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: 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.