Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Heatwave

I have never experienced heat like this before. The little town I am staying in, Falun, is in a valley which means that the summers are extremely hot and the winters are extremely cold. The last two days have been so incredibly hot and it has been a little hard to adjust. Yesterday I spent the day in a very grumpy mood, quite unable to do anything due to the heat. Today was far far better. We woke up and walked to the little supermarket to buy some food for our picnic. Then we cycled up to the lake - an enormous effort since it was uphill the entire way! As soon as we got there we ran straight for the lake and jumped in for a swim. One of the things I love most about Sweden is the fact that the nature cannot be owned by anybody and that anyone is allowed to be there. This means that you can swim in any lake that you find and walk in any area you like - far better than all the prohibitions and restrictions you find in England. After our swim we set off walking around the lake, through the forest, finding a beautiful log shelter on our way which was perfect for our picnic! After one last swim in the icy water (it was so strange to be shivering in the cold water one minute, to be absolutely boiling again the next) it was time to go home. Cycling through the forest, downhill with the wind in my hair was such a lovely feeling. Even though I have been here many times now, I still cannot get over how beautiful the scenery is. I often wobble on my bike purely because I am too busy looking around and staring into the forest to concentrate on where I am going! It's the most perfect place in the world.

inspire nordic

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunday Recipes

I have decided that since I have so many delicious Scandinavian recipes to share with you, it would be nice if I could post them weekly. Since Sunday is usually such a lovely, quiet day, I thought it would be the perfect day on which to post these recipes. Due to this being my very first post, I have decided to start with two very easy but very nice recipes that I have learnt since staying in Sweden:

Pytt i Panna 



6 - 8 cooked potatoes
1 - 2 cups of cooked meat (ham is best, in my opinion)
1 medium onion
5 - 6 eggs
2tbsp butter 
A little oil for stir-frying

This recipe makes 5 - 6 servings and is the most basic version of this dish. You really can add whatever you like into this - any type of meat or vegetable. It works really nicely with diced beetroot. This dish is really lovely after a long day's travelling or work as it can be frozen and just needs frying in a little bit of butter before serving. For the British among you, think ham, egg and chips, just in teeny tiny pieces!

1. Dice the potatoes, onions and cooked meat into about 1cm cubes.
2. Stir-fry the diced potatoes in a little oil until browned and crisp. Remove them from the pan.
3. Melt the butter and gently fry the onions until they are soft. Add the meat and brown it for five minutes. 
4. Reduce heat to low and add the potatoes, mixing until warm. While you are doing this, fry the eggs in a separate pan.
5. Serve with a fried egg on top of each portion. 

Chokladbollar (Chocolate balls)



100g butter
1dl sugar
1tbsp vanilla sugar (vanilla extract works just as well)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3dl rolled oats
3 tbsp cold strong coffee 
pearl sugar or dessicated coconut for the coating

These are one of my favourite things. They are so simple to make and go really nicely with a cold glass of milk or some coffee. You can alter this recipe fairly easily according to taste, for example, the coffee can be substituted with water if desired. It is also really funny to make with children since it is easiest if you mix all of the ingredients by hand, a lovely excuse to make a mess!

1. Mix the oats, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla sugar together in a bowl
2. Add the butter and rub the ingredients together to form a dough. Make sure all of the butter is rubbed in before mixing in the coffee/water. (If you are using vanilla extract, rather than vanilla sugar, this is the best time to add it)
3. Once the mixture is thoroughly blended pour some pearl sugar or dessicated coconut or whatever you fancy onto a plate. Using your hands, form balls out of the dough (they can be any size, you can also press the whole mixture into a cake tin, cover with melted chocolate and sprinkle coconut on to make a cake version!) Roll the balls around on the plate until fully coated.
4. Leave them in the fridge to cool. Eat them with a great big glass of ice cold milk!

I hope you enjoy them! Please remember to leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions for me!

inspire nordic

Weekend Adventures


What activities do you like to do at the weekend? Both yesterday and today my boyfriend and I took our bikes and cycled to the forest on the edge of his little town. We took some drinks with us and stopped at the local supermarket on the way to buy some chocolate. The forest here is absolutely beautiful and if you have the energy to cycle or walk uphill a little you are rewarded at the top with some of the most breathtaking views over the town. Cycling is such a lovely way to get around, especially when it's such a lovely sunny day! Today we went up to where the towns ski jumps are and wandered around a little, picking some flowers - I am amazed at how many pretty wildflowers they have here! 


I hope you had a relaxing weekend. 

inspire nordic

Friday, 24 June 2011

Glad Midsommar! (+ tutorial)

I am currently in Sweden and have spent a very lovely day celebrating midsummer here. 


"Midsommar" is a tradition widely celebrated in Sweden with parties that include dancing and singing around a midsummer pole (midsommarst√•ng) - a type of maypole which is traditionally in the shape of a cross with two wreaths hanging from either side of the horizontal arms of the cross. Although we did not see one of these today since we didn't go out into the countryside, we did observe another midsummer tradition. After a relaxing walk through another part of town, we came to some fields by a forest where we spent an hour or so picking as many different coloured wild flowers as we could find. Afterwards we found a cozy spot on a hillside by the forest where we sat down to make a midsummer wreath (midsommarkrans) for my hair! Below I have included a tutorial, but first, look how beautiful this one is! And in my own country's colours! 


1. Pick a large bunch of flowers with as many different kinds as you can find. I also used reeds and some different kinds of grass to make it look a little more interesting.

2. Gather some birch-shoots. These need to be bent round into a circle large enough to sit on the crown of your head. Twist and twine the shoots around one another (use 3-4) to ensure they stay put and, if necessary, tie the ends together when forming the ring using thread, wire or string. 

3. Arrange the flowers into smaller bunches and cut the stalks down until they are just a few inches tall. 

4. Secure the smaller bunches to the wreath, placing one behind the other, fastening each bunch with a little thread. Be generous with the amount of flowers in order to build the wreath up into a pretty arrangement. 

5. Once you have fastened the bunches all the way round the wreath, check to see if there are any gaps that need filling. If you have any flowers left over, thread them into wherever you can find thread. It will not only make the wreath appear fuller but will also cover any threads that are still visible. 

Mine ended up enormous, so perhaps it is better to trim it a little so that it looks neater! 



Swedes usually end the day with a surprisingly simple meal of pickled herring and new potatoes before setting about dancing and singing into the night, which at this time of the year, never quite makes it to darkness! 


In what I think is a rather lovely and romantic tradition, many Swedish girls on their way home from the nights' celebrations would pick seven flowers of different varieties to place under their pillows in order to dream of the man they would someday marry. Who would you hope to dream of?

inspire nordic