A bit late: The semi-sloppy cold-brew showdown

Earlier this summer, in favour of not procrastinating any more than I had so far, I thought I'd make a challenge for myself, with a clear deadline; 24 hours. So I did it! I kept that deadline! But... that was seven weeks ago and I've been dragging out writing this post anyways... Let's just move on and do it even though all you basic bishes (me) out there are already planning your pumpkin spices lattes. *stares at pumpkin in garden*

_MG_8894-2.jpg

Intro to a probably way too long post about coffee

In the rather singular event that any of you, my dear readers, would be this interested in coffee and its chilled companion that you actually get through all of this text (I'm not getting paid by the word, sometimes I'm just like this, sorry), I will let it be known that I appreciate the attention and I would like to inform you that I did this for you.

Yes. Not for me, not for the two other coffee-guzzlers in my household. Especially and assuredly not for my lazy side that wanted to find a better way of sifting the magical brew for a week's worth of always ready coffee. I did it for you. Accusing me of having a personal interest in how to get away easier with the quite tedious assignment of sifting five liters of coffee through paper filters that jam extraordinarily fast would be unfair. Are you calling me lazy because I do not want to spend three and a half hours every week slobbering with coffee grounds all over the kitchen? Do you not want me to be happy?!


Cold-brew the right way?

_MG_8878-2.jpg

Because I'm trash-fancy like that, so far I've made my cold-brew coffee with regular brew coffee. We all know, (okay, just us who have googled it a little too much perhaps), that apart from all the other minutiae about water temperature etc, the coffee nerds think you should use a coarser ground coffee to steep your energy tincture the proper way.

One of my main gripes with this method has so far been 1; that going to a coffee retailer in Sweden to buy a coarser ground coffee would cost my non-existent first born plus taxes per half a pound of coffee and that 2; If I were to buy whole beans, I would have to grind the beans myself and this means that I probably would have to buy a burr grinder that would scream at me furiously during use, to then break after a few months, leaving me with a useless appliance as a sad reminder of today's capitalist consumer-driven market.

But wait!

_MG_8869-2.jpg

Cue; The manual grinder. No electricity used. No bits to fall helplessly apart after doing what the appliance is actually made to do. It's just two pieces of metal with a lever and a box underneath. I wished for one for Christmas. I can grind coffee in it and heaps of other stuff. Like.. spices. And a crayon or two. Great! Now that I had one of those, I could TRY GRINDING A COARSER GRIND MYSELF! Cue life-supporting experiments, ya'll!

So I did try and grind the coffee needed for a liter of coffee in that little box with the lever. It took hours. Literally hours. I watched the entire Godzilla movie from 2014 and got like.. a third of what I needed. Doesn't bode well for the convenience of that method...

You've made cold-brew for years without a fancier grind. What gives?

_MG_9041w-2.jpg

A MESS!

The problem with my regular method is... sifting regular ground cold coffee through paper filters, is a real bummer. And I mean a real bummer. It’s nothing like hot coffee happily running through the filters into the pot, offering itself to your longing palate. It takes hours, changing filters and messing around with different containers. "But why not just settle with the more permeable built-in filter that you have on your coffee maker then, Ellet?" you say. Because I happily tried that and it lets a lot more silt through and it affects the taste. *waves gourmet palate hand* Having properly sifted cold brew versus kind of sloppy, silty cold brew, makes a world of a difference with the actual taste of the coffee and when you make it, you're stuck with that batch for like eight days. It's like if I allow the silt to tag along into the fridge, it corrupts the spirit of the coffee. Like hanging out with someone that has a little grudge against you, and you low-key can tell. It just ruins the good mood, man.

Why not iced coffee, that's so much easier!

_MG_8903-2.jpg

From what I understand, most people drink iced coffee, aka hot brewed coffee chilled over ice, milk or whatever. When I made my first round of iced coffee in 2014, trembling with the few little fucks I had left to give about surviving the blistering summer heat, I had to drench that shit in sugar and milk to make it passable at all. I couldn't understand why people were going wild about that bitter reminder that we're all are born into suffering. I clearly remember it to this day. That morning included 29C/85F winds already when I got up at 8 AM and then I had to fight a blackbird that had fallen down our chimney and gotten caught in our fireplace and get it out without hurting or killing the bird, or me, in the process. When I returned to the coffee making and sampled the ghastly concoction, I remember giving up and going back to bed for a few more hours. It was that bad.

A few weeks later I followed the cold-brew rabbit hole deeper and made my first round of the real stuff.

I made it from regular brewing coffee steeped overnight in the fridge and it tasted lovely! Mixed with milk and a dose of sweetened condensed milk, it was now a staple in my summertime household!


"Yeah yeah, but after all this, is coarse grind cold-brew worth sacrificing my first-born for? I mean, I've raised that kid for ten years now and that investment isn't ditched easily”

_MG_8993w-2.jpg

So, I decided to actually find out and set up a sampling fest that I forced three companions to try with me.

  • Regular ground coffee ratio 1:5 coffee/water, 12 hours.

  • Coarser ground coffee, ratio 1:5 coffee/water, 24 hours.

  • Coarser ground coffee, ratio 1:10 coffee/water in case I want to drink it just like it is (you usually cut the concentrate 50/50 with milk/etc), for 24 hours.

I had earlier made coffee 1:5, coarse grind, and steeped that for 12 hours and found that it didn't suit my fancy. It tasted like I would imagine the ocean tasting when you're keen for a real fine cold glass of water. Therefore I opted for the 24 hour-steep for the coarser ones in my spectacularly professional taste test.

