(c) A. Doherty 2012
Well, what a week it’s been. I have been busy with a lot of networking, about which I hope to be able to bring you more later. Today, I am on my way to the Food Guerrilla event in Rotterdam, which I
The week started (or last week ended, depending on your viewpoint) with the Seedy Penpals, Cityplot and Mediamatic Zaadruilen (Seed exchange) on Sunday. The day started out bright and crisp, a great day for a seed swap. We headed over to the Mediamatic Fabriek with bags full of seeds, and the hope that there would be enough variety to share.
Unfortunately for us, the heavens opened just before 2.00, when the swap was due to start. Although I was inside, and couldn’t see out, I knew from the sound that it was raining cats, dogs, and probably a few farm animals as well. I am sure that this put many people off, as the mediamatic events are usually very well attended. Nevertheless, quite a few intrepid people did make it, and brought a lot of seed to boot. It was great to make connections wit more people who want to grow and share seed, and to find out about all the initiatives that there are in town, or that people want to get off the ground.
ASEED were also there. They brought seeds, and they also gave a workshop on seed saving, and the importance of maintaining plant varieties that are being lost as we see more and more of our plants (particularly food) being grown from fewer varieties that are bred to look good or last well on our supermarket shelves, or be resistant to pesticides etc.
This issue is becoming increasingly more important as we see more and more laws passed globally that try to restrict the distribution of seeds, and concentrate it in the hands of a few companies, instead of using traditional methods of saving a portion of the harvest to grow the following year. This weekend in Vienna, a group of NGOs are getting together to discuss proposed legislation in the EU that would become even more restrictive on the sharing and saving of seeds, and the issue of owning “intellectual property” of seed varieties and genetic strains. I think that it is important to push back about this, for many reasons, and look forward to being able to do a small part in the push to amend this legislation, and make it possible to continue to grow, save and share my own seed.
People came with their own seeds, some that they had bought, but many that they had saved themselves. I took a lot of seeds, but my favourite was the runner beans that I have grown from seeds that my Dad gave me. I love to share that story, and many people were interested, and took some for themselves. I also learned a few of the stories that other people told along with their seeds too.
As we were doing the event along with Mediamatic, we also included an artistic element. We made a beautiful rangoli from pulses. A rangoli are colourful Indian artworks usually made from seeds, coloured flour, rice or sand traditionally made by Hindu women to use as decorations at festivals. I also learned that the form has been used to plot out a farm and the rotation system, so that you had a visual representation of what should be planted where, that is easy to follow, even if you may not read. I think that is a lovely idea.
Since they were edibles, we thought that we would share them with the people who came to swap seeds, so we made a Souper Seed Mix. We gave packages with beans or lentils, that we used in the rangoli, plus a spice mix. Obviously, there was no way that I was going to waste all that good seed. I figured that people could then choose to plant them, or eat them.
I tested this recipie first, using home grown Harlequin potatoes, but you could use any firm-fleshed potato. It turned out that the potato was the only seed of all of the ingredients that I used that did not appear at the swap, but I expect that this was more due to the time of year.
So, here is my Rangoli Soup. A few people from the swap have already tried this, and the reports have been good so far. It seems it id good, with or without the art!
Recipe: Rangoli Soup
100 g dried beans, split peas or lentils
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp mustard seed
½ tsp nigella seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp tomato puree
Pinch chilli powder
1 clove garlic, grated
3cm piece root ginger, grated
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sticks celery, diced
350 g potatoes, diced
2 carrots, sliced
250 g pumpkin, diced
300 ml vegetable stock
1 tin crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley or coriander
Soak the beans in cold water overnight. If you have lentils or split peas, you skip the soaking stage. In fresh, cold water, bring the beans up to the boil and then simmer until tender. This may take between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on the type of bean. Once they are cooked, drain the water off, and set aside.
In a dry pan, toast the spice seed mix, until they brown, and the mustard seeds start to pop. Grind them to a powder.
Make a paste with the seed powder, turmeric, chilli powder, garlic, ginger and tomato purée.
Gently fry the onion,celery and bay leaves in the oil, until they are translucent.
Add the paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well so that the spices don’t burn.
Add the carrot, potato, pumpkin, the cooked beans, stock and tomatoes, and cook until the vegetables are tender – about 10 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with some chopped coriander or parsley sprinkled over the top.