kareina: (BSE garnet)
This week's work is happening in Finland. I flew out of Luleå Monday afternoon (the cab picked me up at home at 14:40, so I had plenty of time in the morning, and cooked some yummy homemade noodles with dried nettles in the noodles, fresh spinach, snowpeas, and butter to take with me) and arrived in Helsinki at 20:35 (including the one hour time change).

I was met at the airport by my cousin Kimmo (he is actually a grandson of my great-grandfather's brother, putting him in the same generation as my mom, but he is younger than I am due to the age difference between those two brothers +/- timing of subsequent generations). He and I relaxed at a coffee shop at the airport for a bit, where he enjoyed a coffee plus one of the cookies I had brought along for the trip, and I worked on a sewing project. Then we took train and bus to the city of Espoo, just across the river from Helsinki, where the Finish Geological Survey (GTK) is located.

I checked into my room, and he stayed long enough for another cup of coffee before heading out. It was good to catch up with him. He is fairly recently single (amicable separation from a long-term partner), so if I know anyone who enjoys participating in sports who might like a nice Finnish man for a partner, let me know and I will introduce you. There is a photo of he and I here, but I suspect that you would need to be friends with him on FB to see it (and mom already has, so this may be kinda useless info).

I woke up this morning early enough to borrow one of the hotel swim suits (one size fits all, but, luckily, I am "one size") for a quick swim before starting the day. I had to borrow one, I have no idea where mine is. Come to think of it, the last time I remember using it was some years back, when I stayed at this hotel while attending a short course in Laser-ablation ICP-MS at GTK. I suppose it is possible it got accidentally left here. But the one I borrowed today, was not my missing suit.

The guys at GTK had told me that I could show up any time after 09:00, and google maps told me that it is a 9 minute walk from my hotel, so, of course, I left my room at 18 minutes before 9:00. Sure enough, I arrived 9 minutes later (I don't know what criteria google uses to calculate time needed to walk somewhere, but I usually walk at exactly that speed). Of course I had no idea where in the building I needed to go, so I asked the woman working at the reception desk. She had no idea what a microprobe is, nor where to find it, and, of course, my colleague wasn't answering his phone so early in the day. But then one of the geologist walked by and was able to give her the name of someone else associated with that lab, and he came and showed me to where they get their coffee in the morning before starting work.

After he had his coffee we went to the lab, and he spend an hour or so doing some testing and calibration of the machine before we started choosing my analysis points. The plan had been to analyze about 100 points on each of the two samples. Both samples had been marked with a set of six squares, and I had printed out large photos of each marked area, so it was easy to make notes as to the exact location of the analysis points. There were 4 different mineral phases we wanted to analyze, which would come to 25 points per sample for each mineral per sample, except for the fact that one mineral (pyrite) is really common in sample A and very rare in sample B, and another (chalocopyrite) doesn't exist at all in sample A, but is really common in sample B, and it turns out that sample B also had a few rare grains of another mineral that A didn't have (phyrotite). So we planned to take extra of the minerals that exist on only one of the two thin sections, but we got a bit enthusiastic, and wound up selecting some extras of everything. By 15:00, when we'd finished marking the last spot the total analysis time was predicted to need 23 hours, which wouldn't have left time tomorrow to run the other samples we want to do. So we counted how many spots we had for each different mineral, and for which locations (by hand, since it turns out not to be possible to copy-paste the list before the analyses have been run) and decided which areas had points we could delete from the list. After deleting lots the new predicted run time was 19 hours, so he told me not to come back till around noon tomorrow and I went back to the hotel room to read for a bit before heading out with the SCA folk.

At 17:00 V. arrived to pick me us, and we first stopped by a cute little iron age replica village, though, of course, we couldn't see much, since setting the clocks back this past weekend means that it is now dark before 17:00, even this far south. Then we went to the pub, which turns out to also be a Czech resturant. Since we were there fairly early I was still hungry. I was also intrigued by the sound of their "Clear garlic soup served in a crispy crusted bread bowl", so I ordered it. Oh, wow, yum! [livejournal.com profile] madbaker, I think this soup was made with you in mind. They totally used "more" garlic, and the bread was excellent, especially with the garlic soup soaking into it. I have previously had soups served in bread rolls. This one was large enough to count as a loaf. There seemed to be some thinly sliced onions in the pot as well as plenty of slices of what must have been some fairly large cloves of garlic, and a bit of cheese as well. There were some croutons in there too, and I wonder if they had been made from what had been cut out of the bread before putting the soup in, since there weren't too many of them. My only complaint was that it simply wasn't possible to finish it, and since everyone else ordered their own things from the menu I couldn't convince anyone else to eat the last of it for me, so it just went to waste.

a loaf of soup
Note that the spoon in the photo is a rather large table spoon, not the tiny delicate tea spoon it would need to be if that loaf of soup had been only a manageable sized roll.

Over the course of the evening we had about half a dozen local SCA people (most of whom I had met at Cudgel War this summer) plus me. It was a lovely evening. Since I don't have to be back at the lab till noon tomorrow, I have taken some time to relax and catch up on what has been happening with my friends while I have been busy, but I am tired, so I had best do my yoga and get some sleep anyway. Tomorrow I hope we have enough time to get the analysis points chosen for the other set of samples before I have to leave for the airport to head home.
kareina: (stitched)
The 14 hour train trip from Göteberg to Luleå is, in many ways, nice and relaxing--we have beds, so we can stretch out and sleep comfortably. Yet, somehow, by the time we were home I was feeling very tired. Cooked a yummy soup right away anyway, as one needs to eat. Then, after a bit of unpacking we did some grocery shopping, and then made pizza. C would have been willing to use something like store bought pita bread for the pizza base, but no way am I ever going to eat store bought bread if there is another option, so I made pizza dough. She cooked up a pizza sauce involving tons of onion, some canned tomato, herbs, extra salt and sugar added. Ick. My pizza sauce was tomato paste, with one spoonful of her canned tomato, herbs and onion/garlic (BEFORE she added the salt and sugar, thank you). The nice thing about having a couple of ceramic pizza pans is that mine could bake while hers warmed up, and then we both get pizza we are happy with.

It is now only 17:40, but I feel like it is already time to do yoga and go to bed. Somehow I bet I get distracted and don't manage sleep straight away...
kareina: (me)
When we walked from the house to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's parent's motorhome to sleep last night the driveway was comprised of a thin layer of snow left behind after plowing, the texture of which was that perfect consistency to make that squeaky-crunchy sound snow makes on a cold day. Winter-perfect.

When I woke up this morning and walked into the house it was necessary to be careful, as now the driveway is comprised of ice with a film of water covering it, and all of the drain-spouts from the roofs of the house and out-buildings were running liquid water. It was also lightly raining, but I suspect that most of the water film over the driveway came from melting rather than precipitation.

We had planned to spend some of today wandering in the forest here so that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and his brother start to get familiar with it (remember that his parents only bought this farm in May). However, with the rain it was decided to do a bit more work to finish up the new car port instead. While the boys did that I made progress on my book and took a nap.

Since the 25th is just an ordinary day in Sweden, dinner for the eight of us tonight didn't have quite so many choices as yesterday. I took "only" the roast moose, moose balls, baked omlette with cheese, salad, potato, and left over mixed root vegetables dish from yesterday, and ignored the saussage, normal meat balls, pork dish, the fish and potato dish, the other fish and veg salad, or any of the five or six store bought bread options.

It is always mind boggling to me how his mother manages to produce dinners like this--I never see her doing the food prep, other than the last minute putting it all out. It is nearly enough to make one believe in magic.

Not that I would want to eat like this most of the time. I am content with my one-dish meals or soups, and with grazing all day, one item at a time and wait an hour before the next thing. My poor tummy doesn't like getting it all in one go like today. Especially when my mouth wins the debate and I take seconds because it was tasty.

Edited to add: and then she fed us blueberry cake with whipped cream and some other sweet fluffy sauce thing (I skipped the latter). My poor tummy is so full, but my mouth thinks longingly of thirds on desert...
kareina: (stitched)
Today has been a delightful day--this morning we moved some rocks so that we will be able to concrete them into the earth cellar wall later. Then I baked some yummy bread rolls filled with a delicious blend of nuts and berries )

Then, while the bread was baking I used the electric mixer to churn some cream into butter, then took out a pie-crust I had previously frozen and filled it with chopped broccoli, a blend of eggs and the buttermilk from making the butter, and a bit of Parmesan cheese. This was ready to go in when the rolls came out, and while it baked I made a fruit salad.

