on neighbors and apple cake

apples-small

My neighbor is almost 90 and we don’t speak the same language. In his garden, he has a beautiful apple tree.

When I first moved to Scandinavia, I landed in a big city. I rarely stammered anything in my new language because all my neighbors spoke English very well. In my green, tidy, fancy neighborhood, every garden had its own beautiful apple tree.

The apples, though, remained largely unpicked. They fell, and rotted. Sometimes, a few remained on the trees after the snow came, dressing them with red dots, looking like Christmas bulbs. It was beautiful, and stupid.

This fall, just a few days after I ended up in this tiny village here up north, my 90 years old neighbor, who doesn’t speak English, told me that he had too many apples and that I could pick as many as I wanted from his tree.

I stammered, in my new language: thank you, thank you so much, that is so nice of you.

I’ve spoken different languages and lived in neighborhoods with apple trees before, but this, you see, had never happened to me.

———————–

The apple cake of good neighbors

Ingredients

3 dL flour
2 dL sugar
1 ts baking soda
1 dL sour milk or yoghurt
2 eggs
1/2 dL neutral vegetable oil (I use peanut oil)
1 pinch of vanilla sugar

2-3 of the neighbor’s apples. (If your neighbor happens to have a plum tree instead, grab a bunch of plums. It’s delicious too)

Instructions

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add liquids/eggs and mix well. Pour in a buttered pan. Slice the fruits and arrange them on top of the batter. Place in a warm oven (200°C). Bake until the top is golden (about half an hour). Lower the oven temperature to 150°C and continue baking for another half hour or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

on growing food and carrot greens soup

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That’s about it. The last harvest of the season. Not pictured: a nice bunch of salads, a bunch of peppermint, and the last blueberries from the forest. The herbs and flowers, we dried and saved to slowly enjoy in cups of tea and sprinkled over pizza through the winter. The vegetables, we savored – every last one of them. Picked about a month ago, and now, long gone.

I was pretty sure that I had never wasted much food. But growing my own – or, more precisely, growing only a tiny little part of it – I’m learning my lesson: there’s still room for improvement. Before growing carrots myself, I had never wondered, silly me, if you could eat carrot greens. I’m glad I know that now, because they make a delicious soup.

Here’s to growing, what? A week’s worth of carrots?
Next year, hopefully, we’ll grow some more.


Carrot Greens Soup
adapted from this recipe

Serves 4 as a starter, or 2 as a main meal with home baked bread and cheese or hummus.

Ingredients
– The greens from a bunch of carrots (about half the carrots pictured above). I removed the stem-like parts and kept only the leafy parts.
– 3 potatoes, pealed and diced
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 clove of garlic
– 3 tablespoons of oil
– 1 pinch of fenugreek, or 1 cube of stock
– salt and pepper
– 1/2 liter of water

Instructions
Sauté the onions and garlic in oil. Add the potatoes and carrot greens and brown for 4-5 minutes while stirring.
Pour the water and add seasoning. Bring to a light boil, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Blend and enjoy. Never
EVER again throw away any carrot greens.