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Minnesota Nice!

I'm back after over a month-long hiatus from the blog. As some of you may have noticed, I haven't been very active on Instagram the past few weeks either. I think that I just really needed to be "unplugged" this January and live life to the fullest (and not from behind a screen). I have been making a point to limit my screen time when I feel stressed by it. I think that the holidays, our traveling, wedding planning and my need to catch up on work this month really sent my head in a spin. So, I took a much-needed break.


Henrik and I thrilled to be at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport on the busiest day of the year, just a couple days before Christmas.

Now that things have somewhat settled—from the big blur I call my life between Christmas and today—I can finally get around sharing a little about my Minnesota trip from over the holidays! We had a big two and a half week trip to Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota—where my parents have recently moved to. For those who don't know, Minneapolis and St. Paul are two cities in Minnesota that have grown together over time, that are now only separated by a river. Saint Paul is a bit smaller, but it's the state capital and Minneapolis is considered the largest city in the state. Together, they are lovingly referred to as the “Twin Cities”. 


I didn't take a lot of photos of the actual cityscape, but I do have this one from downtown Saint Paul when the sun started to peak out! I've become such a Swedish sun worshiper, I had to take a picture—You don't really know what you have until you move somewhere and it's gone 1/2 the year!!!

For those who don’t know, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Northern Michigan are basically the Scandinavian areas of the USA. It's where a lot of Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish immigrants have emigrated to in the past and surprisingly there is still a lot of Scandinavian culture to be found there. Did you know the funny accent that everyone lovingly laughs at from the movie Fargo? It actually originates from the original Scandinavian settlers in the area. The strange melody to it and their use of the word “Ja” when in agreement with something is so obviously Scandinavian when you listen closely to it. If you ever happen to encounter someone with a really thick version of it, I’ll tell you that it’s very hard not to crack a smile at the oddity of it. 

Fun fact: Something else Scandinavians can take credit for, that is something commonly known in the states, is “Minnesota nice.” I have to mention it, because it’s a phrase you hear often the US, that I didn't know it had anything to do with Scandinavia until recently. Though it's a “nice” sounding phrase, it actually kind of a slightly negative term in regards to the stereotypical behavior of people from Minnesota. According to Wikipedia “the cultural characteristics of "Minnesota nice" include a polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, passive aggressiveness, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation.” HAHA! Who does that sound like?!! Apparently, the ever controversial Laws of Jante, that have ruled in the northern European countries, have traveled across the ocean—even to people of non-Scandinavian descent! Crazy.


These pics are from a very European style bakery and cafe in downtown Saint Paul that we went to, called The Salty Tart. Everything was so delicious! My favorite was the egg sandwich. I felt like this place had a very Stockholm vibe to it.

With as many similarities that Sweden shares with Minnesota (including the weather) it still felt like I had come home to America. The food portions were huge and comforting, the shopping was plentiful, hugs were given out generously, and the air even smelled more familiarly like home. I even once admiringly said that “it smells like home” out loud to Henrik while walking downtown Saint Paul and he responded with “like french fries and gasoline?” and we both cracked up laughing. I think he was definitely noticing other more delightful American city smells than I was. Or, maybe it was just the smell of a big American city on the move—with gasoline and french fries in the mix—that gave me a whiff of the familiar. Either way, it brought back a few pleasant memories of city living in the states.


The Parlor Bar was one of the most delicious and greasy American style places we visited. I have not ever seen fries that big or a chicken burger that juicy in my life! I left feeling like I could slide out of here, but hey, it was a vacation.


I don't have any food pics for this (because it's hard to take pictures of your food in a dark theater), but there was the most amazing movie theater/restaurant called The Alamo Drafthouse, with huge reclining seats and a full menu and bar at your seat. They even had vegan food, all-day brunch, pizza, film-inspired cocktails, a TON of craft beer, bottomless truffle-parmesan popcorn, candy, etc. Seriously, check out the menu, it was crazy awesome. My fave was their vegan buffalo cauliflower bites! I never wanted to leave this place!!!


I had to get my much-needed Quesadilla fix at this cute little hipster eatery called Moose and Sadie's in Downtown Minneapolis. My mom and I popped in here for lunch on a long day of wedding dress shopping (that I will have to share more about later).


Of course, I had to look at what was trending on Instagram in the area and that's when I found the viral rainbow and gold-flaked barista drinks at Cafe Astoria. They were so mesmerizingly beautiful that we had to stop in to give them a try. But, wow, they were sweet! it was like drinking candy!!! (ask for 1/2 the amount of sugar syrup if you are ever in this place!) The crepes were really quite good though. The turkey pesto one (pictured above) wasn't very picture pretty, but it made up for it in taste.


The Minneapolis airport is so nice! There were many of their local eateries inside. It looked like a shopping mall! I was so surprised. Above you can see one of the popular local donut bakeries called Angel Food that had a place in the airport. I totally had to get a couple of delicious gluten-free donuts while making our way to the plane.

