Saint Lucia Day – Candles, Glögg, & Saffron Buns {Recipes}

Today is St. Lucia Day (Sankta Lucia Dag), a day to celebrate light and saffron rolls in Sweden.

If you have always wondered about girls wearing candles on their head, this is the holiday to do so!

A rather unusual Luciafirande at Erikdalsbadet, one of the major swimming houses in Stockholm
water lucia fest stockholm sweden
via http://www.dn.se/sthlm/har-kan-du-lyssna-pa-luciasangen-i-dag

A bunny’s lucia by Matsamats
Pelles Luciatåg och tävling131

Typical Luciakonsert
Lucia-13.12.06

And on this day, the luciatåg (Lucia participants) give out lussebullar (saint lucia buns or saffron buns) and glögg (mulled wine) to guests.

Here’s my recipe for lussebullar for both American and Swedish kitchens. The difference is that the Swedish recipe has quark (a hung yogurt) while the American one calls for more butter. Saffron dries bread out easily and the quark/butter does a good job of keeping the buns soft and moist.

Still if you make them, plan to eat within a day or two and keep them well stored and away from air.

American St. Lucia buns recipe

1 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
6 -6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
raisins to decorate
1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the buns – can omit

See directions below.


Svenska lussekatter recipe

50 g (1 3/4 oz.) yeast
5 dl (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) milk (I use 3%)
150g (5 1/4 oz.) butter
250 g (8.8 oz.) Quark (called kesella in Swedish), a kind of curd cream
2 dl (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 envelopes saffron (1 gram) or a large pinch of high quality Spanish saffron
1 teaspoon salt
16-17 dl (6 3/4 cups) flour, probably more if the dough is sticky
Raisins for garnish
1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the buns – can omit

Heat the butter and milk in a saucepan until warm to touch. If you have a thermometer, it should be around 36-37 degrees but no more.

Crumble saffron threads into melted butter/milk. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to an hour. This intensifies the saffron flavor and cools the butter/milk down if it was too hot.

Crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Pour a little of the warm milk mixture in bowl and mix until all the yeast has dissolved. Mix in the rest of the liquid. {If the liquid is too warm it will kill the yeast. Hence I go for the lukewarm method – just warm to touch. And cold liquid will also kill the yeast.}

Mix kesella, sugar and salt.

Combine two together (yeast/milk/butter and kesella/sugar).

Start adding the flour a little at a time and work the dough until smooth. Add more flour until it stops being sticky. The dough should be soft to touch.

Cover the dough with a moist paper towel (keeps the dough from drying out) and let rest and rise at room temperature. About 45-60 minutes.

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it a few minutes. Again, the dough should be light and fluffy to the touch.

To make it easy to keep the roll sizes even, divide the dough into 25-28 pieces.

Stretch out dough into a “snake” (long piece) and then twist the ends towards the center. One end is twisted clockwise, the other counterclockwise.

The buns should look like giant letter “S”-ess. Put them on a sheet that is lightly greased or lined with baking paper.

Press the raisins in the two centers and then let ferment additional 15-25 minutes to double the size. This second rise should not be forgotten!

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Whisk up an egg with a tablespoon milk and brush the buns with the mixture. You can also skip this if you want to keep the buns vegetarian.

Bake in middle of oven about 5-10 minutes until they become golden brown. Watch them carefully so they do not burn! Don’t leave the kitchen, these buns are fast cooking and require no more than 10 minutes to bake.

Remove the buns and let them cool on a grate. Nice and warm, they’re ready to eat now!

Enjoy lussekatter with a glass of milk or glögg.

Glögg (Mulled Wine)
If you cannot buy mulled wine at the store, you can easily make your own.
This recipe makes around 8-10 little cups for friendly faces and uses a full bottle of wine.

You can adjust the recipe accordingly to your preferences and tastes.

1 bottle red wine
1-2 cups rum (dark is more flavorful)
1 cup sugar

Spices:
1 Star Anise
4-10 Cardamon pods or 2 tsp Cardamon powder
3-4 Cinnamon sticks broken into pieces or 1 tbsp Cinnamon powder
4-5 Clove pieces or 1 tsp Clove powder
1 inch piece Ginger – smash or chop into little pieces to make easier to diffuse
1/2 small Bitter Orange
1/2 tsp Nutmeg – can skip
2 tsp Dark chocolate Powder – can skip
Raisins and blanched almonds – for each cup. A surprise yummy in every cup!

