Sweet Rooibos Body Scrub

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With great reluctance I left Africa after a three months long adventure – the journey began in Tanzania, continued to Zanzibar and ended in South Africa, Cape Town. And Cape Town captured my heart, completely. I’m like a crazy-in-love fool with the country, the people, the landscape, plants food and life styles I have come across. I felt – despite the complexities of this beautiful country  – right at home, people have taken me at face value, welcomed me to their kitchen tables, shared their stories and passions. I feel deeply humbled, honored and grateful. My one and only focus now is to get back there as soon as possible!

But… being back in Stockholm is not all bad – I have a home to call my own, something many people in the world can only dream of. My friends and family make me feel not only missed but very very welcomed back, like I am an important part of their lives.The need to “belong” is deeply ingrained in all of us and perhaps traveling is all about just that – being reminded of who gives us that sense of “I being” – I am fortunate to have communities where I feel just that all over the world!

My mind is spilling over with inspiration, and my senses full of new flavors I want to share. So today I created a “Sweet Bodyscrub” inspired by South Africa and the flavors of the Western Cape. Fynbo honey and Rooibos tea gives me the warmth of the African sun and soft warm light of a sunset by the ocean.The scrub turned out really delicious so here is the recipe! You may have to adjust the measurements according to how you like it and what type of honey you are using:

Sweet Rooibos Scrub by Lisen
Sweet Rooibos Scrub by Lisen

1 cup (250 ml) organic honey

250 gram organic brown sugar

2 tablespoons organic vegetable oil – olive, almond, jojoba or what other oil you might have on hand.

a handful Rooibos leaf tea

1 teaspoon lemon zest

If the honey is firm, put it in a jar over hot water so it becomes soft and easier to handle.

Mix all ingredients to a nice, smooth paste, if it’s too lose, add more sugar and Rooibos leaf.

Put the mixture in a dry, clean glass jar and store in room temperature.

Use: take a shower, take a handful of Sweet Scrub and massage it gently into your skin. Rinse off and enjoy your soft skin!

Sweet Rooibos Body Scrub by Lisen
Sweet stuff to nourish your skin!

The Rooibos leaves and the sugar gives a gentle scrub and supplies plenty of antioxidants. Honey is a wonderful healer and leaves the skin feeling soft, rehydrated, smooth and soothed. Lemon and vanilla lends their inviting fragrance to the blend.

Enjoy!

Lisen

My heart belongs to the Western Cape

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My heart has expanded beyond the limits of my chest and now resides happily by this wild, magnetic coast of The Western Cape. I shall miss it when I go back to Sweden…my heart I mean. Guess this must mean I’m home right here!

Lions Head, Cape Town
Lions Head, Cape Town

i have so much to tell, so many people I want to introduce to you that live here and do amazing things, and I will, one a time – I am lagging behind with my blog posts since my computer decided to crash (well, battery died – didn’t like life on the road as much as I do) but now it has been restored. I am very grateful. SO, in my spare moment I shall introduce you to lovely Fritz and Chanelle Schoon who founded the Schoon de Companje in Stellenbosch, the most profoundly sustainable bakery I’ve ever come across.

I will let you met Johan Reynike at Reynike wines who produces beautiful, elegant wines by working with nature and let biodynamic farming. Among his colleagues you’ll meet cows, paper worms and snail eating ducks.

Johan Reynike among his thriving vines.
Johan Reynike among his thriving vines.

You will meet dear Pieter du Toit at Cederberg wines – another thrilling winemaker 1000 m above the sea, in the red, dry and captivating Cederberg mountains.

Wine tasting at Cederberg. Like drinking fermented spring water, sunshine and nectar.
Wine tasting at Cederberg. Like drinking fermented spring water, sunshine and nectar.

You’ll be meeting Kobus van der Merwe who has a restaurant, Oup ve Koup in Paternoster. He forages plants from the dunes and the ocean and cooks the most…I mean…his food is pure poetry!

A lunch that lingers on the palate for a long long time..
A lunch that lingers on the palate for a long long time..

