Sunday, October 27, 2013

Soups, chili, and month later

It's been too long since I've posted, I know. Since the last time, I've started Swedish school which is much more work than I was expecting, in a good way of course. I go to school full days from 8-2:30 three days a week, and take one half day from 8-12:30 and Friday off. It's an "open" course, so we can choose the schedule that best fits us. It's been really getting dark as of late (although we just pushed our clocks back, so for those of you in the states, we are only on an 8 hour time difference now until you guys do the same) so up until today, it was dark until 8:00 am and started getting dark again around 5:30. It made it really hard to wake up and get ready in the morning being so dark. Not to mention, when I have to catch the bus to make it to class on time at 7am, I have to leave the house at 6:45. Since we live outside of the city, I get home after my long days at 3:30 and pick Valter up at 4. I've still been cooking as much as I can, but haven't been baking to save my health. It's most definitely soup season, I think I made three different kinds of soups or stews just this past week. Daylight savings ended my daily afternoon walks with Valter as now it will begin getting dark when I pick him up. That was my favorite part of the day, him and I watching the trains go by, pointing at the tractors, saying hello to the horses, and watching him learn more and more every day as we walk along the country roads lined with the train track, now bare trees, and classic Swedish red wooden houses with white trim. Now the sun stays low during the day, and shadows are long. It feels as if it is late afternoon all day. Anyhow, here is the post I wrote almost a month ago the day before my birthday! Yikes! Sorry folks!

Two weeks, the weather turned into full fall force. I mean really, within a day we went from late summer temperatures in the 70's to early fall temperatures with some scattered rain in the low 50's and even 40's. The nights have that classic fall crisp in the air dropping into the low 40's and 30's. This is my absolute favorite time. The sun pokes in and out of the low clouds that are flat on the bottom, and puffy on top. When the sun shines, the colors burst like zesty lemon with clean, fresh, bright color. The roads are sprinkled with yellow birch leaves, and the backyard has a new fall carpet complete with crunchy yellow, orange, and brown leaves perfect for running through, jumping in, and throwing in the air. It's really the epitome of fall, and the best part is, it only gets better from here. I'm only missing the pumpkin and squash flavors of the US to complete my backyard apple and pear with lots of cinnamon kick. I've been roasting, grilling, and mashing apples and pears for all sorts of uses such as a topping to my cereal, oatmeal, and toast, the leading star of a dessert, and the simple, yet perhaps best of all, apple or pear sauce. I successfully completed my first attempt at making challah bread (perfect for my "grilled" french toast the next morning), and have been on a cooking and baking spree....let me describe. I've almost been addicted to making the best and the tastiest and hunting for even better, reading recipes like they are novels. In September, Anna-Carin's parents came from Götbeborg and brought the most delicious warm smoked salmon and fresh shrimp. I was in heaven, it was the most delicious salmon I have had in my was almost creamy it was so tender. The following evening, with our well-loved autumn crisp in the air, I made sweet potato and quinoa chili topped with creme fraiche and served with locally made knäckebrö was just what our rosy cheeks and cold bodies needed. I've also made a scrumptious coconut curry carrot soup, one I loved back in Salem at my favorite restaurant The Wild Pear, and decided to bring it to Sweden. Everyone loved it, as they did the chili. My breakfasts have been consisting of my daily soft boiled egg, and a different rendition of oatmeal or cereal topped with fresh fruit, mainly apple from the yard. I just want to make everything apple and pear to make the taste of fall last as long as I can. Speaking of which, I found pumpkin in the city the other day at a little fruit and vegetable outdoor market! I was so excited, but haven't bought it yet since I'll be gone.....speaking of weekends away, here is the abridged version of my weekend in Skåne.
Filip, Valter, and I traveled to Filip's parents house by the sea for the weekend, the last of the summer weather. It sure felt like it too, the days had that feeling that you get when your vacation is about to end, so carpe diem. We went horseback riding and visited Filip's parents on the most beautiful typical Swedish farm where they were staying and housesitting. Pictures to follow of course. The eggs were fresh, we had fika in the greenhouse surrounded by tomatoes, figs, and grapes and outside there was an over abundance of the sweetest sunkissed raspberries I have ever tasted. It was our last weekend of "summer" as the temperatures were warm and we were able to fika outside atop a hill overlooking the coast on the cafe's last day of being open. Filip's parents took me to some of the most famous summer vacation spots as well as some beautiful coastal landmarks.

