One of the things that most got me into food was growing vegetables. I already worked in cafe’s and kitchens as a sidejob but I don’t know if I ever had any notion about the origen of the food itself. I think I mostly liked the job as a social and creative way to make money in various places. One of those places was in a teagarden on a tiny island in Scotland. There were thirtyfive people living there, a lot of sheep, and there were no shops. That is why, especially the first year I was working there, the teagarden relied partly on their own beautifull vegetable garden for fresh produce. So every morning, right after baking scones, I would take a big box, walk into the backyard and shopped in the garden. There were beetroots and lettuce, potatos and wild rasberries, jerusalem artichokes and pretty white flowers that smelled and tasted like garlic.
It was a bit of an eyeopening experience. ‘Oh right’ I remembered, ‘this is what food really is.’ I had the best time. I’m not quite sure what it is, but there is something mysteriously magical about pulling a muddy old beetroot right out of the dirt and preparing a meal with it.
After that summer I went home, went to permacultureschool and ended up working parttime on an organic veggiefarm. Year after year that job kept fueling my enthusiasm for vegetables until I decided to start cooking more professionally. Sometimes I take a group of people to that same farm and we harvest and cook together, outside in the sun. Almost always I see the same magic happen when they pick their own fresh beans for the first time, pull a leek out of the muddy soil or harvest some pretty pink stems of rhubarb. It is like a light goes on and people remember that real food comes from nature, not from shops.
Luckily for me, the magic of fresh vegetables has never really worn off.
This past sunday, like every year in june, the farmer had invited all his customers (they deliver vegetable boxes door to door to over 600 people) to come to the farm and see their future meals grow in the ground. Me and my campervan where invited to make some fresh tasty snacks. I always love this day! I get to hang with my old collegues, cook outdoors the whole day, eat rhubarb pie (there is a contest) and talk to people about food. What is not to like? This years highlight was the recipe for Thai Cucumbersoup I decided to try. That’s a keeper!
Thai Cucumber Soup
Spoonfull of coconut oil
2 or 3 spring onions
3 cucumbers, peeled and diced into small cubes
75 ml red wine vinaigre
1 liter vegetable stock
1 can (400 ml) of coconut milk
3 red or green chilli peppers
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
Lemongrass, fresh as a stick, of as a paste
1 spoon of fresh ginger
2 spoons of soysauce
125 grams of sour cream of yoghurt
1 Stirfry the onions, garlic, ginger and the chili peppers on a medium heat for a minute or two in the coconut oil.
2 Then add the cucumber, vinaigre, stock, lemongrass, coconutmilk and soysaus. Bring to a boil and leave it to simmer for about 20/30 minutes.
3 Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
4 The sour cream/yoghurt you can add as a garnish with the herbs, of just stir the whole thing through the soup. Whatever you fancy most
5 Garnish with lots of fresh parsley and koriander.
Hope you enjoy!