Monthly Archives: November 2010

Ice-Skating 101 : How Not To Fail


Ice Ice Baby!

Actually this is just me being a bit cocky! I’ve only been ice-skating once (and that was… about three hours ago). But, in my defense, I only fell once, and I went four whole times around the rink without falling ONCE! Ha! I feel however pretty good about it, and I want to share my amazing skills with you all!

This is how it sent down. It was only 50kr at Kungsträdgården. The shoes (or whatever they are called) were pretty uncomfortable (to say the least!), but once on the ice, and after the first ten minutes it really wasn’t that hard, and I went faster and faster (but in this context I just realised that it sounds like I actually was going around very fast, but please do not get your hopes up, I still was slower than everyone else!). I was very happy to say that I went round the ice rink a few times without needing to hold the edges too!

I think the trick here is to skate as though it were roller blading, I felt like it as exactly the same (except that in my opinion the stakes are much higher due to the fact that (I think) smacking your face on the bare ice slightly more dangerous than… say on concret, but I am in no way of saying which one scientifically causes more pain or damage. Safe to say that both do, but that ice has the added (bonus?) to have a cold surface, which I don’t believe to be great!

They did play a lot of pretty lame music at the ice rink, but I wasn’t expecting Frank Sinatra or Billy Holiday anyway, so I will live with the black eyes peas and flo rida to accompany me around the ice. All I can say, is that flailing your arms about and leaning forward were my friends, and I believe my moderate success was due to these two things!

I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t so many stalls around the rink. I thought there would be lots of christmas music, with shops selling mulled wine and hot chocolate… and apart from a Pressbyran selling anything from hotdogs to drinks…. there wasn’t much. We did however take a hot chocolate which warmed us up amazingly!

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Filed under Christmas, Cold, Europe, Happiness, Holidays, NEW!, Sweden, Travel

It’s nearly Christmas : So here is the Perfect Christmas Dinner !


Well christmas dinner is different for everyone, but this is what we do every year. Now it may be a bit much, but my birthday is also on the same day as… yes you heard it Jesus Christ… so it is my favourite time or year, and yes I need me some delicious Christmas goodness to make up for the fact that I only get presents once a year ! I always serve my christmas dinner with bread sauce, cranberry sauce and of course gravy! Now I personally don’t make my own gravy, and I know it is a ridiculous reason, but I don’t like the idea of eating giblets… so I prefer the pre-bought version (Bisto). I’m also adding a christmas pudding recipe, but I hardly ever make it. I do however make mince pies, which may I say are very yummy!

The Roast Turkey

Step 1

Ingredients

  • 1 5 -7 kg turkey
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 bunch of sage, thyme and rosemary
  • 25 g butter, softened
  • 1/2 lemon or orange

Method

1. Remove the turkey from the fridge 2-3 hours before you want to cook it, to allow it to reach room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 (if oven is fan assisted, use 160C).

3. Place the onion and herbs into the body cavity. Squeeze the juice of lemon or orange over the bird and put the fruit into the cavity. Season the cavity with salt and pepper.

4. Smear the turkey skin with butter and then season with salt and pepper, starting with breast side up. Then flip the turkey and repeat on the underside.

5. In a large roasting pan, place the turkey ready to roast breast side down. This allows fat to trickle from the back down to the breast to keep it moist.

6. Roast the turkey upside down for the first 2 hours (or, slightly less for the smaller bird).

7. Remove the turkey from the oven. Now, turn the turkey right side up for the remaining cooking time (30 – 45 minutes). Protect your hands with thick towel or clean Marigolds. (You can wrap these in plastic bags to keep them clean.) Hold the drumsticks to turn the turkey.

8. Return turkey to oven for 30 – 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted. If the juices are pink, return the turkey to the oven and check again in 10 minutes. You don’t need to overcook the turkey as the internal temperature of the meat will continue to rise as the turkey rests. A dry turkey is often just overcooked!

9. Remove turkey from the oven. Tent with foil and allow to rest for 30 – 60 minutes so the juices settle into the meat.

10. Carve the turkey into the pan juices to keep mois

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Lardons

Step 2

Ingredients

  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 25 g vacuum-packed cooked and peeledchestnuts, chopped
  • 50g (or more if you like) of lardons
  • 300 g brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 3 Garlic cloves, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 chopped onions

Method

1. Drizzle the oil in  a frying pan and fry the garlic, lardons and onion.

2. Cook the Brussels sprouts in salted boiling water for 5-8 minutes, or until tender, then drain.

3. Then in the large frying pan, put the cooked brussels sprouts in and make sure they are cooked well.

4. Then put the chestnuts in. Leave to cook for a while. I like mine a bit mushy.

Goose Fat Roast Potatoes

Step 3

Ingredients

  • salt
  • 600 g potatoes, peeled and chopped into even-sized chunks
  • 150 g goose fat
  • Rosemary sprigs

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.

