Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween is scary for dogs too...

Yoda, lion, and crocodile attack. Photos by unknown.
Found on the internet, of course...

Kids are carving pumpkins now, and you'll see the result soon!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Very Swedish childhood...

"Hösten städar sig själv med vindar."
(The autumn is cleaning itself with winds.)
(first line in a poem named "Höst", Fall, by Harry Martinson).

This summer we went to the Nordic Watercolor Museum in Skärhamn and saw an exhibit of the paintings by Elsa Beskow. In the early 1900s she started to write and illustrate children's book in a style that became famous and much loved in Sweden. When I grew up we probably had all her books, even if it was 50 years at least since they were first published. Her drawings, made at the kitchen table while she was taking care of her 5 children, are amazing in their clear colors and accurate depiction of nature, both animals and plants. But there is magic and wonder in there too - a feeling of amazement and joy. Here are some more of her drawings (click on the small images to see them bigger). I always thought that the yellow aspen leaves (falling in the drawing on the left) looked just like golden coins, but I am not sure if I read that in her book first or came up with it myself. It was probably Elsa Beskow...


Book review: West with the Night by Beryl Markham

Voi Kenya

Sunset on mountains in Kenya. (cc) Clairepants on Flickr.

"Ahead of me lies a land that is unknown to the rest of the world and only vaguely known to the African - a strange mixture of grasslands, scrub, desert sand like long waves of the southern ocean. Forest, still water, and age-old mountains, stark and grim like mountains of the moon. Salt lakes, and rivers that have no water. Swamps. Badlands. Land without life. Land teeming with life - all of the dusty past, all of the future.
The air takes me into its realm. Night envelopes me entirely, leaving me out of touch with the earth, leaving me within this small moving world, of my own, living in space with the stars. "

West with the Night is the autobiography by Beryl Markham (1902-1986) about her childhood in the early 1900s on a horse farm in Kenya among African hunters and cheetahs. She became a horse trainer (first female licensed one in the country), and she later learned to fly and became one of the first bush pilots in Kenay, a dangerous and lonely job. Karen Blixen's husband Baron von Blixen was an elephant safari organizer and hired her to scout ot where the elephants where, and she had an affair with him (but this is not mentioned in the book). She does talk about him as a tall Swede that wasn't afraid of anything. Later she flew to Europe and was the first woman that flew solo over the Atlantic from the east (Europe) to the west (North America) in 1936. Other had tried but died. All of these topics are spectacular, but what is even more spectacular is her writing. Gorgeous, detailed, emotional, like impressionist paintings but with words. It is one of the best books I have read in a long, long while. It wasn't published until 1942, and then forgotten and republished in 1983 to great acclaim. There is some question if she wrote the book by herself, but I choose to believe so, if nothing else because it feels like she telling her story in a way that only someone that experienced these amazing, scary, and intensive things could.

Ernest Hemingway liked her book too and said in a letter:
"Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West With The Night? ...She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen."
He wasn't bad with words either. :)

She also has a crater (Markham) on Venus named after her, quite an honor. Just read this book. I loved it and know I will read it again later in my life.

OK snapshot: Horsing around

OK says: Ta på er ordentligt i höstkylan!
LS says: The knitting mafia strikes again in autumncold Stockholm.
Snapshot by OK.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More about Gourmet magazine, which is no more...

If you go to the Gourmet website, you can read this:
"Please be advised that Gourmet magazine will cease publication after the November issue.
Subscribers can look forward to receiving Bon Appetit magazine for the remainder of their subscription. The website will remain available during a transitional period, and access to Gourmet recipes will also remain available via sister site and the Epi iPhone application. We regret any inconvenience, and look forward to your continued readership. For questions about your Gourmet magazine subscription, please follow this link to subscription services. The Oct. 23-25 Gourmet Institute events will not take place. Additional information is available at If you purchased the GOURMET TODAY cookbook and would like to take advantage of the offer on the back flap, click here for more information. "