That left me a half an hour to relax before it was time to start the rest of dinner )

The food was pretty much ready just as A & G arrived (I didn't drop the noodles into the boiling water they they got here, since they take only seconds to cook), and we enjoyed a nice and really yummy meal, and gave them the tour of the house, earth cellar, and nearby outbuildings. By which time the other laurel in the shire arrived to pick up his computer which [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had fixed for him. He has recently taken G on as his apprentice, and had encouraged me to take on A as mine. She and I have been chatting about the possibility on facebook, and she has finally decided to say "yes". So now I have a local apprentice. She is the one who did all of the beautiful tablet weaving on my new dress, my new hood and belt pouch, my sexy Viking cloak in progress (we won't discuss how long it has been "in progress"). I have bought so much trim from her that I have joked that I had crossed the line from "customer" to "patron", so becoming her Laurel was the next logical step.

She and I are discussing making a cloak together as regalia for the "Norrskensbard", since we will be having a contest to select a bard for the northern Nordmark groups at Norrskensfest in November.

It was really fun to have people over--we should do that more often, and I think I will enjoy having a local apprentice.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
I have mentioned before that we are making svartvinbärsylt(black currant jam) by boiling berries with an apple, but no sugar, and how much I love it as a condiment on foods (much like Americans use ketchup). Recently [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's parents moved house, and when they did they gave us one of their freezers, and with it a few bags of lingonberries. Swedes tend to put lingonberry jam on pretty much all food types, but I don't care for it, because store bought jam has so much sugar in it. However, lingonberries are much tarter than black currants, so we decided to try mixing the two berries 50-50. Today's jam consisted of 1 yoghurt bucket of black currants, 1 yogurt bucket of lingonberries, and one small green apple (and no sugar, of course), which I covered with water and boiled till it had condensed down small enough that it fits into two 3/4 L glass jars, with a bit of room to spare in each.

While it was cooking I took last night's rotmos(mashed potatoes + other root vegetables, like turnip, parsnip, rutabaga, and carrot) and turned it into perogies and baked some bread rolls. I just tried some of the perogies with the lingon-svartvinbärsylt on it, and yum! The jam is just tart enough to bite back when eaten on its own, but blends very well with savory foods.

The reason I managed to do all of this is that this morning I will need to work in the afternoon. The department is having a party during which various labs have been asked to do a short presentation of what they do, and I was specifically asked to do a talk on the new laser ablation ICP-MS lab. Since the party starts at 15:30, I am not going to go in till just a bit before then.

This weekend's Spelmansstamän was, as always, ever so much fun. Our dance performance went well, his nyckleharpa group performance sounded great, there were many other wonderful performers, and, as always, the evening dancing was fabulous. Groups of musicians take turns playing for the dancers all evening both Friday and Saturday nights. This was my fifth Spelmansstamän, and I am pleased to report that these days I don't even need to think about what kind of music they are playing, my body just does the correct type of Swedish folk dance to the music.

Then C arrived for a visit yesterday, and it is so wonderful to have her here again. It is looking like either she will come north (usually) or we will head south to see her at least once a month for the rest of the year.
kareina: (stitched)
Yesterday and today was a meeting for our division at the university. This time, rather than having it on campus we did an excursion.

24 of us boarded a bus yesterday morning at 08:00 and we drove out to the site of the old Laver mine--a mine that was built in 1936 and was in operation till 1946. They built a small town there to house the workers, and even a school for the children. Apparently it was an ultra modern town, with electricity, central heating, modern stoves, etc. The children who grew up there were surprised when the mine closed and their families moved away to discover that the rest of Sweden didn't have those conveniences yet.

After the mine closed the houses were all moved to other locations (and, indeed, and been built to be movable, since the only expected the mine to operate for 10-15 years), and all that remains today are the foundations and dirt roads between them, and, of course, the old tailings pile from the mine.

After that stop we went a short distance up the road to where they are hoping to open a new, larger mine. The part of the deposit they mined in those days turns out to have been the richest part of a larger alteration system. These days it is possible to do mining in areas of lower concentrations of ore than used to be required. It will be interesting to see if they get the permits approved to open the new mine. No matter where a natural resource is located there will always be someone who loves the spot and hopes that no one comes in with heavy equipment.

After that stop we went to Hotel Storforsen, which has one of the prettiest views I have seen since moving to Sweden. Storforsen is Europe's largest undeveloped rapids, and a location I try to visit at least a couple of times a year.

We had a couple of hours between arriving at the hotel and the scheduled dinner, so I took the bridge from the hotel across one of the two rivers that meet there and went up to the pretty area by the rapids. I didn't dawdle, just walked there, did a quick loop around the area admiring the rocks, water, and spring growth of vegetation. While it had rained earlier in the day that had stopped, and the rocks were dry and I was able to do the adventure in my birkenstock sandals.

I didn't, of course, eat dinner that evening, since we didn't sit down till 19:00, and I am never hungry that late--instead I had brought my own food, which I ate at a time my tummy wanted food (16:00 for half of it, and 17:00 for the rest), and when food was served at dinner I tucked the things that looked like they would be good the next day for lunch into a plastic box and chatted with people. I had never spoken to the PhD student who was sitting across from me, and he was quite interested to hear about the SCA any my hammer dulcimer. He plays piano and is interested in the dulcimer, which he had never heard of before.

This morning we had the actual formal meeting, at the end of which I gave a short talk about the new laser ablation ICP-MS lab, briefly explaining what the machines do and what they might want to use the lab for. Then we had lunch at the hotel and we all went up to the rapids as a group. Today it was raining, lightly, so I opted to wear my hiking boots, and even so was very cautious wandering over the rocks, which can be quite slippery when wet. I was very surprised to find out that no one has ever studied the geology there, despite all of the beautiful outcrop. Several of us talked about it, and we agreed that it would be good to turn some students loose there to do some projects that would also result in some information signs for the tourists--the part has lots of signs about the birds, wildlife, and the history of the river as a way to float logs from the timber industry to the saw mills--they need some geology signs, too.

Then we returned to town just early enough for me to have the energy to tidy up a bit and to cook up a yummy soup (to which I added more nettles from where I am hoping to evict them from behind the strawberry patch) and a delicious cornbread.
kareina: (me)
When last I left off I was enjoying Julafton Christmas Eve at the home of [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's parents. While many people I know tend to overeat at big holiday meals, I don't tend to have that problem with the traditional Swedish Christmas dinner, since it involves several varieties of fish (which I don't care for), ham (which I also don't care for), meatballs (which I used to enjoy, but since I largely quit eating meat when I figured out what was causing my digestive issues, I tend to skip these, too), and pickled things (the absolute top of the list of things I don't eat, and would prefer to never even smell!). This left a small assortment of things on the table that I do eat: plain boiled potatoes, steamed broccoli (from frozen), a fluffy baked egg/cheese souffle thing, a green salad, hard boiled egg (I skipped the caviar topping that is traditional for these), cheese (the kind made from cream, which is popular here for Christmas), and thinbread (the stuff that is kind of cracker like, but less than 1 mm thick).

However, I was totally content to eat lightly for dinner (I took only a bit of each, and didn't go for seconds. Why? Because my favourite Swedish food, ever, is risalamalta, and I knew that was coming for desert. Those of you who read my last year's holiday post in praise of this dish can just skip to the next paragraph. For those of you who haven't yet tried this little bit of heaven in a bowl, you can make your own by slow-cooking rice in way more milk than you think it should be able to absorb to make a rich yummy rice pudding. Don't add any sugar, it doesn't need it. They eat this pudding for breakfast on the morning of Julafton --they add sugar and cinnamon in the bowl, but I eat it just as it comes out of the pot. Then set the rice pudding aside to cool for some hours (in the fridge once it is cool enough to put there, or outside if you are blessed with nice cold weather). When it is nearly time for desert whip lots of cream and blend it with the cooled rice pudding. The result is wonderfully fluffy and rich. They serve it with berries. This year we had a choice between raspberry, strawberry, and hjortron (cloudberry) (all of which had been mashed while fresh and then frozen and thawed for the occasion). I, of course, tried them all, in turn, since I ate three servings in quick succession, and then, after a pause, had even more. (But not as much as [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's oldest brother did--he took as many servings as I, but each was larger than I took.)

