Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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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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gender reveal party

Now, my avid blog readers will already know the ending of this story, but I’m gong to tell it anyway. The journey is the destination, man.

I don’t know if you’ve explored the baby side of social media recently, but according to that, gender reveal parties are all the rage. From the get go it sounded  to me like an awesome opportunity to eat cool colored cake, so I was in.

Gender reveal parties can be done one of two ways. Either a special someone is designated to find out the gender of the coming baby, keep that a secret from the couple and all other humans, and help make the appropriate color schemed surprise. Or the couple finds out the gender of the baby and no one else knows until the big reveal during the party. Evelina and I went with the latter option.

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After deciding that we needed to figure out how to do the big reveal. Pop a balloon filled with blue or pink confetti, open a present/box whose contents reveal the gender, be sprayed by our loved ones with the correct color of paint…the list is almost endless. We went with the tried and true method of cutting into a cake, and letting the cake do the talking.

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Now, for games and entertainment. A prerequisite of attendance was a specific dress code, everyone had to wear pink or blue, depending on which gender they thought the baby would be. When our guests arrived they were conveniently divided into two teams as determined by their clothing choice. Before dinner was served our guests could guess the baby’s name, by writing it on the appropriate colored paper. We also played a quiz game where Evelina and I had written questions about common superstitions about pregnancy symptoms that can reveal the baby’s gender. Each team answered the questions, and the winning team won the honor of being victorious.

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After dinner it was time for dessert, or as we say in Sweden, fika! Since Evelina and I knew the gender of our little one, we were the ones to order the cake to match, covered in white with the words “It’s a…” glazed on top. That evening our guests gathered round in suspense as we cut into the cake, finally revealing that we were expecting a little girl!

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chilled honey oats

In keeping with my 30 before 30 list I’ve made one of Eggtons recipes, this time chilled honey oats. For a while now I’ve wanted to try out refrigerating oats, there are a ton of recipes and tasty looking pictures these days on social media that have enticed me to finally do it.

Though I really have no idea how so many people can take such nice pictures of oats. Seriously. It’s ridiculously difficult.

As per the usual I followed Eggtons recipe essentially to a T.

  
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. whole milk (or cream)
  • 1/2 c. of your favorite yogurt
  • 2 tsp. honey (can substitute agave nectar – though I don’t know what this actually is)
  • 1 tsp. chopped orange peel (from 1 orange)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 2 tart apples (such as granny smith or pink ladies)
  • other fruits or berries (optional)
  • nuts (optional)

  

  

Directions:

  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight (I chose over night, because I wanted to eat the oats for breakfast).
  2. Prior to serving, peel the apples and shred them down to the core using the side of a cheese grater that you’d use to shred cheese for a pizza. Do this directly prior to eating so your apples don’t turn brown.
  3. Toss the apple into the mix and stir to combine.  Taste it.  Adjust the consistency and flavors as desired–you can add more orange juice for acidity, milk or cream to thin it out, and honey to pick up the sweetness.
  4. Serve with berries, other fresh fruit, and your favorite nuts.

  
The mixture can be refrigerated again and eaten again the next day. Which is, of course, what I chose to do.

  
Definitely don’t forget to check out Eggton’s page for much prettier pictures. I think I need more sunshine, that’s how to get my oats to look better…

 


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france 

Only you have to say it in French…”Fraaance”. Also feel free to be a little snooty about it, but that’s optional.

Balcony views

Balcony views

In October Evelina and I travelled to Paris. My cousin has been living there for about a year with her husband and daughter and now their new-born son. Though his arrival was after our visit. Evelina and  had a great time visiting with them and catching up. The last time I had seen my cousins daughter she was only three months old, so it was quite different to get to play with her as an almost three-year old in the parks of Paris and bounce up and down on a seesaw beside the Notre Dame.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Seine

Evelina and I loved Paris. As they say the city is for lovers.

Eiffel Tower in the sunshine

Eiffel Tower in the sunshine

Walking around Paris

After we got home I took the opportunity to work on number 15 on my 30 before 30 list. I made a map matte.

Here’s the example picture I found on Pintrest:

Pintrest

And here’s my crack at it:

my frame

I just loved the idea of using a map as a matte! I got in almost everything in the matte that we did/went to. We stayed by the Eifel Tower, visited the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, as well as strolled along the Seine eating baguettes in the sunshine.