Oh, and you must meet Suzy Holtzhausen, famous Chef and one hell of a lovely person and cook with focus on local, seasonal, sustainable produce, also based in Paternoster.

Lovely Suzi Holtzhausen
Lovely Suzi Holtzhausen

But til then, must go for coffee and breakfast at Schoon…before I hop in to the car and drive to Elgin and Cluver wines and check out their winery…More soon. And please, if you haven’t been…do come here! South Africa is, despite all its problems, a place full of generous, warm, passionate, creative and life loving people!

Lisen

 

Seaweed & Co Zanzibar

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My inspiration is flowing back like a tidal water at full moon. Having worked with natural skin care for so many years, I have for some time now found myself gradually lo losing interest. The industry becoming more about beauty, fixation on looks, so many fake products out there….Anyway, my monthlong stay here in Zanzibar has really lit my spark and again I just want to dive in full heartedly and learn more. Inspired by the plant life, the abundance of herbs, spices and fruits, the local traditions, the initiatives here to bring the knowledge to the rest of the world and at the benefit och the island.

I previosly wrote about my visit to Mrembo spa, http://lifebylisen.com/mrembo-spa-in-zanzibar/. Now I have visited another great skin care project, also working with natural, handmade organic skincare inspired by the traditional knowledge carried by the women on Zanzibar: The Seaweed Center in Paje. https://www.facebook.com/seaweedcenterzanzibar/ (website under construction, I’ll get back about that in later post).

kelly logo

Seaweeds, Mwani in Swahili, specifically Euchema Spinosum and Euchema cottonii, are harvested and exported world wide and used mostly in the cosmetics industry, where it is used as a thickening agent. Being one of Zanzibar’s key exports since 1990’s it is used mainly in the cosmetics industry, in medicine and in (!) beer, also used to some in food, for its gelatinous quality. There are 20 000 seaweed farms on Zanzibar. Every morning as I walk along the powdery white beach looking out over the azur blue ocean I see women and children stooping in the shallow low tide collecting the valuable crop.

From planting to harvest takes two months, and needs daily attention. 4 kilos fresh seaweed when dried is reduced to 1 kilo. The farmers get 500 TZS per kilo, which is 0.23 dollars. A whole lot of work, and knowledge, for a whole lot of nothing.

Why seaweed

So, the idea with Seaweed centre, is to develop a high quality seaweed skin care product that can be sold for more. This initiative began as an NGO a number of years ago but wasn’t quite developed to the extent that it could have, until: Kelly Atkins and Klaartje Schade came along. Kelly had been working as a volonteer in other project and when presented with the Seaweed center intrigued by it and and saw the potential they could reach. Kelly was soon joined by Klaartje Schade, who had come across the center when working as a financial banker. Kelly had a career as business adviser at the Chamber of Commerce in London.

Kelly and Klaartje
Kelly and Klaartje

It’s been two years and the center now employs 14 members of staff, who shine with obvious pride for being part of this. The staff speak excellent english thanks to weekly lessons. Mustafa, one of the tour guides who used to be a fisherman, is now current in three languages: Swahili, English (which he also teaches) and French. Next on his list is Italian.

Fatima and her staff sorting the dried seaweed   in the shade of an Indian Almond Tree.
Fatima and her staff sorting the dried seaweed in the shade of an Indian Almond Tree.
The mamas ready to go out to the farm - it's low tide.
The mamas ready to hit the farm.

The day I arrive there is a South AfricanTV crew here to do a piece on the farm. The staff is all very excited, enjoying a moment of fame!

The mamas making the most of playing movie stars!
The mamas making the most of playing movie stars!

Here on Zanzibar there are quite extreme tides: at low tide you can walk out towards the horizon, the white sand and the bright sun makes the landscape resemble a desert. This is when the seaweed farmers prepare the farms and do the necessary work. Only an hour later, the high tides gushes in and covers the landscape with it turquoise water and the sea is filled with Kite surfers  happily enjoying the strong winds. Harvest is done al year except during rain season.

Kelly showing the new drying set up.
Kelly showing the new drying set up.