The next morning, when I came in for breakfast, [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's mother showed me where the left over risalamalta is, so, instead of having my normal muesli for breakfast I took a small bowl of risalamalta (about half of what was left) with a sprinkle of muesli for crunch, plus some of those crushed raspberries. Yum! Then I went out and enjoyed a 5 km walk on the ice, because if one is going to start one's day with risalamalta, one should also take a walk! However, when I returned from my walk hungry for second breakfast I noticed that no one had eaten the other half of the left over risalamalta, so I ate that, too. Yum. Didn't feel guilty about it either.

Christmas Day itself [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's youngest brother, his wife and their son, left fairly early to go spend the rest of the day with her family, which meant that the rest of us all fit around one table for dinner. Dinner that day included oxfilé, which smelled really, really good, so I asked what it was, and he translated that word as "like cow, but a boy", and then specified that the meat came from an animal raised by friends of the family, not from a grocery store. Since I am fairly certain that whatever it is about meat that bothers my digestion is related to some of the profit-motivated choices the meat industry makes, I felt safe to take a small bit of the meat, which tasted as yummy as it smelled. There was also a yummy fluffy baked dish made of a variety of mashed root vegetables, and yet more broccoli (it is [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's favourite veg, and since his mother knows I am 99% vegetarian she frequently serves it when we are there). I am not certain what else there was at that meal, since that was all I took.

I am able to follow so much more Swedish this year than last year (which was more than the year before)--I can converse with his parents now. However, I still wasn't able to follow much of the conversation between the brothers--they spent much of the weekend talking about the finer points of setting up a generator system so that we wouldn't be bothered by power outages if they happen. I am not certain I would have followed those details in English, either. Luckily, I had my sewing project, a book, and a hammer dulcimer, to keep me amused when the conversation got technical.

We drove home late in the morning on the 26th, and soon after we started the drive we got a call from a friend in Luleå, who was having car troubles--temps were about -20 C, and he had some water somewhere in his system that had frozen, so he couldn't drive, and he was wondering if we could tow his car home. We said yes, but warned him we were about an hour away, and he was good with waiting. Therefore we stopped by the big box store area where his car was and towed it back to his place (which isn't far from there), and then continued on home. I don't think the diversion added more than 20 or 30 minutes to the trip.

This got us home on time to put everything away, relax over a bowl of left over soup, and whip up a batch of blueberry cake from my cousin Arja's recipeblueberry cake from my cousin Arja's recipe ) I have also made this cake with other berries, but I keep going back to the blueberry version (which is how she introduced it to me), because it is so good.

This batch was no exception. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's oldest brother and his wife arrived at our place (after doing a bit of shopping in town (the kids were off at an adventure swimming place with the grandparents) just as the cake was going into the oven, and it was done about the time we finished the inside tour and were ready to do the outside tour. Then we settled down to coffee (them) and herbal tea (us) and cake. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar served the first round of cake: two slices (each about 4 or 5 cm square) to each of us. Then he got us seconds--the same two slices for the other three, and only one slice for me. I didn't take thirds, but the boys got two more slices each, and she took only one. Yes, the boys took fourths, too. I can't remember if they took fifths after a pause, or if the fourths occurred after said pause. I had expected that we would be able to freeze half the cake (since we normally do when I bake one), but there was less than 1/4 of the cake left by the time they finally gave up. If one more of the brothers had been there it would have totally vanished. However, I can't really mind when my baking is met with such enthusiastic response. Most of the time when I bake I just toss stuff in a bowl and it comes out fine. This recipe I actually follow (other than usually substituting yogurt or filmjölk for the sour cream, since we tend to have one of those in the house, and we don't tend to buy sour cream). Ok, this time I used less sugar, since we were nearly out and had only about 3.5 dl left.

yum!

Sep. 26th, 2014 12:40 pm
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
This weekend we are heading to Sorsele (about three or four hour drive: inland and one river valley south) to attend their Folk Music and Dance Week 25 Year Jubelie We went a couple of years ago as part of a group from the local folk music and dance group, a bunch of us in a rented van, and had a great time. This time we will be staying with one of our favourite people from SCA and Larp. This is her home town, and we will be staying at her parent's cabin.

Since we have a road trip and a weekend with lots of stuff on I decided that I would convert leftovers into easy road food.

saffron/rice/almond oven pancake recipe )
leftover soup lasagna )Yum! I was really happy with how both of them came out, and both will be good eaten cold out of the ice box whenever we get hungry.

Now I need to do some packing so that we are ready to go when he gets home from work. Tonight's program has an interesting thing on at 21:00, so if we can get an early enough start we can attend that.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
On Wednesday I managed to finish the last of the revisions to my paper that the reviewers suggested and emailed it off to my co-author. He had already warned me that he would be traveling all last week with poor internet access, so he wouldn't be able to look at it before Monday, so this meant that I got the rest of the week off. (It says something about Academia that in a summer when I am technically unemployed I am still working so many hours that I revel in 2.5 days off.)

I celebrated the time off by returning to the various outdoor home improvement projects that have been neglected the past few weeks. Thursday I managed to level out the pile of dirt [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had dumped in the area that will, probably next summer, become the home of the new shed we bought last autumn and haven't had time to put up. This is an area next to the driveway that had sloped a fair bit, so earlier this summer he used the tractor to frame the space with some large rocks (0.5 to 1.5 m wide) and then dumped the load of dirt and rocks he got from a colleague's yard (said colleague was grateful that we were willing to use the tractor and huge trailer to haul it off at one go, saving him many, many trips to the dump with his tiny trailer) there and smoothed it out with the tractor. Then, while I was off in Norway he added another scoop (or more?) to the area, and the last load was dumped right at the edge of those framing stones, such that much of the dirt had fallen down the outside of them and obscured the lovely rocks from sight. Therefore I started Thursday morning by scooping up the dirt from the outside and carefully packing it into the spaces between the stones before tossing the rest of the excess into the center of where the shed will be. Then I raked all of the area between the stones to a reasonably level surface and used a little hand broom to clean off the outside of all of the stones. The area looks much better now.

After doing all of that I had some lunch, and made progress on my current book in progress. I had never read (or heard of) the English version, but the cover made it look like a fun read, and, indeed, now that the annoying character is out of the picture, it is, and I look forward to reading this one a second time, now that I know where the story is going, so I can look for details I missed on the first pass. I see that there are more books by the author about one of the other intriguing characters, so perhaps I will track them down some day.

Then I went back out and sifted rocks out of dirt to continue filling in the walkway to the earth cellar. That project is more than half done now, and it would be nice if it were completely done before the snow flies, so that the path isn't muddy during the spring melt.

I managed to get about three buckets of small rocks suitable for the walkway (and put larger ones aside for building the earth cellar). I used the sifted dirt for back fill behind the earth cellar walls, but the single wheelbarrow full of dirt didn't make any noticeable difference in depth of fill. Then I went in, played hammer dulcimer a bit, and did more reading.

Later, after [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar got home from work we built an extension to the series of A-frame/tripods we use over the earth cellar walls for hoisting rocks up and into place so that we can start work on the south wall of the cellar. However, since sun is actually setting these days, the light wasn't good enough to start using the frame to move rocks, so instead he brought up a load of dirt in the tractor scoop, and we started filling in gravel against the wall and dirt further out behind the walls that we have already worked on this summer. On the north side of the earth cellar the wall is now less than 1 meter below the surface of the yard, and we have filled in dirt behind that wall all the way to the top, so next spring we won't have the same problem with the sides of the pit eroding and falling in that we had this spring.

Friday he only had to work half a day (having been on call last week), so we took the opportunity to lower the next three large stones into the pit and into place where they will go on the wall. However, by the time that was done we had only a couple of hours before our friends from choir were expected for instrumental music night, so instead of concreting them straight away we opted to do a bit more dirt and gravel fill on the west and south side of the cellar, so now everything is as high as it can be till we do the next batch of concrete.

