Sunday, May 27, 2012

I got an allotment!

Last week, my internship ended and school started again (although I will be working 4 days a week at the place I had my internship for 3 months starting now, and go to school one day a week and try to study on weekends). Back in the classroom, I sat down next to one of my lovely group members and she told me she had got herself an allotment. I don't know why this thought hasn't struck me before, but when she told me a seed was planted in my head. The seed grew faster than a radish, and now, I have started renting an allotment too!

It's about 7,5*10 m, which makes for a big space to grow stuff! Sadly, the ground hasn't been used for a long time so there's quit some work to do before it will be the home to growing veggies. This work will have to get done soon and quick!

Starting to dig up the grass.

There's some tools to use on site, but they aren't the best to be honest. Since it was the weekend and I don't have a car, I couldn't really go buy any so I made do with what I found. Luckily, two of my neighbor gardeners  came to my rescue and let me use some of their spades and rake. Over the weekend, I've been digging for about 7 hours, and I'm so sore. Still, I havn't even got 1/3 of the way of getting the grass off. And then I'll have to dig even more to get the dirt ready for planting. I will be like the hulk when I'm done. Today my friend Micke came to help me for a while and in a week Martin will be home from Croatia so I'll get some help. It's so much fun though! I'm planning to post about my allotment and my balcony garden every Sunday, so I hope you'll enjoy reading about it!

 Back home on the balcony, the baby mix lettuce it growing quickly and I also have some chard seedlings popping up. I went on a little treasure hunt Saturday evening and got into a fight with a pointy stick. Aouch.

The weather has been so hot these last few days, and working in the sunshine makes for loads of ice cream breaks. Here's vanilla soy ice cream and raspberry sorbet with a little chocolate sauce on top

Friday, May 25, 2012

Isabella's sausage stew

In a week from today, my baby sister is graduating from school. She is 19, and about to go out and explore the world. Isabella usually goes by "Bella", which my grandmother detests since she think it is a name suiting a cow. However, my sister couldn't be more different from a cow, so don't worry. She has many great qualities, but maybe what's most deeply rooted in her is her kindness and how she care´s for her friends. It's a care and kindness that will sometimes get her into trouble, but most of all it's an amazing characteristic. And hey, if she gets into trouble, I'll be there and fight for her. Always. 

Isabella's sausage stew
A variation of a common Swedish dish, she has self proclaimed it to be the best sausage stew in the world. 

1/2 yellow onion
veggie sausages (as much as you want)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 tbs non-dairy cooking creamer or milk
ketchup, to taste
1 tbs tomato paste
salt, pepper, paprika, basil and red chili, to taste

Finely chop the onion and sauté in a pan until translucent. Cut the sausage into bite size pieces and add to the pan. Sauté until a bit browned. Add garlic, tomatoes, cream, ketchup, tomato paste and spices. Let cook for a couple of minutes. Serve with pasta or rice.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Plants in my home.

Sunday was really hot and sunny, and I spent a good chunk of the morning hanging out on the balcony re-potting  some of my indoor plants and sowing some edibles out on the balcony. Getting into the dirt today was chives, chard and radishes. Already growing outside is some mixed baby lettuce, and growing away in the kitchen windows are seven (!) chili plants. Five of them are for plain red chili pepper, and the two others are for ghost peppers! Bhut Jolokia is their real name and they're crazy hot (a bit more than 1 million SHU). I love to see plants grow and being able to eat some of them is fantastic. Let's hope for a warm and sunny summer.

The bigger of the two ghost pepper plants. They're growing a lot slower than the other chili plants, but are also more compact.
Three of the red chili pepper plants.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cold brewed coffee

I was reading old posts on Kim Miller's blog, and found a post on cold brewed coffee. I have been reading about this for quite some time, but now when summer is soon to come, it felt like the perfect time to try it. I really like cold coffee, but have never really managed to get it perfect. The taste was always bit off and the time it took to cool was just not pleasant. This is perfect. It's already cold when you need it, and the taste is not as acid-y. I drank it with a splash of coffee creamer, soy milk and some homemade mint syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water, few drops of peppermint extract and boil until dissolved). It was so good I had to have another one. Since the cold brew becomes a coffee extract, you bet it left me shaky the whole day. So worth it.

