Category Archives: Self sufficiency – food

Food subjects in self sufficiency

Fresh & healthy salads all year round

pic_eating3Salads are healthy. Duh! But how to make your salad a fresh & delicious part of your meal?
We like salads especially when they have a big variety in taste and texture. When every bite is a surprise. So we assemble a salad with a few types of lettuce, some fresh herb leaves and anything wild and edible that I can find. Like chickweed. Or young dandelion leaves. Or wild garlic or chopped sorrel. Or any young vegetables from your garden.

For the basis for your all year round salad you need a garden or a balcony or window, and the seeds of “four seasons lettuce”. Sow the lettuce periodically (every month) and never pull out a whole plant. Pick only some of the outer leaves so the plant can keep on growing.
If you have a garden, you can also grow all kinds of other lettuce leaves in different periods of the year. Like lamb’s lettuces or rucola or any type like in our salad calendar below.

 

Edible flowers to spice up your salad (picture source: eattheweeds.com)
Edible flowers to spice up your salad (picture source: eattheweeds.com)

Edible flowers for your salad
There are many edible flowers that make your salad look and taste great. Like those spicy nasturtium flowers in red, orange and yellow. The darker the color, the spicier the taste.
You can also use daisies (little white flowers that grow in grass) to make your salad more happy, or orange calendula flowers, violets, the leaves of roses, clover flowers, blue cornflowers are edible, blue borage flowers, blue chicory blossoms…

If you want a more colorfull meal, check out Wikipedia where you can find a list of edible flowers and their colors and flavor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_edible_flowers


Fresh herbs in the salad
So besides lettuce and flowers, we also use fresh herbs like basil, parsley (both good for your digestion system), coriander/cilantro, oregano, marjoram, lemon balm, mint or sage. We forage wild herbs like nettle, plantain and wild garlic.
I usually chop these herbs small because their leafs are firmer than lettuce leafs. The small chopped pieces also spread the flavor.

A herb that is packed with vitamins and minerals, is alfalfa. Well known as sprouts but of course you can also sow a bit in your garden to get the plant (and grow more seeds yourself).

Borage gives nice edible flowers and you can eat the leaves in your salad. Add the blossoms and leaves especially when you have skin problems.


And what else?
We like to put fennel greens, chopped hazel nuts, green onion leaves and garlic sprigs in our salad bowl, besides the more common additions like boiled egg and tomato quarters.

Most vegetables that are still young and small, make a great addition to your salad. Think of young carrots, small broccoli shoots, young pea snaps or green beens and young zucchini’s (courgettes). Since nature provides us with plenty, you can use some baby vegetables before you harvest the mature ones.

Also great in salads, is grated carrot/cabbage/turnip/jeruzalem artichoke, or even a bit (because it’s so spicy) of grated horse radish. Or “al dente” broccoli, cooked corn, young pea snaps, young carrots, radishes spinach leaves…

When you grow sunflowers or pumpkins, you can add their seeds to your salad. Or add flax seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds or the big (fresh & green) nasturtium seeds.

The bigger the variety the more delicious the salad!

My fresh salad leaves calendar (middle of Europe)

January: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, winter purslane, witloof, winter spinach

February: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, young dandelion leaves, winter purslane, witloof, winter spinach

March: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, young dandelion leaves, winter purslane, witloof, winter spinach, chickweed

April: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, young dandelion leaves, witloof, chickweed

May: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, young dandelion leaves, onion sprigs, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

June: lettuce, chards, rucola, young dandelion leaves, fresh herbs, spinach, celery, onion sprigs, calendula flower, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

July: chards, rucola, nasturtium, n-z spinach, fresh herbs, young amaranth leaves, spinach, celery, onion sprigs, calendula flower, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

August: chards, rucola, nasturtium, n-z spinach, fresh herbs, young amaranth leaves, celery, calendula flower, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

September: lettuce, chards, rucola, nasturtium, n-z spinach, fresh herbs, young amaranth leaves, celery, calendula flower, purslane, mustard, beet leaves, chickweed

October: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, nasturtium, n-z spinach, fresh herbs, winter spinach, celery, calendula flower, mustard, beet leaves, tatsoi, cress, chickweed

November: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, winter purslane, nasturtium, witloof, winter spinach, tatsoi, cress, chickweed

December: indoor lettuce, chards, rucola, lamb’s lettuce, winter purslane, witloof, winter spinach, tatsoi, cress

Barbara’s pumpkin soup with options

With Halloween and the pumpkins getting ripe in the garden, I’d like to share my basic pumpkin soup recipe. It is a basis with many flavor-options!

Frying onions & pumpkin before you add water
Frying onions & pumpkin before you add water

The basis:
1. Chop an onion (or 2) and fry it golden
2. add crushed and chopped garlic, as much as you like
3. add a pumpkin/squash in cubes, and fry a bit
4. add options “A”
5. add water so everything is covered and boil 15-20 minutes until all is soft.
6. add options “B”
7. mash the soup with your potato masher or with a blender.

And now the options that make it an even more delicious soup! “A” for the ingredients that need a bit frying & cooking, “B” for the optional ingredients that you should add just before serving.

