We saw this sticker on a car in Cape May, NJ, and I couldn't figure it out. Is it the car, the fish, or the man (or woman?) in the car this refers to? Apparently, FHB is a loose gang of people that rather fish than do anything else, including eating (the fish) and sleeping. I can imagine other FHB abbreviations - like For Hire: Brain, Fox Hunts Bad, Fear Her Breasts, etc. (sorry kids for the last one, but I think you can take it). Or how about Funny Holy Boat (the kind that sinks)? I like fishermen, so I hope you take no offense, I just thought the sticker was funny.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I was surfing around at etsy.com, the website for selling handmade arts and crafts and came across these cool chiffon ear rings (easy to replicate at home), a knitted sweater for an apple, turn up the volume ring, recycled candy dish earrings, and a really cool abstract-non abstract painting of November sun through a tree.
You also have to check out etsy's special color matching feature. Browsing this site always makes me inspired. It is time to make those bird houses with shells on them! And corks!
If you have seen the film Forrest Gump, which is worth seeing, you might remember some scenes in the film where they buy a shrimp trawler and start catching shrimp in the Southern United States. This inspired some people, and they started a restaurant chain, probably the first to be influenced by a film. So here it is, Bubba Gump Shrimp company, started in 1994, and with restaurants all over the US. Each restaurant looks like a rustic shack filled with memorabilia, nostalgia, and hot sauces. I visisted the one in Chicago this summer with a friend of mine from Germany.
On each table are license plates, one that says RUN FORREST RUN, and you let that one show when you want something from the waiter. When you don't need anything, flip it over to STOP FORREST STOP. The menu is seafood of course, a lot of traditional Southern US food, which means deepfried, greens, french fries, cajun spices (spicy), and large amounts of food.
Here is a mixed appetizer plate - BBQ chicken wings with dip sauce, fried clams, fried scallops, fried coconut shrimp, onion rings, and coleslaw salad (cabbage in vinegar and mayonnaise dressing). Everything is served in small baskets and you eat most food with your hands. It was good!!! Very greasy though.
Next dish was the weird and fancy. Whole crawfish tails with the shell on, deep fried in batter with cajun seasoning. We assumed you were supposed to eat the shell, so we did. It wasn't as hard as Swedish crawfish shells, but still very crunchy with soft and GOOD crawfish meat inside. Peeling them would have been impossible.
The newspaper in the basket isn't recycled newspaper, it is especially printed for the restaurant. Kind of a waste.
Right behind us was an enormous shelf with hot sauces, here is just a small sample. In Sweden in the 80s I remember hot sauce as Tabasco, and that was it. Times have changed. Here you have Nuclear Waste, Pyromania, Red Lightning, Lethal Weapon, and Jump Up and Kiss Me.
Of course the restaurant has a whole store you have to pass through when you leave, with the necessities such as T-shirts, hats, hot sauces, mugs, and key chains - all with the Bubba Gump logo on it. Ah, commercialism. But the food was good, I'll come back for more. I forgot, they served beer in real ice cold glasses too!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
In a grocery store today I bought a cool, reusable nylon bag for shopping and other things, and it turns out that you can order these online in a lot of different colors. I am going shopping for shopping bags at Chicobags.com! Each bag folds up into a tiny little pouch you can keep in your pocket or purse. It also has a little hook-on thing if you don't have pockets or are climbing up a cliff. I think this is what you all get for Christmas from us!
Just imagine, this is the perfect bag for dirty laundry when you are traveling, or for having in the pocket while mushroom picking, or when carrying heavy loads of milk and youghurt from the store! It takes 20 pounds weight (10 kg), and you can throw it in the washing machine when it gets dirty. I love it! No more trees being cut down for paper bags or plastic bags ending up in landfills. I am ordering 10 more! What colors should I get?
"Using ChicoBags can save the average American 300 to 700 plastic shopping bags per year, which will save 3 to 7 gallons of crude oil."