2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add in the potatoes. Once the water comes back to the boil parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes; drain and return to the pan. Shake the pan vigorously to roughen the potatoes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the goose fat to smoking point in a roasting tin. Add in the potatoes, using tongs to place them in the tin cut side down. Add the rosemary sprigs.

4. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning over twice during the roasting period.

Sticky Cumin and Apricot Roast Carrots and Parsnips

Step 4

Ingredients

  • 500 g small carrots
  • 500 g small parsnips, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

2. Place the carrots and parsnips in a large roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil. Scatter over the cumin seeds, season with salt and pepper and toss everything together to coat evenly.

3. Roast in the oven for 40–45 minutes, tossing occasionally in the oil during cooking, until tender and golden.

4. Heat the apricot jam and lemon juice for a few minutes in a small saucepan, stirring until you have a smooth, runny sauce. Pour this over the carrots and parsnips for the last 10 minutes of cooking, tossing the vegetables in the sauce to coat evenly. Scatter with the coriander just before serving.

Traditional Bread Sauce

Step 5

Ingredients

  • 300 ml milk
  • 150 ml single cream
  • 1 onions
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 25 g breadcrumbs
  • 1 pinches salt
  • 1 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 25 g butter

Method

1. Bring the milk and cream to a simmering boil in a saucepan. Add the onion, cloves and bay leaf.

2. Set aside to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain into a clean pan.

3. Add the breadcrumbs and simmer for 2 minutes until thickened. Season with the salt and cayenne pepper.

4. Remove from the heat, and melt the butter on top, which will form a seal until ready to serve.

5. When read to use, gently heat through, mix the butter in and serve.

Cranberry Sauce

Step 6

Ingredients

  • 170 g cranberries
  • sloe gin, to marinate
  • 150 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 2 pinches ground allspice
  • 1 pinches ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinches ground cinnamon

Method

1. Leave the cranberries to marinate in a splash of sloe gin in a shallow non-reactive bowl.

2. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a separate bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Pour the orange-sugar mixture into a pan, add the marinated cranberries and spices and simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed.

4. Leave to cool and serve with turkey. The sauce can be stored, covered, in the fridge for 2-3 days or frozen for up to a month.

Christmas Pudding

Step 7

Ingredients

  • 350 g sultanas
  • 350 g raisins, or currants
  • 150 g dried figs, chopped
  • 125 g mixed candied peel, chopped
  • 100 g dried apricots, chopped
  • 75 g dark glacé cherries, halved
  • 150 ml brandy, plus some for flaming
  • 2 apples, or quince
  • 2 oranges, juice and zest
  • 6 eggs
  • 250 g shredded suet
  • 350 g soft muscovado sugar
  • 250 g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

Method

1. You will need two 1.5 litre plastic pudding basins and lids, buttered, two old sixpences or two pound coins, scrupulously scrubbed, two circles of greaseproof paper, buttered, large enough to cover the top of each pudding, with a single pleat folded down the centre of each.

2. Soak the sultanas, raisins or currants, figs, candied peel, apricots and cherries in the brandy overnight. The liquid won’t cover the fruit but no matter; just give it a good stir now and again.

3. Mix the grated apples, orange juice and zest, beaten eggs, suet, sugar, crumbs and pour in a very large mixing bowl, then stir in the soaked fruit and the spice. Divide the mixture between the buttered pudding basins, tucking the coins in as you go. Cover with the greaseproof paper, folded with a pleat in the centre.

4. Pop the lids on and steam for three and a half hours. Allow the puddings to cool, then remove the greaseproof paper, cover tightly with cling ?lm and the plastic lid and store in a cool, dry place till Christmas.

5. To reheat: steam the puddings for a further three and a half hours. Turn out and flame with brandy.

 

 

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Filed under Christmas, Desserts, Family, Food & Cooking, Friends, Happiness, Holidays, Home, Love, Main Courses, Orgasm

You Gotta Eat Your Greens… No No I Mean Oranges!


Everyone knows that in Sweden it gets dark in winter… really early. So what to do during the night hours? Ah ha! Well that’s for you to decide. But what is important is eating your oranges… or to put it simply, you need you vitamin C!

