’s. I juiced the beetroot, and combined the juice and the left over beetroot pulp, which resulted about 1 dl of beetroot mush. I mixed this mush with the rest of the wet ingredients. Then I combined in bowl the dry ingredients, and added the wet. I poured the batter into muffin forms and baked the cupcakes about 20 minutes in a 200°C oven.
The icing is kind of a homemade Nutella. I made it by first grinding the hazelnuts in a food processor until powdered, and then adding the rest of the ingredients. I put this to the fridge to cool and harden a bit, though it is a bit tricky to handle if it is too cool, especially if you want to pipe it. If it is too warm, it will be runny and cannot be piped either.
Red Berry Smoothie
This is an obvious recipe, but maybe worth remembering that in the long run it maybe healthier for your heart than chocolates (would dear Maman say).
1 dl frozen red currants
1/2 dl cashews, soaked overnight
1 dl oat milk
1 tsp lucuma
1 tsp maca
Blend all the ingredients!
Filed under: Desserts, raw food | Tags: almond, lucuma, raspberry, raw dessert, runeberg's tart
The 5th of February is the honorary day of the national poet of Finland, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. He lived in the 19th century and was a popular author of his day. These days we celebrate his memory with a little pastry called Runeberg’s Tart.
Runeberg, like other men of his status, had a wife, Fredrika. For over a hundred years Fredrika was only credited for being the wife of Runeberg, and as the inventor of the famous tart. In reality, Fredrika did not even invent this pastry, it was a specialty of a local bakery. Instead, she was an herself an aspiring writer, and a deeply ambitious person. But she was always left in the shade of her famous spouse. In those days before washing machines and vacuum cleaners, her days were mostly filled with household chores that she found absolutely dreary, besides of having to deal with a womanizing husband and financial difficulties.
Fredrika, isn’t it strange how still in 2010, a young lady, liberated and educated, like me, would make the choice of trying to be famous with her skills in the kitchen? Why would she do that? Since, between you and me, a pretty young lady with good cooking skills is to most people nothing more than that, however ambitious or clever she may be otherwise. A hundred years after you, Fredrika, I must admit that certain attitudes do sit tight in the society. And all you young ladies who are reading this blog and haven’t started your own, do consider another subject than cooking or handicrafts! Because, to formulate this clearly: after you are dead, do you want to be remembered for a friggin’ cake, named after your husband, or because, for example, winning the Nobel Prize in physics? I think this is something we all should think about, seriously.
But anyway, this tart is for you Fredrika, I promise to read your texts one day too.
I decided to make a raw version of Runeberg’s Tart. A Runeberg’s tart is a pastry with almond meal, bread or gingerbread crumbles, flavoured with cardamom and moistened with rum or punsch, a typical Swedish alcoholic drink. The tart is topped with some raspberry jam and sugar icing. You can find a nice vegan recipe here. This is how they look made by my friend Rosa, who traditionally arranges each year a party where only Runeberg’s Tarts are served.
My raw version contained almonds, lucuma, coconut, cardamom, dates, honey and some rum aroma, which is indeed artificial and not raw at all. But you could leave it out, substitute it with real rum or use bitter almond extract. The pink “icing” was a bit of a challenging part, and I ended up doing it with coconut oil and honey, but later realised that probably also some cashew nut cream would have looked nice.
2 dl blanched almonds
1/2 dl shredded coconut
3 tsp lucuma powder
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 drops rum aroma
a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
The ” icing”:
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp honey
some raspberry purée/ other red juice for colour
1/2 dl frozen, thawed raspberries
honey for sweetening
I blended together all the ingredients for the tart with a food processor. Then I formed a round bar with the help of some baking parchment and stuck it to the freezer for about ten minutes. Then I cut the bar into five pieces, about 4 cm tall, and decorated them with raspberry puree and and piped on the icing. The raspberry puree was made with a hand held blender and the icing by simply mixing the ingredients with a spoon.
The tarts tasted surprisingly much like actual Runeberg’s tarts, but the consistency was a bit too heavy and oily for my taste. So I think I need to experiment a bit more with this raw dessert thing…
I went skiing the the other day. I took my skiis, walked past the cars, shops, trams, people and the hustle and bustle of the city, until I arrived on the seashore. The sea has frozen over thickly in these past cold weeks. It was a strange foggy day: the world had become a monochrome in black and greyish white. The snow was white, the sky was white and the frosty treetops were half hidden by white mist. Skiing in that vast flat expanse of whiteness made me feel like inside a glass of milk (well, vegan milk..). Then the sun started to set, and everything got a lovely pink sheen.
I skied past the island that is my secret place for summer evening swims. It has a dodgy old pier and there is hardly anyone there but for some sheep, so it is nice and private. It looked so different now with the snowy trees! It was easy to forget that the city was breathing right behind my back. I was the only moving, colourful, rustling little presence on the vast expance of white ice.
For I while, I played with the idea that I was brave Mr. Amundsen skiing towards the South Pole, though the fact that it was only – 15ºC didn’t quite match my fantasy. Also, I lacked a pack of gorgeous blue -eyed huskies and a sleigh. Is my notion of antarctic exploration perhaps slightly over – romanticised? Anyhow, any explorer knows that the rations are very important for endurance. I bet Mr. Amundsen did not have as nice rations as I did: freshly baked scones and hot herbal tea!
Pear and Ginger Scones
I’ve never baked scones in my life before. I found a recipe in everybody likes sandwiches, which is a beautiful Canadian blog. I modified it a little. I also learned from the internet that it is important that the margarine and the milk are cold, in order to avoid the baking powder to start to work too early. You should also try to keep the kneading of the dough to the minimum. I used fresh grated ginger in these scones, but the surprising thing about fresh ginger and baked goods is that somehow the taste just disappears in the oven. So if you like ginger, feel free to add some.
1 dl shredded coconut
2 dl all purpose flour
1 dl graham flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of bourbon vanilla powder
1 ripe pear, diced
1/2 dl dried cranberries
1 tsp ground cardamom
50 g vegetable margarine
2 dl oat milk + 1 tsp for topping
2 tsp demerara sugar for topping
I toasted the coconut on a dry pan, in order to enhance the flavour. It burns easily, so watch out! Then I combined the dry ingredients in a bowl, cut in the margarine and mixed with my fingers until I got a crumbly mixture, and folded in the diced pear and cranberries. Then I blended in the oat milk. I patted the ready dough onto a lightly floured surface, so that it was about 3 cm thick and cut round shapes using a form. You could use a glass etc. or just cut triangles.
I baked the scones in 200°C 15 minutes. Ideally, the scones should be devoured fresh from the oven plate, or at least eaten the same day. Wrap them into a shawl if you want to bring them with you out to arctic environments. I was pleasantly surprised with my scones: I always thought that scones are somehow dry and boring, but at least these ones were moist and tasty.