kareina: (Default)
On Thursday I took the hood in progress for the Norrskensbågskytt to the Frostheim crafts night, intending to work on it there, but my lovely apprentice Astrid wanted my help making a pattern for her new dress, so I did that instead. However, Ranghild was getting help from my other apprentice, Ena, to cut out a hood of her own, so I handed them the hood I am working on to try so she could see if she wants to go with the extra triangles in the shoulders or not.

We worked on her pattern for a while, and then put the pattern pieces on her silk, and she realized that she has far more of the silk than she thought (it is an intersting colour--light blue warp, yellow weft (or the other way around?), giving it an erry pale green colour that changes with the light), and there is enough to do a dress with a full train (as the surriving dress she is using for inspiration does), instead of the short tunic she was thinking of.

Then I noticed that pretty much everyone else had left, so we packed up too, and went home.

Friday I heard from Morgaine for the first time in ages, and decided to do a phone call and talked for almost three hours, during which I got out my sewing bag and did some long-needed mending on one of my pairs of trousers. Hours later I decided I should put the sewing bag away instead of leaving it on the couch where I had been sitting, and started putting stuff back into it, and wondered "where is the hood?". It wasn't on the couch. It wasn't on the shelf where the bag normally lives. I looked all over, and couldn't find it anywhere.

Then I remembered handing the hood to Ranghild, and realized that I may never have gotten back and put it back into the bag, so I sent her a message, and she replied that she had left it on the table next to the window where she had been working. While at that point I had thought that the hood was in the bag when I came home, I was also quite certain that I didn't walk over to that table when packing up to go home, since I was more concerned with packing up what was left of the black currant pie I had brought to share. However, by that point it was 22:00 on Friday evening, and I was really tired, so I decided to wait till today to go check the classroom. Figuring that either it was still there, and would still be after I had gotten some sleep, or someone who was in the room Friday during the day had already taken it and going to check wouldn't change anything.

Luckily, it was, in fact, still there when I returned this morning.

After bringing the hood home I harvested the kale and silverbeet and made a very large pot of green sauce with them, some garlic, and some almondmilk. Before steaming them, but after washing and chopping into largish pieces there were so many leaves that I filled one huge metal bowl heaping as high as possible with the silverbeet, and the other with kale, and a third, only slightly smaller, but still quite large metal bowl also with kale. After steaming (many batches worth) and running through the food processor (many batches worth) adding the garlic (which I cooked by just dropping into the steaming water and leaving till I was done, adding about six cups of almond milk, which I cooked with a bit of rice flour to thicken it, plus what was left of the steaming water and garlic, plus a bit of salt, pepper, onion powder, etc. it completely filled the large soup pot.

Doing all of that and cleaning up after took long enough that I didn't bother to cook the spaghetti squash to go with it, instead I did a quick one-egg batch of small homemade noodles and had that with butter, sunflower seeds, and a fair bit of the green sauce. Yum! tomorrow I will have the sauce with the squash, and freeze lots of it for other meals, in both single serving sizes, and big enough to share a meal sizes.

We have only had one minor night of frost so far this autumn (Thursday night), and the plants would have been fine to leave in the ground and keep growing for some time yet, but I happened to be free to do this work today, and I won't be later. Besides, it has been cool enough I don't think they were really growing much anymore.
kareina: (Default)
Thursday of Double Wars was another busy day with not much sleep. I managed to get to bed after Ærikr's vigil at about 03:00, and managed to get up on time for the 10:00 Singing in Modes class by Kaarina. It was just she and I, so she gave me theory at my own pace, and we sang Itsy Bitsy Spider in all of the modes (Dorian, Hypodorian, Phrygian, Hypophrygian, Lydian, Hypolydian, Mixolydian, Hypomixolydian). She had sheet music for a variety of period songs that we could have sung in various modes, too, but since she went at the pace of the slowest kid in class, we didn't get there, but I learned ever so much. She promises me that she will record Itsy Bitsy Spider in the various modes and add it to her web page.

We went a little over time, as there wasn't another class in that room, but chose to end when Lady Elisande came in and asked if we would like to participate in the Experimental Cooking Class; apparently none of the students who had signed up in advance had made it, and she didn't want the supplies she bought to go to waste. I had only just finished saying to Kaarina that I had considered attending that class, as I have had fun doing similar things with school kids at SCA demos, but was feeling a bit too tired to bother. However, when asked by the teacher to please come play, suddenly I was full of energy and enthusiasm again, so we both did.

The handout she had prepared gave us a recipe from Das buoch von guoter spise, for Heathen cakes (Heidenische ku:ochen). The English translation she provided says:

"They are called heathen cakes. One should take a dough and has to make it thin and then take a cooked* meat and speck** cut and apples and pepper and eggs into and bake it and give it out but don't over salt."

*the word she translated as "cooked" usually means in water, such as boiled, poached, or simmered
**speck is a type of bacon

As you can see, this is a bit vague. What sort of dough? What kind of meat? What should it look like? What kind of texture are we going for?

She had purchased a variety of options, and we were free to just go for it, and we did, with very, very different results. Since my minion needs gluten free foods, and she had purchased a gluten-free flour option, I decided to play with that one as my dough. Since I really dislike bacon, and only eat wild game and reindeer if I am eating meat at all, I opted to use the pack of Renskav (thinly sliced reindeer meat), and substitute butter for the speck. Everyone else used one or more of the three types of bacon she had purchased, along with some other meat. Since I am a scientist, I kept careful notes of what I did for my version, which came out as a pie:

I cooked the entire 240 g packet of Renskav + 12 g butter in enough water to cover, and about a tablespoon of a Norwegian spice blend that Thora had provided, which contains: crowberries, alpine leek, thyme, black currants, lemon balm, lemon grass, marjoram, and hyssop. As soon as the meat was just brown I took the pot off the stove and left it to sit while I worked on the dough.

For the dough I took 250 grams of buckwheat flour, cut into it 25 g butter, mixed in 1 egg, then added a bit more water than I meant to, so I added the rest of the buckwheat flour (another 250 g) to make the dough workable. Then she mentioned that she also had acorn flour, so I divided my dough in half, and mixed a handful (what she had left--I have small hands) of the acorn flour into one of the batches of dough, plus a tiny bit more water to make it workable.

Then I pressed each batch of dough into its own pie plate, noting that the dough with acorn was a bit better behaved and holds together better. Once both pie plates were covered with dough I drained the meat (reserving the cooking liquid to take back to camp to cook grains in later) and divided it into the pie plates. Then I chopped three apples (keeping the peeling, but discarding the cores) and divided that between the plates, and cut 25 g of butter and added that to both pies as well. This added up to only a rather thin, patchy layer of solid filling across the bottom of the pies (really it might have been smarter to use this much filling for only one pie, but since I had dough for two...). We had more apple available, but not more reindeer, and this looked like a good fruit-meat balance to my eye, so I stopped there and went on to the eggs and pepper that the recipe called for.

Then I beat 4 eggs with 1/4 cup of pink apple juice & 1 teaspoon of pepper and divided that between the pies. They were still looking a bit empty to me, so I beat two more eggs with 1/4 cup of the golden apple juice (she had bought three different apple juice varieties for us to try if we wanted) and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper plus 2 pinches of salt (figuring if we are instructed not to over salt it, that implies that we should add some salt).

This time it looked reasonable, so I stirred the filling a bit to get it mixed and evenly distributed, and baked it. I was really happy with how they came out--they were really tasty. The acorn-buckwheat crust was easier to get out of the pie plates than the plain buckwheat crust. I suspect that given how little butter I put into the crust I probably should have buttered the pie plates.

My version was totally unlike the ones the others made, but so was every version we did. Some were made with a yeast dough, others were more pie like. One she did a more liquid-y batter and put the fillings in that. Some had the eggs beaten in, others, baked in a muffin cup, had a single egg broken onto the top of each of them.

We filled one plate with a sample of everything we had made and delivered that to the Queen, we each tasted as much as we wanted from each, and the rest was sent back to various camps. I, of course, took my pie, and my minion was delighted with his dinner that evening, as was my champion, who doesn't need gluten free, but loves reindeer.