Result: Both the coarser ground samples tasted more like hot coffee, but with a bitterness that the 12-hour regular grind coffee didn't have.

The unanimous result;

All four of us that tested the different samples preferred the regular-ground brewing coffee,
steeped for a mere 12 hours.

And there we have it!

Somewhat happy that I don't need to get a burr grinder that will scream and break on me, and somewhat sad that I have to keep on sifting that shit through paper filters, I will continue making my cold brew with regular coffee maker-coffee. And I will sift it. For hours. And hours. And it's gonna be worth it.

_MG_9050_1w-2.jpg

Yes. We have an entire shelf with just condiments. I know.

A hint of sunshine before we go: A potential method that I realised though; Keep pouring that coffee into the filter as long as you have something to pour and don't let it settle because it will jam. When I tried this, it brought a little more silt into the end coffee than I wanted, but I managed to filter a lot more before it seemed to jam! Pray for me peeps, pray for me.

*staring at the decimated amount of coffee in the fridge*
*stares at me in the mirror*
*stares at the other two consumers in the household*
*sweat breaks*

sign-png-8-130.png

The jelly maker

_MG_9980w-2.jpg

I had a short bout with jelly years ago, bravely stepping into the ongoing bird-feast that was our rowan berry trees, fighting off the feathery party while trying to get ahold of two pounds of rowan berries before the birds ate them all in a delirious six day-long noisy binge that started shortly before the crack of dawn and kept going until the dark settled itself over the plains of Västergötland, Sweden.

I also made jalapeno jelly once, being lured in by the thought of devouring it with crackers and brie. While the jelly itself tasted lovely, according to the one who ate it, the process of boiling jalapenos together with sugar and vinegar for an hour made my then-husband flee our home two hours early for work because he couldn't stand the smell of rotting sports socks. I bravely stood my ground only because I'd already started the whole thing, I couldn't just give up in the middle of it even though I really, really, really wanted to.

_MG_9965w-2.jpg

So yeah it smelled equally bad this time. But it tastes good!

IMG_3380w-2.jpg

Rowan trees before the feasting

Now, rowan berries grow on trees and get eaten by birds at such a rate that their oncoming doom doesn't bother me really, but lately, I've found myself staring out of my window onto three shrubs lighting up in red, feeling the angst of having edible stuff go bad on me. Between our residential garden and the cottage's, we have six shrubs of red currants, and three with black currants, all intensely yeildy.

On top of that, we were three brave souls who tried BBQing and tasting three of the 60 Padron chilies we've been growing, and all three BURNED OUR FACES OFF. "One in ten is hot so beware!" my ass! I'm no stranger to heat, but those little green fuckers packed a punch. My gums stung for 10 minutes afterward. Clearly not edible as is or even with cream cheese, we had to do something else with them. We have jalapenos maturing too. Everything at once!

Now, I know that this is the way it works. No yield, nothing, nope, not yet, not quite, OKAY NOW ALL THE THINGS. That knowledge didn't stop me from becoming overcome with edibles and not having a real clue what to make out of them. A bunch of sweet cherries ended up in the freezer, and a bag of red currants joined them.

So what the hell do we do now?

Well, we make jelly. Lots of it. Lots and lots of it.

_MG_9886w-2.jpg
_MG_9876w-2.jpg
_MG_9907w-2.jpg
_MG_9913w-2.jpg
_MG_9920w-2.jpg
_MG_9923w-2.jpg
_MG_9959w-2.jpg

I mean, my 98% vegetarian stature knows that currant jellies go best with a roast, potatoes and a creamy sauce, but I'm doing it anyway. Firstly because it's necessary not to spoil everything out in the garden, and secondly because making jelly is SO. MUCH. FUN.

I can't explain it. Pick berries for hours, unknowingly stick your hands into spider's nests and have to brush off earwigs, boil the berries and then juice the mess and then tip two pounds of sugar into the juice and let it boil, skim endlessly and make all these awkward steps of sterilizing jars and making sure there's a vacuum in said jars and hope it's not all gonna spoil because you're terrible at sterilizing stuff as a newbie, having sticky jelly everywhere and your socks stick to the kitchen floor in the same spot for days because sugar is terrible to drop on the floor but then just look at the jars of semi-clear jelly (because I can't help myself but to squeeze the pulp, hee hee) and feel so content with your doing. Like you've been working magic when it's all mostly just you doing the same thing as any housewife like, ever.

Even A, who spent a traumatizing amount of time picking berries from the very same bushes as a teenager on the demand of his mother, willingly joined in and reflected on the soothing, therapeutic nature of the activity.

So we're making jelly. Red currant jelly, black currant jelly, rowan berry jelly, jalapeno, and padron chili jelly, you name it. When the time is right, I'm even gonna make champagne jelly because I've wanted to try it out for so long! And glögg jelly for that Christmassy trifle. And cola jelly! And... If you don’t hear from me again, I’m stuck to the kitchen floor.

sign-png-8-130.png

The cottage

I don't know where to start really.

You know how you want something so bad, for years, and then all of a sudden it happens? The feeling of surrealism mixed with excitement and fear that it's all just a dream that will get ripped out of your hands by that damn mosquito flying into your ear, waking you up at 3.30 AM, AGAIN.

As you groggily slap your own face to get rid of the pest, the realization that the dream was just a figment of your brain's imagination stings just as much as your face does.