Note, all of this above is written in CAPS. Dear Conde Nast, DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS. IT IS REALLY ANNOYING. That is basic Net etiquette. "Regret any inconvenience?" Yeah, how about: I ordered this magazine and it didn't show up so I am slightly inconvenienced? We got a letter recently asking us to subscribe to Bon Appetit , and we sent it back with large letters on it -" We want Gourmet instead!". For you Swedes, this is like if "Bullen's hot dogs" are no longer available, or some other classic like Abba's herring or King Oscar's sardines, and instead they are offering you some cheap substitute. I so dislike when everything is steered by money and not by the right thing to do... Why keep golf magazines and wedding specials and get rid of this magazine that is addressing food, food policy, and food history? Your priorities are wrong, Conde Nast (that is the publisher).

I was in the bookstore today and they advertised the new, probably a fantastic, Gourmet cookbook as 'includes one year subscription to Gourmet'. Yeah, right. And I am a dalmatian. If you click on the link from the cookbook to your subscription online you get this message: "Sorry, we could not find the page you were looking for. Many pages have been changed due to our relocation from, and the URL you were looking for likely changed or may no longer be available." Nice. Please Conde Nast, you are pissing off a lot of people... about 100 00 subscribers I would think, plus the hundreds that are buying your cookbook.

At least the recipes are still online. I think I want this for dinner soon. The last issue of Gourmet was great, and we are saving it, of course. This looks good too...

OK snapshot: Creepy kitchen critters

Stuff you do while the tomato sauce simmers... :)
Snapshot and creation by my wonderful brother, OK.

OK snapshot: Politisk lunch (Political lunch)

"rödgrön röra", som Carl Bildt sa.

Explanation for non-Swedes: "Red-green mess, as Carl Bildt said." Carl
Bildt was the Swedish prime minister for a while and is a member of the
conservative party in Sweden (called Moderaterna), and the red stood for the
socialdemocrats and the green for the Green Party. The red-green alliance
has been common in Swedish politics after the Green Party entered the scene
in the 1990s.
Snapshot by OK of today's lunch.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Primary colors are here again!

Fall is here, still, no snow yet! (Which is good, because my basil is still growing and flowering, see leftmost photo). The Japanese lady beetles are invading our house, thousands are aggregating in corners and crevices, inside and outside. Annoying little bugs! And the leaves are continuing their turning, orange maple and the appropriately named burning-bush. We are having gorgeous days mixed with rain storms.. typical fall weather. No rain tonight, good for LA who has no window in his room (it was lifted out and being painted).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

OK snapshot: Today's harvest

The harvest of funnel or yellow foot chanterelles (trattkantareller) from a walk in the woods today in Sweden. I am very jealous, these are my favorite mushrooms. It isn't a real chanterelle, but closely related, and has more taste than the yellow chanterelles that you can find here. You can dry these and make the most amazing soup. Photo by OK.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Good stuffing!

When I moved to America, I didn't know much about winter squashes and not much about cooking. But I learned quickly. PP taught me this dish, which is absolutely fantastic and still probably unknown in Sweden, since winter squashes are so rare there. You take a large winter squash (Hubbard for example, but could work with others), cut it in half, and bake it until nearly soft (upside down, after removing the seeds, which can be saved and roasted). In the meantime you cook onion, peppers, and sausage (the real kind, not falukorv, so in Sweden you would have to use ground meet and lots of herbs) in a frying pan, until nearly cooked through. Fresh herbs and garlic helps. You take out the squash from the oven, turn it over and scoop in all the meat-onion mix in the center of the squash and put it back in the oven for 30 min of so. Then you eat. The squash takes up the flavor from the sausage mix and vice versa and it is incredibly delicious. A favorite fall dish and a favorite at our house. Thanks PP, for teaching me how to make this.

OK snapshot: Ekonomi och astrofysik (economy and astrophysics)

Håll i pengarna om ni går förbi ett bankkontor! ;)

Hold on to your money if you walk by a bank in Sweden!
Translated headline: Swedbank's black hole.

