Easy Squash and Nut Bread

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We mentioned a month or so ago that we had been hit by a big storm, which knocked out our power for a week and left 30+ giant trees down just in and around our immediate property. Now, we’re busy cleaning up the mess Alfrida (as she was named) created, which involves a lot of schlepping, pushing, lifting, dragging, moving, hauling and chopping, as well as a decent amount of grunting – but that’s of course just for show. We had a neighbor help us sort out the situation initially, when the scene looked quite treacherous – some trees were fallen but resting on others still (sort of caught halfway), some had roots attached, holding a dangerous amount of tension. And some were simply too wide for our chainsaw to work through, so these trunks we got help sawing up into the 30 cm/1 ft pieces (or round blocks) we’ll eventually chop into firewood. Needless to say, the amount of stuff we have to take care of is… mind-blowing (at least for just two people). In order to not get overwhelmed, we’re tapping into “a little bit at a time”-mode. Yes, we’re all like “Rome wasn’t built in a day” out there, as we’re moving the blocks, one by one, and creating a giant brush pile with all the branches. By glancing at the pile of blocks we’ve currently moved into one and the same place though… we have firewood for 15 years to come.

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Our Running Goals for 2019

After plenty of pondering, head-scratching and thoughts back and forth, we’ve finally decided what races we’ll run this summer. The reasons why the decisions took some time for us to get to are: 1. Peak racing season in Sweden is very concentrated, with many of our bucket list ones happening around the same time. Luxury problem: you can’t do them all but have to pick and choose. 2. We put our names into the OCC draw back in December, which would – if we got in – dictate a good part of the season. Hence, we had to wait until mid-January to find out if we did. Luxury problem: there is none, because we didn’t get in. Not to worry though, because fortunately there are many more years to come! 3. The distance dilemma – right after Ultravasan 90 last August, we were like “let’s never in a million years do this again!”, but an hour later it sounded more like this: “This was the best day of our lives!”. Luxury problem: you need to choose the distance you want to go yourself.

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Root Vegetable Grain Bowl

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Ah, wheat berries. Again. You’ll have to excuse us, but we love them! Nuttier and chewier than rice and about a million times more eco-friendly, it’s a winner any day. Another fun grain alternative is naked oats (Swedish: nakenhavre). Have you ever tried it? Really good as well, and actually even more of a nutritional power house than wheat berries, with higher protein content among other things. We’re working on developing some recipes with naked oats too, so stay tuned! But anyway. I think the first time wheat berries ended up in our home was back in New York, when Mike bought some with the intention of making his own wheat flour. Only, his coffee grinder surprisingly didn’t do the trick (it was hysterically funny) so the box was forgotten about for a while until one of those let’s-clean-out-the-cabinets cooking endeavors took place, and those wheat berries were put in a kale salad of some sorts. Since then, they’ve become a staple, and I’d say we eat wheat berries at least once a week.

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Loaded Veggie Tacos

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When I moved to New York, I learned a whole lot about tacos right from the start. The shredded lettuce, canned corn kernels and chopped tomato add ins of my childhood were all of a sudden nowhere to be seen – instead, the most elaborate combinations were served up and a food concept I had felt sort of “meh” about for a while became a new favorite. I recall this one conversation I had with Mike early on, where I sort of “explained” to him that in Sweden, we approach tacos in a much different way. I went on and on about the standard concept of ground beef, the aforementioned vegetables, the taco sauce or salsa, sour cream and shredded cheese – only to have Mike tell me afterwards that that’s how tacos are normally eaten in America too. Little did I know, back then, that I’d only been taken to these contemporary, trendy Mexican food places, where pickled red onions, thinly sliced radishes and habanero relish had just recently risen to the sky as the “new black” of taco toppings.

