Rustic Root-a-touille | Root vegetable Ratatouille with crusty garlic bread.

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I recently invested in a new external hard drive as my computer is clogging up with food photos. Whilst in the process of sorting and moving these, I found a vegan take on a recipe inspired from yes, more please! that I meant to post for #MånadensGröna some time late last year on the theme of Root Vegetables.
I made a Ratatouille but using swedes, beets and potatoes rather than "the regulars", but I never posted it as I was not very pleased with the final photos.

Well, one year later I have once again cooked up a Root-atouille (it was just as tasty as I remembered, a very rustic meal - particularly served with some crusty garlic bread!) and one of the original photos will get its 15 minute of fame.

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Root-a-touille with crusty garlic bread.

  • 1 can of tomato
  • 1 brown onion
  • some garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp herbs the provence
  • 1 spring rosemary or thyme
  • salt, pepper
     
  • 2-3 tbsp dairy free butter
  • vegan "parmesan" (opt.)
  • 1 swede
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 zucchini or aubergine
  • 2-3 potatoes
  • 2-3 beetroots

 

  1. Set oven to 200C.
  2. Slice the veggies thinly. If you own a mandolin this is the perfect opportunity to put it to use.
  3. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened. Add herbs and the canned tomato and let simmer for a while.
  4. Pour tomato sauce in an oven-proof dish. Start stacking the root veggies in alternating patterns until you have made your way around the dish.
    Finally, brush with melted dairy free butter and some cashew parmesan.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, covering the dish with aluminium foil for the first 15.
  6. Serve hot with some crusty garlic bread.
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Summer post cards and future plans.

Mid-october. Already I am dreading the compact darkness that conquers Scandinavia for the latter part of the year. I suppose, in a way, it is pay back time for all those infamous bright, bright summer nights we get.

I have an escape route planned out though. An emergency exit in shape of a flight ticket (as per usual). A work holiday-visa application has been sent for New Zealand and while waiting for it to process, I will spend time in northern Thailand. Buzzing street markets, steaming ristretto and apparently there is a lantern festival taking place in my favourite Chiang Mai early November.

Have any of you been to New Zealand before? If so, any killer tips on places to see, eat, explore?

As for now, here are some post cards from my summer. Note to self: Clean camera lens!

Days (and nights) at the cottage. The full June moon reflecting over the sea isjust mesmerising.
Another day, I emptied the privy of furniture to clean and left half an art gallery among the trees.

Picking spruce shoots from the backyard to make syrup... to put in G&T's.

A boat trip with the parents to visit Holmön.

We watched a stage play held outdoors, then walked around the isle...

... Ending up at their wooden lighthouse at Bergudden.

Ida took me on a day road trip to celebrate my birthday. One of the places we visited was Brännland - a stone quarry where people go to dive off the rocks into the turqouise water.

Another month, another full moon. This is the view from my kitchen table, dreamy eh!
Also!!! Top tip: Bringing artichokes as a vegan/vegetarian alternative to a cray fish party is queen. Why? It is equally fiddly to eat and it tastes yummy! Boil the artichokes for 30-40 minutes along with vegetable bouillon, junipers, fresh dill, black pepper, bay leaves and you are good as golden.

How to Tofu: A Beginner's Guide

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To Fu... or not To Fu?

Is that the question?

Some people would perhaps say that tofu is bland and go with the latter. But in fact, tofu is more like an empty canvas than anything. It is so versatile that it can be used in everything from cheesecakes to BBQ skewers.

The chamelon of cooking! Basically, tofu is just ready to get soaked up with whatever flavour you bring its way. That is, provided that you treat it right. Unsure how? Worry not, just keep reading!

This post will guide you through:

  • The different types of tofu and which to use for what
  • How to best prepare the tofu
  • What to consider when marinating
  • Tonnes of recipe ideas

Types of tofu and which to use for what

Generally, there are two main groups of tofu - silken and regular. These exist in different varieties such as firm, medium firm, extra-firm depending on water content. The one thing you need to note though is that they are not interchangable in recipes, so it is best to know you are getting the right kind; rather than which variety, in my opinion.

Silken tofu has, as the name suggests, a smooth surface. It is very fragile and thus crumbles easily. Silken tofu does not need to be pressed, but you can rather wrap it a few times in kitchen roll to remove excess water. It is normally used blended up into a smooth consistency, and is good item for making batters and sauces, along with baking and scrambled tofu.

