Sunday, October 31, 2010

What is cooking?

Or rather, what has been cooking in our kitchen in the last month or so:

Braised lamb shanks with onions, carrots, and celery, plus fresh herbs, cooked for a very long time until the meat fell of the bone and melted in our mouths (thanks PP!). These are photos from the beginning of this dish made for Sunday night dinner.
lamb shanks to be added to stew pot lamb shank braise (no shanks in it yet)

Applesauce ('äppelmos'), 7 liters

Habanero hot sauce (sweetened with carrots), about 2 liters!:
pepper harvest Habanero and carrot hot sauce - fantastic!

Roasted jalapeno and roasted garlic hot sauce, but I have only a photo of the main ingredients after they were charred in the oven.  It is delicious!
roasted green peppers and jalapenos

Italian tortas filled with greens (many kinds, like kale, swiss chard ('mangold'), bok choy, leeks, onions), garlic, cheese, egg, and herbs and crushed chili pepper.  The dough is like a pie dough, no yeast, and we freeze them and have them for lunch.  They are so good!  Filling to the left, ready to bake to the right.

Blueberry jam on the move!

Homemade French bread:
homemade bread

Amazing pizza:  onion, artichokes, olives, and rehydrated Swedish yellow-footed chanterelles ('trattkantareller') fried in some butter... incredible!
pizza, yummy

Bits and pieces from the internet, there is more...

An amazing train photo fit for Halloween night taken by a friend of ours, Eric Williams

Really nice wooden things from Sweden.

The New York Times writes about vintage tractors.  And Pontiac (goodbye!).

The sorghum crops were taller in the old times.

Leaf blower users, move over: "In the meantime, blower foes can humiliate their enemies by citing a city of Los Angeles study that “showed a grandmother using a rake and broom took only 20 percent longer to clean a test plot than a gardener with a blower.”" Story here.

Fall is flying by, also in New Jersey, USA

beech forest, driving by
The fall colors of the forest are flying by very fast, and will soon be gone.

our road
Our road, a few days ago.

fall is here
The forest is painted.

Harlingen barn in NJ
I drive by this old, but still standing, barn everyday on my way to work, and some early mornings the sun falls just right to highlight the trees behind it.

Fading light in Scandinavia

We are losing daylight quickly now, and today is the first day with "wintertime". The sun is fading so the clock is turned back to it´s real position for half a year. Now the sun is passing south every noon, not one o´clock.

But light is fading, as you can see in this scheme over sunrise and sunset in Södertälje the coming week. Minus 30 min. But it´s only two months til it turns and daylight becomes longer again.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The world is upside down

ugly earrrings, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.
Now when you want something that looks old, unique, handmade, and special, you can just buy it at Michaels and it is Industrial Chic made in China. Fake creativity....


milestone, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

My car passed an important milestone on its way to work the other day. 9 years, 130 000 miles, and who knows how many kilometers that is?

Things that are not needed in the world

cat mints!, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

At least I think so.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Autumn garden by DH

Gentians for LS,
Gentiana sino-ornata

DH and I went on a garden visit today at Regebro´s in Trosa, Sweden.
While I walked and talked in the garden, DH, 5½ years old borrowed my camera. These pictures are his alone, composed all by himself. (All of the pictures are found here.) His interests, his views and his thoughts. Everybody has a sense of what is beautiful and kids have another perspective.
I love them, enjoy!

Autumn decay

Icy grass. We had frost again this night.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No rock in the world...

...ever grows larger. If you are a rock, you just shrink and shrink until you are sand. Unless you become part of conglomerate of course. Then it just takes you a little longer to become sand, eventually. But when you are sand, then you can become sandstone, and later sandstone rocks. Round and round they go, the rocks.
(Photo montage by Robyn Jay on Flickr, link here)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Memories of summer food...

To Die For, originally uploaded by Withering Dawn.

Fall is here in NJ, winter has come to Sweden, and while you are hanging out in the dark, remember that there will be fresh tomatoes with basil, black pepper and mozzarella next summer too. Photo by AREA of course, click on the photo to see more photos by her.

OK snapshot: "Vågrörelse" (Wave movement)

Fall in Stockholm.

in disguise?

I got a very funny autoreply e-mail today:

"I will be out of the office until Tuesday October 26.  During this time I will be partially incommunicado and totally incognito."  

Do you think Superman is out there fixing things?

OK snapshot: Slutfikat? (No more coffee breaks?)

Sweden, a few days ago.