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
“A 2005 survey by the Center for a New American Dream showed that 78 percent of Americans wish the holidays were ‘less materialistic.’ At the same time, the average American spends about $900 on presents each year, according to the National Retail Federation.” (link)
"Mr. Lasn, from Vancouver, says the targets of the movement [Boy Nothing Day] are the wealthiest one billion people on the planet, “the 20 percent who consume 80 percent of the goodies in the global marketplace.” The goal, he told me, “is to create an economy and a culture in which it eventually becomes cool to consume less.”" (link)
"Since the 1960s, men have gradually cut back on activities they find unpleasant. They now work less and relax more. Over the same span, women have replaced housework with paid work — and, as a result, are spending almost as much time doing things they don’t enjoy as in the past. " (link)
"The holidays have always been an emotionally combustible time for families, bringing together a sometimes volatile mix of siblings, crotchety grandparents and ill-behaved children. But in recent years, a new figure has joined the celebration, to complicate the proceedings even further: the green evangelist of the family — the impassioned activist bent on eradicating the wasteful materialism of the holidays." (link)
"Sales rose 8.3 percent on Friday compared with last year’s day after Thanksgiving, the biggest increase in three years, according to ShopperTrak RCT, a research firm. But shoppers did not splurge, spending an estimated $348 each over the holiday weekend, down from $360 last year..." (link)
Any thoughts on this? My thoughts are whirling... Do you have the same trends in Sweden?
Just two thoughts - we don't need all these things in our houses, but they sure look good if they are well-designed and fabricated with thought and of good materials. When we were in Princeton yesterday, I saw a really cool pillow by Kstudio with a little long-legged bird, just fabric sown with bright colored thread on a sewing machine. I couldn't find that particular pillow on-line, but here are some other examples. Inspiring! While looking around on the web, I happened to run into a Swedish design, home, and crafts blog called Husmusen (the house mouse), that also links to some great stuff. The blog isn't active anymore- it continued as the blog Cult Design. I think there is so much more nice design in Sweden, but maybe that is because I don't see the good American design among all the bad cheap, plastic, Chinese-made stuff here in the US. You have you seek it out more actively here.
AnS post about waiting for winter, with snow and ice reminded me about winters long past in the Swedish mountains. This stamp could have depicted our family, we even had the dog with the sled after it.
Storhogna, Storulvån, Snasahögarna, Sylarna - do you remember all these places? (The Swedish stamp is from 1970)
I remember catching snowflakes with my gloves while they were falling in the air and breathing on them while they melted. The snowflakes, not the gloves, of course. Snowflakes are true fractals, and the largest ever caught was over 2 cm across. Photographing them must be very hard; you have to be fast before they melt (Look at these beautiful ones). We have already had the first snow here in NJ, which is nice, since last year the winter didn't start until January.
Följande dikt står på min första sida i min poesibok. Min mamma och pappa har skrivit den till mig.
Hjärtat skall gro av drömmar
annars är hjärtat armt
Liv, ge oss regn som strömmar
Liv ge oss sol och varmt
Så blir det ax omsider,
och med ett tack för allt
gå vi mot skördetider
vemod och vinterkallt.
Ute snöar det och regnar, mörkret i november tränger på. Men med mina bilder drömmer jag om en annan tid och med vemod tänker jag på hur vintern förr var en fröjd med skridskor, skidor och utflykter i fjäll, skog och sjöar. Nu är det mest halt och besvärligt.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
For your enjoyment - an old poster for parmesan cheese, the real thing for Italian pasta dishes. From their noses you might get the feeling that this was a Stilton or something. A kilo of this cheese is $24.00, but a kilo lasts a long time.
"Parmigiano-Reggiano is considered by the gourmet and connoisseur to be the only cheese worthy of ordaining all kinds of pasta dishes, which once tasted is never forgotten. Its rich and historical background make it one of the world's most highly prized cheeses, for many, second to none."