After eating the results of our efforts I wandered by the market day. I had thought that I didn't need any more fabric, but the nice lady at Medeltidsmode proved me wrong with this lovely broken diamond twill unbleached linen, and six meters followed me home. Oops.

I also bought a bit more yarn, mostly to use up the cash I had left. I forgot to mention that earlier in the week, while at Gaita's music class I wanted to buy the songbook that we were using in the course. However, since they are from the UK they don't have Swish (this most wonderful payment method ever is only available in Sweden), and, of course, I had no cash (who needs it when one can just Swish?). So I asked around, and one of our camp members had cash, so she handed me 200 SEK, and I swished her the money, and then I gave the cash to Gaita, who gave me the song book and 50 SEK change. The nice lady selling yarn was offering them for 20 SEK each, or 3 for 50. So I took three, and am once again happily cash-free.

That evening's court begun, of course, with Ærikr's knighting ceremony, which was beautifully done, though I thought it a bit odd that ceremony mentioned only the belt and chain as the symbols of the order, yet after he was dubbed and buffeted and they were putting regalia on him there was, in fact, a set of spurs too, so I don't know why they weren't mentioned earlier. I had to laugh at myself when Sir Peregrine came forward with the belt, explaining that rather than pass on his old belt, which was stained yellow with age, he was instead providing a shiny new white belt with cast tokens for all of the fighting awards that Ærikr has attached to the end. You see, I had seen just that belt, and his old one, sitting on his desk at his place the previous Thursday when I was there, and I commented "a new belt?", and he explained how difficult he had had it trying to find white belt leather of an appropriate weight in Sweden--most places have only the thick heavy leather of his old belt, which he offered up for me to look at, not the thin nice leather of this new belt, which he folded up in his hands so that the decorations didn't show, and didn't hand me. I was easily distracted by his comments, and didn't think anything of it at the time, nor had I thought about that conversation or the belt at all when I made my guesses the day before that perhaps it was time for Ærikr to be knighted. The other odd thing I found with the ceremony was that when it came time to wrap the belt around his waist they didn't call forth his lady, but instead the queen did that service all by her self, and I wondered if that was normal for Drachenwald.

After his ceremony the court went on for a fair bit longer, with a number of deserving awards from the Crown, and from the new Prince and Princess. One of the most amusing awards was a Panache (Kingdom level arts) for a former Baroness of Aarnimetsä, which had been written if in a very long-winded form of medieval bureaucratic language (in this Kindgom the wording of the scrolls is totally left up to the scribe doing the work, and thus no two are ever alike). The text for that scroll was so long that quite a way in the herald paused, said "Page 2", and continued reading for just as long--he spoke of the creation of the order, of the crown giving the award, of the skills required to receive it, etc., etc., etc. When he finally, and at long last, came to the end of the text a second herald stepped forward, and read it all out again, in Finnish this time. I am told that they translated *everything*, even the "Page 2". When he was finally done they presented the scroll itself, which was actually a *scroll* they had to unfurl it to display. At this point someone in the audiance said that he had trouble following the scroll, and could we have it again, in Swedish this time. The Crown politely declined.

Towards the end of court the Crown summoned forward the Kingdom Chronicler, and apologized to her, for it was the 25th of the month, and normally by the 25th they would have already given her words to be included in the next issue of the newsletter, but this time they hadn't yet accomplished this task. As she started to assure them that it was ok the Herald called forth the order of the Pelican, and the very surprised chronicler was sent off to vigil.

Immediately after court the masquerade dance ball started, so, of course, I went straight to the hall for dancing. As the musicians were getting ready I noticed a tall masked slender man in late period garb walk up and chat with them about which dances he would be teaching, and then he went to sit down to await the start of the ball. So, of course, I went up to him and asked for the first dance (I was also wearing a mask). He agreed, and stood up. He had two pilgrams badge sorts of metal pinned to his clothing, so I asked them if they were awards or simply pilgrams badges. He replied that they were personal tokens from a Prince and Princess, and then added "In the West", to which I replied "I thought I recognized you behind that mask", and he had to ask my name, but as soon as I said "Kareina" he blushed with delayed recognition. To be fair, I knew that he was on site and had been teaching a shoe-making class, and I don't think he knew that I would be there, so I had the advantage.

I, of course, danced every dance, till the ball broke up at midnight. At that point I went looking for Jovi's vigil, and found the party over by the sauna (I don't think I mentioned that I enjoyed the sauna and hot tub on one of the first evening--it really helped recover my sore hips from the trip down). However, the line was really long, and I never did manage to find the vigil book, and I was tired, so I opted to just return to my camp and bed, and the next morning I emailed her the words I would have shared.
kareina: (Default)
I managed to finish the apron and pocket I started a week ago (links to the folk costume I was inspired by in the older post):


32 hours of hand sewing, and perhaps one hour of using the treadle sewing machine, which we final got around to fixing (the leather band that drives the machine had broken back in 2014, and it took some years to get around to acquiring more leather in an appropriate weight/size, and then a few more weeks to get around to attaching it). I only used the machine for the first pass of attaching the trim around the edges of the apron, and the waist band to the top, but that hour (give or take) probably saved me quite a few hours of hand sewing.

In other news, my exercise log for the year is looking pretty good, since not only have I managed a workout each day & longer than normal yoga sessions, today I started the day by going skiing in the forest by our house (it has finally snowed a bit of light fluffy snow to cover the ice formed by melting over last weekend), then this evening I went for a two hour walk L., who is up visiting from Umeå. Originally she had planed to come over here and hang out, but yesterday C. got sick, and we now probably know the answer to the question "was it food poisoning or virus which made D. so ill on Friday?" Therefore we decided that rather than coming inside where one is mostly recovered and the other only just starting to recover, we could just as easily talk and walk at the same time.

However, such a long walk means that I did only the prep for making the filled bread pockets that I want to take with us when we head south for a friend's wedding on the weekend, I will actually bake them tomorrow. I think they will be yummy--the bread dough contains wheat, oats, barley, and rye flours, and the filling is a mix of walnuts, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and egg (ground together in the food processor with spices) mixed with grated zucchini, carrot, plus broccoli, and spinach, silverbeet, and kale that I had steamed before running through the food processor. Since I ran out of time to shape and bake them tonight I did mix a couple of spoons of the filling with some cous cous for dinner, and enjoyed that.
kareina: (stitched)
I have made a lot of yummy variations of Green Spaghetti Sauce over the years, and they are usually wonderful, but I am particularly happy with the one I did on Saturday, so I am going to write it down before I forget.

Green Spaghetti (gluten free)

1 spaghetti squash
3 small heads of home-grown garlic (each one is one big round clove each--they didn't separate into individual cloves)
260 grams fresh spinach (it comes in 65 gram bags here)
1/2 cup previously chopped, steamed, and then frozen home-grown silverbeet
1 can artichoke bottoms, drained
1/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 T flax seeds
dash each of pepper, dried rosemary, onion salt
1 T butter

Stab a hole in the squash with a sharp knife and set it into a pan in the oven to roast at 150 C for an hour. Poke holes in the garlic skin and put them into the oven to roast as well. It should be done in 20 to 30 minutes--pull it out when it is soft, and leave the squash to keep roasting. (Note: failure to poke the hole in the garlic will cause one of them to explode all over the inside of the oven, which is why only three, instead of the four I had planed to use, made it into the sauce. I do not recommend repeating this experiment unless you do so in a covered roasting pan, it turns out to be very difficult to remove the garlic on the oven roof behind the burner, even when the oven is cool.)

Take the silverbeet out of the freezer and set it into a microwave safe bowl and use the microwave to thaw it.

Steam the spinach till darker and wilted.

Put the thawed silverbeet, spinach, roasted garlic (after removing the peeling), seeds, chickpeas, and spices into a food processor and process till well blended. If needed add a small amount of the water from steaming the spinach to give it a more sauce like consistency. Transfer the sauce to a microwave safe bowl and give it a couple of minutes in the microwave at full power, stir, and it you would like it hotter yet, give it another couple of minutes. Repeat till it seems hot enough.