My parent’s new house, though different, still had all the same vibes to it that their last house did. I was telling people that I had “a little parallel universe experience” coming home this time because it was to a house that was a little like my parent’s old house, but not completely the same. And, because I went to a city that’s a little like Chicago, but also not really the same. Home is where the heart is though and I really don’t care where my parents live as long as I can always visit them often. <3


This was my mom and dad's Christmas tree this year. I was so happy to come home to it, them, and my sister—and of course all the nice Santa gifts. ;) The worst part about living so far away is being away from all of my family for most of the year.

So, to sum it up, for those of you who have made it to the end of this very long overdue update (thanks for that!), exploring a new American city was fun! I think that there were really so many more other places to see in the Twin Cities. I feel like we only really had time to graze the surface of what this city had to offer. I've already started following several more Twin Cities foodie Instagram accounts to look for inspo for where to go the next time we visit. Though nothing really beats a trip to Chicago and NYC in my book, it really was a nice place to go! If you are from Sweden, I wouldn't be surprised if any (or all) of you had a distant relative that you could go visit in Minnesota—as so many people here seem to. If you do, you should definitely head over that way sometime.

Two thumbs up for a nice trip to Minnesota!—We had a purely positive "Minnesota nice" experience. ;)

The Viking Cold

I'm finally taking a moment to sit down and update the blog a little, in the midst of all my pre-Christmas chaos. I honestly have had so much going on the past couple of weeks that I feel like I haven't had a moment to myself until just now. I have even caught the crazy winter cold that has been going around Stockholm (you know the one that starts in your throat and feels like you swallowed broken glass?) and still haven't been able to settle down. The worst of it is over now, but this cough just won't quit! It's driving me crazy. It's like totally impossible to ride the subway in this city or walk around in the cold and wet Stockholm weather and not catch some kind of nutty virus. I swear, one person in this city gets sick and then it's game over. It rapidly spreads to all the 100 something subway stations and beyond.

I actually think a lot of foreigners like me tend to catch colds here even more easily than native Swedes and have a really hard time fighting them off. I don't know if it has something to do with the difference in germs, viruses, and lack of built-up immunity, or whatever, but when I first moved here I caught like 3 colds in a row and was continually sick for a solid 3-4 months. It was no joke. At the time, I had also heard this rumor of a Polish girl in the school for my Swedish language studies who kept catching these "Viking colds" (as I now call them) for a solid 12 months in a row! Apparently, she got so fed up with being sick that she supposedly moved back home.

Luckily, I am way too stubborn to ever let something like a little illness take me down. So, I'm still here in Stockholm a good seven and a half years later fighting off this dumb Viking cold. However, I think my immune system has built up a bit better against these naughty nordic germs through the years. I actually think whatever I caught this time could've been much worse. I might have even had this same virus strain before because this illness wasn’t nearly as bad as some other doozies that I have had here in the past. I really can't imagine being an immigrant here before the time of antibiotics and modern medicine—or Facetime so that I can visually whine to my mom in the states about how icky I feel when I'm sick. I would've totally been dead several times over by now. I love watching a good period piece and admiring the old-time dresses on TV every once in a while, but that thought alone makes me super glad we are about to hit 2019 pretty soon—fashion be damned.

I haven’t ever caught the Vinterkräksjukan” (the winter vomiting disease or Norovirus) that everyone here talks about, thankfully. I literally just had to knock on my wooden table three times after I wrote that sentence in superstitious protection against it, because it’s so scary. It sounds like THE WORST thing ever. You supposedly feel sick, have vomiting, diarrhea, stomach aches, headaches, and a fever!? It’s like the only thing that illness is missing is some kind of itchy rash and blood coming out of your eyes. NO THANK YOU! Because I was just googling it, I thought I would just share that “The best way to protect yourself against it is to wash your hands, at home as well as at work. Liquid soap is better than hand sanitizer.” according to Sveriges Radio (Sweden’s radio). I couldn’t in good conscience keep that information to myself. So, save us all and wash your hands with real soap people!!!

I’m actually really happy to be hopping on a plane in a few days to head to my parent’s new house in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the holidays. They have just relocated from Chicago and I haven’t even been to visit them there yet! I am planning on it being a few weeks of just maxing, relaxing, hanging with the fam and exploring a new city that Henrik and I have never been to. Supposedly Minnesota is like the Sweden of America because that's where all the Swedish immigrants first settled. It's apparently still a very Scandinavian influenced area of the US. So much so, that my mom actually called me from the grocery store by her house because she was so shocked at the amount of pickled herring (sill) and crispbread (knäckebröd) on the shelves. I think Henrik is probably going to make a killing, being an authentic imported Swede walking around there. Haha!

Sometime during my trip from "Sweden,Sweden" to "Sweden, USA" I’m also hopefully going to be able to rest enough to finally kill off this stupid cough I still have. If anything, Momma Murphy will totally know what to do to nurse me back to health. Mom always knows best. To be honest, she will probably just sit me down and force me to drink more green tea with coconut oil in it. Ever since the woman read a book called “The Coconut Miracle” she is convinced the stuff will cure anything. I just know It’s going to be a very coconut oil covered Christmas break if she has anything to do with it.