Mix the wine, sugar, and all the spices and put on medium low heat. Keep the rum for later.

For the first 5-7 minutes, stir so the sugar dissolves.

You can then put the wine on low heat (setting 3 or 4 on a dial of max 10) for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan and it doesn’t boil.

Add the rum and increase the heat to medium. Stir for another 10 minutes. It’s important to not let this boil since the alcohol will then burn off and disappear.

Strain the liquid and serve hot with a few pieces of raisins and almonds in each cup.

Enjoy glögg with piping hot lussebullar and Christmas music by candlelight and you’ll be celebrating St. Lucia Day Swedish style!

A Photo Guide to a Swedish Christmas

If this is your first Christmas in Sweden or your quest to learn about Christmas around the world, you’ve come to the right spot.

I put together a comprehensive guide to having a Christmas in Sweden and abroad. Even if you don’t have access to thousands of tomtar, you can still incorporate Swedish traditions into your own traditions.

There’s so much food and decor to enjoy during the holidays, but it is all about family and giving back to the community.

Swedish Christmas Decorations

swedish christmas decoration
If you are in Stockholm, then I highly suggest shopping at Stockholms Stadsmission to get secondhand Christmas ornaments. You can see from the photo there is plenty of pretty decorations at a good cost, and doing the Earth a favor by recycling.

Julstjärnor – Christmas Stars
starry night
The stars represent the town of Bethlehem.

Julbocke – Christmas goat
Julbocken - Gavle Goat
The Christmas goat is said to check on families that Christmas decorations were done properly. Some folklore tales say the Yule Goat scared the children and demanded gifts.

In Nordic mythology, Thor rode on his chariot with two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. In the Prose Edda, he kills the goats and provides his guests and the gods food. With his hammer, Mjölnir, he resurrects the goats the next day; creating a cycle of sustenance and nourishment.

Lights
christmas in sweden - lights

Ornaments
christmas ornaments bokeh
Of course you need ornaments for your tree!

Candles
svenska jul
From Design House Stockholm and you can buy them in the US. It’s dark, it’s dark, it’s dark, candles are a must; any size, any style.

Julgran – Christmas Tree
A Charlie Brown Christmas tree
The Christmas tree is put up on the third Advent and stays up until Knutsdag (twentieth day yule) on January 13th.

Kalendarljus – Calendar candle

Jultomte – Santa Claus
Tomten - Swedish Santa

Julgris – Christmas pig
christmas pig decoration

Reindeer
swedish reindeer lights
Who doesn’t love reindeer?!

Swedish Food

Christmas smörgåsbord

Julskinka

A recipe from ICA.

Julsenap
Julsenap - Christmas mustard

Lussebullar
lussebullar - saffron buns
Yummy saffron buns! Recipe to come soon!

Glögg
glögg - swedish mulled wine
You can buy several different flavor from Systembolaget or make your own using wine, vodka or rum.

Pepparkakor
Annas Pepparkakor
I’ll be posting a recipe quite soon!

Aquavit – Snaps

Julmust
Julmust - The definitive Swedish Christmas soda

Swedish Christmas Holidays

Christmas Calendar
swedish christmas calendar

Advent Candles
One candle is lit each Sunday before Christmas.


Christmas Eve
Kalle Anka (Donald Duck & Disney)

The Disney special has been on for more than 30 years. It’s the same every year but it is truly a bizarre and fun Swedish Christmas obsession.

Christmas Dinner
smörgåsbord
The Swedish Christmas dinner is served on Christmas eve after watching Kalle Anka and before opening Christmas presents. The smörgåsboard is several courses, starting with cold meats and fishes, hot food, cheeses, and dessert. And nothing would be complete without toasting with snaps.

Thanksgiving Shopping in Stockholm

Fellow Americans out there, tomorrow is the most important food day of the year, Thanksgiving! For everyone else, you will think we are crazy folks who stuff ourselves silly with turkey, watch a parade, and yell at the Dallas Cowboys.

It is my favorite holiday of the year though! While Thanksgiving has dirty roots and is followed by the vain Black Friday, to me it’s about family. I will leave mushy family post until tomorrow.

Right now it is about buying all the supplies to make a proper turkey dinner. This will be my third Thanksgiving in Sweden and I have all my spots scored on making a proper American dinner.
thanksgiving in sweden
Here’s a rundown of what I make and where I buy the ingredients.