Cold brewed coffee
1/3 cup coffee grounds
1 1/2 cup cold water

Mix and let steep in the fridge over night or at least 8 hours. Strain. I used a French press, which made the process super easy, but you could use a fine mesh strainer and some cheese cloth if you don't have one.

After getting high on the coffee I went driving. I'm practicing for my license and I don't know if it was the coffee but it went awesome. We drove to Örebro where I met up with my friend Mikael and he served me some mushroom-artichoke-olive quesadillas. That calmed down my heart that was heavily beating from the strong coffee and adrenaline from driving. 

The day kept on being great, but hey, what day isn't when you're wearing all denim?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nettle soup and rhubarb in Zinkgruvan

The last week, the world around me has been exploding into various shades of green. Finally, there's no naked branches (almost) and the fields are looking healthy again. In a month or so, this will feel like the most obvious thing ever, but I'm going to try to keep the feeling of appreciation for as long as I can. Some areas of grass are also totally covered in dandelions, and it's so so pretty. May is a great month in Sweden.

For well over a month, my friend Mikael has been talking about picking nettles and making soup, and now was the time to act. We went to his mother's house in a small mining village south east of where I live. It's called Zinkgruvan, which literary means "the zinc mine". I had never been there before but the house and surroundings were really nice and it was relaxing to spend a day in a place like that.

We picked the nettles, and made a very simple soup (spring onions, nettles, garlic, nutmeg, black pepper and a little squeeze of lemon) with them. We used an immersion blender to make it smoother and ate it with some freshly baked spelt bread on the side. I love cooking new "complicated" things, but simple meals like this might be the best there is. It didn't hurt that we ate it on their glass surrounded porch either. His mother gave me some stalks of her rhubarb to take with me home, so I had to make a mini crumble with some of it when I came home. I think summer is here now.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Family Friday: My mother and peanut sauce

What can I say to make this woman justice? She gave birth to me, raised me and now she’s my great friend who’s always there for me. She’s my mother. She is also a very strong, caring and capable woman in many more ways than I think she realizes herself.

To choose a recipe for this post was nearly impossible, as her influence on me when it comes to food is endless. She taught me to like appreciate food, and the taught me how to cook it. She can master most kitchens and techniques, but her bread baking skills could use some perfection. However, I had to choose, so I settled with a recipe that has been eaten in my family for as long as I can remember. It’s a peanut sauce. Don’t yawn, it’s not your average peanut sauce. It’s thick, creamy, chunky and bursting with flavor. It goes great with noodles, rice or maybe best of all, barbecued veggies. I remember being sent out in the garden to pick as much cilantro as I could carry and bringing it inside for this sauce. Try it, you won’t regret it. 

Peanut sauce

1 tbs oil
5 g minced fresh ginger
1 small finely diced yellow onion
150 g peanuts
4 tbs finely chopped lemon balm leaves
1 tsp mild yellow curry powder
2 tbs sugar
salt, to taste
250 ml coconut milk

Fry the ginger and onion in a sauce pan in the oil until soft but now browned. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend it a little bit until desired consistency. I like it chunky. 

This time, I had it with some basmati rice, tomato, mushroom tibs from Appetite for Reduction) (loved them) and sautéed chard with garlic. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dinner, cupcake and breakfast.

Dinner tonight: Wheat berries mixed with a puree of roasted butternut squash, onion, garlic and thyme. Also mixed in are some TVP "bacon" bites. 

 I was watching cupcake wars last Saturday and couldn't resist making one myself. I went simple with the basic chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Breakfast on the balcony. Best thing ever.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Locally grown mushrooms

Today I went to the second hand store in town to buy a belt for me new jeans, and once again saw the sign that said "mushroom for sale" and an arrow directed towards the parking lot. I've seen it before, but never really understood where they're sold and why. Today I gave in and went looking for the place, and found a small dark basement room. When I went in there, I got to know that they were growing the mushrooms there, in two closed areas. I got to see it and I wish I had my camera! I must go back someday and snap some pictures. I bought a pound of mushrooms for 25 SEK (3.5$) which I think was quite a bargain. And they have been growing less than a mile from my house!

