Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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it’s christmas time

Merry Christmas to you and yours! Here in Sweden we had our celebration yesterday. Good food was eaten, toys were opened, and the merriness was abundant. 





Here’s hoping your day is full of love, peace, happiness and joy.

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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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twice-baked potatoes

These are actually Rebekah’s twice-baked potatoes. I don’t actually know Rebekah, but she knows her potatoes! Eggton posted about these scrumptious spuds a while back, and as usual her pictures make me want to eat my computer screen.

I haven’t changed the instructions much, but definitely check out the original post here.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. of olive oil (or a little bacon grease, for the true Southern experience)
  • a few dashes of kosher salt
  • 4 Tbsp. butter (half a stick), cut into a bunch of smaller pats
  • 3 oz.+ whipped cream cheese spread (buy an 8-0z. container)
  • 1/4 c.+ heavy whipping cream (buy a half pint)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 c.  grated cheddar cheese
  • a dash of cayenne pepper

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Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (Or 205 centigrade).
  2. Thoroughly scrub and dry the potatoes and poke a bunch of holes in each with a fork.  Rub olive oil into the skins, coating them thoroughly. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt. (I chose to generously sprinkle).
  3. Bake 45 minutes to an hour or more, until they give a little when handled with a potholder or they’re tender when pierced with a fork (it’ll depend on the size of your potatoes). Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool enough to handle (Eggton says you can just proceed here if you want, holding them in a towel or something – I was afraid of burning myself so I waited). In the mean time reduce the heat to 350 degrees (176 C).
  4. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the insides with a spoon and transfer the insides to a mixing bowl.  Be careful to leave a little potato flesh on the skins so that the potato skin stays up like a canoe.  (If you dig too much out from the side walls, the papery skins will tear or collapse inwards and it’ll be harder to fill.)
  5. Add the butter and the whipped cream cheese to the baked potato and beat in a mixer until smooth.  (If you don’t have a mixer, you could use a potato smasher.)  Beat in the cream and some salt and pepper. Taste it. Here’s where Eggton adds more whipped cream cheese and more cream because, you know, what the heck. Some people also throw in pieces of bacon, green onions, and some grated cheddar at this point.
  6. Mound the baked potato mixture into the potato skins you hollowed out. It’s okay if the filling rises above the brim of the skin. Sprinkle some of the grated cheddar cheese on top of each and then sprinkle with a dash of cayenne if you want. (You should want the cayenne).
  7. Place the potatoes back on the baking sheet and return them to the oven until they’re heated through and the cheese is melted.

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I love me some potatoes, and I love me some cheese, so the combination is always a hit with me. I made some with less cheese for Evelina, promptly forgot which were which and we just ate them as they came. Try out the recipe, let me know what you think!

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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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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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