Sofias Country Gardens
The good life
In the 1970's there was a BBC production called "The good life" where a couple tires of the modern stress and tries to become totally self sufficient in suburbia. It is a comedy and of course not replicable in real life, but I still enjoy the idea of relying on my own produce rather than buying everything in the supermarket. I am a foodie by nature, and I suffer in winter when I am forced to eat half-dead fruit and vegetables. The taste of fresh produce is totally different! Not to mention the vitamin content and texture... So although it is labour intensive it gives me great joy not to have to buy vegetables for two months of the year!
I think the deer in the picture agrees with me. As we don't hunt on the farm, deer are always visiting my gardens for an illicit snack. This year their favourite buffet has been the wildflower meadows beneath the houses at both Grönborg and Stensund, but that is only because the vegetable patch is so well fenced in that they can't gain entry!
I start each morning with a walk through the forrest to see my chickens, and
more often than not they have all laid eggs for me. In July, the path through the forest is often lined with yellow chanterelles, and right there I already have the perfect breakfast: mushroom omelette. It only takes a few minutes to clean the mushroom, and then I fry them with fresh onion from the garden, and finally I pour in the whipped eggs for a perfect omelet.
The zucchini is one of my favourite steady croppers as even one plant will produce enough to keep a steady and abundant flow of fruits throughout the season.
It is very versatile and can be eaten in lots of different ways. We eat the very small ones raw with dip-sauce as a snack, or marinated in garlic and olive oil and oven baked whole to be served with the main course. The larger ones we slice and put on the grill with meat, or make into soup. (It is actually one of my favourite summer soups. Just boil with some vegetable stock and mix in a food processor with Philadelphia or Oatly and there it is!)
Even the flowers are edible; they can be stuffed with a mix of vegetables and cream cheese (or Oatly for the vegans) and oven baked in a hot oven.
I am generally not a fan of potatoes as I find them bland and boring, but I do love my own home grown spuds. Perhaps it is the clay based soil (or just my imagination) but I do think they have more taste and texture than shop bought produce.
We eat the small ones boiled with salt and fresh dill as an accompaniment to fish, and the big ones we make into wedges in the oven as an accompaniment to grilled meat. First we marinate potato wedges for an hour or so in olive oil, rosemary and salt and pepper and then they are rosted on 170 C for about an hour or until ready.
This time of year the forest is filled with blueberries, and especially during a summer such as this when it has been raining a lot they grow large and succulent.
As a child I used to hate picking berries and I am terrible at making deserts, but luckily we always have friends and family visiting. Most of our guests don't mind spending an afternoon picking berries, especially as my daughter makes a fantastic vegan blueberry pie and they know they are in for a treat! And as summer memories go, nothing invokes such a blissful feeling as the whole house filled with the scent of a homemade blueberry pie straight from the oven to be eaten with ice-cream!
Another lovely dessert is ice-cream, caramel sauce and red currants, where the sweetness of the ice-cream and caramel sauce is perfectly offset by the sourness off the berries!
Old fashioned caramel sauce recipe:
3 dl of whipped cream
2 dl semi-skimmed milk
6 tbl spoons sugar
1 dl sirup
Put all ingredients together in a pan and bring to boil, stirring gently all the time. Just before it is ready it tends to boil and then gain a darker colour as well as a thicker texture. As soon as done, just pour over the ice-cream and berries and enjoy!