Archipelago Christmas market

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. IMG_5607Although 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.

Busy bee

img_1310I 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 right time to be scared

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!

Stinky fish

Surströmming

Surströmming

Just back from a week in Iceland. Both me and the children came to the same conclusion, Iceland has amazing landscape but hey Hönö is the best no contest. Yesterday we had a very traditional Midsummer eve celebrated with lovely food, board games and midnight swim. We went to see people dancing to the frog song around the Midsummer phallic pole and made head wreaths out of flowers from the garden. I bullied my husband and guests into trying the Surströmming that I bought two years ago. It is really a Northern tradition, eaten on crispy bread with boiled potatoes, sourcream and red onion. It is fermented herring and known for it’s very vile stench which forces you to open it outside while making sure not standing too close or you might be sprayed with fermented herring gunk. Some people say it tastes like a very mature cheese and last time I tried it I could have agreed but this time it was just truly disgusting! Today has been a day of rest. My only project for the day was making elderflower cordial, luckily it is so easy it takes no effort! The flowers are almost gone so it was in the nick of time. The recipe called for 40 flowers, I lost count but filled a bucket, boiled water, sugar and poured it over the flowers with lime and lemon. Leave for 3 days and then sieve and bottle. The garden has gone crazy, only being away for a few days(luckily it rained a lot so my husband didn’t have to do his watering duty every day). There are tonnes of cherries ripening, red and black currants and my quince tree is full of fruit! Despite saying I would put extra effort into the roses I have been neglecting them but they are coming on great anyways. The flowers I planted in the veg patch to help germinate the soil are stunning and there are so many bees and bumble bees. It’s like a chorus of buzzing, maybe that’s why there are so many berries this year?IMAG5480 IMAG5473 IMAG5472 IMAG5484

I’m not a smoking virgin!

IMAG4702 IMAG4700 IMAG4696 IMAG4717Smoking is my husbands hobby and he’s real good at it so I’ve had no reason to try it out. Now he’s hurt his foot and we have cured pork belly in the fridge for a week so I had to do the smoking. He told me how to build a “snake” of coal with wood on top and what the temperature should be. I actually got really excited and immediately started thinking of other things to smoke. I bought some fresh prawns and mussels from the fish shop and shoved on there. The mussels were a failure but the prawns were lovely! They caught flavour after just a few minutes, the bacon was on there for 2 hours. After checking on the temperature every 15 minutes or so I brought it inside, cut the rind off and fried a couple of slices. Guess it’s not nice to brag but…that’s darn good bacon! It even passed the husbands quality control, he gave me a 9 out of 10. The rest of the day I spent with the hens in the garden even though it rained but finally it’s getting warmer. By some miracle I got the lawnmower started after only about 20 pulls on the rope and cut the lawn for the first but not last time this year. After that me and my daughter picked rhubarb and attempted to plant peas and rose beans while the chicks were doing their best to eat them. Today is Walpurgis so we finished the day down the beach watching the bonfire and listening to people singing. Absolutely stunning with a light rain, sun setting and a double rainbow. IMAG4732_BURST002

You know you live on an island when

IMAG4158…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… IMAG4155

Swedish Midsummer

IMAG2131

An unexpected guest who loved the sea!

Dancing around the Midsummer pole

Dancing around the Midsummer pole

Midsummer picnic

Midsummer picnic

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!

bacon puffs with cheese and a béchamel sauce

bacon puffs with cheese and a béchamel sauce

Lemon meringue pie

Lemon meringue pie

Sausage rolls

Sausage rolls