Stuffing
Forget the store bought, Stovetop crap, make your own stuffing, it’s super easy.
What you need:
2-3 stalks of celery (not heads!), sliced into 1/4cm pieces
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced into 1/4cm pieces
1 garlic clove, diced into little pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dried cranberries. Cranberries are tranbär in Swedish and you can dried ones in the Fruit/Nut bins or some in snack packs. If you cannot find them at all, grab a box of frozen tranbär.
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
day old bread, cibatta or any large loaf. no sliced bread
salt, pepper to taste

You also need – skillet (frying pan), large bowl, large spoon, foil, 1/2 cup boiling water

1. Heat oil in a small pan on medium heat.
2. Add onions and saute for 4-5 minutes.
3. Add garlic and carrot and continue to saute for another 4-5 minutes. It’s okay if the vegetables turn slightly brown.
4. Add celery and saute again for another minute or two.
5. Turn off and remove from heat.
6. In a large bowl, add the vegetable mix. Chop the bread into small pieces (about 1 cm) and throw into bowl.
7. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water and immediately cover with aluminum foil. This keeps the steam inside and softens the bread. However, we don’t want the bread mushy. Let sit for 5 minutes.
8. Take off the foil and give everything a mix with a large spoon. [If you find the bread to be rock hard, add another 1/4 cup (very small amounts!) and cover again with foil.]
9. Add the nuts and cranberries.
10. Finally season with salt and pepper and even a dash of oregano.

thanksgiving desserts stockholm

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
This is one of my favorite and easiest dishes to make. It is like a banana bread and served as a dessert. It will make four small loaves or one very large loaf.

Pumpkin – Can buy at most large ICAs now or at Ingelsta Kalkon. Ingelsta Kalkon is all over Sweden and your best bet for finding American turkey day sides as well as delicious turkey.
Cranberries – Buy them frozen from any grocery store.

Adapted from the foodnetwork.com.
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream (gräddfil)
4 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups cranberries

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In bowl combine eggs, pumpkin puree and oil.
In another bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix.
Combine the two bowls and gently mix with a hand whisk.
Add cranberries and mix for a couple more minutes.
Divide dough into 4 small loaf pans or two large ones. You should not fill more than 75% of the pan with batter.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Pumpkin Bread

Cranberry Sauce
Again, forget the Ocean Spray cranberry gelé in a can. Instead, make a fresh sauce. You’ll never turn back after.
What you need:
1 box (225g) frozen cranberries
1 orange
1/2 cup sugar
1 cups water
Dash of vanilla extract

1. Bring water to a boil and add sugar. Stir so the sugar dissolves.
2. Add frozen cranberries and bring down to medium heat (4-5 on an electric stovetop). Cover the pot with a lid and let simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Check on the sauce. It should be thicker and the cranberries should have burst apart by this point. Continue cooking with the lid off so that the sauce can become a bit thicker (should be thick enough to cover a spoon).
4. Using a microplane or small grater, grate the peel off the orange and add to the sauce.
5. Turn the heat off and add a dash of vanilla, about a 1/4 teaspoon.
6. If too tarty still, add another few spoons of sugar.

Ready to serve alongside the turkey and stuffing.

Pumpkin Pie

I can’t find my favorite recipe at the moment, but send me yours or post a link your favorite!

Fresh Whipped Cream
3dl whipped cream (vispgrädde), 36% or 40%
approx 100 dl powdered sugar (florsocker)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Endive Goat Cheese Salad
This salad provides a balance to the heavy dishes offered on thanksgiving day. It also takes out the drab in some old dishes, like the mushy green been casserole.

I don’t even make a dressing for it since it would add a heaviness to the dish. Besides, once everything ends up on the plate, it gets all mixed.
3 endives
1 packet goat cheese – the President pre-chopped 12 pieces is the best one
1 pomegranate
1/4 cup walnuts
1 package arugula
1 pink lady apple
salt, pepper

Large serving bowl.
1. Chop up the endives into small pieces. Give it a quick rinse using a strainer so that there’s no dirt.
2. Throw the endives into a bowl. Add the package of arugula.
3. Open the package of the goat cheese and crumble into small pieces. Add to salad. If you find a log of goat cheese, just make sure not to use the ‘skin’, it has a bitter taste and doesn’t go well with the salad.
4. Cut open the pomegranate and get out all the red seeds. Throw into the salad bowl.
5. Chop up the pink lady apple into small pieces.
6. Chop the walnuts into small pieces and add.
7. Toss together and add salt and pepper to taste.

