The macramé coconut bird feeder

We’re in Åsen for the week. With a very limited internet connection, but this kind of thing doesn’t matter when you have for only alarm, the soft light of the sun through a forest of birches, and the mésanges‘ songs .
There are the woodpeckers too, not unlike a ticking clock.

Yes, we’ve seen many birds perched in the trees that line the forest, but mostly blåmeser [blue tits] and talgoxer [great tits].
And I wanted to find a simple way to feed them as I know for the fact that they’ll be heading north soon.

So this morning, I made a quick coconut bird feeder. Kalle was still asleep. And a loaf of sourdough bread was getting brown in the oven, later to be sliced while still warm (a guilty pleasure of mine) for breakfast.
I took the coconut that Kalle sawed last night, and some string we had in the kitchen; and really, I liked the first one I made so much, that I took some pictures to show you.

Notes

Fresh coconut flesh is ok for birds to eat, but please don’t feed them any desiccated coconut as it can be harmful.

After I took the pictures, I asked Kalle to drill a hole at the bottom of the eye-less shell, pictured here, to make sure water would drain in case of rainy weather.

You could make it way fancier, adding more strings and braiding them; but I just wanted to make something easy, fast and durable. However, I’m pretty sure, I might make more macramé holders soon, perhaps for plants.

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coconut nest

Macramé coconut bird feeder

Material:
– a coconut – sawed in half and with holes drilled at the bottom of each half for draining purposes
– kitchen string
– hooks (optional, to attach the coconut bird feeders more easily to branches)

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1. Cut 4 strings, each measuring around 60cm.

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2.Group the string by 2 and make them meet in their centre.

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3. Knot them together tightly.

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4. Separate in four strands again and tie simple knots, around 3-4cm from the centre.

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5. Place on top of one coconut half. And group two strands from different thread together, as shown above. Tie another simple knot, 3-4cm further. And repeat with the remaining strands.

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6. Repeat this process one last time (or more of you have a large coconut) to that the final “line” of knots reaches the rim of the coconut half.

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7. Place your macramé coconut bird feeder upright and pull the strings, trying to centre them. Make a knot. Add a hook.

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8. When the birds will have eaten the coconut flesh, refill the feeder with seeds and grains of your choice.

macrame coconut bird feeder

Which birds do you have in your garden these days? Lots of love, X Fanny.

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A life-changing way to scan watercolours

girolles

trompettes-des-morts

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chanterelles

This afternoon, I started gathering things I want to bring with us to Åsen (two more days!!). A film camera, and many rolls of my favourite film – Kodak Ektar in case you’re wondering, two bags of stone-ground flour, a glazed ceramic tray, watercolours and brushes.

And in the center of the block of cold-pressed paper, I found these illustrations I made two summers or so ago. Sat on the patio of our cabin in Åsen, to the sound of raining trees.

And I thought I’d tell you about the life-changing way to scan watercolours. A simple trick that I read about on Elizabeth’s blog.

The process, which allows to control the rendered texture of the cold-pressed paper that makes editing a watercolour in Photoshop a pain, has become a favourite. And K. may have had to hear me ramble about it for a week or so, happy-dance included.

Step one: scan the watercolour

But scan it twice, rotating the image to 180° on the scanner bed for the second scan.

Step two: open in Photoshop

Layer both images, align the content, and set the top layer to 50% ( more or less, it’s up to you how much “texture” you want to show).

Step three: edit as you usually would

Which for me means: extracting the illustration using the channel panel, possibly correcting the white balance/saturation/contrast, and exporting.

For a more detailed instructions, please head over Elizabeth’s for a beautifully illustrated tutorial.

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Stories from a recent past – Romtårta

romtårta

One morning, we left for Byske as soon as K. got home; with, for only reason, the two horses that he’d seen and wanted to show me.

In the distance, a farm broke through the wall of björkar [birches] that lines the road. As we approached, it became clear that the horses had been moved.

Instead, we stopped a few hundreds of meters later, way past the runestone that I’m still very curious about (note-to-self: go there again, please). We sat on the car and ate the two apples I had brought along. K. cut some birch branches for the påskris [Easter tree] that was to happen.