By now the squash should be about ready. When it is cooked through cut it in half, scrape the squash "noodles" out into a large bowl, stir in some butter (or other oil of choice if you don't do dairy) and stir in the sauce.


*If you don't happen to have silverbeet from your garden in the freezer you can substitute fresh or frozen greens of your choice. In the latter case, steam them, too.

*If you can't get spaghetti squash just now, feel free to substitute any kind of pasta you enjoy
kareina: (stitched)
Yesterday I experimented with an old family recipe for cream puffs, making a savory almond version. However, it having been my first attempt at baking them, I didn't have the trick down for getting the puffs to stay puffed and not collapse. So today I tried again, this time with a spinach, walnut, sunflower seed, and cream filling )

Today's bake was only half a batch compared to the numbers reported yesterday, yet it made almost as many puffs, because this time I put only 1 T of batter in each muffin cup, which gave me 10 puffs (so yesterday's 12 could have been 20 had I enough cups for them). The new times and temps for baking worked perfectly, and once cool I had sturdy puffs that didn't mind being sliced open for filling, but just held their shape. They are really yummy, and I ate three right away (and am seriously considering going back for a fourth when I am done typing).

Note that yesterday's version was, in fact, still yummy today. I brought two to the office this morning, intending to eat one early, and the other for a later snack, but instead ate them both at once, because I couldn't not eat the second. I can't even say that I dislike the texture of yesterday's puffs. Yes, they did sag and are soft, but they wind up feeling rather like eating Swedish oven pancakes with the almond cream, an effect I rather like. Totally different than today's puffs, which are good in a very different way.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
Today while at the grocery store a container of ecological whipping cream somehow found its way into my basket, so when I got home I went looking for inspiration of what to do with it. 30 seconds with google convinced me that the first handful of main dishes that involve cream also contain ingredients that I find horrid, and that the first handful of deserts only needed the cream as a topping. So instead I turned to the recipe box that my mother gave me many years ago.

In that box I found a recipe I had never tried for Cream Puffs. The recipe is in mom's handwriting, and I guess that it must have been her mother's recipe. I don't recall ever having eaten them before. Of course, since I don't have a sweet tooth at all, but I love fat, I decided to try the recipe replacing the sugar in the filling with almond meal.

The original filling recipe said )

The original Cream Puff recipe said )

The recipe didn't indicate how many these should make, but I happen to own 12 silicon muffin cups, so I lightly rubbed their insides with buttery fingers, figuring that silicon wouldn't need to be "well oiled". It turns out that this much batter is enough to put a bit more than 1 T of filling in each of the 12 cups. The batter is, of course, delicious, as one would expect with so much butter and eggs. I really liked the texture change when it transformed into the state where it really does leave the side of the pan and not cling to the spoon.

When baking these I forgot about the fact that when one bakes with a fan on in the oven one should use a lower temperature than suggested in recipes for ovens without fans (my oven could be used without the fan, but the few times I tried it without it was so uneven in its heating, I have never done it since). Therefore the puffs were already golden brown after 9 minutes, so I turned the heat down then, even though it was 11 minutes early, and, not wanting them to burn, I dropped it all the way to 100 C, instead of the ~175 C that the recipe called for. After the full 20 minutes they were looking firm and dry to my eye, but, it turns out, that I had no idea what I was looking for, as they sagged after being taken out of the oven, so I took them out of the muffin cups to a cooling rack, and put them back into the oven at 100 C with the fan on again for an unmeasured amount of time.

The recipe cards didn't indicate in which order to make them, so I tried doing the puffs first, and cooking up the filling while they baked. However, if I do these again, I will do the filling first, so that it has more time to cool before I want to mix it with the whipped cream.

I guess that if I had tried the recipe as written I probably would have liked it anyway. 1/2 cup sugar to that much dairy and 1 cup of flour wouldn't really be that sweet. However, using the almond meal instead of the sugar made it super yummy for me, so unless I am making these for others who like sweet stuff, I will probably just use the almond version without sugar (also no vanilla, as I didn't think it needed it).

I think that these would have been even nicer if I had managed to bake them till they didn't fall, but even so, I was quite happy with them. I had four for dinner, followed by some fruit salad. My tummy reports that as rich as they are, two would have made more sense, and I should have had some veg, instead. But all but four fit on one plate, which is now covered and in the fridge, so I will find out tomorrow if they are any good left over.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
I have long held the philosophy that sugar isn't worth ingesting unless it is part of a homemade desert, and even then I tend to use much less sugar than the typical recipe of that type calls for. The one exception to this rule that I have made is to eat gelato when living in Italy, because 1) it is hot there and 2) it isn't as sweet as your typical store-bought ice cream, so it actually tastes pretty nice. My all-time favourite flavour of Itaian gelato is Fior di Latte (which means "flower of milk", where "flower" = "best of", and, indeed, it is).

It has been several years since we bought our ice cream maker, and I have made a variety of yummy ice creams over the years. Yet, for some reason, it took till last November before it occurred to me to ask google for a recipe for Fir di Latte gelato, and then it took till today before I remembered to try it. If I hadn't had some cream in the fridge that we bought on the weekend and then didn't use I may not have looked into the "recipes I haven't tried yet" folder on my phone, but I did, and I am glad that I did.

The version I wrote down back in November called for 2 cups of milk (or half and half) and one cup cream. However, the "ecological" cream available in the store here comes in 300 ml packages. Therefore I put the cream into a 4-cup Pyrex mixing bowl, and added milk to it till I had a total of two cups liquid. Then I put one more cup of milk into a sauce pan on the stove with half a cup of sugar (the original recipe called for 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, so, of course, my first try is with the low end of the range) and heated it till the sugar dissolved.

Then I mixed it with the milk/cream and a pinch of salt, and let it cool a bit before putting it into the ice cream maker. After it was done I did what I always do--divide the batch into a dozen silicone muffin cups and pop it into the freezer to become firmer while I happily licked the spoon, ice cream maker insert thingie that stirs the cream, and, of course, the walls of the ice cream maker itself. Then I washed up and went back to the freezer and took out one of the not yet firm servings, and ate it. Then had a second, because, Yum! ...now I am contemplating if I want to give in to the desire to go get a third.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
On Saturday evening I got a message from O., who was at a dinner party with old friends from the student theater group he used to be active with, saying that he had just heard that his grandmother's health had taken a turn for the worse, and his dad was quite worried about it. He commented that he felt the need to head over to Finland to visit his grandmother and see for himself how she was doing. I, of course, (after checking with [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar that it would be ok to take the car) asked he he wanted company for the trip. He replied that he would be very grateful for the company, and the possibility to drive (otherwise the trip entails a bus to Haparanda, cross the river/international border on foot to Tornio, another bus to Oulu, then train to Kajaani, a journey that eats two days of travel because, of course, the various buses and trains don't have compatible schedules, but by car google thinks one can do the trip from my place in 5 hr, 21 minutes).

Since he was at a party with fiends he hasn't seen in quite a while he decided that it would be good to start the trip on Sunday morning, stay there overnight, and return Monday evening. This worked for me, since Monday was a holiday so I didn't need to be to work till today. When asked he thought we should plan to be on the road by 10:00 at the latest, so that we would have the time to get there before the nursing home his grandmother has been living at for the past eight years was closed for the day. I (and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar) had planned to visit M., a friend who is moving away on Sunday sometime between 10:00 and 16:00. Since this would be no longer possible, I sent M. a message letting him know that my plans had changed (and why), and if he were up late I could drop by that evening, once I had finished packing, since I had to go to that neighbourhood to pick O. up anyway. He said that he would be up, and I should head over.

I made time before heading out to bake a loaf of reiska to take along on the trip, since it is a nice dense bread that travels well, and I arrived at M's place around 23:30, and we had very nice visit till 0:49, when O. was home from the party and had his bag packed and was ready to go. It turns out that the reason M. is leaving is that he got a job in Ireland and is moving to Dublin. I am very excited for him, it sounds like a great adventure.

