Every year we have people over for Midsummers eve but this year we decided to give it a break. There’s just been too much on recently. I felt very mean when I told my cousin No, we don’t want anyone to come here. Although happy that we are adults and can be honest enough to say what we think. We ended up having an extra guest anyways, Tucker! He’s staying the night be are more than happy to look after him. My daughter wakes up earliest at 10am now as school’s out but she got up at 8am after being woken by a bark. We took Tucker down the beach and first thing he did was jump in the ocean, he loves water! My son and husband caught the man-cold so me and my daughter went to the Midsummer dance with Tucker. We sat down on a blanket and said at the same time We should have brought a picnic! Ended up being fed both strawberry cake and coffee so we left happy and full. It’s kind of tradition that it rains on Midsummer but today wasn’t too bad. As we were out the husband hadn’t recovered from the man-cold but felt awake enough to start on tonights meal. A traditional Midsummer meal is herring of all kinds and flavours, salmon and fresh spuds. We had homemade sausage rolls, Baconpuffs and Lemon meringue pie. A new tradition in our house I think!
Ooh I had forgotten how much I love it! The husband paid a visit to the asian shop in town and bought everything he needed for Nam prik pao. It is a kind of Thai chili jam and you can have it with everything. He got a 0.5kilo bag of thai chillies so that will last us a while. First you roast the chilies in a hot pan, then fry garlic and onion in oil until brown, mix it in a food processor. Add shrimp paste, tamarind, palm sugar and fish sauce and boil down to a jam. I am telling the world -I am addicted to Nam prik pao! I don’t know what it is but all day we have both kept going out to the kitchen having a taste and coming up with new perfect combinations. I love it on Swedish crisp bread with lots of butter but dipping a fresh prawn aaaaah it’s like heaven. A few years ago when I opened my photography studio we offered all the guests Graham’s sourdough bread with Nam prik pao and Shropshire blue(which is like a stilton but nicer and yellow) cheese, some people still talk about it to this day. Imagine it glazed on smoked meat, on a cheese on toast sandwich or in a fry-up…can’t wait until end of summer and he can make one with the chilies that I have grown.
When I’m not working as a photographer, holding workshops or spending time repairing the barn(and everything else that has blown down the past week) I work in the foodshop down the harbour, a couple of days a week. Erik Samuelsson started up the shop in 1884(!) and since then it’s changed names a few times but most of the old people call it ”Samwells” in Hönö dialect. It burned down in 1914 but was rebuilt and when they built the mainroad it moved further up land and was extended 4 meters on each side. Now it can’t grow anymore if you don’t sacrifice the parking lot which is not going to happen, the islanders love their cars and drive everywhere even if you could walk across Hönö in half an hour. I love working in the shop, not just the getting a break from my own business but all the interesting people coming in and of course having work colleagues. We always have a laugh, both customers and staff. It’s a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. In summer about one third of the customers come in the shop barefoot straight off the boats. We also pack food every week for the fishing boats and for old people who can’t make it to the shop. Also if you miss something they will most likely order it in if you ask. The main business is of course during Hönö Konferensen and Christmas, then the shop turns in to a crazy inferno of customers but all in all it feels like it’s gotten busier since I started a year ago. With the majority of the staff being born islanders and all the old people coming in, I see it as a goldmine for finding out more about the history of Hönö, me being the source of a lot of laughter trying to speak Hönö dialect. I try my best to remember all the stories that I am told by the owner’s father who still comes in to work and he must be in his eighties(my apologies if I guess wrong). Samuelsson’s(now called Hemköp) is the only shop on the island who still has a cheese and meat counter, like in the old days. Now there are less cuts of meat and more salami, ham and cheese. My first time behind the counter I encountered a lot of for me strange requests like Spicke korv(or like they say Spegekörv) a salami packed in salt. Köttkorv(exact translation Meat sausage) is also a big seller, like the one I tried for Christmas that you boil and eat with a bechamel sauce, not only for Christmas apparently we are still selling loads! I asked one of my colleagues if she could think of anything special that we sell just because it’s an island thing but of course I should have asked a ”townie” instead, she gave me a very funny look. After a lot of thinking I did remember one thing, we do not sell tinned crab, but I’m sure there are more things that I haven’t thought about. Most but not least though I think one of the best things is to be able to sit at the till at work and look out over the barbour and see the fishing boats, the storms, rough weather or now rare occasions the sun.
