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.
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!
As my son pointed out -Mum, you’re doing everything the wrong way around! True that, the other day I spent all day in the garden getting drenched in the rain and today I spent all day in the barn and down the basement even though the weather was glorious. I’ve definitely caught the wet plate bug again. Yesterday was Wet plate day and I got a few plates made but today I started in the morning and carried on until the cats started naming me for food at 6pm. Decided that every year around this time I will do portraits of my family and me(well the husband was too busy baking and sleeping, maybe next year…). I called in my daughter to help with the exposure for my “selfie” and after it was her turn. I lectured her about how important it is to sit still for 20 seconds, she answered -Piece of cake! My answer was -Well you think you sit still but then when you see the picture you will see what I mean. Pah! She won the sitting-still-competition big time.
Thought I would get most of the bottom frame for the floor done this weekend but turns out I bought the wrong fastening thingies at the wood shop. Chose the biggest ones thinking the bigger the better and sturdier but realised they were for wider boards and of no use for me. Anywho I got lots of other things done. My neighbour lent me a carjack to lift part of the old floor that I’m leaving as it is. I didn’t dare to lift it up all the way to make it completely straight, the barn was creaking and I’m afraid it will do more damaged than good. Now it’s not sloping as much though and I could get the old beam out from underneath that it was resting on. Put a big rock and some wood under instead, big improvement. Then I cut all the pieces to the garden fence that I’m building, to stop the chickens from escaping ten times a day. Oiled them and left the end bits in oil over night. My cousin lend me his electric saw so that was a piece of cake. Well it actually took me a while to figure out that the saw was cutting about half a centimeter off of what I had measured. Instead of measuring every time I used the previous piece as a template so they were getting shorter and shorter… Never mind, it’s a great learning process. In between I did some Cyanotype printing in the sunshine. The only good thing about long dark Swedish winters is that you appreciate the sun coming back even more! The chickens are also loving the sunshine and kept me company. My husband kept busy baking all day so I had freshly baked sourdough bread with strong smelly Danish cheese and Nam prik pao for lunch, yummy!
Well my food-loving husband was right about the Cronuts, see Baking bonanza. Now he’s predicted that Byalis will be the next trendy thing. Didn’t do any storm chasing with my camera because it pissed down most of the day. Instead I spend some hours on the sofa with my seed catalogues and a good book while my husband kept busy in the kitchen. He’s started with best-ever-bagels last night. After they are rolled out and shaped they sit in the fridge over night and today he cooked them for a minute in barley syrup and water and then baked in the oven. So for lunch I had warm bagels with homemade hummus and ajvar, yummy! Then it was time for the Byalis. They are apparently from Poland but are becoming a hit in New York and if he’s right, here in Sweden in a year. Personally I don’t see the big thing, it’s just a like a bagel with fried onions and poppyseeds in the middle but it was still very tasty. Now there’s a Pain Ancienne a cold fermented dough waiting to be put in the oven tomorrow. The list of breads that my husband succeeds in perfecting is getting longer by the day! My favourite is the Focaccia that he makes for special occasions like New Year or payday weekend. A light fluffy Focaccia brushed with garlic oil, halved and filled with mozzarella, charred spring onions, Serrano ham and of course lots of chilli, baked in the oven until the cheese melts. Oh and don’t get me started on the pizza… he’s managed the perfect pizza base, we had peperoni pizza 4 times over Christmas. Can you tell I’m getting hungry?