Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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four(teen)th of july


I love the Fourth of July. I’m willing to say it’s my favorite holiday. As an expat that makes for a hard time. This year we celebrated in Sweden. That is sans four day weekend. I mean I’m off, but the rest of the country isn’t. (Petition to the King still pending). 


We made a great day of it. Grilling, American flag decorations galore, and lots of red white and blue clothing. I hope our little one will enjoy the Fourth of July as much as I do. As often as we can, I hope we celebrate it in the States. It does make all the difference.


Here’s hoping your Fourth was full of fantastic fireworks, good company and tasty food. 


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portobello mushrooms with balsamic and thyme

If you like mushrooms keep reading. Even if you don’t like mushrooms you should probably know this recipe anyway. Just in case. You never know. These portobello mushrooms are to die for, so it’s a good recipe to have in your arsenal.

Prior to this fated evening I had only ever grilled portobello mushrooms. Yes, I’m new here, despite this the recipe was easy to follow and resulted in delightfully scrumptious mushrooms. Find the original Eggton recipe/description here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press (Eggton says chopped is fine, but I hate chopping garlic)
  • 12 oz. portobello mushroom caps, cut into 1/2″ strips
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Ingredients assembled! (Ignore the eggs, those are for something else)

Directions:

  1. In a medium or large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. When it’s hot, add the garlic. Sautée for a minute. Make sure the garlic isn’t browning or frying up. 
  2. Add the mushrooms, salt and thyme. At first, the skillet will be dry except for the oil. 10-15 minutes into cooking, they will be dark and will have released their water content into the skillet. 
  3. At this point, add the sugar and the vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, at least 5 minutes more, until most of the liquid in the skillet has evaporated.

Since I had only ever grilled portobello mushrooms, I had no idea what Eggton meant by a dry skillet. This is what she meant.

Aaaand wet.


Eggton recommends that one spoons the mushrooms over goat cheese on toasted bread and drizzle with olive oil and coarse salt. (Sounds ridiculously fantastic). Or toss on salads, put in omelets, incorporate into pasta sauces, what have you. 

Now, I do like Eggton’s serving suggestions, but let’s be real. These mushrooms are so good you’ll just end up slurping them all up while standing over the still hot frying pan like I did. Be real. Be like me.


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thanksgiving, y’all!

Here in Sweden Thanksgiving is not a national holiday. Which means I was in class. Despite the numerous e-mails arguing to the contrary, my professors saw it imperative to hold our seminars as scheduled. Though they failed to provide me with a better explanation for it than “this is Sweden”.

A what I’m getting to is the fact that we had Thanksgiving dinner last night. It was a gleeful event, where family and friends joined us at our place for food and fun. Everyone said they enjoyed the American style food, so we’re just going to have to take them on their word.

Not pictured: green bean casserole á la familjen Johnsson, cranberry sauce & sweet potato casserole.

 We fit 14 people around our table(s), which is just about maximum capacity. 

This photo is the first time I’ve considered getting/seen the need for a selfie stick. That being to avoid weird corner faces. Now I know.


Hope y’all had a great Thanksgiving, whenever it was celebrated. There’s so much to be thankful for.


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what is fika?

Listen up! This is important. Open your eyes now, people, you’re about to gain some knowledge!

An immediate differentiation should be made, that fika and FICA are two very, very different things. The latter is a taxing system that funds Social Security and Mecicare. That’s definitely not what this is about. The former is what we’re here today to discuss.

Fika, with the all important “K”, is a Swedish tradition, incurred daily, which allows for the intake of caffeine and sugar. Some argue that this event should take place at 2:30 pm on the dot, but I’m not here to set the rules, I’m here to enjoy the party!

In this instance, when I say party, I mean an often quiet moment during the day where you sit down with co-workers, friends or family and take a second to enjoy their company. As well as the aforementioned sugar and caffeine. Not to be confused with the British tea-time, Swedish fika is a beast of its own.

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Fika can actually happen anytime, anywhere. From meeting up with friends at a local café or in the comfort of your own home alone or with your favorite family members (let’s be honest, we all have favorites). Swedes can fika in public, from outdoors in a park with a homemade selection of sweets and a thermos of coffee to riding a SJ train from Malmo to Stockholm in the dining car. Fika isn’t only a daily break from the hustle and bustle that is our fast-paced lives, it’s a lifestyle of taking the time to stop and smell the coffee.

