Last year I arranged a xmas market in the barn two weekends in a row. This year I felt one weekend(next weekend) is enough which gave me more time to explore the yearly event down the harbour. Last year I ran down after my closing hour but today I even went twice, once in the morning and now after dark. There are art exhibitions, lottery, crafts and the usual xmassy stuff but of course since we’re on an island a lot of it has a seafood theme to it. In the fishing museum they kept up with tradition and served fried herring on crisp bread with sliced red onion, next year I promise I’ll try some. I think I counted five prawn lotteries! For some reason I expected the prawn price to go up during the weekend but it was the opposite. The big fishing boats were “parked” by the market and a couple of school kids were selling prawns straight off the boat, I still regret not buying any. Although I did treat myself to a pair of socks for xmas and got some for my family, now I just need decide which ones to keep!
People are in general very crafty on the islands, you know xmas is coming up when all the yeast is sold out and the shopping trolleys are full with pork for sausages. I bought some home made pickled salt gherkins and had my first glögg(Swedish mulled wine) for this year. A few weeks ago we had the privilege to test bake with 3D printed ginger cookie shapes and today you could buy them on the market. Palle who does the 3D printing also takes fantastic photos at sea, my favourite was the canvas lit up from behind, genius.
Photos: Paul Hultsbo
3D printer in action
Vinga lighthouse lit up Photo:Paul Hultsbo
Copyright Paul Hultsbo
I spent all day cleaning out Christmas and also because my husbands birthday happens to fall on the day Christmas is officially over(in Sweden anyways). Gosh I must say we are probably the messiest family I know but then it feels all the nicer when it’s done! I’m not the only one on the island being busy, all the youngsters on Hönö have their hands full. From day after xmas until Easter they are out, mainly boys between 7-25, looking for xmas trees. They ditch school, stay out all night and cycle around every nook and cranny on the islands(well the older one’s have Volvos). Last night I saw a light behind the barn, a car without the lights on and heard some noise so I thought I had to check it out. Of course it was xmas tree gatherers. I told them they are welcome to look around but please close all doors behind you. They were so friendly and helpful that something in the back of my head thought -hmmm maybe they weren’t looking but actually hiding? The next morning I had a look in “veboa”, a small shed behind the barn/gallery where I keep my wood, it was packed with trees! I’m really impressed with their technique, they’ve tied loads of trees together with ropes to fit in a small place. I told them that I would chuck out my tree Friday and they were very grateful. A lot of people think this tradition is a nuisance and should be stopped but I think it’s great. If you’re curious about where the trees end up read my earlier posts The big hunt is on! and You know you live on an Island when. It will be interesting got see how long they’ll stay in Veboa before another team finds them.
…the snow never stays very long. It’s all rained away now. You know you live on an island, well especially an island in the northern archipelago in Sweden, when everywhere you go there are bits of Christmas trees and little (and big) boys in overalls biking around day and night. I talked to one of the fishermens’ kids the other day. I’m so curious of the tradition(read more here, The big hunt is on! if you’re curious) and a bit jealous, if I’d grown up on Hönö I would definitely been out chasing trees! So I ask why they all smell like smoke when they come in the shop, maybe there’s some part of the tradition I don’t know about. He says, well we start small fires here and there, mainly around where the big bonfire will be. I ask why? Because it’s fun! (well duh!) And to clear the ground and in spring everything will grow up pretty and green. Apparently they carry on until they get a warning from the fire-department and a threat to outlaw the bonfires, then they lay low for a while until the week before Easter. I also asked how the hunt was going and he said they have about 50-60 trees which is about average but expect they will loose at least half before the bonfire is built. Another perk about living on an island is fresh seafood! The other day my cousin knocked on the door, well he didn’t knock out here they all open the door and shout -hello, anyone home? Two kilos of fresh prawns straight of one of the boats. So now I’ve had prawns everyday in soup, on toast, with pasta and probably half a kilo while I was peeling them…
I’ve felt festive for at least a month. We’ve had advent times three, Lucia, got a Christmas tree and now I can’t believe it’s only a few days until Christmas! The husband got started on the Christmas food today, he planned it weeks ago. With the weather being totally unreliable with sun, rain, wind and hail he set the electric smoker up in the barn. Now there’s salmon smoking away out there and next ham and cheese. Mmmm I can’t wait!
It’s funny living on Hönö I’m finding out new things about the Island and the islanders all the time. Maybe it’s a coincidence but all the people I work with eat Lussekatter without Saffron. I questioned this meaning that eating a Lussekatt is like eating a cinnamon bun without the yummy stuff. They just shake their heads and give me the ”are you for real?” look. For me it’s one of the best things about Christmas, well it’s actually supposed to be eaten at Lucia. I remember hearing about how Saffran was so expensive when I was a child and my mum would double the amount given in the recipe, it was luxury! Maybe they couldn’t afford saffran on the island?
According to my recipe book Lussekatter are all about the Devil in the shape of a cat. Another weird mid-eval tradition that still live on. There are many different ways of shaping them but usually they look like an ”S”. You decorate them with raisins and sometimes, like I do, with sugar.
If you want to try making them yourself, here’s my favourite recipe:
2,5dl sugar, 50g of fresh yeast, 1tsp salt, 2 bags of saffron(0,5gx2), 14dl fluor and 5dl of milk. Melt butter, pour in milk and heat to 37°C. Pour some on the yeast, stir and add the rest. Morcel saffran with some sugar and add to the liquid then sugar and salt. Add fluor and work the dough for 10 min. Let rise for 40min. Roll and shape figures, let rise for another 30 min. Brush with egg, decorate with raisins and sugar. Bake in 200°C oven for about 8-10 min or when they have the right colour. I always add 250g of Kesella but don’r really know the equivalent for it in English, it’s like a yoghurt but more protein and thicker in concistensy, but this is not a have-to.
I think we can give up the hope for a white Christmas this year. There was a hail storm this morning and more stormy weather expected tomorrow. Hopefully I’ve fixed the hen yard for the last time, this morning I dug around the wooden poles and put cement to stop them from blowing over, again. The garden doesn’t seem to care about it being December. the Christmas roses are being accompanied by spring flowers coming up. time to start planning for next years gardening! Actually I have started to flick through the seed catalogue already…
Next time we’ll try the original homemade…
Hens and cockerels of course!
Last night we tried out the new gingercookie shapes, put together a house and decorated. Not bad for one evenings work. Don’t know why they call it ginger cookies in English because the direct translation in Swedish is Pepparkakor(pepper cookies)? The children tried non-alcoholic Glögg, the response was a lot of spitting and going yack, blä, usch etc. I on the other hand love Glögg(mulled wine), with or without alcohol, preferably warm with raisins and almonds.
Another tradition wich isn’t as widespread in Sweden but still there, is Mumma. My English husband asked me the other day if I had ever heard of it? He had read an article in the Guardian where the journalist wrote about Mumma but wasn’t convinced that there was acutally such a thing. We picked up a couple of bottles of Jul-Mumma from Systembolaget(in Sweden you can only buy alcohol in goverment owned shops Monday-Saturday, if you are over 20 years old). It was my time to go Yuck! He was happy to have mine as well though.
The hens are happy again with their yard back, took a morning of hammering, and I added some new sticks to climb and sit on. They ran around the garden for a while but when it started hailing they all flew up to me chuckling away to be let into the henhouse. Apart from hail I don’t think they will have any problems with Swedish winter.