There are many steps to be dealt with along the way – finding ingredients produced for cosmetic quality, finding packaging (remember this is an island in the Indian Ocean and what may be easily accessible to us in the west to produce anything  really, is not in the least obvious here). But I see the determination and persistance in Kelly’s and Klartjee’s eyes. With a whole lot of patience, they have already come a long way and are already doing so much good for a lot of people, I know they will reach their highly set goals.

Low tide in Paje
Walking out to the farm.

At this stage Kelly and Klaartje have, together with their staff, developed a number of seaweed plantations, developed new methods for drying for higher quality, a production center with potential of expanding within the next few years. They are also in the process of creating new products, constantly exploring the local (along with the seaweed) ingredients such as vanilla, cardamon, coffee, coconut (soon they will be producing their own organic coconut oil), baobab, nutmeg, tumeric, lime, eucalyptus, hibiscus…

Next goal is to get the new packaging ready and send off the first delivery to their distributor in Hungary, who will sell them to various countries in Europe. Lucky for us who live there so we can enjoy the Zanzibar touch.

Also Kelly and Klaartje are looking to produce their own organic natural materials rather than buying them from suppliers. Ingredients they work with are, apart from sea weed, coconut oil, salt, sugar, coffee, aloe vera, honey, lime spices such as cardamon, cinnamon, lemongrass and turmeric. To mention a few.

Tending to the crop
Tending to the crop

At this stage Kelly and Klaartje have, together with their staff, developed a number of seaweed plantations, developed new methods for drying it for higher quality, a production center with potential of expanding within the next few years. They are also in the process of creating new products, constantly exploring the local (along with the seaweed) ingredients such as vanilla, cardamon, coffee, coconut (soon they will be producing their own organic coconut oil), baobab, nutmeg, tumeric, lime, eucalyptus, hibiscus…

Next goal is to get the new packaging ready and send off the first delivery to their distributor (in March) in Hungary, who will sell them to various countries in Europe. Lucky for us who live there so we can enjoy the Zanzibar touch.

Also Kelly and Klaartje are looking to produce their own organic natural materials rather than buying them from suppliers.

Local ingredients Seaweed farm

Here on Zanzibar the products are sold to hotels and spas who offer the handmade soaps, scrubs and gift boxes to their guests.

This is Bi Mtumwa. She is 87 and cooks great food for the staff every day. She has more energy than a 25 year old and is full of laughter and mischief. She asked me to take a picture of her drinking tea. So I did.
This is Bi Mtumwa. She is 87 and cooks great food for the staff every day. She has more energy than a 25 year old and is full of laughter and mischief. She asked me to take a picture of her drinking tea. So I did.

Next in the product line is shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, after that, there will be facial cream, body butters, body lotion….

I am really taken by the vibe here – the staff have really taken their job to heart, made it a mission to move forward with Kelly and Klaartje. They present the products to visitors with such pride, and I do recommend the guided tour where Mustafa, a former fisherman who is nu fluent in three languages (Swahili, English and French, about to embrace Italian) or one of his colleagues takes you out during low tide to the plantation. You will learn everything about how to plant, clean and harvest, get to taste it. Yes – it is an extremely nutricious food!   I am also hoping they will develop some food products…great for hair, skin, nails and bone. Seaweed makes you strong!

Next year I will be back here on the island and I promise I shall follow up and post right here how they are progressing. Already looking forward to it!

Stay happy!

Lisen

 

Mrembo Spa in Stone Town Zanzibar

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Infused in cloves, sandalwood, cinnamon, rose, citrus, coriander, honey, baobab – , moringa and coconut oil. My skin feels like a rosepetal and my mind is completely relaxed and happy. I have been massaged, scrubbed and pampered beyond belief in true Zanzibar style.

After 10 days on the beaches of Zanzibar, Jambiani beach to be exact (South East coast) with sun, white sand and salt ocean swims, I have arrived in Stone Town for a few days of exploration. My friend Helen Ingvarsson, who is an excellent tour operator (see her info below and keep it for next time you are in Zanzibar) had recommended Mrembo Spa t to me quite some time ago and being the spa – addict that I am I have been loking forward to this afternoon for months! Today was the day.

