Monday, March 31, 2014

Along the belt

Do you ever examine other people's groceries as they line them up on the conveyor belt? I mean, you're standing right there waiting for them to finish anyway, so you probably at least have a look. But do you make observations? Judgements? Conclusions? Frozen pizza and 1L coke: home alone tonight. Kale and Coke Zero: on a diet. Mini juice packs and Cheetos bags times 30: snacks for the football team.

I always think it's interesting to see what other people are buying. What will they do with that combination? Sometimes I almost ask them.


When I first moved to Sweden, I dreamed of starting a food blog. I love food and I love writing, so it seemed like a perfect match. Swedish food is exciting! And strange! Despite what you may have heard, I've discovered lots of delicious treats over here, of both the sweet and salty persuasion. Some I was hooked on from the start, others took months and years to grow on me (ie salt licorice aka getting a mouthful of chewy ocean saltwater). Regardless, my food blog never took off - or even started - but food is still often on my mind. 

As much as I love to eat, my experience behind the stove is quite limited. There is always something else going on, or something I need to get done - and since NS has a lot of experience in the kitchen, it's much easier to throw the reins to him instead. His specialties (read: full extent of his repertoire) are meatballs and pasta, hamburgers and pasta, fish fingers and pasta, and best renowned, his meatsauce and pasta. Do you see a trend? 

Now I love a good bowl of pasta as much as anyone, but day in and day out pasta is not my forte. Nor is the ketchup garnish that so many Swedes resort to. Ketchup instead of tomato sauce is not okay. 

Which is why there's been a gradual change in the Syk household. I go through cooking kicks and occassionally get sudden urges to create something tasty, but now it's becoming more of a habit. Tonight, it was this crustless broccoli and cheddar quiche, last night it was this cannelloni with goat's cheese. Last week, I discovered this incredible salad: kale salad with sweet potatoes and apples. A-m-a-z-i-n-g! 

What are you cooking right now? Where do you get inspiration? What's your newest favorite meal to make?

Monday, March 17, 2014

The land of sun and falcons

As it's snowed today in both Stockholm and my hometown, Annapolis (how is this happening on St Paddy's Day?!?), I thought it might be a good time to re-visit NS' and my trip to visit M & N in Abu Dhabi last month. A reminder that warmer temperatures do exist somewhere at least...

Have you heard of falconry? The practice of hunting with falcons? I would say it's an art, if not a way of life for many people in the United Arab Emirates, as our trip to Abu Dhabi brought to light. 

me feeding a quail to this falcon

The sheikh (pronounced shake) - the ruler of the land - has 300 falcons at his disposal, and brings them all along on his 3-week trips into the depths of the desert in search of what little wildlife is out there. His entourage sets up a mini-city transported by hundreds of vehicles to the middle of nowhere as a base camp - the most luxurious camping you've ever seen. And each day he chooses a few prized falcons to bring on his excursion. What a life.

Falcons can even have their own passports, and are given their own seats on flights. Can you imagine sitting next to one?

Abu Dhabi is also home to one of the world's largest mosques - and undoubtedly the most grandiose - the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. There's space for 40,000 worshippers inside, lined up in straight rows along the world's largest hand-woven carpet. It's truly a life-size Aladdin palace, no expense spared.

I thought I was safe with my head scarf and long skirt, but I couldn't show my arms either so here I am

NS and I splurged on an escape to luxury at one of Abu Dhabi's many beach clubs, this one at the Monte Carlo Hotel on Saadiyat Beach. A warm, turquoise infinity pool overlooking the Persian Gulf flanked by enormous sun beds was all we needed for an afternoon in the sun. It was heaven...


And on our last day in AD, we got to see the Red Bull Air Race soar through the skies above Abu Dhabi. It was by far the most impressive display of aerial feats I've ever seen (sorry Blue Angels, but you just don't compare). 

I guess the colored smoke helps (it's food coloring!)

Thank you so much to our fabulous hosts M&N for an incredible week of discoveries, sun, and amazing smoothies and falafel. 

we don't wanna leave!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

And so it begins

Finally! The breakthrough of my modelling career has arrived! I am The Local's official model of how to eat a semla. At least how to eat a semla the "aristocratic" way and the "milk bomb" way.

Semlor (plural of semla) are Sweden's precursor to Lent. I would venture to say that many, if not most Swedes don't know what Lent is. No matter, it's only important that we eat semlor this time of year, and mandatory on Fat Tuesday. 

And what a great tradition. These amazing treats consist of sweet buns cut in half and filled with almond paste and TONS of whipped cream. They're incredible

I've been known to go overboard on my consumption of semlor on Fat Tuesday. Last year I think I ate 4. Doesn't sound so crazy, but each one of these is the size of a hamburger - and probably double the calories. 

Anyways, this year, I kept it to a modest 1.5 on the day (add a couple more for my season total). But hey, I've got to compensate for my annual tradition: since I was about 13, I've given up all desserts for the 40 days of Lent. Some of you, I can imagine, are thinking that's no big deal. For me, I can say this is a very big deal. And of course that's why it must be done. There has to be some point throughout the year during which I practice a bit of self-control, right? 

So here it goes. 1 day down, 39 to go...