Something Swedish


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Celebrating Cinnamon Rolls in Sweden

October 4th: a day to cherish and savor the beloved cinnamon roll (which originates from Sweden), or “Kanelbulle” a little more than normal.

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To celebrate last year I made Swedish and American Cinnamon rolls side by side to compare. Read about that experiment HERE.

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This year, however, I decided to do something different (AKA: less work) and compared cinnamon buns from different local bakeries.

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I used the same bakeries as when we tasted Semlor last year, in this post HERE (read about each bakery, and another delicious Swedish pastry there)

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At first I was unsure, a cinnamon roll is a cinnamon roll, right? Would they really be THAT different? Here’s our results:

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Traditional kanelbulle, perfect for fika. At only 7kr ($1), you can’t go wrong. A bit more cardemum flavoring, but overall a balanced bun.

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At 14 kr ($2), we were hoping that this would be a big step up, but it wasn’t. It was sweeter and a bit nicer – but not 7 kr worth. I liked this one more than the “benchmark” from Östras, but it was too pricey.

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Even though it looks sloppy, this cinnamon bun was surprisingly delicious. Discouraged by the 15kr price tag, I had my hesitations, but the addition of almond paste really made for an especially tasty treat.

RESULTS:

Paulssons is our choice when we want something a little more festive, like celebrating Kanelbullar dag.

Östras is our day-to-day take-away cinnamon bun.

Regnbågen is a nice treat if you’re having fika there and want to enjoy something sweet.

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I hope those of you in Halmstad find this helpful! Either way, no matter where you are – I hope you had a kanelbulle today!


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Glad Påsk! Happy Easter!

Sitting on the train heading up to Värnamo to spend the holiday with my in-laws we were approached by a little girl. Being accustomed to panhandling on the subway in NYC, I averted my eyes, hoping my husband would deal with it and send her away. When a meek gentle voice wished us “Glad Påsk” I saw that the girl was dressed as an Easter Witch with a green apron and scarf, covered in painted-on freckles. She was the daughter of the train conductor, handing out free chocolate Easter egg candies to all the passengers.

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Easter in Sweden is all about the candy, eggs, and witches. Instead of Easter baskets, candy is kept in large paper Easter eggs:

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The three main decorations of Easter are these oversized decorated Easter eggs, colorful feathers, and witches on broomsticks.

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Wondering why Easter in Sweden has so many witches? Easter was believed to be the day when the witches would fly to the blue mountain and dance with the devil. It was common to  close the windows and light fires so the witches wouldn’t land on near your house. Nowadays, Swedish Easter witches are kids walking from house to house dressed in scarfs and rags with a copper teapot collecting treats from neighbors in exchange for drawings.

This year I even found devil chickens to accompany my Easter witch:

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Freaky. Thankfully the cute type are still around:

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And then we have the edible type that my husband expertly crafted:

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Behind the scenes, making of:

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As with every Swedish Holiday, the smörgåsbord is beautiful and delicious:

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With a little extra eggs (Hard and soft boiled)  on the table, Påskmust (Easter soda) and schnaps. it is an Easter meal.

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We rounded the night off with some monopoly…guess who won!?

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Hope everyone had a great holiday!!

Read about last years Easter Here!


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Waffle Day – Våffeldagen

In Sweden, today – and every 25th of March – is WAFFLE DAY! If you ever needed an excuse to eat waffles, here it is.

Waffles in the U.S. are a breakfast food, covered in syrup and butter. In Sweden, however, waffles are strictly dessert covered in freshly whipped cream and strawberry jam.

Why is it Waffle Day? They say that it stems from the mispronunciation of “vårfrudagen” (Our Lady’s Day) to “våffeldagen” (Waffle Day).  Leave it to Swedes to turn the conception of Christ into a day to enjoy waffles!2013-03-25 18.41.492013-03-25 18.41.46


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Cooking Swedish: Semlor

Semlor day is here again! Read all about the history, meaning, and traditions of Fettisdag and semlor (And a review of the best semlor in Halmstad) in last years posts: HERE and HERE.

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This year, learn how to make your own beloved Swedish classic! c’mon be a little Swedish! These sweet buns are eaten until Easter, so you have time!

semlorblog


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Cooking Swedish: Fläskpannkaka

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine made a traditional Swedish dish called fläskpannkaka, or pork pancake. I’ve read about this food before and was curious about it because it seemed very simple and easy to make in addition to something that Swedes love to eat!

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It’s not just regular pancakes with pork, but instead a thicker version baked in the oven. The fläskpannkaka I ate was thinner and had spinach in it and I’ve read other recipes with parsley or other spices to give it a little different flavor and add some color. Below is the basic traditional way to make fläskpannkaka, enjoy!!