The plan for today is to do that concreting, bake the loaf of bread (full of whole cloves of garlic, which will roast to pockets of soft goodness in the baking) that is rising, and then head to Umeå (three hours south) for the 30th birthday party for two of our friends (twin brothers).
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
Today was the first opportunity I had in a couple of weeks to head down to the bottom part of our property and pick berries. The raspberries, which didn't have a good berry year to begin with, are now pretty much all gone--just a few dried brown things (which were dry and brown last time I looked, too. However, the svartvinbär (black currant) are still doing well. When we picked them to make saft (juice/syrup) three weeks ago they were mostly ripe, but there were still a number of small red berries. This time all of them were black, and some of them are starting to split open. The splitting might have something to do with the summer being so dry when the berries were growing, but plenty of rain in the last couple of weeks while they were ripening, so the plant is now shoving in more liquid than the shells can contain? Or it might just be normal over-ripe behaviour for these berries.

I picked a small bag full of berries, and once I separated out stems, leaves, and split berries I had a double handful more than a liter of berries. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar has thought of trying to make a liquor out of them, but neither of us have ever tried making any sort of liquor and have no idea of the best approach. I know it is possible to simply mash the berries and soak in a mild tasting alcohol, but we don't have any in the house, and he didn't have any idea what sort would be good to buy for such a project, so I decided to try cooking them into sylt (jam) instead, since he puts either lingonsylt or hallonsylt (lingonberry or raspberry jam) on most of the things he eats. (Really: Oatmeal or breakfast cereal? Put jam on it. Meat? Put jam on it. Lasagna? Put jam on it.)

I rarely use jam on anything, I find it way too sweet. It is ok as a filling in a bread roll, or in the middle of a layer cake (but even better to mash frozen strawberries, mix with whipped cream (no sugar!), and use that instead. Therefore I thought I would try to see what would happen if I did a jam without added sugar--we have plenty more berries down there, so all I would be out if it didn't work would be the time the experiment took.

So I put the berries in a pot, added just enough water to cover, chopped a green (Granny Smith) apple, added it to the pot, and put it on the stove. I let it simmer for about an hour (while slicing potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes to layer with spinach, cheese, and left over vegetarian spaghetti sauce (with tomato, walnuts, chickpeas, and broccoli) for dinner to share with a friend who can't eat gluten who was expected this evening).

After the dinner had been assembled and set aside in the fridge to wait till a more appropriate time to bake it I strained the solid bits of the berries from the juice, mashed them up a bit (after first fishing out the apple core and strings of apple peel, that I had left in while cooking), and stirred it back into the juice. I then tried putting it into a 1 liter glass jar, determined that I had at least a cup more of berries and juice than would fit in the jar, so I put it into a smaller pot and put it back on the stove for a bit longer, till it had reduced enough to fit into that jar.

The result is nice and tart, a little sweet, but not too much. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, of course, put some on the not-lasagna I baked for dinner, but this time all three of the rest of us tried it to. Yum! For the first time in my life I understand why one would want to add cooked fruit jam to a savory dish, but it took making one without any refined sugar to make it tasty enough for me to want to eat it!

I guess I should pick more berries...
kareina: (stitched)
We bought a few more bags of concrete early this week, since we had run out the last time we worked on the earth cellar. I have no idea if it was the new bag, or if I was just feeling paranoid since the very last bag of the old batch we had done turned out to be to wet to use for wall building, and instead we used it to fill in some of the gap between the platform we made for the huge lathe we now have in the shed and the stone foundation of the shed, but on Wednesday I wound up mixing the best batch of concrete I have ever seen. The consistency was absolutely perfect and thus it was a joy to work with. I could set it on any surface, at any angle, and it would happily sit there waiting for whatever happened next. I could even set it on the underside of a rock, and it wouldn't fall off. Such a joy to work with! I only planned to mix that one batch that day, since I was working on my own after spending the morning at Uni working on my paper revisions and applying for a job, and I just had the one small section of the wall to finish leveling out so that we can start using the nice large cut stones on that side, too. I think it was probably a good thing that I stopped there--it would have been terribly disappointing if the next batch was more normal. Much better to stop for the day after the one batch, and be left with the feeling of satisfaction and joy.

One of our friends, who lives three hours inland and a bit south of here, had a birthday last week. She had plans to be in Umeå (three hours south of here) on Friday for a friend's farewell party, so she decided to invite people to a picnic in a park in Umeå for Saturday. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors, and I decided to go, so I spent Friday afternoon cooking food for the occasion--I made raspberry filled bread rolls, home made noodles with a spinach-avocado-pistachio sauce, and a broccoli-egg pie. Yum! We ate some for Friday's dinner, and the rest went to the picnic with us.

I managed to finish the cooking and get the upstairs vacuumed before [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's dad arrived for a visit. I am pleased to report that I spent a good half an hour talking with him in Swedish before the others arrived, and we did just fine understanding one another (he doesn't speak English, though he has a few words here and there, I try to avoid using it when speaking with him). Granted, once [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors joined us I was mostly content to just listen and work on my sewing project whilst trying to guess the topic of the rapid conversation.

Since we had his company on Friday evening we did the drive south Saturday morning, arriving in Umeå on time to drop off [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors at the home of some of her friends she wanted to see, but who were going to be busy later in the day, before heading to the park, where we had a good 20 minutes to visit with our friend before the next guest arrived, and soon there was a small group of us, and a few more (including [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors) trickled in over the course of the afternoon. We spent the whole afternoon in the park talking, listing to the violin and nyckleharpa that two of us had brought, and doing silly people tricks (I love being hoisted to a shoulder and holding my body out flat like I am flying!). Then some of us went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and then over to another friend's house for more conversation and music.

Eventually we decided that it would be smart to head home, so we did. The first part of the drive she slept and I read out loud to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, but then I got tired and [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors moved to the front seat and I took a nap. This meant that when we finally got home, just before 01:00, I had energy to not only unload the car but also empty the ice chest and put away a few things before massaging the back of the poor, sore driver.

This afternoon some of our friends from choir will be coming over to discuss what we will be doing to try to recruit new members now that students are arriving once again, and folk dance will start up the first week of September. Summer is pretty much over. There may be a few more opportunities to work on the earth cellar before snow flies, but the project will take a least three years to complete...
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
I haven't cooked a turkey dinner since the year [livejournal.com profile] clovis_t and I lived in Canada, which was 2003. It used to be my favourite meal of the year to cook, and I did two a year (Thanksgiving and Christmas) for most of my life. Well, ok, when I was little mom did all the work, but from about the time I was 10 I gradually took over more and more of the responsibility for cooking that meal, and was doing it completely on my own from 18. But in early 2003 I quit eating meat, when I figured out what was causing me issues with my digestive tract, and then while in Australia our oven was too small for my big turkey roasting pan & lid anyway, even if I felt for doing the full feast for others to eat, and in Italy my oven was a toaster oven, so I really wasn't tempted.

However, since moving to Sweden and joining [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's family for Christmas the past couple of years I have been missing my family's holiday meal. Here in Sweden the table is full of ham, a variety of things made from fish, eggs with caviar, and some pickled stuff. Non of which I eat. Their only traditional holiday foods I eat are the fruit salad, the green salad, the knackebrod, and the plain boiled potatoes. And, of course, I eat desert: the risalmata(short grained rice cooked in more milk than you think it will absorb, cooled and blended with whipped cream (2 parts rice to 1 part cream), served with thawed berries.

As much as I love the desert, and as pleasant as both the green and fruit salads are, being faced with a table wherein I am willing/able to eat less than 1/4 of the the offerings had me longing for my childhood recipes. Therefore this year we hit on a plan: we'd stay home on Christmas Eve, join some of his family at his parent's house on Christmas Day, and the family would come here on the 26th for an American Style Turkey Dinner.

Therefore I got busy. Back in November we bought the largest turkey we could find in the grocery store--5.4 Kg, which is only 12 lbs. This makes it, by far, the smallest turkey I have ever roasted--we used to always buy the 20 lb variety--it took years between being permitted to help stuff the bird when I was a kid and finally being able to lift the stuffed bird in its pan into the oven all by myself!