Snapshot by OK.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vegetable of the day: Homegrown Chioggia beets

I love beets. Others in the family not so much (well PP does). I have three favorite beet dishes:
1) cook them, cool them, peel them, slice them, serve with arugula, goat cheese, and tyhyme vinagrette (our salads are not really like this..)
2) grate them raw with potatoes and fry them up (like Swedish rårakor)
3) pickled beets on top of Swedish pytt-i-panna
Mmmm... they taste best if you pull them out of your own garden, and beets are nearly foolproof to grow, at least here in NJ. (photo by me)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to kill birds

How people kill birds

not for those with weak stomachs

Fallen leaves and fruits

September höjer sitt tak.
Det ligger en lättnad i luften
som hör hösten till.
Den kalla blötdaggen tvättar
grundligt allt den vidrör.
Äppelvinden spelar krocket
på övergivna lekplaner.
Fallfrukten rullar stötvis in
under bågar av gräs.

Harry Martinson, ur De tusen dikternas bok (2004)

The Swedish author and poet Harry Martinson is untranslatable since he is using words in new ways and meanings and invents new words by combining and changing them. My translation below only translates the meaning, not the beauty of this poem, unfortunately. The photo is by OK, taken today, of fallen maple leaves in Sweden. Seasons are a'changing...

September is raising its ceiling.
There is a relief in the air
that is typical for fall.
The cold wet dew washes
thoroughly everything it touches.
The apple wind plays crochet
on abandoned playgrounds.
The fallen fruit rolls bumpily
under bent arches of grass.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stamp of the Day: Mr Frost has arrived

The first frost was last night, so know summer is absolutely over, and winter is near... Here are some ice sculptures on stamps from the United Kingdom to celebrate the change of seasons. Don't you think the Queen of England looks a little cold there in the corner of each stamp?

For those of you in tropical Madagascar, hail will have to do. (see recent post on the Don't Feed the Lemur blog)

OK snapshot: Ride the web

Ride the information highway. Surfing is sooo 2008. ;)
Photo and text by OK.

OK snapshot: pome grenade

Monday!? I am blowing up! Pomegranate for breakfast!
(this is funnier in Swedish, since pomegranate is called "granatäpple" [grenade apple])
Snapshot by OK.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"most perfect processed forcemeat stuffed inside of an animal intestine"

For those of you with little or no experience with the Swedish cuisine, I would like to explain the classic 'Falukorv', the main ingredient of a recent post here on the blog. Falukorv is like bologna sausage, but smaller and one of the least expensive meat products (at least when I grew up). It comes as a long straight sausage or tied into a ring, and always in plastic red casing (no intestines here!).

Swedish parents have come up with many ways to enliven this rather-unknown-content meat product. We often cut slits in the ring so the pieces held together at the bottom or sides and then in each slit we stuffed apples or cheese, squirted it all with ketchup and mustard, put it into the oven, baked it, and then ate it. At desperate times when camping I am pretty sure I have seen people eat it raw, but usually it is fried and served with cramy macaroni or mashed potatoes. It is even used in 'korv Stroganoff' - a dish that has nothing to do with the original Stroganoff since this version has tomato sauce, onions, and lots of ketchup in it. Yes, Sweden is a ketchupy nation, but no more than the USA.

The reputation of Falukorv is mixed, to say the least. When I grew up, we had a lot of falukorv, and I remember it fondly, even if the origin of the extremely finely ground meat (etc.) is a bit suspicious at times. You can't buy Falukorv here in the US, not even at IKEA. Falukorv has "Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG)" status in EU, but I am not sure what that really means. That Falukorv can't be made by a German butcher in the US?

Hat tip to Mr. Lebo for the title of this post.

Go a posts below below to see OK's innovative use of Falukorv as a bedding for mozzarella and basil (how was it?).

OK snapshot: Swedish winter in October

Onsdag. Snö.
Wednesday. Snow.
Snapshot by OK taken this week.

Friday, October 16, 2009

OK snapshot: Innovative Swedish cuisine

Or, as OK says "Plain old falukorv", but with basil and mozzarella, a brand
new combination. Falukorv is the traditional Swedish sausage, named after
the city of Falun. Snapshot by OK. I wonder how it tasted like...