The following weekend I went to Karlskrona to celebrate my birthday with my aunt and my cousins. It was so nice to see them again and have some family to celebrate with. I took the train early Friday morning and instead of going for the fast route, I opted for the slow scenic route and it was well worth it. Train rides are my favorite I think, they are so relaxing when you can sit alone and watch the scenery go by as you think about the things currently going on in your life, or reflect on things of the past. I guess most people aren't always by themselves on the train, but I've only gone by train a handful of times with a someone I know. I'm really getting used to being a lone, and traveling alone. It has some romantic aspect to it, it's good to learn to be lonely I think. However, I'm really excited that Emilie will be here because I will have someone to travel with! This is also an open invitation for any of you from the states to please come and visit me! I am missing people from home, and it would be so wonderful to show you a slice of Sweden :) Anyhow, my birthday was really fun as we had a big feast, like always, at my aunt's parents house complete with a full table of fika goodies and my favorite cake, prinsesstårta. It's a white cake with layers of bavarian cream and raspberry preserves covered in a layer of thin marzipan on the outside. Luckily we have a Danish bakery close to home in the US where we can also buy the cake to fill our swedish cravings. When I came home on Monday the 30th, my actual birthday, my host family took me out to dinner at a pub serving traditional Swedish food and you will not believe what they got me! A complete Linnea tea set! I found it as a second hand store with Anna-Carin and was drooling over it, but didn't buy it because I had no idea how to get it all home! (another reason why you should all come visit me! after being in Sweden for close to a year, you KNOW I'll have loads of things to bring home!). I also got two heaping packages in the mail, one from my mom, and one from my dad, both chalk full of my favorite missed Trader Joe's goodies. It's not even funny how much I miss Trader Joe's packages are always welcome ;) Both boxes were full of everything pumpkin and can you believe that they didn't buy the same things? Mom got me pumpkin tea, Dad got me pumpkin coffee. Mumsie also added in some fall candles I was missing as well. So we won't be pumpkin pie-less this thanksgiving, nor am I pumpkin flavored-less this fall!

The weekend after my birthday we traveled to Göteborg on the west coast of Sweden (and now my favorite city in Sweden by far) to visit Anna-Carin's parents. The city is gorgeous, there are tons of cafes, the architecture is beautiful, they have a science place like the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park (except it's no where near as good!), and the environment provides the hustle and bustle of a big city, but it doesn't feel overwhelming like Stockholm. I would definitely live there. They have a beautiful park in the center of the city where we walked around after walking through the city, and we also visited the Universareum (the science center) where they had an indoor rainforest, and even at 22, I was in heaven. Göteborg is definitlely on my list of places to go back to, and bring any visitors to. They have a spectacular restaurant scene and the sweetest looking cafes for a perfect afternoon coffee. We visited one of them, Anna-Carin's father and I, for our afternoon fika to celebrate kanelbullar's dag (cinnamon bun day) on Oct. 4th. There is a cafe in old town that has buns the size of a plate, but we didn't go there, sometime to try next time! The cafe we went to was in a little alley across from a beautiful flower shop with drooping vines growing along terrace. There is also an amazing, mouth watering specialty food indoor market. There were displays of cheeses, fine meats, salami, ethnic foods, breads, and of course sweets and buns. I wanted to try it all and spend the entire day there! I didn't end up trying anything although I found Turkish delight!! (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe anyone?) and I just had to get it! I wanted to buy one, but the guy wouldn't let me, so Anna-Carin's dad bought me one of each kind.....naturally the rose was the best! :) *eating one right now* They also have a spectacular fish market full of fresh caught fish where you can find Swedish lobster....a delicacy so much so that they cost well over $100/kilo. This website has a description of them, as well as many delicious, traditional, Swedish recipes.
There was an entire Nordic Food Festival in NY starting the day after my birthday and you could go to cooking classes with some of the top nordic chefs....I was a little bit bitter. Maybe someday I'll be able to go! Check it out! Doesn't it look mind boggling and amazing?! It's on my list of things to do before I die, definitely in the top ten!

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