Regular tofu is more spongy in consistensy. Due to its high water content, it needs to be pressed before cooked and marinated - or else the end result will be bland. Instructions for this will follow in the next paragraph. Regular tofu can be used for deep frying, sandwich fillings, BBQ skewers, diced into curries or salads... an ongoing list of goodies!

Preparing the tofu properly

Step one: The drier the better!

The golden rule here, unlike for sex or pools, is that dry equals good. Tofu is packed with, and then in, water. When it is this waterlogged it won't crisp or absorb flavour... and that is no fun! We will need to press out as much of that H2O as possible before moving forwards.

First, simply drain the water from the tofu package. You can try to gently squeeze some out some extra with your hands. Now, if you are real fancy, you might have a tofu press to use. But, since this is a beginner's guide and it works equally well, you can also make one up. Wrap the block of tofu up in either kitchen roll or a clean kitchen towel, then leave under a weight for at least an hour. Weights can be anything from a dictionary to canned tomatoes.

Bonus: Alternative method for firmer, chewier tofu!

Introducing - the freezing method! Remove the tofu from its packaging. Easiest here is if you slice it into fillets straight away, as it will defrost more quickly later on. Wrap the tofu in cling film and then leave in the freezer for a couple of hours.

When it is time to use the tofu: let it thaw in the fridge, then press it like instructed above. The tofu gets firmer by doing it this way, and is thus less likely to break when handling.

Step two: Cut correctly!

So now we got rid of that excess water - it is time to get the kitchen knife out. Thinner slices allows for more flavour to be soaked up, as well as a crispier texture. But maybe I am preaching to the choir here.

Slicing the tofu length wise is good for burgers, sandwich fillings and steak-like meals. Or for making making f*sh and chips.
Cut the tofu into cubes is ideal for using in stir-fries, curries and salads.

Step three: The seasoning!

For you non-tofu converts that claim it is bland... what do you think makes a steak taste good? Sugar and spice and everything nice, of course! Think herbs, citrus, vinegar, veggie stock, spices, tamari and syrups.

Note: But avoid marinating in oil if you can. As tofu is so water dense, and oil + water do not mix, this will only prevent the marinade from doing its job properly...

Step four: Cooking time!

Time to get down to cooking business. Regardless if you are frying the tofu plain or in batter - toss it in some corn starch right before. This will help create some extra crisp for the coating.

But above all: Make sure the skillet is HOT, HOT, HOT!

Some recipes to try out your new skills:

Or simply click the photos of this post to get to its recipe.

 

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Cauliflower Mash & F*sh Sticks.

Nostalgia on a plate

Occasionally, as a vegan, you get the question. No, not the where do you get your protein-one, but the "but, like, don't you miss meat?" Well no. I do not. It is pretty much narrowed down by this feisty quote I sometimes cross on instagram "anything you can have, I can have vegan". I mean, people have even come up with rice paper bacon? However, some dishes are just like nostalgia on a plate and for those we just opt out the animal ingredients. Like with the classic f"sh sticks, or in this case, tofu fingers.

Here are some handy tricks to make your f*sh fingers extra extra crispy:

  1. Press the tofu properly
  2. Use panko AND breadcrumbs. The big panko crumbles combined with the teensy bread ones will make sure every inch of tofu is covered.
  3. Use plentiful of oil - and make sure it is properly heated before starting!

Potato mash in all its glory, cauliflower does make for a nice runner-up. If you ask me, this cabbage flower has a undeservingly bad rep considering how it turns into such a buttery kind of divine once cooked. (If you do not believe me, try out these cauliflower tacos!)

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Tofu F*sh Sticks with Cauliflower Mash & Stewed Spinach

  • 500 grams cauliflower, fresh or frozen
  • 4 tbsp dairy-free butter
  • 1 dl plant based cooking cream
  • salt + pepper to taste
     

 

 

  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 1 part flour
  • 1 part bubble water or beer
  • a pinch each of salt and turmeric
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • rapeseed or other neutral oil, for frying
  • 2 dl breadcrumbs and panko
  • cornstarch

Tofu sticks

  1. Start by draining and pressing the tofu. Once ready, cut into fingers. From one block of tofu I generally get 8 sticks.
  2. Combine bubble water/beer, flour, salt, turmeric and baking soda to a thick paste. Let sit for 5 mins.
  3. Heat a generous amount of oil in a large skillet and prepare a plate layered with kitchen roll.
  4. Tenderly turn the tofu in the frying batter, before turning over in the breadcrumb-panko mixture.
  5. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side, until tofu sticks catch a nice golden brown colour. Remove from skillet and place on kitchen roll to drain excess oil.

