Easy Vegetable Stock, more adventures in the snowy north and another giveaway
Approx cost: €0
Approx calories (per portion, if divided by 4): n/a
Approx preparation and cooking time: ~120 minutes
Hello everyone. I thought I’d share a few more photos from my recent vacation with you today, and I’m very excited to run another giveaway today, but that will come a bit later on in the post. As usual, most of these photos will be available for download on my downloads page (not all of them this time because some of them just aren’t that good and I’m posting them more to tell a story). We’ll jump straight into the photos with a shot from outside a coffee-shop in town. It was snowing and cold and as a result was absolutely packed to the rafters inside. I didn’t have a chance to take any photos inside alas, but believe me when I tell you that it’s very cute – lace tablecloths, small flowers on the tables, small oil paintings of nameless people of yesteryear on the walls, and a whole mismatch of furniture in varying styles, sizes and colours.
I was pretty dumbstruck when I found out that there were actually babies sleeping in the strollers outside the café – I think things like this are really indicative of a very different way of life. It just wouldn’t be the “done thing” in England or France… not only would people be freaking out about mad baby-snatchers, but they’d be worried that the child would be freezing in its sleep. On this day it was about -5 or so – not so cold. I was told that when the temperature really goes lower, past -15 or so then the babies wouldn’t be left there, but when it’s barely below zero, and they’re wrapped up warm in their stroller it’s not really an issue.
Just outside the café is an old-fashioned telephone box – I would suspect (in fact I’m almost 100% certain) that it doesn’t work any longer, but to be honest I’ve never asked, and never dared look inside. I always think the outside looks rather cute though. Just down the road from the café, heading out of the town a little way you get to a wonderful little “town” just down the road from a beautiful church. The houses here aren’t, and never were, permanent dwellings – because a trip into town to attend church required quite some time for country-folk in the past there are a large number of these small buildings for the families to stay in. The buildings themselves are quite spartan. No plumbing, no electricity – usually the insides consist of a table and seating bench, a small fireplace, and then a low-ceiling attic area for sleeping. This “church town” has existed since the 17th century and really has a very communal feeling to it – small streets between the houses and so forth, and this way the people living a long distance away could come in on Saturday afternoon/evening, stay the night, and be up bright and early, and on time, for church the next day, before beginning the long journey home. These days of course the town is no longer used for this purpose, although the houses are owned by individuals who often go there in the summer months to relax with a cup of coffee and enjoy the tranquility.
For those of you interested, you can read a bit more about the history of Bonnstan here – it’s really quite fascinating with several old photos and information about how it came to be.
Just below the church town is a river which is particularly wide at this point. It actually has an island in the middle, accessible by bridge where I had våfflor with cream and cloudberry jam a couple of summers ago from a small café there – very idyllic . This time though, it was about 2.30pm and the sun was setting fast so I hope you’re able to appreciate the photo I took of the river below. It was pretty much all frozen over, but you can just see the end of the island on the left of the photo. I thought the setting sun on the horizon made for a beautiful landscape!
Do you remember in this post I talked about how the Swedes have a special word for the kind of snow which clumps together well when conditions are right (so you can build snowmen and so forth…)? Well a lot of the time, it was pretty darn cold and conditions just weren’t right for building a snow-anything. You know how when you grab a pile of snow with your glove and it just ends up flying away as a powder, or sticking to your whole glove? It was mostly like this, but the temperature came up a smidge two days before I left and I decided it was high time I built a snow-cave. In the end, it was a fun old time – my wife’s father came out and decided he wanted to help too, which came in rather handy since to be honest I don’t really have the first idea about building snow caves!
When it was all done he went off and fetched two lanterns which we put inside the cave and it just looked like the most adorable, cozy place I ever saw. Chilly, yes, but it sure had a warm snuggly appearance to it!
Before we move on to the giveaway, I’ll leave you with a final photo of one of the out-buildings in the yard of my parents-in-law which I thought just looked so beautiful with the little lantern, the snow-covered wreath, and the thick snow on the roof, as well as the snow whipped up against the bottom of the door after the windy day. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a few of my memories and do enjoy the rest of today’s post. Stay tuned for more photo posts in the future .
Another Swedish item up for grabs today – a “Tomte”, “Väsen” (pronounced a bit like “v-air-sen”). This little guy is hand-made using locally produced wool and will sit on your shelf or desk and give you lots of love and he’s just the softest, cutest little thing ever.
The tomte or nisse was believed to take care of a farmer’s home and children and protect them from misfortune, in particular at night, when the housefolk were asleep.
I had the hardest time ever trying to find out the precise history of this little guy – Scandinavian and Norse mythology is complex, and intertwined, but if you fancy a bit of interesting reading, I’d really recommend reading about Tomtar and also Vættir
As always, this giveaway is open to everyone, regardless of where you live (unless maybe if you live in some science station in Antartica – postage might be a smidgen prohibitively expensive to there!)
As per last time, all you have to is leave a comment below specifying your desire to enter the giveaway and guess a number, between 1 and 100. If you don’t want to participate, feel free to just leave a comment. Only people who guess a number will be included in the drawing. A number between 1-100 will be randomly generated by random.org at 2200 CEST on Sunday 29th January 2012 and the person who picked that number will win… yay! The winner will be announced in one of my regular posts on Monday 30th January, posted at 0800 CEST. In case no-one picked the winning number, then the winner will be the person who picked the number numerically closest. In case two or more people picking the same winning number, or the winning number being exactly in the middle of the two closest entries, then they will be entered into a draw and I’ll pull their name out of a hat!
Finally, I thought I’d post a very quick recipe today – in the theme of my new years’ resolution of posting more useful tips and tricks, here’s one which you should all be doing. I’m sure many of you already do, but just in case you’re still buying instant stock cubes… stop that right now. Home-made stock is one of the most easy, and satisfying things to make because you can use things which you would literally be throwing away into the trash. Vegetable trimmings? Chewy, fatty bits of meat? Chicken skin and carcasses? Fish heads and skin? Chuck it in a pot with an onion and boil the flavour out of it, strain it, and what do you have? A whole load of beautiful, delicious home-made stock, which you can then either freeze or use right away for whatever you like.
For vegetable stocks, if you are just one person, or a couple, and maybe you don’t eat so many fresh vegetables in a week for whatever reason, you can store the carrot peelings, broccoli stalks, cabbage or celery leaves, mushroom stumps etc in a box or bag in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. When you defrost them, don’t worry – they’ll be black, soggy and look absolutely disgusting. This is fine – you’re after the flavour, and this will still be there. You’re not going to be eating the black soggy leaves after all.
- Left over vegetable tops, trimmings, peelings, ends. Avoid potato peelings as I’ve heard this will make the stock bitter, although I’ve never actually tried it myself – about 4 good handfuls
- 1 Onion, peeled
- Place the ingredients into a large pan and cover without about 2 litres of water. Cover the pan with a lid and bring the water to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering on a low heat for about 2 hours. After this time, you should have a deep brown/green coloured stock, depending on the vegetables you’ve used. Strain the liquid into a jug or freezer safe container and then store or use accordingly.