cooking

Spring Garden Burgers

 Spring has sprung! At least on the northern hemisphere - sorry, southern folks, it's our turn now! And even if Spring hasn't exactly come yet to where you live, because we all know that seasons don't follow days on a calendar, you've probably started noticing the shift of energy that accompanies the Equinox. The days grow longer, the Sun's arch is wider, some birds are returning after their travels down south, while others say farewell until next Autumn. Some wild flowers start to bloom, insects show up behind every tree and the garden seems to be bursting with a renewed excitement. We, too, feel this change. For me, I feel like waking up after a long wintery sleep and making long lists of everything I wish to do on this sunny days ahead. I feel like cleansing my body of the slow wintery sluggishness and get my limbs moving wide once again. I feel like giving everything a good scrub, airing up every linen and tapestry. But most of all? I feel like cooking.

2018-03-18 02.29.03 2.jpg
2018-03-23 11.52.46 2.jpg

 Around the equinox, after a long and weary day of land clearing (more on that later, I promise!), I went to the garden  for a little harvest and felt like really celebrating the shift of season through a filling and rich meal. And I thought, well why, garden burgers it will be!

 You can do these burgers with any leafy green, roots, stems or flowers you have. You can also incorporate wild greens - I think nettle, chickweed or young dandelion leaves would make a wonderful addition. But as I've said before, when in doubt, don't pick. Make sure you know what you are picking, know the poisonous plants in your bio-region and always cross and double check references. And, if you're foraging for the first time, make sure you take along a seasoned herbalist or forager friend!

{By the way, this video on wild edibles shared by the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine made my day in a very funny way!} 

 Right! Gathered your vegetables? Gathered your roots? Your free abundant generous and resilient greens? Let's head to the place where magic happens - the kitchen!

 The quantity of vegetables you use in your burgers is totally up to you. In the end, what it really comes to is having the right texture, so they don't crumble apart as you flip them on the skillet.

Directions

  • Start by cooking your choice of cereals, grains or pulses. When soft, set aside and let it cool down. If using large pulses, like beans, you may want to mash it a bit.
  • Combine all your greens and roots together with the onion and garlic and add this mixture to the base you just cooked. Use your hand to combine everything thoroughly. If using an egg, crack it inside.
  • Now, it's rule of thumb. Keep adding breadcrumbs until the texture is malleable. It can still be a bit runny, and there is nothing like placing a dollop on the skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil and see if you can flip it using two spoons and care, without crumbling it.
  • Got the right texture? Wonderful! Now you can slowly fry them in medium flame, until golden. I recommend covering them with a large lid while cooking, to ensure they cook right to the center.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • A couple handfuls of greens, thinly sliced
  • Roots, grated
  • 2 cups of cereals, grains or pulses (this is what keeps it all together! I used red lentils)
  • about 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, or what necessary for a firm texture (I literally grated a piece of old homemade bread about the size of my fist)
  • 1 egg (optional, for consistency)
  • Olive oil, or a local oil you use

 


Ah, my choice of greens was cabbage blooms, savoy cabbage leaves, mustard leaves and radishes.

Grab some homemade bread (well, I'm sure hamburger bread would do just as fine!), sauces (uh-uuuh), salad leaves and a nice glass of fizzling kombucha! Happy spring on a plate!

2018-03-23 11.43.33 1.jpg

 Have you got any favorite ways of celebrating Spring at the table? I'd love to know them! <3

On parenting, bread and things in between

sourdough.jpg

Parenting is tough sometimes. I mean tough in the real sense of the word.

The internet is so full of beautiful images of parents {or, more often, mothers} with perfectly clean young kids in spotless houses and having perfect holidays. You don't see the mess, or the tantrums, or any reference to how in fact you spend half of your day squatting, either picking up a child or cleaning spilled liquids and any kind of objects. Or any discussion about having hard days too, and we all being just humans having perfectly human feelings.

