Monday, August 31, 2009

Kalkon, Take me Away! Okay, you have to be an American who knows about the "Calgon, Take me Away! " bath bubble ads to get that. And to know Kalkon means turkey in Swedish. But here we are, letting Kalkon take us away.

Birthday week included a visit with Farmor, and we went to the Ingeststa Kalkon Trädgård (link) for lunch. The food was delicious. Not prepared the way Americans serve turkey, though, it was definitely distinctly Swedish. I think I expected to see Thanksgiving style roast turkey with gravy and mashed potatoes on the menu, but not here in Sweden! I had a turkey 'steak' with brown mushroom sauce, and little spiced potatoes. Swededaddy had a variation of the same, but dark meat and darker mushrooms. SwedeGirl had Turkey Swedish meatballs with potatoes and a side of lignon jam, of course, the standard kids meal at restaurants. There was a really cool playground with a zip line. Super fun, but just a wee bit to big and awkward for Swede girl to wrestle back to the starting line herself, which made it an activity requiring a high level of adult interaction, which is not really what you want for a lunch with grandma when you want to sit and talk. But it was fun anyway.

Really, the rainbows seem to show up in pictures of HER

I was excited to go to this turkey farm because it has recently become my turkey source. When we moved to Sweden, I missed turkey sandwiches dearly. I was pregnant, needed protein, and missed the foods of home. I do not usually eat nitrates, as they give me bad headaches. All the lunch meat here has nitrates. But after year of avoiding nitrates andlots of great foods, I gave up and had some yummy spanish chorizo at a tapas dinner. I got no headache, so I decided to ignore the nitrate issue and started looking out for turkey. I found Ingelsta Kalkon's smoked turkey was most like what I liked from home. Being able to make the (almost) perfect turkey sandwich in Sweden has been an important part of me feeling at home here. The Real Perfect Turkey Sandwich from Home is Alverado Street Sprouted Whole Wheat bread, Sliced Nitrate Free Smoked Turkey, half a ripe California avocado mashed sprinkled with Dr. Vogel's herb salt, and a slice of ripe tomato. Here it is Turkey on toasted Pågen Njuta bread, Ingelsta Kalkon Sliced Smoked Turkey with spices, and a slice of Prast Cheese warmed until the cheese is melty. Not the same, but like the turkey meal at the restaurant, good in it's own right.
Swedebaby Sporting her from Afar!
The swedish gårdsbutik is a concept worth mentioning though. In Sweden, there are farmers markets, but one way to buy local is to go to the small farms themselves called Trädgårds, which seems to mean both yard, like your own lawn and garden area at your home, or a farmer's home with the associated farm. The farmer's homes often have open stores where they sell what they grow and few other farm items, or have restaurants like the one we went to at Ingelsta Kalkon. Ingelsta Kalkon also has a chain of restaurants in the cities, but went to the Turkey Farm and the restaurant. it is obscured by the bushes when you drive by, and thinking they are a huge supplier of Turkey in Sweden, I was thinking it would be enormous. But it was about 5 building that house turkeys, a hay stack and hay field, a barn, a smoke house, some business offices, and the gårdsbutik. Very Swedish in that it was just nice and well kept, and small. In Sweden there is the idea of 'lagom', which means roughly good enough. And this was representative of that concept in a business- there was no sense they are trying to dominate the world turkey market by housing more and more turkeys until they are torturing them in inhuman condition for the sake of increasing production. They are just raising, cooking, and selling some good turkeys. It was nice to be able to know where my almost perfect turkey sandwich starts.

The red roofed building houses turkeys

Feeling at home abroad means making compromises, and finding acceptable substitutes. And finding the uniqueness and beauty in the new place, until you finding yourself referring to it as home.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

I am feeling Thankful for the small things today.

When I grow up, I want to be an old woman.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Christiania: Anarchy in the DK So on our trip to Copenhagen, when looking for a nice place to relax, I looked at a big map of the city showing a large green space near the water, thought it looked like a big park, and suggested we go there- to Christiania (link). We drove to the area and found the very cool powder house restaurant. But when we drove past a entrance to what looked like the children's garden, an urban jungle flanked by wild art, I asked what it was. Swededaddy said "Christiania. You've never heard of Christiania? Then we have to go. It's a old military base taken over by hippies. I went there once to a Christmas bazaar, and was puzzled as to why the Pepparkakor (gingerbread snaps) cost 45 kr each! Then I realized it was a Christmas BIZARRE. It is an area exempt from the laws of Denmark, they rule themselves." This was intriguing for sure, that hippies had seized land and continued to rule it! I excitedly promised Swedegirl a journey to a magic place, and was expecting a grown up children's garden( link) as we marched on in around dusk. Nope, no children' s garden. Swedegirl said, ' I was thinking there was magic here, but there seems to be none, none at all...." It was a bit gritty, and the vibe was more 'urban neglect' than 'magical garden'. I understand why she was feeling let down in the magic department. Though I would not say it was lacking all together.
These folks are chilling on a street couch, watching a tree with a sign that says "no trees"
The television here says "Reality TV" This was a carved tree, with a lovely tree house seat above the grit.

