...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

På kolonilotten, and a recipe for cheese scones

Afternoon tea in Pabla's kolonilott today.

Having grown up in an extremely densely populated, smog-filled urban area in which it takes more than 3 hours' drive in any direction just to breathe fresh air, I sometimes wonder why allotment gardening isn't more popular in Metro Manila. Little parcels of land to grow lettuce on are apparently already for lease in the posher areas of Tagaytay. The problem is – Yep, you guessed it! – Tagaytay is also a long 3-hour drive from the city. It's too much hassle to go there just to raise veggies mostly containing water, if you ask me. On the other hand, to come to a garden oasis of your own in the middle of a bustling metro would do the stressed city-dwellers, if not their wallets, some good.*

Allotment gardens in Sweden (in Swedish, koloniträdgårdar) have been popular for the last 100 years for just these reasons. As cities became more and more dense, there was a lack of housing and people began to move to little apartments in concrete jungles. The thought behind allotment gardens was that even apartment residents who didn't have yards of their own could go out too their little gardens and plant fruit and vegetables, thus also keeping their costs down. Today, when driving into cities you sometimes can get a glimpse of these allotment garden areas (koloniområden): groups of small colorful cabins in small lots where families grow anything from romaine lettuce to piri-piri chilies. The small cabins are built to be something between a garden shed and a summer house, thus leading one of my friends to exclaim in disbelief, during her first accidental visit to a koloniområde: "There's an area there where old people live in miniature houses!"

Cheese scones (above, in foil). Yum yum yum.

We were invited today to my former classmate Pabla's little garden lot (kolonilott), where we had afternoon tea. It was a quiet little place and they had edible plants growing in every corner. The party said they liked my cheese scones, so I decided to throw in the recipe here. Scones are very easy bake; the recipe is idiot-proof and it only takes 30, not 120 minutes to prepare it from pantry to serving plate. The scones can be formed into small round cakes (and cut into quarters), they could be baked in muffin pans or – as I did under time pressure – flattened into a big flat rectangle and cut into smaller pieces. They turn out equally good regardless of size, and they're good with butter, more cheese, or even jam.

3.5 deciliters (1.4 cups) flour
a couple of pinches salt
1.5 t baking powder
2 T cold butter
1.5 deciliters (.6 cup) grated cheese
1.25 deciliters (.5 cup) milk

1. Combine all the dry ingredients except for the cheese. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and rub the flour and butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the cheese.

2. Pour the milk and hastily knead the mixture. If too crumby, add a tablespoon or two of milk, just enough to make the batter leave the sides of the mixing bowl but not too much that it makes the batter too smooth. The consistency should be like thick goo.

3. Form the batter into two cakes, or flatten it into one big rectangle on a greased oven pan (I line mine with wax paper instead of greasing it). Slice the batter with a butter knife – but not all the way – into quarters if it's a round cake or squares if it's a flat rectangle. Alternatively, balls of the batter can be placed in a greased muffin form.

4. Bake in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes on 250 degrees C.

This recipe makes two round scone cakes (i.e. 8 quarter-pieces) or 1 flat rectangular like the one you see in the picture above (i.e. 9 square pieces). To make double the amount, the recipe book says you can just double all the ingredients. For once, with baking!

* I checked the Wikipedia article on allotment gardening. Apparently, there are five allotment gardens scattered in Metro Manila but these are exclusively in slum areas, built as projects by the German embassy in Manila, among other institutions. What a wonderful initiative! Now, when will allotment gardening be an option for lower-middle class families as well?


Blogger aka Cheryl said...

i want to try this this weekend! :D

8:17 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Do! It's so easy you'll wonder why you kept on buying scones in the past instead of making them! :-) Plain scones are also easy to make. I also tried banana scones one time but the bananas turn out a bit too mushy for my taste. Anyway, there are a lot of scone recipes out there on the net if you want to experiment with flavor, but the main ingredients stay the same and so does the cooking time. Enjoy!

10:59 AM


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