_MG_9533w-2.jpg
_MG_9588w-2.jpg

But this seems to be real. My feet ache after walking around for hours to, from and around the cottage, my hands buzz after being used too much. My sunglasses are not at home, because I forgot them over there. Hell, I even have video proof of me ripping out a carpet. Let's hope it's MY carpet, and not someone else's.

We didn't really plan on it. We had toyed with the thought of getting a cottage somewhere rural because I have fantasized about it for so long, and because A have been thinking about it too. We were just supposed to look at old random cottages to get a basis for comparison, so we would know when we tripped over the exact right house in the right spot.

_MG_9530w-2.jpg
_MG_9628w-2.jpg

So yeah we won’t be using that oven. I’m sure it still works, but… no.

So when this popped up on the market, we figured we'd go there. On the way over, we discussed what dealbreakers we have. Big, costly needs of acute renovations, too harshly renovated, dwelling too much in the shadows of woods, too far out into nowhere, too small of a plot, too much traffic, too modern, no electricity, no water source.

The main idea with a country house was getting away from today's connected world, being able to go somewhere and relax, connect with nature in a more natural way. Somewhere where I can hang around old things, build furniture and interior decor that doesn't fit into a modern, sellable house (like building my own kitchen counter, for example). Somewhere to experiment, take care of the old, make a fire in the old cast iron stove and be forced to slow down. The old saying, and I'm paraphrasing, "when the hands work, the mind can rest", is so true for me. A wants to build and experiment with off-grid solutions to modern problems, and while we have a house to do this at, it's just not the same.

In our house, we have warm water, electricity, WIFI, microwaves and all the common comforts of modern life. The feeling of connecting an off-grid solution here just doesn't make sense.

_MG_9551w-2.jpg
_MG_9584w-2.jpg

Important information from 1962

So we got there and were welcomed by the sellers. Walked around with them, and then by ourselves. It's built in 1880 and from what my researched ocular inspections say, it was added-to and renovated around 1930. There's no water or drains inside but has a well outside. It has wooden stoves and a fireplace and the two kitchens from 1930 have probably lethal appliances. There is electricity. Uninsulated attic and a mess of a remade hallway. But the magic happens where the family that sold it, has been living there in succession from the start, and they've left so much old stuff. The barn is filled with random stuff that is worth zero in money, but so much for me. The attic has old furniture and table cloths and pots and pans, that one can find in any old second-hand shop. But it connects the house and the location to the people who have lived there all these years, and I think that's lovely.

Now, you're not supposed to fall in love with real estate and especially not the first one you look at, but I admit, I'm one of the people who do. One of the selling points was the massive amount of stuff they had in there, and we asked if they would leave everything they didn't want to take with them. Of course this saved them days, if not weeks, of work so they said yes. The thought of furnishing an entire house didn’t really gel with us either, it would be too much. With all the perks of this house and the absence of our dealbreakers, it tickled our fancy.

IMG_20190630_183114w-2.jpg

Drawings from 1955. As personal as it gets, without diaries

_MG_9611w-2.jpg

When I a little later, on our alone tour around the property, pointed at the old stone wall and without thinking about myself said "Does this belong to our cottage?", A said he knew that a bid was the table.

And here we are. Life's short, let's chance it. Let's hope we make it through life in regular with all it's obligations and can feel that the cottage provides us with a welcome breeze of calm and old-time renovations that fuels the mind and heart. Wish us luck. We're probably gonna need it.

And also, I'm asking for forgiveness from you guys that are not at all interested in old houses and old stuff, because... yeah you know that's it's gonna be a lot of that from now on.

What I've eaten lately

Yeah, so I needed an excuse to post images of food because I like posting pictures of food even though I'm in no way unique nor really creative or even cook very much, and... well I'm doing it okay? Okay! Good!

_MG_8750-2.jpg
_MG_8771-2.jpg

If you love garlic and haven’t tried grilling and smoking garlic in a little olive oil on the BBQ, DO IT NOW. I’ll wait. SO good.

_MG_8788-2.jpg

We tried the white version of our favourite bubbly, Haute Couture rosé. The blanc is meh. The pink is so good, and apparently suits a surprising amount of people’s tastes (source: Going around offering it to 40 people and most gladly accepted refills)!

_MG_8802-2.jpg

BBQ with halloumi and fancy sea salt in a little ceramic pot my mom made in 1972 crowns the food table.

_MG_9084w-2.jpg
_MG_9086w-2.jpg
_MG_9099w-2.jpg

I tried out my chocolate molds while I made whole coffee beans covered in 70% dark chocolate for the person in the household that doesn’t bathe in cold brew every day, aka my partner. They’re quite nice but leave a serious coffee breath, beware!

_MG_9137w-2.jpg
_MG_9160w-2.jpg

I also made my favourite… bun… cake? Swedish buttercake. It’s like seriously moist cinnamon rolls with cardamom, filled with vanilla cream. Recipe here, in Swedish. I’m sure you can translate it if it tickles your fancy.

Considering how much I love eating, I should cook more. Maybe I should cook more. Hmm.

Reflections on growing veggies + a few tips

_MG_8689w-2.jpg

May 2019.
The jungle consisting of three kinds of chillies, two kinds of peppers, cucumbers and two kinds of tomatoes.

I get A LOT of questions about this topic (JK, but we've all heard that one before amiright? #everyfishyblogger) about growing your own food, and while I WOULD consider myself an expert*, I don’t want to claim so because of the dangerous farming lobby that will come after me if I tell you guys how to do it yourselves instead of buying their fake veggies.

