Way out of nowhere and beyond the end of the road, we earlier this summer stumbled upon this old and since long abandoned farmstead, now overgrown with trees and brush. At occasions like this my imagination always starts running and the question marks line up. What was life like for those who settled here in the wilderness a couple of hundred years ago? And what made them chose this location, a place where no roads led? Were they enticed by the nearby stream with its waterfalls that would provide water and facilitate the transport of timber. Or was this now shrubby landscape then open and fertile with plenty of graze for the cattle and an opportunity for these people to grow their own food? Anyway, it’s still easy to understand the hardship they must have endured.
Sometime during the course of time the old open fireplace was replaced by a modern iron stove.
When and why was this farm suddenly abandoned? Did the older generation die out without leaving descendants to take over or had the hardship finally taken its toll? Now the windows are broken and the open door blowing in the wind. Still, someone out there seems to watch over the house so much that he/she has given it a new green tin roof.
Do you ever think of nature as a huge walk-in pantry? Filled with all kind of ‘goodies’ from early spring ‘til late autumn. I do, and I’m very grateful every time we can just go out there and pick what we need. And besides, everything is free of charge.
When we go for a walk in the surrounding woods we seldom leave home without our basket or a small bucket. Or at least I have a plastic bag in my pocket, just in case we’ll be stumbling upon something useful and edible.
Here are some of my favorites:
In early april you’ll find some of spring’s first and most outstanding primeurs – shoots of stinging nettles. Above all they’ll make a delicious nettle soup but can also replace spinach, kale or broccoli in almost any recipe and beats them all for vitamins and minerals. Just don’t forget to wear gloves when picking them!
Wild strawberries in a mug or thread on a straw of grass – that’s SUMMER to us!
In the beginning of June the marshlands are covered with blooming cloudberry plants.
In most countries this exquisite berry, also known as ‘the Gold of the North’, can only be found at delicatessen – at outrageous prices.
Our own little Miss Cloudberry
Swedish blueberries are known for their high quality and are much sought after by the health-food industry. About 80 % of the production is exported to other countries while we import blueberries of lesser quality for our own needs from eastern Europe. This is almost the closest thing to crazy we’ve ever heard.
The crown jewel among berries.
This tart little berry is an important ingredient in the Swedish kitchen and lingonberry jam is an absolute MUST-condiment with Swedish meatballs or game dishes.
These little babies can be a delightful enrichment of almost any dish, as in soups, pies, sauces and stews.
Homemade soup of rose hips is a popular delicacy in Sweden, both as a dessert and for bringing along in a thermos on cold weather outings. The kids just love it!
Sloe is a bitter berry but makes wonderful sloe juice for children and sloe gin or liqueur for the adults. But remember, the berries must be frostbitten or rest in the freezer before using them.
The cranberry, commonly found in swampy grounds in the northern parts of Sweden, is closely related to lingonberry and used the same way.