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Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Where the eff is the sun?

The winter has been mild in Sweden this season but even so it’s been ridiculously boring weather. Being from the Pacific Northwest I have to confess – I am used it. Even so, each year about February or March I just can’t take it anymore. I’m dying to see the sun, be wrapped up in it’s warmth and feel my cheeks turn rosy pink from those heat rays. We used to have a sales meeting every February and it was superb to sneak away – even if it was for work – to a tropical location. Just the trip that was needed to break up the winter blues.

In just a handful of days I’ll be in Costa del Sol – cocktail in hand lounging by the pool and basking in that elusive sunshine.

I’m jacked.

Last summer Fattie and I drove down to Spain – from Sweden. Yup. Now that’s a road trip. I had just moved to Scandinavia and it was our celebratory trip. We had a phenomenal time.

Beach

On this excursion I’ll be heading to Spain with my sister-in-law. She’ll be an amazing travel partner and I’m totally thrilled for some girl time but I’ll desperately miss Fattie.

It will be the first time we have been apart for any significant length of time since summer ’07. How time changes life. 2 years ago we spent more time on separate continents than in the same room and now I can’t even imagine being away from him overnight – little alone 10 days.

 

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Of course, it’s always wonderful and such a treat to have someone cook dinner for you, but Fattie’s food is absolutely grubbing – so it’s double the fun.

He casually and ever so cutely whipped up this appetizer: gravlax carpaccio.

So, yeah, you know carpaccio is typically super thin slices of raw beef drizzled with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice, usually sprinkled with green salad leaves such as rocket, arugula or radicchio and then topped with thinly sliced or grated Parmesan cheese, sometimes pine nuts will even make an appearance. But do you know what gravlax is?

Let ME tell you.

Gravlax is a Scandinavian delicacy consisting of raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill. In Swedish, grav means “buried,” while lax means “salmon.” But it’s also known around the area as graved laks (Danish), gravlaks (Norwegian), graavilohi (Finnish), and graflax (Icelandic).

Back in the day, the fishermen used rub the ingredients on the fish and bury it in the sand above the high tide line, ‘fermenting’ the salmon. Uh. Crazy. I know. The modern version of this dish is not fermented at all; instead the salmon is ‘buried’ in a dry marinade of salt, sugar, and dill, and cured for a few days in the fridge.

So, combining the two – gravlax and carpaccio – Fattie came up with this glorious appetizer. Yes; it’s VERY tasty and even easier to prepare.

gravlax carpaccio

My Gravlax Carpaccio

Makes 4 appetizers

You’ll need:

  • 8-12 ounces of gravlax
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Handful of baby capers, rinsed – roughly 2 teaspoons or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup very thinly sliced celery
  • A couple handfuls of fresh arugula or rocket
  • Parmesan cheese for grating
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

Equally divide the salmon onto four appetizer plates laying it flat.

After combining the olive oil and lemon juice, drizzle it over the salmon. Sprinkle evenly with capers and celery. Top with salad. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Enjoy.

Gravlax is usually expensive to buy but very easy to make. Feeling adventuresome? Wanna drum up your own homemade cured gravlax? Here’s a good recipe from Emeril Lagasse.

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The air here is filled with the aroma of spring and the landscape is diligently following right along as it loyally does each and every season.

green flower

Apparently, the trusted Swedes inform me, it’s rare to see these gorgeous sights of spring cropping up in these parts of Sweden so early in the year.

In March of most previous years, the lake would still be completely frozen over (as in frozen solid – thick enough to drive your car on – oh, you can probably only imagine the fun Fattie and his brothers have skidding around the lake with their ‘ice cars’ – can’t wait for that adventure), it would be minus some stinking temperature that is synonymous with ‘bitterly freakin’ bone chilling cold’, and there could easily be a meter plus (that’s 3.28 feet for my friends in the US or those of us challenged with the metric system) of snow packed high outside.

So, what’s the deal this season?

We barely had a winter at all here; just a touch of snow 2 or 3 times that melted within days of falling. I mean – don’t get me wrong – I’m certainly not complaining. Whatever the reason – I love it. Spring is coming and I can almost taste it.

Out on my walk this morning, I snapped a few photos.

boat

 

forest trees

It’s almost as if it’s teasing us – just peaking out around the corner to give us a glimpse of what delights are heading our way.

flowers

Even the golf course is looking green green-ish.

stream

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I just couldn’t do it. Not another 24 hours! Honestly, I really really tried. I almost made it; but I couldn’t manage one more stinking day.