Options A:
– Add potato or sweet potato or jeruzalem artichoke with the pumpkin cubes to add more volume, vitamins and fibers
– Add coconut cream (goes well with the sweet potatoes!)
– Add thym and/or oregano and/or rosemary
– Add 10 or 20 whole cloves of garlic. They become soft & sweet & delicious in the soup!
– Add red hot chilli peppers, cayenne pepper and/or paprika powder for a spicy soup
– You might like to experiment with cumin seeds, fennel seeds and crushed pumpkin seeds

Delicious pumpkin soup
Delicious pumpkin soup

Options B
– Add a chopped bunch of coriander leaves before serving (don’t boil cilantro!)
– Add fresh, chopped parsley before serving
– Add fresh lemon juice or orange juice (nice with the cilantro!)
– Add walnuts, 1 whole on top & some chopped small in the soup
– Add a spoon of sour cream and chives to each serving


And what to do with the seeds?

Don’t throw them away! They are delicious & healthy (loaded with protein and fiber). With rinsing them under the running tap and rubbing the sticky orange stuff off, you’ll get:
– your next year’s seeds
– a great snack when you roast them.

For next year’s seeds you use only the thickest ones. Let them dry on a few layers of toilet paper for a week before you store them cool & dry.

If you want to make a great snack with pumpkin seeds, try this:
After rinsing/cleaning the seeds, let them dry a bit.
Salty roasted seeds: sprinkle oil over them and add seasoning like salt, garlic, paprika powder or cayenne pepper, grounded ginger….
Sweet roasted seeds: stir them with some honey and add sugar (and cinamon).

Bake the seeds on an oven tray in 10 minutes on 160 degrees Celcius (300 Fahrenheit) and don’t forget to shake them after 5 minutes.
Let them cool down so they become crunchy.

Eat them by biting off the pointed tip to crack the shell, and enjoy the tasty inner seed.

Have a nice pumpkin time!

Healthy sweets for self sufficient kids

Our kids aren’t sweet teeth; they don’t give much about candy. But they do love all kinds of fruit! Also dried fruits. We dry plums in the solar dryer, but peaches or strawberries are not suitable for drying. So we make fruit leather with them.

Fruit leather or fruit gums are just dried pureed fruit. No added sugar, no colors or taste enhancers, no preservatives (as if these delicious things would last longer than a week!) or other chemicals. And the recipe, again, is simple!

– Make a puree of your ripe fruit
– spread it on wax sheet or baking paper
– dry it softly (57° Celcius is the best) & slowly in about 5 hours (+ or – 1 hour)

You can think of strawberries, apples or a leather made of plums, or even a puree of tomatoes with oregano. Or mix bananas with peaches, pears with cherries… everything is possible!

Of course you could also add sugar or honey or stevia, but it’s not neccesary with ripe fruit.

We cook on a wood stove so keeping the oven on for 5 hours is no problem. But if your oven works on electricity, you might consider other options. If you have a central heating system you might use that, or something else that’s warm & already on. (don’t take the 57° too serious!)

I’m looking forward to make fruit leathers in our solar dryer next year.

Do you want to learn about self sufficient living in real life? At Bogata Suma in Croatia we organize workshops about several subjects. >> read more

Fresh & ripe fruit for fruit leather
Fresh & ripe fruit for fruit leather
Making pureed fruit
Making pureed fruit
Spreading the pureed fruit in the baking tray
Spreading the pureed fruit in the baking tray
After baking you roll it up in baking paper to store it!
After baking you roll it up in baking paper to store it

Chips for self sufficient kids

We have kids and we want to live self sufficient. So when they ask for crisps, I dig up* some potatoes, slice them really thin and fry them until they’re crispy. (* For real! The best spot to keep potatoes is in the soil, under a thick layer of mulch!)
And when you fry potatoes, you realize that you can also slice carrots really thin. And sweet potatoes. And Jeruzalem artichokes, beetroot and celeriac (the root). Crispy vegetables are surprisingly delicious! And the best thing is that there is ONLY this root or vegetable in it. No MSG, no colors or preservatives.

homemade potato chips
DIY potato crisps

How I make potato chips:
1. I slice the potato as thin as I can (a potato peeler works well)
2. put the frying pan or grill pan on the stove with a bit of grease (oil, or pig fat)
3. fry the slices on medium heat until they curl.
4. put them on paper so most of the grease can drip of

Tip 1: Don’t put too much in the pan at once.
Tip 2: You can add salt, and/or rosemary/oregano/tym/paprika
Tip 3: When you are experimenting with making chips, please give thicker slices a try. They are our favorite because they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Kale chipsKale chips
Something else the kids (and us) really like, is kale chips. Very easy to make and very healthy.
1. tear or cut the kale leafs in bite size pieces (without the stems)
2. put them in an oven dish & sprinkle a bit of oil over them
3. bake in the oven for a few minutes. Keep an eye on them because they burn easily!
4. sprinkle salt over them

Bon apetit!

On Saturday November 1st 2014 we’ll host “Bread with wool”, a workshop about making your own sourdough bread and working (cleaning, carding, spinning, felting) with raw sheep wool. I think we’ll serve a big bowl of kale chips during the break because the kale is doing great this year!