After I picked up O. he commented that given the one hour time change between Sweden and Finland, perhaps we should aim to be on the road at 09:00 instead of 10:00. This sounded reasonable to me. However, we then stayed up talking a couple of house, and so got to see the clocks jump an hour from 02:00 to 03:00, and we didn't actually go to sleep till nearly 05:00.

However, I still managed to get up on time to do my morning situps (but not my more serious workout) and pack the food bag and we actually started driving at 09:09. Since O. doesn't have a driver's licence his job was to keep me awake while I drove, which he did very well, and we enjoyed conversation the whole way there, quite forgetting to ever turn on music. We arrived at our destination at 16:46, which sounds like a lot longer than google's estimate above, but given the change in time zones, was actually quite reasonable since we stopped several times for pee breaks and petrol.

We went first to the nursing home to see his grandmother, who seems to be doing a little better than his cousin had reported at the start of the weekend, and after O's dad called and she recognized his voice, she became current enough in this time zone to recognize O., but she didn't have the energy for a long visit.

Then we went to his grandfather's apartment, which has been sitting empty for a couple of years, since his grandfather also spent a couple of years in a nursing home before dying last December, but O. and his parents (who live in southern Sweden) stay there every time they come visit, since it is in easy walking distance from the nursing home. I was really tired by that point, so I took an hour nap while he looked though the mail that has accumulated at the apartment since December and filled his dad in on more details of the current situation. Then we drove 45 minutes out to the home of his dad's cousin.

What a beautiful home they have--it used to be their summer house--a small log cabin on a lake in the hills to the north of Kajaain, that they have expanded to a full size house, and have been living in these last 8 years or so. This cousin speaks some English, and his daughter and her very tall partner, who were visiting for the holiday weekend, are fluent in English, so the conversation was a mix of both Finish and English. I was surprised at how often I caught a word in Finnish that I know, given how very few words I do know, but I guess the ones I know (including the numbers) are kind of basic and likely to come up in any given conversation.

They have a small friendly dog, who really wanted to help me with my yoga, and the 1 year old grandson (who is as tall as a typical two year old) came over to poke me in my nuppa (belly button) when I did my head-stand and my shirt fell just enough to expose it. He must have liked it, because when I was done with yoga he came back over, and tried to lift up my shirt so he could see my belly button again, causing his grandfather to say that the men in that family are not shy.

We had a really nice visit with them, and returned to the apartment in town around midnight, but didn't actually get to sleep till after 03:30 (I really enjoy O's company, but I don't tend to get much sleep when he is around).

Monday morning we slept in a bit (if one can count seven hours as "sleeping in") and visited his grandmother again, but she was pretty deeply asleep--she did squeeze his hand back when he held hers, but couldn't wake up enough to actually talk, so we didn't stay long, but he did make time to chat with the nurses on duty about her condition (of course I couldn't follow any of that part of the conversation, since my handful of Finnish words aren't useful when discussing medical conditions).

From there we went to the nearby home of another of his dad's cousins for lunch. This cousin speaks no English at all, so O. needed to translate for us to communicate. They fed us a yummy pie for desert, so I asked for the recipe, and I look forward to giving it a try:


125 g voita
1,25 dl sokeria
1 muna
3 dl vehnäjauho
1 tl leivinjauho

1 pak rahkaa
1 dl vispikermaa
2-3 rkl sokeria
1 tl vaniljasokeria
3 munaa

--Vaahdota voi ja sokeri. Lisää muna ja jauhot
-- Levitä piirakka vuokaan
--pohjalla rahkatäytettä ensin" "sitten persikat ja loput täytteestä

180 C 35-40 min

Which means (more or less, I think):

Peach pie

125 g butter
1.25 dl sugar
1 egg
3 dl wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pkg curd cheese
1 dl whipping cream
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs

--cream together the butter and sugar, add the egg and flour
--spread crust into the pie dish
--mix filling and put half into the crust first, then the peaches and the rest of the filling

180 C, 35-40 mins

We left their place at 16:03 and got home at 21:46, which looks like less than six hours of driving (and good conversation), but given that hour time change at the border, means that, with stops, it was nearly seven hours.

Needless to say, it wasn't a good weekend for exercise, but it was great for good company, and O.'s dad was really glad that he was able to make the trip on such short notice and report on grandmother's condition.

Now I need to see if I can manage to focus on work today--it being Tuesday I am on campus till time for Phire practice (and annual general meeting) followed by choir, so even though I made time to type this when I ought to be working, there is still time to accomplish a fair bit, in theory.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
Despite (or because of?) being tired much of yesterday, and wishing before I went to bed that today could be another weekend, I seem to have found some much needed energy as I slept.

I woke up at 05:30, with the motivation to do my before-getting-out-of-bed situps etc. And then did 50 minutes of workout as suggested by my phone app. Then I walked the 46 minutes to the office, and happily worked till time for my 13:15 appointment with my physical trainer. (ok, till just past time, since I didn't actually stand up from my desk till 13:15, so I ran to the gym, which, fortunately, is in the next building.)

Then I returned to the office and worked some more, so I managed just over 6.5 hours today (which is good, while I am supposed to work four five-hour days each week, I had gotten a bit behind the last part of December and the first part of January, so I need to do a bit extra here and there to make up for it). Then I still had enough energy remaining that on the walk home I ran for a number of short distances. I never do that. I have (nearly) always prided myself on never running at all, yet, I was in a good enough mood that the extra movement sounded fun (and it was). As a result the home trip was only 42 minutes.

After all that I *still* had energy, so I decided to convert the last of the whey from this weekend's cheese into brunost, the Norwegian style brown cheese that tastes like caramel. I had already turned two cups of the whey into bread rolls on Sunday, so that left me about 1.15 liters for today's experiment. Reading up on the internet told me that the trick is to heat whey till it is getting thick, add some cream, and keep heating till it is as thick as you want it.

While it was cooking I also roasted a butternut pumpkin and toasted the seeds. The seeds I ate straight away, because I cannot resist them, but I ate only a tiny bit of the pumpkin.

The progression from Whey to Brunost today

start heating 1.15 liters of whey at 17:10:
after 50 minutes it had reduced to 1 liter
after 1 hr, 30 minutes it was 0.8 liters
after 1 hr, 15 minutes it was 0.9 liters
after 2 hr, 20 minutes it was 0.6 liters
after 2 hr, 40 minutes it was 0.5 liters
after 2 hr, 50 minutes it was 0.4 liters

at the 3 hour mark it was getting rather thick, though not really browning yet--only a pale kinda golden colour. I didn't have any cream in the house, so I decided to see what happens if one uses Turkish yoghurt instead, so I added 1 dl of that, which brought the volume back to 0.4 liters. I switched at that point from using a metal spoon for occasional stirring to using a flat coiled whisk thingie to break up the yoghurt chunks and get it well blended, and then kept using the whisk.

By 3.5 hours the texture was like an over-thickened gravy, but the colour was still only golden, not brown.

At 3 hrs, 40 minutes it had the texture of a very thick paste, bu was still not browning, so I added 1 tablespoon of milk, to make it easier to stir.

Ditto at 4 hours, so I added another tablespoon of milk.

another tablespoon of milk added at 4 hours and five minutes, as it was once again getting a bit thick to stir with the whisk. At that point I started seeing tiny wedges of nicely browned cheese in the mix, so I switched to a heat-proof rubber spatula and started mashing them in and scraping the sides and bottom of the pot as I kept blending everything together.

at 4 hours and 10 minutes I decided it was getting too thick to stir anymore, so I scraped it all into a single silicon muffin tin. Total yield from the 1.15 liters of whey (plus 0.145 liters extra milk products) was just over 1 dl--it heaped out the top of that muffin tin like a small cupcake. Concentrate that much dairy into such a small space, and of course it will be yummy (and only meant to be eaten in very small quantities). I never did get it as brown as I would have liked, but it is a pale brown.

