Monthly Archives: September 2010

Sweden’s Obsession With Leggings…


Leggy-Leggy-Leggings!

THIS fashion I really don’t get.

Honestly, leggings? Really? You have nothing else to wear than leggings? Look, I’ll be honest, I wore leggings for the 80’s and a good part of the 90’s as well… But… for my defence I was a child and not exactly the one choosing my clothes… if I have been I would definitely NOT have worn them. You see that’s why I don’t really understand why people would choose to wear them, and the thing is, Swedish people don’t just wear the boring black or marine blue ones… oh no that would be too… boring! They love wearing ones with cuts in the side, bits cut out, crazy patterns and colours… you name it, they have it in legging form.

Arghhhhhhh I mean they dress well I will admit that… but they still wear leggings. I think it should be outlawed. I can however seek solace in the fact that I know in the near future (REAL Swedish winter time) they will no longer be able to wear them (at least I hope anyway).

The thing is, some Swedes are very skinny, I mean sure most Swedes are thin, blond and sexy TRUE, but some are really skinny… like anorexic. These girls wear these leggings… and I can promise you, it ain’t pretty! I swear to you, it is sometimes truly horrifying!

Leggings accentuate your legs… obviously, in a way that either make you look better (which in leggings in my opinion is impossible) or makes you look worse… and there are various degrees of worse! Anorexic girls… like obese girls, do not look good in leggings… or at least, look ten times worse than average girls wearing them.

Anyway, on a less depressing note, I’m sure the “legging wearing Swedes” are greatly appreciated by the male populace… because wearing leggings means undoubtably wearing something very short over (or nothing at all!)… so viva the legging and viva mini skirts! (for all you men out there!)

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Filed under Europe, Fashion, Hate!, Sweden, Travel

The Greatest Cake on Earth : The Victoria Sponge


The One and Only Victoria Sponge

There is really nothing to add, this cake is the most amazing cake in existence and let’s be honest here… so tasty that I sometimes feel I’ve been to heaven and back. Yum-Yum-Yummy! You can also use, instead of the whipped cream and jam (the original) you can use lemon curd (I’ll put the recipe at the end after that of the Victoria Sponge).

Ingredients

  • oil, for greasing
  • flour, for dusting
  • 200 g butter
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 g self-raising flour, sifted

For the filling:

  • strawberry jam
  • 150 ml double cream, whipped

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5.

2. Grease and flour two 20cm sandwich tins.

3. Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla essence in a bowl or food processor, and mix well to a creamy consistency.

4. Slowly beat in the eggs one by one.

5. Fold in the sifted flour.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well-risen, golden brown and springy when pressed.

7. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

8. Spread one cake with strawberry jam, followed by a layer of whipped cream. Place the other cake on top.

The Lemon Curd Victoria Sponge

For the lemon curd

  • 2 unwaxed lemons, finely grated zest and juice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 175 g caster sugar

Method

1. For the lemon curd: put the lemon zest and juice, eggs, butter and caster sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place this over a pan of simmering water and stir continuously until all the butter has melted – don’t let it boil or it will curdle. Continue stirring for about 15 minutes until the mixture is creamy and thick. Strain it through a sieve into a clean jar, and leave to cool before using it in the Victoria sandwich cake. This curd will keep in the fridge for a week or two.

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Filed under Desserts, Food & Cooking, Love, Orgasm

Chili-Chili-Chili Con Carne!


Chili Con Carne

So Chilli Con Carne is a staple basic in most households, and this is the recipe I use… so it is obviously the best recipe you will find! Sometimes I add a bit more chilli to the recipe, this all depends on how spicy you like your food. You can also add a some chopped coriander and sour cream to serve. You can also add some grated cheddar cheese as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions
  • 700 g lean stewing beef, fat removed and cut into 1-2cm cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 800 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers, sliced
  • 3 green or red chillies, chopped, seeds left in if you like your chillies fiery
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tin of red kidney beans, 400g


Method

Heat the olive oil in a casserole,or saucepan and fry the meat until it changes colour – about 5-7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and stir for a minute or so before tipping in the tinned tomatoes,chopped chillies, peppers, and a good pinch of salt.

Cover the pan and simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the liquid reduced to a thick sauce. If it gets too dry during cooking, pour in a little more water.

Add the cumin and kidney beans (and a little of the bean liquid,if you like). Simmer for a further 10 mins before serving with rice, a spoonful of sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and and coriander leaves as a garnish.