Master cleanse? Nah. Come on. Are you kidding me right now? That’s a no brainer.

I’m talking about the Christmas tree, silly! See, here in Sweden things are a little bit different around the holidays. Let me explain……First off, Christmas eve is the ‘big day’ equivalent to Christmas day in the States. This is the day when everyone exchanges presents and the height of the holidays are officially kicked off with an elaborately grand smörgåsbord (the Christmas buffet is called a julbord or yule smörgåsbord – translated means Christmas table).

xmas tree

Secondly, most Swedes put up the Christmas tree just 1 or 2 days before December 24th, ‘the big day’. Which by my calculations leaves a measly 24 to 48 hours to decorate the darn thing before the show starts! And if you’re like me, with hundreds of twinkling lights and gorgeous ornaments perfectly placed, this just won’t do. Thirdly, and maybe even more interesting (am I boring you yet?), January 13th in Sweden is also known as St. Knut’s Day or Hilarymas, which is the traditional day to discard the Christmas tree and end the season’s festivities.

Yes, my friends, you heard it here…..The 13th of January! Inconceivable in my circle back home as we’re usually hanging on by needles (no pun intended) just to keep the thing standing & alive until New Years.

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I dashed out for a quick walk and was lucky enough to capture some gorgeous pictures of the sun setting over the water. We live on a such a beautiful lake in Sweden. Gratitude overwhelms me everyday. I am truly blessed.

……………………………………….

Day 8 on the master cleanse brings feelings of determination.

There are only 2 1/2 days left and there is no question if I can execute to the original plan.

I can and I will. No hesitation.

The question darting around my tiny biscuit is this: since I’m already through the most challenging part of this fast (which for me was those pesky little days called one, two & three) why not persist for just an itty bitty bit longer…? Maybe 12 days? Maybe 15 days? Why stop at 10?

Amazing. Day two into this fast I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage through the next ten minutes and six days later I’m feeling like I could swallow this peppery lemon mixture for another week. Oh, yeah, of course I have cravings of Fattie and I sitting down to the table with a giant dish of chorizo & sun dried tomato laced penne pasta loaded with Parmesan cheese, a fresh pear, walnut & Gorgonzola salad and bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape…….But those silly cravings will just have to wait……

More lemonade please!

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It’s a pleasant and unusual feeling, but I don’t have that dread of Monday mornings anymore since I packed up my office and finished my stint in Corporate America.

Stint, well, really more like a third of my life. That’s spooky when you think of it in those terms. Released from the plague of hatred, Mondays just seem like any other day to me now. Must be part of the joy of moving abroad and ditching the briefcase.

It’s been 6 entertaining and active months acclimating to Sweden.

Lots of ups and a few downs – not as many as I expected after reading blogs from expats & websites freaking me out about how hard the move would be and how homesick I would become. Yes, indeed I am and have been homesick at times but nothing debilitating or paralyzing mostly just missing my friends and family. I really am relishing in my new surroundings…..

Oh, the language. That pesky little thing.

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It snowed a few days ago and in my optimism I thought it would melt by the days end.

Well, can someone be so kind as to gently remind me I’m in Sweden now?

The beautiful snow didn’t melt as I had planned; in fact, it kept coming down. And now 4 days later it’s still here.

Unfortunately, we haven’t put our winter tires on the cars yet; and since it’s the law here, going too far away without them is a little risky. So, I’ve been holed up at home these last few days making every effort and excuse for a jaunt out of the house.

Oh, what have I been doing to keep busy? Rearranging the junk drawers, doing laundry, scanning cookbooks, listening to music, relaxing, changing all the linens, scrubbing the bathrooms, creating a photo book online, vacuuming, surfing the web, chatting with friends, dusting, shopping online, organizing my closet, trying new recipes, skimming through all the magazines my mom sent me from the states, and getting all snuggled up, grabbing my iPod and going for long reflective walks in the snow.

A few things I saw on my chilly 2 hour walk today (in no particular order):

  • Fresh moose tracks in the snow
  • 2 gorgeous lakes
  • A cow patty
  • Icicles dripping from the tree branches
  • Not another human soul

A few things I wish I had seen:

  • The running tracks/trails around Forest Park
  • Lake Oswego
  • A beef patty with all the fixings from Giant Burger
  • Drip coffee from Starbucks
  • Shiiki



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