While we are spending more and more time dreaming about our new home, and especially the prospect of being closer to nature, we still do enjoy our balcony. Especially now that the plants are growing more and more, and you can see a change every day.
… and I wonder how far they will make it until it is time for us to pack.
We’re not there yet, though, so in the meantime …
While I have been dreaming of the real deal, these little guys here on our window sill and dining table have plotted a plan to take over the kitchen. Looks like they’re succeeding, too.
I am going to skip the part where I comment on the lack of postage around here … and go straight to the wonderful pesto I have made from the herbs we gathered at Törnagården.
I looked up recipes online but I ended up playing it by ear for the most part. Basically, for pesto you just mix the herb of your choice (basil being the classic one) with olive oil, pine nuts and grated Parmesan cheese. I used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts this time since pine nuts are pretty expensive here, and I needed a lot.
I found the recipe for the mint pesto on Martha Stewart’s, the one for the nettle pesto on chiliconkarin (in Swedish), and the dandelion pesto on a German page on healing herbs (so, yeah, this one’s in German, duh).
- Always rinse whatever herbs you’re using first (I don’t know, maybe I am stating the obvious here but just in case).
- In the recipe for the nettle pesto it said to boil the nettle leaves for 2 minutes in salt water before processing, which I did, although I can’t say that I have any idea why.
- I roasted the sunflower seeds after rinsing them (not the raw food way to go, I know!). I don’t know, I just somehow got the idea that it would be better to have as little water as possible in the pesto, so that it wouldn’t go bad so fast. I don’t even know if that’s true or not, I guess I was just acting on some sort of instinct here.
- Something I do know helps to make pesto last longer: make sure that there is a layer of oil on top.
I think that’s it. I can’t wait for the basil I am growing on my kitchen window sill to be big enough for some classic pesto. The simple things are really the best. I also want to try this cilantro pesto recipe I found on ByzantineFlowers … so I guess the pesto fest isn’t over yet.
I’m back. It feels weird being in our apartment again after wwoofing a week on the country-side. At least it’s finally green around here, too.
This past week was amazing and inspiring in so many ways. Initially we had planned on staying with two, maybe three different wwoof hosts. We ended up staying at Törnagården with Vanessa and Marcus the whole time. The perfect place for us.
I was pretty lousy at taking pictures. Sometimes it feels as if taking a photograph takes away something from the moment. Like you become aware that „this is a moment“ instead of just enjoying it’s existence. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I don’t have a better excuse for why I didn’t take more pictures of some of the amazing things I saw these past days. Like Törnagården itself. Like the awesome house on wheels that Marcus designed himself, and which he has been building petty much entirely from trees he himself cut down. Like the adorable baby clothes Vanessa has been knitting for the little bean that is due any day now. Like the great food she prepared for us every day. Like … you get the picture. Well, I guess you actually don’t in this case. Maybe some.
So, what have I been doing then instead of taking pictures (as I am putting together this post, I realize that I did take more pictures than I thought), and without internet for a week?
When we arrived on Wednesday, we could tell we had come to the right place by the house on wheels that was standing on the lawn in front of the house. We were greeted by two excited little bears who seemed like they could hardly pace themselves behind the fence (another proof of Marcuses‘ craftsmanship). They turned out to be Sophie and Lotte, the family dogs. A highly pregnant Vanessa pointed us to the front door, where she welcomed us warmly. After talking for a while, and Vanessa showing us around, Marcus showed up, too. He had been at his workshop (he is a finsnickare, a carpenter), where he had been – and where he would be for most of the days we were staying at Törnagården – working on a bed for the baby. With the due date rapidly approaching, this was obviously pretty high on the priority list.
They showed us around some more – the green houses, which Marcus had built from parts he found on the property, and which were featured in an åter-article; Vätte, the cow, and her calf Edgar, and the two goats, Bogart and … I forgot the other one’s name. And they obviously gave us a tour of the house on wheels.
