Arctic Spring

We decided the risk of traveling within Sweden was minor and booked a trip to Kiruna, the northern most city in Swedish Lapland. It’s north of the Arctic Circle in Sàpmi (Sami cultural region) taiga forestland with long winters.

Traditional Sami foods, cooked over the fire in a làvvu reindeer, moose, lingon and cloudberries prepared in different ways, as well as many gourmet dishes awaited us at the resort hotel, which caters to foodies. So we enjoyed lots of caviar, smoked fish, meats (and even eggs) artichoke whiskey soup with cauliflower chips and freeze dried beets, pickled squash and shiitake risotto, and wonderful desserts and breads. Birch burl “kuksa” of coffee or lingonberry juice were a nice authentic touch.

Reindeer stew!

The weather was good, melting a bit during the day and freezing when not in direct sun, making for very slick surfaces. I couldn’t do much walking, but it made for some fast moving dog and reindeer sleds! This guy’s name means Power and he was running so fast that I missed a shot of him pulling Lily and Bry on the sport sled.

The sled dogs were extremely fast and on icy spring snow pack; they had to use a smaller team of dogs to prevent them from going too fast.

For me this trip was a lot of Type 2 fun, appreciated more after it’s over than while it is happening. I tried to embrace the opportunity to try some new things, including the outdoor spa, which I genuinely enjoyed and would do again! Usually hot tubs and saunas are too warm for me but the outdoor versions kept me from over heating.

Lily discovered an interest in snow mobiles and Hilary took to nighttime photography, more on those adventures later.

Bornholm

A Danish island in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden, Bornholm is still closed to tourism.

It used to be a fishing community, but in recent times it is known for biking, hiking and culinary culture.

My great-grandfather, Fred, was born there in 1880 Fred’s mother’s family lived there for generations. His father, Per, was an immigrant from Sweden who earned his living fishing until the decision was made (with his Bornholmska wife and other family members) to leave Bornholm and try farming in the American Midwest.

The island has since become famous as a foodie destination and for its artisanal products, which always catch my eye in the food markets around Lund. I wonder what Fred would think of this development!

Per fled Sweden due to famine and a few years later immigrated again, taking his young family including Baby Sigfred across the ocean to farm. Now his great-grand daughter buys gourmet farm products from Bornholm…the latest being this basil pasta made from bornholmsk wheat and beer. We prepared it with Norwegian shrimp from our Fiskbil delivery- amazing!

We look forward to more gastronomical adventures when we can finally travel to Bornholm.

Tjolöholms Slott

Built by the wife of a British-Swedish aristocrat, who died just after building began, this castle has a relatively short history. The Dickson’s wanted a horse farm close to their Gothenburg home. They hired an architect and began construction in 1894, on a stretch of rugged coast just south of Gothenburg. It was a working port and farm which employed over 100 people. Today the “workers village” accommodates visitors. This is where we stayed in Mor Amanda’s Stuga. Just below the estate’s church, conveniently located to make sure the villagers had no excuse for lack of attendance.

More soon about dinner at the castle and exploring the grounds!

Mårtensgås

November 11 (or evening of the 10th) southern Sweden celebrates the goose harvest with a feast.

The kids had the day off from school so we decided to celebrate in memory of my Swedish/Danish Grandpa Augeson, who loved roasted goose, potatoes and vinegar cream cabbage.

The most interesting part of the story, and the reason for the “gås” of Sankt Mårten, is that the geese are slaughtered for their betrayal -exposing Martin’s hiding place in the goose pen with their crazy cackling! Martin was trying to avoid being made the new bishop because he preferred a solitary, monastic life, but the miracles he was rumored to have performed made him in demand. And the geese pay the price for his unwise choice of hiding place! The feast also marks the start of a 40 day pre-Christmas fast, which later became Advent. This is when people begin decorating for the Holidays. Lund will have 3 large trees like this one in the aptly named Mårtenstorget.

Several of Bryant’s coworkers said that this year is the first time they’ve ever cooked a goose; due to covid they weren’t able to go out for the traditional dinner at a restaurant.

We also made the traditional Apple Charlotte, which is a European version of crisp, using bread as the crust. It had a pound of butter and is served with whipped cream. The little jar and the Pyrex measuring cup are both filled with fat rendered from the goose. The recipe says I now have enough to last through winter. Bryant says this dinner might cause gout!

