After having two weeks of snow suddenly sun appears, everything has melted and every time you turn around a new spring flower has popped up! Yesterday I did loads of necessary chores but took some time in the sun just hanging with the chicks. Today started foggy but eventually sun broke through. I said last week we have to buy a proper pancake or crêpe pan instead of our big frying pans, this morning I went down the second hand shop in the harbour and Voila! The perfect cast iron pan. Love it when that happens! I had a coffee because they have the best coffee and it’s also nice to just sit there and look at people. At home I immediately tried out the great find and me and my daughter had pancakes in the sun on the stairs. Then she helped me clear the veg patch, chickens came to help to. They are so social and curious. I’ve spoilt them rotten so every time I go in the basement they come to beg for food. When I planted peppers Lottie actually came inside but left as soon as she didn’t find any food. I promised myself to not go through another summer without a greenhouse, problem is I want a really big one to sit in. Planning the year I realise that it’s not gonna happen without a budget and a holiday so now I’ve decided to build something in the vegetable patch or possibly attached to the henhouse. The veg patch is my worst enemy. There’s ivy and nettles taking over everything. I’m tempted to leave it but it’s such a valuable patch of land, perfect location, enough sun, shade and shielded by the worst wind. Maybe if I put five minutes every day on weeding I’ll be able to keep it in check. Think of all the vegetables we can grow and use for events in the barn/gallery!
In Sweden we have Sportsweek holiday week 7. We are probably the only family on Hönö that doesn’t go skiing. Not that I don’t want to, I have warm memories going along with other families to the north of Sweden and to Norway. Also memories from being kicked out of pubs, getting some poor guy beaten up and my friends parents forbidding her ever to contact me again. Lets not talk about that. Sooo we have had a nice lazy week but in some ways very productive. Today started with me mixing chemicals for the wet plates and husband doing a new batch of the chili marmalade Nam Prik Pao. This thai chilli marmalade is my absolute favourite. It goes with just about everything, especially nice with prawns or cheese. Also on Knäckebröd(Swedish crisp bread) with butter. It is so lovely, tasty, addictive but so stinky while you make it. Nam Prik Pao ingredients are: Fried chillies, fried onions, garlic- all ground together. Return in the oil with shrimp paste, tamarind, fish sauce and palm sugar. Yesterday we had Focaccia with mozzarella, chillies, basil, garlic and serrano ham. Today sourdough pizza, the dough rested in the fridge for 2 days, with calabrese, mozzarella and Nam Prik Pao. If my husband was home all the time I would get so fat. He is set on baking mode so we’ve had to give bread away to neighbours, no more room in the freezer, and tomorrow I’ll do a round with eggs because the chickens have been very productive as well. I’ve been spoiling them with food so everytime I go outside so they come running up and run after me wherever I go. A little bit scary hearing their little claws and they peck more at my fingers than the food when I feed them but still nice to have company out there. I sat down in the hammock outside with my daughter and said -I hope it doesn’t collapse. Sure thing it did! It had rusted so badly on one side of the hammock that it just broke off but we stayed sitting there pretending we where sat in a ski slope. Fed the chickens corn and popcorn. This afternoon I re-planted all my chillies to larger single pots and moved them downstairs because we are getting Airbnb guests upstairs next week. The majority of the family took a walk down the beach and we chose a direction that me and my daughter discovered last week, full of mystery, great photo opportunities and not too long. Great to have lived on this Island for 6 years and still have parts to discover!
There’s been some fantastic sunny days and I should have been out taking pictures but as always I do things the wrong way around so I’ve been cooped up in the darkroom instead. I love experimenting but in some ways I’m a person of habit like sticking with the same film and developer, recently everything’s changed. I accidentally ordered the “wrong” film, a new developer and my Swedish retailer stopped selling the Lith developer that I’ve used for years so I had to try a new one from Germany. I’m glad for it! The Lith prints have a lovely “pop” to them and beautiful tones. Feels like I got my mojo back. What’s even better is coming up from the basement after hours in the dark finding out that my husband’s got his baking mojo on. Fresh baguettes, sourdough bread and a large dish of shepherds pie in the oven. My daughter got inspired and decided to try out the new baking book we bought. Also a change in life, I’ve been using the same recipe book all my life, once in a while trying something from the internet but we invested in a new cookie book. She is very pretentious so one type of cookie wasn’t enough instead she declared that we had to try three recipes. The kitchen looked like someone had dropped a flour bomb in there but the cookies were great! Especially the chocolate/almond/peanut ones, gone already.
