Something Swedish


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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!

photo

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!


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A Swedish Thanksgiving

Figures that the first time I host my own Thanksgiving dinner, I’m in a country that doesn’t celebrate it! My first year away from my family traditions and celebrations, I wanted to start my own – so I brought Thanksgiving to Sweden, to share it with my Swedish family.

Turkey nails for the occasion

On The Menu:

Turkey & Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, String Bean Casserole, Cauliflower Casserole, Fruit & Walnut Stuffing, Sweet Potatoes, Glazed Carrots, Pumpkin Cookies, Cannoli Cups, Mulled Apple Cider

Eight over-sized American dishes I’ve never cooked before for seven new Swedish family members who have never tasted my cooking? No Pressure! It’s not as if I only started cooking a year ago and have hardly stepped foot in a kitchen before then or something… No Problem! Thankfully my husband helped me through it all, my mother-in-law made sure the turkey was cooked and made the gravy, and my sister-in-law brought the apple pie and vanilla sauce.

Chopping nuts and veggies at 9 am, handling a knife this early is just not safe!

My Swedish Thanksgiving breakfast.

Initially I thought celebrating a traditional Thanksgiving in Sweden would be hard to do, as Turkeys aren’t really sold here, but about a month ago I was shocked to see a small part of the freezer in Hemköp filled with small-medium sized turkeys! And about a week later, it was empty. I guess there are other American expats out there! Thankfully my in-laws were able to buy one in time. The store “defrosted” it for us for three days – but it was still half frozen!

We placed the turkey in the cold laundry room with the window open overnight, while it was brining in a pot of water, salt, sugar, and spices. After it didn’t fit in the refrigerator we didn’t know were to put it! I’ll never forget my husband running around with a huge turkey pot, “New Plan! New Plan!”

One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is the canned cranberry sauce. I asked my cousin to mail a can, but neither of us thought that it was worth the $13 shipping. I spotted fresh cranberries two weeks ago, thought it was normal, and didn’t rush to buy any. When they were gone, my husband said he has never seen them being sold fresh before. Luckily we found frozen cranberries and I made my own. It was easier than I thought: cranberries, water, orange juice, white & brown sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, salt & pepper. Tasty tasty.

I was tempted to buy an extra pumpkin after Halloween, because canned pumpkin isn’t sold here in Sweden and I thought I would have to make my own if we were to have a traditional pumpkin dessert. Then, I heard rumors of it being stocked in the international section of MAXI. I made Pumpkin cookies instead of pumpkin pie; they were gobbled up quickly, being compared to different sorts of Christmas cookies. I also made a batch of cannoli cups, which were a hit.

My cousin sent me a care package with some Thanksgiving essentials like a turkey baster and French’s fried onions – without which, a classic dish would have been missing (Yes, I added bacon):

She also sent festive turkey napkins and paper plates. The decorations pulled it all together.

As soon as we arrived I realized I forgot the marshmallows at home. THE MARSHMALLOWS! A Thanksgiving tragedy, I thought – our poor sweet potatoes!  Seeing as I already cut out half of the sugar and mixed in white potatoes to make this dish more “Swedish” the lack of marshmallows was probably a good thing.

When we started talking  about celebrating Thanksgiving one of the first questions was, “Are we going to stuff the turkey??” Having seen Thanksgiving celebrated on T.V and movies, I guess this part of the meal was a staple for my Swedish family’s knowledge of the holiday. At first I said “Sure!” which lead to a bit of disappointment when I decided not to do it, as it can be potentially dangerous, too salty, and too much work for a first timer.

I was probably just as nervous about the fruit & walnuts stuffing as I was about the turkey. It came out very good, and now I know what to do to make it better next year! (Smaller, torn pieces of bread)

Next year I need to make more cauliflower casserole and green bean casserole:

Of course we had  to Swedify Thanksgiving a bit and have some boiled potatoes and meatballs -

Once all the side dishes were done, and the kitchen was clean (Thanks to my incredibly helpful & supportive husband, who also did all the peeling and mashing) we had time to sit back for an hour before we started prepping the bird.

Being in Sweden means having no roasting rack or pan, but we made do with what we had!

Hubby had the honor of  washing, handling, and carving the bird, while I prepped the flavoring.

While it was cooking everyone was in the kitchen saying “luktar så gott!” – “Smells so good!”