"Few products in the world are distinguished enough to have their location built into their name, but Parmigiano Reggiano is one of them. Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard texture cheese, cooked but not pressed. The milk obtained, from cows on a strict regime diet of grass or hay, is exclusively from the territories of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and part of Bologna and Mantova. " (link)
When I grew up in Sweden in the 70s and 80s, I never heard about parmesan cheese. Instead we used Rivosto (="grated cheese" in Swedish) on our spaghetti, which apparently is no longer made. There isn't even a picture of Rivosto on Google Image Search. It is like the Swedish Raketost (Rocket cheese), it is completely gone. Raketost was inside a waxed tube and you pushed it up from the bottom and sliced off slices with an attached string. It was more fun to slice than to eat! The last Raketost was made in 1979, so it died out even before Rivosto.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thanksgiving dinner is a special time for me, even if I am not American for real, and I never had a turkey before I arrived on this continent. But I really like the idea of getting together with friends and family, eat good food, and say a few words about things we are thankful in life about. And no presents, no hassle, except for the food of course. This year PP did 90% of all the food prep, and the results was better than a restaurant. It was fantastic, thanks PP! (Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, so the pictures are a day old now)
The first course was a roasted tomato-apple soup, I think, from Bobbi Flay's fantastic cook book Bold American Food. Early in the morning PP was out by the grill in the garden roasting tomatoes while I was inside struggling with a distressed internet router. This soup, served with sage pesto and parmesan cheese, was heaven on Earth. I could have eaten only this, and be satisfied for days. Our friends DG, AM, AA and RA loved it too!
The free-range turkey from Griggstown Farm, 18 pounds (9 kg) heavy before cooking, and before cut into pieces. Done after Sauveur magazine's special instructions, brined in a solution of salt, spices and 35 garlic cloves overnight, then cooked in the oven for 3-4 hours on top of vegetables that became roasted - I think we will stick to this recipe! Moist, crispy on the outside, delicious, and totally different from storebought dry flavorless turkeybreasts. DG's cranberries with raisins and walnuts were great with it and served in the same glass bowl PP's mom used to use for it decades ago.
The vegetables were run in a food processor to make the sauce (gravy), a gluten-free, rich fall-colored delicious sauce. Note the gravy boat - 60 year old Bennington ceramics from Vermont, and the same pattern as our plates. I found it in an antique store in northern NJ and not expensive at all. To the right is the stuffing, which never went inside the bird this year, it was cooked on the side in the oven. It is wild rice-wild mushrooms-dried fruit-Italian sausage stuffing, home made recipe. Yummy! Also gluten-free.
Sweet potatoes (or yams) is a tradition - here are two kinds. First Bobbi Flay's (remember him?) sweet potato gratin with smoked chipotle peppers, spicy, creamy and melt-in-your-mouth good. Then to the right is sweet potatoes first cooked until half-done in water, then halved and put into a pan for an hour with lots of butter and brown sugar (old PP family recipe). Not the healthiest, but fantastically good.
A new thing for this year was Brussels sprouts - locally grown at Terhune Orchards, I think. The three foot long stalk (1 meter) had to be disassembled into little balls, which were first boiled, then fried with bacon. I never used to like Brussels sprouts, but when PP makes them I love them.
Salt and pepper shakers for sizing.
And finally, for kids, homemade Macaroni and cheese with broccoli and lots of mozzarella. I didn't taste it, but I made it, and there is nearly nothing left so they must have liked it.
After this, pumpkin pie, made by DG and AA. I was so stuffed afterwards.
And after that, Bob Dylan sang through the newly repaired Squeezebox and Slimserver:
"I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me.
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand."
(from Every grain of sand)
"I can't help it
If you might think I'm odd,
If I say I'm not loving you for what you are
But for what you're not.
Everybody will help you
Discover what you set out to find.
But if I can save you any time,
Come on, give it to me,
I'll keep it with mine."