Friday, October 22, 2010

And in the night, a coyote walked past...

coyote tracks, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

This photo is not from our house, but down in the Pine Barrens of NJ, USA. We have coyotes around here too, but you never see or hear them. You can tell coyote tracks from dog prints on how the paw pieces are arranged. The size of these tracks were about the same as a smallish labrador.

Friday surprise!

This morning the kids yelled happily, ! It´s snow! and parents with summer tires on cars, not so happy.... It was a great surprise!

This mornings view at the bus stop at 8.15. No bus came. I got a ride with a passing colleague.

Flowers and autumn yellow leaves are covered in heavy snow, 5 cm, they said it will rain this afternoon so it will go back to mud and darkness, but the sun is still shining from a blue sky at 3 pm.

Heavy snow on the Salix lowers them over the walking path, it´s like a jungle.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bits and pieces from the internet

The stone age people ate plants, not just meat! ("Of course", is my comment to this.  What is easiest, hunt down a mammoth or dig up some cat tail roots? File this scientific paper among the ones classified as"obvious research results published in major journal due to the sexy topic". And the idea that cooking came before hunting has already been suggested by Wrangham.)

Inspiration for pumpkin carvings can be found here.

And you can check out the Fearless Dishwasher here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

More clear messages

..we suddenly have an avid reader of Kurt Vonnegut in the house, after AREA got him as her school project author this year.  She is mesmerized and reads, and reads... 

For your thoughts and enjoyment, here are some of Kurt Vonnegut's most famous quotes:

"Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand."

"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance."

"Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops."

Sorry sorry, can't help myself...

...just one more photo of the Pine Barren gentian... but then after all, I am the true gentian lady, right?

Wired plant

Wired, originally uploaded by Erika Jo.

In these times of high-tech solutions, even the plants are sometimes wired. Isn't this a great photo by Erika Jo? Seen on Flickr (of course).

Saved (made..) in Sweden- needles and pins

In my sewing stool (above) I found these envelopes and sewing things. They are from our relatives.

Swedish paper clips, scientific needles in a War Pack, pins (knappnålar), needles

Inside this envelope are the tiniest needles I have ever seen. I doubt I could use them. I wonder if it is because metal was expensive by the time of WW II. I´m guessing they could well be from an earlier war as well.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blue gorgeousness

Pine Barren gentian, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.
Some flowers just get to you, right in the heart. Some flowers have colors so rich that you can't take their eyes from them. Some flowers seem to be made just for admiration, just to be gorgeous. Some flowers are just out of this world. Some flowers just make me happy.

Like this one, Pine Barren gentian (Gentiana autumnalis), seen today flowering in a meadow of already dead grass in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, oblivious to frost and drought and other things that kill off plants. There are many more photos of these incredible plants here.

In memoriam: Benoit Mandelbrot

I remember the 1980s and the book CHAOS, and the amazing fractals therein.  The most famous was (is?) the Mandelbrot fractal, discovered by and named after Benoit Mandelbrot, who died yesterday.

From the New York Times article:
Dr. Mandelbrot traced his work on fractals to a question he first encountered as a young researcher: how long is the coast of Britain? The answer, he was surprised to discover, depends on how closely one looks. On a map an island may appear smooth, but zooming in will reveal jagged edges that add up to a longer coast. Zooming in further will reveal even more coastline. “Here is a question, a staple of grade-school geometry that, if you think about it, is impossible,” Dr. Mandelbrot told The New York Times earlier this year in an interview. “The length of the coastline, in a sense, is infinite.”

Like a snake nest...

rusty chains, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

... are these old rusty chains at the Argo Gold Mine in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Ponderings on poles

How come American telephone and electric utility poles need to stand much closer to each other than Swedish ones?  It isn't that the Swedish ones are bigger and thicker, not at all.  In Sweden there is usually about 150 feet (50 m) between them, but around here in NJ, USA, it is much less.  Just a question to ponder with your morning coffee.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just a gorgeous fall photo from Flickr...

Puddle abstract, originally uploaded by weekend2008.

Clear messages

Most of you readers probably remember our previous blogpost about the WWII era British posters Keep Calm and Carry On, and their recent modifications (Now Panic and Freak Out).  Here are some new variants, for knitters, doglovers, bikers, teadrinkers, bloggers, writers, teachers, bakers, photographers, sailors, and sushi lovers, etc., all for sale over on Etsy.  I love them - clean and clear. How about this one? (That one really should have used an old model, not the current model in the image, but things are rarely perfect.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lord Sandwich was hungry....