I tried the method of cooking it upside-down for half of the time, which seemed to make the breast less dry and more tasty. The gravy from the juices was delicious!

Tasted, smelled, and felt like home.

Thanksgiving in Sweden was officially a success! Everyone took seconds, and had a favorite dish. The next day we all enjoyed a full plate of left overs. I took home enough sweet potatoes and stuffing to last a few days. Looking forward to next year with notes of improvement from this very first Thanksgiving! Happy Gobble Gobble Day!

Vocabulary

Turkey: Kalkon

Give thanks: Ge tack

Family: Familj

Tradition: Tradition


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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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Kanelbullens Dag: Cinnamon Roll Day! And…100th Blog Post!

Did you know that cinnamon roll originated in Sweden? Neither did I!

Not only is today  Kanelbullens Dag,

but also the 100th Something Swedish post!!

What better way to celebrate the 100th post than to research, bake, buy, photograph, and eat this beloved Swedish treat and then blog all about it!?

From the first time I visited Sweden I noticed that cinnamon buns were a big part of the culture, especially when it was time to fika [here]. While many pastries are enjoyed with coffee in Sweden, cinnamon rolls are the traditional choice. They’ve been popular in Sweden since the 1920’s, but it was in the 1950’s when baking them at home became a big deal.  In 1999 an organization called Hembakningsrådet (Home Baking Council) [here] created the day to highlight this especially Swedish pastry and to “kick off” the Autumn season, when home baking is best.

I’ve never baked cinnamon rolls before, so I gave it a shot! Thankfully, my oh-so-Swedish husband has made kanelbullar many times in his life, so I had some help. I always knew that kanelbullar and cinnamon rolls were very different, but it wasn’t until I started making them that I saw why my husband doesn’t even consider them to be the same pastry.

American Cinnamon Rolls vs  Swedish Kanelbullar

Kanelbullar are a lot less sweet than cinnamon rolls (as are most pastries here, Swedens sweet tooth is not nearly as decadent). The sugary sweet icing I salivate over when I crave a cinnamon roll isn’t what you will ever find in Sweden – instead a simple sprinkle of pearl sugar is the topping of choice.

Kanelbullar are baked with  kardemumma (cardamon – a popular pastry spice here) into the dough, giving it a very distinct flavor.

The cinnamon roll recipe called for almost twice the amount of sugar and twice the amount of filling, with a lot of brown sugar – which is not used at all in kanelbullar.

Instead of baking the cinnamon rolls squished together in one pan like in the U.S., kanelbullar are baked completely separate, like muffins or cookies.

Overall, both kinds were really yummy, but really too different to compare.

Kanelbullar are a lot easier to make (less sticky, less filling, no icing, less clean up) and you can easily eat more than one. + points for being a lot more photogenic, too.

Having American cinnamon rolls was very comforting as they reminded me of home – an overly sweet bite of NYC.

Recipe:

25  g of yeast
75g butter
1  cups milk
0.5 cup granulated sugar
1 pinches of salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (If you don’t have cardamom, then add a little bit more cinnamon to the filling to make up the lack of flavor – although it’s not the same at all.)
7 cups flour

Filling:
50g butter (softened)
0.5 cup granulated sugar
0.5  tablespoon cinnamon

Brushing:  1 egg

Garnish: Pearl sugar

1. Crumble the yeast in a bowl .
2. Melt the butter, add the milk until lukewarm (Test with your finger, should feel comfortable). Make sure to stir and that it doesn’t get too hot or the yeast dies.
3. Add yeast until it is dissolved and then salt, sugar and cardamom. Stir.
4. Start adding and mixing the flour into the liquid (use an electric mixer with dough hooks)
5. Let the dough sit and rise until doubled in size (30-45 minutes ).
6. Meanwhile, whip the filling ingredients together until smooth.
7. When the  dough is ready , knead it into a flat rectangle on a floured surface.
8. Spread on the filling and roll up
9. Cut about 1 ½ cm thick slices and place them in the muffin forms.
10. Let sit so that dough can rise again (30-40 minutes).
11. Meanwhile, whisk the egg and turn on the oven..
12. Gently brush on the whisked egg  and sprinkle with pearl sugar .
13. Bake in oven at 400 ° F  for 9-10 minutes  until a golden brown color.