Vitamin C is important to fight SAD disorder. You think I’m joking don’t you. A disorder called SAD? Really? Yes really! SAD stands for “Season Affective Disorder”.It is in fact a type of depression that tends to occur (and recur) as the days grow shorter in Autumn and Winter. It is believed that affected people react adversely to the decreasing amounts of sunlight and the colder temperatures. So, to put it simply, it is a disorder which makes you depressed because there is little sunlight and heat.

How do we counter this? Well there are many ways. Some suggest going in front of very bright lights for a certain period of time (which is also called phototherapy). Some say changing climats to a warmer one (which I think is pretty obvious). Of course there are antidepressant medications (but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are really suffering really badly!) but a lot of people say that eating a good variety or fresh vegetables and lots of vitamin C can help a lot too.

So, what shall we do in Stockholm right now? I think we should all run around in the sunlight eating oranges and tangerines all the while screaming and laughing and listening to crazy party music until we are all tired. I have a few friends who also recommend having sex with all the lights in too, and I’m sure that that will help some of you (but I’m pretty sure not all of you!).

So, eat your oranges!

YUMMMMMMMY!

 

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Filed under Culture, Desserts, Europe, Food & Cooking, Friends, Happiness, Home, NEW!, Sadness, Sex, Sweden, Travel

The Verbe “to Cheat” is Never Conjugated in the First Person… but is Usually in the Third…


 

...

It was said not long ago to me by a person I regard in great estime that I was the type of person who had an opinion on everything.

He is probably right. But I don’t want to judge, but I am afraid I can’t not in this case. I always go by the phrase (which is somewhat coloquial) that people should generally do what the fuck they want… as long as they don’t hurt others. Well this isn’t a maxim that everybody follows. That’s ok, we are all different but in my opinion you should never do to other what you wouldn’t do to yourself.

I’m far from being an angel. I have done some things which I truly regret and wish I could take back, but funnily enough you can’t. Growing up is all about looking back, knowing and understanding your mistakes and learning (or trying to) from them. I remember in boarding school pouring a bottle of coca-cola in the bed of a girl (may I add I wasn’t alone in doing this, and it was a sort of pay back for something she had done, but it is still inexcusable) and having her scream of shock when she slipped into bed. It was funny at the time, but it was mean and hurtful. I regret it. But I also accept that it was an “old me”. That’s not the person I am now (thank christ!). What I mean to say, getting older means we should grow up in every sense of the word. If you are old enough to drive, you are old enough to be responsible. If you are old enough to move away from home, you are old enough to make your own food and wash your own clothes, and if you are old enough to have sex, you are old enough to protect yourself… and treat yourself (and others) like equals and try not to hurt people.

In every relationship, be it friendship or more, you are bound to be sad at one point but that sadness is sometimes due to unescapable and unforeseen problems. Love is taking a risk : you know that if it works out it is the best feeling in the world, but you also know that you risk being hurt. But each and every one of us are ready to take the plunge anyway. Why? There are so many reasons, but we take that risk, and that’s what’s important.

Falling out of love happens. Not wanting the same things in a relationship, happens. Being cheated on happens. But being the cheater is a decision. Why you do it, well I’m not in your brain, I have no idea why you personally would do it. What I do know is why you shouldn’t do it.

Sometimes people cheat because they have low self esteem, sometimes because you don’t care, sometimes because you just want to. There are a multiple of reasons but there are just as many not to.

Cheating hurts others, and why do you want to purposely do that to someone? Maybe you don’t have a conscious, but I do. We all have one, and sometimes you decide to ignore it. It’s a sad story but we can’t all have a jiminy cricket on our shoulders telling us what is wrong and what’s right. That’s up to us as adults to make our own decisions. I always put myself in the shoes of the other person I risk hurting. I have been in the situation where I could have been with a guy who had a girlfriend, and I honestly didn’t care about his respective other, but I didn’t go through with it for me. I didn’t want to be “the other woman”. I respect myself. When I am with someone, it is either all or nothing. You either commit 100% or you don’t bother. Life is too short to settle for anything. If you respect yourself you want to give yourself the best.

People say you are what you eat. So eating as healthy as you can means you respect yourself and you want to preserve your body to the best of you abilities. Being a vegetarian or vegan means you don’t want to hurt animals for example and want to eat products which haven’t harmed animals. Then why cheat? So you can hurt human beings instead? Eating healthy means you want to physically be who you want to be. I wouldn’t judge someone for going to McDonalds and eating a cheese burger because it’s ok to give yourself a break and enjoy something nice a greasy from time to time. But you can’t take a break from what is right and wrong. Tomorrow murdering someone won’t be ok because “you had a bad day”. Tomorrow cheating on someone isn’t suddenly ok because someone did it to so you want to hurt someone too.