Next time I want to try it with cream instead, and I want to see if I can have the patience to get it browner before I start adding the cream. I also think it might be fun to buy one of those silicon molds for doing chocolate candies and pack the cheese into that before chilling--then I would have cute little cheese-candies, in a reasonable serving size without the need to slice off bits...

Thank you again [livejournal.com profile] northernotter for introducing me to yummy Norwegian cheeses...
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
After leaving the gym today I drove one of the girls over to the larger grocery store near which she lives. I had been considering heading over there anyway, since the little store near the uni does carry Turkish yoghurt, but it doesn't carry the ecological (or organic, if you live in the states) variety. The fact that she would benefit from a lift (since buses don't run very often on Saturdays here) decided me, and off we went.

While I was there I not only got the Turkish yoghurt, filmjölk, and ordinary milk we needed (and some fruit and veg), I also picked up a container of the "traditional", un-homogenized, milk, thinking it might be nice to make some cheese.

Therefore, just after 13:00 today I wandered into the kitchen, set some frozen svartvinbär (black currants) into a pot on the stove with water, and told it to warm up and simmer while I made cheese (since, if I am going to be in the kitchen for quite a while, I may as well accomplish more than one task).

Then I pondered what sort of cheese I wanted to make. Certainly one of the quick varieties--I wanted to be eating it within a couple of hours, not days or even weeks from now. I considered juustoleipä (known in Swedish as kaffe ost because it is a cheese traditionally served with coffee), the yummy Finnish cheese that I learned to make from the recipe my mother's aunt Sally provided, which involves rennet. My family always just called it "juusto", even though that part of the longer name only means "cheese", and applies to everything in the cheese family). I considered a basic soft cheese made by adding lemon juice to warm milk. I considered the Indian cheese paneer, which also uses lemon juice.

All three are good, but they have Very different textures and fill very different niches. I couldn't decide so I asked [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar if he had any input. Nope, none at all, he likes all three.

So I consulted a very old cheese, butter, and yoghurt making book that I inherited from my step father to see if anything in there turned out to be inspiring. Their soft cheeses all required a "starter", which involves heating milk and then leaving it sit for another day before using it. Nope. Not an option. I want my cheese, and I want it now.

However, the book did turn out to be inspiring, since in the section talking about the various ways to get the milk to curdle, it pointed out that liquid rennet loses its effectiveness with time. It has been a long time since I made jussto, so I decided that it might be smart to check and see if the liquid rennet I had in the fridge still works at all. And if it doesn't, we do have lemon juice.

Thus decided I pulled out the recipe )

Now, I didn't have 8 quarts of milk, I bought only two liters (which is kinda similar to 2 quarts), and I don't have rennet tablets, only liquid rennet, which, it turns out, has a best by date of January 2013 (which means it has been even longer than I thought since last I made cheese). So I did some modifications. I went to pour in a bit of rennet, and it gushed out of the bottle faster than I expected. I thought out it, and the part about "two years past its best-by date", and poured in a bit more. Since I had only a little milk compared to my great-aunt's recipe, I used only a small amount of cornstarch, even less sugar, and only a bit of salt.

Now, every time I have tried to make juusto before there was never any "press with hands till water comes to top" possible, as the curds were small and scattered--any attempt to press them caused them to separate, and my hands to sink in between them. Therefore I have needed to resort to pouring the liquid through a cheese cloth to catch the cheese. However, it always tasted good, so I just coped. This time, on the other hand, it worked! Very, very soon after stirring suddenly the pot contained a whiteish cohesive blob, which, if gently pressed with hands revealed the whey in which it was floating.

This meant that I didn't need to use a cheese cloth at all. Instead, at first, I just used a ladle to gently push down on the mass of cheese and let the liquid pour into the ladle. Once I had gathered somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of a liter of whey that way it became hard to use the ladle. So at that point we poured everything into a deep baking pan, set a mostly flat (it has a slight rim at the edge) baking pan over it, and gently tipped it to let the liquid pour out of the corner of the pan. This was a kind of slow, and slightly messy process, that involved needing to switch which corner I poured from on a fairly regular basis, as the cheese blob worked its way to the corner and slowed down the pouring. Eventually I had more than a liter of liquid poured off, and the cheese blob was small enough that I could change out the large flatish baking sheet for a small (sandwich size) plate, which I could set only over the cheese and apply a bit of pressure to it, to get the last of the water out.

By the end of the process I think I had about 1.5 liters of whey, and a small blob of cheese the same diameter as the plate (~20 cm) and almost 1 cm thick. At that point I transferred the cheese to the plate long enough to wash the whey off of the deeper pan, then put the cheese onto it and popped it into the broiler.

When I took the milk off of the heat the second time I decided that since the front burner is so much better than the back one that I would move that svartvinbärsylt in progress to the front burner. However, once the cheese was in the oven I realized that while I had done the transfer, I had also turned the wrong knobs, so the berries were sitting and waiting on an off burner, while the other back burner was happily warming the room. Oops. Though, in hind sight, that was probably a very good thing, since I didn't have berries being done and wanting attention at the same time as I was dealing with the cheese. So I re-started the heat under the fruit, and then sat on the floor to watch the cheese so that it didn't over cook. As soon as it developed a few of the characteristic brown spots I pulled out the pan, set that flatish baking dish on top and flipped them over to transfer the cheese to it so I could broil the other side.

When it was done I transferred it to another plate, and set that outside on the porch (inside the wooden box we keep out there just so we can let food cool without being eaten by the neighbourhood cats or wild critters. By this time the berries were boiling again, so I stirred them (pausing only a couple of times to go get another bite of juusto, which is every bit as yummy, and squeaky, as it is supposed to be) and waited till enough water had cooked off.

As I was cooking the berries I considered the whey. I normally bake it into bread (and really yummy bread it is, too), but this time I am also considering making the Norwegian brown cheese from it. I looked on line, and it is made only by heating whey for a long time so that it caramelizes and the liquid cooks off, and then, when it is getting kind of thick, string in cream and continuing to cook till it reaches the desired consistency.

This is really tempting. However, most sources say that this process takes 4 to 6 (or sometimes even 12) hours to accomplish, and I had just spent 4 hours standing in the kitchen, and my legs were stiff enough. Besides I didn't think of this while in the store, so I don't have any cream in the house. Tomorrow is soon enough to decide if the whey wants to be bread or brown cheese (or both).

Tomorrow I need to head to uni to pick up a friend from the Student Choir Aurora around 13:00. We will first go purchase a second hand electric keyboard so that Aurora will have a keyboard of its own, which can live at uni, and we won't have to bring ours any more on the nights that the Uni one has been checked out by one of the other clubs (which happens fairly often). Then I will bring him back here so he can try on costumes before he travels with my apprentice #2 and I to the SCA event in Finland next weekend. That event is being held in conjunction with the Finnish Early music society, which is why the three of us are interested in attending. This will be his first SCA event, I hope he enjoys it.

But, since I will be out during the day, that means I have the option of buying cream on that trip, though when I would have time to use it thereafter, I am not certain.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
Back in the summer of 1990 I attended the Oslo International Summer School for their Norwegian language course. The summer school comes with (or did a the time) a number of extracurricular activities for the students to introduce them to Norwegian culture. One of these was a mid-stay weekend adventure--students choose from among a variety of destinations and activities. Since I love mountains more than anything I picked the trip to the Brimi Fjellstugu, a cute timber cabin at the edge of the tree line. The place was decorated with traditional Norwegian decor, and the food I tried was yummy and very Norwegian. They had for sale a cookbook, in Norwegian, sharing the recipes of much of what they served, and since I was particularly find of both Rømmegrøt and their flat bread, I bought the book, hoping these two would be in there. Besides, the photos of the food had some of the nice carved furniture of the cabin for backdrop, so it was just plain pretty.