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Pastries, Parties, and SFI Kurs Test

Today my SFI class had a party for those of us moving on to the next course (D kurs). This type of party is an Avskedsfest – “Departure party”. In the Swedish spirit of things (Read here), the four of us that are leaving brought cakes, cookies, chocolates, soda, etc., for everyone to enjoy. We listened to music and spoke to each other about our lives and played a game in Swedish.

I decided to bake some sweets for the class, as I had a recipe (here) that I wanted to try but didn’t want to eat so many pastries at home by myself! They are a spin off of cannolis, a popular Italian pastry, which I was shocked to find that no one has ever eaten or heard of. I already knew that they are not known in Sweden, as I introduced my husband to his first cannoli, but with a classroom filled with people from around the world I thought someone would know.

It really put the American melting pot into perspective, I appreciate that I have eaten so many food from different cultures.

The test to go to the next level course is available every 5 weeks, which means having an Avskedsfest again soon, hopefully! Something to look forward to!

A little about the C level course test:

There are 5 parts you get graded on (split into two days):

(VG) Reading comprehension
(VG) Listening
(G) Speaking
(G) Writing
(G) Word comprehension

Grades in Sweden range from Underkänd “U” (Fail), Godkänd “G” (Passing), and Väl Godkänd “VG” (Passed with Distinction)

Above are the grades I received for each section. The teacher said my writing could be “VG” if I stopped forgetting the accents over å, ö, and ä.

Reading: (40 mins each) Two very straight forward, multiple choice tests based on text. There are different types of texts, such as newspaper articles, time schedules, menus, advertisements, letters, and stories.

Listening: (40 mins) You will be able to read all the questions and multiple choice answers before listening to the recording, which  you will hear two times. Pay attention to details as most of the answer choices are mentioned but not exactly related to the questions being asked. This part is a bit difficult as they speak quicker than our teachers prepare us for, I suggest listening to the radio or tv to prepare.

Speaking: (20 mins) Pretty laid back and informal group conversation about a given generic topic, for example: is better to live in a city or in the countryside? Our teachers helped move the conversation along if we got stuck.

Writing: (60 mins) Write a page about one of four topics. Make sure to follow the instructions and stay on topic. For example, if you need to write a letter make sure to structure it properly. C level test had simple topics like driving, childcare, job interviews, or computers. D level  moves onto things like town hero’s and politics.

Word Comprehension: Based off of your writing and speaking tests and a few vocabulary questions in the reading test.

Hopefully that will help anyone who is testing soon! Lycka Till! (Good Luck!)


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Cooking Eggplant: “Aubergine”

My dad always says you can judge a pizzeria by the quality of its eggplant, weather its on a pizza, on a hero, or eggplant parmesan. So, when I had the craving to make eggplant for dinner last week I felt a bit of pressure for quality and knew it is a dish that can turn out less than good. I didn’t let that stop me as eggplant is one of my favorite foods and I’ve wanted it ever since spotting some in the city square market.

I learned that the first key to good eggplant is draining out the bitterness. Once you cut them (And peel, if you choose)  you sprinkle salt on each piece to make it sweat out a dark juice. This meant having two colanders sitting around and waiting for 30-60 minutes for each one, then rotating in the next batch.

Something to do in advance, before you are actually prepping or else it will feel incredibly stressful and tedious to wait for since you can’t do much else until after it is done. Make sure to pat them completely dry with paper towels when you are finished. You can set up the bowls for breadcrumbs with flour &  seasoning and one for the beaten egg. Don’t forget to set up an area with paper towels to place the eggplant on to absorb the access oil.

The second key is the thickness of the slices. They should be 1/4 – 1/2 inch (between .6 and 1 cm) and all uniform thickness to cook evenly. I think I cut mine a little bit too thick, on the 1/2 side.  As you can see in the photo above I must have gotten tired because I had a monstrously thick slice in the mix. Don’t do that :)

I think next time I will cut the slices length wise instead, should make it easier and quicker- both to fry and to place in the dish.

When I finished frying up each slice of eggplant (2-3 minutes on each side in oil) I realized that while this is one of my favorites my husband might not like it, ya know…since there is no meat! When he came home and saw the cooking process (aka, The Big Mess) he asked what I was making and “Is that all?” I could tell he was hesitant.