I know who I am. I may not be perfect, but I am happy to be the person I have become. We all have faults. I know I should work out more and I should definitely NOT eat that chocolate bar on my desk right now, but I know that those little things I do don’t hurt anyone. I know that I don’t intentionally hurt anyone. I know what is wrong and what is right, and those lines, at least for me, are never blurry. So for me, I have conjugated the verbe “to cheat” in the first person, but I have said it in the third. So, for those who didn’t know… this is how the verbe to cheat looks like in the 21st century.

You cheat                                 –                         You cheated
He/She cheats                               –                         He/She cheated
They Cheat                               –                         They cheated

 

Neither “we” nor “I” exists for me. But you are not me, you are you, and I know for a fact that you make you’re own decisions.

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Filed under Culture, Friends, Hate!, Men vs. Women, Politics, Sadness

System Bolaget… or Getalob Metsys (If You’re REALLY Drunk) – Which is Unlikely!


 

Woo Hoo! (not!)

Here’s their site in case what I say next is unbelievable : http://www.systembolaget.se/Applikationer/Knappar/InEnglish/

So what is this “System Bolaget”? Well to put it simply, is Sweden’s answer to pissing on someone’s parade! No really.

I totally understand where they are coming from, and after visiting Helsinki earlier this month, I now realise why! (but i’ll mention that later on). Anyway, System Bolaget is a state owed organisation (or company) who has the monopole on alcoholic beverage sales in Sweden. It only sells alcoholic drinks over 3,5 % degrees (so basically everything if you’d want to get slightly tipsy on). You see, you wouldn’t be that annoyed about that if it was only that… except that it isn’t! System Bolaget also has an annoying rule that only over twenty year olds can buy alcohol, so woo hoo for me, wah wah for anyone under that age (and on an Erasmus!). It also however has an slightly albeit understandable time table too. Weekdays (apart from Friday) most stores are open from 9 to 18 ou even (if you know where to go!) 9 to 19! Wow! And on weekends, if I am right I believe they close between three and five in the afternoon!

So if you go on their site, they will give you a lot of info telling you what an amazing system it is and whatever. Now I don’t really care about that, I mean I can really understand where they are coming from but it does also stop average people coming home from work and wanting to have a glass of wine with their meal to do so. But, after a short visit to Helsinki I do realise why it can be a good idea too.

In Helsinki, I was very shocked at the amount of drunk people outside, and I don’t mean a bit tipsy but really really drunk. Not just young people but a host of middle ages business men, young and not young me and women too. Some of these people were so drunk they could barely walk, and one girl looking like she was dead on the floor! Now don’t get me wrong, I have lived in London for a long time and I can assure you that we Brits sure know how to drink (among other things) but never have I seen with my bare eyes people that drunk and in that quantity. I am not passing judgement on the Finnish, I can remember about two times where I have been ridiculously drunk and I honestly regret that. We all learn from our mistakes.

So, I don’t know how wide spread this is in Scandinavia but if it was very common then I am not surprised that since the nineteenth century has there been the System Bolaget. What people fail to realise is that since Sweden joined the European Union, state decisions (like this alcoholic beverage monopoly) have to be vetted and agreed upon by the Swedish people themselves via referendum… and they do want to keep this organisation! So maybe we other Europeans have something to ask ourselves about. Is this the way to go or not?

If we look at Holland where Cannabis (in certain quantities) is legal, have they become a country of lazy cannabis smoking weirdos? No. They have taken the stance on legality concerning strong substances and it is thus up to the person to decide whether of not he wishes to take them. This is utter freedom. Sweden’s response to alcoholism in another stance on the situation, not banning but total control. Both of them seem to work, so maybe… and this is strange to say, but maybe regarding these issues, being moderate doesn’t work? Or is it all a matter of culture?

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Filed under Alcohol, Culture, Europe, Holland, Law, Politics, Sweden

Strömming : To Taste or not to Taste, That is the Question !


 

Stekt strömming

Many people have heard of this delicacy but many do not call it by name! Fear not! Because I and I alone have (and will again) face the devilishness that is “Strömming”!

This elusive product can only be found in Scandinavia (or is very strange and posh retail shops around the globe). You may ask why. Well it has ve deemed “illegal” to transport this product via airplane because it has been defined as a “risk”. True, it is less scary than a terrorist with a ten kilos of C4 strapped to his body but… the effect is nearly (and I stress nearly) the same!

