Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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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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roasted vegetable salad with kale & kamut

As per the usual Eggton delivers again. I found this recipe here, and made a few modifications I will be sure to tell you all about.

Yesterday I went shopping to purchase the following ingredients for this scrumptious dish.

Ingredients:

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

For the salad:

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 6 c. finely shredded kale leaves (remove the stems first)
  • 1 c. uncooked kamut
  • 3 c. mixed roasted vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, eggplant, zucchini or mushrooms, in bite-sized pieces

In advance I, of course, read this list. Lovely! I thought to myself, as we had many of the items already at home. I was in the store to buy the fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, kamut, parsnip, & zucchini. I’m the only zucchini eater in the house, so we don’t usually have it around. I also love parsnip, so I just had to roast it up and add to the salad.

Eggton’s recipe actually calls for farro. I don’t know what farro is. Sweden does not know what farro is. I tried asking for it in the store, even had my smartphone out with a picture and everything. That guy still thinks I’m crazy. On second thought, he may not have been an employee.

I decided to go with kamut for two reasons, one it’s PN approved. (Curious about my Precision Nutrition experience, click the PN tab above!) Two, it exists in Sweden.

With my spoils in hand, I biked on home. Whipping out the trusty smartphone once again, I examined Eggton’s directions.

Directions:

  • If you don’t have left-over roasted vegetables, roast some.
  • In the meantime, put all the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a jar, close the lid, and shake until combined.  If you taste it, don’t worry: the balsamic flavor will be stronger than in most dressings, but it will be fine when tossed with the salad.
  • Cook the kamut according to the package directions, adding a little salt to the cooking water.
  • In the meantime, put the kale and the tomatoes into a bowl.  When the kamut is done, drain it and immediately add it to the kale and tomatoes.  (You want it to still be warm so that it wilts the kale a little.)  Mix in the grilled vegetables and toss with most of the dressing.
  • Let the salad sit on the counter for a few hours so that the flavors meld.  Taste it and add the remaining salad dressing if desired, and season with salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve the salad at room temperature and then store it in the fridge.

I did my best to follow the directions as directed. I did not have left over roasted vegetables, so I chopped up carrots, parsnip, zucchini and peppers in relatively large pieces. On foil I carefully spaced the carrots and parsnip onto the baking pan, adding a light cover of olive oil and chopped garlic and a sprig of rosemary to the mix for flavor. I allowed the carrots and parsnip to roast for about 15 minutes before I added the zucchini and peppers. These vegetables are much softer and waterier, so they will roast faster. (Waterier is a word – right?) I popped everything back in the oven for 30-40 more minutes.

Then it was time for the dressing. Remember how “lovely” I thought it was that we had most of the ingredients already at home? Turns out we had exactly 1/4 a cup of olive oil and exactly 1/4 a cup of balsamic vinaigrette. We have an oil & viniager salad sprayer, and I actually had to sprits out approximately 1/8 of a cup of vinaigrette. I don’t recommend that. It did work out in the end though. Also, a good to know tidbit is that the size of the jar does not need to be large. A smarter woman than I would consider that 1/2 a cup of liquid with one teaspoon of mustard plus a bit of herbs will not make much dressing. Instead, this is what I did:

dressing

Left: The jar size I used. Right: The jar size I should have used.

I didn’t cook the kamut according to packaging instructions either. Coach Ryan in PN instructs us clients to boil grains & beans by using the amount desired covered by 2-3 inches of water. Those of you who don’t have access to Ryan’s awesome videos should know that while boiling, test for readiness by tasting (you’re looking for a tender grain/bean), then drain excess water. That guy knows his stuff, because that’s what I did, and it went swimmingly.

Continuing on to the fresh vegetables I attempted to measure one pint of cherry tomatoes. Actually I got baby plum tomatoes. I don’t know the difference, they seemed similar in size, and the baby plum tomatoes looked much more appetizing (and came from Holland – a short distance from Sweden for the geographically impaired).

Not how to measure tomatoes.

Not how one measures tomatoes.

I think I got about the right amount of tomatoes in the end, so I moved on to the kale. This was another item we already had at home. However, it was not pre-finely shredded. I’m not sure if you can buy kale that is finely shredded for you, but regardless, I did not have that. My first instinct was to take out the cheese grater and grate my kale. This is not possible, so don’t try that. I ended up chopping it. Forgetting that the stems were to be removed, and playing a grown up version of Where’s Waldo as I inspected my chopped kale attempting to remove the stems.

chopped kale

Getting the tomatoes, kale and kamut into one bowl was by far the easiest step of the day. By this time my roasted vegetables had roasted, so I removed them from the oven, cut them into bite sized pieces, and added them to the mix. Eggton suggests adding some of the dressing first only adding more later to taste, I just went all out, and I’m glad I did. It wasn’t that much dressing to begin with, in my humble opinion, so using it all was a good call for me. Then I added salt. I love salt. If you ask me, more salt is more salt. Do it.

Despite the setbacks the salad came out wonderfully.

a finished salad

I hope you can learn from helpful tips (read: embarrassing mistakes) so that you have tremendous success with this super delicious salad.

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the best kebab in all of sweden

That’s right I said it. As you may recall…or probably don’t because it is a minute detail in my life, and as a rule other people are most often less concerned about minute details in other’s lives as they are about minute details in their own lives…but I’m rambling.

As you may recall, I have claimed to taste the best kebab in all of Sweden. And I will fight anyone who says otherwise. As long as you’re not bigger and stronger than me. Then you can have it your way. I’m a lot like Burger King…when you’re bigger and stronger than me. Now I’m rambling again.
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Kebab Huset, translated to The Kebab House serves the best kebab in all of Sweden. I have had it in rolls, on plates with fries and on pizza. It is just the most bestest kebab. That’s the way it is. My recommendation to you is to make your way to Sweden at your earliest convenience to eat this lovely Middle Eastern dish. I’m not saying this is the best kebab in the world, I don’t have the data to make that claim, but this stuff is good. GOOOOOOOD.
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I was most recently at Kebab Huset with my brother dearest. We had spent the day gallivanting around rooftops and taking pictures. This is what that looked like:
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rooftops 1
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rooftops 2
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I require him to eat kebab at least once when he comes to visit. He likes it. I’ve decided. Since we had worked up quite an appetite after all he gallivanting, it wasn’t hard to convince him. The kebab roll was our kebab of choice:
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kebab
Clearly I’ll be seeing you soon when you all come rushing here to eat kebab. Can’t wait.
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happy birthday dad!

Last year on my Dad’s birthday I shared one of my earliest memories. With him and with you all.

This year, luckily, I was able to be home to celebrate with my Dad and family. Not on the actual day…but weekend before is pretty damn good when you live an ocean away. That’s what I say.

We watched my Dad play soccer and had a cook out. The soccer game was a good match, where Dad was in net. Or he was in net up until the last 20 minutes, where he came in and put one away. That’s right, he had a shut out and a goal, quite the Sunday morning. Dad’s goal brought the score to 4-0. An exciting game to watch on a beautiful fall day.

Dad's soccer day

Dinner was also good.

dinner time!

And of course there were presents.

Dad's birthday 2013

So: Happy Birthday Dad! Grattis! Congratulations on another year well lived.

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