7 gifts in a jar.

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This happens every year; a glut of birthdays, dinners and celebrations when vacation time is over and schools start. I thus need a bunch of presents and even though I usually plan ahead (and yes; I have a “gift drawer”) I also turn to these homemade things to give or sometimes hand over instead of a flower. None of my friends actually need more “stuff” so giving nice things that are put to use is a good way to go. A word of caution: make sure to sterilize jars properly beforehand so that you do not give friends food poisoning. 

  1. Granola. As I blogged about the other day (here) I make my own and making a batch for someone else isn’t a bad idea. Just make sure that whatever you make is not gonna cause them an allergic reaction.
  2. Jam. You do not have to dress yourself in an asbestos suit and search the forrest for berries, and then slave away in a kitchen that becomes as hot as hell. Buy frozen fruit and a bag of jam sugar at the supermarket instead. It is very easy to make a small batch, just a couple of jars. Buying some Bonne Mama or Tiptree jam is always appreciated (and those are good stuff), homemade does allow for a personal touch like some vanilla in the blackcurrant jam, a mix of strawberries and red currants or plum jam with a dash of dark rum. Once you go down that path you will never look back. Search online and many recipes are available unless easy to follow instructions are printed on the bag of jam sugar.
  3. Romtopf. Speaking of rum…This is a desert for adults only and it won’t be ready for three months but that’s not a reason not to give it now. We are in harvest season so plenty of berries to pick or buy, and frozen is fine btw (just defrost them a bit before the layering so it doesn’t become to watery). I prefer using light rum and dark sugar and insist on a cinnamon stick. I’ve posted about it here. Make sure that the instructions “Must not be opened until December” are on the tag (and maybe ask them to turn it once or twice before then so it mixes?)
  4. Flavored sugar. This is the kind of thing that nobody thinks they need, until they have it and then life is never the same. So many of them can be sprinkled on porridge, used in cooking or baking or is all else fails; mixed with boiling water to make a syrup for cocktails. The best tip I have is to make several small jars, like three different, and make that the present just to give your friends a taste of what flavored sugar can do for them. A nice mix is lavender sugar, one with citrus and lastly one with vanilla to get them started. This is similar to how I go about it.
  5. Readymade spice mix. If I was perfect woman I would roast spices every time I made a curry (and make no mistake, curry season is coming). I also fall back on ras-el-hanout and other spice blends for chicken. Basically it’s an easy way not to have to think about seasoning every time and cut down the process. I probably have posted about this before but cannot find it and so I encourage you to search online or in cookbooks. It’s the best thing. Giving a few hints what it’s for on a note to the recipient  is mandatory.
  6. Bodyscrub. This is easy to make but it must be mentioned again that it shouldn’t be used on the face, take it easy with essential oils (I stick to mint or bergamot when gifting it) and it shouldn’t be used to often as it clogs up the drains a bit (but it doesn’t last forever so use it, and keep it in the fridge in-between). I’ve blogged about it here.
  7. Treats. If you have the granola all you need to do is melt some chocolate and then mix the two and let it set. This recipe is similar to mine (mine comes from a handwritten note now covered in stains).

-Suss

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Monday & Magnum

So I had heard of this thing, and it turned out to be true; there is a Magnum pop-up in Stockholm where you can buy your own personalized Magnum.

So we are talking vanilla ice cream on a stick, not the most glamorous of things. But I had seen pics around IG and I was intrigued by the toppings so I suggested to someone that we should go try them (i.e. I may have been somewhat insistent. OK OK, I confess, I was on a little campaign there).

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Because the thing is, that ice cream on a stick with fancy toppings is 50 SEK, about €5, which feels like a lot for a Magnum. But then again people pay almost that for a latte in this town. And a piece of my soul is now the going rate for a decent perfume so economics in this town are skewed. For the price of a Magnum I can get a brand new shirt.  The shirt will last about as long as it takes me to eat the ice cream but still. And I shouldn’t eat regular ice cream to begin with but I have never really taken care of my health so nothing new there.

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There is a buffet of toppings, and they all looked nice. I went with salt licorice sprinkles, dried rose petals and meringues. You get to choose which chocolate they dip it in and what they drizzle on top; milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white. I went with the dark for dipping and white from drizzling.

Was it good? Yes. I like this combination of flavours and it will probably result in a very avantgarde Eton Mess in the future. Was it worth it? Taking the price and a bit of stomach ache into the equation, for me it was worth it to do it once just to try.

Find out more here.

