Goddess of Cake


Permaculture and a Last Reminder of Winter

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.

Ecovillage Food

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

1 onion

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.



Marinated Strawberries with Basil Cream
July 31, 2009, 20:09
Filed under: Desserts, summer seasonal food | Tags: , , , ,

As the strawberry season is still going on, there could hardly be any reasons why not to eat them all the time.. this is a simple dessert I made the other day.  The vinegar combined with sugar gives the strawberries a taste that is really interesting, not bitter or sour, but just tangy. My friend who was eating it thought it felt odd in the throat, but I simply loved it. Basil tastes good with strawberries, as well as rosemary.

1 litre of strawberries

4 tbsp rasberry vinegar

1/2 dl powdered sugar

The Cream

250 g soy yogurt, drained in a colander overnight

1 dl oat cream (whippable)

2 tbsp sugar

a pinch of bourbon vanilla

basil leaves (could also be lemon basil leaves)

I sliced the strawberries, and made the marinade by whisking together the ingredients. Then I poured it over the strawberries and let it wait for half an hour before serving.  The cream I made simply by combining the ingredients with the chopped basil leaves.

marinated strawberries2



Rosie Halva
June 21, 2009, 16:28
Filed under: Sweets | Tags: , , , , ,

First, in order to avoid confusion, there are two types of halva: Indian halva, which is kind of a pudding made of semolina, and Arabian halva, which is a sweet made of sesame seeds. Indian halva is one of my all time favourites, when I’m cooking in a hurry for big crowds. It can quite easily be made for like a hundred people in a 10 liter pan. Besides, hippies love it! The idea of halva was presented to me by an ex – Krishna devotee when I was working in an ecovillage in Central Finland.

This particular recipe I invented last summer for a hippie – festival catering. For the hippies I shaped balls of the halva, since it was easy to serve like that, and hippies generally love to eat anything that is in a form of a ball (why that is so I cannot tell). Though, it can also be made a so that the consistency is a bit runnier and then served with a spoon. Rosewater can be obtained in Asian stores and at the chemist’s, but I have sometimes used a brand of organic rosewater (Julia Lawless Aqua Oleum), which was definetely the best, since it smells most like real roses.

Rose is an edible flower, and a very decorative one too! Though it’s good to remember to take out the white part of the petals, since it is bitter. I usually collect the petals of Japanese rose or rosa rugosa which grows very all over the place in Finland, and blooms from June to August.

rose halva

Halva with Rosewater and Strawberries

4 dl semolina

1,5 dl grated coconut

1 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla powder

3 dl brown sugar

2,5 dl oil (anything that doesn’t have a very distinguished taste, I used canola)

3 dl oat milk

2 tbsp rose water

250 g frozen strawberries

This halva is made in a cooking pan. I started by toasting the semolina on dry pan for about ten minutes, stirring it all the time, in order to avoid burning. When the semolina was very slightly yellow – brownish, I added the coconut, spices and sugar, stirred hastily and then quickly added the oil, milk and strawberries and the rose water. Then I turned down the heat and covered the pan with a lid, and let it simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. I was using frozen strawberries, so I guess it would go faster, if you used fresh ones. I shaped the halva by pressing it to tiny bowl and then turning it over on a plate, kind of in the same way children make sandcakes. I decorated the halva with rose petals, grated coconut and freeze – dried strawberries. It could also be sprinkled with rose water, to enhance the taste and smell.