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Filed under Food & Cooking, Love, Main Courses

Night & Day


Night

When you go to a Swedish University you soon notice that you don’t actually have that many classes during the week… well actually you hardly have any classes… Days and nights seem to blur together, you travel and visit things during the day, and work at night. You work during the day and travel and visit things during the night. A never ending cycle of fun! I personally enjoy working at night. It’s much quieter than during the day and it means you can have a nice lie-in in the morning!

In the near future in Sweden, the nights will literally melt into the days. They will in fact only be on average six hours a day of sunlight! Not being able to differentiate between day and night will be an interesting experience.

Living in another country teaches you to be humble, to appreciate where you are from and where you are going. I’m not saying you should get on your knees and kiss the ground, you should just be thankful that you are here and alive. The world is such a random place. Even our own existence is so random. We are just the end of a long chain of people, who my procreating ment that the chain didn’t break with them. Some people say that that is our sole purpose on earth, to continue our own personal path, but some people believe in a higher purpose. And that’s alright too.

It’s strange, in Stockholm nighttime feels strangely eerie… there is literally no sounds, no planes going overhead, no crazy amount of cars going past and no one stumbling around drunk under your window (well o.k, but really not often!). I like the quietness. I’ve always been a town person and living in the countryside, for now is not what I enjoy. I need to noise and bustle of a busy town, or at least I need to know that there are people around me, that I’m not alone. It is not as though in the countryside you think you are alone, but you don’t have that “presence” that I feel you have in town.

What’s amazing in Stockholm is that you can see the stars. That may seem trivial to some, but where I grew up in London, you couldn’t see the stars. In Toulouse where I now live, you can’t see the stars everyday. It’s beautiful to be able to look up and see so much light! (Which I shall probably get used to over the next few months!)

During the day, in Sweden or at least in Stockholm, the weather isn’t too cold, sometimes a bit chilly but surprisingly blue skies and sunny days too! Which as the year goes on I will be able to share photos on this site!

So until then, enjoy!

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Filed under Europe, France, Happiness, Sweden, Travel, UK

The Best Deep Dish Apple Pie Ever!


So Yummy You Will Die - Deep Dish Apple Pie

This recipe is really delicious. If you don’t want to make the pastry you can of course buy it yourself. Make sure you get the good quality stuff, otherwise it will be too thin. You should buy “pâte braisée”. This recipe differs to what French people do because it not only has a crust on the bottom but on top as well. You can also serve it with vanilla ice-cream or cream.


Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 460 g plain flour
  • 1 pinches salt
  • 460 g unsalted butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 vanilla pods, split lengthways
  • 230 g icing sugar
  • 1 lemon, finely grated zest only
  • eggs, for brushing

For the filling

  • 6 Cox apples
  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 twists of black pepper
  • 1 vanilla pod


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5.
2.
For the filling: peel and core the apples, cutting into half and then half again and put into a bowl.

3. Mix into the apples 100g of butter, 100g of sugar the spices and vanilla pod halved. Set aside for the flavours to infuse.

4. For the pastry: mix the flour and salt together. Make a well in the centre and add the soft butter, egg yolks, vanilla seeds, the icing sugar and lemon zest. Bring together into a firm dough.

5. Roll out half of the pastry, fit into the base of pie dish and then chill for 15 minutes. Once removed from the fridge fill the pie base with the apple mixture. Roll out the other half of the pastry for the lid. Place on the top of the pie and press the edges together. Brush with a beaten egg.

6. Prick a couple of holes in the top and put into the oven for 35-55mins until bubbling and golden brown.

7. Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream.


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Filed under Desserts, Food & Cooking, Happiness, Love, NEW!, Orgasm

Stockholm : Beautiful Skies & Strange Encounters


Beautiful Skies

Since I’ve been in Stockholm I have noticed a fair few things, but what I appreciate the most (apart from the amazing culture and the lovely people) is the sky… or more precisely “skies”.

I know that that sounds quite strange, but in Sweden the sky is different. There appears to be a more translucent quality to it. The clouds don’t obscure the light, the colours seem different, and since clouds and the sky are ephemeral, every day you notice something different. A new aspect, a new colour palette. People I notice never look up, but straight ahead, which is also a good quality. Looking forward means looking to the future, but looking up shows you as a dreamer. I don’t know who said that we should all “dare to dream” but I strongly believe that it is one of the truest things in the world. Someone who looks up, is one of the few people who dares. To look up, is to look into the unknown, and unlimited space. So while I’m in Stockholm, every day I’m going to look up, because you can’t just look forward if you don’t know what’s above you, I mean, you don’t want someone to shit on your future right?! (I’m obviously talking about a bird, in case I wasn’t clear with that metaphor!)

