Smoking Fish, real rain, move into Stockholm

MONDAY, 7/16 Stureby, Stockholm, Sweden

We are now in Stockholm staying in our friend’s parent’s house. Their family is vacationing on Menorca (Spanish island) and celebrating the father’s 70th birthday. The house is in a very nice suburb of Stockholm, houses around here have quite large yards. Driving in we saw many, many high-rise apartment blocks. Stockholm is very urban, and with the long winters being outside is not fun, so buildings are big and boxy with lots of interior, climate-controlled space. Today, we will start exploring this northern urban oasis.

On the weekend we tried some fishing for torsk (cod) and abborre (sea bass). The cod fishing was done half-heartedly at best. When I was here in 1979 they were plentiful. You jig for them – not kilts and bagpipes – just bounce a shiny piece of metal with a hook on gone by the 90’s, it is a wonder the Swedes did not starve to death. Man cannot live by potato and dill weed alone). Per says they have not caught a cod in 15 years, but the news says the cod are coming back and every year they give it a try. Conditions were not good to start with as it was windy, we did not set anchor and the boat was drifting. This meant we were jigging sideways instead of up and down. No fish. I think Per just wanted to give my boys the experience without really thinking we would catch anything.

Fishing for abborre was much more rewarding. Fishing for abborra was very much the same as fishing for bluegills at Gigi’s parent’s lake house outside of Auburn. Hook, worm, bobber, short fishing line. BAM! The fish dart out from under the boat dock and hit the worms. POP! On the dock, flapping around. Dad gets to get smelly hands removing fish and putting a new worm on. Repeat 5 – 7 times. Justin caught 4 eating sized fish 8 to 10 inches. Abborra can get much bigger, but do so out in deeper water.

Per said we had to smoke these fish for a real treat. We salted them and let them sit overnight, then set up a little smoker that the 4 headless, whole fish fit perfectly into. Sawdust and camping alcohol fire and 15 minutes they were done. They were TASTY! Salty and smoky and warm. Of course, we only had appetizer amounts to try, but everyone was attacking their thimbleful of smoked fish.

Our time out at the country house finished with real rain, not the off/on sprinkles we have had our first week. Per’s family was wrapping up their 3 weeks at the summer house and had to clean up everything so it would be in shape for Johan’s family (Per’s younger brother and co-owner of the property) to come out for their 3-4 week stay.

Today is blue skies and windy, time to experience the Stockholm subway system and the 1000 year-old ‘Venice of the North.’ After a breakfast of hard bread, butter spread and thin sliced Swedish cheese, of course.

Deciliters, Grams and Cups – My Attempt at Baking in Sweden

This is my first blog post and I thought I would write about my experience a couple of days ago with the metric system.  Per’s daughter, Filippa, turned 12 on Thursday and I decided that I would make her a birthday cake as my gift.  As many of you know, I love to make birthday cakes…the more extravagant the better! I wanted to make Filippa a real American-style birthday cake. I had to make the cake from scratch because the Swedish store here in the countryside didn’t have a traditional American-style cake mix. The kitchen here is pretty well equipped and Eva Lotta helped me find most of the pans and ingredients I would need. I just needed to get a few more things at the store.

Bob and I walked to the store and it turned out to be a 10k round-trip excursion – whew.  Despite my aching feet, I enjoyed the beautiful walk on a small country road lined with the traditional red and white painted Swedish cottages surrounded by fields of wildflowers. Per and Eva Lotta told me that the houses are painted red because it preserves the wood against the harsh winters here.  The paint originated as a bi-product of copper mining in the 1500’s and was used by wealthy people to simulate the red brick color of affluent homes throughout the European continent. Makes sense.

Time to make the cake.  The kids had gone off to the disco party and I was going to “stealthily” bake the cake before Filippa came home. I found a recipe on the web at one of my favorite sites and luckily it had a US to Metric conversion calculator.  So, I clicked on the little button and it recalculated my recipe. Great!!!  However, as I began to pull out the measuring cups and spoons, I noticed that everything was in deciliters and not in grams as my recipe required.  Hmm, how to go from dry measurement in grams to liquid measurement in deciliters? I searched on the web for a converter and found that one cup equals 240 milliliters. But I needed grams, which is a weight measurement. So I went from grams to milligrams to milliliters to deciliters, which eventually got me to, what I think was the right amount.  There was probably a much easier way to do this and all you engineers out there can let me know. The one thing about baking is that it is a scientific process and if you don’t have all your ingredients/chemicals in the right proportion, things could go very wrong.  So at 10pm as I was pulling my cake out of the oven, I was praying it would be ok.  It looked like it had risen properly. I hope it tasted good. Oh, one other thing I had to contend with, they don’t use vanilla extract over here.  Apparently, Scandinavian’s use something called “vanilla sugar”. It looks like powered sugar and tastes kinda like vanilla.  I didn’t know how much to use so I just winged it.  Since I am STILL suffering from jet lag a bit, I got up at 4am and decorated the cake so Filippa would have a surprise in the morning.  Well, she loved it!  She was showing all of her friends on Skype. It was her first big, American birthday cake!  At the little celebration, the cake got rave reviews from all the kids and cousins -everything turned out just fine.

Fejan Island Photos

Per and Bob. The ride tussled what hair we have. The beer has not yet arrived.

The Squall

A brief pause for Captain Per to determine our location.

Arrival at Fejan Krog. Parking was tight. No valet service.

Outside lunch area

Jordan jamming the Blues with the featured performer