(from I'll keep it with mine)
Happy Thanksgiving, also to all of you that couldn't be here with us!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It does appear that a lot of my reading has a general theme. Food. After these three books, and the previous three, I am still not done. I have more to read and more I have read and should write about. But after my mean reviews last night, I thought you might want to hear about some good books. Maybe it is because food writing is so personal, so autobiographic, so either real or unreal, that these books felt true. They are all about personal experiences, but very different ones. Also, all these three books have really interesting subtitles. Here we go:
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, "Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly"
"They were pounding veal in the kitchen when I arrived; the whole crew, on every available horizontal surface, banging on veal cutlets for scallopine with heavy steel mallets. The testosterone level was high, very high. These guys were the A-team, and they knew it. Everybody knew it. The floor staff, the managers, even Mario seemed to walk on eggs around them, as if one of them would suddenly lunge through the bars of their cage and take a jagged bite. I alone was too stupid to see how over my head I was among these magnificent cooking machines. "
This book is by famous New York chef Anthony Bourdain, who in frank, rough words describes his often hilarious or desperate experiences as first chef-in-training, then major chef. It covers cooking schools, summer jobs making Italian food on the shore, garden parties and disasters, how to run and not run a restaurant, what to eat and not to eat in a restaurant (never fish on a Monday, never mussels, assume your bread has been on someone else's table, etc.). It is a great read, and you learn more about the food world than about food itself. Good advice too - if the restaurant can't even keep their bathrooms clean, imagine how their kitchen looks like.
Two for the Road by Jane and Michael Stern, "Our Love Affair with American Food"
Jane and Michael Stern is the couple behind Roadfood, which started as a book and now is a great website, where you can find local and better alternatives to McDonald's and Taco Bell when you are traveling. They seek out small family-owned places that still serve homemade regional specialties like barbecued pork, breakfast pancakes, and lobster rolls. This book is also autobiographic, explaining how it all started when they went on their first road trip to investigate food maybe 30 years ago. Their writing is delicious and funny, and they often write about tiny details such as the exact price of a hot dog, the curtain's color and the smell from the oven at a small diner, and how many cats the owner has. If you want to know more about American food and not read about fancy restaurants, this is the book for you. It has recipes too!
"We came to appreciate fairgoers' magnitude the first time we visited the Iowa State Fair. It is held in the big city of Des Moines, but attracts millions of people from small towns all over the state. Our attire was jeans and T-shirts, which was perfectly appropriate. The best outfit for fairgoing is a good set of overalls, preferably made by OshKosh B'Gosh, Big Smith, or Carhartt. These are good because they do not cinch your waist and therefore offer no impediment to serious eating."
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, "A year of Food Life"(website with more information and recipes)
Barbara Kingsolver is a fantastic American writer (Prodigal Summer), who always has cared about the environment and social issues like poverty and cultural heritage. This book, written together with her husband and 19-year old daughter, is a true story about how they move back into an ancestral farmhouse in Virginia's Appalachian mountains (USA), and decided to try to live a year on what they can grow themselves and buy locally. They made the rule that each person could make one exception and buy something from far away, like black pepper and coffee, which is never produced in Virginia. They start a large vegetable garden, have hens and turkeys, and buy meat and milk from local farmers. It is a lot of hard work but also an eye-opener how good real fresh food is when you eat it in season. A lot of canning and preserving is taking place in the kitchen, as is the making of homemade mozzarella accompanied by turkey slaughter outside.
Interspersed with the tale of each month's gardening and food issues are recipes and thoughts about the environmental impact of our food choices. This book inspired me, not in the sense that I want to become a farmer, but that small choices really can make a big impact in how and what we eat and how food is produced. It really matters if you buy a box of eggs from the store from caged hens with cut-off beaks, or if you get local eggs from hens that freely roam around and can eat grass and bugs while flapping their wings. I want to eat HAPPY FOOD. This is a great book, and just in time for the current food debate here in America about mass-production in food factories versus local, small-scale production. I am tired of buying organic peas from China, apples from New Zealand, and chicken in the store that taste like nothing and comes from hen houses with 30 000 hens in one room and no space to move an inch. Right now I am reading another book called "The ethics of what we eat", but more about that in a later blog post. What we eat definitely matter, not only to ourselves, but to the world as a whole.
"That's how springtime found us: grinning from ear to ear, hauling out our seedlings, just as the rest of our neighborhood began to haul out the plastic lawn flingmos and little Dutch children kissing and those spooky plywood silhouettes of cowboys leaning against trees. Lawn decoration is high art in the South, make no mistake about it."
This is the first known matchbox label produced in Japan around 1900.
It says (in swedish) "säkerhetständstickor" which means Safety Matches. Funny they use the swedish word, probably all the matches came from Sweden before they started there own production.
