gratinated bean tortillas

I was supposed to post this last Friday (had it all set to go) but then the unspeakable happened and posting anything didn’t feel possible.

Sadly I’m not shocked that we had a terror attack in Sweden. I’ve talked to people several times about the fact that it wouldn’t be a question of if, but a question of when – and many others have said the same thing. And the fact that we feel that way is horrible. I was sat in my office when I got a message from S saying “Are you ok?” and with a screenshot from Swedish Radio’s Twitter-feed saying a lorry had just crashed into Åhléns department store in central Stockholm – 600 metres from my office. No one on my floor had heard the news yet, but they soon spread and we all turned on various live reports. Everyone’s phones were ringing – friends and family trying to make sure you were ok. The police closed down the entire underground system and all inner city buses, and people were ordered to stay inside their offices. Shoppers were locked into shops for their safety.

What I have to say I was wrong about though is our response. Despite the obvious – that they have security warnings out and train for these kinds of horrors – I didn’t think they would be this well-prepared. They have done a fantastic job, they responded quickly and forcefully, were quick to send out a picture of the suspect to the media and arrested the driver that same evening. My mum always said she was worried about me living in London because it’s a big terrorist target and I always replied I would be more worried about it in Stockholm – but I am glad to say that I believe the police force has surpassed the whole nation’s expectations. And we have shown them how much we love them for it.

I don’t think I’ve quite processed it yet though. It was only two weeks prior that I was worriedly texting my friends in Parliament hoping they were ok and thanking whatever powers may be that S had only worked a half day that day. I had worried calls from my family asking was he ok, and was trying to process that a spot where I had frequently walked at exactly that time on exactly that weekday had been subject to a terror attack. Hearing from my friends who were on lock-down in their offices in Parliament and who couldn’t leave to go home until 6-7 hours later. And then it happened again. But this time in my town. On a road that I frequently walk down and very well could have been on a Friday at 3pm. But at least this time I knew that if everyone was where they were supposed to be, I would be the only one of my close family and friends near the attack.

No doubt it will all sink in soon enough. There are many emotions tumbling around inside me right now, but at the moment the strongest of them all is still pride. Pride in our police force, pride in the love we as a people have shown them (if you haven’t seen the police cars overflowing with flowers it’s a beautiful sight) and pride in our response as a nation. I have never seen so many people gather at Sergels Torg as they did for the vigil on Sunday afternoon. The flowers that were put on a fence by the place of the attack had to be moved because the fence was beginning to collapse.

So right now we are a country in mourning but we’re trying to go on as normal, if only with a little more love for one another.

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Something I’ve discovered I really like, which surprised me a bit, is bean chillies. It started out before we were getting married when I decided to try 5:2 to help me get in better shape. Not being the kind of person who could eat only once a day I would have to split my 500 kcal intake between lunch and dinner – which obviously isn’t the easiest thing to do. But to my rescue came M&S and Eat. Eat had a really nice Pho noodle soup which was only about 220 kcal and a side-order ham hock and egg salad which was big enough to work for lunch and which, including the dressing I never ate, contained about 270 kcal. M&S had a range of salads and soups too, but they also sold these little one-portion tins of three bean chilli in their Count on Us range. One tin was 200g and had, I think, 214 kcal worth of food and I would sometimes eat several each week. On fast days I’d eat them either with just a small amount of added sweetcorn, or with those ‘zero calorie noodles’, and on non-fast days I would eat them with sweetcorn and cheese on top of a baked potato. I actually still have a few that came with me to Sweden, but unfortunately they don’t seem to sell them in most M&S shops any more.

So when I got my slow cooker and was thinking about what to make first it was only natural that the three bean chilli with sweet potatoes became my fist course. And now that I feel like trying to eat more vegetarian it’s only natural that I turn to beans again. Because working out 3-5 times per week, and wanting to add muscle rather than just lose weight, I still need my protein.

I like black beans and kidney beans (and chickpeas – do they count as beans? I’ve read that they can also be called garbanzo beans) but I’m not as keen on white beans. I think it’s the ‘white beans in tomato sauce’-associations that put me off them. With the success of my three bean chilli, I’ve wanted to make something else bean-centred, but haven’t quite known what until last week when I was browsing Ica’s recipe bank for vegetarian mains and found their “gratinated bean tortillas” recipe. Seeing as I love enchiladas I was thinking this would be a good substitute, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed.