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Winter Lasagna

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The epitome of comfort food. The indisputable superstar of hearty, filling, energy-packed meals. And probably the best leftovers ever. Enter: lasagna. In all honesty, we don’t make it too, too often but instead save it for when go on e.g. ski trips and want plenty of food prepared. This particular version got to come with us on our most recent voyage up north, and let’s just say it hit the spot like nothing else after hours and hours of skiing, a sauna session and a shower (that we were hungry for another snack just an hour later wasn’t the lasagna’s fault, but rather nature’s – if it hadn’t been so darn pretty, we wouldn’t have stayed out until sunset and thereby been a tad less famished. But hey, more nature AND double evening snacks? Bring it on).

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Winter Kale Salad

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Yes, yes. Another one. But what can you do, when your garden still produces armfuls of fresh kale, despite constant sub-freezing temperatures and a decent snow cover? We throw together kale salads all the time, and only rarely do we follow any kind of recipe (not even our own, to be honest). Because kale salads are almost like those I-need-to-clear-out-the-fridge-soups – you grab whatever needs to be used up and put it all in a bowl together with massaged kale and a dressing (preferably a simple, creamy one). We usually think like this: kale – legumes – starchy vegetables – onion – something sweet – something crunchy – dressing. Use that formula, and you’ll be golden! This time, the combination looks like this: kale – chickpeas – potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes – roasted red onion – crispy apple cubes – toasted sunflower seeds – rosemary tahini dressing. I can’t really think of any combinations that wouldn’t work… except maybe roasted carrots. Or am I crazy to say that? It might be good. Yes, it probably is (I apologize, carrots).

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Roasted Red Cabbage

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This recipe will (humbly) serve as the first one in our little ‘stay local’ challenge we hope you’ll join us in throughout the month of February. This time of the year – here in the north – it’s easy to think produce options are few and far between and that one simply HAS to rely on imported vegetables to survive. While we always eat this way, we wanted to draw some extra attention to the plethora of storage friendly, amazing veggies we actually do get to choose from this cold, snowy time of the year, and really try to inspire all of you to… well, ‘stay local’. So join in, and opt for sustainable vegetable super heroes the coming month – and leave the asparagus, avocados and snap peas from afar be for bit. Instead, cook with potatoes, parsnips, beets, sunchokes, carrots, rutabaga, celery root, cabbage, kale, onions, kohlrabi, daikon, salsify, winter squash… the list is so long!

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Guide to Building Your Own Garden Boxes

Okay, everyone, it’s finally here – our quick and easy guide to building your own garden boxes 🙂 Mike has put together the very comprehensive plans, with all the necessary parts and measurements, and also created a pdf for downloading, for convenience (you’ll find the link right below here). The instructions are pretty straightforward so there’s no need for a lengthy how-to either – a few short steps and you’ll be done (well, that depends on how many you choose to build…).

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Winter “Spring” Risotto

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Hey, what’s this business about? Well, it’s a risotto that oozes spring (well, at least a little) while only relying on ingredients perfectly available this time of the year (a.k.a. winter). Having a bag of frozen green peas on hand can be a gold mine when time is limited, when vegetables are lacking on the plate or when you feel a little sick and tired of cabbage and root veggies (it happens to us too). They cook in literally no time at all, pack tons of nutrients, cost close to nothing, love growing in Sweden/places where it’s cold… it’s a winner any day of the week. When added to a risotto, they even feel quite fancy and sophisticated. Personally, we feel like peas don’t have nearly as good of reputation as they should – but we’re here to change that.

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Costs of living and shifting down

The very first thing Mike and I did after we had decided that we were going to move from New York to Sweden and take one year “off” from “normal life” was sit down and draw up a budget for… well, for everything. We listed categories such as monthly costs (inevitable, after all), ski trips (we knew we wanted to go on many of those), renovation of the house we were going to buy and move to, setting up a garden, unexpected expenses, savings we always want to have as backup etc. And then we put a certain amount for each category (the monthly costs-category was multiplied by 12), added them all up and voilà – that was the sum we’d need to pull off the move and the year off. We added up our current funds at the time and calculated how much was left to save up. And then we got to work.

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