This one however is made in Chechoslovakia, and is a real plagiat. A swede spots the mispelling of "tändstickors". It´s made before 1940.
And yes, swedish matches are still made in Sweden.
- Vad bjuder oss uppriktigt Afrika?
- Vad visa kan Amerika?
- Vad Asien? Vad allt Europa?
- Jag trotsar öppet alltihopa.
- Men Skandinavien – det är alladar!
- Blott Sverige svenska krusbär har.
- Carl Jonas Love Almqvist "Om svenska rim" (1838)
Fishing bass (not flounder) in the Baltic is a great way to spend some time. Sitting on a smooth rock or in a little boat, seeing that little bobbing thing go up and down, thinking about the drowning earthworm on the hook, the bass nibbling on it, and suddenly get caught, and then up in the air! Of course half of the time the worm is eaten and no fish caught, but oh well.
Last time we did this kind of fishing was with friends in Finland and we caught three bass (abborrar), which were quickly named George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George Washington by the young kids. They made a great dinner, fried up in butter.
The artwork reminds me of children's book illustrations, so rich and crisp. Not at all the foggy, muddy, and wet mess fishing usually is.
In two times in November have I visit Skiren-Kvicken's nature reserve in Eskilstuna for painting. It is very peaceful place with big old trees, fallen trees, dead trees and a lot of smaller trees which try to get some light. The soil is covered of green moss in big layers. Most of the trees are spruces and some heavy pines. Birch is also common and some hazel. Today it was very calm, +2° and some woodpeckers searched for insects. Some small groups of titmice passed me over in the trees and further away I heard a goshawk in the forest. I was painting soft pastel for some hours and made a break for coffee and to eat some sandwiches. It was some dampness in the air and I had a very nice time. To sit alone in the forest and make a painting gives me a very special feeling of happiness.
In the forest is a small lake with some reeds and a bog.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
eat pray love by Elisabeth Gilbert
This is an interesting book, and the only reason it is in this category is that I don't think it is for everyone. It is a autobiography, telling the true story of a woman who leaves an unhappy marriage and lives 4 months in Italy to eat and promote decadence, 4 months in India to learn how to get closer to God at a Hindu center called Ashram, and then 4 months in Bali to find herself with a native healer. She also finds love again in Bali. The writing is excellent, a real delight, and she is especially good at writing about humorous situations as well as her own anxiety and impatience. I loved that. However, it is kind of a strange book, because the only person that feels real in the book is herself, none of the other characters. They are more like shadows. But her descriptions of eating pasta, pizza, and gelato in Italy wants me to go there NOW. So if you don't mind some God praying stuff, read it, otherwise read only part one and then go on to another book.
The year of eating dangerously by Tom Parker Bowles
This is the book I only read to chapter 2, then gave up on. If you think the author's last name is familiar, it is because 1) he is a famous British food writer, and 2) he is the son of Camilla Parker Bowles, now married to Prince Charles of the British royal family. No, Charles is not in the book, but his mom is, mentioned as someone that can cook, hates spicy food, and like good ingredients. The author writes a lot, far too much. It is like he thinks every little word and thought is of interest, but there really isn't any depth to anything. The first chapter is about baby eels, but he ends the chapter without eating one molecule from the eel, and the second chapter is about chilis in New Mexico, but you don't really learn anything about chili or find out what he thinks about them. It is just one long diatribe about being to a Fiery Food Festival eating too hot sauces, seeing people puke and say the f-word (lots of that in the book), and then just want to go home. Boring. Superficial. I gave up. If I writer can't even excite me about hot chilies and Santa Fe, the book is lost. I really tried to like it, but I couldn't.
Remembrance of things Paris, sixty years of writing from Gourmet, edited by Ruth Reichl
If you have been to Paris sometime in the 20s to 50s, maybe this book is fun for you. I wasn't even born then. The best essay in the whole book is the one by Ruth Reichl, about trying on a black dress! It is outstanding, but the rest is about as boring as Marcel Proust. But I read nearly all of it while I was stuck on an airplane. If you want to read about French food there are a lot better books. Too much is snotty, snobbish, and only the insiders would know what you mean. More Ruth Reichl, less old dusty stuff.