After lunch we started getting down to business. The business of shoveling
shitmanure namely. There was a big pile of it by the hen house, and it had to be moved in order to compost. After a while, we accompanied Marcus to his workshop. After we got a tour, we started cleaning up my the saw mill till dinner.
In the evening, Marcus and Vanessa tried to separate Edgar from Vätte over night, so that we would be able to get some milk in the morning. No success, though, or at least not for us. Edgar won this one.
On Thursday we all started the day by walking the dogs by a little pond in the woods nearby, Kvarndammen („kvarn“ means mill, and there was a little water mill).
Then it was back to the workshop, more cleaning. We had lunch at Törnagården, outside in the backyard. It was windy, so the salad had to be eaten fast, but still – we were eating outside, surrounded by nature. Sitting on our balcony here in town just doesn’t measure up to that.
All four of us went to the workshop in the afternoon. Peter and I cleaned some more, Vanessa was preparing the bars of the baby bed for sanding, Marcus kept building the bed. Later Vanessa, Peter and I sat outside in the sun and sanded the bars under Marcuses‘ (justifiedly) critical supervision. We ended up sitting there until after 8 pm. That was one of the most beautiful things for me during these past days: not having a watch with me – and no clocks on the walls. Just going with the flow, letting the daylight be my guide.
After we returned to Törnagården, Marcus went straight back to the workshop, the remaining three of us went to the neighboring farm to get some milk (how cool is that?!). Vanessa made pancakes for dinner, after which we sat and talked for a while. I was very tired, and the first to go to bed.
On Friday Marcus has to attend to a project for a customer, so Peter and I stay at Törnagården and finish of moving the manure from the hen house. We also clean the hen house a little, and I have to admit that the sight of maggots in the hen poo was quite the challenge for me. But the day wasn’t all work: I lay on the trampoline in the sun for quite some time, and in the afternoon Vanessa took Peter and me to a beautiful lake. I took my first „swim“ for the year (not sure if the few seconds I could make myself stay in the coldcoldcold water count).
Saturday Marcus had to finish up Friday’s project (sadly but not unsurprisingly that ate up quite a bit more time than planned). The rest of us went to Falköping. The thrift store Vanessa was going to show us was closed but we discovered one that she hadn’t been to, either, so it was a win for all three of us. Peter bought a beautiful old alarm clock, which ticks very loudly, and which has an alarm sound that I am not too crazy about, but which I hopefully will get used to.
In the evening the four of us went over to some friends of Vanessa’s and Marcuses‘ – Tonie, who was celebrating her 30th birthday, and Fabian. It was a beautiful evening, the first barbecue of the year, lots of interesting people with interesting stories; most of them wwoof hosts and wwoofers. Peter and I felt really welcome, and not like the tags-along (is that even a word?) we actually were.
Inspired by herbal savvy Vanessa, Peter and I went to gather some herbs to take with us to Gothenburg – dandelion, lady’s mantle, nettle, raspberry leaves. Peter wants to make wine from the dandelion blossoms, I have been browsing the net this morning for all kinds of recipes, and now it looks like there is going to be a pesto fest coming up (and thus probably some recipe posts, too).
In the afternoon, Peter and I went to Bossgården, a farm we had also considered wwoofing at, and which is actually the place where Vanessa and Marcus first were wwoofers themselves. At this point, we are trying to get into as many heads as possible of people who are doing what we hopefully will be doing ourselves some day in the not too distant future. Jonas, who runs Bossgården with his wife, Sanna, was kind enough to let us pick his brains over delicious homemade sour dough bread.
On Monday, Peter and I prepared two of the green houses by weeding and fertilizing them. I think I actually enjoyed this activity the most out of all our little wwoof-projects. Who knew that digging around in the dirt with my hands might turn out to be my thing?