Anyway, in those tough days, when my head seems more of a grey cloud announcing rain, I fall only too easily into the comparison trap set by these perfect images- what a terrible parent I am. Feeling tired, or with low patience, makes me feel like I'm doing it all wrong.
And so I start thinking, ignoring this whole strange new world called the social media. And I realise humans have been having children and reflecting about their emotions for something like 350 thousand years. That's 350 thousand years of humans having perfectly human feelings. You, me, we, are not alone. Nor in history, nor in time, nor in space. And for sure there is no such thing as a role-model parent.

In these days, my journal is more scribbled than usual. Last time, it said something like "I feel like I want to put a backpack on filled with chocolates and bad literature and just run away. Although I would probably be back a couple days soon feeling miserable because didn't even brought a tent and it rained". I closed my journal and, as my two loves slept {because even on my bad days they are my two loves}, I went out with my bike and visited neighbors. Neighbors with children. Real people. Even though Sam feels the things similar to mine, sometimes I need someone from the outside to talk with, if it makes sense. What I search, on those days, is not sympathy, a gentle tap on the shoulder and a smile "you'll have better days". Of course those are kind and I'm grateful for that, but when my friend looked at me and said "Yes, it is awful, it's like one of those days you just want to run away, you know?", I was like YES. THANK GOODNESS. I'm not alone feeling these feelings. It is awful, it will pass, but the fact it will pass doesn't make the feeling less worthy of importance.

A couple days later, the entry on my journal read something like "I fell in love with it all again. And I am grateful for the ups and downs, because both of them are opportunities to learn more about myself and grow." So cheesy, I know.

So, 350 thousand years of feelings. Of all kinds of feelings. Our ancestors, going through it all too. And now comes the bread.

I've very recently fallen in love with the practice of sourdough bread baking. The sourdough culture, such an ancestral way of baking. Tending for a culture, getting something in return. Feeding it with wholegrain flours, adding water collected from the rain. Feeling the sweet, beer-ish smell and thinking of my ancestors, doing the same things. Feeling feelings in their heads and creating with their hands. Making a fire, keeping the room warm. Kneading. Waiting. Watching it grow. Going to sleep leaving the dough next to the woodstove. Waking up. Checking the dough, it has doubled its size. Restarting the fire. Flop the dough over to a tray, or wait another day. Baking, powered by the trees from the forest. Hugging a child, sniffing the air together. Checking in. That scent, fresh sour bread. I wonder how many waited for the bread to completely cure before cutting open - it's just too good when warm drizzled with that olive oil from your neighbors.

There is more than a blood lineage weaving us to our ancestors. There are practices. There are feelings, living deep within our bones, our material memory, stirred up every now and then, when we do not pay attention. When we forget. We are not alone, nor in history, nor in time, nor in space.

2018-02-04 12.56.28 1.jpg

Promises of the year ahead

The last days of 2017 and the first days of 2018 brought many things which my overly positive self is taking as good omens of what's ahead.  Here are a few:

_DSC3391.jpg
_DSC3397.jpg

The first harvest from our new garden, for salad and tea - of much gardening and harvesting.

_DSC3414.jpg
_DSC3416.jpg

The first batch of brined olives (we have still got like 70 liters of olives to prepare, in case things go wrong) - of much preserving and fermenting, because I also started a new sourdough.

_DSC3410.jpg

Shipping new orders - well, of many more blouses flying off!

Finishing projects and doing my first test knit ever - of much knitting. Always.

_DSC3380.jpg

Clear skies, crisp air and bright moons, while wild animals scatter the bushes - of magic.

_DSC3367.jpg

These two, plans coming out of the heads and new window and door frames in wood - of a house to be, hopefully!

What are you looking forward for the year to come? Any signs whispering to your hear? And I know, I know, the beggining of a year is just a random day out of 365 days, but I am not one to squander the opportunity for this whole start fresh thing. What can I do. Wanna join me?

Slow saturday + recipe

The rain patters on the roof and there's a lovely scent of baked apples in the air.

We're having a rainy weekend, keeping us inside and forcing us to slow down. The last couple weeks have been so full and we've barely enjoyed a cozy day in the house. Our land hunt has been quite time-consuming and we spent our first week here in a frenzy run around, talking to old people and being shown pieces of land (I'm talking 13 pieces of land in six days, my friends). Although we may have already found the patch of earth where we would like to live, we're still keeping our eyes open! And, last week, Sam has been to the guest house finish some work and receive renters, while I went to the capital with J to visit friends.

