We are back with sincerest apologies for the radio silence! Those of you who are also studying will understand the immutable feeling that the year ends in April and begins in October. And hopefully you will also understand the life-consuming amount of work associated with writing a dissertation. So this is a new beginning for a new year. We both wrote dissertations in International Relations in spring and graduated in June. Anna has moved to Munich to begin an internship and Kasia is staying in St Andrews for an additional year to do a Masters degree.
This summer we were lucky enough to travel to Istanbul, Australia and Poland and we’d like to share with you some things that inspired us on our travels and tell you about our plans for the year to come.
We travelled through Istanbul in early June and were impressed with the range of green-initiatives in such an otherwise hectic, fast-pace megacity (almost 15 million citizens in total!). Though Istanbul still has a way to go in terms of recycling and other initiatives we take for granted in the UK and Germany, other areas intrinsic to Turkish culture also happened to be sustainable in their approach to consumption as well. For example, the first Saturday we arrived we visited a Kurdish vegetable market, in which people from all different backgrounds and walks of life went to buy good, seasonal, local food in bulk for incredibly cheap prices. At a quarter of the price compared to groceries in your average chain supermarket, people flocked from all over the city. Aside from groceries there were also countless independent tailors, cobblers, designers and antique stores.
It can seem difficult to find any redeeming sustainable qualities in major cities like Istanbul, but access to affordable local produce is a simple concept that is surprisingly hard to find in much of the developed world.
While traveling down the East Coast of Australia in August, we came across the Food Connect Foundation, which is organises the supply of produce from local farmers to people living in and around Brisbane. Based on the concept of ‘Community-Supported-Agriculture‘, Food Connect was founded by Robert Pekin in 2005 and has since expanded into various branches including the consultancy ‘Think Food’ and the ‘Open Food Web‘. Food Connect is an inspiring example of a successful social enterprise that serves as a hub to connect local groups, businesses, farmers and consumers as well as improve access to local and ecologically grown produce while ensuring stable and fair prices for growers. Amen!
While visiting family in Poland, I was amazed at how easy and common it was for everyone to preserve vegetables for the winter. Popular are pickles, cabbage, pureed tomatoes and my personal favourite, Lutenica – which is a red pepper relish popular in Serbia, Bulgaria and Macedonia. I had no idea that vegetables could be preserved without using vinegar, sugar or salt! Lutenica is made by roasting and pureeing bell peppers, tomatoes, onion and then pasteurising the mixture in sterilised jars. It tastes delicious on crackers, as a dip or side with savoury dishes. Here is a recipe in English, but I would recommend roasting the peppers in the oven to remove the skin, and boiling the tomatoes to remove the skin. Funny side note – while I was in Poland bell peppers were incredibly cheap because over over-supply since exports to Russia stopped! We couldn’t get enough of them. Also couldn’t get enough of the cows. My family are dairy farmers and I love visiting their cows – they must think I’m mad.
In the following months you can expect to hear from us about twice a week, with some brand new recipes, how-to guides, DIY ideas, and musings on sustainability, life, the universe and everything in it. Until then, thank you for your patience, and we hope your summer (or winter for those south of the equator) has been as good as ours!
Anna & Kasia