My pleasure of digging around in the dirt however was surpassed by the joy of meeting someone else who has been doing that on a whole different scale – and for years: In the afternoon, Vanessa Peter and I went to see a guy that had been much talked about the previous evening. He was said to be building an earthship, and that was just way too interesting not to check out. The earthship turned out much more amazing than what I had imagined (and thanks to Vanessa, I remembered to take at least some pix this time). Kevin and the story of his earth ship were also really interesting, so if you ever happen to be in the Tidaholm area, I can only recommend that you stop by. We showed up unannounced (which we had been told was ok but somehow it still felt a little weird for me anyway), one of the kids had the stomach-flue – and we were still welcomed with open arms both by Sandra and Kevin. There is so much to be said about this earth ship, and the journey Kevin and his family have been on since they started building it. I am actually thinking that it is deserving of its own post, so for now we will have to make do with some pix.
Yesterday (Tuesday), we left – after one last look at the crib.
On the way home, we stopped by Hjo, one of the three cities in Sweden that have made it their goal to preserve as many of the old buildings as possible. It was beautiful, and – again – I took way too few pictures.
I felt really lucky when I found a little brochure at the tourist information about a place that sells locally grown white asparagus just outside Hjo. That has definitely been one of the things I miss about Germany, the measly little overpriced bundles you get at the grocery store here just don’t cut it. So I got to buy expensive but hopefully delicious „real“ asparagus for once. And whaddaya know, the guy running the place turned out to be from Germany originally. Driving by the fields, and seeing the workers (from Poland judging from the license plates of the cars parked at the farm), I couldn’t help but wonder about their wages, and I started thinking about Two Caravans and It’s a Free World … And then I started to think about my own hypocrisy, for after all: what about all the people involved in the process of producing my food that I buy at the grocery store, whose faces I don’t happen to see right in front of me? …
OK, there’s no dancing around this: this one may look healthy but calling it tasty-looking would be a stretch.
How to (makes about four servings):
- Soak about a cup of figs over night (it’s a raw food thing: soaking everything – to get rid of toxins (seeds and nuts), or in this case just to make it more digestible).
- About half an hour or so before you want to prepare the smoothie, soak some powdered nettle, hip and blueberry (of course you can use the real thing, too, but we happen to have tons of this powdered stuff, it’s supposed to be rich in vitamins and stuff – gosh, this sounds like I don’t even know why I am doing half the stuff I am doing … which is completely untrue! … er … well). At Peter’s request, I added some spirulina, too (algi, also … um, healthy)
- Put the figs in the blender – with the water they were soaking in! Blend. Duh.
- Add the powder that should have turned into a creamy goo by now.
- Add a banana (or more, if you like), even some agave syrup if you like it REALLY sweet.
- Add water depending on what kind of texture you like
At our friend’s we ate this with berries (picked by her in the woods behind her house, of course). We were out so we had to go without. What I like best about this smoothie/cream is how the fig seeds crackle in my mouth.
Oh yeah: and how it makes it possible to take in all these vitamin supplements that I couldn’t force down before when I tried to just drink the stuff. I guess you can come a long way with sugar.
It has become sort of an institiution for me to make Swedish cinnamon buns when I visit anyone in Germany. But since my friends and I are meeting for dinner tonight (yes, you guessed right, this is a scheduled post – I am on the train to Frankfurt if you’re reading this right when it gets posted), and someone else is already taking care of dessert, I decided to make pizza buns instead.
The basic recipe and technique is the same, I just didn’t add any sugar this time, and instead of cardamon I used pizza spices. For the filling I took tomato purée, chopped up mushrooms and peppers. Topped off the buns with mozzarella cheese and salt. Et voila:
I did make those burgers for dinner today – with homemade BBQ sauce and hamburger dressing and all. Only the ketchup and the mayonnaise in the dressing were not made from scratch, even though there were recipes for that in the Junk food book. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me this fast food faux pas.