So, speaking from a purely leisurely perspective, I will now tell you all my secrets... Yeah, so I have no secrets, this will just be a rambly post about the first three months of this growing season with a few tips at the end, okay?

I used to consider myself a ”combat cultivator” because my favourite form of growing stuff was to throw out seeds onto a selected surface and just kind of wait and see. A few years down the line I have to retract that epithet, because I have been known to grow plants thousands of miles north of their natural habitat, aka here in Fimbulwinter’s God-forsaken lands and that calls for some extra steps to the regular plant maintenance.

And by extra maintenance I mean running in and out with the plants because winter returns in late April, sowing stuff at the right time (the dead of winter), not over-watering anything, having artificial lights on (we didn’t have any this year, you can tell by my crooked chili plants) because the lighting in Sweden in February is, let’s say… ”substandard”.

_MG_8699w-2.jpg

You also have to replant everything in bigger and bigger pots but hell if you put a small plant in a too big pot directly, shit will hit the fan! And also, having them out on the glazed patio, ie the only thing keeping them alive in this climate, requires a whole lot of checking temperatures because it gets piping hot in there if the sun shines all day, and I have to slide windows open to let in air when it gets too hot, and remember to close the gaps before it gets cold at night, and also have a heat fan on to keep them alive during nights and keep track of watering the plants one or several times a day, depending on the weather.

Oh, and also propping the plants up with sticks and supports so they don’t fall over and murder themselves by ripping out at the root and falling to the floor when I’m not there (still crying over that jalapeno plant), tying up the climbing cucumbers and the bushy tomato plants so they don’t ya know, break off and die, and having plant sex (with a brush) with the flowers in order to pollinate them just in case any pollinators haven’t been visiting lately. Later this season, I will have to fight pests and weeds off of the plants that are to grow outside. And then there’s the harvesting at the right time, not letting frost get to the plants, covering stuff to shelter them from the sun (ironic...), preserving the yield before it goes off, seeing to using the right kind of fertilizer for every type of plant (and not too much nor too little!), and just generally not killing my plants with stupidity.

But other than that, it’s not that hard!

*ahem*

_MG_7967_1w-2.jpg

I'm not even exaggerating, I wrote all that meaning it and it looks terrible. Why on earth would anyone choose to do this when it's cheap and easy to just buy veggies at the grocery store? I don’t have a good explanation, but like… it gives me meaning! I love the feeling of growing plants from seeds, tending to them and watch them get scarily big without much help, and then eating all the fruits they produce. My mom always waited for me to appreciate gardens, and lastly, I did. But not the kind she loved, she was heavily into roses and flowers and beauty. I love that too, but roses are too much work for me. Growing edibles on the other hand, has gripped me. When we first got those little tomato plants by my ex-mother in law in 2013, I had no idea how much I would enjoy growing my own veggies.

And here I am now, six years later with, honestly, overwhelming plans on a garden and veggie beds and we got literally 15 tonnes of soil delivered yesterday to make all that happen. It's gonna be so much work, and I can't wait!

Not all forms of growing plants are for everyone, you just gotta find your niche. Do you want to grow orchids and scheme against other orchid growers like in Midsomer Murders? Do you want to grow hydroponic herbs all year long? Do you want to grow every sort of pumpkin there is and decorate all of them for Halloween? Do you just want that one kaffir lime plant in your kitchen window because you use so much of it in your cooking? You do you! Try it out and see where your favour falls.

Lastly, not to make this a completely useless post, I DO have a few tips for anyone out there thinking about growing a few veggies or whatever.

_MG_8703w-2.jpg

It can get more expensive than you thought at first

Maybe you need seeds and pots and saucers and watering jugs and soil and fertilizer and sticks and string and shading cloth, maybe you don’t. Check around and see what your resources are, if you have things at home to use already or if you need to buy stuff. Just make up a plan, however simple, and look at the plant’s future needs (a plant that gets a meter high needs a big pot in the end, etc) and your own resources. Remember, there’s no end to how much money and time and effort you can put into a garden if you choose to, so you have to set up the boundaries. And as I'm about to mention, you don’t want to get carried away after not being able to kill off the extra 56 tomato plants that now need a lot more soil and a lot bigger pots, right?

Be prepared to care a lot more than you expected to

This one ties into the next point as well. Standing there with your partner, having planted the seeds together, cheering on the little seedlings that are just poking up through the dark soil. When you go around every day updating yourself on progress and tending to the little pots, is when it gets sort of real, ya know. It’s not just a white little seed in a pot, it’s a living thing! A living thing that will need attention, support and will give you wonderful produce to enjoy in the end.

_MG_7098w-2.jpg

Don’t be sentimental and/or don’t plant safety seeds

If you’re sentimental, DON’T sow ”safety seeds”, ie many more than you want just to be safe in case a bunch of them doesn’t take on. You’ll just end up with 114 chili plants, unable to kill any of them when they all turn into living things that demand maintenance, bigger pots, and a space to live. Also, you can’t give any of them away because all those peeps who cheered you on when talking about growing your own veggies just want to EAT homegrown veggies, not grow them themselves like common hippies, duh!

So you’ll just end up having to build an entire greenhouse for the plants to live in and THAT certainly wasn’t a part of your budget for this year, dangit! Don’t be sentimental with too many plants, those who are not up to par, those who do not bear fruit, etc. If it makes you feel better, thank the plant for its participation in your life and send it off to the distant gardens of eternity. I’m sure you’ll see each other there, no hurt feelings, etc.