Cauliflower Mash

Bring cauliflower to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan. Once tender, drain water and add cream + butter and seasonings. Mix smooth with a stick blender.

 

Serve with stewed spinach or green peas, fresh lemon wedges and a dill sauce. Bon appétit!


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Make your own Scent Sticks.

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You know those scent sticks that got immensely popular some years ago? Due to a somewhat stale-smelling wardrobe in the cabin, I thought they might prove a decent anti-odur intervention. Not so keen on spending plentiful of pennies on the matter, I resorted to the mighty internet that proved to have a very simple, budget approved, solution.

After digging out some wooden skewers, essential oils and a wee patterened glass from the cupboards, I was good to go.

The best thing about making your own scentsicles, apart from the money it can save you, is that you can create your own fragrance mix, and adjust the strenght according to preference. Win, win!


MATERIALS

  • wooden skewers
  • glass container
  • essential oil (I used peppermint, lemongrass and lavender)
  • tap water
  • pliers

HOW TO

  1. Cut the skewers to a suitable length. The more sticks, the more the scent will spread in the room.
  2. Mix 1 dl (½ cup) water with 20-30 drops of essential oil in the glass. It is best to start out slow, then add in more drops if you feel the scent is too bland.
  3. Place the sticks in the glassand voila - you are done!
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Swedish Smorgastarta | Sandwich Cake.

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Us Swedes like to celebrate in style. Be it graduation day, a name giving ceremony or midsummer (you know, the one when we dance around a giant maypole and pretend to be frogs?) - there will be cake.

And not just any cake, but a big ass Sandwich Cake.

Traditionally this cake will be layered with mayo-based fillings containing things like smoked salmon, cold cuts and liver patés and it also comes with plenty of "adult" flavours. (At least for myself it took a good 16 years to get into the strong horse radish, the smoky undertones and the insane amount of DILL. But alas, I suppose I can now officially be called a grown up! Phew!) Of course, my take on the Smörgåstårta will be more of a garden than a graveyard, and here is how:

Vegan-approved Swedish Smorgastarta

The fillings are dead-easy, as they just need to be mashed together. You can prepare them the day before and store in the fridge over night. When it comes to composing the cake, simply stack any kind of rye based bread with the fillings smeared in between.
The garnish put on top is normally to "reflect" what is in the cake itself, but I also added strawberries, kelp caviar and cured carrots, among other things, to top mine off!


The fillings

Layer 1: Avocado and horseradish

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 3 tbsp fresh grated horseradish
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • salt + pepper to taste
 
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Layer 3: Apple and Oat fraiche

  • 2 sourish grated apples
  • 1,5 dl oat fraiche
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • salt + pepper to taste

Topping ideas

  • avocado roses
  • cured carrots (recipe down below)
  • strawberries (for summer celebrations)
  • vegan cheese rolls
  • cucumber
  • fresh dill
  • kelp caviar
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Layer 2: Smoky Tofu and Mayonnaise

  • 200 grams smoky marinated tofu
  • 1,5 dl vegan mayo
  • 1 dl chopped leek (alternatively red onion)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 pinches paprika powder
  • salt + pepper to taste
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Cured Carrots

Turn oven on 200°C. In an ovenproof dish, place 500 grams worth of carrots on a bed of coarse sea salt.  Bake for 40-60 minutes, until carrots are baked but still got an al dente-feel.

Combine 1/2 dl boiling water with ½ a nori sheet, 2 tbsp sugar, 3/4 tbsp vinegar, one pot of fresh dill, some mustard and a bay leaf. This is your marinade for the cured carrots. Once carrots are cooled down, gently remove the peel and then place in a plastic bag with the marinate. Press all air out of the bag before closing, leave to rest in the fridge. At least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.

Vegan on the Road: Tips & Tricks to prevent hanger.

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It's all fun and games until someone gets hungry...