endive salad

More to read:
Thanksgiving Wines – Check out the New York Times for the best pairings
Vegetarian dishes – Plenty covered by the NYT for those looking for meatless dishes

Halloween Cupcake {Recipes}

This is a digression from my usual posts but since Liv asked in my last post about Halloween, I thought I would share the cupcake recipes I used and how I decorated them.
table is set for treats
I am not sweet tooth person in the traditional sense. I love sweets, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t like over sugary frosting (and gross if it’s made with crisco!), or milk chocolate candy bars like Hershey’s (also gross), or anything that’s so sweet your brains want to chop off your tongue.

I do love delicious and flavorful treats. These vanilla and chocolate cupcake recipes are the basic for awesomeness.

To note
Salted Swedish butter – Is delicious; take advantage of it. Margarine or any substitute is not acceptable. Your grocery store better not be out of stock.

Fulkorn finaste mjöl, whole wheat fine grained flour – Works too. Just remember to NOT over stir the batter or your cupcakes will become gluttonous.

Vanilla extract – Use the good stuff, not the shit sold in most Coops or ICA. Go to one of the gourmet store and buy real vanilla essence. Your cupcakes will thank you.

Sour cream, gräddfil – Is a must. It’s what helps make the cupcakes light and fluffy.

Parts in this post
Vanilla cupcake recipe
Dark chocolate cupcake recipe
Decorating the cupcakes
Chocolate gloss frosting
Special Hootie Owls
Buttercream frosting
Coloring buttercream frosting
Piping bags



Vanilla cupcake recipe
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
1 stick (115 grams) salted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
3 medium eggs (or 2 large), room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Food coloring if you want color your cupcakes… say orange for halloween :)

Makes 12 regular sized cupcakes. Preheat oven to 180C.

1. Mix dry ingredients (salt, flour, baking powder) in a bowl with a hand whisk.

2. In another bowl, mix butter and sugar with an electric whisk (elvisp) until soft and creamy.

3. Add eggs and vanilla to butter and sugar mixture and blend for 2-3 minutes on low setting. No need to overbeat to death!

3b. Add food coloring if you want to make your batter look pretty. I made orange batter by mixing several drops of yellow and red with a few dashes of pink.

4. Time to marry the wet and dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl and with the hand whisk, slowly whisk until totally incorporated. I usually do 15-20 stirs before done. It’s okay to have a few lumps.

 


Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
1 stick (115 grams) salted butter, room temperature. Chopped into 3-4 pieces.
2 (60 grams) ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (darker the better!)
½ cup (65 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used Fazer but I don’t recommend it. Does not have the full flavor and richness of good chocolate)
¾ cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour or fine whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 medium eggs (you can get away with 2 large eggs as well)
¾ cup (160 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup (125 ml or 4-5 large spoonfuls) sour cream

Makes 12 regular sized cupcakes. Preheat to 180C.

1. Put the butter in a small glass/microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high, not the highest setting, for 10 seconds.
Check butter, if not all melted, put in microwave for another 10 seconds. I like to do this in 10 second intervals to prevent burning.
If the butter is mostly melted and you can use a spoon to mush the remaining butter into liquid, and it’s done.

2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and throw in the butter bowl. Stir with a spoon until the butter and chocolate have mixed together and formed a glossy sauce.

Note – Whatever you do, don’t let the mixture before, during, or after, touch water. This can cause the fat to coagulate and causing seizing. If you are mixing and you notice after several minutes the chocolate dissolved but there’s a watery/oily residue that won’t mix in, most likely water got in. It’s a mess to fix so you might want to start over.

3. Put the butter-chocolate sauce aside.

4. In a bowl mix all dry ingredients (cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, salt).

butter- chocolate sauce, dry ingredients, and wet ingredients before combining

5. In another bowl, use a electric whisk to whip the eggs, vanilla, and sugar until creamy. 3-5minutes on low.

6. Last add the butter-chocolate sauce to the wet ingredients and mix on low for 2-3 minutes.

7. Combine wet and dry into one bowl. Again, I do this part of the mixing with a hand whisk. Again no need to over whisk. A couple minutes will do the trick.