On a scale from one to 100, this book is a 5 and Comfort me with Apples by Ruth Reichl is a 99.
Here is two examples of promotion for plants, which, to say the least affects the daily life of man. Some people don´t want to be without the tobacco and some don´t want to loose sugar which I connect with melatti (True, LS?).
As mom sings sometimes...
"Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar varenda dag, tänk att det finns så mycket sugar i USA!"
(translated end... sugar every day, can you believe how much sugar there is in USA!)
Now I only need a matchbox label with cacao, that's also a good plant. Not that I say that I think tobacco is great.
More Swedish food inspiration! Elderberry, lemon, and star anise, and the jar contains elderberry chutney.
Elderberries from Sweden, lemons from Italy, and star anise from the Far East - food is really from all around the world these days.
Friday after Thanksgiving, November 23, is one of the largest shopping days of the year. Check out this video, as part of the Buy Nothing Day as a protest against consumer society. This day is on Nov 23 in USA, and on Saturday Nov 24 in other countries.
Maybe we don't need all these new things all the time? Maybe we are not so good at appreciate the older things, or reuse what we have? I have decided not to shop for anything on Friday, not even a jug of milk. I am going to stay home and read an old book, look at reusable movies, and enjoy some good food already in our pantry and fridge (Thanksgiving leftovers, yummy!).
Fanciest drop curtain in Stockholm? The artist Ernst Billgren painted this for the cinema theater Sture, with the "well-known" saying "It is easier for a squirrel to catch a flounder in the ocean than it is to find a theater not only playing Hollywood films" in mind.
(Listening to while posting: String Cheese Incident - Galactic)
Monday, November 19, 2007
...but Liza Morozova performing "The Knot of the Matter" with noodles.
"It is not accidentally that noodles became a material of choice for knotting. My woman's memory of Italy is directly linked to noodles. To knot noodles thus is to work with this important and equally painful experience.
At the same time, this project remains critical to the existing system of contemporary art. "To noodle someone" is a common Russian idiom, meaning "to string someone along", so this performance is derisive and self-ironic."
For those who want a real "String Cheese Incident", check out the band with the same name. Archive.org has a big collection of live shows to listen to of this bootleg-friendly, progressive bluegrass band.
(Listening to while posting: Laurie Anderson - Pieces and parts)
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Well, I was doing some research online, well, actually just poking around on youtube! :P If you call that you research! Well, I found this band called Amon Amarth, not sure if it means anything, but they are from Sweden! Not just that, but they are a metal core band(melodic metal), with viking lyrics and such.
Their first album came out in 1996, and their most recent was 2006. Here are some lyrics:
Raise your swords up high!
See the black birds fly!
Let them hear your rage!
Show no fear!
Charge your horses across the fields
Together we ride into destiny
Have no fear of , when it's your time
Oden will bring us home when we die!
The ground trembles under us
As we make our thunder charge
The pounding hooves strikes blinding fear
Into their heart
Our helmets shine in the sun
As we near their wall of shields
Some of them turn and run
When they hear our frenzied screams
Kinda funky huh?! >_>
These days stamps are all multicolored and fancy, but this is what stamps used to look like in the old days. One color, often bleeding into the paper, fuzzy details, but still great design and fonts, and a piece of history. Here is a steamship and mail tender in a harbor, maybe New York city? It does have skyscrapers. PP can probably tell us what kind of steamship it is. Is the little boat the mail tender or a tug boat? I wonder when it cost 10 cents to mail a letter, today it is 41 cents. Imaging when a regular letter took 4 months across the Atlantic - last week it took only 3 days from New Jersey to Sweden. Nowadays everything is so fast, back then you could take your time. I think it affects our brains, this rush-rush about everything.
There is a new danish shop in town, where they among other things sell this. Fnug apparently means something like "ludd" / "fuzz" in danish, so it is a "fuzz roller" for cleaning textiles. Not that any swede would know that based on the label though...
(Listening to while posting: Attention Deficit - My fellow astronauts)