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.
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!
This weekend we had the big Artwave at Hönö and the surrounding islands. Close to a hundred artists open up their studios or homes to the public. After more than two years of extreme labour I finally I got to use the whole barn for my pictures! Such a fantastic weekend. My husband smoked salmon, baked tonnes of sourdough loaves, banana toffee cakes and lemon poppyseed cakes and our daughter sold almost all of it the first day. I would estimate about 200 people came over the weekend. It’s been so stressful getting everything together and finishing the barn but definitely worth it. In the end of the day I was overwhelmed with all the positiv respons, everyone loved the gallery! A lot of islanders also thought it was great to have more culture and happenings and they all said they are looking forward to future events in the barn. Now I will sleep for a week and then get carry on planning the real premiere opening…
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.
Gosh and the food yesterday… My husband smoked salmon on the barbeque. He used a new seasoning for it and added a pinch of nutmeg, allspice, bayleaves and cloves to the usual sea salt and sugar. He let it soak in water for an hour before smoking so it wasn’t as salty as it sometimes has been. Best one so far! We had it with Pancanella which is a salad made out of roasted veg and roasted bread croutons, eggs, cheese and broccoli pie. Sourdough bread, crackers, a lovely selection of cheese and finished off with Banoffee pie. Oh and on top of that a tonne of easter sweets and crisps. Today we went for a dip in the sea (surprised we didn’t sink!) and tonight we will have homemade Cumberland sausages on new baked bread. I love the fact that we can produce so much of what we eat instead of buying ready made stuff. Not only does it taste so much better but it’s cheaper and I’m sure healthier to.
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!
Come Christmas a lot of families out on the island meet up and do a big bake together. It’s tradition to start early about five in the morning and bake all day. Me and my mums cousin wasn’t that hardcore, we went for a walk in the mountains and started around noon. We only set a dough with 7.5 kilos of flour plus a small one with rye flour that we made crisp bread of, still good exercise working and kneading the dough. No wonder the old grannies had such great biceps! It is not an easy thing to keep feeding the oven wood for an even heat. Not too hot and not too cool. I must say I’m progressing for every time though, by the time I retire I hope to be an expert. There are lots of recipes for Real Hönö bread, everyone claiming to use the original but we definitely have the original.
Aren’t I lucky? I love the smell of newly baked bread. We all have different ways of letting of steam and therapy for my husband is baking. A lot of baking going on this weekend(hmmm?)… No-need-to-knead-pizza, rolls, breadbuns and sourdough loaves. He also loves cooking and I got cought up in his “food-porn” as I call it, the other night. Looking at weird food news until I fell asleep. According to him we Swedes are usually about one year behind in new food trends. So in a year maybe we can try Cronuts, deep-fried butter or deep-fried Coca cola? I must say I’m not looking forward to any of it.
I know I should have spent the day planning for this weekends exhibition but I got lots done yesterday. So I tagged along with my cousin and kids to do some fishing and bbq. Nothing fancy but decided to try stick-bread, haven’t done that since the scouts.
What a great day! The bread is so simple and so nice. No fish but nevermind. When we we’re younger me and my cousin, (we’re the same age, well I’m 14 days older…)we would spend our summers on this island. Have breakfast and then out for hours fishing, and then there actually was fish to catch now it’s rare to get anything if you’re not on a boat, out until we got hungry or it got dark.
No mobile phones, no computer games, no facebook, just a fishing rod, bikes and a knife.