On Saturday we baked pepparkakor and made a pepparkakor fortified village with guard towers. (Note: many people translate pepparkakor as "gingerbread", and, indeed they are related sorts of junk food, but the recipe isn't really the same--the version we did used 300g butter, 5 dl sugar, 1 dl light syrup, 15 dl flour, 2 dl water, t Tbs baking soda, 2 Tbs cinnamon, 2 Tbs cardamon, 1 Tbs cloves, 1 Tbs ginger, and a little fresh grated nutmeg, which wasn't in the original recipe, but it so belongs there). This was necessary because [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors considers these cookies an essential part of her family's holiday traditions--they always baked the cookies and used some of the dough to make and decorate a house, and then she would eat the cookies for breakfast crushed in her fil (which is not quite the same as yoghurt, since it contains a different culture, but is close enough to substitute for it in recipes.)

Last Sunday I baked a big batch of bread and set 1.5 loaves aside in a cloth bag (hanging from a curtain rod--I have never seen any insects or mice or other small creatures checking out my kitchen for snacks, but I see no point in tempting any that may crawl through on a recon trip) to dry a little.

Monday I focused on Uni work, and we did some grocery shopping.

Tuesday (Christmas Eve) was pie baking day. We did an apple pie and a pumpkin pie ([livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had never tried one before, but wanted to, since it is the stereotypical American pie to have with Turkey Dinner), and generally made the house a bit cleaner and more organized than it had been. In addition [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar cooked up some rice porridge for breakfast (yum!), and then in the late afternoon we mixed the cooled left over porridge with whipped cream to make risalamalta (quadruple yum!)

Wednesday we went down to Pitea for the family gathering there--leaving here around 11:00, so as to be there a bit before noon, since food was to be served at 13:00. Since they do their traditional Christmas food on Christmas Eve, this meal didn't feature the ham and endless rounds of fish, but instead consisted of some roast beef, from a young animal a farmer friend of theirs had provided, boiled potatoes (of course--this is Sweden), a cheese pie, a salad of greens, apple, and walnuts, and only a couple of things I don't eat, and, much to my delight, they had risalamalta for desert, too. Luckily for me, there was a gap of an hour or so between serving the meal and serving of desert (which also had a fruit salad with whipped cream on the side, and ice cream. While I did take some of the fruit salad, I wasn't tempted by the ice cream. Why would any one want to eat that overly sweet store bought stuff when it is possible to eat risalmata, and have all of the wonderful creamy flavour, without any sugar?

We left their place around 18:00 on Wednesday, which got us home at 19:00, at which point we went back out to the store to pick up fresh veg and some fruit for today's dinner. Then I started baking. First I mixed up our traditional refrigerator roll dough and got it into the fridge to chill and rise over night. Then I used up some of the left over pumpkin that wasn't needed for the pie (ok, butternut squash--that is the variety that is available in stores here) and some of the water in which the pumpkin had been cooked to make a batch of bread dough to be baked that evening.

While we were waiting for the dough to rise I read aloud to the others another couple of chapters of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. We are up to chapter 90-something now, and still loving it. Just last week one of our friends at the SCA feast had gone onto a small rant about Fantasy books in general, and magic and expressed in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books in particular, and every time he said anything on the topic I countered with "you need to read this fan fic--it addresses that complaint". By the end of the evening he convinced me that he is the exact target audience of HP and the MOR, because the author seems to be writing with the exact reason of having made those same complaints himself over the years.

The pumpkin bread finally came out of the oven quite late, so I didn't get to start my yoga for the evening until 22:45. As a result I didn't get to bed till just after midnight, which gave me a bit of a nap before I got up at 05:30 so I could get up and bake the rolls from the refrigerator roll dough before putting the turkey in the oven. I managed to do that baking and get the bird into the oven, stuffed, by 06:30, at which point I went back to bed for another short nap. (as an aside--this year's stuffing was really good. Instead of using breakfast sausage combined with bread like Mom always did, I took a package of ground moose meat, mixed it with an egg, some oats, everything in the spice cupboard (more or less), and some chopped onion and crushed garlic. I then fried that up in butter, leaving the meat blend in decent sized chunks. This was the first year I thought to cook the stuffing meat the night before and then leave it ready to go in in the fridge over night, and it worked so well I wonder why I never thought of it before).

I got back up at 08:30, and then spent the rest of the day steady busy, but never rushed: put the "giblets" (only the liver and neck where in the bag here) into water to simmer for most of the day, peel and chop potatoes and set in water to wait till later to boil. chop fruit for fruit salad (three types of pears, some apples, one of those Japanese pear-apples, orange, and kiwi), assemble the green salad (one bag mixed greens, two small bags spinach, one yellow capsicum, carrot, cucumber, tomato, and avocado), separate the neck meat from the bones, use the immersion blender to chop that meat and the liver and mix it into the water in which it has been cooking. Strain the meat solids out of the liquid and set them aside in case anyone thinks it is food later ([livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar might--he is an omnivore) and add herbs and spices to the liquid to wait for the drippings from the turkey pan to become gravy, boil the potatoes, chop the broccoli and get it ready to be steamed at the last minute. Pull the turkey out of the oven (I had, of course, basted it many times over the course of the day), and pull the stuffing out, pour the liquid from the pan into the gravy pot and begin cooking gravy (delegate carving of the bird and the whipping of the cream at this point), and put the heat on under the broccoli.

By the time I was done mixing up the gravy the broccoli was cooked, the turkey carved, and we got everything onto the table and served a bit after 13:00. Then I proceeded to eat too much. I didn't take much of any one thing, but 100% of the main meal is stuff I love, and much of it I hadn't eaten in years. Note that I took only a very tiny token piece of the turkey, since I have no idea if it is typical food industry fare and thus likely to cause me issues with my digestion later, but I did take seconds of stuffing, because I love it (and I don't fear that the moose was subjected to too many hormones and bad living conditions growing up (or whatever else it is about store-bought meat that my body doesn't' care for), since it didn't have much dealing with humans before that hunter found it), and didn't hesitate to use the gravy, because I make an amazingly delicious gravy. I confess that while I baked pies, I didn't eat either of them--I am not a big fan of desert pies--cooked fruit doesn't do it for me, and I don't care for sweets. So instead I had fruit salad with whipped cream and almonds and called it desert.

My tummy was still full when the guests went home around 16:30 (that could have to do with my tasting a bit of this and a bit of that in the way of the (plentiful!) left overs as I packed it all into smaller containers to go into the fridge--yes, I wrote that down into my food log, too, and it brought the total for the day rather higher than typical (3.82 bowls of food for today, while my all time average since starting this food log back in 2005 is 2.99 bowls of food), so while the others went to lay down for a nap straight away, I decided to go get some computer time and type this up, since I don't care to sleep with a fully tummy. It is now 18:45, so I may wind up doing my yoga fairly soon and then going to bed early for the night, rather than bothering with a nap. Tomorrow, after we eat some of the left overs, we will decide what to freeze and what to leave out to eat between now and when we leave for Lund on the 1st of January. Hopefully, I will also return to my paper in progress--it would be nice to finish one complete draft before the end of the year, and the last few days I have been too busy to even think of it.

All and all I am quite satisfied with the the results today--the timing was perfect, the food all a yummy as I remembered it, and I got compliments from the others too (though I must confess, the fact that *I* really liked everything I ate is actually more important to me--I know that I tend to be way fussier than anyone else, so if I like the food others are usually reasonably happy with it, but the reverse is not often true).
kareina: (stitched)
We have been without a working food processor for some unknown number of months now, and finally decided to do something about it this week, since we were in the big-box store part of town picking up supplies to run electricity to one of the sheds. For the most part food processors look more or less the same as they have since I got my first one back in highschool, but sometime reasonably recently someone in the industry came up with a brilliant idea: The one we purchased has a drawer built into it which has slots for all of the blades and graters. Yes, indeed, we were willing to pay just a little more to have a safe place to store that stuff where it would be easy to find and not at all in the way.