As previously mentioned there are no rules when it comes to fika, but one of my favorite treats to enjoy with my coffee are Swedish chocolate balls. (If you know anything about me you know how extrememly dificult it was for me to decide on just one treat). Here’s the recipe so you too can enjoy a moment of Swedish fika in your busy busy day:

Ingredients:

  • 2 dl oats
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cold coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 150g butter 
  • Coconut shavings or sprinkles or both


Directions:

  1. Convert everything to cups if you don’t have a deciliter measuring device. I’ll help you get there by telling you that 1 dl is 0.42 cups.
  2. Mix all ingredients except the coconut/sprinkles in a bowl.
  3. Roll mixture into balls. Larger balls will be about 1.5 inches in diameter smaller balls can be about 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Pour a small amount of coconut (or sprinkles) on a plate, one or two handfuls will be enough to get started. Coat the balls with coconut or sprinkles by rolling them around the plate. As the coconut/sprinkles run out, add more to the plate. 
  5. Makes about 14 large balls or 20 small balls.







Side bar: For those of you who like words, I just had to check the etymology of the word “fika” and according to professor Lars-Gunnar Andersson at the University of Gothenburg the word fika comes from an alternate form of a Swedish word for coffee (kaffi). The word “kaffi” is cut in the middle and each side swapped, as a type of slang (since that just seems like the easiest kind of slang there is…) which results in “fika“!


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the eggton

Eggton, the awesome blog which I dedicatedly stalk follow, is wittily named after Eggton’s own invention: The Eggton.

I know you just can’t wait to find out what this concoction will be! The wait is over my friends, the secret is revealed!

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The Eggton is the genius combination of croutons and scrambled eggs. The harmony between which create an absolutely scrumptious breakfast experience. Let’s get cracking! (I couldn’t resist).

Original recipe found here.
Ingredients:

  • a small pat of butter
  • a small handful of croutons
  • 2-3 eggs
  • a little of your favorite cheese (optional)
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium to low heat.
  2. Toss in the croutons.
  3. Crack the eggs into the skillet.  Cook for a minute before breaking the yolks.  Break the yolks with your spatula and toss the eggs with the croutons, coating evenly.
  4. Add some cheese if you like.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and cook until desired doneness.

I went with croutons seasoned with garlic and parsley, and Eggton agrees that croutons with garlic are a good way to go. Just writing this post has me looking forward to Sunday morning breakfast!

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eat christmas food

To all you happy folk enjoying Christmas Day today I’d like to take the chance to share with you what we here in Sweden eat on Christmas Eve.

As I mentioned yesterday, in Sweden, and much of the Northland, Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve. In Sweden that means tons of good food.

Christmas food 2015

pictured: boiled eggs with caviar, shrimp & skagenröra, red beet salad, mustard, brussel sprouts and ham

Christmas food 2 2015

sylta, sill (pickled herring), salmon, smoked salmon, smoked shrimp and bread

Christmas food 3 2015

pictured: ribs, prinskorv, brown beans, meatballs

Christmas food 4 2015

pictured: brown beans, potatoes (in the silver pot), Janssons frestelse and västerbottenpaj (cheese pie)

If you find yourself in North America, and unable to enjoy this smorgasbord don’t fret!

Side bar: Smorgasbord is one of the few English words deriving directly from Swedish.

Head over to your nearest IKEA in the coming days, and you too can enjoy all this goodness. Though there’s no guarantee it will be as tasty as the homemade food here in Sweden. Actually it’s highly unlikely, but you’ll get the Swedish experience at least!

Dessert may vary, but yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas cake. It tasted like peppermint! As per the Swedish usual, dessert is always accompanied by strong coffee.

Christmas cake 2015

There was of course the classic ris a la malta. Enjoyed with lingon berries and saftsås.

Ris a la malta 2015

Merry Christmas from my home to yours.

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lucia

Today is Lucia in Sweden. Possibly other countries as well but I’m not as updated on their traditions. Lucia is a holiday which isn’t celebrated in the US, and as such was completely new to me when I moved here.

As I’ve written about the history of the Lucia celebration previously I won’t bring it up in detail again, but feel free to check out the post here!

This year Lucia lands on a Sunday and by some miracle we don’t have a hockey game. So Evelina and I will be baking lussekatter, eating gingerbread cookies and drinking glögg (Swedish spiced wine, which comes in both alcoholic and non alcoholic varieties).


Happy Lucia!

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