Chocolate cupcake and vanilla cupcake batters

If you want to be creative, you can make chocolate – vanilla cupcakes by mixing together the batters. The key is to NOT mix the batters. Just dump one batter on top of the other in the bowl. When you scoop out to fill for each cupcake, the batters will mix automatically.

Cupcake batters mixed together – in the tray

Bake for 13-17 minutes at 180C. You should be able to stick a toothpick in and not have anything stick. You should feel that the cakes are spongey but are cooked through.

Cooled down and ready to decorate!


 
 
Decorating the Cupcakes
What you need
Sprinkes – chocolate flavored (for black) and orange colored sprinkles. I found Dr. Oetker’s sprinkles in the store pretty easily.
Butter (saltat smör) – 250 grams, room temperature … will be good for the 24 cupcakes
NEVER ever use margarine, shortening, or Crisco. Thank you.
Powdered sugar (florsocker) – 500-600 grams
Vanilla essence
Dark chocolate – 100 grams … if you want to have chocolate gloss frosting
Food coloring
Piping bags
Dr. Oetker’s (or Wiltons) piped icing colors … Works great for small quantities you may need

My decorating table
decorating cupcakes!

 
{Chocolate Gloss Frosting}
100 grams chocolate – broken into small pieces
2 spoons butter – about 20 grams

1. Melt the butter for 10 seconds on medium high in the microwave.

2. Add the broken pieces of chocolate and begin stirring.

This chocolate mix should be liquidly but dense. Small peaks can be formed. This chocolate will harden and look glossy. It’s perfect for covering cupcakes and then decorating them.

 
{Special Hootie Owls}
Oreos
Reese’s pieces (surprisingly found at many ICA’s) – that tiny bag will do to make 10-15 hooties.
Chocolate sprinkles
Chocolate frosting

1. Use the chocolate gloss frosting to frost the cupcakes.

2. Separate the Oreos by twisting them apart; just like the tv commercial! You’ll have a half Oreo that has the white cream and a half without cream (or a tad). The white sides will make the eyes for Hootie.

2. While the frosting is still wet, add Hooties eyes to the center area of the cupcake. Press to make the Oreos stick but be careful not to break them! (If your cupcakes have a peak from the baking, saw off the peak to make it flat. A bonus munch for you!!)

3. Above Hooties eyes, add chocolate sprinkles.

4. For his nose, use an orange or yellow Reese’s pieces. For his eyeballs, use a fine tipped piping bag, put a little on each black Reese’s and glue it to Hootie’s eye. You can also use the ready made Dr. Oetker’s piped icing.

Let Hootie set for 15 minutes and then EAT him!
 
{Buttercream Frosting}
1. Chop butter into a few pieces and place in a medium sized bowl.

2. Using and electric whisk, start whipping the butter on medium. After 5-7 minutes it should be creamy and whipped up. If you still have pieces of butter, it means the butter was too hard (cold) when you started mixing. It’s okay, just keep whipping.

3. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract to give the frosting an extra oomph in flavor.

4. Now, with the whipper on low, begin adding the powdered sugar, 100 dl at a time. The powder sugar will add sweetness and structure.

5. The buttercream should be stiff but still softish, if that makes sense. You should be able to take a spoonful and put it in the piping bag without trouble.

 
{Coloring Buttercream Frosting}
Food coloring is where the magic is at. While I normally use plain buttercream or whipped cream frosting and then lots of sprinkles, on occasion, the color buttercream makes for fun and happy cupcakes.

For the halloween cupcakes, I made three frosting colors: orange, purple, and bright green.

I used McCormicks Neon colors, Natural Vegetable Dyes, and Dr. Oetker’s yellow. Dr. Oetker’s food coloring is a creamy liquid and not as strong as the other colorings.

Orange – 7-10 drops of yellow, 3-4 drops neon pink and 1-2 drops natural red.
Purple – 4-5 drops neon blue and 5-7 drops neon pink.
Bright Green – 5-6 drops neon green and 1 drop natural blue.

Of course, you should experiment and make lots of pretty colors!

 

{Piping Bags & Filling}
Plastic piping bags – from Wilton’s … Don’t have them? Buy them online from kakburken.se (Sweden’s it store for baking)
Tips – Wilton 3B, 2C for star piping; 2 and 1B for lines and designs

You first want to get the coupler in the bag and cut the tip. Not too much though, otherwise the coupler could push out when piping. On the outside of the bag, you twist the outer coupler and the tip.