I had to use them for dinner, and ended up with mashed potatoes and parsnips with a mushroom carrot stew flavored with thyme, Dijon mustard and a splash of red wine. On the side there was lingonberry jam still warm from the stove, and some pickled cucumbers. I still have loads of mushrooms left and will use some of them to make the mushroom tibs from Appetite for Reduction.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Family Friday: My grandmother and carrot marmalade

I have had the luck to grow up having two wonderful grandmothers present in my life. This post will be about IngaBritt, my mother’s mother. She lives in the very southeast of Sweden, in Karlskrona, a city in the region Blekinge. I grew up in Gothenburg, which is more than 4 hours away by train, so naturally we could only spend a limited amount of time down there. But visit, we did. We took the train down there at least once every year, but often more. From what I can remember, we always stayed in my grandmother’s apartment. Then I grew bigger, and as it so often is, the time between visits grew longer. Some years ago, I went down there by myself and stayed with her for a couple of nights. I don’t really remember anything from that visit other than how she welcomed my with a special kind of bread that I’ve only ever seen for sale down there, and some homemade carrot orange marmalade.

I made my marmalade using this recipe from Canadian Living, but cut away most of the white rind from the citrus since I wanted it to be less bitter. The result is a vibrant orange marmalade with just enough of everything in it. It’s perfect on toast for breakfast.

Apart from being the best (of two!) grandmothers, she is also the only one in my family that has always had cats, and although she’s definitely not a crazy cat lady, I’m happy to pass on the love for cats. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cat With Mum Tattoo

I've been eyeing this print by birdinabunnysuit on Etsy for quite some time, and finally bought it last week. I'm not sure what, but there's something about it that makes me so intrigued.

The real life pirate kitty is happily sleeping on the couch next to me now. She's making these little bird like sounds when she snores that just makes my heart burst over with love.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cooking up a Sunday storm.

I love how it takes under 10 minutes to bike out from town to landscapes like this.
 Today has been a pretty standard Sunday. I went running in the morning, biking in the afternoon and cleaning the floors in the afternoon. All while listening to podcasts and watching tv-series. There was also some billberry ice cream eaten on the balcony.

I love cooking, but not on weekday nights when I'm tired and hungry and just wants to microwave a potato or three. So today, I cooked up some food to bring to lunch and to eat as dinner during the coming week. There's 8 lunch boxes Arabian Lentil and Rice soup, carrot ginger dressing and a muffin tray filled with mango BBQ beans (about to be frozen for easy handling), all of it from Appetite for Reduction.  There is also two servings left of the wheat berry salad I had for lunch. This salad is great. I bought a bag of wheat berries yesterday, and today I went on the blog I've been reading a lot the past couple of days; My New Roots and searched for a recipe using them. I found this one and started cooking right away. I know it says it's for cold winter days, but I promise you it was awesome on a spring day as well. I'm pretty sure I will make this again and again and again, it's so good!

I totally feel ready for next week now, knowing I will have tasty and easy food to eat when I get home.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Billberry ice cream and magnolias

Tomorrow is exactly one year ago I landed in Portland and was taken to Hoyt Arboretum by Amanda. It was a warm and sunny day and we walked around looking at the blooming Magnolia trees.  It was the perfect start to our travels in Oregon and Washington.

Now, one year later, I went to see the blooming Magnolias in Örebro's city park. There are several varieties and all of them are unique and really beautiful. This is my first summer season in this area and I can't wait to explore the park throughout the year and see how it changes and develops.

 The last days have felt like summer, with bright sunshine and temperatures allowing you to walk around in just a t-shirt. There have been BBQ's, walking, roadtrips and of course, ice cream and a picnic.
 The picnic food of picnic foods, potato salad! This one had potatoes, zucchini, onions, olives, carrots, green beans and a dressing made out of mustard, vinegar, dill and radish greens. On the side was a still warm baguette. Having this for dinner on an otherwise pretty boring Wednesday night was great.
 And then, there was ice cream.

Billberry ice cream: 
6 servings

150 ml non-dairy milk
100 ml granulated sugar
250 ml frozen billberries or blueberries
250 ml non-dairy whipping cream (not whipped)
1 tsp vanilla bean powder

Heat the milk and sugar over low heat, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the blueberries and blend until smooth. Add cream and vanilla and mix. Freeze using an ice cream machine.