_MG_7093w-2.jpg

Don’t plan to sow too many seeds, to begin with

In the dark of January when you start craving life again, it’s easy to think that yeah sure I can handle five of each type of veggie, but reality hits when you suddenly have to replant 50 mini pots a few weeks later, without having even touched the next round of seeds to be planted. I don’t really have room for my plants, but I’m keeping them anyways, OKAY. They’re sort of bundled together, maybe causing them to miss out on sunlight and that may lower the yield... And... I’ve gotten rid of five already, and I still can’t fit the ones left. Note to self, read this list in seven months. I mean, I knew that the tomato shrubs would get a little unwieldy, but now… they hit the ceiling and just fold over and continue growing horizontally in order to fit. Which brings me to...

_MG_8698w-2.jpg

Yeah so, getting smaller tomato plants next year…

Be sure to check the plant’s prerequisites before you buy the seeds

Look at the information on the back of the seed packets. Are they gonna be massive and you can’t fit them? Do they crave sunlight and you dwell in the shadows? Are they unable to live outdoors in your climate and you don’t have anywhere inside to keep them? How long does it take for the plant to grow fruits, is there enough time before winter comes? Check the facts first, so you don’t have to practice not being sentimental as much.

_MG_8527w-2.jpg

We tried growing “apple cucumbers” this year, a culture classic apparently. But the plants were huge, slow, unwieldy, took up too much room and the fruit tasted like a bitter version of a cucumber. In the time it took for us to harvest four regular cucumbers, we got two small apple cucumbers. It wasn’t for us, so we parted ways, aka I threw them out.
*practicing not being sentimental*


Sunk cost fallacy

Remember, just because you’ve spent hours on sowing, planting, replanting, tending, watering, moving everything in and out of the house because of the cold, tying up, supporting, pollinating and fertilizing, doesn’t mean you have to keep the plants if they give you no yield or if the produce tastes weird. Sometimes, they're just not the right fit for you, and that's okay!

_MG_7980w-2.jpg

Thank you for getting all the way here through these ramblings! I’m gonna go stare at a huge pile of dirt now.


sign-png-8-130.png

* The thesaurus says that an expert is a person that is very knowledgable or particularly skillful within a certain topic, and with a sprinkle of the classic truthiness, I can be considered as such. Ahem.

Managing my obsessive planting in GoodNotes (4)

_MG_7120w-2-2.jpg

As I’ve said before, when I turned to the dark side and ordered my iPad, I wished that it would come into sooo much use that I wouldn’t regret or angst over the amount of money spent on a tech thingie when I already had other tech thingies. But seriously, together with and thanks to, Goodnotes, it’s the best tool I’ve ever had. I never type on the iPad, nor edit pictures, but I do sooo many other things.

One of them is to keep track of what I’m actually doing in life. School, calendar, lists, information and slips I may need in the future that WILL get lost in the vast expanses of our house (JK, I can lose things on a dime), recipes I want to try and recipes I’ve tweaked to my liking, house things, and... the plant things. Having bought an overwhelming amount of seeds that needs categorizing into each of their month of planting, ways of planting, where they should be located later on etc, and of course the instructions on the packets is good to save for a forgetful seagull like me.

So what does an avid user of GoodNotes do? Start a new notebook of course, complete with a front cover. As you can see down below, not all of my books have covers yet, but I am working on it (in ProCreate on my pad, lavv it)!

I’m still using GoodNotes 4 because the 5th version messed with my documents, so I’m just waiting that out for a while longer.

IMG_0739w-2.jpg

One of the things I like, and prefer in the 4th over the 5th version, is that the document pages previews three in a row, instead of four. It’s easier to see what kind of pages I’m looking for when they’re bigger in size. Although, you can opt for adding bookmarks which is really handy when having lots of similar looking pages close to another, making the thumbnails harder to see what you’re looking for, but that is an extra step and you have to add them all yourself.

IMG_0742.jpg
IMG_0747-2.jpg

I used a simple gridded A4 paper in the GoodNotes (Version 5 has dotted too!) to make a chart of the plants and their schedules. I just used the geometric… button, and lined it all directly in GoodNotes, and then copied it for further use. Preferred months to be planted in brown, pink flowering times, and green harvesting times for edibles.

IMG_0714.jpg

I made a chart for where the plants will like spending their time, just to get an overview of what I need to regard when planning the garden. From the top; just outdoors, warm locations/half way sheltered, and then green house. From the left to the right; Sunny, half way shade and shade. And no, I’m not surprised that no plants want to lounge in shady green houses. But hey! In the future, maybe some plants will fit in that category, ey?

I also made small notations about the life span of the plants so I can hopefully make less terrible decisions when it’s time to shove them out into the world. I don’t want to have to dig up plants next year because I’m stupid, not in control of anything and/or forgetful.

IMG_0715.jpg

And here you have an example of the specific plant pages. The ones I could find of the internet, I added from there. The ones that I couldn’t find, I photographed and added instead. We’ll see how I like it and keep up with it! I forget so much from year to year so I think it’s gonna do me good to save stuff…

IMG_0716.jpg

In conclusion; without the pen, the iPad would be just another random tech thing for me. With the pen, it’s the most awesome tool to do almost anything. We’ll see how long I’ll keep on with GoodNotes 4 instead of the 5th, and if this actually makes me keep track of my shit.

sign-png-8-130.png

Third time is the charm even for gardening?

Honestly, things kind of just got out of hand. In more ways than one.

