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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My First Svenska Julbord

As most people know, I am mostly of Swedish descent. In fact my dad was referred to around town as "The Swede." So when we were invited to a traditional Svenska Julbord I was excited to be able to see and taste it all.

Last night as we opened the door of our condo to go to the party, we encountered an aroma of amazing home cooking and knew we were in for a treat. Their condo was decorated in a modern Scandinavian style with a simple Christmas tree and tables were filled with very pretty and tasty food.

Most of the food I was familiar with but was pleasantly surprised by the goat cheeses, especially the Gjetost, which was a brown color with a very creamy texture, good tang of goat cheese and a rather sweet taste. I also found the Swedish Cheesecake (Ostkaka) to be delicious and light alternative the the New York Cheesecake we are all so familiar with.

It was a very fun party talking to neighbors and meeting new people and having new conversations. We hope we are lucky enough to be invited again next year.

Here's a recipe for Ostkaka taken from Semiswede's blog, that I plan to make for Christmas.


serves 6-8

If you can’t find dry curd cottage cheese, just buy regular cottage cheese (not reduced fat), put it in a colander, and rinse it until all of the milky juice is gone. Then let it sit for 10 minutes or so for the rest of the water to drain out.

5 eggs
2 cups (480ml) half & half (10-18% fat cream)
2/3 -1 cup (130-200g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (500g) dry curd cottage cheese
ground cardamom to sprinkle over the top

16 ounces (450g) defrosted sliced strawberries and whipped cream to serve
(you can also use a berry jam instead of defrosted berries)

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).

2. Whisk eggs, half & half, sugar, and extracts in a large bowl until well blended. Add the dry curd cottage cheese and mix well. Pour into an ovenproof baking dish and bake in the center of the oven for 1-1 1/2 hours until a knife comes out clean. The baking time is dependent on the size of the baking dish you use.

3. Serve lukewarm or cold with defrosted sliced strawberries and whipped cream. Refrigerate leftovers.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Muffins for Grown Ups

Remember the spiced pear brandy? Well, when I was looking for recipes at least one blogger mentioned saving the brandy cured pears and using them in a cake. I spotted the jar I saved in the refrigerator this morning as I was getting out ingredients for a batch of muffins. I opened the jar and they smelled AMAZING. Yep, these pears must go into the muffins, and they were very, very good.

Here's the recipe:

Spiced Pear Muffins

1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup of spiced pears

Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Combine egg, milk and butter; add to dry ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in the spiced pears, (any other fruit will work too). Spray muffin pans and fill 2/3 full, sprinkle lightly with  sugar.

Bake at 425° F for 25 minutes. Makes about 12 muffins.

It's Just Like Getting A Brand New Kitchen

Yeah, I got a bug in my bonnet. It happens sometimes. Usually I can get it under control by moving around some furniture, but I've been perusing Houzz a lot lately especially drawn to the design dilemma discussions.You know the type, ugly fireplace...should I paint the brick or the wood kitchen cabinets and other design dilemmas.

Orange/gold tone color of
cabinets before painting
We've been planning on re-configuring our kitchen to make it more usable and add storage space for a while now but have a few other projects that take priority. The thing is, we sit in the kitchen/dining room a lot. Cooking, cleaning, creating, talking. Day after day. Hour after hour. And we really don't want to do remodel the kitchen now. Other projects take priority.

Our biggest problem is that the house has too much wood. A full wall of cedar in the living room, a half wall of cedar in the kitchen, ugly, what I'd call Victorian, 3 1/2 inch oak trim around the windows and doors and 5 inch oak baseboard, hardwood floors, and large 6-panel oak doors throughout the small A-frame house.

Talked over the idea of painting the cabinets with the husband; he was a lot more keen to the idea than I thought he'd be. We'd been talking a while about what color/material cabinets we'd like when we remodel but couldn't picture what would work in this space so the idea of living with a "color" for a while seemed like a good interim idea.

As for color, I didn't' think white would work in this kitchen, he doesn't care for the color green. He liked a blue sample I had picked up, a rather bright blue I might add. So a few days later I went off to the local paint store to see what paint and suggestions they had. The women that work there are very helpful in helping choose the right product for the project and once again didn't disappoint.

The finished look.
I had done a little research and knew I needed a good quality primer and acrylic paint. They directed me to a Zinsser water based primer that was easy to use as well as a top quality Benjamin Moore acrylic paint. They helped with the paint choice as well. I had a good idea that the color my husband liked was a "bit much" and they agreed and we looked for a more toned down blue.

The prep work, cleaning and sanding the cabinets, was harder and may have taken longer than the actual priming, painting and cleanup. The primer was tinted the same color as the paint and painted quickly and it dried and ready for paint within an hour or two. The paint also went on quickly, and except for a few places that needed a little touch-up only needed one coat. Because there was only one coat of primer and paint the texture of the wood-grain shows and makes the builder-grade cabinets look like a much higher priced cabinet.

We love the color of the newly painted cabinets and how they have reduced the visual wood overload of the house. We've also had many compliments on how good they look.