Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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black bean soup

Eggton does it again with a vegetarian (or vegan if desired) black bean soup. Now that fall is on its way a nice hot soup is a go to meal to keep toasty warm. Original recipe found here.

Once again I didn’t stray much from Eggton’s instructions. I’ve found that’s the best way for me to have success in the kitchen. It unfortunately doesn’t guarantee I don’t get burned.

Black bean soup ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery diced (did you guys know they’re called ribs?!)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 410g cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. ketchup (use a vegan ketchup if you’re vegan)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (omit if vegan)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Cooking black bean soup

Directions:

  • In a large pot or a big skillet with raised sides, melt the olive oil or butter over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion and celery and carrot.  Sauté until the onion is tender and translucent but not browned, lowering the heat if necessary.  Add the garlic and cook another couple of minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Raise the heat to bring it to a boil and then lower it so that the soup simmers for 20 minutes (or less – but if you cook it really fast your veggies might still be a little crunchy – I seriously recommend cooking the veggies fast, so good!).
  • Purée half or all of the soup with a hand mixer (Eggton recommends a blender or food processor, we don’t have that and the hand mixer worked great) then stir it back into the pot.
  • Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as desired.  If it’s too thick for your taste, add more broth and reheat. Serve with sour cream and cheese if you like (provided you’re not vegan).

black bean soup

This soup was so good I could honestly eat it every week this fall. I won’t because then I may turn into a black bean. As the old adage goes: you are what you eat.

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i’m back, ready for action

Nip it in the butt, never relaxin’ Outkast is everlastin’ – yes, this is why “I like the way you move” was written. For this blog post. My welcome back after the summer blog post.

My posts this summer have consisted of birthday posts and book of the months. Before that I wrote that I was focusing in on a few key things in my life. Partially to give my full focus to fewer tasks with the hopes of completing these tasks at a higher quality. And partially to reduce my over all stress. It worked wonderfully. I had a wonderfully relaxing and simultaneously adventurous summer. Now I’m ready to jump back into writing, and of course share all my summer excursions here.

So stay tuned, 2015 was a summer for the books.
And one last thing: I’m not clashing, not at all.

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bike fix it day

blue bikeIn Sweden you do a lot of biking. Especially when you don’t have a Swedish driver’s license. Initially I thought having a bike would be a lot simpler than having a car. But it turns out you have to also maintain a bike. Especially one that lives outside. The outside life is a hard one. For this reason I occasionally schedule a bike fix it day, in order to keep my bike running smoothly.

Since I moved to Sweden I have had two different bikes. Both of them have been bought used, and both of them were bought in Linköping. Older bikes hold up. The bikes made back in the day were good quality bikes.

My first bike had like a million gears. Or, more accurately, 10. The poor baby broke when the gears broke off of the frame and got wrapped around the pedal. Bad day. I took it to a bike shop and ended up trading it in for another used bike. This bike has been with me for almost three years now. Ol’ reliable.

green bikeBut, like I said, bikes require some maintenance. I’ve replaced the saddle, replaced the break wire, re-strung the gears (multiple times, and I will need to do this again….maybe I should ask someone to do it for me next time…) I’ve also added a basket and front & back lights. In Sweden you will be fined $100 per missing light if you are stopped by a police officer without a front or back light. Front lights have to be white and back lights have to be red.

Admittedly, I am not an expert biker. Biking in the winter is not for me, and I’ve fallen off three times since moving to Sweden. If you think I was cushioned by a nice fluffy snow bank, you would be wrong. It was more accurately a skidding-across-ice-break-my-laptop fall, later followed by a bike-falling-out-from-under-me-in-public event, and even later followed by a face-plant-into-ice incident. I was less than impressed, but thankfully (mostly) uninjured.

Ryan helpingThis winter I needed to replace the inner tube and tire on my front wheel, after it exploded with small pieces ricocheting onto Evelina – my bad. I accomplished this task with lots of help from Evelina and Ryan. Yes, the project was completed during Ryan’s visit! Now my bike looks even spiffier with a front grey tire. It was the only tire in the correct dimensions available at the bike shop, plus it looks ballin’.

I will inevitably need to do more maintenance on ol’ reliable in the future. But I’m okay with it. It’s worth it. Despite the occasional mishap, I really do enjoy biking. It’s good exercise, good for the environment, doesn’t require gas, and is in general rather low-cost. Luckily the cities of Sweden are teeming with well-lit bike paths.

See you on the streets!

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one month ago today

I thought I would take this opportunity, during a time of merriment and cheer, to reminisce on Thanksgiving. My Thanksgiving post was short and sweet, with a super cute card I got, feel free to check it out.
Now you get to see how we do Thanksgiving festivities in Sweden. You could read last years post. Or you could check out the pictures below.
Thanksgiving 2013
Now I’m hungry.
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book of november: wuthering heights

This book has been on my “to read” list pretty much since I was 10 and my mother bought me a copy. Probably for one of those gift giving holidays. Or the tooth fairy brought it. (Yes, the tooth fairy actually brought me books. Yes, I do know the tooth fairy is real, and you cannot convince me otherwise. How else would I have the book?)