I was supposed to cheerily submit a post last week about this topic, but when I sat down by the kitchen table to take some photos of the seed packets I looked around the kitchen and saw things that didn’t belong and you know that itch to instantly do something totally different than the thing you actually set out to do sets in and you find yourself five hours later, having turned the entire kitchen upside down, rebuilt shelves, cleared out the fridge, washed stuff up, sorted, decluttered and gotten annoyed by exactly how many bags of cinnamon you have? No? Come on, I know you do. Oh, and there were four of them. Four. Yeah, I don’t know either.

Anyways, that’s what happened last week. No pictures of seed packets were taken and no plan was made nor any seeds planted. The kitchen looks great, though.

So, today I tried again. I sauntered into the kitchen around 11 AM and made myself three large cups of coffee to kick start up this sack of potatoes of a body and figured I’d just clear the dining room table and sort my packets in there instead seeing as the kitchen table is full of spice jars because what I ACTUALLY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO today was to assemble a spice rack so we can use the kitchen table again, but let’s not derail us any further.

I sat down, spread the packets out on the dining table and gleefully started planning my attack on the beloved activity of putting small pieces of green into small portions of soil and just hoping for the best. I managed to take some photos, go me!

_MG_6979w-2.jpg

But then I thought, “We’re supposed to plant all these dang seeds, and gosh jolly there’s a lot of them, but where?” The patio is a fucking disaster and the little plastic pots I’m supposed to plant in are somewhere in the middle of it. I grabbed my witchy cup of coffee and ventured out onto the patio.

_MG_6983w-2.jpg

“Dang, there’s a lot of stuff here.” I stared for a long time at the patio, breaking a sweat because even in Sweden, in February, glazed patios hold the lovely temperature of 35C/95F in the sun. I lifted a bag of fire wood, had nowhere to put it, dropped it again and thought; “We should keep these in the garage, but there’s a disaster in there too.”

_MG_6913w-2.jpg

“Yeah, plant those veggies, do it. See if you get to keep’em for yourselves. Hint; you wont.”

The garage. I stared at the garage. Dangit. Before I even had time to register the decision, I knew what tree I was barking up. Cue me seven hours later, sitting down for the first time since that faithful second on the patio, having gone through and sorted the entire garage, sorted and cleaned the patio, AND shoveled my way through 50 meters of icy, knee deep snow to reach the outhouse where the dang missing plastic planting pots could be. They weren’t there, nor in the garage or on the patio.

So naturally I haven’t managed to plant any seeds yet. The garage and patio looks great, though.  

sign-png-8-130.png

I went five days without any drains and this is what happened

Nothing. Nothing happened, you clickbaity titles-lovers! Or well, not nothing. A lot of things happened. Taking the bus to the nearby mall at my regular daily toiletry hour happened five days out of seven, for example. Apparently, a LOT of people don’t wash their hands at Ikea..

Life has its twists and turns. Sometimes, you lather yourself in technology, tumbling around in phones and surf pads and mobile chargers and cords that you trip over and you feel very modern when donning fitness trackers that count every step you take and, ahem, exactly how many minutes that nap lasted for. But sometimes it’s time for little more old school versions of life, a gentle reminder of everything we have and all the things we maybe don’t take for granted, but at least rely heavily on in the everyday existence.

Yes, it was time to renovate the drain and sewage pipes allotted to this piece of real estate.

We had hardly awoken from the effort of hosting a party for 42 people when two young men showed up on our door step with huge rolls of white, squishy floor protection plastic, duct tape and an enormous amount of tools, gadgets, beasts and trolls to set loose in our home.

Either it was time to ditch all our pipes, or the local serial killers had become REALLY organized. We chanced it. After being left alone in the house with the two men for a couple of hours and they had mostly just pattered by me, rolling out plastic in what felt like the entire house and disassembling all of our drains, I felt quite sure that they were in fact the pipe-renovation guys.

IMG_20181212_140023w-2.jpg

After quietly huddling in the living room sofa for a few hours, because having strangers messing around in your house is surprisingly unsettling the first days or so, the moment had come. One of the guys peeked in and said; “We’re gonna get stuff rolling now, so you know”.

And I knew.

No tipping coffee remnants in the kitchen sink. No washing one’s hands like normal. No doing laundry. No dish washer. No… flushing the toilet.

Well, now they had actually taken our toilet by then and put it in the hallway upstairs so not using it came quite easily, and if I may say, extremely naturally... But being able to get water into the house but not out the drains though, is a whole other matter. Completely fucks with all your habits. Filling buckets instead of the drains, putting stuff as reminders in the sinks, messing around with buckets of dirty and clean water and keeping track of what you put in what and PLANNING so much, it’s hard man. I’m just glad I didn’t have my period that week, because messing with a menstrual cup would have probably been awful.

But Ellet, you wonder, where ever did you pee (because women don’t poop, right!)?

Well, we were gifted, as a courtesy of the pipe renovation company, a plastic box with a ring and lid with classy double bagging as a replacer for the comfy white porcelain poop-be-gone-magician. I was handed a bucket of wood pellets and a scoop when I around hour six of the guys stealing my toilet went up to the one closest and said; “I’ve heard something about a glorified litter box?”.

And a glorified litter box it was. Also, the only location that I was guaranteed privacy was the garage, so out it went. At least I now know that sitting down on a plastic ring in a garage that holds the quaint temperature of just above freezing feels exactly the same as sitting down on the porcelain ring in our regular bathroom. The things you learn, right?

My biggest challenge was day 3 when I really needed to shower. Still feverish and beat from the cold that had been ravaging my body for a week by then, I couldn’t muster up the strength to take the bus downtown and shower at my old job, or say, my empty apartment. I just couldn’t do it, but I really needed to wash myself.