Mrembo spa

Mrembo Spa is located in central Stone Town, look for Soko Mohoko on Google maps – it’ll take you to a small street in the souk, it’s on your left side on the middle of the block. It was founded by Stefanie Schoetz, who arrived on this fragrant sunny, vibrant island in 2001. Stefanie was intrigued by the abundance of herbs and spices and how they have been used traditionally for beauty and wellbeing. This knowledge is not easily available to foreigners in order to keep it pure and intact, but, the elder women of the society who pass on the traditions, decided to trust Stephanie who plunged in whole heartedly studying for a long time. With time, she created a spa, where the knowledge can be accessible and available to anybody interested. Using only local ingredients such as spices, herbs, coffee, flowers, nuts, oils (baobab, moringa, coconut, sunflower), honey and aloe vera. All products are handmade and all the therapists are local (many businesses here prefer to hire staff from the mainland, leaving the locals out of chances), and they have been trained by international professionals.

A visit here is a far cry from the clinical, often rather anonymous spas with mass produced skin care products from big commercial brands we have in Europe and the ones I’ve seen in the States. It’s full of life, fragrance and character. This is just as much a sensual and pleasurable experience as well as cultural.

Mrembo spa henna

Mrembo Spa now provides livelyhood for 10+ families. Goes right along with my favorite philosophy: Do Good, Be Good, Feel Good!

So…you understand I was curious! I have been making skin care products and written books on this with recipes inspired by nature and various traditions, so I am pretty passionate! Mrembo spa also have a shop selling their own brand of products, “Pure”.

Handmade coconut soap
Handmade coconut soap

Ok – so, I arrive at appointed time, 2 pm, am greeted and led into the shop by Ali, who invited me to have a seat, served tea and gave me some time to catch my breath and absorb the atmosphere. I started chatting with a woman sitting on the floor, Fatima, who was stirring something in a big bowl, it was Body Butter with bees wax, one of the bestsellers in the shop.

Fatima making body butter.
Fatima making body butter.

Next, Tatu, my therapist, approached me with a big smile and led me into the treatment room so I could get ready for my SINGO scub, with fresh flowers and herbs, mixed with cloves, rice powder and coconut oil. The scrub is proceeded by a long massage with a beautfiful oil blend scented with rose. This scrub is traditionally used by the young Swahili women on their wedding day. I am neither young nor getting married but nevermind! It was sheer bliss.

Tatu with the magic hands...
Tatu with the magic hands…

After massage and scrubbed, my skin scented like that of a young bride, a facial awaited. Tatu began with cleaning my face with flowerwater (baobab oil, rosewater), followed by another cleanse, massage, hotpack, sandalwood – oat – honey facial mask. Footmassage while the mask did its job. Then again flowerwater.

And…that’s not the end of it. Off to where they do pedicure – massage, scrub with salt and fresh flowers – Fatima (not the same one I mentioned at the beginning of the text, there’s two Fatimas and Mrembo) took care of this while Tatu gave me a scalp massage. I am flying on a pink cloud right now.

Skärmavbild 2016-01-12 kl. 05.23.36

Back in the shop more production was underway – coconutoil and spice scrub. At home, when I make scrubs with dried flowers and herbs, I just mix them to a powder in a blender. But here is a different story – all spices are put in a big wooden mortal and ground by hand. This is really tiring work, I know, I tried and I get tired after two minutes. To get the right texture takes much longer…

Making coconut oil
Making coconut oil

Making Coconut oil

Pounding spices for scrub
Pounding spices for scrub

Tomorrow I have a date with Stefanie and will hear and learn more about her work, thrilled that she takes the time.