FLÄSKPANNKAKA

We used two different types of pork, as we didn’t have enough of either. Bacon works great, but the pork you’re supposed to use is called “rimmat fläsk” or “salted pork.” Many people prefer to bake the bacon or pork for 10-15 minutes instead of frying it by using the same pan as its going to be cooked in. Four eggs, 2.5 cups (6 dl) milk, and 1.5 cup (3.5 dl) flour with a sprinkle of salt and sugar into the batter.

Smaklig Måltid! Bon Apetitt!

Julbord: Christmas Table

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I’ve eaten Christmas dinner in Sweden four times now, but it wasn’t until this year that I realized how traditional it really is. A week before Christmas we had lunch at a restaurant, which happened to be serving a “Julbord.” Christmas in Sweden is all about the Julbord – think “Smörgåsbord” but with all the classic Christmas foods. The restaurant Julbord was serving the exact same Christmas foods as I’ve eaten in Sweden the last few years; it’s not just a family tradition.

Come noon on December 24th (Swede’s celebrate on the eve, or afton) our Julbord looks something like this every year:

Except this year we somehow forgot the boiled eggs – a Swedish tragedy. So, whats on this Christmas Table? Let’s see!

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Julskinka: Naturally, The Christmas Ham – only eaten after smothered in mustard.

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Dopp i gryta: “Dip in the pot” -  Using the rich flavored Christmas Ham broth, it is very traditional to dip dark bread and to eat the soaked bread along with Christmas dinner.

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Janssons Frestelse:  “Janssons Temptation”a delicious dish with very thinly cut potato ‘sticks’ is cooked in the oven with a secret ingredient that makes many non-swedes squirm…

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Anchovies. and anchovy juice.  Sounds gross, I know, but it’s awesome and full of flavor!

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Kålpudding:  Cabbage pudding. Thinly chopped cabbage, fried with syrup, baked with a thick layer of seasoned ground beef in the middle.

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Some Kålpudding and Janssons Frestelse  preparation.

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Fläskkorv: large pork sausage

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Prinskorv: “Prince sausage”  mini hotdog-like sausages

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Köttbullar: The homemade meatballs, of course.

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Brunkål: Brown Cabbage, served as a side dish. Cabbage is boiled and fried and seasoned with vinegar, salt and syrup.

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Christmas Bread

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Cheese, bread, butter, and salad.

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My Christmas feast. Bottom center is the Kålpudding and Janssons Frestelse.

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Alongside we drank Julmust, beer, and snaps.

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Julmust is a very popular cola beverage that is Christmas themed and has a distinctly different “holiday” flavor.

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After dinner and before the presents we eat Struva and glögg - a Swedish mulled spiced wine served warm with raisins and almonds.

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Later that evening we enjoyed Swedish cheesecake, icecream, jam, and cream with coffee, tea, and liquor.

If we had any young kids in the family our Christmas eve festivities would be very different, having to schedule around the must-watch 3:00pm Christmas cartoon, “Kalle Anka,” or as we know him – Donald Duck.  Every year half of Sweden faithfully sits around the television and watches “Kalle Anke och hans vänner önskar God Jul” or “Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas.”

Which would probably be followed by a mysterious Santa knocking on the door and giving out presents.

Christmas eve is also filled with tons of chocolate treats and candy, both as dessert and presents.

On Christmas Day, as if we aren’t full enough, we have our next food tradition – Lutfisk served with boiled potatoes.

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Lutefisk is a white fish that is air dried to later be re-hydrated with water and lye. The fish soaks in the lye water for weeks before it is ready to be cooked. The fish has a strange consistency the first time you eat it, but it is easily forgotten because it is served with a ton of white sauce, salt, and pepper. There are very small bones in the fish,  so be careful!

One last thing – it is very popular to make gingerbread houses in Sweden, as well as to eat ginger bread cookies throughout the month.

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Cooking Swedish: Falukorv med Bostongurka

Today we pondered what we can have for dinner and my husband told me to look up “Falukorv med Bostongurka”  After looking at a few photos, I chopped a few veggies, spread some condiments, sprinkled some cheese, baked, and enjoyed!

 

Falukorv is a large traditional sausage made of pork, spices and potato starch flour. It is commonly eaten fried in a few popular meals, as well as atop of a smörgås. Bostongurka is a type of pickled relish that is very popular in Sweden.

This is a pretty common Swedish meal, something kids learn to make in school. It would be considered a “vardag” or “husmanskost” food, because it is simple, traditional, and made with common local ingredients.

Vocabulary

Sausage – Korv

Cucumber – Gurka

Pepper – Peprika

Tomato – Tomat

Onion – Lök

Cheese – Ost

Dinner – Middag


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Exploring Sweden: Café Killeröd, Båstad

Last weekend we had a little “utflykt” (outing) to a town called Båstad, which is a bit south of Halmstad. Our friends wanted to show us a cafe they were told about during the summer called Café Killeröd. We arrived around 4pm on a cloudy day, so we couldn’t fully enjoy what looked like would normally be a beautiful view. The cafe is up high so you can look down onto and past Båstad, over the ocean and see the nearest tip of Denmark.