So what does one do then? Yes. I know you guys know where this is going. Yes. Three buckets of hot water, a small towel, a big towel and soap was carried out into the garage, early as to get myself cleaned up before any dudes in their mid-20’s arrived to possibly pop up anywhere at any time. After careful planning to go from cleanest to dirtiest with the buckets, and only undressing the necessary bits at a time, I was clean! Proudly, I could ascertain that cleaning oneself in a garage in a temperature around freezing, was surprisingly not-terrible. I mean, it wasn’t great. But I did manage to get clean and didn’t freeze much at all. Sometimes I wonder if I actually can carry my Swedish-Finnish mix with some kind of pride.

IMG_20181213_093254w-2.jpg

Litter box to the left, cleaning station post-wash to slight right

The job dragged out for a few extra days because of a little trouble, but we got to the end at last, having been totally without drains from Monday lunch to Friday at 8 PM, and then during office hours Monday-Tuesday the following week. And in all the madness of super loud air compression machines shoving epoxy soaked socks into our pre-war cast iron pipes like female condoms into muffs everywhere, almost soaking one of the guys in coffee because I forgot right at the end that I wasn’t allowed to pour it down the drain, having them running around in our house for eight (EIGHT) long days, machines going RAWR! every 20 minutes twice overnight, and washing myself in the garage in the dark so the neighbors wouldn’t think that the new people in the neighborhood are weird AND exhibitionistic (I mean, I can handle weird), I learned a few things.

IMG_20181212_140140w-2.jpg

I call it sewage chic.

1.       You get used to strangers hanging out in your house real fast. And I mean real fast. Three days into it, I constantly forgot they were there as soon as they quieted. I’m sure they heard a TMI conversation or two because.. well, I don’t censor myself at home most of the time.

2.       Having to go outside in the middle of the night to pee doesn’t bother me at all as much as I had feared. I have survived camping and now this? Who am I? A REASONABLE person?

3.       Hanging out late at night, brushing one’s teeth with one’s partner outside with the water mug on a frozen log, isn’t all that bad. It was one of my favorite aspects of the whole thing. Well, apart from having whole pipes, that is.

4.       You’ll spend weeks afterwards opening your eyes in the morning and going “I’m gonna pee this morning! INSIDE!” and really enjoy a luxury tour to the bathroom.

5.       If I’m really tired, I can sleep through someone sawing through metal. And then still wake up if a bird jumps around on a branch outside my window the rest of the time. “Okay”.

6.       Smoothing the insides of cast iron pipes with diamond studded chains sounds like letting an angry badger loose in the pipes, from a home owner’s point of hearing.

IMG_20181214_212923w-2.jpg

At least all the monstrosities that they dragged in didn’t make the old oil-burner room,
that I’ve dubbed “The horror room”, any WORSE right?

sign-png-8-130.png

Okay, so I made oat bars

IMG_3088w.jpg

You know how you just suddenly crave oats? No? Okay…

Ahem.

Well, you know how you just loathe everyday cooking and you’ve promised your boyfriend that you won’t eat any candy but you want to and realize that there’s a solution to both your problems? A magical way of circumferencing that big block of candy-denial that is the man that keeps on showing up at your apartment when you’re trying to claw open the chocolate bar in the fridge while trying to find like rocks that are the same weight as chocolate to put into the chocolate packaging for the quick little Indiana Jones-swap in case your he checks your fridge for looting?

Okay, good, now you’re with me!

The step following your clever solution-step is googling “granola bars”. A lot. Because people put the weirdest shit in these, man. Like more butter than oats? Milk? Honey, syrup, sugar AND brown sugar? Seriously? I’m cutting candy so I can avoid diabetes, man. DRIED CRANBERRIES? What are we, savages?

IMG_3011w.jpg

So when you finally find a recipe that’s like doable with some alterations, it’s half past ten in the evening and you just sort of roll off of the couch and make your dullest late-Saturday-night shopping ever, consisting of seeds, dried prunes and white chocolate. It could mislead you to believe that I don’t have a very exciting life.

Okay, so I don’t. There’s nothing wrong with that!

IMG_3015w.jpg

After all that strain to rush to the store, I unloaded everything in the kitchen and promptly went to bed, slept for eight hours, and then drank coffee for four hours before I ventured towards the bags of dry things loitering on my stove top. The making of my oat bars were of enough urgency to make me go biking for an hour a Saturday evening… obviously.

IMG_3023w.jpg
IMG_3017w.jpg

As Toby, who was eliminated in the first episode of season 4 of Great British Bake Off said; “And I have grrrrrated my thumb”. Here in the north, we always sacrifice a smidgeon of blood to make the cooking fulfilling for all parts.

Then about three hours of roasting oats, pouring things into bowls, humming hesitantly, doubting my purpose in life, going through dabs of all forms of sugar in my household, melting chocolate and chopping prunes ensued. What? I complain about cranberries and then use PRUNES? I’m half-Finnish, dude. One of the classic Finnish desserts is a dark brown sludge that exactly resembles sticky chocolate pudding but is merely WHEAT boiled until dead and then you pour a tad of full fat cream on it and remember the olden lands full of bark and darkness. Prunes are true joy, I tell you!

IMG_3026w.jpg
IMG_3034w.jpg

Raspberry and white chocolate, probably the most popular of the three kinds.

IMG_3045w.jpg

Prunes and dark chocolate. Gloriously Finnish.