So while I’m looking forward and upwards, I have been lucky enough to meet more and more people. It makes me very happy to discover new people and befriend them. You can learn so much from other people about not only them and their culture, but also yourself! In french, we say “C’est par le biais d’autrui que l’on peut se connaître”, which translates as “It’s through other people that we can understand who we are”. I think this is true, and I have had some really interesting conversations with some people here. Not only have I laughed, but I have also been angry and sad, but I can’t say that I haven’t learnt anything.

That said, the problem I have noticed with most people here, is that people are not sure how to come up to you and strike up conversation, without seeming creepy and weird (which I can totally understand!). I have a technique myself, I always use some boring comment, or random subject to start conversation. For example :

– “Oh hey, I notice you speak French, where do you come from?”

or

“Oh hello, do you know where there is a good place to shop/eat/visit etc in Stockholm?”

or

“Hey, how long have you been here? What do you study?”

These are SUCH boring conversation starters, but I mean you can’t exactly start a discussion with “Well last night I had sex” or “Do you know the capital of Burma?”. People would be seriously creeped out!  That said, it is easier being a woman than a man in such contexts… A guy who walks up to a girl he doesn’t know always has a subtext to it… the woman usually is thinking “oh god, what does he want?”. Best method is just to smile, and be honest “Hey, don’t worry I’m not going to ask for you phone number and flirt with you! I just want to meet new people”.

Here at least, there seems to be a small minority of “weirdos”… that said, there are some, and I can assure you, I have had some pretty strange encounters with students who say the most random things to me or flirt with me. I hate it when guys come up to you, ask you where you’re from and then say “ohhhh you’re French AND English… so you much eat snails and roast beef. Do you eat Mcdonalds every day?” ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH! What? Whatever. Strange encounters part two, is like people who know your name and call you out even though you have no idea who they are! What is with that?

Ha! That said, I still prefer “strange encounters” to “no encounters”! So, all you weirdos out there, REUNITE and come say hello!

xxx

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Filed under Europe, Friends, Happiness, Hate!, Love, Sweden, Travel

Laundry and/or Hell?


The Dreaded Laundrette!

Ok, no seriously, laundry is hell right? Now I’m a big fan of clean clothes, the smell, the feel and well the idea that I’m not a dirty tramp is all good… but do it myself? Argh not my idea of a fun night out. Having lived by myself for a couple of years now, you would think that I would be used to it. I am… and yet I’m not. Every time I realise I have to do it, I have this deep sensation of dread come over me… and during the “cleaning process” I have the indescribable desire to leap in head first in the washer and die.

I seriously think that doing your laundry is an extreme sport. Which means for me, it’s Hell with a capital “H”. Arghhhhhhh What irritates me the most about it is that not only is there all this measuring going on (which I have no concept about, cf: my retardedness in maths and anything math orientated) but there’s a long wait involved. It’s not that I’m not patient, I seriously can… I waited YEARS between the Harry Potter books (yes yes I am a well established geek) so I can wait… but laundry waiting is a whole different thing. It’s wasted waiting time. I’ll explain.

Waiting for say… the bus makes sense, I mean at the end, you will get on the bus and go somewhere, and while you’re waiting you can… say listen to music, look around you, read or something… but you can’t do that while doing laundry… Now I can hear you behind your mac/pc (depending on how much of a hipster you are) ha ha ha, saying “Come on, you can totally do that while washing your clothes… and you’re in the warmth”. But no, no you can’t. Why? Because the noise of those DAMNED machines prevents you from doing anything worth concentrating on. I can’t describe the sound, and I have the say the smell of the damp and acrid smell of those place are on a par with the sound… arghhhhhh!!!

For me, the laundrette is hell. It’s far too hot, there’s an abominable smell… and you have to work! Argh! And when you think about it… it IS  a living hell, because you cannot escape doing it! You have no choice, so it’s a lifetimes sentence! Because you can’t exactly justify not doing it can you? So, without knowing it, we are all not only going to hell, but we are already in it!

HA take that for a change of perspective!

So, the ultimate question is, what to do during laundry? Mmm if I owned a laundrette, I would also turn also have a games console and karaoke going on too. So at least you could fill the time doing something… at least exciting! But well, it would still be Hell anyway. So really, it shouldn’t be a question per say, it should be “Laundry is Hell”.

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