• 28Oct

    I’ve known for a long time that I wanted a “kitchen sofa” for the Swedish house, and I’ve been looking for one every time I’m in Sweden.  I’ve seen a lot of these wooden sofas, but I had a very specific style in mind.  Shortly before we left last summer, Torsten called one afternoon to say he was on a service call and the customer had a sofa for sale–a sofa he was sure I would like.  And he was right!


    It was in an out building at an old farmstead, and Bob and I took the trailer over and picked it up.  I love the shape of the back, the rolled arms and, best of all, the faux finish.  A lot of antique Swedish furniture is painted with a style meant to imitate a more expensive wood.


    Oh, and the front pulls out so it can be used as a bed!  This sofa is missing it’s seat, but that will be an easy fix.  A wooden seat and a nice cushion and it will be good to go!


    I had the bright idea that I might make a quilt that could be used to cover the cushion.  I don’t do a lot of quilting with turn-of-the-century fabrics, but their earth colors seemed perfect for this sofa.  Then I decided a postage stamp quilt would be “fun.”  So, I set about cutting a lot of little squares and sewing them together.


    I wanted the design to be on-point…


    …so I had to construct the quilt diagonally.


    That requires a lot of thinking!  Finally, I had the top pieced.  4224 pieces, but who’s counting!


    But I had a lot of squares left, so I decided I could use some of them for the “label.”


    So, just five hundred and some more squares and I had a label.


    I sewed it into the back of the quilt.


    I wasn’t sure how to quilt it.  In the end, I chose a Baptist fan design.


    You can see it a little better from the back.


    I’ve decided it will just be a sofa quilt, not a cushion over.  I have something else in mind for that!

    A little footnote.  Last week, the farmhouse and the outbuilding where we got the kitchen sofa burned to the ground in a horrible fire.  I’m so glad the sofa is with us.







  • 26Oct

    “Sju sorter kakor” – that’s Swedish for “seven kinds of cookies.”  Seven kinds of cookies is a centuries old tradition in Sweden.  Any hostess worth her salt always offers her guests seven kinds of cookies.


    Now I love to make cookies, but it’s a lot of work to make seven different batches of cookie dough.  Last Christmas when I was in cookie making mode, I noticed how similar all the cookie doughs were for the different cookies I was making.  I wondered if I could make one big batch of dough and turn it into seven different kinds of cookies.  The hardest part was narrowing my list down to just seven!  Once I’d decided on the seven cookies I would do, I mixed up the dough and began the experiment.  I ended up with over 13 dozen delicious cookies. Here ere are the results.

    Basic Cookie Dough

    1 lb butter at room temperature

    1 cup sugar

    2 eggs

    1 tsp vanilla

    1 tsp salt

    5 – 5 1/2 cups flour

    In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla and salt and beat until incorporated.  Slowly add flour until you have a soft dough.  It’s better to have it a little soft, to make it easier to incorporate the additional ingredients.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times until smooth.  Form into a large log 10 1/2″ long.


    Make a mark along the top every1 1/2″.


    Cut the dough into seven pieces and set on a lightly floured Silpat or piece of parchment paper.


    Now it’s time to add additional ingredients to the dough or shape it for seven different kinds of cookies!  As you’re working with the different doughs, you might want to add more flour if you think it’s too soft—but not too much.  The dough will firm up in the fridge.  I labeled my doughs after I wrapped them so I didn’t get confused later.

    1. Raspberry Caves – To one piece of dough add 2 tablespoons fresh orange zest.  This adds additional moisture to the dough, so work in 2 – 3 tablespoons of flour until dough feels smooth.  Form into a ball, press to flatten a bit, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    2. Cranberry Orange Squares – To one piece of dough add 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest, 1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries and 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans.  Hint: Add a tablespoon of flour to the dried cranberries to keep them from sticking to the knife when choppin.  Add additional flour to the dough if necessary.  Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    3. Coconut Walnut Crescents – To one piece of dough add 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup finally chopped coconut.  Form into a ball, press to flatten a bit, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    4. Pistachio Almond Cookies – To one piece of dough add 1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.  Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    5. Chocolate Mint Thins – Divide one piece of dough in half.  To the first half add 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder.  Once cocoa powder is incorporated, roll dough into a log 6″ long.  To the second half add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and 2 – 3 drops of green food coloring.  Form into a log 6″ long.  Wrap the two logs around each other and roll a bit more until the log is about 8″ long.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    6. Sanded Shortbread Coins – Roll one piece of dough into a log 6″ long.  Roll in 2 tablespoons of sanding or colored sugar.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    7. Lingonberry Logs – Shape the last piece of dough into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    At this point you can start making your cookies or leave the dough(s) in the refrigerator for up to three days.


