The last few weeks everything has centred around getting my Christmas market ready. This year I tried staying open for two weekends but sadly the weather wasn’t on my side. Rainy and windy, not many people dared to venture out to the island. Although, we still had a great time!
My theme this time was a different xmas market and I think that’s definitely what we had… First weekend I invited a tattoo artist, I got my first tattoo ever and the oldest customer also had her first one, she’s 78. I sold my analog photographs and invited a local to sell his fantastic lamps made out of old cameras. On top of that of course we had homemade cakes for sale and my husbands spicy Indian Daahl soup with freshly baked sourdough bread. We sold out of Nam Prik Phao(Thai chili marmalade) and xmas mustard. I made one quite spicy but the favourite was sweet, full of flavour, a bit of brandy and sooo nice!
The second weekend I invited a band to play, my son and students from his music school, to play acoustic xmas songs, it was so perfect in the barn. They were great!
Yesterday we got a Christmas tree from the harbour. My husband stood guard outside while I made space for the tree in our living room, apparently some kids started the big traditional hunt already(which is really not fare and totally against the rules) and someone got their tree stolen from their garden day after they bought it. If you are interested in what the Big hunt is all about check this link out: The big hunt is on! or read more about it at Easter!
Earth skipped spring and went straight into summer instead. The garden is absolutely exploding with blossom! Last weekend I had the yearly Plant and seed exchange and it was an even bigger success than past years. Loads of people both Saturday and Sunday. Some show up to trade plants, others to give, some to buy plants and some people turn up just for the fun of meeting others and fantastic home baked “fika” of course. Since my daughter turned vegan at xmas we had gluten/lactos/vegan rhubarb pie with soy whipped cream and a lovely chocolate cake. For the none-vegans we had the traditional Tosca cake and sandwiches made of my husbands sourdough bread and home smoked salmon. I ended up with some very interesting obscure tomato and chili plants and lots more.
For the weekend I had a local woman selling her traditionally weaved carpets, she was lovely company and did really well selling her carpets.
This time I tried not to get stressed out before hand and not to expect anything but I was over whelmed with all the people who turned up and had so many nice conversations!
Long time no blogging, feel like it’s hard to beat my last blog post, the Island doesn’t get much more beautiful than that…no who am I kidding, it is a small paradise whatever the weather. That said I’ve spent most of today indoors baking. Second of advent I have a Christmas market in my gallery/barn and there is so much to prepare! Last year the gallery looked great but I didn’t put any xmassy decorations in our home until a few days before Christmas. Today I washed all the windows, put the traditional lights up and also had time to pimp the barn a little bit. I’ve started baking already, the traditional Swedish Lussebullar or Lussekatter as most people say. The are buns with lots of saffron, decorated with raisins and we also put sugar on top. We also made a ginger cookie and white chocolate cheese cake which tastes very promising!
The weather this winter has been as usual varied…we did have heavy snow for a day but then it rained away. That morning with the snow the chicks were so funny. They all queued to get out as usual but froze in their tracks and then desperately dove back in. Before when we’ve had only Hedemora(a traditional Swedish heritage breed) they haven’t minded it too much but this mixed race bunch did. Only Lilja(Lilly) dared to get to the food outside and then dove back inside. He(we hoped that is was a she when we named him) is so gorgeous, pitch black and the tail feathers are growing by the day. I had to kill two cockerels last week and it was the toughest so far because they were so big and strong. Now we are hoping that Lilly will get to stay all depending on how load he will be. Peanut the other cockerel born in spring is doing great, he is so goofy but still manages to keep the flock at peace. We caught him chasing his own tail feathers one day…but if any of the hens are mean to another hen he is right there to brake it up.
Peanut with his posse
Soon I’ve picked every berry in the garden! So far we’ve made black currant cordial, red currant jelly with mint, red berry syrup and red gooseberry marmalade. The husband has made “No mango sauce”, a hot sweet fruity chili sauce with lots of canned fruit but no mango(hence the name), and the traditional thai garlic chili jam Nam Prik Phao. It’s like Santas workshop in the kitchen. I’ve also been baking loads of cakes. Every weekend during summer we keep the gallery open and soon it’s time for the yearly “Art wave”. The busiest weekend for us of the whole year. We’re planning on selling plenty of cakes, garden goodness and hopefully some of my photographs as well. I’ve invited another artist to sell her glass artwork in the gallery. She thought it would be fun to combine our products so we did a little photo shoot of her glass vases and some of the little chicks. What is it they say? Never work with kids or animals…well we had a lot of fun but it sure wasn’t easy! I made some quick prints in the darkroom before the weekend, now they say it’s gonna rain for a week so I’ll have lots of time to make more without feeling guilty about missing out on the sunshine. The youngest chicks got rained on for the first time today, they weren’t happy at all! They all let me catch them without trouble to go under the heating lamp in the basement. Growing fast I’m pretty sure they can stay out in the henhouse with the rest soon but I’ll pamper them just a little bit longer…
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.
Lussekatter (typical Swedish buns with saffron)
Santa turned up!
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!