So these rainy days have actually been a blessing. Everything around here gets this really magical look - the oak trees shrouded in fog and the mountain top shying away. Like a dream land.

We enjoyed a stop in the rain to wrap J on to my back and go for a walk - not too long, though, as the water started dropping down again.

Walking back home, we prepared an apple and pear speculoos crumble to warm our bellies and share with the people living in the land with us - I had spotted a speculoos spice mix in our friend's kitchen, but you can also make it from scratch, as described below.


Apple and pear speculoos crumble

INGREDIENTS

Topping

  • 40 g butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 g wholegrain wheat flour
  • 30 g chestnut flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey

Filling

  • Four apples
  • Four pears
  • Grounded cinnamon
  • Powdered ginger
  • Powdered nutmeg
  • Powdered cloves
  • Six cardamom pods, shelled

 

DIRECTIONS

  • Peel the fruits and cut them into cubes, then place them, alongside with the spices, in a casserole and cook on low heat until soft
  • In a mixing bowl,  combine all the topping ingredients and, using your fingers, mix them thoroughly until it feels like sand
  • Spread the cooked fruit on the bottom of an overproof dish and cover it with the sandy mix
  • Cook for about 15 minutes in the oven on medium heat

I sprinkled our crumble with oats that had been tossed in a pan with butter and honey before placing it in the oven - because I'm crazy about oats.

Serve with a cup of steaming hot ginger tea!


I hope you are all enjoying a slow weekend. What are you up to?

 

Wild greens pie

A few weeks ago we baked this utterly delicious pie... And if you've been following me for a while you won't be surprised by its main ingredient - weeds.

We love using in our cooking whatever is in season and available in the garden or in the wild. And chickweed is spreading now just like... Well, a weedChickweed is probably one of my favorite edible plants, and one we use very often. It tastes somehow like spinach and is packed full of goodness. By the chance, on this day the neighbors had asked me to go milk their goats, and the chickens next door had laid a lot of eggs - the pie can for sure pass without these ingredients, but I just felt like using them since they were at hand.

You know my love for local food! This is why you will want to adapt this recipe to use you whatever wild greens you have growing in your region. Go out and have some fun discovering edible plants in company of a good book guide or a forager friend!


Directions

  • Prepare your dough by mixing the solids first, then then oil, then finally adding the water. Mix it well with the tips of your fingers. You want it to be elastic, not sticky. Ideally, you could wrap it in cling film for 30 minutes before using - I didn't
  • Cut the onion and the garlic finely and sauté them in a large saucepan
  • Start adding your spices - don't feel limited by the ones on this ingredients list!
  • While it all gets golden in the saucepan, cut your greens finely and toss them in
  • Let everything cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. You may cover with the lid, not to lose the moisture. Once cooked, if you find the vegetables too stringy, give it a go in the blender and return to the saucepan
  • (May be a good idea to turn on the oven now)
  • Mix the cooked cereals into the saucepan- this will add consistency to your vegetables mixture
  • Spread your dough thinly on the countertop, grease the pie pan and dust it with flour and place the dough on
  • Spread your cooked veggies over the dough, evenly.
  • Now, if you're using eggs and milk, whisk them together and pour the mix over your pie
  • Fold the dough corners in and, if you have some leftovers, get creative with crust toppings!
  • Tuck it in the oven on medium fire for about 20 minutes, or until golden and crusty.

Ingredients

SHORTCRUST DOUGH

  • 100 g flour (I mixed wheat and chestnut)
  • 3 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • salt, to taste

FILLING

  • 2 handfulls wild herbs
  • 1 cup cooked spelt or other cereal
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • olive oil
  • curry powder
  • curcuma powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • two eggs (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of milk or substitute (optional)

Voilà! It's so easy. It's even better when shared with friends by the woodstove with a good glass of homemade wine, but that can be just me.

Let me know if you try this, how you do it, and what are your favorite wild herbs to use!