I think the dish was ok – but it was too sweet. Using normal tinned tomatoes and pasta sauce (rather than enchilada sauce) meant that it lost those enchilada-associations I was hoping for, since there was very little spiciness. Having looked for enchilada sauce sold separately in the supermarket (for another recipe I want to try – a slow cooker enchilada quinoa casserole) but not having found it, I have instead found a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce that looks fantastic. So next time I make these bean tortillas (and there will be a next time because other than the sweetness they were very tasty) I will make sure I have a batch of that homemade enchilada sauce to go with it instead of the tinned tomatoes and pasta sauce.

In case you want to try this recipe as it is anyway, here it is.


Ingredients (8 tortillas)

1 tsp oil

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

3 tbsp tomato purée

390g tinned, crushed, tomatoes

380g kidney beans

380g black beans

300g sweetcorn

8 medium tortillas

390g pasta sauce with chili

100g cheese


Chop up the onion and fry in the oil. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder and stir.

Add tomato purée and crushed tomatoes and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.

Rinse the beans and add them and the sweetcorn to the pan.

Put the tortillas in an oven dish and fill with the bean mixture. Top with pasta sauce and grated cheese.

Bake at 225 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.


Serve with guacamole or salsa and sour cream.

/t

kanelbullar

They say home is where the heart is. But what if your heart – or rather, the person holding your heart – is in the wrong place?

It’s been almost seven months now and I don’t miss living in London. I miss London, but not living there. It’s a great city to be a tourist in – the culture, food, shopping, and sheer size of it – and a great city to live in while you’re young. But I was getting to the point where it was no longer the city I wanted to live in, a point where I needed to break free from the bustle. I love coming back to visit family and friends, the fact that I still feel like a local when I’m there. I love the bustle of London when I’m a tourist and know that it’s no longer my day-to-day life, my daily commute. I will always love London and London will always be a part of me, but I was born and raised in Sweden, and Stockholm is a larger part of me.

After what has essentially been eight years living abroad, Stockholm was calling me home. I’m one of those people who genuinely love my hometown – whether that makes me naïve or patriotic I don’t really know and don’t really care. I love walking around the city centre and still being surrounded by water everywhere. I love how you are always close to nature. And after three years on the Jubilee line I even see the Stockholm underground in a different light (though it does run much less frequently).

I walk around my city now, feeling the chill that comes with autumn – you know the one that gently bites your cheeks and makes them all rosy – and hearing the crunch of my steps as I walk through the fallen leaves, and I feel excited. These butterflies and this warmth in my chest is something that only Swedish autumn can bring. The beauty of the colourful leaves, the chill’s promise of snow, and the thought of knitted socks, big scarves, thick jackets, and cinnamon buns and hot chocolate – which will eventually be replaced by saffron buns, gingerbread, and mulled wine. All Saints’ Day at Skogskyrkogården, Lucia, Advent, and Christmas. (And then a few grey and miserable months before the budding blooms and an explosion of flowers in spring.)

Physically I feel better in Stockholm. I’m working less overtime, I’m going to the gym more often (having 46 branches instead of three certainly helps, and so does being able to leave the office at 5-5.30pm!), I eat better, and I stress less.

But (and it’s a big but) I’m not as happy as I know I could be, and the reason is of course that S is still in London. These past few weeks he’s been coming over almost every weekend, which has made the weeks easier to get through (and made them feel like they passed a lot quicker), but it’s also made it more difficult because it makes it even more noticeable that he’s not here during the weekdays (and let’s not even talk about the weekends where he then hasn’t been here). It’s like a double-edged sword – I get to see him a lot, but I feel even lonelier when he’s not here because I get to see him a lot. (I would obviously always choose that option over the other one though!)

So this is why I’ve been feeling down recently. I’ve lost some of my motivation to do things and felt slightly caught in a rut. I’ve been eating a lot more pick and mix than I should, and cinnamon buns too, but at least I’ve still been good with making my own lunch. That’s really more of a money question than a motivation question though. But I haven’t had the energy to write down the recipes and take pictures – it’s also getting more difficult to get ok pictures since it’s getting so dark out! – or make smoothies in the morning. I’ve still gone to the gym every week though – if only twice instead of four times, and I’m happy I’m still keeping that up somewhat. Last week and the week before I went three times, and this week I’m scheduled in for four. So at least I’m not letting my lack of motivation and feeling sorry for myself become an excuse for quitting the gym again – which I did in London. I did work much longer hours there though, and I wasn’t tied up for a year, so it was much tougher to work up the energy to go when you come home at 8-9pm and haven’t had dinner.

