So yesterday I decided it was spring. I can’t believe this year, the sun has come out waking the spring flowers and then next day temperature goes down to -10°C, again and again. So I started indoors and planted more veg, re-planted most of my geraniums and other indoor plants. I ordered 15 bags of soil from the local flower shop. Can’t believe I haven’t done that before, not owning a car I’ve been time and time again on my moped. My plan is to add 2 more planting frames for vegetables in the impossible patch. I have now given up any hope for getting rid of the weed and instead covered the whole patch with black cloth. I reckon I will need at least double the amount of the soil I ordered now that I’ve started using the bags… With a vegan teenager in the house I now feel much more prepped for growing veg, so my plan is to be self sufficient over summer at least. The chickens are helping with loads of chicken poop but they have started digging up all my spring flower bulbs which have left me covering all the flower beds with netting. I love them to bits but they are such a pain sometimes.
After weeks of rain we had a beautiful weekend, cold but sunny. So we dressed in at least three layers of clothing and ventured down the beach. To be honest I haven’t been for ages and it was my daughter who said -we can’t call ourself winter bathers any longer, that made my mind up. 0.5°C in the water and one degree colder in the air. My fingers and toes ached for an hour afterwards but it was so worth it! There is nothing better to waken you up and get the happy feelings flowing.
Back home we planted the first chilli plants of the year. As usual I had decided to restrict myself to five different chilli types but ended up ordering eight and still feel like there are some missing. I need to build a bigger proper greenhouse this year, thinking of one of those tunnels but suspect that living on a windy island it would blow away after a week. Also my daughter has gone from becoming vegetarian last year to vegan just before Christmas, we’ve ordered loads of vegetable seeds. I must admit I was a bit scared that she wouldn’t get all proteins and vitamins her body needs. To be totally honest I have always thought I don’t trust people who doesn’t like cheese and especially not vegans…but have totally come around and actually enjoy the adventure. We have spent all Christmas watching cooking and baking shows and have spent hours and hours in the kitchen. It’s good fun to try new dishes and I’m sure my body doesn’t hate me eating tonnes more vegetables. The only one suffering is the almost adult teenage son, who sighs every time “vegan” is mentioned…
So I usually don’t blog about anything not concerning the islands but this is definitely worth it! A week ago I read somewhere about the “Windshelter map” of Sweden and immediately decided to try it out. It is shelters built usually by the scouts where anyone can stay all around Sweden. Hönö is paradise and I could not imagine living anywhere else but sometimes I miss the forest, we have forest here but I’m talking about big forest where you can easily get lost. So I just picked somewhere on the map that we could get by train and not walk too far. Me and the daughter set off yesterday around lunchtime. As soon as I got on the bus off the island I realised the map on the mobile wasn’t showing where we were heading. Got some supplies in Gothenburg then got on the train. The traffic app showed completely the wrong times and we ended up taking some silly detours because of it, should have just brought a compass, map and watch. Anywho, we end up on a bus and get off where I recognise some of the street names from my research and carry on on gut feeling. We came to a lake with a small beach and jetty so of course had a swim. Such a strange feeling swimming in a lake now when we are used to salty water! We start walking around the lake through the woods and high grass but realise the road next it is the one I looked up at home. Happy to be on the right track we start walking, to be sure we ask the first person we meet if we are on the right track to the wind shelter. She says yes but it is quite a walk at least two kilometers. We say thank you and carry on, finding mushrooms, blueberries, lingonberries, raspberries, wild strawberries and loads of animals along the way. After an estimated 3 kilometres we ask the next person who replies: Yes you are on the right way but about 2 kilometres away… At this point it’s really hot and we are quite tired from carrying all the packing(otherwise I would have jumped into the woods at every turn to pick more mushrooms) but eventually we get there, and find a bus stop. Then we find the shelter and it is so much better than I expected! We make a fire, start food. The daughter chops potatoes and chorizo up with the mushrooms we picked, blend in some spices along with some locally produced honey we bought on the road, fry eggs and we have it with some of my husbands sourdough bread. Best meal I’ve had in a loooong time. Then we go on a hunt for more wood, knowing we want fried eggs for breakfast. I had visions of us sat around the fire all evening but seriously about 9pm we where fighting to stay awake. Then when we settled into our sleeping bags my mind started running wild. No chance of falling asleep so I borrowed my daughters book and read until it got dark about 10.30pm. As soon as it went dark the forest went quiet but of course then you start hearing every small noise as loud as a fire cracker. Didn’t sleep much last night but it was absolutely worth it. Going past the bus stop yesterday we had checked the buses, that run 3 times a day so decided to get out of there with the 8am bus or we would have have to wait until 3pm. As soon as we got on the bus the rain started to pour down. Tired and happy we made it all the way back without getting wet. One of the best things I’ve done this summer! Getting back to nature, picking food and berries, seeing all the animals and buying honey from an honesty box and last but not least having a holiday not costing more than the bus/train fare. This is the start of a new tradition for me.
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!
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!
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.
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?