Having purchased the new toy it was necessary to buy some ingredients yesterday so I could play with it. The result was a lovely Spinach-Roasted Garlic Sauce )
kareina: (stitched)
We had no where else we had to be this weekend, so I celebrated by turning off the dawn light when I went to bed last night, and slept in till nearly 09:00. After breakfast [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I played briefly on the sledding hill (since it is still, happily, winter here--it was -19 C) before getting distracted talking about how we want to change things in the yard when we borrow his dad's tractor this summer. (The biggie is that the low spot in the middle of the walking path has got to go--I don't want to have to go through puddles to get to the house any time it is wet out).

After lunch we ran a couple of errands. Whilst at the Tip Shop we found a good old fashioned potato masher of the kind mom had when I was a kid, but one can't find in stores today. I have been wanting one, and regretting losing mom's in a move some unknown number of years ago, so I was delighted to find it. Of course this meant that we had to go buy some potatoes, since we were out at home.

I am pleased to report that the masher works every bit as well as I expected it to (and WAY better than the dreadful bent wire thing he had when I moved in), and since we had some left over roasted garlic to add to them the mashed potatoes were really good (and so was the barley steamed broccoli I made to go with them). I curled up with a book while eating, and then kept reading till I finished the book (Astrid Lindgren's "Bröderna Lejonhjärta"). It was about damn time, too--I first started reading that one 437 days ago! However, for a long time it was the paperback that lived in my backpack in case I ever needed something to read while I was out, and it kept happening that I was too busy to even think of pulling it out, so that is mostly 437 days of NOT reading it. Since it is a kid's book I suspect that had it been in English I could have finished it in an afternoon, and even in Swedish if I had actually been READING it, I could certainly have finished it within a month.

Still, that makes three books finished this year, and it is only the third month. I should be able to keep up that rate for the rest of the year, even if I don't have time to read like I used to.

After finishing the book he and I put on our skis and took a loop through the forest and out onto the water, where we were rewarded with a truly lovely sunset--the kind where the sky overhead is rich dark blue, the trees on the far side of the lake are a rich, dark green, the snow on the water is brilliant white, and the sky over the trees is rich reds, pinks, and purples.

And the day is still reasonably young, so I think I will go do some early yoga, and then probably gather the supplies we will need for the wax tablet class next weekend, since I did something vaguely resembling a handout for it last night.

Oh--I nearly forgot the yummy cookies! While waiting for the potatoes to cook I mixed up some lovely cookies )
kareina: (stitched)
Since leaving work today I:

* Baked homemade pizza (artichoke heart & spinach)

* walked to choir

* enjoyed the last choir session of the term

* walked home

* looked at Double War photos on line

* played hammer dulcimer

* read aloud to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar (from The Name of the Wind)

* did yoga

* started nålbinding liners for my cute Swedish folk boots

* wrote this post

Now I really should go to bed, since it is 01:00, and tomorrow is a work day...
kareina: (me)
[livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I had planed to head to his parent's house for the weekend, leaving either on Friday evening after work, or Saturday, depending on how we felt when the time arrived. I already posted about how I wound up taking Friday off to work on a project at home. After spending the day and into the early evening sewing it did not really surprise me that I wasn't motivated to gather up stuff to take with us and head down there on Friday. However, in hindsight, I probably should have asked him before 23:00 what time he wanted to be on the road on Saturday, since the reply was "by 08:00". Oops--if I had known that a bit earlier in the evening I might have done some preparation for an early departure and gotten ready for bed by then.

We didn't quite make that goal. I wanted to bring some bread rolls with me as a contribution, so when I woke up in the morning I started some bread dough before gathering clothes, computer, sewing project, and my favourite pillows to take with us. As a result it was actually 09:00 before we got on the road, which got us to their place before 10:00. We arrived just as they were about to head out the door to head to the cemetery and light candles on her parent's graves, which gave us time to unload, put stuff away, shape the bread dough into rolls, set them to rise, and clean up the evidence before they returned.

All of that tidying up was necessary, not only because *I* prefer things to be neat, clean, and tidy, but because it is also near and dear to his mother's house, and goes to a great deal of effort to get ready before Christmas, so that she can enjoy the "Christmas calm" and beauty of a clean home while enjoying way too much good food spread out over the entire weekend.

The first meal they fed us was a traditional lunch--Risgröt (hot rice porridge (rice cooked in milk)) with optional toppings of sugar and cinnamon. (I opted not to--it was perfect as it was.) Soon after enjoying that I put the rolls into the oven, and cheerfully ate three of them when they came out of the oven. The others had all taken seconds on the porridge, so didn't try the rolls. After that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I set up the massage table in the living room of the other house* and gave his dad a massage.

In Sweden the big celebration and food day is Christmas Eve, and they eat nice and early, so it wasn't that long after the massage that they started filling the dining table. And I do mean filling. There were only the four of us for dinner ([livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's siblings all went to the homes of their respective partner's parents for Christmas this year, since they all came home last year), yet I counted 15 distinct different things to eat on the table (not counting extras like mustard and salad dressing).

compare and contrast holiday food traditions )

Of that list I wasn't able to eat anything containing vinegar (like mayonnaise), fish, or meat, which means that "all" I had that meal was numbers 3, 4 (yes, I was brave enough to try it, in tiny quantity, and can happily report that when there is way more hard-boiled egg than fish eggs and yoghurt I like it just fine. Perhaps one day I will eat it the way they do, with the sauce completely covering the egg), 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, & 15. Needless to say, I had *plenty* to eat, and ate more different dishes that I am used to eating for Christmas dinner, even if only one of them matched my own expectations of what "should" be included in a holiday meal. They assure me that the variety was actually smaller than normal—there are a variety of things which they usually also have that they didn't bother making this year because there were so few of us eating.

After that meal [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I took a short nap on the couch (since we had been shooed away from the kitchen; his mother is happier to put left overs away and load the dishwasher on her own, rather than having people mess with her system) before heading outside for a walk (during which we played with an app that shows what stars and planets are out—the bright one was Jupiter).

In the evening we pulled out the game "Maxi Yatze". Because of the similarity to the word "Yatzee", and the pictures of dice on the box, I was expecting the game that I have known and loved since childhood. Nope, not even. This one has six dice, and instead of five, and on the bottom half of the score sheet things like "hus" (house) don't have a set number of points, but instead you add up the spots on the dice, which changes everything as far as strategy goes. However, I still had fun playing.

Christmas itself is a day of relaxation and eating leftovers, mostly. The risgröt from the day before made a revised appearance—this time it was blended with a fair bit of whipped cream and served with two side sauces—one strawberry based, the other hjortron (cloudberry—a yellow berry which grows in swamps). Now I must admit this was a big hit with me. I liked the risgröt hot, and I like it cold left over for breakfast the next morning, but as a desert blending it with lots of whipped cream is really, really decadent and yummy. (There is a reason my food log now says that I have had more dairy products this month than vegetables—I don't think it was actually higher before we went to his folk's house this weekend.)

I would have liked to have slept in, since we were up last most days last week, yet still got up early. But his mother invited us to join them in listing to the choir at the local church. I decided that it wouldn't kill me to attend a church service, so we got up at 06:00 to be out the door by 06:30. (The last time I was in any church at all was in 2001 or 2001 when I attended a Jewish temple on a holiday with my then boyfriend and his parents—I liked that one—lots and lots of singing, and I couldn't understand a word of whatever preaching there may have been. The time before that was 1999, when [livejournal.com profile] khevron and I were visiting his family in Ireland. Before that I would have been a child.) The Church in Piteå is surprisingly ornate inside. When I was a kid we went to Lutheran church, and the interior decoration was pretty plain. This one has huge elaborate decorations all shiny with gold (or other shiny yellow metal) coating. The style of art made me think early 1700's. I don't think it is actually that old—apparently this town burned down once in the 1800's and was replaced, but perhaps they re-did the church in the same style.

The choir was nice, and I was pleased with the way that they signal that it is time for the audience to sing too—the electric lights turn on. The rest of the time the room was lit only with candle light, and lots of it. Single candles on the entrances to each pew, and many candles hanging from each chandelier (and a mass of electric bulbs up higher). The woman who did the preaching spoke very slowly and clearly. If it had been my native language I would have found it frustratingly slow and hard to listen to, but since I am only learning this language it was delightful to have her speak slowly enough that I actually had time to make note of which words I recognized before she moved on to the next ones. I even understood one entire sentence: "Vi har ätit julmat." (we have eaten Christmas food).