We only drove through Båstad, but it seemed like a small (5,000 population) cozy harbor town. It was originally named a city while under Danish rule and was named “Botstœdœ” (boat landing place).

We shared the two specials: Äpplemarängtårtbit med vaniljsås (apple meringue pie with vanilla sauce) and tryffeltårtbit (truffle cake), both were delish!!

The tryffeltårtbit is actually named “Carl-Johan Bernadotte Tryffeltårtbit” because it was created as an 80th birthday cake for a prince of Sweden, Count Carl Johan Bernadotte of Wisborg.

 

Vocabulary:

Boat: båt

Harbor: hamn

Apple: äpple

Chocolate: choklad

Tasty: smaklig

Cozy: mysig


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My First Birthday in Sweden – Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah

Celebrating my first birthday in Sweden couldn’t have been better. I got birthday wishes, presents, hugs, and cake from new family and friends. Phone calls, Skype calls, messages, and photos from friends and family back home.

Gift from hubby!

I was a bit nervous about my first birthday in a new country: What will it be like? What are the cultural differences?
Last weekend we celebrated my birthday with my family-in-law. They bought a banana cake, gave me presents, and sung happy birthday to me:
 

The Swedish Birthday Song:

Ja, må hon leva, Ja, må hon leva, Ja, må hon leva uti hundrade år.

Ja, visst ska hon leva, Ja, visst ska hon leva, Ja, visst ska hon leva uti hundrade år.

(x2)

“Ett fyraldigt leve… leve hon. HURRAH, HURRAH, HURRAH, HURRAH.”

English Translation

Yes, may she live, Yes, may she live, Yes, may she live for a hundred years.

Oh sure, she will live, Oh sure, she will live, Oh sure, she will live for a hundred years.

“A four fold cheer … cheer for her. HURRAH, HURRAH, HURRAH, HURRAH.”

Listen to it here:

My in-laws taught me how to knit for my birthday! They own a knitting and yarn store, Lerdalaboden, so learning from them was easy- even if it was in Swedish! I’m working on a hat and scarf right now. My husband cooked some delicious chicken Alfredo and bought another cake today!

Some Common Swedish Birthday Customs

  • Breakfast in bed- unfortunately this is usually only for children. The family comes into the room with breakfast (sometimes with cake) and sings for the birthday boy/girl.
  • Some Swedes enjoy Smörgåstårta (Sandwich cake) on their birthdays. Read more about that in a previous post. Hubby bought me a shrimp sandwich this morning instead.
  •  A popular birthday cake is Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)- a sponge cake with lots of cream inside and a shell of marzipan. Read more about that in a previous post.
  • Swedish flags are often used to decorate the birthday cake.
  • Bring your own birthday cake to work to celebrate yourself with your workmates.
  • Surprise parties are not common in Sweden, instead you plan your own festivities if you want.

Vocabulary

Grattis på födelsedagen: Happy Birthday!

Grattis: Congratulations

Tårta: Cake


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Allemansrätten and Mushroom Picking

Sweden is known for many things (abba, ikea, h&m, etc.),  but one thing that is more unique and special when you live in Sweden is the nature around you. Sweden is filled with many lush forests, mountains, archipelagos, lakes, and rivers – which are not only a significant part of Sweden as a place, but also the culture and mindset.

Swedes are very in-tune with nature, and respect the nature around them. Allemansrätten (The Everyman’s right)is a constitutional right since 1994 that states: “Everyone shall have access to nature”. This idea and term has been a part of Sweden for much longer (1900′s), but was legally integrated only recently. In Sweden you can walk, run, hike, camp, swim, pick berries or mushrooms anywhere – on both privately owned and public land, as long as you preserve and respect nature. This right is also called “Freedom to Roam” which was once common practice throughout Europe, but is now a public right found strongest within Scandinavian countries. If you are not harming the environment or wildlife by destroying or disturbing plants, picking rare flowers, or messing with bird nests, for example, then you can explore anywhere.

This Allemansrätten is especially important during the beginning of summer and fall because it is very popular to pick berries and hunt for mushrooms. Picking berries and mushrooms means you need to hunt for them – find a favorite spot somewhere out in the forest and scavenge. Allemansrätten allows people to wander around without worrying about trespassing, as long as they are not too close to a residence. So, a Swedes favorite (and secret) kantarella mushroom spot might be right in your “backyard.”

Throughout September Swedes are known to go mushroom picking and come back with baskets of kantarella. These mushrooms are considered to be very Swedish and traditional  with a uniquely strong and distinct flavor. With Allemansrätten by their side, people can hike into any forest and start plucking. Most people keep their favorite spot a secret, not wanting to miss out on their tasty stash (I’ve read about methods of hiding  growing mushroom patches beneath leaves).

While we haven’t gone Kantarella picking yet, we have enjoyed a batch from the supermarket and my husband shared with me the traditional way to eat them (typically directly after you have plucked them). Try a Tasty Kantarella Smorgas!!

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