So, all this to say, next time you’re in time – book an appointment, spoil yourself, take a workshop and learn how you can make some of these products at home and enjoy being you!

http://mrembospa.com/

Some more Zanzibar highlights:

Hotels in Stone Town: Great rooms, great locations, superb coffee. http://www.stonetowncafe.com/

Want to splurge? Go here: Legendary hotel and restaurants. I’m eating at Emerson Spice tomorrow, lucky me. http://www.emersonspice.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/emersononhurumzi/?fref=ts

Shoe shopping: Surti & Sons have been making leather sandals for three decades. Their shop and workshop is conveniently located in the Souk, and have clients from all over the world. My friends in Cape Town just asked me to buy 4 pairs, and I bought 3 for myself! I’m set for life. https://surtiandsons.wordpress.com/

Best beaches (according to me) are those on the South East coast which is less exploited than the others. Here you find endless stretches of beach, the hotels are integrated with the local villages it is very peaceful. I have stayed, and will return to in a week, Uhuru Beach Hotel. Run by an English women since a year back. It’s literally on the beach, simple, beautfiful, friendly, calm and extremly reasonable prices.

http://www.uhurubeach.com/

If you need somebody to create the perfect stay for you – help with choosing hotels, creating tours etc, contact Helen Ingvarsson. Swedish lady who lives here and know all the inns and outs of the island and knows how to get away from the tourist traps and find the authentic Zanzibar: helen@lovezanzibar.com Say hello from me!

Stay happy!

Lisen

 

Goat BBQ on the menu

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Hello again – hope you’re all feeling fine after Christmas celebrations and that you had the opportunity to celebrate in a fashion to your liking.

I’m stlll here in Tanzania enjoying my last few days at the Econef centre in Kingori. Holidays were celebrated in the company of 16 kids enjoying food, dance and play.

 Saturday December 26 was a big day – all the kids were coming out to the site (the currently live in Leganga, with Caroline, but will move here as soon as the houses are up) to inaugurate the new playground. An event they have been talking about for day, not least the new basketboll court. They arrived in two rounds, our driver Saidi could only fit 8 at a time in the car – first the eldest (ages 10-16) that arrived early, before 9 am. Saidi had barely stopped the car before the jumped out and ran towards swings, slides, monkeywalk and balance, threw themselves over it. I have never heard them laugh so hard and run so fast! An hour later, the rest of the kids came – they’re younger and approached the playground first with hesitation, then wonder  – exploring these new toys, not knowing exactly what to do with them. But that hesitation didn’t last long – soon the elder kids initiated them in the wonders of swinging and sliding.

26 December3

26 December2

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The second big thing today was the food – Goat BBQ. Here in Tanzania they love meat, and especially goat, so for the occasion I had bought them one. That in itself is an adventure for me! I was meant to get it at the market but as it turned out we could get one delivered from a guy in the village.

Buying goat

One of our neighbours, Dickie, came to execute the slaughter and cooking, together with Mama Godi, who also lives with Caroline and the kids – a wonder of a woman: always calm, kind and patient with a natural authority that could make  any teacher green with envy.  She cooks, cleans, helps out where need be. I tell you, in my opinion she is one of the reasons the center runs so smoothly. Never irritated, never needs to raise her voice.

The third big thing today was the arrival of Charlotte Lindqvist and her family. Charlotte founded Econef together with Caroline is one of the driving forces behind this organisation. The kids love  her and have been asking for days: “When is Charlotte coming?  When? Where is she now?” Finally, she arrived – they flocked around her and hugged like they hadn’t seen her in years! The party could begin.

Here’s how to make a Goat BBQ:

1 – Buy a goat.

2- Invite all your friends.

3- Find a neighbour to execute the slaughter and cooking so all is done correctly. 

4- Dig a hole in the ground, preferably under the shade of a tree.

Mama Godi with volonteer Louisa Tornberg

5 – Bring out the charcoal

26 December12 7 – Fill the hole with choals and light them26 December10.Put a grid on top for the meat. 

8 – While the choal heats up: cut up the meat, save the best pieces for to BBQ and the rest for the Pilau. Let nothing go to waste – use all, kidneys, liver, heart, throat…the lot.  

26 December13

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9 -While the meat os on the BBQ, make a Pilau: rice, oil, salt, vegetables and meat.

10 – Pilau: make up a fire and fill a pot with water, bring to boil, add rice, coconutmilk, onion and the cut up meat. Boil until all is ready.

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10 – While the food is cooking – hang out, chat, enjoy the shade.

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 11 – Grill vegetables for the vegetarians (we deeply appreciate it!).

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12 – When food is ready, call everyone to the table, make sure they wash their hands.