Louvre

Paris is for lovers

Paris is for lovers

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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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god jul

A Merry Christmas drawing I recieved on my last day at work before Christmas break.

A Merry Christmas drawing I received on my last day at work before Christmas break.

Today is Christmas Eve! That means that we’ll be celebrating today here in Sweden! In Sweden it is tradition to watch Kalle Anka (or Donald Duck) on Christmas Eve before opening the presents. Kalle Anka is a Christmas special that I don’t believe has changed in the past 50 years. And yes, you heard me right, in Sweden we wait until the night-time to open gifts.

This really bummed me out until I realized that we still open gifts a whole day before we would were we in the U.S. So to all the Swedes out there: God Jul! And to all the Americans that have yet to open your gifts: SUCKAS!

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memory lane: welcome to spain dracula!

Spain part 3 of 3. The final installment. Join me today along memory lane back to my 25 before 25 list. Number 16: visit a friend at their new residence.

“Welcome to Spain Dracula!” Katie shouted to me across the bus station.

Not really. But maybe she should have.

Since we don’t live in a fake Tina Fey improv session, when I arrived in Don Benito Katie walked across the train station and introduced herself to María-José. As you remember, my new friend.

Spain pt. 3.1

After saying farewell to María-José, Katie and I made out way to Katie’s place of residence for the past year. The difference between Madrid and Don Benito was striking. Just taking the short stroll through the city center to Katie’s apartment made that clear. Don Benito is a charming little city, where Katie was working for the year as an English teacher. Her time in Spain was coming to a close, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to travel Spain with a new native. (You become a native in a year….right?)

Spain pt. 3.2

Katie’s front door

The view from the balcony

The view from the balcony

After getting to Katie’s apartment (and checking off number 16 on my list), I dropped off my bags and we went back into town to drink tinto with Katie’s friends. The next day we were heading down to Sevilla so it wasn’t a late night, but it was great to meet the people Katie had spent the past year with.

Yummmm....tinto

Yummmm….tinto

Little did she know, a sun burn was on its way

Little did she know, a sun burn was on its way

Sevilla was hot. This was May, and I had just recovered from a Swedish winter, so believe me when I say, Sevilla was hot! We meandered through the city taking in the sights. Ate often at this little chain restaurant they have in Spain, 100 cervezas, where you buy tiny little sandwiches and get a pint of beer at ridiculously low prices. We drank more beer on the beach, and I managed to get ridiculously sun burnt (as I failed to heed the advice from María-José who warned me of this on our ride). Over all it was an awesome time.

Spain pt. 3.6

Spain pt. 3.7

In the evenings we ate dinner in charming little spanish squares. Where the tall buildings surround us on all four sides, yet the squares are still big enough to harbor small trees. Small children run through, laughing loudly, aided with extra energy at the late hour because of their timely siesta earlier that day.

It was in one of these squares that Katie and I had one of our conversations that I will never forget. There was the sound of a guitar trickling out a nearby open window, and Katie asked me how I knew Evelina was the one. I grinned, sipping my Spanish red wine in the moonlight and explained: It’s like I’ve found this person. I am hers, and she is mine. And everything else in the world, all the noise, it will settle down. It will resolve. there’s no need to think or worry about that. Because, forever, there will be us.

I had never before put my love to words for another before, and that evening is a moment I will always remember. For this I will always love best friends, and Spain, and red wine, and moonlight.

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happy thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving my American friends! Sweden has yet to accept my suggestion, despite the fact that I left it in the suggestion box over two years ago, and American Thanksgiving is not yet a national holiday. This means Evelina and I are forced to celebrate both the Saturday before and the Saturday after actual Thanksgiving Day. But don’t feel too badly for us, because the food is still awesome.

It’s getting easier and easier to find things like turkey, sweet potatoes, squash and canned pumpkin in Sweden. I’m pretty sure my buying four turkeys in the past five years has stimulated supply and demand here. Though they still have no idea what to charge me for canned pumpkin when I bring it up to the register.

turkey 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Yum!

pecan pie 2015

Evelina and I have enjoyed one Thanksgiving dinner with one to go, I hope everyone back home has a great day today. And please think of us this Saturday when we’re forced to celebrate because Sweden won’t give me today off from work to cook all day.

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