Regardless…

When a book remains on the “to read” list for that long, it usually means it’s not my style. Not a book I can really get in to, and after all these years have avoided reading. What a surprise it was to read this book. I was immediately enthralled in Brontë’s world and writing style, which made this one an exciting read.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is just what’s in order to get through the long fall nights. This book comes highly recommended by me. And Francine Prose. Check this one off the list!


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that time we went to mexico

For once I’m actually prompt about writing about my activities. Yes, this is prompt in comparison to my usual style. (Don’t worry, all the other stuff I have done will make an appearance here soon.) But let’s focus on Mexico. Let’s focus on Mexico, because now I’m in Sweden, and while we were gone Sweden got cold. Cold and dark.

That’s neither here nor there, because as mentioned I was in Mexico last month. Evelina and I travelled there to celebrate our friends’ wedding. The details of their beautiful wedding will come in a future post, because now I want to tell you about the adventures!

Evelina and I spent 6 days in Mexico. Six sunny, warm days in Mexico.

On Monday we arrived after a relatively successful flight down from Boston via JFK. The first thing we did was receive more information in an hour than anyone can possibly remember when it comes in that quantity. The second thing we did (After gallivanting around our room and taking ridiculous pictures. No those pictures will not appear here.) was go down to the beach. Of course we jumped in the water, all be it quickly. It really sunk in that we were on vacation, being able to walk from our room down to the beach in a matter of minutes and enjoy the Caribbean view. That evening we ate with our friends, and new acquaintances, who would be attending the wedding. After which we returned to the hotel room and enjoyed the amenities there. We were sure to get to bed early because we had two days coming up full of adventure.

Mexican mornings

#nofilter check out that sunrise!

We woke up early Tuesday for room service and a great view of the sunrise from our balcony. We had a big day ahead of us, so we had to fuel up. Tuesday we had planned to join a day trip to Chichen Itza and Wednesday we had planned to go snorkelling. Clearly we had big plans. And let me tell you, it was worth it. The adventure out to Chitchen Itza was both highly informational and fun. Even though it was entirely possible that our guide was making things up as he went, about 80% of it I remembered from 5th grade when we learned about the ancient Mayans, Incas and Aztecs.

Mexican adventures 1

The trip out to Chitchen Itza was an entire day trip, with a side stop at a grotto. We got to go swimming in an ancient hole in the ground. It was only recommended that you stay in the water for 30 minutes. Because of the bacteria. Maybe it shouldn’t be recommended at all that one swim in it. Of course I jumped in. It was worth it. At the grotto there was also a tequila factory, where we got to learn, in very fast, broken English, how tequila was made. Then we got to taste test it. Peanut butter was the best. I tell no lie. In retrospect, maybe you’re supposed to taste the tequila and then go swimming. A little tequila goes a long way, and by the time you’ve tasted all 9 flavors a little bacteria doesn’t scare you!!

Mexican adventures 2

Snorkeling was a real blast. I highly recommend it. Who knew that off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula lies the worlds second largest reef? Bobbing up and down in the ocean waves, catching a glimpse of some tropical fish, trying not to get roasted by the sun, and sipping beer on a boat was a top-notch way to spend the day. My favorite moment included our guide showing us a barracuda. Promptly followed by the bride to be swim-chasing it through the ocean, as the guide frantically points to the fish, to his mouth, and makes a biting motion with his hands. Yes, barracuda bite. No, you should not chase them.

Mexican adventures 3

Thursday was wedding day, and what better way to start the day than with some early morning Pilates on the beach. Or at least it would have been a great way to start the day if our instructor wasn’t ab crazy. That man had us do more ab work in an hour than I’ve done in my entire life combined. After that exhausting workout we had earned some pool time. (Plus our glistening abs looked great in the sun.) The wedding that evening was ridiculously beautiful. But as I said, more on that later.

bridal bouquet

Our first day of full relaxation was on Friday. So we spent it by the pool and on the beach.

beach finds

beach finds

Don’t worry relaxing for us includes an intense made up game, where the rules essentially were that you get points by knocking over cups with various amounts of pool water in them with a rubbery ball that is bounced across the water in the pool. Relaxing also includes an hour of volleyball, so don’t worry, we didn’t go overboard.

pool games

Saturday was travel day, but we luckily had a good chunk of sun time before we had to pack up and say our goodbyes. We met a group of great people, as well as got to spend about a week with great friends. What could be better? Mexico had a ton to offer. It was a fabulous, sunny, adventure-full week.

beach view

beach view

I suppose one might say that it was actually refreshing to return home from Mexico to the crisp, cold, rainy fall weather. One might say that. I would not.

Take me back to Mexico.

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book of october: david and goliath

No, I didn’t forget book of the month. Don’t you worry your little heart.

I’ve ranted and raved about how much I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell in previous posts, and when I found out he was coming out with a new book I knew it was written for me. And thousands of other readers. It was released on the first of the month, and LUCKY for me Evelina and I went on vacation this month. That means plenty of travel time to fill with reading a good book. Or five.

David & Goliath

In an upcoming post I will tell you all about our trip to Mexico. (And the ridiculous flight schedule it entailed.) For now I will leave you with these tantalizing pictures of reading an excellent book in excellent weather. On an excellent beach. Yes, everything really was that excellent.

reading on the beach

Malcolm Gladwell does it again. In a style all his own he connects dots in an ever fascinating way. He even talks about IKEA in this one. It’s a good read, you know I recommend it.

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