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13 – Eat!

26 December30

26 December29

All of a sudden, the kids went completely quiet – focused on the eating. There was not a scrap left!

Hopefully your guests will have brought some amazing chocolate cakes and plenty of fruits to complete the meal.

Enjoy!

 

Fried Rice Econef style

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The kids at Econef (and all over Tanzania as I understand it) have all of December off or Christmas holidays, which means a lot of free time. The younger ones are mostly left at the house with Louisa, the volonteer, to play and tend to their assigned tasks – watering plants, feeding the chicken, sweeping the courtyard, helping out with the cooking. The two eldest boys, Brian who is 16 and Farajah who is 15, come out the the building site where also the farm is located to help out. It’s a pleasure to watch them working so confidently with the animals – feeding them, cleaning their sheds, caring for them. They seem to like it and take pride in it. It makes me reflect on kids at home – do they learn what I call ”life skills” ? A child that knows how to grow food, care for farm animals and cook will have great tools for life no matter what happens. Every child should learn this is what I think. I didn’t learn to care for animals but I did learn the other stuff and it gives me a sense of security and respect for life, the people around me and for the food I eat.

Anyway- as lunch time approaches Farajah comes in to the kitchen to prepare lunch for us (us being Caroline, Saiidi the driver, me, Brian and himself). Todays’ lunch menu is…Fried Rice. And – since I want to share the daily life here I asked him to show me how he cooks this dish so I can share it with you. He approves, he likes to show me how to do things, he’s very methodical and a good teacher. So, here we go, Fried rice a la Econef:

1 – Pour out the rice on a tray. Make sure to pick out any dirt or pieces of sand or stone.

Rensa bort eventuellt skräp ur riset. Typ små stenar och sånt.

2- Rinse it.

3 – Chop onion and tomato.

Hacka tomater och lök.

4 – Put some cooking oil (we use corn oil) in a pan, turn on the heat, when hot, add the chopped vegetables and some salt. Loer the heat and leave until the onion is getting soft.

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5 – Measure the rice and pour it into the pot. Add equal amount of hot water. Stir.

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6 – Add some coconut milk, or, as in this case, coco nut milk powder.

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7 – Add more water as it gets absorbed by the rice. Stir – you don’t want it to burn. Let it simmer under a lid.

78 – Lift the lid every once in a while to stir and to check the rice.

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9 – The dish is ready when the rice is soft.

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Brian who is hungry hovers in the window.

He lights up when the food is ready, Farajah serves him a plate with a heap or rice – the size of portion only a teenager can eat! They put ketchup on it and sit down on the steps to eat.

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Two kittens, that uninvited have moved here and always stick around the house, stay close to them, screaming for food and attention. They greedily eat what is spilled on the floor.

Undra på att katterna bosatt sig här.

I ask what the young men what professions they dream of in the future: Farajah wants to be an engineer and Brian a pilot. I am eager to follow them on their journey and see what the future has in store for them. Whatever happens, I know that they are two kind, goodhearted, smart, curious guys who live in a loving home and know how to cook, grow food and care for a farm. They speak good English and get a good schooling for now. I pray they will get the opportunity to continue their education as they grow up.

We are all happy with the meal and they go off to play for a while.

Good words to know in Swahili:

Tomato – Nyanya

Onion – Kitunguu

Rice, uncooked – Mchele

Ris, cooked– Wali

All best, Lisen

 

A watch dog for Econef!

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Let’s buy a watch dog! Here’s the situation:

Econef childrens center, where I am currently staying, is located a good hour from the nearest town, Arusha. Far out in the country at the foot of Himalaya, a perfect place for a farm and for children to play.

 

The childrens center emerges!
The childrens center emerges!

Caroline Nicholas, the founder of Econef, has inherited the land from her father and forefathers, and it has belonged to the family for generations. The building of this site means a lot of valuable work for the local builders who also seem to be very proud to be a part of the project and excited to create a future for the kids and bring life to the area.