Quote from Words of Our Modern age:

The sandwich, which is most popular with world-wide eaters, functions as a noun or a verb and usually prefers to have its name pronounced as SAND wich. Besides the more obvious occupation of being something edible between two or more slices of bread, metaphorically speaking, it also likes to squeeze in between two other people, places, things, materials, etc.; as, he is willing to sandwich an appointment in between two other meetings or her car was sandwiched between two other cars in the parking lot.

The word sandwich that we use today was born in London during the very late hours one night in 1762 when an English nobleman, John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), was too busy gambling to stop for a meal even though he was hungry for some food. The legend goes that he ordered a waiter to bring him roast-beef between two slices of bread. The Earl was able to continue his gambling while eating his snack; and from that incident, we have inherited that quick-food product that we now know as the sandwich. He apparently had the meat put on slices of bread so he wouldn’t get his fingers greasy while he was playing cards. It’s strange that the name of this sex fiend should have gone down in history connected to such an innocent article of diet.

This is published here.

Stamps of the Day: The Sandwich Islands

Welcome to the Sandwich Islands (named after Lord Sandwich, who also gave name to the food item), a previous name for the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific. This stamp sheet has 10 stamps hidden in the tropical rainforest of Hawaii.

Alternative uses...

ski fence, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

We have a saying in our family in Swedish that is something like: "All ways are good except the bad ones", implying that there are many ways of doing things, and some things just don't work out the way you thought. Here is an innovative new way of using broken skis as a fence in Colorado. The photo is from Idaho Springs in the Rockies, a place that is also home to the Argo Gold Mine and the Argo Tunnel. We stopped by the mine and admired the old rusty machines and restored mining building through the locked fence. More photos of Argo here.  It is amazing how much old history is visible in the Rockies.  Here there are no vines (grapes, rosebushes, briars, etc.) that are covering up the old buildings, and the dry air preserves both wood and metal much longer than the eastern and southern humid summers.  There are also a lot less people, more space, so a metal nail that was dropped 80 years ago, might still be laying on the side of the road. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Maybe the best sandwiches in the world?

Sometimes I get really homesick for Swedish food.  I was just downstairs in the kitchen and opened the fridge and thought about the Swedish things that are great but hard to get here in the US.  So here you go, my list of the best traditional Swedish sandwich toppings (smörgåspålägg [ha, there is a Swedish word for you Americans to master!]), in no particular order (they are all amazing).  I know, some of you will not agree, feel free to comment. :)

    bread at restaurant P2
- Arboga leverpastej med inlagd gurka (Arboga liverwurst with sliced dill pickles) (photo)

- Skivat hårdkokt ägg med Kalles kaviar (Sliced hardboiled egg with smoked creamed fish roe) (photo)

- Skivat hårdkokt ägg med ansjovis (Sliced hardboiled egg with anchovy-pickled herring sprats [these are not real anchovies]) (photo)

- Skivad kall kokt potatis med kaviar (Sliced boiled cold potatoes with smoked creamed fish roe) (photo)

- Smörstekta kantareller (Wild-collected yellow chanterelles fried in butter) (photo)

- Räksmörgås (Shrimp sandwich, with little tiny pink shrimp, mayo, sliced boiled egg, lettuce, thinsliced lemon) (photo)

- Rökt renkött med pepparrotsvisp i tunnbröd, renklämma (Smoked reindeer meat with creamed horseradish in thin bread) (photo)

- Greveost och rökt skinka med färsk röd paprika  (Greve cheese and smoked ham with fresh sliced red pepper)

- Gravad lax med senapssås och dill (Gravlax/Brined salmon with mustard sauce and dill) (photo)

- Köttbullar (kalla) med rödbetssallad och sallad (Cold meatballs with beet salad (with youghurt or sour creme) and lettuce) (photo)

- Gratinerad varm smörgås med allt möjligt, kantareller, ost, tomater, osv. (Oven-broiled sandwiches with different toppings, such as chanterelles, cheese, tomatoes...) (photo)
    Swedish sandwiches are always open-faced (no bread on top), with things falling off them when you eat them.  That is just the way it is.  The bread can be any kind. You can make a double sandwich if you have to transport it somewhere and eat it for lunch but otherwise it is not common.

    We Swedes have much less toppings on a sandwich than Americans (well, we used to, I think Swedes are becoming richer and add more nowadays).  I only think Dutch people have less. And they put butter, chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles on their breakfast sandwiches.

    We don't cut off the crust and make little triangular double sandwiches with white mush in them like the Brits (I do like these too, but they are for people that are afraid of getting messy).