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Another day, we sat in the setting sun; to the sound of a crackling fire, and geese heading north above our heads, not unlike a compass of some sort. There might have been korv and baguette, chocolate and kokkaffe. And before dusk settled behind the trees, Kalle threw his first cast into a river that had lost its winter ice.

rain

Tonight, we heard raindrops against the glass rooftop of our veranda. And really, I had forgotten how wonderful rain can be after months made of silent snowflakes.

Yes, just like that, spring happened.

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Romtårta
Adapted from Suss’ recipe in Megafonen n°3 2016.

From what I’ve gathered, romtårta [litterally, roe cake; a savoury roe cheesecake] is a summer classic.
It does, however, get made as soon as the sun makes its return in the north; perhaps, not unlike a rain dance.

This recipe comes from my friend Suss, and I fell in love with it when she made in at the café for an Easter du jour special.
The earthiness of the bread, which I highly recommend to be a sunflower seed-heavy rågbröd, meddles beautifully with the lemon and the sea-saltiness of the roe.
Make sure to top your tårta with plenty of vegetables to add texture and freshness. I went for thinly shaved radishes and cucumber, sliced sugar snap peas, and bits of lemon segments.

You can make it either as a large tart, which I think would look stunning on a dinner table, or like I did, smaller individual tarts.

In any case, I truly think it will become an Easter tradition in our house. And perhaps in yours too.

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A note on the gelatin

As you may know, I’ve been trying to write an article about gelatine for – literally – years. And every now and then, I become obsessed with it again.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, as it’s an ingredient that is so tremendously different from one country to another that it makes my job as a chef and a food writer quite difficult.
I won’t get into details about it now, but let me just tell you that in between France, the UK, and Sweden, I’ve had to adjust my recipes a lot to fit the gelatin available in each place.

When I first made this recipe, it called for 4 gelatin leaves. The gelatin we get from the supermarkets here is extra guld [extra gold], so I’m assuming its on the higher end of the bloom spectrum for gold gelatin, perhaps 220-230 bloom.
However, I have found that 4 leaves was slightly too much in this case, so I’ve reduced the gelatin in the recipe below to 3 leaves, bringing it to 5.1g of 220-230 bloom gelatin.

Please, note that the gelatin here in Sweden is much stronger than the gelatin found in French or English supermarkets, so you might need more. In fact, one leaf here seems to be almost the equivalent of a professional gelatin leaf, both in strength and weight.

If in doubt, go by weight: 5 grams; and add a couple of grams if your gelatin has a strength comprised between 160-190 bloom.
However, remember to start with less, as a cheesecake with a creamier texture – although it might look a bit messy – will always be better than an over-set one.

Romtårta

Makes 8 individual tarts or one 24cm.

For the base

200 g rye bread, pumpernickel, or even crackers
75 g butter, melted
a fat pinch of salt

For the “cheesecake”

3 gelatin leaves (around 5g, see note above)
300 g cream cheese
200 g crème fraiche
1/2 red onion, finely minced
juice and zest from a lemon
a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
80 g fish roe

To finish

300 g cocktail prawns, shelled
radishes, sugar snap peas, cucumber, dill, chives

Make the base

Prepare eight 8cm-wide rings or a large 24cm ring on a tray that fits in your fridge, and is lined with baking paper.

Blitz the bread into crumbs, and add the melted butter and salt. Divide the mixture in between the prepared rings, and press to form a base.
Set aside in the fridge until needed.

Make the filling

Soak the gelatin leaves in ice-cold water.

In a large bowl, mix half the cream cheese with the crème fraiche, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.
Heat the remaining cream cheese – either in the microwave or over a bain-marie – until around 60°C.

Dissolve the gelatin in the warm cream cheese, and incorporate it into the crème fraiche mixture using a whisk.

Gently fold in the roe, and divide this cream into the prepared ring.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Unmould by running a small knife around the rim of your rings and top with prawns and sliced vegetables of your choice.

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