But of course there are risks involved – a building site contains a lot of valuable tools and materials, plus there are animals and their fodder lying around so the risk of theft is huge. At night we have a watchman to keep an eye on things but it is not enough. Caroline feels we need a watchdog and is dreaming of buying one, she has even picked one out at the kennel. The search for a competent trainer who can also become the new watchman is on and there is good hope to find one very soon.

The puppy is two months old and of course very adorable and seems to be in good health. If all goes as planned the dog will be old enough and trained by Mars / April when it can move here! There’s just one thing…she needs money to buy it SO this is where you come in – why don’t we all pitch in and give it to her for Christmas? All that is needed is 250 dollars. It’s not much and every donation counts! If you are interested please leave me your contacts in the message field and I’ll give you the details.

All donors will get a beautiful Thank You card to put on the wall as proof of your generosity. I need to solve this before December 30 when I leave for my next destination.

Let’s do this! Wouldn’t it be cool to contribute to make Econef a safe place for children and the animals at the farm so the center becomes a safe place where kids and animals can thrive and feel safe in the way that every living being has a right to?

Giving is living!

 

Lisen

 

 

Elderberry time

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The Elderberries are not yet ripe. That makes me happy. It means summer is still here. I’ve have heard it said that when they do ripen, summer is over and fall is here. I love summer. And I enjoy green Elderberries!

As you may know the Elderflowers are great to treat colds and flu. So are the berries, as well as being rich in vitamin C, kalcium, iron and zink. Pick the berries and save for winter to boost your immune system. Hot Elderberry lemonade(tastes like cinnamon and bitter almond) is a great winter drink as well as medicine to treat an emerging cold or sore throat.

The green berries can be used for pickles, like fake capers! Pick them as the color begins to just shift from green to purple.  Use the “capers” in stirfries, in a dip mixed with yoghurt, in desserts, soups, stews…gives a nice crunchy addition to fall and winter menues.

 

 

 

 

Omogna fläderbär Foto Lisen Sundgren
Omogna fläderbär

Eat the berries with moderation, they have a mild laxative effect! And cook them before eating. Raw berries contain a glycoside called samburigin, which in contact with water excretes prussic acid. This can cause nausea, stomach ache, diarrhea and vomiting. Boiling them destroys the samburigin.

How to make pickled Elderberries: 

Fläderkapris. Foto Lisen Sundgren

4 deciliters Elderberries

1 deciliter vinegar 12%

1 tbs sugar

1,5 teaspoon salt

Pick two liters of Elderflower clusters. Choose clusters where at least one berry begins to shift in color. That’s a sign they begin to develop flavor. Pull the berries from the stems, rinse them.

 

Put the berries in a hot glass jar. Bring the other ingredients to boil, pour the hot liquid over the berries. Fill all the way up. Put the lid on and let cool. Store in a cool, dark place.

Fläderkapris Foto Lisen Sundgren

I mentioned Elderberry syrup – here’s the recipe I shared in Lisens Green World (not available in English unfortunately). use it for immuneboost or a tasty beverage.

Mogna Fläderbär

Elderberrysyrup

100 gram Elderberries

4 twigs of fresh thyme, or 1 tablespoon dried

1 liter water

5 deciliters sugar or honey

Fläderbärsirap Foto Charlotte Gawell ur Lisens Gröna Värld
Elderberry syrup. Keeps me happy all winter. Photo Charlotte Gawell

Begin by making a decoction from the berries and thyme:  Put the berries and thyme in cold water in a pan. Bring to boil. Lower the heat and let simmer under lid for half an hour or so. Until the liquid is reduced to a third. Sieve through a strainer. Pour the liquid back in the pan and add sugar or honey. Add sugar or honey. Stir until it has dissolved. Pour in a hot jar. Put the lid on, store in refrigerator.

Förbereder fläderbärskok Foto Charlotte Gawell ur Lisens Gröna Värld
Preparing Elderberry syrup Photo Charlotte Gawell

 

The berries are tasty to use in food to:

 

Ugnsbakad fylld paprika med fläderbär,. Foto Charlotte Gawell, Det Vilda Köket
Stuffed peppers with Elderberries. Photo Charlotte Gawell from Det Vilda Köket

 

Ok, the sun is out, must go forage for Rosehips. Will tell you all about them tomorrow!