Road trips are one of my favourite things. Packing into the car, bickering over the map reading, tuning in some good music and watch the passing landscapes unfold outside the window. All fun and games... until someone gets hungry. (Someone in this case is very likely to be yours truly, still need one of those t-shirts saying "I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry"!!)

Of course depending on location, finding vegan grub on the road can be somewhat challenging. Petrol stations are not exactly renowned for their great variety of tofu hot dogs and avocado sandwiches. Alas, planning ahead is a good idea. Here are my two cents on how to avoid hanger whilst on a road trip.

Why it, literally, pays off to plan ahead:

- It saves you money. Rather than buying a small sachet of sweaty apple wedges at the petrol station, you bunker up on a whole bag. Same goes for crisps of course!
- It keeps you energized en route. Which in turn leads to...
- It allows you to be more spontaneous. That sounds quite contradictory, "plan ahead to be more spontaneous", right? But rather than being bound to reach a bigger city (i.e. one more likely to have vegan options), you can make small stops along the way and yet rest assured you will not starve.

And remember - better safe than sorry! There is no such thing as over-packing when it comes to snacks!

Snack ideas

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  • Carrot sticks
    ... or cucumber sticks, or celery sticks, or bell pepper st... you get the drill!
  • Hummus
    for dipping your veggie sticks or to use as a sandwich filling.
  • Crackers
  • Peanut butter
  • Crisps
  • Bread slices
    to make peanut butter sandwiches!
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  • Fresh fruit
    The least messy ones, like apples, bananas and grapes. Alternatively, buy bags of dried fruit for some extra fructose that is guaranteed to be mess-free!
  • Trail mix
  • Oat bars
    Either make your own, like these flapjacks, or bunker up on some 3-for-2 mixes at the supermarket.
  • Baby puree satches
    Yes, you are seeing this right! This one might seem a bit peculiar, but they sure help to get your daily servings of fruit and veg as these can be somewhat difficult to get whilst on the road.
  • Cereal
    ... or muesli portioned in boxes. Possibly the easiest breakfast there is. Bring along some plant based milk to eat them with!
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... and some useful tools

  • Vegetable peeler
  • Cooling bag
  • Plastic container to store snacks in front seat
  • Zip lock bags for storing sandwiches, veggie sticks, etc...
  • Can opener
  • Water bottle

Pro tip: If you are staying at a hostel or such, leave a filled water bottle in the freezer over night. You can use the then ice-bottle to keep items in your cooling back, well, cooled and as it defrosts you will have extra chilled water when your first bottle is finished.


Do you have any road trip tips or snack ideas to share?
Feel free to share in the comments! x

 

    Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination.
    It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.
    — emma chase
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    Spinach Soup Revival.

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    Spinach soup is quite the classic in Swedish homes. Onion, frozen spinach and some nutmeg brewed into a soup that is traditionally topped with boiled egg halves. The other week I added some lemon zest and ginger into the mixture. A whim that turned into a win; adding some sting to the soup. 

    I love adding toppings to a soup, but I was not going to have any hen relics on mine - instead I fried up some vegan chorizo coins and added two avocado halves: a good egg-substitute in this case similar to dishes like shakshuka.

    Further reading: 3 ways to make your soup more filling + fun.

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    Spinach soup
    with Ginger & Lemon zest.

    • 1 tbsp lemon zest
    • 1 litre water
    • cooking cream (like an oat based one)
    • salt + pepper, to taste
    • a pinch of ground nutmeg
    • 1-2 onions
    • 500 grams frozen spinach
    • 2 tbsp wheat flour
    • vegetable bouillon
    • an inch of fresh ginger
    • 2 garlic cloves

    For topping: avocado halves or vegan chorizo

    Saute the onion and spinach in vegan margarine until softened. Add in ginger, lemon zest and garlic before sprinkling with flour. Pour a litre of vegetable stock over the mixture and bring to a gentle boil for circa 10 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Top off with avocado or vegan chorizo. Enjoy!

    Make your own Chaï.

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    The Chaï life

    The first time I ever ordered chaï tea (which is quite the peculiar sentence, as chaï is in fact the hindi word for just tea #funfact - so let me rephrase: the first time I ever ordered tea tea) was at a café in Stockholm some eight-or-so years ago. Chaï lattes had just made their way to Sweden and seemed to be all the range. I found it difficult to understand just what the fuss was about, as the steaming cup of watery milk with hints of cinnamon flavour was placed in front of me. Since then I have had my fair share of both bland and lively chaï mixes (although I still struggle to understand people who mix masala chai and COFFE?!) and have been intrigued to try and make it myself from scratch. No more bland tea!

