Our goal is to become self sufficient with our food. We need five years to achieve this. We will reach this goal in five steps. In the first year, we worked the land, clearing it and creating a fine tilth, removing the stones and weeds. At the same time, we composted, then used compost as a fertilizer for the first sowing in the second year: potatoes and onions, peas and beans, tomatoes and peppers and many more things. We also would recommend a permaculture course at Quinta Vale da Lama in Lagos. For today’s recipe, almost all of the ingredients are from our own garden. This third year’s harvest was: green beans, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes, garlic and bay leaves. It’s a recipe for an autumn day.
We also have strawberries planted in aquaponics cork boards in a 5m by 2m tank which is where we are also experimenting with growing herbs. Aquaponics has the advantage of doing away with watering, as plants grow directly in the water.
So let’s start preparing lunch. We can use lentils from Spain from the organic shop, or grain bought from the market produced by one of the village farmers. We don’t have grain from our own garden yet, but we might already have it next year. Almost all over the country there are markets where local produce is sold. They deserve our support, so that’s where we shop once a week: we buy honey, corn and cured olives to make olive paté, a wonderful spread for bread. For the pâté, remove the pits from the olives that have been marinated in garlic, lemon and oregano. Mix with a hand blender until creamy and add a little olive oil, oregano and salt to taste. Now it’s ready.
Before long, in November, we will harvest the olives. As it’s been a very dry year dry the harvest will probably be scant. Last year, at the oil press out of the cold, we still got 10 litres of olive oil from about 100 kg of olives. This oil is now coming to an end. But at Padieiros, Alferce, we can buy precious, golden olive oil for six euros a litre. And they fill up the glass bottle which we take along for this purpose. The taste is wonderful. But let’s enjoy our own table olives.
And recently we went for a walk up the mountain and picked blackberries. We made a dessert with them. As for the large quantity of tomatoes that the garden gives us, we make a sauce with them, which is prepared on a low heat and used for pasta, bringing back memories of summer for us during winter meals. We don’t follow a vegan diet, but we don’t eat meat anymore. What is not consumed in summer is traditionally preserved for the winter. We’ve even had four crops of potatoes. Every Saturday I go to fetch some goat’s milk from my neighbour Jose. Antonio or Eric have eggs on Fridays. Sometimes we buy a goat’s cheese from Peregrina or Monique. Right now we are drying figs. Then come the walnuts and almonds.
But now let’s make lunch: sauté three medium sized onions in olive oil and season with Tavira salt and red pepper from the garden. For four people, use one litre of water and one vegan stock cube (no palm oil please!). The onions are sautéed very slowly until brown. Then add the water, two bay leaves, the beans, the broccoli and a little later the cherry tomatoes that are still left from the summer and that are almost dry and the potato could also be sweet potato. And if there is still something else to enjoy in the kitchen, it’s to be added now, for example: sweet pepper, courgette or carrot cut into small dice. Finally, be sure to add the previously washed lentils or the grain, which has to be left to soak in water overnight.
Let this colourful variety of ingredients simmer for 45 minutes. If necessary, add more water. Check the seasoning, remove the bay leaves, and then add some more oregano and olive oil. Just before turning off the heat, add a chopped chilli, stirring well. This is the last touch for this stone soup.
Let’s prepare a dessert, a vegan nut cake made with spelt or gluten-free buckwheat flour, 50 grams of cane sugar, 50 grams of ground nuts, five tablespoons of carob flour, 15 grams of baking powder, half a teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of Bourbon vanilla essence. Add 125 ml of sunflower oil, 225 ml of almond milk and 75 ml of honey, or rather agave syrup. You can find out how this is all mixed together to make a good cake online, at:
Enjoy your food!