When you fill your bags, fold over the plastic by at least half. This makes it easier to fill the bag with buttercream and prevents spilling. Fill with a couple spoons of frosting so the bag is not hard to use.

Piping bags used – missing the green one though
Piping bags

The black frosting works for making eyes, hair, and overall spookiness.

I used the black for Dracula’s face and the pumpkin face.
Black frosting – you can see fine lines which created the curly hair for Dracula

When piping, the bags should be at room temperature (but not out for hours!), otherwise the butter could be too hard. I let my bag sit out for around 30 minutes if it was in the fridge for several hours.

If the frosting starts to be glossy or mushy, throw the bag in the fridge for 30 min to one hour. The warmth from your hands can warm the bag enough to break down the buttercream…and if it’s melty, it’s nearly dead.

This was my second longest post but this should cover decorating cupcakes for every holiday and birthday. Cupcakes not a Swedish fika treat but I think they are fabulous with a cup of tea or a cappuccino.

And the best part is that the whole cupcake is for you!

Halloween in Sweden

Happy Halloween!
happy halloween

What did you do to celebrate? We had a low-key Halloween eve. Watched Ghostbusters, ate pumpkin pasta, and enjoyed a halloween cupcake.

On Sunday, we had some friends over and carved pumpkins. And jeez, finding pumpkins at this time was a nightmare. There were pumpkins in all the shops a few weeks ago but not this past weekend!

We did eventually find a few pumpkins at ICA and at the market. My friend’s daughter did a spectacular job carving this little pumpkin.

It seemed this year Swedes really got into the Halloween spirit. Despite not having any stores dedicated to Halloween (Buttricks does not count), people still did it.

Like the rabbit on the train…

… he must be hot!

And a lot of stores carried pumpkin displays and orange and black candles to be spooky. It was nice. This is the only time of year I really miss America. Well, I miss fall in America: Halloween, pumpkin patches, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday shopping.

But there’s nothing like Halloween. I hate the ugly, scary costumes, but as a kid I loved trick or treating and dressing up and making cookies. Hell, I still love all that but only get to dress up and make cupcakes now.

Once year, when I was a kid, I went to the IBM sponsored Halloween party at the campus. Mom and I went into the haunted house, which I hate (but love the pretty colors – deranged, yes). I started crying and freaking out so much, we had to turn back and find an exit. One of the ghouls in the haunted house felt so bad he took off his mask and was trying to explain it was all fake. And he tried to give me the mask to play with. I promptly cried again and he started apologizing to Mom, who thought it was funny.

By the way, I was eight years old. Don’t laugh.

This year, to remininse, I bought some Brach’s famous candy corns. Yes, they are sweet. Yes, they are made from corn syrup and sugar. And yes, they are made from yellow 6, yellow 5, red 3, blue 1, and titanium dioxide color.

But my oh my, candy corn is to halloween as peeps are to Easter.

Pretty! And tasty {sorta}

Pricey, at 39kr in Stockholm (10kr in the US), these little candies are perfect for my next batch of cupcakes.

Here’s some of my work on the cupcakes. If you want me to post the recipes, let me know. I don’t like super sweet so I kept more on the flavor and light on the frosting.

Owl cupcakes – hoot!
owl cupcakes

Little purple monsters
monster cupcakes

BOO!
in the darkness there were eyes

Hope all of you had a wonderful Halloween and an All Saint’s Day today. And here’s to hoping for a sunnier November too!

Happy (Illegal) Holiday!

Today is Constitution Day. I have no idea what that means except Constitution Day was passed over 100 years but strengthened in 2005; sometime during the abyss of the Bush years.

Constitution Day is simply a day to celebrate our Constitution because it was signed this day in 1787 (though not ratified until 1788).

The irony of the day is that it is most likely unconstitutional. “By Congressional mandate, all educational institutions receiving federal funds — from preschools to universities, whether public or private — are required to provide relevant educational programming to observe the occasion,” said Kent Greenfield, Op-Ed contributor of the NY Times.

Schools and colleges are as a result forced to teach about the Constitution on this day or risk losing federal funding. And when it comes to millions of dollars in funds to cash strapped schools, few would disagree. And schools are pushing the Constitutional talk even though it is unconstitutional to be forced to teach it.