    We don't overload giant subs and heros with salamis and other meats like American-Italians (which can be great to eat, but isn't Swedish). Ever heard of a muffaletta?  They are giant. Giantly tasty too.

    We don't make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a combination I personally think is kind of... disgusting.  Each one by itself is quite fine.

    We don't make smörrebröd, that is the Danes specialty (overloaded warm or cold sandwiches you have to eat with a knife and fork - also delicious).

    Sometimes Swedes invent crazy sandwich topping combinations.  I have a vivid memory of a cousin, who will rename unnamed, who ate a sandwich with cheese, kaviar, and orange marmalade. And here is a crazy one too!

    So, what is my favorite breakfast sandwiches here in the US?  Well, since there aren't some of the Swedish things...  smoked ham, cheese and Frank's Hot Sauce...  cottage cheese and fox point seasoning...   hummus....  goat cheese...  sliced cold potatoes and kaviar (everybody else in the house thinks I am crazy to eat that)...  sliced egg and real anchovy...  marmalade....  blueberry jam (homemade, more about that later)...  cheese and pickles, or cheese and sundried tomato tapenade...

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Alternative fuels...

    In Scotland, the energy production might soon have a new scent:

    "Using samples from the Glenkinchie Distillery in East Lothian, researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have developed a method of producing biofuel from two main by-products of the whisky distilling process – "pot ale", the liquid from the copper stills, and "draff", the spent grains." (link)

    Those Scots, they are really ingenious!  And if they base it on Laphroaig, then they even have some smoke! Meanwhile, poorer people are burning cow dung and in America bad things are going on:

    "Each year, American food waste represents the energy equivalent of 350 million barrels of oil, according to new research from the University of Texas."  (link)

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    Book Review: A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird

    " I had gone to sleep with six blankets on, and a heavy sheet over my face. Between two and three I was awoke by the cabin being shifted from underneath by the wind, and the sheet was frozen to my lips. I put out my hands, and the bed was thickly covered with fine snow.  Getting up to investigate matters, I found the floor some inches deep in parts in fine snow, and a gust of fine, needle-like snow stung my face. The bucket of water was solid ice.  I lay in bed freezing till sunrise, when some of the men came to see if I 'was alive', and to dig me out. They brought a can of hot water, which turned to ice before I could use it."

    Isabella Bird is not a modern-day author, she lived in the 1800s, and traveled the world as a single, fearless woman and wrote about her adventures in letters back to her sister in England.  Her travel letters in the Rocky Mountains are collected in this little volume called "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains", now a real classic, that I happened to find right before we decided to spend some time in Colorado this summer. I started reading it on the plane to Denver, and I was hooked.

    Isabella describes her travels from San Francisco via trains over the Sierra Nevada, then to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and on to Fort Collins, Colorado.  From there she is adamant about getting up into the Rocky Mountains, where no railroads yet have come (this is before the big railroad era in the Colorado Rockies, and the mining had just started).  She buys a horse, travels alone, and takes in as a boarder at the local houses and farms along the way.  She stays a long time at Estes Park, part of it involuntarily in the winter (see above), and she also visits Denver, Colorado Springs, and passes over many mountain passes.  In time she becomes famous for her ability to negotiate bad trails and bad weather.

    typical wide valley inside the Rockies

    Her book is full of detailed and funny descriptions of people she meet, and the everyday life they live.  I would guess this is probably one of the few books that describes the often poor and miserably life many pioneer women (and men) lived out West, living in squalor, without enough food and in very harsh weather.  But she also describes nature in exquisite detail, from sunsets to conifer forests, geologic features, rushing rapids of waters in canyons, and snow and stormy winds during dark nights far from her cabin. Her feelings of isolation and appreciation of company is true.

    But what gets me most is that this is a real person writing, someone that experienced it all and wrote down her thoughts in her diary-like letters to her sister, never to think they ever would get published.  The letters are raw and honest, but beautiful and so well-written it is unbelievable she wrote them with ink pen at candlelight under sometimes very harsh circumstances. But Isabella is perpetually encouraging, even in dark or dangerous moments.

    "I rode up one great ascent where hills were tumbled about confusedly; and suddenly across the broad ravine, rising above the sunny grass and the deep-green pines, rose in glowing and shaded red against the glittering blue heaven a magnificent and unearthly range of mountains, as shapely as could be seen, rising into colossal points, cleft by deep blue ravines, broken up into sharks' teeth, with gigantic knobs and pinnacles rising from their inaccessible sides, very fair to look upon, a glowing heavenly, unforgettable sight, and only four miles off."

    This is a Highly Recommended book, I loved it!