Preparations have been going on for weeks baking and making pictures to sell. Last weekend we had a xmas market in the gallery and this Saturday it’s time to do it all over again. I baked loads of cakes, biscotti and meringues. My husband made Daal and surprisingly it was a best seller! We had potato and leek for the less adventurous visitors but most people still chose the spicy Indian Daal. For this weekend I’ve baked mini meringues (chocolate, vanilla and liquorice) and some more cake. We will do the Daal and also a tomato soup with focaccia. I’ll be making wet plates of visitors that they can buy if they are happy with the result. This morning I took a break from all preparations and helped out for some charity. Sometimes when you have so much to do your head is spinning it’s nice to just take some time off and do something else, the world will seize to exist. So for two hours I sat counting how many sacks, boxes etc that the second hand shop in the harbour Hönö Klova Second Hand have collected for Rumania. They do this 2-3 times a year but before xmas it’s a bit special. They send off boxes of food that the generous islanders have given, this year 63 food boxes. On top of that sacks of clothes, furniture, beds etc. Everything is named with either the names of the families who will receive it or villages. It’s all very organised and I think it’s good to know that all the help will actually reach the goal. I did feel a bit sorry for everyone carrying everything(while I sat counting), my guess is the average age is above 60 for all of them(hope I don’t offend anyone!). In spite of bad backs, shoulders etc they had after two hours packed a huge trailer with 200 sacks, 120 boxes, 14 beds, a freezer, 3 hospital beds, a wheel chair and a lot more. Very impressive I think!
It turned into a very productive Halloween! Halloween is still very confusing for most Swedish people. It didn’t make it here until a few years ago and every year Facebook is flooded with questions and statements about when to actually go out to do the trick-or-treating. I think most people confuse it with All-saints when you go to the cemetery and light candles. A lot of people also seemed to think that because the 31st fell on a Monday it would be ok to go out the weekend after. We did bunker up on sweets and the doorbell rang three times. I had my own fun ignoring the mask ban(this was sparked from the world-spread clown scare and last years shooting at a Swedish school but it didn’t register my mind at all until afterwards -doh!) and opened the door with an alien mask(cause it was still in the hallway since last year) on going -Whaaaa!!! All the kids looked a bit stunned but then asked for sweets. My daughter picked a very detailed pumpkin pattern and I thought she would give up but in ten minutes she was done!
In the morning I started this years Glögg, a Swedish kind of mulled wine, first time ever actually for me. It’s very simple. Made of cut raw potatoes, baking yeast, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, raisins, sugar and a soda called Svagdricka which is only sold about this time of year. You mix it all together and leave it for six weeks. We also made Hönö bread in our own oven for the first time. Usually it’s made in a wood oven like you can read about in my past post. It did take a lot longer because our oven only heats to 275°C, even with an oven tray over it and baking it on a pizza stone but I’m very happy with the results! Hönö bread is very sweets and fluffy, nicest when still warm from the oven or the day after I think. Ours turned out a bit too sweets but with butter and sprinkles of salt it was still yummy. We’ll do another batch before the xmas market and tomorrow we will experiment with crisp bread. If you have any suggestions for a recipe please comment!
So a couple of years ago I bought this quince tree and brought it home on the bus and moped. See Travelling tree. I was told at the garden center that it’s not really hardy for our climate but for some reason I’ve always wanted one so I bought it. Last year it grew some fruit but they never got bigger than cherries and all fell off. This year there’s loads of fruit! My husband wanted to make crumble while I had other plans for it, luckily there was enough for both of us. The crumble I must say was a failure(hope he doesn’t read my blog), quince and vanilla gone all mushy with crunchy salty crumble, nah not for me. Of course I had to top him but with the bar set pretty low I didn’t think it would be that hard. First thing I tried was making quince cheese, also known as Dulce de Membrillo, I chopped and boiled and mushed and boiled again to put in the oven. It didn’t set properly and I ended up throwing it out. Next thing I tried was quince and apple jam, that was a tastier but didn’t get any of the nice dark colour you see when you google quince jam but rather a light pinkish beige. So yesterday I picked most of what was left on the tree and tried making marmalade. I chopped half of it up and boiled, mushed and then grated in the rest of them together with sugar and lemon. After reading up on how to get the lovely dark quince colour I kept the pot boiling for five hours. Still not much of a colour change. Apparently it goes really well with Manchego cheese so I bought some and opened one of the jars (after checking on the pan for that many hours it felt like opening a pot of gold). Turns out the marmalade was really thick and jelly-like, so I tried making marmalade but made quince cheese! All in all my conclusion is I love the very special flavour of quince, bet it will be nice with green mouldy cheese like St Agur or Cambozola or with meat, but this years quince-cooking was a big failure. It’s a finicky fruit with a weird name as well- one quince two quinces? Can you really say quinces? We decided no, sounds weird, so from now on it’s one quince two quinci (pronounced as quince-I, like in rastafari). Next year we’ll have to do better!
Out of the fog, yeay! The flu knocked me out for a few weeks but now I’m back on track. Last weekend I had another photographer exhibiting in the gallery. I’d seen his fantastic photographs online and luckily he said yes when I asked him to come here. As usual my husband smoked salmon and baked sourdough bread and every ones favourite the lemon poppy seed cake. We sold many jars of blackcurrant jelly and a new chilli sauce, I call it “No mango sauce” because I thought there was mango in it. It’s yellow and made of canned peaches, apricots and loads of chillies. Goes perfect with chicken, fish and last night I had it on pizza. We had a surprise live music show when my neighbour turned up with his guitar which was much appreciated. He sang with such feeling and stomped the floor I was a little bit worried that he would fall through it. I was a great weekend and I couldn’t help buying one of the pictures for myself. There’s quite a collection growing on my living room wall…