Over all it is a pretty time consuming dish to make and I have to admit I was frustrated and found it tedious by the end. Now that I know what to expect though it won’t be so bad.

Thankfully it was a success and he admitted that he was sad to have a vegetarian meal but that he liked it a lot and it was better than he expected. Overall the dish came out yummy enough to put up with the peeling/draining/frying process, (and the mess) the rest is easy – just make sure you have enough sauce!

Is eggplant a common food in Sweden? I was a little surprised to see it at the city market but I don’t recall ever seeing it where I buy groceries. Does anyone else have any eggplant recipes to share? Suggestions? Eggplant parm had to find its way into my recipe book- I’m looking on improving it before then though!


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Delish Fish Quiche

Wanted to show off this new app called pic frame which is really fun to mess around with and easy to use. You can adjust all the sizes, colors, frame width, frame style – great for showing off a collage of 2-4 photos on the blog without taking up too much room!

Made this fish quiche two nights ago- what a fun thing to say “Fish Quiche,” much better than  “Seafood Quiche.” It’s shrimp, salmon, and  crab meat over a pastry covered with cheese and a creamy batter.

Anyway, the quiche came out really delish… “Delish Fish Quiche!?” Try saying that three times fast. Got the recipe from here. Followed it exactly except that I added mushrooms to the mix (I add mushrooms to almost everything and have trouble not messing with recipes apparently!) Made enough for three 2-person servings and my husband is crazy about it even though he is not a huge fan of seafood. I almost skipped the crab meat because I couldn’t find it, it would not have been nearly as good without it though. Thought it would be difficult to make but it wasn’t, will certainly become a staple dish.

Going to start keeping a recipe book- pretty excited about it but I need to find the right type of book or binder (And get neater hand writing). The pic frame app also reminded me that I need to finish my wedding scrapbook. I need to start making time for old hobby’s and interests again like scrap booking and card making, (Although I never cooked before so I do have a new interest as well). Hard to balance everything even though I feel like I’m often not doing anything at all. Guess it’s more of a mental block than a time issue.


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New Years Resolutions Start When!?

In this household, end of February. We said we would start eating healthier, working out, lose weight and get in shape. (Isn’t that everyone’s resolution…every year?) Sure, we have set this out as a goal in the past as well, but this time is different, (Doesn’t everyone say that!?) we are on the right path (again).

Hear me out: Keep in mind that making life style changes requires support, and while we have always supported each other in any way that we could, dieting and exercising is more hands on than a long distance relationship could fully help with. Now we are living together, cooking together, eating together, and we can exercise together too.

Hubby brought home a cookbook last night for “easy and good super salads.” I love cookbooks- even if I haven’t really cooked much before the last few months, I was an avid browser of online recipes. This salad guide has beautiful photos of each meal, which I love and even better it’s in Swedish. How is that better, it sounds worse!? I know, it’s harder but its motivating me to translate and learn new vocabulary. So, I might not use it as often as I would like because it will take time to translate the salad I want to try to make, but if I  set out a goal to use the book once a week I will be learning a new recipe as well as new Swedish words.

“You are months late on this  so-called-resolution”: Better late than never. I believe in goals, New Years resolutions are a nice concept but it breaks down to a goal, doesn’t matter when you start or finish.

If it’s forced, it will fail. Why didn’t we start sooner? Because we didn’t have to. We just moved in together and I just started learning how to cook, getting comfortable in the kitchen. Now we have an idea of what we like to cook and eat, we take turns cooking, or cook together. It’s a process and now we are both ready to make it a healthier one. We started making healthier meals last week, now we need to start scaling down portion sizes (I always make/serve too much!) and then we will start taking long walks. Looking forward to jogging once the weather is a bit nicer and the dirt paths aren’t muddy. Healthier food with smaller portions is our diet goal. Cardio is our first fitness goal. We are not going on a specific diet or being super strict – just more aware.

We have been incorporating more fruits and nuts into our snacks and desserts, which helps a lot as well. We don’t deny ourselves a chocolate or pastry every once in a while, or else we would give up eating healthy very quickly. We had a “Sweet goodbye to Sweets” on Fattisdag a day after we started our effort, having only one pastry since then(Which is heartbreaking and hard!). We have also stopped buying soda as often, so we are left with water, milk, tea, or coffee. I haven’t bought white bread or buns in two weeks, which is much more difficult for me than it is for him, I haven’t yet adjusted to the darker breads that are normally eaten here.