I’ve been very curious about homemade sausages. By tradition on the island, people make their own, usually with pork and Chritmassy spices and then boil it like the ones I tasted Christmas Eve. I still remember my grandmother making it in the kitchen when I was a little kid. Luckily santa gave my husband an electric meet grinder yesterday. He was overjoyed and ran to the shop to buy the sausage skins. There are so many recipes online but he started out with the same as he used for the turkey stuffing, Chipolata(I know it’s not Swedish but at least it’s made in Sweden, by an English man and an American). It’s a pork sausage heavy on the sage and it came out great! I can only imagine how good these are going to be on the bbq. Gosh I will have to put my gym card to use after New years Eve.
In Sweden there is a tradition to have julbord(a Christmas food buffet) before Christmas. Most companies will treat their staff to a julbord at a restaurant often along with entertainment. We decided to treat a friend for his birthday and at the same time ourselves and booked a meal at Västerhav, a hotel&restaurant at Grötö(porridge island). Our friends(well he’s more a part of the family) motto is when on the island you never leave the island but we agreed that it doesn’t count if you visit one of the other islands in the same archipelago. We got on the ferry at sunset, which is now about 3pm. We were welcomed at the restaurant with some warm glögg(Swedish mulled wine). Lucky for us all the other guests had chosen the option to stay the night so while they checked in to their accomodation we had the whole place to ourselves! It was absolutely stunning with candles, fireplace, Cristmas decorations and three large tables full of amazing dishes. We ordered a jug of Mumma, Christmas beer mixed with red wine, spirit, spices and julmust(traditional non-alcoholic soda). First we attacked the seafood table, salmon, crayfish, 7 types of pickade herring, salmon/horseradish/strong cheese pie, mussels, prawns etc…aaaah it was lovely! Then some red wine and after the meat and cheese table, Christmas ham, boarsausage, moose, meatballs, lots of homemade chutneys and pickles along with stilton, marmelade and crackers. At that point the place had filled up with the rest of the customers and they all did the Snapsvisa, songs they sing and finish with a small glass of schnapps and we got caught along and ordered some homemade sloe schnapps. By that point we were so full we skipped the dessert table, ordered another schnapps and made for the ferry back. Right outside one of the golfcarts, that they use to transport customers from the ferry, was parked and we discussed nicking it but luckily came to our senses. All in all we agreed that it was a fantastic night and next year we might book the overnight stay so that we can eat, rest and then eat some more.
Finally it’s Christmas! In Sweden we celebrate on Xmas eve. The day started with the children opening one present each, lots of cooking, eating and then opening the rest of the prezzies. The rest of Sweden usually sit down in front of the telly at 3pm watching old cartoons but we have ditched that tradition. I cooked meatballs, prinskorv(short little sausages), red cabbage, salmon, herring and potato gratin. Traditionally you have Jansson’s temptation but since I don’t like anchovies everyone will have to make do with gratin. Another traditional meal is Lut fisk, fish soaked in water, then in Lye(which makes it caustic) and then soaked in baths of water, then cooked and eaten with bechamel sauce. My grandmother used to cook it along with Xmas sausage. I remember as a child helping in the kitchen making sausages from scratch, stuffing and twisting them.
The evening will be spent on the sofa with Glögg, chocolates and some nice old English ghost stories or maybe a boardgame or two. The best thing is, since half the family is English, we will do it all again tomorrow!