Category Archives: Food

Felafel: first harvest from the KVANN garden at Væres Venner!

The first harvest at the KVANN vegetable sanctuary garden at Væres Venner was broad beans (bondebønner) from a mixed grex and this was turned into delicious falafels that almost melt in the mouth! The year’s first falafels or hummus is a real highlight of my gardening year…and did you know that the original falafels and hummus were made using broad (fava) beans, sadly replaced by inferior (in my opinion) chick peas….and we can experience this dish fresh even in cold areas where other beans won’t grow!
AND the colour is a natural beautiful green inside….they are often made with some leafy green vegetable added to supply the greeness of the “real” falafel!
NB! Falafel doesn’t have to be ball shaped and deep fried…these are pattie shaped and shallow fried..

Emmer multispecies tempura

Tonight’s dinner was the first tempura of the year, made with Emmer wheat….delicious!
With Mustard “Giant Red”, dandelion, Hosta flower shoots, assorted lily flowers, ground elder, Daubenton and Daubenton variegated perennial kale, Rosa spp., ragged jack kale, Crambe cordifolia flowers and buds, broad bean tops, Houttuynia cordata “Chameleon”, Calendula officinalis flower, Sonchus oleraceus, giant bellflower flower buds, Allium cernuum flower, Allium senescens flowers, Allium rubens flowers, Diplotaxis (perennial rocket), grape leaf, mustard broccolis, various lettuces, Hablitzia tops, Scorzonera flower stems and buds etc.

Sweet and sour stir-fry ingredients

Last night’s ingredients for a “sweet and sour” stir fry: (from left to right) – Allium cernuum (chicago onion / prærieløk),  Crambe maritima (sea kale / strandkål) broccolis, sweet cicely flowers and young seeds (spansk kjørvel), Arctium spp (burdock / borre) flower stems (sweet), flower stems of Heracleum maximum (cow parsnip) (also sweetish), Rumex patientia (patience dock / hagesyre), Campanula latifolia (giant bellflower / storklokke) tops and Bunias orientalis (turkish rocket / russekål) broccolis! Delicious!
(the flower stems are first peeled to remove the coarse outer layer)

Hosta icicles (yuki urui)

The other day I discovered a long suffering Hosta that I’d covered with a bucket in the spring. Surprisingly the blanched shoots were in good condition despite the warmth. We ate them as a salad with a simple dipping sauce (roasted sesame oil, soy sauce and pepper! And it was delicious, mild tasting, crispy and refreshing, the texture and shape of the leaf reminding my friend of artichoke! The day afterwards, I ate the rest lightly fried with garlic and chili in an omelette with sea kale broccolis! I’m sure you can use any Hosta for this. In Japan, Hosta montana is the main species cultivated for the markets. We found blanched Hosta shoots or urui in all the supermarkets in late march / early april during my study trip to Japan. However, H. montana is not an accepted species name by the Plant List (plantlist.org) and is often given as a variety, H. sieboldiana var montana or var gigantea. However, on the taxonomy account at http://www.hostalibrary.org/species/pdf/species_part1.pdf, it is stated that H. montana is so obviously different from H. sieboldiana that even the average gardener can tell them apart! For this reason, I used H. montana in my book as it is still commonly used in horticulture. For a list of cultivar names known as H. montana, see http://myhostas.be/db/hostas/montana. Hosta undulata is also noted on the Japanese Hosta wiki page as being used. This is no longer accepted as a species and is considered to be a group of cultivars H. “Undulata” (see http://myhostas.be/db/hostas/undulata for a list of cultivars associated with Undulata).

On the Japanese Hosta wiki (translated with Google translate), the main producing area for urui is given as  Yamagata prefecture (north of Tokyo on the other side of Honshu), which ship light green young shoots which are used for salads , pickles , stir-fry , with miso sauce , vinegar miso , miso soup , mixed rice , sushi rolls etc. This explains why we didn’t see the production of Hosta during our farm trips south of Tokyo.
The Japanese name is 雪うるい (yuki urui) which means snow leaf or icicles (google the Japanese name to see many pictures). They are produced in darkened greenhouses for an extended season or the rows are mounded outdoors. The production techniques seem to be different judging by the colour of the urui sold in supermarkets.

More Fast Slow Food

Fast Slow Food: From garden to table in 20 minutes or less…
As related in my book and my talks over the years, some of the best food is in this category and one common way of using wild and garden veggies in the Mediterranean countries is simply to gather a selection of greens, boil and fry in olive oil with garlic and chili, mix with scrambled eggs. Two of the wild foraged species mentioned at the beginning of the Mediterranean chapter are
a) Clematis vitalba (Old man’s beard / Tyskklematis)….must be boiled to detoxify as it’s related to buttercups (smørblomst)
b) Anchusa azurea (large blue alkanet): quote from the book “Anchusa azurea is a perfect perennial edimental with superb azure-blue flowers in summer. Young leaves and flowering shoots of this species and others in the same family have been gathered from the wild in most Mediterranean countries. In Cyprus, for example, they were boiled alone, boiled with beans or fried. Like its annual cousin borage, Borago officinalis, the flowers are an attractive addition to salads or just freeze them in ice-cubes.”

Belated happy birthday to me

The first veggie food I ate was macaroni cheese and chips at Edwin Jones (now Debenhams) in Southampton, a treat when we Mum took us shopping back in the 60s…

Most years since I’ve followed this tradition on or near my birthday, no chips this year as the potatoes have run out and nowadays the macaroni cheese is mixed with masses of green stuff both from the garden and, yesterday, fiddleheads harvested on the Homla walk. This is more or less the only time in the year I have dessert and the only time I eat sugar…in rhubarb crumble, also with family roots back to the 60s :)

rhubarb crumble, also with family roots back to the 60s :)

 

Karvekaalsuppe

One of the joys of spring is traditional Norwegian Karvekaalsuppe (caraway green soup), last night’s dinner. This was one of the first wild plants I domesticated in my garden for the soup, leaving some for seed later (used on bread, in curry spice mixes, ferments etc.). I simply collected a large bowl full of leaves with the top of the roots attached. I then made a butter and wholegrain Svedjerug (old Norwegian rye flour) roux with garlic, water and caraway greens, adding a hard boiled egg to the soup…
Learn much more about this great multipurpose vegetable in my book Around the World in 80 plants!