Lunch time!

Another favorite from Shorpy's Historic Photos - Jim and Jack, conductor and brakeman, having lunch on the rolling train. 1943. Read more here. I love the white mug!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Math equation: Find x.

Next weekend AREA is taking the PSAT test for the first time, more as a practice test than anything else. Here is a figure to wish her good luck! And yes, I would think the answer is very creative and correct, but I bet the graders disagree. What do you think, AREA?

One more species...

God Introduces New Bird - newsline from the satirical Onion and a fun read (the link might lead you to an advertisement, just hit Skip to Article then):

""Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve, prepare thine eyes for the most exciting line of avian wildlife in millennia," God announced as He released an estimated 14 million first-run models into the important bird markets of North America, Australia, and Eurasia. "This new bird has it all: slicker wings, a more streamlined beak, better-than-ever capacity for beautiful song."

(Note - this is satire and aimed at creationists that believe that the Earth is only about 10 000 years old. Luckily, that is not a majority here in the US.)

"In the good old biking days..."

On Shorpy Historic Photographs, you always find something interesting. How about a bike shop from 1919 in Washington, DC, USA? Look how the different workers have their place - women on the balcony, away from the oil (accountants? secretaries), the foreman or salesman in a suit in the front, and the repairmen in the back. I love the floor and the wood counter.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Snapshop: bench mark

This is an old Swedish proverb: Finns det hjärterum så finns det stjärterum.
Freely translated by JU into English: "If there's space in the heart,
there's space in the ass!" (I would say 'space FOR the ass' :)
Snapshot photo by OK.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Just received this from our police department, via e-mail

"Fall is a season in which many species of wildlife have increased activity and movement. Most notably is New Jersey's white-tailed deer population. In the fall the white-tailed deer population is at its peak. Fall is the breeding season for white-tailed deer causing their travel habits to increase. This increase in activity frequently brings the deer closer to roadways and increases the likelihood of a deer-vehicle crash. Consequently, motorists need to be at a high state of alertness for deer crossing roadways.
MTPD offers the following information and tips to help avoid crashes with deer:
Always wear a seatbelt. If you are driving, always operate your vehicle at a sensible speed consistent with road and weather conditions.
Deer are most active at dawn and dusk but can cross roadways at any time. Motorists need to remain especially alert and drive with extreme caution.
Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These signs are posted in active deer crossing areas.
If a deer is spotted, SLOW DOWN and remain alert for sudden movement. Note that deer usually move in herds and will usually cross roadways in single file. If you see one deer, be on the lookout for others following behind the first.
Deer are unpredictable. Deer may stop in the middle of the road or change direction at any time. The safest action is to slow down or stop and proceed only after the roadway is clear.
Use high beams when driving at night and there is no opposing traffic. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway giving you more reaction time to slow down.
Do not rely solely on car-mounted deer whistles or other deer warning devices. Operating your vehicle cautiously and being aware of deer near the roadway is your best way of avoiding a collision."

Last night I saw 5 deers on the road while driving home at 9 PM in 5 different places. So far I haven't hit any, but I bet that is just a matter of time. We see them every day around here, and I bet PP hears them chewing every night in the garden (I am usually asleep). I never thought I would say this, but I really, really don't like deer. It is like ladybugs- they are nice, but when you get 1000 invasive japanese ladybugs inside your house looking for dark spots to overwinter, then you have had enough of them.

Wonderful news!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the next Peace Nobel Prize winner is: OBAMA. YES!!!! First Al Gore for his environmental work, and now Obama, oh, happy days! Here is some eye candy of our president.

He got it for his efforts: "to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" less than nine months after he took office. The Nobel committee believe in him too! Thank you Norway!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

As promised - chile rellenos in the kitchen

Here you go, we actually remembered to take phtoos of our chile rellenos making!
Roasted chilies, stuffed with cheese, and dumped into flour.

Then dipped into fluffy whipped eggs, and put in a frying pan with hot oil. Mmm, sizzling!

And for dessert, my Tarte Tatin that doesn't look to great but tasted delicious!