IMG_3065w.jpg
IMG_3053w.jpg

Chocolate and orange, I totally winged it because there are NO RECIPES on chocolate and orange oat bars that doesn’t contain stupid stuff like bananas or orange concentrate. I pressed one orange’s juices and zested two, that was more than enough to flavour it!

IMG_3082w.jpg

The oat bars were tried and tested and approved by me and my gastronomical support that approves of everything I cook because that means he doesn’t have to. I still got a ton in the fridge; they’re supposed to last for like two weeks if kept cold. They are indeed a little… healthy tasting inspite of the chocolate and sticky sugaryness that keeps the oats somewhat from falling all over your clothes when you try and eat them, but all in all, they’re a great treat!


Here are the recipes I read and altered after my own silly tastes. The first one is the base for the prune and orange ones, the second is the raspberry and white chocolate one.

Best Dang Granola Bars Ever
Chewy Raspberry Apple Granola Bars (altough I used lemon curd instead of apple sauce because I didn’t have any apple sauce but I did have lemon curd. I’m fancy like that.)

DIY Glögg

IMG_9091w-2.jpg

The winds have finally turned. The sweaty, fumbling hands of summer, eagerly trying to get at the little remains of any part of this country’s sweet tender flesh that wasn’t on the brink of bursting into flames seem to finally have released its hunt for us.

Luckily, the slight shivering grip that summer holds on the few remaining survivors, making it unreasonably warm in spite of it being September, isn’t enough to stifle my joy as we’re heading into my favorite part of the year: Autumn, to be followed by Christmas. With the Christmassy scent that wafts through my residence every year in September, I better enjoy it; otherwise it’d just be a massive buzz kill.

Because you see, my fellow internetters, every year when autumn rolls around, I make my own glögg. Of course, the recipe itself isn’t at all unique nor lovingly made by my grandmother’s grandmother to be passed down unto me with a low whisper; “Take care of this piece of history and pass it on to future generations”. No, it was just posted as a classic in a local newspaper in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. I found it while googling. There’s a meaningful back story for ya.

Anyways, in Sweden it’s called glögg, with its internationally more classy cousins glühwein, mulled wine and vin chaud. This version of glögg my friends, is the epitome of rural folksy drunkenness. Taste wise, it’s up there in the fancy lounges, but during the making of it, it’s certainly an ugly duckling.

IMG_9062w-2.jpg

In short, all you need are spices, a watered down kind of beverage called “weak drink” (yes, whatever prejudice you have in mind is about correct), potatoes to give that real folky kind of feel, the disgusting wreckages of grapes also known as raisins, sugar and yeast. Sounds delish, right? Now dump all of that together in a classy as fuck plastic bucket (food grade of course) that’s left to ferment at the warmest coziest spot of your dwelling and in four weeks’ time, you’ll be plastered stiff by this magical, red-brownish mishmash of everything that’s enjoyable in Christmas times except for saffron. Don’t worry; I’m sure you can add that later on anyways.

Now, this recipe is quite simple, and I will list it, but I firstly I need to talk about the “weak drink”. The name is pure Swedish-English translation and it’s kind of like... It’s like if you would drink half a can of actual beer and then leave it out overnight, having the classic Swedish night rain fill up the can with water and expel all forms of alcohol in it. I would imagine it tasting pretty close to the weak drink. So I mean, you Americans out there can just choose your regular beer. BOOM!

IMG_0137w-2.jpg

Okay, so now we all know how to MAKE it. But how does it look? Unfortunately, I have to inform you that it is an ugly mess during construction. Your friends will shy away when they see it. You will be thinking “What have I done?”. The only person who won’t actively shy away from the hot, fermentation-fizzy freak of a bucket is that one relative you have who eats just about anything.

IMG_0132w-2.jpg

Example of how you could try classying it up a little, because adding a wooden box adds that air of craftmanship. The saying “Lipstick on a pig” could fit here.

But don’t worry. When it’s all said and done, and it’s been left to its own devices for four to six weeks, you ladle off the floaty bits and then punish it by putting it in below freezing temperatures for a while in order for all the swimming bits to sink to the bottom. Then you just hose the clear, beautifully scented glögg into bottles, careful not to get the bottom sludge along, and in tightly shut bottles, it’ll keep for up to three years!

HOME MADE GLÖGG, RECIPE!

Original recipe here.

5 liters of weak drink (watered down beer-ish tasting alcohol free fizzy drink)

5 sliced potatoes

50 grams of fresh yeast for sweet doughs

15 grams of whole cloves

20 grams of cardamom seeds

5 cm’s of fresh ginger, shaved and divided in four pieces

1 cinnamon stick

300-500 grams of raisins

2.5 kilos of sugar

3 dried bits of bitter orange peel (the original recipe is without this)

Mix it all in a ten liter bucket, put saran wrap with poked aeration holes over the top, let sit for 4-6 weeks. If your house is cold, find the warmest spot. I found that under 17C/62F, the fermentation goes into hibernation and we don’t want that!

Clarify with cold or whatever method you like to use. Siphon the cleared glögg without getting the bottom silt with you. Heat up and drink! The Swedish style is with almonds and raisins dropped into it.

20131116_222302w.jpg

A warning has to go out; if you drink as much as you like of it, the picture above will be a true representation of how you feel, and… see. So, it’s for grown ups to enjoy only. You’ll notice that when you sniff it for the first time and your false lashes pops right off of your face when meeting the warm, surprisingly alcoholic winds of your home made glögg.

Cheers!