After church we went home for breakfast and then we took a nap (if I had known a nap was in the plan I wouldn't have eaten that meal—I had, of course, had some muesli before we went out, since I am a feed me instantly when I get up in the morning kind of girl), and didn't get up till 12:30. That left just time for a short walk before eating another big meal, of leftovers (including the above mentioned rice porridge and cream and berries).

In the early evening we played a children's trivia game. I am pleased to report that I was able to answer some of the questions without asking for a translation of the words. Others I could answer after they translated one or two words for me, and still others they wouldn't translate because the whole point of the question was to see if the player happens to know that word. I think that the weekend, even before this game, was a big help with my Swedish speaking. Since his parents don't really speak English I had good reason to practice, and was able to communicate often.

After the game I did a video call with my mother and sister which was quite nice. Just before that call ended I got another call from my knight, so I told him I would call him back when I got off the phone with mom, and then when I was talking with my knight I got another call from [livejournal.com profile] clovis_t, so made arrangements to call him when I got off of that call. All in all I spent two hours talking to family and friends long distance while [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar helped his mother with some computer issues (they did meet my mom and sister before they went out to the office).

Monday morning we got up around 9:00 so that we could help make palt, a traditional dumpling like thing made from a mix of grated potatoes (both raw and pre-cooked—it is important that there be more raw than cooked potato in the mix), wheat flour, and barley flour. They cooked some in one pot plain, and filled the others with meat and cooked them in the larger pot. These take a fair bit of time to make between the prep and the full hour of simmering in the pot. The reason we went to so much effort was that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's younger brother, his wife, and her parents were coming over. They ate the palt with lingonberry jam and butter, I ate mine with fresh spinach and butter (since the spinach, which we had brought with us, since we didn't think it would last until we got home, needed to be eaten).

The eight of us relaxed and visited, cleaned away the palt mess, brought out desert, relaxed and visited, cleared away the desert (short bread bowls, filled with whipped cream, topped with (frozen) raspberries and more of that hjortron sauce), relaxed and visited more, and then it was time for "fika" (tea or coffee with a variety of cookies and cakes—in this case there were four types of cookies, and two of cakes). In between all of that food I managed to finally complete a project in progress(and the next photo in the album, too).

After the other guests left I curled up with some Swedish children's books while he continues doing stuff with his mother's computer, and when he came back in I read a couple of them to him.

The first one was a little kids book about the difficulties involved in hiding an elephant. It had one or two sentences per page, and pictures on every page. Even though I had never seen the word "gömma" before it was easy to tell from context that it means "hide", and, indeed, by the end of the story I understood every word in the book, even though that was not the only word I had never seen before. The other one I read aloud was aimed at older kids—it has several paragraphs on each page, but still has a picture on each page, too. It was about a couple of kids who had a large moss covered log in their yard (in a cabin in the forest) who used to pretend that it was an animal that they were riding, and one day they made wings for it out of an old parachute, and then a magic creature cast a spell to make the log a real dragon, which flew off with them to adventures in a land far away and long ago. I couldn't understand every word in that story, but between the illustrations and the fact that I understood most of them I was easily able to follow the story.

Eventually we packed up and returned home, where I should have done my yoga and gone straight to bed, but instead I sat down to the computer, so here it is, 02:30 in the morning, and yoga still hasn't happened. Therefore I should probably post this and get to it, since tomorrow is a work day…

* Their house is well set up--the main house consists of a huge open space living room kitchen area, their bedroom, and a large bathroom (with hot tub). The other house contains the office for his mother's business, a small living room, small bathroom, sauna, laundry room, and upstairs four small guest rooms with bunk beds, the lower bunk in each room is double wide. This way when their kids come to visit they have their own space.
kareina: (me)
Many of you who know me know that winter has always been my favourite season, and that for me "winter" means that there should be snow on the ground for months on end. One of the things that pleased me about moving to northern Sweden was the concept of Winter. Indeed, when I arrived last January I was greeted with perfect winter weather: a good coating of snow on the ground, tree branches also covered with snow, making them lovely ice sculptures, temperatures consistently below freezing. It was perfect, and I loved it. Sadly, all too soon the earth continued in its journey around the sun, we got too close, and winter ended, much sooner than I was ready for it to.

Not long after I returned from Australia this year we hit a rainy patch of weather--many days in a row were cool, wet and drizzly, and by mid-September I was READY for winter. But winter didn't start in September--the temperature stayed above freezing. OK, I could accept that--it rarely starts that early. But hopefully in late October or November things temps would fall below freezing, snow would come, and all would be well. Nope. Not in October. Not in November. There were a couple of cold days, just cold enough to freeze the wet on the roads a little and make them slippery before melting again, but no real winter.

I was getting worried, but still hopeful, December was on the way, perhaps we would have decent weather then? I really, really wanted a good snowfall before my birthday. And I got it! My birthday was last Saturday, and on Friday we had a good snowfall, which continued on through much of the weekend, and everything was beautiful, snowy, white! I was happy! Sure, the temps were only just below freezing, but I was hopeful they would hold on and that winter had, at long last, truly arrived. Monday was even more encouraging--it got to -12 C (around +10 F), which is a good temp for keeping snow looking nice until the next layer is added. I relaxed--winter had arrived, and life is good!

And then today happened. We got up early because today is the big celebration for Sankta Lucia, and our choir was to preform at the uni at 07:00, which meant leaving the house at 05:30 to walk over there for rehearsal. Given the nice, cold, temps of the day before you can imagine my shock and dismay when I went out this morning to discover it was raining! At 05:30 in the morning! If it was that warm that early it did not bode well for all of my lovely snow.

The walk in was slushy, but not nearly so slushy as the walk home from work this evening, after all day of temps above freezing. The one season that holds no interest for me is spring--I don't care for the transition from beautiful snow to no snow--slush and mud don't do it for me, and today was as wet and slushy as the worst of spring. Sigh. Rest in peace my beautiful birthday snow, I shall miss you.

In other news, my birthday was delightful for more than just the weather--I actually had some friends drop by to help us celebrate and eat cake. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I spent Friday evening baking--I mixed up a yummy almond pound cake (I have been wanting to try that variation: in addition to the one pound each of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs also add a pound of almonds. Yum, did that work well! Though, in fact, I used only 3/4 lbs each of everything because a full pound each wouldn't have fit in the pan), made my favourite gluten-free coconut-almond cookies, and started a refrigerator roll dough. In the morning he baked a sweeter, fluffier cake and I baked the rolls and made a couple of loaves of a multi-grain bread with sunflower seeds and started a pot of vegetable soup. We served the almond pound cake plain, but he did a layer cake with the other--filling made from banana and raspberries mashed together, mixed with cream, and the cake was frosted with cream and decorated with more raspberries (we used frozen) and some orange segments. The rolls were very popular, as were both cakes and the cookies (the latter were especially appreciated by the guest who can't eat flour/gluten).

We had one batch of guests early in the day, and just as they were leaving another couple arrived. In the evening we had a small group over for gaming, and we did a play-test of a game that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar wrote, which turned out to be quite fun.

Ever since I entered my second childhood on my 13th birthday (to avoid becoming a teenager) I have counted my age a bit differently than normal. I count my age as high as 12, and then I start over again at three. By that count I turned five this year. But when I realized that I was doing so for the fifth time I was every bit as excited as one would expect from one who was doing it for the first time. fifth fifth! (does that make me also 25?) However, I also managed to prove that I have all of the grace and coordination and ability to comprehend cause and effect as a typical five year old. Saturday morning I decided that I wanted the pretty platter from the top shelf. Rather than calling [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar to come lift it down for me (yes, he is tall enough to reach), I decided to be self sufficient, and get it myself. So I grabbed a nice, solid, wooden kitchen chair, tipped it onto its back two legs, and dragged it over next to the shelf. Then, being in a hurry, I started to step onto the seat of the chair, before actually fully returning the front to legs securely to the ground, but after letting go of the back of the chair (timing is everything).