    When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  All the cookies will be baked at this temperature.  I use Silpats on my cookie sheets.  If you don’t have Silpats, use parchment paper.

    Raspberry Caves – This is one of my favorite Swedish cookies.  If you want to make a big batch of just these, I’ve blogged about it before.  You can find the recipe here.  Divide the dough into 18 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and place into a small fluted paper.  Brush the top of each cookie with a little cream.  Sprinkle with pearl sugar.  With the end of a wooden spoon make a hole in each ball.  Put a small amount of seedless raspberry jam in each indentation.  Bake for 15 minutes.


    Cranberry Orange Squares – Roll the dough into a 7″ x 10 1/2″ rectangle.  Cut into 24 1 3/4″ squares.  Bake for 10 minutes.


    Coconut Walnut Crescents – Divide dough into 12 pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope about 4″ long that is a bit thicker in the middle than on the ends.  Form into a crescent.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cool about 2 minutes and press tops into powdered sugar.


    Pistachio Almond Cookies – Roll dough 1/4″ thick.  Cut with a 1 3/4″ round cookie cutter.  Press a blanched almond into the top of each cookie.  Bake 10 minutes.  Makes 24.


    Chocolate Mint Thins – Cut dough into scant 1/4″ slices.  Bake 10 minutes.  Makes 36.


    Sanded Shortbread Coins – Slice log into 1/4″ slices.  Bake 10 minutes.  Makes 24.


    Lingonberry Logs – Divide dough in half.  Roll each into a 9″ log. Press a shallow trough down the length of the log.  Fill with lingonberry jam.  Bake 15 minutes.  While cooling, make a glaze from 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and 1 – 2 tablespoons of cream.  After the cookies have cooled for 10 minutes, drizzle with glaze and cut into 1″ pieces on a slight diagonal.  Makes 20.


    Brew up some strong coffee and enjoy!




  • 25Oct
    Categories: musings Comments: 2

    In Sweden last summer I learned to make “saft,” a fruit concentrate that you add to water to make a yummy drink.  I made rhubarb saft and currant saft.  Both were delicious.  But now that it’s cranberry season here at home, I decided I should try my hand at making some cranberry saft!


    It was mighty tasty!

    A few people have asked for the recipe, so here it is.

    Cranberry Saft

    8 cups cranberries

    4 cups sugar

    4 cups water

    Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves.  Add berries and bring to a boil.  Boil 15 minutes.  Pour into a jelly bag and let drain several hours.  Voila!  Saft!

    Add your syrup to still or sparkling water for a refreshing drink.  I find a 1 to 4 ratio of syrup and water suits my taste, but experiment and see what you like.

    This will keep several weeks in your refrigerator.

  • 08Oct
    Categories: musings Comments: 2

    Nås, our village in Sweden is known for it’s potatoes.


    The West Dala River runs through our village and the sandy soil is perfect for producing potatoes.


    When we got to Sweden in June, the little plants were just poking up through the soil.


    Nås is so far north that there’s about 20 hours of sunlight a day in June.  This is the same field two weeks later!


    Here in Long Beach, we have very sandy soil, too, which means potatoes are a great crop to grow here, too.

    Since we were going to be gone for two months this summer, I didn’t plant a garden this year—except for potatoes.  They were left to their own devices while we were gone except for a timer on the sprinkler.  Thank goodness they thrive on neglect!  A few days ago I dug them all up.


    I guess we’ll be eating a lot of potatoes!

  • 06Oct
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 3

    Kryddhylla?  It’s Swedish for spice rack!  I’ve always thought these under-counter spice racks you find in lots of Swedish kitchens are very cool.