-Suss

George&Junkshops; 7 things to look out for

A junk shop is not to be confused with an antique shop. An antique shop is clean,its goods are attractively set out and priced at about double their value and once inside the shop you are usually bullied into buying something. A junk shop has  fine film of dust over the window,its stock may include anything that is not perishable and and its proprietor, who is usually asleep in a small room at the back, displays no eagerness to make a sale.

-George Orwell

I’ve quoted this passage from the essay Just Junk-but who could resist it by George Orwell before and I will again as I happen to think it’s very funny and it’s funny because it’s true. Everyone I know remembers how when I moved into this flat there was the oddest junk shop on the corner and it fit this description perfectly. We have all bought stuff there and some of it was very good, and possibly a bargain. The most memorable thing however were the long essays that the proprietor left in the window for passers by to read, explaining his worldview and what was wrong in society today.  A lovely bit of eccentricity that the neighborhood did gain from I think.

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Had I had this wonderful essay by Orwell then I would have bought more things probably; Orwell is a gem of a writer but also a seasoned shopper. Some of the things he tells us to look out for in the essay(included in The decline of the english murder)

  1. “Victorian brooches and lockets of agate or other semi-precious stones”; Orwell concedes that 5 out of 6 are ugly but the beautiful ones are worth the trouble. I will start looking immediately, this sounds like exactly the thing I like. Why don’t I have lockets of agate already ?(because I love jade that’s why)
  2. Papier-mâche snuffboxes with pictures painted on the lid; If I had a small collection of those my accessories would be well organized. I have those Muji thingies but they are not very sexy. Probably more practical but since I use the same pieces to death in periods (and then they are either on me or in my small Wedgwood dish) it’s not really something I need worry about.
  3. Scrap screens; He points out that the best were made in the 1880’s but these do not come cheaply anymore. I do agree that they are wonderful. An old friend bought one and used as a bed board, simply marvelous in that kind of minimalist Stockholm home that is de rigeur nowadays. And as Orwell points out; it is fun adding your own scraps if needed . I would like a screen in any case and I might just make my own with all the maps and other travel mementos I’ve gathered over the years.
  4. Glass paper weights with pictures at the bottom; Don’t buy the expensive ones from John Derian I implore you. Buy a 70’s one with the words “Bienvenue à Nice” at the bottom instead. You need a bit of kitsch, you really do.
  5. Old French sword-bayonets(to use as a fire poker); Pure genius.
  6. Keys to fit almost any lock; And if you don’t want to find a key to unlock a secret drawer in a chest (also bought in a junk shop), you can always turn them into art or accessories.
  7. “Indeed,I have often found that the cheapest way of buying a frame is to buy a picture and then throw away the picture”; This is very true but it should be added how many pictures that look a lot better when they are out of their frame. It absolutely used to be the case that people got very elaborate gilded frames for pictures and paintings so that other could clearly see that the it was something expensive that had been framed. That it ended up overshadowing the actual artwork seemed less of a problem. You might just get two for one with that.

-Suss

 

Carter&Lord Carnavon

IMG_1166Well ,King Tut is in town so we decided to pay him a visit; feels like he’s an old family friend. And when I say we I refer to 75% of my family. We have lived in Egypt, and seen an awful lot of artifacts. My mother in fact bought a replica of the death mask of King Tut at one point, so I grew up seeing him there on the top of the shelves. According to family lore it wasn’t that hard to bring home, she had it as a carry-on and it was a  reasonable size* but they had to break of that chin piece to make him fit in the overhead compartment. It got glued back on “en situ” so no worries.

Point is we are a tough crowd to impress, and we left happy enough.

So let me adress the elephant in the room;  to what degree are these things  in fact originals? It says so on a lot of signs that they are but security seems to consist mainly of a sign saying “please don’t touch”. And we felt that it wasn’t really relevant: it’s a good show they put on. The aim is to recreate the story of how Carter(with financial backing by Lord Carnavon) found the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen, and in that they succeed.

In the lobby their is a copy of the Rosetta stone, the original being found at the British museum. The story behind it, and how it became the key to understanding hieroglyphs is fascinating. I read a book about it, how frenchman Champollion cracked the code, but the short story is that the same text, in three different languages, is engraved on the stone and one of those languages is ancient greek. But I digress..