Fiskbilen

The Fish Car from Malmö was on our block yesterday. A kind neighbor sent Michael to check in with the Americans to see if we had experienced this Swedish custom. Mike has a cousin in Canada and he is very enthusiastic about fish. He showed me recipes and made many suggestions of how to prepare his products. I said I’d take one each of his top recommendations, and he brought in a huge stack of boxes to show me. So we looked at salmon, char, torsk, loks, shrimp and more. He explained that it’s top quality sashimi grade fish that you can (and should) eat raw.

And I got overwhelmed and socially uncomfortable with this gregarious guy in my kitchen. I didn’t realize I was purchasing the whole box of each item! Plus I don’t understand the prices of things yet. By the time he presented my bill it seemed too late to admit my lack of understanding. And that’s how we ended up with a year’s supply of seafood in our freezer!

We have 4 freezer drawers packed full. We are going to make our own sushi for the first time. And some of Michael’s recipes. He won me over with his insistence on using real butter.

The photo isn’t Mike- just a picture off their website. And the 4365.00 is in kronor so not quite as much money as it looks. That’s all I can say in my defense! I got a lot of laughs at international citizens hub when I told this story. It is a very popular thing, the Fish Car. Everyone said there is normally a long line whenever they show up in the neighborhood, about once every three months. Lucky I didn’t miss it!

Day 41

Whew! Day 41 already? Today would be Hilary’s spring MYS concert, save for the COVID effect.

What’s new? I signed up for, and figured out how to use, the Volvo car sharing program called M (link). I don’t know why it’s called “M”. I think that is a dumb name. But, it is an excellent service. For what is about $20 a month, I can go check out a Volvo from any (large) number of stations all over the place. There’s a time and distance charge, but fuel and insurance is all included. So, if we don’t drive much (and with bikes and trains, we won’t) then this is a much cheaper way to have the use of a car without all the headache and cost of actually owning one. Anyway, I drove around the countryside for a bit. I have come to the conclusion that, aside from the sea and the odd castle, Skåne is a LOT like Minnesota. Flat. Farms. Patches of mixed deciduous and pine forests.

What else? I ate out yesterday at the hotel restaurant (finally – I have been here for 41 days!). It is pretty fancy and had a nice 3 course pris fixe menu. The dessert would have been Jen’s fave – lemon curd, with rhubarb sauce, Madelines, and merengue crumbles. All her favorite things! I made do … ;-).

Today is markedly different, as I am trying Tacopaj (pronounced “taco pie”) from the frozen cabinet at the ICA. Oh, I checked out the ICA Nära by the hotel. It’s a lot like the Widmers in Mac Groveland. Anyway, Tacopaj is about what you would expect from the freezer cabinet and cooked in your hotel microwave.

Also, the chef dude on the front looks like Neal Luschen.

Trailer Camping Kitchen

I’ve had an itch in my brain for a long time. I’ve done a ridiculous amount of surfing on camping trailers, chuck boxes, overlanding, etc. So I decided to do something.

First thing I did was pick up a Space Trailer (shout-out Todd!). In case you don’t know, Space trailers are very nice, made in the US, and are all the things you’re thinking about when you buy a cheap Harbor Freight trailer, but don’t get.

Second thing I did was to build a camp kitchen to put in it. Here’s some snaps of the process. It was built entirely of scrap and re-purposed materials that I had lying around. Maybe I have too much (s)crap lying around … ? The design objectives were to be able to run a 2-burner camp stove and a propane grill off of a 20lb propane canister with some extra storage for camp gear. I did little drawing, but mostly designed as I went, with the inevitable re-work on some technical debt taken along the way.

Basic layout
I built a swing-out counter that covers the stoves when packed up.
Here’s a close-up of the hose routing and the threaded rod that I used as a pivot for the countertop.
This is the fully deployed config. There’s a strut on the left, and the counter swings out to make a 90* counter with the stove/grill open. I have lit it up and it works great!

Now I just have to take it camping!

New Year’s Tea

Finally experienced High Tea at the St Paul Hotel! It was so nice to celebrate my birthday (belatedly-note- make a reservation well in advance to have tea at SPH) with Cobber friends! I’m a tea snob, so the fare at SPH did not meet my expectations, but the companionship elevated the entire experience, so I am not at all disappointed. We did resolve to explore other Tea options in future…more chances to get everyone together! Perhaps we can get Annie here for a Mary Kay tea party!? Cheers! We neglected to toast the new year but here’s our “selfie/ self-we”

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