The hazelnut chocolate cake deliciousness from earlier reminded me of one of my favorite homemade things. Homemade nutella. I came across this recipe when I got into the low-carb thing. I am not that strict about it anymore as I was then but I still use birch tree sugar.*
Obviously you can use any sweetener you like – and it’s still home-made nutella. In all fairness: it doesn’t taste exactly like nutella. In my opinion, it tastes better. Plus, it’s easy, fast to make, with no exotic ingredients (except the coconut fat), and some might even say: healthy. I don’t know if I would go so far considering that I probably eat way too much of it at once. I would however go so far as to say that – as anything home-made, and thus made with love and care – it is a healthier alternative to the stuff from the store.
- 2 cups of ground peeled hazelnuts
- ca. 4,5 to 5,5 tbs of sweetener (just use how much you like)
- 3 tbs cocoa (the raw stuff for baking, not the sweetened ready-made stuff for chocolate milk)
- coconut fat – I start out with 2 tbs, see how the texture turns out, and add till it’s right
- a dash of vanilla
Just put everything into a blender and, well, blend. Add whatever you feel needs adding according to your preference. Done. It lasts … well, I don’t know, in our household never long enough for me to actually figure out a best before date.
* Birch tree sugar is a form of xylitol, which doesn’t up the blood-sugar level so much. I like it best out of all the alternatives because although the sweetness is different from the taste of sugar, I don’t feel „cheated“. Stevia just tastes like licorice to me, so that’s no real alternative if you ask me. I make sure I buy it at a health food store because xylitol can also be made from – guess what – GMO corn.
I am not only a hoarder when it comes to thrift-stores, no, I also hoard books. Library books. I cannot praise Gothenburg’s library enough – free membership, branches in every part of town, a huge selection, and, the best of all (yet also my downfall, as will soon become apparent): you can borrow a lot of items at once. I mean it: A LOT. You’re not supposed to borrow more than five at a time but there is no mechanism in the scanner that prevents you from checking out more.
I try to be reasonable but what does happen to me a lot is, that I go to one of the libraries (they are nice places to hang out in town when it’s cold outside and you’re waiting for someone), and I find something that interests me. Lately mostly cook books, and diy related stuff. Mainly because those are really nice to look at, and inspiring, and also: expensive, so I wouldn’t buy them. What happens next then is me thinking „Oh, I want to borrow this one. But wait, I already have so many books at home. But if I don’t check this one out now, I’ll probably forget the title, and what if it’s not there anymore next time I come here?!“ So… you get the picture.
This past week I borrowed a cook book, which makes me want to cook/bake through every single one of its recipes. It’s called Junk Food – på riktigt. I’d translate that with: Junk Food – for real. It combines two interests of mine – junk food and health. Health is obviously relative, in this case I mean that the food is made from the best ingredients possible (because you’re the one making it, duh), no funny business like preservatives, flavorings, etc. So the book has recipes for how you make all the classic junk food meals from scratch. Get this: there is even a recipe for how you make marshmallows!? I’m in love. Also, the food photography is really appealing – lots of vibrant colors.
I am planning on making hamburgers (including making my own bbq sauce and hamburger dressing) tomorrow but since the dough for the buns is a yeast dough, I prepared that tonight (fresh yeast dough tastes great but it is basically a guarantee for a stomach ache).
So, thank you Gothenburg library. I actually think I will purchase this book.
To be continued …
It is as divinely delicious as it sounds – and it’s gluten-free! I’d also like to think that it has to do with Ayurveda in so far as Ayurveda is all about pursuing happiness. This cake definitely made me happy. I am spoiled when it comes to mushy chocolate cakes since I live in Sweden. Swedish kladdkaka (mud cake) is the best, in case you didn’t know. I am very patriotic (or whatever it is called when a foreigner is that) that way. I am just telling you this so you fully comprehend what I am saying when I say the following: Angie’s Flourless Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Cake is the best muddy chocolate cake I have made/eaten. Ever.