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Then there is a short film with some backstory (Carters life is like a Hollywood movie to be honest) and a guided section that tells the story of how they found the tomb and what they encountered when they opened the seal. It’s well done with audioguides and all. The rest of the exhibit is essentially the items they found, spread out, catalogued and created into sections. Good information in the audioguide with a bit of dramatic music for flair. I may sound like I’m making fun of it but I’m not; we were entertained and had we not known anything before we probably would have left informed. I do miss a discussion about who has the rights to the finds, and a summary of discussions about opening graves in general, and how archeology is conducted nowadays but this is not a state museum putting on the exhibit but a private entrepreneur so they don’t have that obligation. A nice complement to this would be a visit to the Mediterranean museum here in Stockholm that also has a substantial collection of Egyptian artifact but none as famous as King Tut.

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In short: all very nicely done, and good for children. Sadly the venue is in the middle of nowhere, but they’ve made sure the on-site café is really nice.

Sidetone; I should have worn my skirt with a Nefertiti-print for total Egyptian feels but it was too cold and windy. I did however wear it that time when I saw the bust of Nefertiti in Berlin. Which was cool, people did a double take and all. Given the chance I totally dress to match the exhibit.

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Things referenced in this post;

King Tutankhamen exhibit

The linguist and the Emperor by Daniel Meyerson

The Mediterranean Museum

-Suss

*as opposed to the almost life size ceramic cheetah she once brought home from Italy which needed an extra seat my mother refused to pay for.

From Russia with love

img_9943I did warn you that I was gonna make a cocktail inspired by this book so don’t look so surprised. Nothing fancy though, just a twist on a classic “French75”.

It’s “big book season”. The days are short and the weather is bad; taking refuge on the sofa with a substantial read is the only thing for it. And yes; more then one book by a russian writer or on the subject of Russia has turned up. It goes  well with winter is what I’m claiming(and a lot of people would agree with me).

My brother is a huge history-buff and the Romanovs have a special place in his heart. He used to have a copy of this book actually, and got rather excited when I spoke of reading it(although inspiration came from @liinabachmann).

It’s a brilliant book, and I was surprised that it was his debut( he later won the Pulitzer prize for his book about Peter the Great). The work with Nicholaus and Alexandra(or Nikolaus och Alexandra as my copy is called; I read it in the swedish translation) came about after his son was born with hemophilia, just like the son of Tsar Nicholaus and his wife Alexandra, which makes for a touching anecdote.

It does read like a novel and you couldn’t make Rasputin up if you tried. He just wouldn’t be credible. And they lived in the last days of the old empire, where the champagne flowed and Faberge outdid himself with those eggs; the opulence was at it’s peak just before the fall.

As I got some “Tzar Alexander” tea from Mariage Fréres at around the same time as I bought the book it seemed logical to use the tea in the cocktail; I made a tea-syrup. There are different methods to achieve that. I most often make a very strong tea(let it steep for 5 minutes) using the normal ratio of tea leaves and water,  and then bring that tea to the boil before adding one and a half  the amount of sugar and stirring until sugar has dissolved. It makes for a rather rich syrup, but not to heavy. In this case its just enough. You can use any kind of “Smokey earl grey” as a substitute. When it has cooled pour into a clean bottle. Will last about 2 weeks. A smokey tea syrup like this is excellent in many cocktails; add some to a Martini or instead of Maraschino in a Martinez. Mind-blowing.

Anyways; having made the syrup I decided that this was gonna be some kind of Champagne cocktail and as the “French 75” is a fave, I decided to make a twist on that. I’ve never claimed that my cocktails are always super difficult; I just want people to drink quality rather then quantity.

A French 75 is usually sugar,gin,lemon juice and champagne. In this case it ended up being smokey tea-syrup,vodka,lemon juice and champagne. And I chose pink champagne for extra opulence. The swap for vodka should be self-explanatory. These flavours do go together well; the smokey and the sour balance each other, the vodka gives a kick.

The suggested name so far is “The Alix” but we’ll say what it’s called in the end. Will make this again no doubt.

Romanov twist on french75; yields 1 cocktail

3 cl vodka

2 cl smokey earl grey syrup

2 cl lemonjuice

for serving;

cocktail coupe or champagne flûte

pink champagne

  1. Stir ingredients in an ice-filled stirring glass until chilled.
  2. Pour into the glass.
  3. Top up with pink champagne.
  4. Serve.

As always; drink responsibly.

-Suss

 

 

Doomsday!!

30 cm of snow has fallen in the last 24 hours. Traffic is a mess; I should have given up and walked home, would have gone faster. Currently stuck on a train, don’t know for how long. So no blogpost today! Check out “On the barcart” because in this weather and world( Trump for president?) we could all use a cocktail.

-Suss