But soon thereafter I wound up moving to Ashland, Oregon, and was no longer able to continue my Norwegian studies, and I never got around to trying any recipes from the book. Yesterday, late afternoon, I was hungry, but feeling uninspired and didn't know what to cook. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had driven to a small town just over three hours from here for work, so I knew he wouldn't be home for a while, so I would have time to something more elaborate if I felt for it. The first cookbook I picked up was the Norwegian one, and, unsurprisingly, after four years living in Sweden I can now easily read most of the recipes, though there are some specific words that elude me.

Now, I had been thinking in terms of dinner when I opened the book, but the photo that caught my eye was for Sviskekake med jordbærpuré, which translates to "prune cake with strawberry puree", but the cake pictured looked more like the dense Swedish style oven pancakes I am so fond of, or perhaps more of a tart (note: in the photo one can't really see the prunes--only two sort of break the surface of the cake to hint they may be there). So I looked at the recipe:

1 l mjølk
100 g smør
200 g sukker
200 g kveitemjøl
6 egg
100 g svisker, steinfrie

Kok opp mjølk, smør, og sukker, rør det lett saman med mjøl og egg. Slå røra i ei kakeform som er tett, legg i svisker. Steid i omn på 175 C i ca. 40 minutt til kaka er fast of pent brun. Kan severast både varm og kald.

Which I think means:

1 liter milk
100 g (not quite 1/2 cup) butter
200 g (~3/4 c) sugar
200 g (~1.25 c) wheat flour
6 eggs
100 g prunes, without pits

Boil the milk, butter, and sugar, stir it gently together with the flour and egg. Pour batter into a cake pan that doesn't leak, put in the prunes. Bake in an oven about 175 C for around 40 minutes until the cake is solid and nicely brown. Can be served both warm and cold.

After glancing at the ingredient list, but before reading the text, I hesitated, since, with sugar in it (and based on which section of the book it is in), it is clearly meant to be a desert, and I am not a huge fan of sweets. However, while it has the same mass of sugar as flour, it is noticeably less sugar than flour by volume, and there is far more milk or egg than either flour or sugar. Comparing this to our normal oven pancake recipe this one contains the same amount of milk, 3 to 6 times as many eggs (we vary how many we use from one time to the next), only about 1/3 as much flour, and, of course, we don't put in any sugar or dried fruit.

Then I read the instructions, and saw that one is pre-cooking the ingredients before putting it into the oven, and I wondered how that would effect things. So, of course, I had to try. I even resolved to not give into the temptation to cut the sugar, because I was curious as to just how sweet it would taste. However, I did make one change. Neither [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar or I are all that fond of prunes, but we both like dried apricots. The two fruits aren't that different, so I decided to swap these--after all it was the behavior of the batter I was really curious about, and how it interacted with any dried fruit at all.

So I ran to the store and bought more milk, eggs, and some apricots, since we didn't have enough on hand to try the full recipe. Then I realized that the recipe is lacking all kinds of useful information. Boil the milk, butter and sugar for how long? Is the goal just to bring it up to temperature and stop? Or do we want to keep going long enough to trigger any of the next stages that can happen when cooking such ingredients? Do we put the hot milk etc. into the eggs and flour, or the eggs and flour into the hot milk? Or should we let the milk etc. cool before adding the eggs and flour? Add eggs one at a time as they come out of the shell, or beat them together first? Leave the fruit whole, or cut it up? set them on top of the batter, or stir them in? Should one grease the pan? Why did the author feel the need to specify the pan shouldn't leak? Does he have one which does? What size pan, anyway? The photo had it in one of those cute white tart pans, but they come in a variety of sizes, and this recipe makes more than a liter and a half of batter.

So I went with some guesses:

I decided to let it heat till it was clearly boiling, not just the first sign of simmering, but didn't leave it any longer than that.

I decided to beat together the eggs and flour first, mostly because I wanted to avoid lumps of flour in the batter, and adding flour to hot liquid without wetting it first with a cool one is a good way to get lumps. Besides, this gave me something to do while waiting for the milk etc. to heat. I didn't cool the milk, but did take it off the heat, and then poured in all of the beaten eggs/flour at once.

I decided to chop the fruit into small chunks, both to finish filling the time while waiting for the milk to heat and so that it would be more evenly distributed throughout the cake. However, based on other types of cake recipes I have tried, I thought it would be ok to sprinkle the fruit on top and let it sink in during baking.

The other question was about cake pan--I have one of those white pans, but I checked, and while it easily holds the first liter of liquid, the full batter wouldn't fit, and I don't have two in that style. I do, however, have a much larger, thicker brown ceramic pie plate I inherited from my step-dad that was *just* big enough to hold it all, so I went with that.

While it was baking I also mixed up some dinner and put it into the other oven to bake, and then made the strawberry puree while I was waiting (that recipe I will stick on at the bottom)

So, how did it all work:

When I described adding the flour and eggs "all at once" what I really meant was "pour in most of it, and stir quickly, since the eggs were already starting to cook and the batter was turning rather fluffy, then scrape in more of the batter, and stir again, then add the last little bit and stir again". If I had had someone else present then I probably would have had one stirring the whole time while the other scrapped the eggs in. I think I am happy with the texture result from this step (and really enjoyed licking the bowl), so I would be willing to take this approach again.

Was it too sweet? Nope, not for a for a desert--it is about as sweet as I ever want my deserts to be--it has about 8% sugar by volume (not counting the fruit sugar), and that is plenty, without over doing it. However, I am curious to try it again with zero sugar (and no fruit) to see how this approach compares with our oven pancakes.

How about that fruit? Chopping it was a good idea, but I should have stirred it in. The pieces never did sink into the batter, but stayed perched up on top, and while the rest of the cake was only starting to get brown they were already crossing line into rather black.

Pan size? Too deep! It took much longer to bake to set than I would have wanted--not only did the fruit over cook, but the top is browner than I would have preferred. I think next time I will use the large rectangular pan in which I bake oven pancakes so that the batter is thinner and cooks more evenly. Or I might make only a half recipe and try that white ceramic tart pan, since that would be prettier.

In actuality, I don't think I actually let it set as well as the recipe called for through baking alone--when it was already quite brown, and I was thinking it was nearly set enough I decided to just turn off the oven and let it finish setting in a cooling oven while I waited for the other food to finish baking in the other oven.

As a result it was still warm when we sat down to eat (three hours after deciding to try the recipe), and one needed a spoon to serve it, since it didn't really hold together yet. However, I like that texture (and, indeed, liked it just fine before it went into the oven, too), it just didn't look like what was in the photo. However, after leaving the rest of it sit in the fridge overnight, this morning I could cut a slice, pick it up and eat with my fingers if I wanted. However, it is good with that strawberry puree, so instead I put it in a bowl and ate them together with a spoon for breakfast. While this is sweeter than my normal breakfast, it is no where near as sweet as the sugar cereals I ate as a child.

And, before I forget, that strawberry recipe, since they do go so well together, especially when the one is warm and the other cold:


500 g friske eller frosne jordbær
1 ss melis
1/2 sitron utan skal og stein

Vask og reinsk bæra. Ha det i hurrtigmiksar/food-processor saman med melis og sitron. Mos till puré, press pureen gjennom ei sikt. Set pureen kjølig, med lokk, til han skal serverast.

which I think means:

500 g fresh or frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 lemon without peel or seeds

Wash and (hull?) berries, put them in a food processor together with the powdered sugar and lemon. Process till it is a puree, press the puree through a sieve. Put it in the fridge, with a lid, till it is time to serve it.

I did only half a batch, since there are only the two of us. I didn't have any fresh lemon, so I just used a tablespoon of lemon juice. I used frozen berries (which I had washed and hulled before freezing), so I just tossed them into the food processor still frozen, which meant that it took a while, and a fair bit of scraping to get it to transform into shush instead of fluffy ice bits. We never did get it liquidy enough to press it through the sieve before the rest of the food was ready, but neither of us mind the seeds, so we left them in.

Just like with the cake (which an American might call a custard, and which could also be called a pie in Swedish, since their word for pie doesn't require a crust), this wasn't too sweet--that isn't much sugar compared to the amount of berries, yet I think I would have enjoyed it without the sugar, too.

