[The country store]

Nordanå, Ernst Westerlunds allé, 931 22 Skellefteå

I wanted to do an advent calendar on the blog this year. To document my first Christmas in Sweden. Except that after planning the posts, drawing illustrations, and baking a few – of the many I had on my list – traditional Swedish biscuits, I realised that it actually went against everything I believed in and mostly, against documenting.

I admire bloggers and magazine publishers who can write about Christmas in September (and most of the time, even earlier) but I’ve never been a good make-believer. I like to write as things happen – wether in my life, or in my kitchen. So instead of the daily posts I had dreamed about for December, I’m here with the now.








The first snow happened a few days ago. At around nine pm. And really, I was so excited I had to resort to my most serious form(s) of persuasion to convince Kalle to come for a walk with me.
Perhaps, it was nothing like the thick cotton snowflakes we’d seen last March, on the day we left for Åsen, but there is was. Winter.

Since then, we’ve put together a little Christmas corner in our flat. There are a few candles. And the white dalahäst [Dala horse] we bought in Mora two summers ago. There is a small wire basket, which reminds me of the – larger, and very yellow – one that my mum has always used to store her pinces à linge [clothespins]. Oh and a white apple that I couldn’t resist, so much it brought back memories of the apple – dripping with icing – illustration on a left page of one the books I used to go to bed every night as a child; and of which, I’ve sadly forgotten the title, not that I haven’t searched for years (it might have been the story of a mouse and his friend, and I, although I might be very wrong, I think they had a car; not that it matters so much, but maybe one of you will remember it too, and really, that would be the most wonderful Christmas present I could think of).

Today, the sun set as we walked back home from lanthandeln [the country store]. A happy miss-match of ribbons and Christmas ephemera, cast-iron scissors and glass jars; not unlike a charming cabinet de curiosité. It must have been no later than two thirty and by three, the growing darkness could only come up to the lights that glimmer on every window.

There is a café in the back; although, we will have to come back as we didn’t have any change. And also mostly so that I can buy the scissors :) And perhaps, next time, I won’t be so camera-shy and will be able to show you därinne [inside, literally, in there] and not just the beautiful windows.

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Everything falls into place – Raw muesli bars

raw muesli bars-4

I spoke with my grand-mère last night. We settled on soup, mostly. Vegetables and a few spoonfuls of lentils or split peas. And citrouille [pumpkin] cooked with its skin on in a light bouillon.

Yes, the approaching winter means soup for dinner. It also means a half-past-three dusk and long evenings at home.
Kalle has been tying flies and installing new operating systems on his computer (he does that, weekly, if not more). And I’ve been baking, reading, and embroidering.
If I had been told that I’d find the one person on this planet who loves to spend evenings at home as much as I do, I wouldn’t have believed it.

But I once read something that went along the lines of: “Everything falls into place”. And like many other words, I think, these have stuck with me ever since. Not unlike my collection of old Pyrex glasses.

It does, indeed. Fall into place.
At times, you’ll forget what place even mean. There will be chaos, and hopefully, laughters too. And then, there will be mornings like today.

Depending on what day you’d come here, you’d either encounter autumn – the dark light, the raindrops against the windows of our patio; or winter – the crisp blue air, the frost.

Today is of the latter sort. A walk right after dawn, where the sky was purple and the ground glimmering under the street lights. A cup of tea, which I always end up forgetting about. A couple of rice cakes topped with avocado and more lemon pepper than you’d think is necessary.
But no matter how much I love to talk about breakfast, I think avocado on toast has been discussed enough (although I can only urge you to try it on rice cakes).

Muesli bars have too? Yes, I have no excuse for the recipe I’m telling you about today. It is what it is. And perhaps more; a staple in our house.

Raw muesli bars

I’ve been making these bars for a couple of years. In fact, more often than not, you’d find a few stashed in an airtight container in the second draw of my freezer.

The recipe itself is more of a bare-bones: oats, dates or some other dried fruits, nut butter, agave (although maple syrup or honey make an excellent substitute), nuts and seeds.
You could switch the cashew for pecans, or the pumpkin seeds for coconut flakes. Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder, or even a handful of cocoa nibs (you should try with apricots instead of dates; in which case, I’d also throw in a few pistachios).

In any case, I hope these bars will fill your freezer and your quatre-heures [literally: four o’clock (as in afternoon tea)].

raw muesli bars-2

Raw muesli bars

makes 12-14

300 g pitted dates
300 g oats
200 g whole almonds
100 g pumpkin seeds
100 g sunflower seeds
10 g flaky sea salt
180 g (raw) nut butter
120 g agave syrup
375 g cashew nuts

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the oats, almonds, seeds, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside until needed.

Drain the dates and place in a blender, along with the nut butter (I love to make it with raw peanut butter) and agave syrup.
Blitz until smooth. Then, add the cashew and give it a quick blitz, juts enough to break them down into smaller pieces.

Scrape the date mixture over the oats and using clean hands, mix until it comes together. It will take a little while, but eventually will! If the dough feels a little bit too dry after 5 minutes of mixing, add a tbsp or two of extra nut butter. Or if it feels too sticky, simply mix in a little more oats.

Tip the muesli over the prepared baking tray and flatten into a rectangle, around 2 cm thick. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, then slice into squares.
These will keep for up to a week in the fridge or up to a month in the freezer.


On Kitchenaids


We’ve now been in Sweden for almost eight months. Many of those were made of snow. And a little summer too. There are now golden leaves everywhere around us. And some mornings, the ground keeps its beautiful frost for hours after the sun rises.

Yes, I’ve told you before, I’m looking forward my first Swedish Christmas!

I have a few things on my wish-list, and one of them is a Kitchenaid. Now, I have one in France that I got for my birthday years ago; and really, I want it to stay there so that I can bake with my mother and Aïda whenever we visit.
It’s ice-blue and wonderful.

This time around, I’ve been hesitating in between four colours: pistachio, pale yellow (called majestic yellow on the KA website), yellow and terracotta.
For the photoshoot of my book – Paris Pastry Club – we had a pistachio green KitchenAid and I fell in love with it a little. However, I absolutely adore both of the yellow ones. And I think the terracotta KA, with its vibrant colour and slightly different (terracotta-like, I assume) texture would look wonderful in a white kitchen too!

Ahh decisions! If you have a KitchenAid, which colour is it? Or if you dream about one, which colour would it be?

Which Kitchenaid should I get?

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