Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mom has been to the US and worked hard...

Mom (AnS) landed in a snowstorm and had to suffer through 95 degree heat yesterday (36 grader Celsius) in New Jersey, so now she knows what American weather means. She has been busy with her binoculars and her paint brush, and here are some examples. During her trip to NJ we went from the beginning of spring to summer in just three weeks, while many climate records were broken. The lilac, oaks, and forsythias are all flowering at the same time now. The birds are going crazy too, and arriving in large flocks. I wish the birds ate the deers....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

American food

If you think that this is a salad, I wonder what planet you are from. Recipe here for 7-layer gelatin salad.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring has sprung!

(Nasty alien weed in the US = amazingly pretty wildflower in Sweden;
Ranunculus ficaria, fig buttercup, svalört)

Strange is the fungus' mysterious ways

A few days ago when we took a walk in Hutcheson Memorial Forest, I found these strange things on the ground. The little pretty spring flower Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) was attacked by and covered by this rust fungus. When I came home I googled 'rust fungus' and 'Claytonia virginica' and immediately found out that only one species of rust fungus is known from this species - Puccinia mariae-wilsoniae. After talking to our mycologist at work, I found out that this is a host-switching fungus, so it jumps back and forth between two species within a year. Those orange things are where the spores are produced and spread. It is amazing how many complicated, unusual, and unknown species there are out there in the green mess.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review of latest delivery from Sweden

OK, I have to admit. Licorice candy is food. Seriously. And my wonderful brother O.K. sent me some incredibly interesting and innovative licorice candy from the store Lakritsroten (the Licorice root) in Stockholm, Sweden (thanks!!!!!!!!!). But someone needs to tell the people at Lakritsroten that the flower they have as their logo IS NOT from a licorice plant. Licorice roots are not that exciting so I understand their desire to have something nicer, but the flower isn't even from a bean plant in the same family, Fabaceae. Come on, Sweden is the home of Linnaeus and botanical classification, you can do better!

If you want to visit, they are open 11.30 Am to 6 PM on weekdays, and sometimes on Saturdays, and they are located in the old beautiful neighborhood of Odenplan (Odengatan 15). O.K. sent me a wonderful assortment and here is my review.

Djupur. Icelandic licorice. Yes it exist! This candy was covered in crispy white surface, with chewy licorice under, quite wonderful. Highly recommended. I think the name means Deep or something like that, and it is quite appropriate.

Yummy! Lakritstryfflar - licorice truffles. Larger-sized softish salmiak-crusted licorice balls with an even more softish inner center. A great thing and something I had never had before. Definitely worth trying. PP thinks salmiak (ammonium chloride is the equivalent of diaper smell, so some people must lack the gene for this great candy... :)

Now this was the best. "Lucifer - med chiliextrakt" - Lucifer with chili pepper extract. This was great except for that the soft pieces melted together into a giant soft ball during the trip across the Atlantic. You had to pull them apart as far as it goes, and consider the rest a giant piece of chewable licorice. Wonderful taste of the chili pepper - I loved it.

Snusmojänger - Snuff thingies. I don't think I need to elaborate a lot on something with that name, right? :) Hard, sweet, licorice, and brown. Wonderful....

Salmiaklinser (salmiak discs) from Holland. Maybe that is why they were small, dry, and not so exciting. Ha, sorry all Dutchmen. You do make great licorice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Book review: Transatlantic connection

I am a member of the BookMooch booktrading network (a great invention!), and sometimes I search for books with the keyword Sweden. While doing that, this book suddenly popped up as available: Fly Fishing the River of Second Chances: Life, Love, and a River in Sweden by Jennifer Olsson. The book is about an American fisherwoman from Montana (think Yellowstone National Park), who falls in love with another fly fishing expert from Gimdalen, Jämtland, Sweden. She moves over to Sweden for a summer with her young son, and learns to love some of Sweden's specialties (tunnbröd for example) and not to like some others (surströmming). She goes moose hunting, does the midsummer and Saturday dances, lives with mosquitoes and an outhouse (utedass) and no shower for a summer, and ponders the large amount (20%) of unmarried men in her little village. I think the book is very truthful when it comes to Swedish rural life, but if you read this and then think that Stockholm is like this you will be disappointed.

It is a true memoir and nicely written, but sometimes it reads more like a collection of descriptions of strange or funny Swedish customs, than a personal memoir. I think it is really brave to write a book like this, since it can become so personal. I liked it. It won't be on my 'bring-to-a-deserted-island-list', but then I think very few books will.

Only one thing nagged me repeatedly. If you are an American married to a Swede, with many Swedish friends as well, don't you let them read the book first to catch your misspelled Swedish words? It is Systembolaget, not 'System Bolaget'. It is murklor, not 'morklor'. Or maybe these are Jämtska spelling rules? Gimdalen is close to Bräcke in central Sweden, far north in the forested hills, and people there speak differently. We know, we have relatives and DNA in us from Jämtland.

Here is a little excerpt:
"But I soon learned that true Swedish forest people mustn't look bothered by biting insects, especially mosquitoes. No squealing, swearing, or sudden jerky movements to indicate something has bitten or is about to bite. No preapplication of repellent in the house, car, or parking area. Mosquitoes must be sighted and proved to be an actual nuisance Even then, repellent is applied inconspicuously, if at all. You must never use hats veiled with netting, beds draped with netting, special sonic devices, vitamin preparations, or lemon-scented candles to drive mosquitoes away. Locals view dependence on any of these items as indicating weakness of character. Only foreigners, or people from Stockholm, use any of the above. "

The author and her husband nows have a fly-fishing guide company (Scandiwest). If you like fishing, I bet they are great guides, but one day with private lessons costs 2500 SEK (about $400). A little bit too much for my budget.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring feelings- Stamp of the day

I have to blog something to celebrate that the spring has arrived. Outside it´s a least 10 degrees and probably 25 degrees Celcius in the sun. Lovely weather. Some new stamps from Sweden illustrates my feelings today! I love the sun!