    You can see a red one behind me here in Skräddar Anna’s kitchen in this picture taken in 1984!


    This one’s a little different.  It’s in Berit and Gunnar’s house.


    I wanted to find one for our Swedish house and was looking for an antique one that would go under our upper cupboards.  But if you look at the picture below, you’ll see that blank panel on the very left.  It was kind of boring, and kind of bothered me.


    It was just there to hide some electrical.  Hmmm.  Why not put the kryddhylla there!?!


    It would be a bit nontraditional to run it vertically, but, hey–why not!  I found a source for new ones, that had four containers.


    The glass inserts were square.


    So they could go into the holder either way!


    Five seemed to be right for the space, so we ordered a second one and did some creative carpentry.


    And now we have our own kryddhylla!   Yeah!


    Oh!  But on the other side of the cupboards, there’s a skinny space.  It didn’t bother me so much.


    But then look what I found!


    Baby ones!  Stay tuned!

  • 03Oct
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 1

    What’s not to love about a country that has a designated Cinnamon Bun Day!?!  October 4 is Kanelbullens Dag – Cinnamon Bun Day!  As a Swedish-American, I feel compelled to celebrate my heritage!  😉


    If you want to celebrate your Swedish heritage, or just be a Swede for a day, I thought I’d share my Cinnamon Bun recipe with you.  I make my dough in my bread machine, using the “dough” setting, but you could do it the old-fashioned way.

    Bread dough ingredients

    • 1-1/4 cups milk – room temperature
    • 3/4 cup melted butter
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 2-1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 packet)
    • 4 – 4-1/2 cups flour

    Put all these ingredients in your bread machine and set it to the “dough” setting.  Shortly before it’s done, gather/prepare the following ingredients.

    Filling ingredients

    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    • 1 egg
    • pearl sugar

    When the dough in the bread machine is done, turn it out onto a floured surface, punch it down and knead until smooth and shiny.  Let rest a few minutes.


    Roll dough into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle.


    Brush with melted butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the dough.


    Beginning with the long side of the rectangle, roll up jelly roll style.


    At this point, it’s time to cut the dough into 20 slices – or something close to that. I use a serrated knife to mark the top of the roll.


    You can use a sharp knife or use a length of dental floss to do the cutting.  If you use dental floss, slide it under roll, cross the ends and pull to make a clean slice!  (I learned this tip from Bob, who used to watch his grandmother do this using a piece of string!)


    Swedish cinnamon buns aren’t crowded into a single pan, but baked in baking papers, individually, on a baking sheet.  You can use cupcake papers for this, but they are a little deeper than needed.  You should be able to find baking papers at a kitchen store.

    Place each slice into a baking paper and place on a baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until double—about 45 minutes.


    Make an egg wash with 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water.  Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.  Don’t know about pearl sugar?  It’s a coarse, dense sugar available at specialty food/kitchen shops or Ikea!


    Bake at 425º for 7 – 10 minutes.







  • 01Oct
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 7

    After we demoed the kitchen in our Swedish house last fall, Torsten and Mikael put in the wood stove.  Then, in January, we installed the floor and cabinets and got close to finishing the remodel.


    Before we returned to Sweden for the summer, Torsten and Mikael built the hood over our stoves.  It started with Mikael putting a fresh layer of cement over the chimney.  This is the hall side of the chimney.


    This is the kitchen–with the wood stove covered up and the electric stove temporarily removed.


    Traditional Swedish hoods are very different than the prefab hoods we’re used to in the US.  Torsten built the steel framework…


    …and installed it.


    Then Mikeal started building the hood with bricks.




    While the work was in progress, this was the only photo Torsten sent me!


    Once the bricks were in place, Mickael covered everything with a layer of cement.



    And I got my second sneak peek!  It’s hard to be half a world away!




    Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer!  I had to make a trip back to Sweden.


    Everything looked fabulous, including the white tile back splash.


    This summer, Bob painted all the cement.


    Traditionally these hoods are painted white, and that’s what we did—with the first coat.


    But it seemed so stark white that he put a second coat on with a tinge of gray in it.


    And it looks fantastic!  The vedspis (wood stove) and hood really make this my Swedish dream kitchen.


    Thank you Torsten, Mikael and Bob!