And so, a post dedicated to some meals we have cooked this past month and a half. Something I will probably continue to blog about (but never so extensively!), as cooking is new territory to me. Being so active in the kitchen is something I have been adjusting to since moving and becoming a Swedish wife (Even if I haven’t been cooking anything incredibly Swedish). We cook most nights, I would say 90% of the time we are eating homemade food. Occasionally we have a pizza, chinese, or eat at a restaurant/cafe. When Hubby and I started dating (and after we got married) I never cooked. He came to terms with the fact that I didn’t know how and he was always patient in showing me the ropes, fully accepting that he would be handling the kitchen.  I was terrible at cutting or peeling anything, didn’t want to touch raw meat, refused to cut onions, and was incredibly slow at everything I did. Now I have been doing most of the cooking and so far so good! He loves to cook for me and always makes delicious meals, I am just happy to finally be able to do the same.

Let’s start with some earlier meals:

Shepard’s Pie – made by me. Ground meat, carrots, peas, corn covered with mashed potatoes -baked.

Chicken Tacos- made by hubby. Chicken and peppers in a creamy seasoned sauce wrapped in a tortilla.

Tuna noodle casserole- made by me. (hubby’s favorite meal) Tuna, cream of mushroom, peas, carrots, cheese, breadcrumbs and noodles-baked.

Pork Chops – made by hubby. Fried boneless pork chops with Bearnaise sauce, with baked breaded potato slices. (Most of our meals were accompanied by creamy potato casserole,bread & butter, tomatoes and cucumber)

Meat balls and/or sausage is an easy go-to, with sides or in a pesto or sauce pasta mix.

Sauce – made by me. Fresh tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, and meatballs served over spaghetti.

“Meat in bread”(?) – made by hubby.  Ground meat fried with onions and crushed tomatoes. Placed in a loaf of bread, covered with loads of cheese and baked.

Chicken pot pie- made by us. Stir fried chicken and veggies boiled in chicken broth, wrapped in dough and baked.

Russian salmon soup- made by hubby. Variety of veggies in a tomato soup with salmon, served with a dollop of creme. (Healthier without the loads of bread we ate it with)

Over all I don’t consider what we were cooking to be unhealthy, aside from all the cream, sauce, bread, and pasta (No pictures of those because they are an easy and frequent meal). We wanted to rotate more salads in and some more variety like incorporating more fish, veggies, and fruits. So for the past week or so we have eaten:

Three types of salads so far, always only with a dash of olive oil and vinegar:

Tuna & egg (Don’t know why I wanted to mix the two but was surprised how good they taste together!)

Ham:

And Chicken:

Salmon – made by me. Marinated in oil, lemon juice, garlic, basil and fresh parsley baked over broccoli and cauliflower – served over rice (We cheated and used white)

Salmon snack rolls- made by us, inspired from this blog (although we used the wrong bread b/c the store wasn’t stocked) Smoked salmon slices, fresh dill, cream cheese (low fat), wrapped in a tortilla and cut into pieces.

Stir fried chicken veggie – made by me. Chicken fried with diced onion, boiled broccoli and cauliflower, brown rice, and chicken broth.

Tonight we had a warm salad- something  I whipped up in a dream last night and couldn’t stop thinking about. Spinach, lightly salted tomatoes, mozzarella, parsley, black olives, mushrooms and chicken. Got ambitious and made a basil vinaigrette dressing as well!

Learning to cook and feeling confidant doing it has been a huge accomplishment over the past few months. I’m happy that we are able to adjust our meal plans to our goal so easily, even if we take small steps and it takes time. The feeling of success is half the battle, and so far we are on the right track.We have a few things to get used to and fall into the habit of before we will see progress, but since we already know that it will take time we are not discouraged. My cooking skills will keep getting better, I will be learning Swedish, we will learn how to take/serve smaller portions, we will start to exercise, and feel better- not today, tomorrow, or next week, but sometime (early) this year.

Being as we are only just beginning our “New Years Resolution” I am wondering how other people are handling theirs? Success stories? Better luck next year stories?