Gravity being an unrelenting thing the inevitable happened, and the chair tipped over backwards, landing with the hard wooden upper back of the chair striking the top of my foot (the one which hadn't yet left the floor), while the other foot came down on top of the chair just where the seat and the back intersect, adding a bit of extra weight to the chair, all of which was transferred, painfully, to my poor left foot. I now have a lovely, very blue, bruise on the top of that foot, just below the base of the big toe, which covers the whole width of the foot. It was necessary to tie a bag of ice to the foot to continue the baking.

This turns out to be the most painful bruise I have had in years. Fortunately, nothing came into contact with it at all on Saturday, since I run stocking foot at home. But when we went to leave the house on Sunday for the joint performance of our choir with the one in which our folk dance teacher sings I found out that shoes hurt. My winter boots are nice and big, so that when standing they don't touch the top of my feet at all, which is a good thing, because the top of my foot was not happy with any sort of touch at all. However, it turns that a normal walking step causes the top of the foot to come into contact with the boot. Ouch! It took some experimenting to discover that it was possible to modify my walk such that my left leg bent only backwards at the knee, permitting the top of the boot to fall even further away from the top of my foot. In addition to that I have taken to wrapping a chunk of scrap wool around the non-bruised part of my foot so that if the boot does come in contact with the foot it hits the fabric first and the bruise is safe.

Luckily by today (Tuesday) the bruise, which is more colourful, also hurts far less, so I was able to walk home from uni today without the extra wrap, and it didn't hurt (but if I actually poke the bruise or bump it into something it reminds me that healing is not accomplished yet).

That joint choir performance on Sunday was fun! We did some songs with just our choir, some with just theirs, and some with both groups singing at once (both choirs share the same teacher, so she made certain that we knew the same songs and had been trained in them in the same manner). Having more than twice the number of voices added a huge richness to the sound, and having people with strong voices singing directly behind me, straight into my hearing aid microphone, probably helped me actually sing the notes I was meant to be singing.

Today's performance was also fun--it is amazing how many people are willing to be up, dressed, and at uni at 07:00 to watch a holiday performance. Sadly, my hearing aid appointment didn't happen today--I got a call yesterday saying that the doc is sick and they had to cancel--they will send me a letter with the new day/time later.

Yesterday evening [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar commented that he kept thinking of turning on music, but hadn't gotten to it because his choices while sitting at the computer were his headphones, which have good sound, but cause me to comment that I wish he would share, or the crappy computer speakers. so I suggested speaker shopping. A few minutes later we found a guy on line locally selling a decent set of speakers along with older, but still good, stereo and blueray player. So we bought them, for less than a decent pair of computer speakers. Now we have lovely music emanating from his computer, and all is well.

Thursday during the day this year's Noble Laureate in Chemistry will be talking at our uni, and I plan to attend. It should be interesting. That evening is the Julfesten (holiday party) for our division, and on the weekend we will head south to visit a friend in Umeå.
kareina: (Default)
I would like to start this post with a formal complaint about the weather. I did not move this close to the Arctic Circle because I thought rain in winter was a good idea. Yet, here it is, 4 December, and instead of the half meter (or so) accumulation of snow we should have on the ground here not only do we have no snow at all, but it has been raining off an on all day. The sidewalks are covered in puddles full of water, and there is no sign of any of the water freezing any time soon. I was ready for winter and real snow back in September, but other than a light dusting of snow a couple of weeks ago (which vanished after being rained on two days later), we haven't had any.

However, my complaints about the weather being too warm is the only thing wrong with my life at the moment, so I guess it is all good. I have a great relationship, a great job, good friends, and way, way too many fun things to do with my time.

This weekend we had considered heading to Piteå for the folk festival there, which would have been fun, but we didn't make it, and instead filled our time with other fun things. One of the diversions was attending the holiday market in Gamelstad this weekend,where, much to my delight, we found some juusto. I happily bought two packages--one for this week, and another for the freezer (because if I didn't freeze it I would eat both of them this week, and I rather like being slender, so therefore I will save the other). Sure I could make it myself, but it takes time and a rather lot of milk to do so, so if they are going to sell it to me at a reasonable price I will just say "thank you".

After we left the market we stopped by a second hand store, where we picked up yet another project (as if I didn't already too many of them I am in the middle of). We got two fur coats (at a reasonable price) and have already taken them apart, One of them is almost certainly mink. I don't know what the other is--its fur is shorter, but it doesn't feel like rabbit. They are both brown, though the mink is a bit darker. Last night I attached the collar from the mink coat to the black wool coat that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar made me, and tonight I started cutting the body of that coat into pieces which I will sew together to make myself a fur-lined hood. This will be good to have if winter ever arrives (though it looks like I will have plenty of time to finish the project the way the weather has been behaving). The second coat will be a hood for him (I get the warmer one, because I get cold easier). I plan to turn one of the sleeves into a fur-lined muff, and once I know which bits aren't needed for the hood I will do the cuffs of the black coat, too, since with the collar being fur the cuffs need to be as well.

So far I have cut out the two main rectangles for the hood and started sewing them together (a seam on the top if the head is necessary in order to have the fur pointing the same direction on both sides of the hood). Once that is attached I will mark the point where my neck meets my shoulder, and measure it to see how long the triangle insets need to be to sit just there. Then I can cut them out.

In addition I have taken apart the failed attempt at a sprang tights and have started that project over again. Hopefully this won't take too long, as I now have the project spread out across my living room. Granted, if I had spent the time I have been working on the coat entangling strings for the sprang project it would be closer to done now. So many projects, so little time! Ok, time to return to stitching...
kareina: (Default)
I now have another good photo from the gaming con a week ago. During the con three of us decided to walk to the local grocery store on Saturday morning to pick up ingredients to make some naan bread, since the room in which we were playing was the home-ec classroom at the school and was fully equipped with ovens etc. The walk turned into a proper quest adventure--we had to cross a bridge, where we must have scared off the troll, because we were unmolested, but when we reached the store it was only 10:30, and it wasn't open yet--apparently it was a holiday, so they were going to open at 11:00 (which is when they open on Sundays), so we continued on past the store, rolling dice at cross street to determine which way to go, and we found a small stand of woods, complete with a tree-fort.

It was necessary to stop and climb into the fort and play in the forest for a bit, during which the camera came out click for photo )
As we left the forest and passed through the village on our way to the store we even saw fireworks (read: a circular saw cutting through a roof from the underside, generating an impressive amount of sparks) and returned to the con site only one hour after having left, where we baked lots of yummy naan to share with folk.

This week at work (my second week on the new job) went very well. I got my new computer, I installed some of the programs (I typed "problems" the first time I tried that word) I need on it, and I finally managed to sit down and finish writing that paper I was working on when in Australia in July. It has now been sent back down there to my erstwhile adviser for his comments. Hopefully he likes it and it will need only minor edits before we can submit it.

This weekend we went no where, and it felt kind of good to be at home. Well, mostly at home. We did drop by a friend's housewarming, and we had folk dance today, as usual. But we had enough energy left at the end of the weekend that tonight after dance I mixed up some home made noodle dough and built and baked a lasagna while he baked and assembled a cake. Lunch this week is covered!

Question for those of you who read this on Facebook: They have announced that as of the 22nd of November the automatic cross-posting from other blogs and journals to FB will cease to exist. At that point I will need to either copy-paste what I type here into a note on FB or post a link to this. Do any of you have a preference as to which I do? Both would require that I remember to do it, and no promises that I always will, but...
kareina: (Default)
Yesterday we stopped by a second hand store and came home with some yarn to experiment with, a copy of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Storm Queen in Swedish, a new shirt for me in a lovely shade of blue, and a new set of kitchen toys.

I have seen little sets of tiny fluted tart pans elsewhere, but have never been willing to pay the cost for something that won't be used often. But when I saw them on sale for 20 SEK (about €2) I decided to pick them up. The set is 36 tiny pans, each of which holds exactly 1 tablespoon of liquid.

Since I had the new toy it was necessary to use it straight away, and I felt creative, so I just made something up.

raspberry-almond tarts, take one )

I had a great time at the SCA event this weekend, and intend to write up a summary, but I need to head out the door soon for a hearing exam, so it can wait until later...

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