PS, thank you to [livejournal.com profile] northernotter for translation help yesterday!
kareina: (stitched)
This morning we bundled the hammer duclimer, nyckleharpa, a microphone, a trolley and box of cables into the car, drove to Uni, where [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar dropped me and the music stuff off at my office on his way to work. I spent the morning accomplishing stuff (to the point where my in-box was empty!), and at noon I wheeled the music stuff towards the next building, and was met by [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar on the way, so he took the trolley and I had only the dulcimer left to carry.

The Solar Wind Orchestra performed four tunes for the students hanging out in the big room with a stage and some comfy couches, and then I brought the gear back to my office and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar hopped into his work car to do the 45 minute drive to Piteå, where he had a computer to fix (or something). I then spent another few hours doing useful stuff on the computer, and finished up and started walking home around the same time he started driving back from Piteå. I walked briskly, and managed to get home about 5 minutes before he did, but that was enough time to get our car plugged in so that it would be warm for the trip back to campus for choir and start a pot of vegetable soup.

Since we didn't have much time available, I did a really quick soup: I tossed one chunk of frozen mashed pumpkin (which I had cooked and mashed a month or two back and froze in empty yoghurt (actually skyr) containers) into a pot with a little water, and turned the stove on high and put more water into the electric kettle to warm up. I then tossed a handful of frozen cabbage, the last of the bag of frozen mixed corn, broccoli and capsicum, a handful of frozen kale, another of frozen spinach, and some additional frozen broccoli into a bowl to wait a bit before putting into the soup pot. About the time I finished that and got the rest of the frozen veg back into the freezer the kettle was hot, so I added that water to the pot. As soon as the pumpkin had thawed I tossed in the rest of the veg, a "can" (cardboard box) of lentils, and a can of sliced water chestnuts into the pot. Added some pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, a few green herbs, and a dash of soy sauce. As soon as the pot returned to a boil I took it off the heat and sat down to eat, only 21 minutes after completing the walk (and that time included taking off coat and boots).

This gave me 40 minutes to relax with a book before we went out to choir, where the turnout was really low--we started with one each soprano, bass, and tenor, and three altos. A bit later a second bass showed up. However, we had lots of fun. Sung Dona Nobis, a couple of new songs I hadn't seen before, and Spider Pig. However, our director had only three parts for Dona Nobis, so I promised to email her a pdf with all five parts--I hope that she likes the other two parts and we add them to the list.

After choir we picked up the music stuff from my office, unloaded it, finally shoveled away the berm that got plowed over the bottom of the driveway yesterday, I emailed the pdf to the choir director, and spent a full hour paging down my FB feed reading all kinds of good news, and inspirational posts. Eventually I hit a negative post, followed promptly by a political one, and so I decided to close FB and post here instead. I have heard a fair few people lately complain about FB being too negative/argumentative/political, and I am pleased to report that, actually, those posts are in the minority of what I see over there. Perhaps I have used the "I don't want to see" this button often enough, and long enough ago that the computer in charge of deciding what should be important to me learned? Perhaps I just know lots of wonderful people? Either way, I am happy with it.

Ok, time for yoga and bed!
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.


Nov. 16th, 2014 10:53 am
kareina: (house)
The snow we had had in mid October was long gone, the fault of the +8 C temps we were cursed with the latter part of the month. But then early November greeted us with nice temperatures dropping as cold as -10, giving the ground a chance to get a decent freeze. However, with the lack of snow, the world was looking pretty dark and dismal--grass doesn't hold its green after freezing. Therefore I was delighted to see snowfall this weekend--the world is, once again, looking bright and beautiful with its thin white coat. There still isn't much snow, but it makes such a difference. My phone tells me that this weekend's warm temperatures (high of +2) will go away and we should have decent sub-zero temperatures for the rest of the week. With luck the snow will survive till the cold returns.

I think last winter's pathetic showing may have scared me for life--before last winter it never would have occurred to me to worry about snow being able to last--of course snow stays on the ground all winter and it never rains. But now I worry and look at the forecast--will it stay nice and cold, or will we have another winter of not nice rains destroying the good snow cover?

In other news, we had a great band practice on Thursday--we are ready to perform at the SCA event on the weekend. And last night's choir party was fun. Despite having gotten a slow start to the semester, with a shortage of boys for a while, we still managed to have a total of 10 of us here for the party, and it was five of each gender. I baked two loafs of cardamon bread for it--one with plenty of milk and butter in it, and the other, much smaller loaf with no dairy at all since one of the girls is allergic to milk. I also baked some more pears. I had done a small batch of pears for band night, and it was so good they asked me to do it again for the party. I used fairly large pears, one scant tablespoon of brown sugar for every two pears, and lots of butter--first a thick coating of butter to grease the glass baking pan, and then I used a cheese slicer to make thin slices of butter to cover the top of the pears. I also sifted in a hint of gluten free oat flour (one of the band members can't eat gluten) into the pan to help thicken the sauce, and sprinkled on a bit of water to keep it from drying up before the liquid started cooking out of the pears. I baked them at 150 C, and, once they warmed up and started forming sauce I stirred them occasionally to keep the top layer from drying out or browning. Everyone else brought enough food to the party that there are some pears left over, which is a good thing, because I am getting hungry for them just typing this up.

[livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar has been hard at work making some nice chests that are exactly small enough to fit into the trunk of the car so that packing for events will be easier. The first one is done and the second is coming along nicely. I wish I could be helping with the project, but while he does that I have been working on the edits to my paper for publication, gathering info for a class on the History of the SCA. I also want to put together something in the way of a hand-out for a hand sewing class. In my imagination I make small hand-sewn samplers of all of the stitch types [livejournal.com profile] hrj has accumulated on her web page on Archaeological Sewing. However, the class is next weekend, so that is probably not going to happen, even if it would be totally cool.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
Back in April I posted the recipe for my adaptation of a Vintage coffee cake. Last week I needed to bake something gluten-free for our Friday band session, and I decided to see how that cake would turn out without using wheat flour. The answer is Yummy! I tried a slice soon after it came out of the oven, since I knew I wouldn't still be hungry when we took a break from playing for tea and cake. My reaction after taking the first bite was "I hope they don't like it, then there will be plenty left over for me to eat tomorrow..."

Gluten Free Vintage Coffee Cake

For the topping mix together:
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 heaping teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
plus the parts of the freshly ground almonds and walnuts (see below) that don't go through the flour sifter. Press the topping into the bottom of a large springform pan (mine is non-stick, so I didn't grease it).

Sift together:
1 cup freshly ground almonds
1/2 cup freshly ground walnuts
1.25 cups oat flour
3/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3.5 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Cream together:
3/4 cup sugar
150 grams butter (~2/3 cup)

Beat in:
2 eggs

Stir in, a little at a time:
the flour mixture
2 heaping tablespoons of thick Turkish yoghurt
~3/4 cup of milk (put the yogurt into a one cup measure and add milk till it is full)

Pour the batter over the topping in the large springform pan and bake at 150 C (~300) for 35 minutes or until done.

Note that when I say "freshly ground", I actually mean grated, since we have a lovely hand-crank grater with fine holes that I like to use for nuts, but if you don't have one just tossing the nuts into a food processor or food grinder (or pay the extra to buy them pre-ground from the store would work, too).

As it turned out, everyone who tried it seemed to like, but they still left enough for me so that I have been happily having a small slice each day since. It is particularly nice crumbled and sprinkled onto my favourite snack, which is how I just ate some, and was reminded that I hadn't typed it up yet.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
Not too long back I baked a batch of cookies for our band. One of our members can't eat gluten, so I decided to adapt my favourite peanutbutter cookie recipe to one she could eat:

1/2 c butter
1/2 C + 1 T peanutbutter, the kind made from 100% peanuts, +/- a dash of salt, and nothing else (that is how much happened to be left in the jar--the original recipe only wanted the half cup, but the last spoonful didn't look worth saving)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup cornstartch
1/2 cup peanuts, lightly chopped

Cream together the butter and peanutbutter, mix in the sugar and then the honey, and then the egg. Add the dry ingredients, roll into balls and press with a fork. Bake at 175 C till just starting to turn golden.

