This weekend I made two nice sirups from plants in my garden, spruce shoots and dandelion.
Both recipes are essentially the same. Collect spruce shoots or dandelion flowers (only the yellow petals), put in a pot, cover with water, boil for 30 minutes, pour mass through a sieve into another pot and weigh, add 2/3 of weight sugar, slowly boil to a slightly viscous consistency, and finally fill into bottles. For better durability, I boil the slightly opened bottles in a half full water-bath for about 30 minutes.
During the Christmas market in Trondheim, I spontaneously bought a local mountain goat cheese which was especially tasty [Heidrun below]. So I started googling around and discovered a whole network of ecological cheese farms. Many of these apply setring [transhumance/Sennerei], a style of mountain farming which is also common in the Alps. During the summer months the animals, usually milk cows or goats, are moved to a smaller and simpler farm in the mountains. The grass there is rich in herbs and gives the milk and resulting cheese a distinct rich flavour.
Many of these local farms in Norway also offer visits, showing how their produce are made and often also double as bed-and-breakfasts. The network ‘Hanen‘ [the rooster] gives a good overview of the possibilities.
So today I went to the local farmers market, the Bondens marked i Trondheim, a great source for these tasty local cheeses:
- Heidrun fra Brubekken Gardsmeieri
- Grote Ost fra Hitra Gårdsmat
- Blåmann fra Skånaliseter Gårdsysteri
After soaking the seeds for two days, I transferred them to two tiny green houses. As soil I used compressed peat pellets which expand after watering them.
The oregano and basil are already showing leaves!
After a relaxing Spain holiday over Easter, I now found the time to start planting herbs and spices for this year: Rosemary, basil, sage, oregano, lovage, and also Jalapeño chilli peppers.
To start the germination, I put the seeds on multiple layers of kitchen paper soaked with a chamomile infusion. I covered the whole plate with cling film to avoid too much evaporation.
As a little biology experiment, I picked random things from the forest behind the house and put them into two small plastic aquariums and sealed everything airtight with silicone. I paced this biosphere on the window and installed a RaspberryPi with PiCam NoIR above it. This was in late March and ever since (with a few brief pauses doe to lack of space on the sd card) the Raspberry took a photo from above every 15 minutes.
Using mencoder and handbrake I compiled a time-lapse video of the past months. It is amazing how alive these plants are and how long the balance in this isolated environment remains stable. (Don’t be fooled by the brownish appearance, this is just due to the colour shift of the infra red camera. The plants are still nearly as green as in the picture above.)
In the recent days, I prepared the big flower pot on my balcony for the new plants. This year, I’ll grow tomatoes, chillies (three variations), lovage, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary and sage: