Tuesday, February 25, 2014

two swedish-y things

This weekend I was twice asked, "Just how much of Swedish conversations do you understand?"

That is a very good question. Maybe I can understand up to ten percent? It is sort of hard for me to know. What their question made me realize though, is that often I am able to understand the general topic being discussed, but I am never understanding in real-time. Particularly, one Swedish friend noted that I don't participate in conversations that are in Swedish (not even with a response in English), but I do participate in English conversations. I realized the main problem is that I am usually about 30 - 60 seconds behind the conversation. It takes me about that long to think about and process what has been said. Sometimes if I am also thinking of a response, then I spend some time thinking about if I know how to say the thing in Swedish, or if I can come up with a way to say it using my limited Swedish. So you see then, by that point, the conversation has gone on, and any response I might have had is no longer relevant.

Now I will write an anecdote about an experience in my Swedish class yesterday.

We were to write a description of either a famous person, or a person sitting in the room. Then we all read them to the class and the class tried to guess the person. I am a type of person who doesn't really know famous people, and I really don't know which people are famous world-wide. There was one person I could think of that I knew most people in the class would know. So this is what I wrote (I'll translate to English here).

This person is a politician. He is tall and of average size. He has short, black and grey hair. He often wears a suit and tie. 

I had considered also giving it away totally by saying that he is the leader of the US. But I figured that since this was nearly identical to the first description of Barack Obama (except that the other person didn't mention how grey Mr. President has gone since getting into office) it wasn't necessary.

I think everyone sort of knew, but no one spoke up immediately. And then, a person took a guess. And you know what she guessed? She guessed that I had described a person in the room. Specifically, a young lady who sits near me. Nearly everyone burst out laughing, but the sad part was that she was completely serious.

Swedish word of the day: mittemot.

Friday, February 21, 2014

7QT - really quick ones!

1. I was using the Tasks feature in gmail to make a list of things I wanted to do in the near future. The list included the item 'sweep' which was corrected to say 'zweep.' I feel so confused. And blogger is trying to correct zweep back to sweep.

2. On a scale of one to ten, how stupid would it be to carry some homebrew on a ~45 minute walk to a cabin in the woods (while also carrying food/sleeping bag/camera/etc.)?

3. OH! An item I will be carrying that is not debatable is the makings for s'mores. Swedes don't even know about s'mores which is such a tragedy. I am so looking forward to sharing a bit of my gold (graham crackers brought directly to me from my dear mother when she visited last summer) so that they can have this experience!

4. For the past few Fridays I have had notably bad things happening, work-wise. This week decided to switch things up and deliver the news on Thursday. Basically I have to re-do about two months-worth of work.

5. I have no means of watching the olympics here. We don't have a television, and it is not being broadcast online (at least not for a free or reasonable price). I really wish I could be watching hockey, but the best I can do is to watch text updates from the IIHF, which I find surprisingly riveting. They have little webpages that automatically update every ten seconds and show info like shots on goal, saves, goals, and penalties. The anticipation of waiting for something to change is really intense. That is not sarcasm.

6. Although I must say, if Sweden plays the US in the gold medal game, we are either going to a pub or inviting ourselves to someone's house to watch. I would be so disappointed with myself if I didn't make an attempt to see that game.

7. And an info graphic to describe my workday yesterday:


- The End and The Link-up -

Thursday, February 20, 2014

On using recipes and my invented Spinappom Salad.

I have this idea in my head that baking requires a recipe, but cooking does not. I guess it is easy enough to make passably okay food without using a recipe, but I find that foods I make following a recipe are vastly more delicious. I might not yet have the skill of cooking incredibly delicious foods without a recipe, but I do have a fairly good eye for finding recipes we really enjoy. And that is a good start.

I also sometimes know exactly which food elements I'd like to combine, and then go searching for a recipe. If the internet fails to deliver, then I might do my best to make something up based on a few different recipes I saw. Here is one such example: SpinApPom Salad. I wanted to make a salad with pomegranate, apple, and spinach. A lot of the search results had feta, which normally I really like, but wasn't really wanting that in this salad. I managed to find one recipe that was nearly what I want, but you know what they did? They mixed a third of a cup of sugar into their dressing! Plus honey! Whaaaa? I always thought the idea of an unhealthy salad was laughable, but now I know!

So here is what I did:
pile of spinach
one chopped apple (I used a pink lady, because I like her.)
seeds from about a quarter of a pomegranate

topped with a dressing made from:
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
a bit of honey
a dash of salt

And it was so tasty! This was more than enough dressing for two salads, in case anyone is keeping track.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bärar fru, anyone?