I’ll save you Miss Liberty!
superwoman american flag

For students this can be a great opportunity to learn about the most important document in American history. Read the preamble, discuss the most influential cases by the Supreme Court, keep a pock guide of the Bill of Rights.

This gets weird when the Tea Party gets involved. They are on their gung-ho crayola wagon to push coloring books, and videos, and everything possible that of course supports the Tea Party angle. Why discuss the right to taxation (Sixteenth Amendment) or birthright citizenship (Fourteenth Amendment) when we can scream about states’ rights (Tenth Amendment) against the big bad government?

I love that students will have an opportunity to learn more and understand the philosophy behind our laws. I hate that a radical conservative political party (bat shit crazy sometimes) is using this day to force its own philosophies, conservative at best.

In any event, at least I can express my First Amendment right that the Tea Party is full of idiots and exert my Fifth Amendment rights to refuse to answer questions about calling a certain party idiots.

Happy Constitution Day!

Happy 4th of July!

In 1776 the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, the most important document in our nation. Seven years later, we won independence from the United Kingdom and began the road to sovereign rule and freedom for all (as long as you were white, male, and middle age).

This post is for my parents who immigrated to the United States in the 1970s for a better life. Thanks to their hard work and their pursuit of the American Dream, they had me, an American now living in Sweden. Hehe. At least we’re Americans!

‘Haii’ from patriotic Bunny
patriotic bunney

american bunny

Glad Midsommar! Happy Midsummer!

I hope all of you had a wonderful midsommarafton dancing like a frog and drinking nubbe. Plus, spent today in a proper bakfulla state at home.

The balancing act of nubbe and beer
balancing act with nubbe
 

My midsommarblommar
peek a boo

midsommar blommar

 
nubbe

 

Cat maybe enjoying midsommarblommar? Midsummer flowers are the in season flowers at the beginning of the summer. You need seven different flowers to make the wreath (the one you dance around with on your head) and at nighttime, put the flowers under your pillow. Ladies, you will dream of the man you will marry.

via Trollvägen 13.

Valborg 2011 in Stockholm

Valborg is the time of the year to banish the witches away and burn fires. Since the witches made it back from Blåkulla, April 30th is the day to really get rid of them once and welcome spring.

Around Sweden and the Nordic region, people celebrate by having a champagne brunch, drink beer, eat food, and sing, lots of singing takes place. In Gothenburg the famous Cortege parade takes places with tons of crazy floats from Chalmers University.

Here are photos from Valborg!
Stockholm City Hall
stockholm stadshuset

valborg bonfire at riddarholmen

bonfire at skansen

If you want to see one of the controlled fires check out the famous spots in the city or DN for bonfires around the county.

View Valborg Stockholm 2011 in a larger map

Vasaparken/Odenplan- fire starts at 20:15
Riddarholmen- fire starts at 20:00
Skansen Park- fire starts at 21:00
Siggesta Gård- fire starts at 20:00
Rålambshovsparken- fire starts at 20:10
Enskedefältet- fire starts at 20:00
Norra Ängby- fire starts at 20:00
Långholmen- fire starts at 20:00
Hammarbybacken- fire starts at 20:00
Skälby Gård- fire starts at 21:00
Götiska tornet, Drottningholm- fire starts at 21:00
Ekebyhovs slottspark- fire starts at 20:00
Hässelängen, Hässelby gård – fire starts at 20:00
Eggeby gård, Järvafältet – fire starts at 20:00
Baset i Järfälla- fire starts at 20:30
Skytteholm- fire starts at 20:30
Vällingby- fire starts at 20:00 (Grimsta Square)
Vårby Strandbad- fire starts at 20:00 (No dogs or cars)
Råcksta- fire starts at 18:00 (T-bana: Råcksta or Vällingby)
Drottningholm- fire starts at 21:00
Järfälla- fire starts at 18:00 (Skälby gård hill)
Hässelby- fire starts at 20:00 (Riddersviks gård, Ridder Allé, 11)
Sollentuna- fire starts at 20:00 (Torparängen)

List courtesy of YourLivingCity.

princess Madeleine yummy boobsPS. I suppose everyone will be watching the Royal Wedding today between Kate and William. So do people hate as much on the British Royal Family as they do on the Swedish royal family? And btw, Prince William is just not as hot as he used to be; looks like daddy Charles. Eeek!