Have I sparked your interest? Maybe I have and maybe I haven’t but he is what you have been (or not) dying to know. What is “Strömming”? It is by definition (and I quote the Swedish Tourist Board!) “…or fried Baltic herring is one of hundreds of recipes based on the smaller-sized eastern relative of the North Sea herring. Swedes often say that Baltic herring is better the fatter it is, but the truth is perhaps that all Baltic herring tastes good.”

All I can say… is mmm yeah right! Now true true I am biased in this situation because I hate fish and all things fish-related. That said I hurled myself head forward and tasted and prepared this very dish myself. (I will supply the recipe at the end, for all those who are of an enquiring nature).

You are probably asking yourself what this big furore is about. Well it’s all about the smell. Or should I say stink! It is also known known colloquially as Scandinavian rotten fish, is a northern Swedish dish consisting of fermented Baltic herring. Any of this tempting you yet? If so, then good for you! I applaud you! For the rest of you (including myself) I have resigned myself to the following : Strömming doesn’t taste that great, and nor does it taste amazing either BUT it is an important part of Swedish culture and, like Reindeer steak… should be tasted!

I do recommend however opening the can of herrings under water, such as in a bucket… and outside. The smell is lessened this way, thank god!). Strömming doesn’t look that appealing either (are you surprised?) You can buy it at a small place in Gamla Stan too.

However, I fear I have not given you enough incentive to eat it and truthfully I can’t… the only thing I could say is that you should do it out of curiosity and out of courage!

Stekt strömming – The Recipe

 

Ingredients

4–6 servings

1 kg (2¼ lb) Baltic herring filet
coarse rye flour
salt, white pepper
butter

Marinade:
350 g (12 oz) sugar
300 ml (1½ cup) distilled white vinegar (12% alcohol)
600 ml (3 cups) water
2 tbs whole allspice
2–4 bay leaves
2 red onions

Preparation

Place the Baltic herring filets skin side down on a cutting board or similar surface. Salt them and give them a few turns from the white pepper mill, then put together the filets in pairs. Roll the filets in coarse rye flour and fry them in butter until golden brown on both sides. Eat them right away with potatoes and lingonberries, as in the photo, or make a marinated version as follows.

Marinated fried Baltic herring:
Mix all the marinade ingredients and boil for a few minutes in a pot. Place the finished fried Baltic herring filets, while still warm, on top of each other in a deep bowl or dish. Pour the warm marinade over them. Let stand until cool. Peel the red onion, divide it in two, slice it thin and sprinkle on top.

 

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Filed under Europe, Food & Cooking, Hate!, LOL, Main Courses, Politics, Sweden, Travel

10 Things I Love about Sweden! (and a few things I hate!)


Well why not share what’s amazing (and what isn’t) about Sweden?

1 ) I love being able to buy coffee (and cakes!) everywhere and anywhere!

2 ) Swedish architecture! (Never underestimate a well designed building. What I mean to say, when I visit a town, I want to see how it has been changed and influenced historically through architecture!)

3 ) Shopping in Stockholm! Yes yes I know it’s cliché, a woman shopping, but shopping in Sweden is more fun and there is far more selection than in Toulouse (and more variety! Who want’s to end up looking the same? YES I’m looking at you French frogs!)

4 ) The food. Yum. Yum. Yum. The Swedes aren’t good at pick’n’mix sweets… but they sure know their cakes! Delicious!

5 ) The people (obviously). Now they are very very kind… outgoing? Not so much, but in any case they are extremely lovely!

6 ) University schedules. No really. I have four hours of lessons a week! (A WEEK!) Jealous anyone?

7 ) The nightlife! No yes I do hate paying entry to clubs (140kr a tad overpriced maybe?) but most of them are worth it (beautiful decor and good music)

8 ) Cruises. Cheap fun and you get to travel. What’s not to like?

9 ) Walking around Stockholm taking photos.

10 ) The fact that everything is clean and feels so untouched.

 

And finally a few things I hate…

1 ) The weather. I’m sorry, but arghhhhh so cold!

2 ) The price of everything! WHY DO I FEEL SO POOR?

3 ) Paying entrance FOR EVERYTHING!

4 ) The fact that the bus/metro card per month is so expensive!

5) and finally why Swedish people generally don’t come up and talk to foreign people. It’s shame because it’s always nice to meet different people!

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Filed under Europe, Sweden