    Apart from being a heart warming, tasty beverage the chaï also happens to be quite the cocktail of immune system boosting ingredients. In other words - the perfect drink for September-October when just about every other person seems to be walking around with an oncoming cold-to-be.

    You might also like: How to froth milk without an espresso machine.

    Let's have a look at some of the proclaimed health benefits:

    Ginger reduces muscle cramps (menstrual ones too!), calms an upset belly and eases digestion as it is known to increase the production of digestive enzymes
    Cardamom another digestion helper, also reduces risk of heartburn and mouth infection (better breath hey!).
    Cloves works well against nausea, also good against coughs and colds.
    Cinnamon is a bit of a jack of all trades; works as an antiseptic, regulates blood sugar levels, reduces nausea and is good for your (*drumroll*) digestion.
    Black pepper increases the uptake of nutrients in the intestine.

    Some notes before we get started...

    • Avoid boiling the black tea and fennel as they tend to turn bitter when boiled. Instead add in once you have removed the pot from the stove and let steep in peace.
    • Use whole spices if possible. Not only are they easier to strain, but also makes for a much livelier mixture.
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    Chaï Tea

    You might also fancy adding:

    • star anise
    • bay leaves
    • turmeric
    • vanilla beans
    • saffron
    • infuse it into a half chaï-half hot chocoalte beverage
    • 5 cm fresh ginger - cut into cubes
    • 8-10 cardamom pods - roasted + cracked
    • 6 cinnamon sticks - crushed into small pieces
    • 10-13 whole cloves
    • 1 tsp black peppercorns
      --
    • 1 tbsp fennel
    • 3 tbsp black bea (like assam or darjeeling)
    • 1,5 litre water

      To serve: milk of choice + maple syrup

    Simply place all spices, except black tea and fennel, into a large pot and bring to a gentle boil. Keep covered and let simmer for at least 30 minutes - the longer you brew, the stronger the tea (surprise eh!). Once satisfied with the flavour, remove from stove and add in the black tea + fennel. Let steep for 5 minutes before straining.

    Fill the bottom of a mug with maple syrup, fill it half way with the tea and top off with warm, frothy milk. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Sip and enjoy!

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    Tour de Tjernell | Decorating on a budget.

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    Since I left Aberdeen, I have moved into my grandmother's wee summer cottage just by the sea. After spending the past years in hostels and rental flats, it has been a delight to be able to have full freedom in my endeavor of making the place my own. A realisation has made me go sort of berserk with colouring - but it sure feels nice to hear people verdict

     

    This place feels so much like YOU.
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    The cottage was originally a milk bar (which is ironic as it is now inhabited by a vegan!) and was moved over from Umeå one winter when the ice was laying densely over the river.

     
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    My number one priority was not having to climb up to the loft to sleep each night (so annoying when you have climbed all the way up there only to go "darn it, should I pee?!") so I needed a bed that would not take up too much of the limited space at hand. So I built one out of pallets to fit my old matress.

    When the curtains are not drawn, you wake up looking out over the sea. Underneath there is a space for my parents wee fur ball; the dog that is the antithesis of claustrophobic and just adores tiny spaces to crawl into.

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    Another good thing about a bed built of pallets in combination to small space is that you can use the cavities as book shelves!

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    I have painted the kitchen cabinets from plain white to shades of blue, and the wardrobe door in chalk board black.

    The strip over the sink, originally plain wooden, also got a cover of paint along with some cut off bits of wood to hang towels, utensils and such.

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    Apart from the extendable table and a new plate rack (all IKEA, of course), everything is upcycled. Like the wooden boxes hanging over the stove my mum picked up from a container at the recycling station, and they now act shelves.

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    Since there is no practical way to ¨'store the stove', I put wheels on its table and simply pull it out and plug it in whenever it is time for cooking. On the side there are little hooks for storing the cutting board and oven mitts.

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    The kitchen chairs got a cover of pastel furniture paint, and I also spray painted some old wire net to create a pinboard in a similar style to my Orchard Road one.

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    Ta-daa! That is most part of the downstairs of my 15-or-so square metres. What do you think?