Anyway, I thought I’d pull myself out of my blogging dry-spell with my cinnamon buns I made a week and a half ago, and then I have a really nice pork and cider stew I made this weekend (if I can get some good pictures). I also have a tomato and roasted red pepper soup I made two weeks ago, and a pasta. So keep checking in – I promise I won’t abandon you just yet.


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Ingredients (36-40 buns)

150g butter

500 ml milk

50g (1 pack) fresh yeast

100 ml sugar

0.2 tsp salt

(2 tsp cardamom)

approx. 800g flour

1 egg

150g butter

100 ml sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon

pearl sugar


First things first: Swedish cinnamon buns have cardamom in the dough. S doesn’t like cardamom, so I make mine without.

Second, I always use fresh yeast when I bake. I can’t stand dry yeast. If you don’t know where to get fresh yeast (in London you can get it at Scandinavian Kitchen which is about 5-10 minutes from Oxford Circus) you can use dry yeast, but I don’t think the dough turns out as nice.

Ok, on to the good stuff!

First, crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a pan, then add the milk. Leave on the heat until it reaches 37 degrees Celsius. The easiest way to judge this if you don’t have a thermometer is to put your finger in it. If it feels neither hot nor cold then it should be good to go.

(While you cut the butter, leave 150g to soften in a bowl at room temperature.)

Pour some of the liquid over the yeast and dissolve. Add the rest of the liquid and then the sugar, salt, and cardamom. Stir until the sugar dissolves somewhat.

Measure out the flour and add slowly to the liquid, while stirring with a wooden spoon. Once all the flour is added, work the dough for at least ten minutes, until it’s smooth (five if you’re using a machine). Cover the dough and leave it to rise for 30 minutes.

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The risen dough

In the meantime, take the other 150g of butter, add 100 ml sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon and cream together until completely mixed.

Once 30 minutes have passed, tip out the dough on a floured surface. Cut into two equally sized pieces and set one aside. Roll the first piece out into a rectangle, about 0.5 cm thick. Take half of the spread and use a butter knife to spread over the dough. It is important that the butter is really soft here, or the dough will break. Roll up the dough on the long end, and cut into 1-2 cm thick slices (depending on how large you want your buns). Place on a baking tray in a cinnamon bun case (like a large cupcake case with lower sides) – if you don’t have cases you can also place them on a baking sheet.

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Repeat the process with the second piece of dough.

Cover the buns and leave them to rise for another 40 minutes.

Brush the buns with a beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar. (Again, this is available at ScandiKitchen.)

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Bake for around 10 minutes at 225 degrees Celsius (slightly longer if they’re huge).


Enjoy!

/t

low

I’ve been feeling a bit low lately, which is why I haven’t been posting anything in a few days. I’ve kind of lost the motivation to eat well, and all I’ve wanted is sandwiches and sweets. I’ve stopped making the smoothies in the morning because I don’t have the energy to plan ahead. I feel tired all the time. I’ve been trying not to skip out on the gym, but I’ve also been feeling like I’m getting a cold, so I have skipped a few classes I was booked in for. I just want to pull the cover over my head and sleep through the day, which worries me a little because that’s how I felt the last few months in London.

I have a recipe for you – because I did make my cinnamon buns last week (and they turned out great thank you!) – but it’s a bit of a process to write it all down. I’ve also been trying some new food recipes (still need lunch for work), but I haven’t always been taking pictures of the dishes because I’ve mainly had them for lunch and it’s a bit embarrassing to be taking pictures of my lunch every day!

So I’ll get the cinnamon buns up next week. This weekend I just need to not really do anything and enjoy the fact the two days with my husband.

/t

19.09.2015

Today there’s no recipe, no smoothie, no picture of something I’ve eaten. Today is my first wedding anniversary.

At this time, one year ago, I was standing in the church next to my fiancé, watching the priest bless our rings. It was a truly amazing day, and everything was absolutely perfect.

/t