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Cooking in Sweden: “Matlagning i Sverige”

Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew (as my hubby reminded me of yesterday as he rescued me from my own cooking). I’ve been finding a few difficulties as I start to cook more, and maybe its a mix of being in Sweden and “Meg…you don’t know how to cook.”  For now though lets ignore that small personal detail (Which I am getting better at – I have yet to kill anyone or have any major complaints) and talk about why Sweden is making my cooking even harder than it already is.

I thought it would be a great idea to make chicken potpie, something different and it seems easy enough… if you have the ingredients. Chicken: Check. Peas, corn, carrots, string beans, mushrooms: Check. Chicken broth or soup or condensed soup...Eh? No check. Okay…Pie crust, Don’t see those...lets make it simple and throw some biscuit mix like Bisquick or Jiffy on top to make a pie topping. Huh? Where IS this stuff? Okay, I’ll substitute. Condensed mushroom soup instead of chicken broth and croissant sheets for the pie top. Thankfully hubby stepped in once he knew what I was planning on cooking and helped out, because my substitutes weren’t cutting it and I was in over my head. So together we made an awesome meal, I love cooking together.

Tangent - Its great to have a Swedish husband- they know how to cook. No, seriously. Everyone in Sweden is required to take Home Economic classes, both boys and girls. Which means that men actually have a basis for cooking, cleaning, and sewing (for example). Now, I speak only from my own experience and knowledge but I haven’t heard of a high school having home ec except in T.V. shows (or at least NYC, or at least the schools I’m familiar with?) [also based on not knowing many/any guys who cook] I remember being told that it’s no longer taught in high schools, and I’m pretty sure those classes were 90% female students. – End Tangent

Getting back to Sweden messing with my cooking. It’s so hard to find what I am looking for. I understand translating the ingredients, that’s expected. But some of the things that I am so used to are no where to be found. Most of which are very insignificant, but sometimes I do find myself walking in circles desperately searching for something that either doesn’t exist or is packaged and categorized so differently there’s not way for me to find it. (The second obstacle being easily remedied over time).  I have found myself looking up recipes to ingredients of the main recipe that I would normally find in a can or a box, like corn bread or creamed corn. I know, I know – that’s not Sweden’s fault. Its a personal preference type of issue that I’ll adjust to.  HOWEVER it is partially the U.S.’s fault. There I said it! I am so used to everything being instant! Nothing is from scratch anymore, which is a great convenience but the knowledge and know how is also fading fast throughout generations. 

What do you mean I should make the pie topping out of flour and butter? (“You can do that?” “Yes…” “Well I never had to..”) But I have these handy dandy croissant sheets!  Yes, a lot of this just showcases my cooking ignorance, but the point remains that there are more quick/instant substitutes in the States. I know a lot of my friends in NY would have the same issues.

Going to the store to buy oatmeal (Havregryn), and not understanding what to look for. “This isn’t oatmeal! This is just a bag of grains.” “What do you think oatmeal is?” “Well, ours is instant.” “So is this.”  Yes, of course I know that this exists, I have some in my pantry N.Y. (That I used for a Swedish desert recipe one time…), but it’s not what I think of when I go shopping for oatmeal. I’m used to individual serving sized packages perfectly flavored for you. Easy Peasy! Now I’ve learned to add my own sugar and fruit and/or jam and a lot more milk than I’m used to.

I am not writing this as a complaint about missing rice-a-roni or mac-n-cheese (of course there very well might be all these things and more in Sweden, I am only referring to the local grocery store in a smallish town). I hate reading forum discussions of people badmouthing their new country because of its differences and things they “lack”. I just thought it was a cultural difference worth sharing.

On a food related note, last week I made sauce (from scratch, which came out good, but not great) for the first time and while shopping for the ingredients I picked up a fresh basil plant.  It was so tempting, I thought how nice it would be to have growing on our window sill. A small plant to brighten up our apartment, something to cook with and smells delicious. What a bad idea! Little did I know only a few hours later it would be seriously dying because it couldn’t survive leaving the store and being in the cold for the 5 minute walk. And so I used what I needed for the sauce, tried my best to keep it alive longer by watering it and keeping it away from the cold windowsill during the night and in the sunlight the next day. It was no use… BUT I did find that you can grow basil  from clippings being submerged in water. So, a week later and my baby basil is still alive and kicking! Looking 110% healthier and maybe even growing? But it still hasn’t formed roots, so we will see!

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