Gardening and Harvesting

We have rented a piece of land from the community garden nearby. We’re growing onions, radishes, spinach, chard, cucumber, pumpkin, dill, snow peas, fava beans and potatoes this year.

First some pictures from earlier this summer. The whole garden.

Onions and snow peas. We’ve harvested over 6 kg snow peas so far. Maybe over 7 kg, I haven’t weighted them all.

We planted a lot of potato, because there’s no water supply in the garden and we’re quite dependent on raining and potato survives well through dry periods.

Baby chard.

Chad has grown better than ever. Here I am making chard rolls. Similar to these, but bulgur and mushrooms as filling.

And some pictures from today. Spinach is growing much faster than I expected. I thought we could eat fresh spinach couple of times during the summer, but we have also frozen some, because it’s growing faster than we can eat it.

Our biggest pumpkin is now about size of a football:

Today’s dinner was made mostly of the things we’ve grown ourselves.

For the lasagne I made a tomato sauce with onion, snow peas and chard. I also threw in a half bell pepper that we had in fridge, and some white beans for extra protein. I used garlic, lovage, oregano, thyme, salt and black pepper to give flavour. Then I made a bechamel sauce with spinach. Last I made layers of both sauces, whole wheat lasagna sheets and fresh basil to dish and baked it in the oven.

As side dish we had salad that was made of lettuce, radish leaves, radishes, cucumber, tomato and olives. Only radishes and cucumbers were from our garden, we didn’t have big enough lettuce leaves and tomatoes are very difficult to grow without a green house.

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Mushroom Lasagne

I invented this recipe earlier this autumn when we had picked lots of forest mushrooms with my mother. It was great, and I made it again last weekend when we had dinner guests. I don’t have pictures on the computer yet, but I’ll add one later.

Mushroom Lasagne

9- 12 lasagne sheets

Mushroom sauce:
1-1,5 l cubed forest mushrooms
2 tbsp oil or margarine
1 onion
1 can passata + half can water
scant 1 tsp salt
0,5 tsp black pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp chervil
0,5 tsp thyme

Bechamel sauce:
3 tbsp margarine
1 dl wheat flour
7,5 dl soy or oat milk
pinch of salt and white pepper
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
0,5 dl nutritional yeast

Heat the mushrooms in a big pan or pot until the liquid comes out of them. Drain or continue heating until the liquid has evaporated. Chop the onion. Add the oil and onion to the pot and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent. Add passata, water, salt, pepper and herbs. Simmer while you make the bechamel sauce.

Melt the margarine in a sauce pan and stir in flour. Add 0,5-1dl milk, stir well, add more milk, stir etc. until all the milk is gone. You can increase the amount of milk you add when half of the milk is gone. Bring to boil (remember to stir often!) and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the nutritional yeast. Check your mushroom sauce and add water if needed. It should be relatively thin, so thin that you wouldn’t want to eat it with spaghetti.

Grease a lasagne dish and spread a thin layer of mushroom sauce to the bottom. Put a layer of pasta sheets to the dish, spread half of the remaining mushroom sauce on them and 1/3 bechamel sauce next. Repeat and last put a layer of pasta and bechamel sauce on top.

Bake 45 minutes in 175 Celsius degrees.

Cooking with the Sopranos

We have been watching Sopranos DVDs and usually the food they eat looks so delicious. So we borrowed The Sopranos Family Cookbook from the local library. I wouldn’t buy this book, because most of the recipes include meat, but I like to have it at home for a month. Few recipes are already almost vegan, you just need to sprinkle vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast on top of the dish instead of  dairy cheese. Some recipes need more substituting to make them vegan and some recipes are completely useless. I have tried only one recipe so far, and it included four kinds of meat! Pork and veal were used only for flavour, the meat pieces were removed before serving, so they were easy to substitute. The other two meats were sausages and meatballs, which were easy to veganize. The soy ball recipe makes loads of balls, so you may want to make only half.

lasage2

Sopranos Style Lasagne

Lasagne pasta
Tofu ricotta
2 dl oat cream + 1,5 dl nutritional yeast (or melting soy cheese)
1-2 dl Parmazano or other vegan parmesan

Tomato sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
2 sausages
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato puré
3 cans of crushed tomatoes
2 dl water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (I used herbs and garlic flavoured)
salt and pepper
6 basil leaves, chopped

Soy balls

3 dl textured soy protein
vegetable broth
2 dl bread crumbs
1 potato
1 dl wheat flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1 onion, chopped
0,5 dl nutritional yeast
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
2 tbsp oil + more for frying

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot. Fry the sausages until they are brown from every side and put them on a plate. Throw the garlic cloves to the pot and fry couple of minutes or until they are browned. Remove from the pot and eat them. Fry the tomato puré for a minute and add crushed tomatoes. Add water, boullion cube, salt and pepper. Stir in basil and sausages. Bring to boil, cover the pot partly and simmer for 2 hours, stirring from time to time. Add more water if necessary.

Meanwhile make the soy balls. Put the soy protein into a bowl, add some broth and stir with fork. Keep stirring and add more broth until the soy protein is moist. Remember that it’s easier to add broth than remove it, so add only little bit at time. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix with your hands. Make small balls, about size of a grape. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the balls from every side.

When the sauce has been simmering for two hours, add the soy balls and simmer 30 more minutes. Remove the balls and sausages from the sauce and add water if the sauce is very thick. I had to add several desilitres, because the sauce for lasagne must be much thinner than the sauce that is eaten with cooked pasta. Slice the sausages.

Lightly grease a lasagne dish and spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Put a layer of pasta on them, then some soy balls and sausage slices, spoon tomato sauce on them, then  1/4 of Tofu ricotta and few tbsp nutritional yeas mix and  parmazano. Make the rest of the layers the same way. After two layers my dish was nearly full, and I decided to put fewer balls and rest of the sausages on the last layer. I thought I’d freeze the rest of the balls and sauce. But I couldn’t even put the last layer of pasta to the dish, because it was this full:

lasagne1

I still had some sauce and quite a lot of soy balls and cheeses left, and thought that I could make more lasagne and freeze that instead of balls and sauce. I added one more can of crushed tomatoes to the sauce, because there wasn’t enough left for another lasagne. This time I managed to put layer of pasta on the top, and spread rest of the tomato sauce and nutritional yeast mix and sprinkled some parmazano on it.

Bake in 175 cesius degrees for 45 minutes.