The sentiment was right. There were creative dwellings. And signs of vibrant life going on. There was magic of that special variety that happens when taboos are lifted, people can be free, but then a large number of them fall into substance use until it becomes addiction. So the vibe was pretty much the dark side of Wonderland, like Pinocchio Donkey Boy Island Here is 'A Tale of Christiana', the history of the 'settlement' in English from the danish Christiana website.
Birthplace of the Danish Punk sceneThere was a concert going on, and there was a call for shout outs from all the weed heads out there. Then the mother-f*cker lyrics started in the hip hop song. We were not liking the vibe or the smoke, so we made a quick art tour. There is no picture taking allowed in Christiania. And they are clearly all about following the rules, so I took pictures. But anywhere there is the hope of freedom, how ever flawed, there is magic. And fun. Humans will just have to keep trying to be free, and maybe someday we will get it right.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Copenhagen Birthday Adventures: Mermaid Serenades and
The Best Brie in the World

Swededaddy shares a birthday with an important person. The Little Mermaid. The famous statue on the danish waterfront in honor of danish storyteller Hans Christian Anderson was installed on August 23rd, 96 years ago. To celebrate her birthday, 'Hans Cristian Anderson' comes in a top hat and reads 'The Little Mermaid' out loud, and then a boat full of danish mermaids- a number equaling how ever many years old the statue is- come waving danish flags and release red and white balloons, then jump in the water and swim in formation to make the magic birthday number while a marching band plays 'Happy Birthday' . So of course we went! SwedeDaddy got a 96 mermaid birthday serenade. And the band finished off with "It's a Wonderful World". A video of the whole upaloopma, screechy 96 mermaid birthday affair:

Perhaps more fitting for Swededaddy was the Triton sculpture.

So, you get that I live in EUROPE, now, right? Copenhagen, with it's many verdi gris rooftops and city sculptures, is all you would hope for in a European City.

This tower is made of alligator tails twisted into a spire.

After the mermaids, I took Swededaddy to the Eat 2009 Food Festival (link), part of The International Copenhagen Cooking food festival (link). We missed the kick off event, the roasting of the Whole Ox. Maybe next year (link).

We parked one block from the event, and got the 'treat' of realizing we had parked in the red light district. After walking past some very interesting and colorful window displays, sex shops, girly shows, and 'men's shops', we passed the drug dealers who did a deal right in front of us. SwedeDaddy spied someone shooting up as well, but I was too enthralled watching a guy smoke crack on a set of recessed stairs to notice. The next block over, and we suddenly were on a lovely street lined with open cafes and a splash fountain. Which SwedeGirl was under no circumstances allowed in. And this is where Denmark and Sweden diverge....after going to Denmark, I appreciate the urban cleanliness of Sweden. But, I diverge...back to the food festival!

One of my favorite danish words "FlodSkum"- (has nothing to do with whatever 'Flood scum' that could be in that splash fountain!) It means Whipped Cream. Chocolate Flodskum Balls, Yum
Now, for a moment we thought we had erred showing up hungry to a food festival. I had a panicked moment when I thought we were going to have to feed the family on nibbles of chocolate and sips of wine. But to our relief, we found The Danish Crown cooking school inviting guests to learn to cook the perfect pan fried chops and filets. They welcomed Swedegirl at the line of burners and pans, and gave her an apron and taught the class in English for my benefit. We had a 'meat tasting' and after cooking the meat under expert supervision, we sampled free range organic, conventional, and Bornholm grown pork chops, and well as veal, angus beef, and some other beef. Tips we learned- sprinkle salt on the chop a few minutes before cooking, let the pan get scalding hot, use oil for high heat and butter for flavor (using just butter will cause it to burn), then brown on one side until crispy on the outside, the flip and take off heat while still lightly pink in the middle, so the juices run. Serve quickly or the juice will run out.

Ah, protein! Served as a sit down meal with bread and sides and everything. We had some smoothies and carrot cake to fill our tummies, then we were off to drink the danish microbrewed beers and spirits, wines, and other tasty little treats sampled throughout the hall.

From a Danish Chef who wrote the cookbook "Chop Chop" a little salad of watermelon, feta cheese, chorizo, gomashio, roasted pumpkin seeds, basil, and cilantro. He also had a lovely white apple gazpacho topped with pistachio nuts. Creator of the best AquaVit in Denmark, 2008. We bought some of his microbrewed cider, as the Viking Ale was all out. He learned about microbrewing when he lived in California from the founders of the American microbrew movement, the guys who started AnchorSteam Brewing . I looked for a link his website to link to here, since he says he has a great tasting event every month in a lovely village 30 minutes outside Copenhagen. Trying french brie cheeses...we were given tastes of "the best brie the world" What is chocolate made of? Chocolate artistry, in spun chocolate bowls The butcher demonstration. Yes, that is a bone saw. Yes, we just watched Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd last week. In view from the butcher table was the fellow destined for the slaughter. Marked in chalk to demonstrate how he will be butchered, outlining the various cuts of meat. This is what happens when two former vegetarians start eating meat, and raise a daughter eating meat. We take her to cooking lessons at age four to teach her how to cook the perfect pork chop, then take her to see butchers, cows, and pigs and say "you know that pig is what we were just cooking and eating, right?" Eating in full consciousness. Milk cow, and the 275 liters of milk the cow makes in a week. While feeding my baby some milk, the baby cow came and stared longingly the whole time, and actually mooed at me. We were able to bring the 'how grain turns into food" lessons from the harvest festival to completion by hand grinding wheat into flakes, which we will use for breakfast, and flour we will use for a loaf of bread.

After being in city and festival madness, we headed out looking for a restaurant, with the hope of finding a kid friendly place Swedegirl could run around at. 'The Powder House' near Christiania in Copenhagen was the perfect place to get a breath of fresh air and a little space to run around. The downed tree near the outdoor seating was made into this fun playground. Plus, I was able to get another local microbrewed beer. Copenhagen has bunches of canals, and people living in house boats. This geodesic house boat and greenhouse floating nearby was fabulous! You can see through the windows to all the plants growing the greenhouse on deck.
So this brought us to the part of Copenhagen that was right around the corner from Christiania (link). But that deserves a post of it's own!