This recipe makes a delightfully soft cookie. The original recipe, which I got from a friend in Alaska years ago) used 1/2 cup of white sugar instead of the 1/4 c brown I used. I like my version better, though, when I first tried hers I was delighted to taste one with so little sugar in it compared to what others had tried to feed me in the past. The only other differences with the original is that it was all wheat flour instead of oat/rice/corn, and didn't have extra peanuts added. However, the "chunky" peanutbutter I had didn't have enough chunks, so I added more.


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: (stitched)
I made up a yummy batch of cookies for my minion this weekend, and one of my friends asked for the recipe. I should have written down what I did sooner, when I had a better memory of what I tossed into that bowl! Here follows my best attempt at remembering what I used. Sadly, I can not make any guarantees that these amounts are accurate, since I am translating vague memories of "some, a little, lots" into numbers. (note for Americans: 1 dl is just smaller than half a cup, "msk" = tablespoon, and "tsk" = teaspoon)

cream together:

200 g smör (butter)
1 dl socker (sugar)

beat in:

1 ägg (egg)

stir in:

2 msk nyponmjöl (rosehip flour)
1 dl havregryn (rolled oats)
2 t bakpulver (baking powder)

then add:

1.5 dl vetemjöl (white flour) (or enough to make a decent textured cookie dough)

roll 1 msk of dough at a time into a ball, press with thumb to make a cup and fill with a 50-50% blend of:

fikonmarmelad (fig marmalade)
mandelmjöl (ground almonds)

bake at 150 C till golden brown (7 min???)

If anyone tries this please let me know how they come out. They were really yummy when I did them.
kareina: (house)
Today was about harvesting things and playing in the kitchen. first cheese making )
then berry and nettle harvesting )
While that was happening I took the left over bread dough from where it had been rising i the fridge and popped it into the oven, so that it was ready to eat about the same time I was done with the berries, and before I did the nettles. Yum! There may be things I like better than fresh bread, hot out of the oven, but I am not thinking of them just now.

Then I took a brief break (yay, reading!) while he kept an eye on the juice production. The berries yielded 4 liters of concentrated juice, which fills one of the shelves in the fridge. What a pity the earth cellar isn't done, or we would have plenty of room to store it, and we could make up lots more (there are still so many bushes full of berries down there).

When that project was off the stove I cooked up half of the panner with spinach, beet greens, and the little bit of nettles that didn't fit into the muffin cups. Then I took the 1.5 cups of extra juice that didn't fit into the bottles and 1 cup of the cooked berries and made a pie. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar tells me that when he was a kid they fed those berries to the pigs, but we don't have pigs, so I thought we should use a little of them for something interesting. The rest of the berries went into the compost bin, which sort of bothers me, but what else should I have done with them?

Yesterday, on the other hand, was an outside projects kind of day. We started the morning with more plowing of the field (he had done some of that on his own on Friday, but then discovered that there are far more rocks as one approaches the edges, so he saved the last bit to do with me). I follow along behind the plow and pick up the small and medium sized stones that get exposed and toss them to the field's edge, but if there is a large one I mark the place so that he can come use the forks on the tractor to dig it out.

We were partway through that project when I got a phone call from our friend Oskar who lives in Kalix (the one we visited on the way home from buying the forge), saying he was in town, and would we like him to drop by. We said "of course!", and he came over. This was his first visit to our place, so I gave him a tour of the property while [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar did a bit more plowing on his own (which means getting out of the tractor often to toss away the rocks himself), then we both helped toss rocks while [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar drove tractor for the last little bit in that corner of the field.

Then we went in for fika, followed by doing some work on the earth cellar. Since we had Oskar to help we managed to do twice as much wall building as we would have other wise done--the boys worked on filling in the back of the other concrete ring with bricks while I worked on the wall next to the ring. This meant that Oskar had the easiest job--sit behind the brick wall in progress, and smooth out the cement on that side as [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar keeps adding more bricks and cement and keeps checking to be certain the wall stays level as it grows.

We worked till we ran out of bags of concrete, and then we made home made pizza for dinner (and I put the left over bread dough into the fridge for later). This time I used the left over cooking water from the nettle harvest of the day before as the liquid in the bread, and added some thawed kale as well, so the pizza crust had flakes of green, and was very tasty.

After that Oskar went to meet up with some other friends and we did the last bit of plowing on the other side of the field. Note that the plow had, in fact, bent again, but this time, rather than taking it back to the forge for yet another repair he just folded that blade up out of the way (it is a two-blade plow, and only the one of the two blades keeps getting bent) and kept plowing with the good blade. Takes longer, but we were so close to done with that project that it made more sense to just continue, rather than loosing another day to repairs.

In other news I have been working on learning to play the song Hårgalåten (which our choir sings) on the dulcimer, and it is finally coming together. With luck I will actually be able to play it by the time choir starts up again this autumn. However, I have had to change the tuning of the instrument to accomplish this. My hammer dulcimer is not a chromatic instrument, but there are enough strings that most notes appear in more than one place on the instrument. Therefore some of the strings contain a sharp (or flat) variant of a note so that if one needs (for example) a normal B one can play one string, but if one needs the B-flat instead one hits another. However, at the high and low ends of the range there are not so many duplicate notes. The tuning the dulcimer arrived with had only a F#3 and not a F3, and it had only a B3 and not a B-flat3. Before I started learning this song none of the songs I have tried to play needs any of those notes. Hågalåten, on the other hand, needs the F3 and the B-flat3, and not the level3 notes that it came with. So I opted to re-tune those two strings so that I would be able to play this song. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before I wind up needing the notes I lost due to the change...
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
I just posted the following in a comment on [livejournal.com profile] lifeofglamour's other blog, and thought I would echo it here so that I can find it again if needed. The post to which I was replying was asking for suggestions for ways to increase the amount of protein in one's diet without also adding too many calories, which topic totally effected how I wrote up the recipe.

When I describe this as "favourite", I confess that it means that I have been making it pretty much daily lately. I used to make the version using cow's milk instead of water, but a recent post by [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy prompted me to try it with almond milk instead, and then I skipped the part about making the almond milk in advance--just putting the finely ground almonds into the water is enough to letting it form almond milk as the pudding cooks, and I am really happy with how it works.

Lately my favourite protein-rich snack is "Instant pudding in a mug":

1 heaping tablespoon of corn starch (or rice flour, or oat flour, or other starch)
1 heaping tablespoon of almond flour (I suppose other nut flours would work instead)
1 cup of water

Combine them all in a large mug or soup bowl (make certain that the liquid does not fill more than half of the bowl!). It is a good idea to stir in only a little of the water at first to moisten the flour so that it doesn't get lumpy, then add the rest.

Put it in the microwave on high for 30 to 40 seconds, stir and return to the microwave for another 30 to 40 seconds. Repeat until the mixture boils and thickens (usually within 2 to 3 minutes total). After the mixture starts to get hot it is important to keep an eye on it, as it can, and will, boil over the side of the bowl if left unattended.

When it is cooked I usually add a teaspoon of salted butter for extra richness, but one could just add instead a dash of salt if one wants to keep calories down or has issues with dairy.

I like to eat it hot on a cold day, but it is even better made in advance and chilled. It can be enjoyed as is, or stir in a handful of frozen (or fresh) berries.

I find this recipe to be a good way to take a reasonable sized serving of almonds and make it take more space, so that one's mouth actually has time to enjoy eating it and thus one has a chance to feel satisfied.

Note: the recipe is not missing anything--I really don't put sugar into my instant pudding in a mug, even though most similar recipes on line suggest that one needs at least as much sugar as starch--I tried the sweet version, and it simply doesn't taste as good to me as the plain version.

For more flavour and richness one can replace all or part of the water with milk--you choose the balance point between adding yet more protein to your snack and keeping extra calories out.


kareina: (Default)

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