 

 

Summer flavor – Wild Thyme

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A violet, fragrant field appears as I walk along the gravel road along the coast of Gotland. The air is filled with the smell of ocean, wild strawberries and Wild Thyme, Thymus Serpyllum. Bees, butterflies and bumblebees are humming in extacy, thrilled by the nectar of the violet flowers. Their scent is warm, spicy, aromatic and earthy. I tend to hum along with the bees from sheer happiness.

 

As opposed to cultivated thyme, Thymus vulgaris, which can grow up to 15-20 centimeters tall, this wild one stays close to the ground. The stems rarely grow taller than ten centimeters. They get purple/violet flowers that grow like a wreath around the stem. Leaves are egg-shaped, small and almost hairy on the bottom.

Wild Thyme
Wild Thyme
Happy Bumble Bee
Happy Bumble Bee

Wild thyme grows abundantly here in Gotland, which is a rocky island with lots of lime in the soil .It’s actually rather common all over Sweden, and thrives where the ground is dry and rocky.

If you find it, bring home a handful to put in a salad, make an infusion or why not an aromatic herbal salt that goes with anything.

Today I was inspired to make a salad from fresh strawberries (that I fried with a little butter!), just harvested lettuce from a nearby organic farm, fresh basil and feta cheese, sprinkled with Wild Thyme flowers. I love summer food.

Goes very nicely with Wild Strawberries too…

Todays dessert.
Todays dessert.

More uses:

– Infusion – just bring water to boil with a few sprigs of Wild Thyme. Turn off the heat. Drink hot or cold.

– Put some flowers in a jug of water and serve as a tasty beverage with food.

– Make strawberry jam spiced with Thyme flowers.

– Let strawberries and peaches soak in a syrup made from Wild Thyme flowers.

– Sprinkle flowers over a salad or any other dish.

– Mix flowers with warm lentils. Serve with olive oil.

– Grilling a whole fish? Fill it with lemon and Thyme flowers.

Mix Thyme Flowers with butter and eat on fresh corn on the cob. Or any other vegetable for that matter.

Add some flowers in the pan when stirfrying veggies or meat.

Put a bunch of flowers in a jar together with fine seasalt to use as an aromatic salt in hte winter.

Thyme is not just delicious, it also has medicinal properties: antibacterial, warming, stimulates blood cirkulation, calming, and good to treat a cold with.

 

That’s all folks,

Lisen

 

Chicory, great for the liver!

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Chicory, (Cicorium Intybus)

It pops up among the tall grass like a beautiful, coboltblue eye. Maybe it is an eye that watches over its companions in meadows and roadsides where it lokes to grow. Chicory can stretch its stem up to one meter high, and has blue flowers attached here and there directly to the stem.

Ängens öga
The eye of the field

Chicory is known for its bitter flavor. An aquired taste that I cannot recommend enough. In the West we eat WAY too much salt and sugar, and what good does that do us? Nothing! Eat bitters! Your digestion and liver will thank you with standing ovations and better health. Chicory is a great start if you’re not used to it. Blanch the leaves and serve with shallots and chili for example – as a side dish, with pasta, lentils or with whatever you feel appropriate.

 

Cikoria
Chicory

The most common use through the ages is to prepare a bitter beverage from the root, often used as a coffee substitute. The powder can be bought commercially or you make your own. Just dig up the roots in the fall, clean and chop them. Roast on low heat in oven until dry, mix them to a powder in a blender and there you are: Chicory coffee. It’s got a nice, earthy flavor and a worthy substitute for coffee and so much better for your health.

 

 

Bambu, god Cikoria dryck
Bambu, instant Chicory beverage

Speaking of health: Chikory is mostly used to tone the liver and digestion, and is known to be an efficient laxative and diuretic.

Make a tincture (alchohol extract) from the root, or drink the beverage mentioned above on a daily basis.

I’m in Gotland, an Island in Sweden known for its pebbled beaches, RAUKAR and sunshine. So I stop writing here – the ocean is waiting!

 

Lisen

 

 

Hav
Hav

Lisen

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