Swedish class is good for so much more than just learning language. Yesterday Greg learned about the Finnish wife-carrying competition. Let me just say that I feel that this is one of the few athletic competitions that I would be good at (probably because it is the only one where having an athletic husband is all it takes).

Apparently there is a 250 meter track, and the record time is just over a minute. The track also includes a few obstacles, like a water pit and some hurdle-type barricades. And the man just carries his wife on his back and goes as fast as he can. In the photos the wives are usually wearing helmets, which is a little disconcerting, but probably not a bad precautionary measure. That might also be the result of the whole, upside-down, over-the-shoulder carrying technique, which I'm still not totally convinced would work out for me and Greg. I think I might be too long for that. My head would get whacked on all the barricades.

So anyhow. This morning I tried to convince Greg he needed some practice by giving me a piggy-back ride for part of the way to work. Unfortunately, he didn't take the bait, so I had to walk. Maybe tomorrow…

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thinking about food

For the past few days I have spent a lot of time thinking about food. The foods I typically eat had been getting really monotonous, and that along with many other small factors, led me to start making some changes.

For example, every day for lunch I eat a sandwich. It is completely boring, and I don't do it because I just love boring sandwiches so much. That was my lunch because it was fast and didn't require further thought than: do we have bread? cheese? mustard? maybe some lunch meat? Perfect.

Most of the meals and foods I eat (had been eating) were chosen for ease and simplicity, which I think is the completely wrong way to choose foods. Obviously I'm eating enough food to survive and have energy to do normal things. However, I think there has been a big lack of proper nourishment.

This weekend I made a plan to cook some delicious foods, filled with variety and nutrients. In general, my plan is to eat fewer grains, and to make sure that the grains I do eat are varied. Somehow, despite knowing that the food pyramid I grew up with is no longer the current food pyramid, grains were still the largest percentage of foods I ate. Cheap and filling has a lot of sway with me.

My biggest obstacle is finding the time to cook proper food. Normally I don't feel enough dedication to take the time to plan and prepare extra foods in advance. Hopefully this time I can stay dedicated. I think I can at least last for one week, since I have food to last through Tuesday lunch, and then I'll have time to cook on Tuesday evening.

Here are some of the things I cooked this weekend (all of which were completely delicious):

Vegetable Moussaka

A roasted chicken (loosely like this recipe) plus I boiled the carcass for broth

Two recipes from this Moosewood Restaurant's cookbook:
Apple and Celeriac Slaw
Green Beans with garlic and ginger

Cashew Cookie Lara Bars


Saturday, February 8, 2014

The day buffalo sauce came to Sweden

It was a Tuesday morning. We were on our way to the office and I needed to stop in the grocery store to pick up some food for later. We walked in, and there, glimmering before our eyes, was a giant display featuring buffalo flavored items. There was no hesitation in grabbing a bottle of the straight buffalo sauce. We lingered for a few more moments, taking in all the buffalo items to be had, but we had what we needed.

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Allow me to get slightly off track with a little story here. My dad and stepmom came to visit in the autumn of 2012, and the items we requested they bring for us that we had not found in Sweden were slippers and Frank's Red Hot. I've seen slippers since then, but for some reason autumn of 2012 produced no slippers for me in Sweden. Well, they delivered, and let me just tell you that we have still not run out of Frank's Red Hot. However! We are now on our last bottle, and it is getting to the end. So pretty much this is the perfect time for Sweden to magically give us buffalo sauce.

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I can't say I would have called buffalo sauce Tex-Mex, but that won't stop me from buying this stuff. The American West… Buffalo, NY… it is basically all the same, right?

Of course, I didn't want to be biased in my opinion of this buffalo sauce, so I suggested to Greg that we do some taste testing. The plan was to do two tests. First was the triangle test, where you have three samples, two of one type and one of the other, and you simply have to say which two are the same. This is not always as easy as people assume. For our test we tasted our samples on a piece of cheese.

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I set up the test for Greg and not only did he know which two were the same, he also knew that he had two buffalos and one red hot. Greg then set it up for me, and I was able to tell which two were the same, but I could not say which was which. We both agreed that if we had been comparing the new stuff to Frank's Buffalo Sauce that we would not have been able to tell the difference. (This is really impressive, considering we once found a box of mac & cheese here, so we bought it, but could not even finish it because it was really disgusting (and I am not one who is too picky about foods with cheese.))

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As for which sauce got our votes as the overall best? I chose Frank's Red Hot and Greg chose the Buffalo Sauce. Although I think we would both rate both sauces very highly. And now it is time for us to head back to that store and buy more before it disappears!