If you want to see a bit about my trip to Minneapolis in Minnesota, stay tuned to my Instagram account @slightly.swedish! I know I won’t be able to resist posting a few Instastories or pictures here and there at the very least. I will definitely try to blog a little more about my travels and adventures when I get back though. This is going to be my last blog post of 2018, so I am going to sign off now and wish that you all have happy and healthy holidays and a great New Year!

World's Best Cup of Hot Chocolate

I called this the "World's Best Cup of Hot Chocolate" because of that coffee shop scene in the Christmas movie ELF—where Will Ferrel runs in and congratulates a small diner on their "worlds best cup of coffee" sign. The mental congratulatory phrase I gave myself after I made this elaborate looking image (above) was totally in his voice saying "You did it! Worlds best cup of coffee hot chocolate. Congratulations!" You probably have had to of seen the movie in order to get the reference. But seriously, if you celebrate Christmas, what the F*** have you been doing with your life if you haven't seen Elf yet?

Whereas the coffee from the movie was probably not super great, I think that this hot chocolate lives up to the hype. It's refined sugar and dairy-free, but alllll delicious goodness. This is another one of my healthier (yet indulgent) recipes that I really think people won't even know the difference. I hope you enjoy it this weekend over a Christmas movie (maybe Elf?), cozy up, and get into the festive spirit.

This recipe usually serves about four people. (Or, two people if using large mugs like in the image above). If you want to make a different amount, just divide down or multiply up the recipe to your desired serving portions.

I have listed the recipe in both American and Swedish measurements below. Enjoy!

Worlds best Cup of Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate Ingredients:

4 US cups (1 liter) non-dairy milk—I have used almond, coconut, and oat milk successfully. Just use whatever kind you like the best.

1/4 cup (0,6 dl eller 4 msk) raw cacao

3 tbsp (3 msk) organic honey

3 tbsp (3 msk) maple syrup

1/4 tsp (2 krm) vanilla extract

A tiny pinch of salt

And, whatever optional toppings of your choice: non-dairy whipped cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate shavings, sprinkles, marshmallows, caramel sauce, chopped nuts, cookie crumbles, etc.

Optional Chocolate Sauce Ingredients:

100g of milk-free or dark chocolate—I used a Reneé Voltaire coconut milk/sugar chocolate bar

18g coconut oil

Clear glass serving glasses (so you can see the drip effect inside the cups)

Hot Chocolate Instructions:

  1. Put all hot chocolate ingredients in a blender, blend until mixed. Sometimes I like to keep running the blender until the mixture develops a tiny bit of a froth on top (like you would get when you froth milk for coffee)—But, that is totally optional. It only works in some blenders and if your non-dairy milk is really cold. You can also use a handheld coffee frother to add a layer of froth on top of the mixture if that works better for you, or just skip the frothing entirely.

  2. Transfer the blended mixture to a large enough saucepan and warm on medium-high heat until slightly simmering. Once the mixture is warm enough to drink you can pour the mixture into glasses for serving. ....BUT, If you are going to make my optional chocolate sauce, I would just keep the mixture on low (to keep it warm) on the stove until you have completed the next steps for the chocolate sauce.

Optional Chocolate Sauce Instructions:

  1. Use a double boiler or make a makeshift one and fill the bottom layer with a bit of water and bring it to a boil.

  2. Break the non-dairy chocolate bar into a bunch of smaller pieces and place them in the top layer of the double boiler with the coconut oil.

  3. Heat and stir until melted and well mixed

  4. Coat the inside of your serving glasses with a few large drips in a pattern of your choice, reserving a little bit of the sauce for on top if you are going to have non-dairy whipped topping or marshmallows.

  5. Pour your hot chocolate in the glasses

  6. If topping with non-dairy whipped topping and/or marshmallows. Use some of the remaining chocolate sauce to lightly drizzle on top for a nice looking effect and serve.

 

 

2018 Foodie Advent Calendars

This is definitely the year of the advent calendar. I have noticed a ton of them floating around the stores this past couple of months. The beauty world has just totally blown up with boxes and boxes of sample-sized 24-count products everywhere you look. Though, who could blame any business for taking advantage of this (not so new) trend? It's ingenious! Is there any better way to get a customer to willingly buy and sample a variety of products over the holidays? Probably not. We are usually all too busy buying presents for everyone else. This is quite possibly the best way ever to get people to self-gift sans-guilt!

Advent calendars weren't a big thing in my house as a kid. We did have a cloth one with little Christmas shaped items in each pocket, just for decoration. It was like "Super, geee an angel made of cloth. Let's just pop that right back in the crap looking little pocket it came from. Bye." If my parents would have purchased a calendar with something more useful or entertaining inside it, I think I would have jumped on this Christmas calendar train years ago.

Since I currently have way more than my fair share of beauty products, I had been looking for other ways to share in the joy of the Christmas countdown (than buying a bunch more crap I don't need). And, what do I love way more than makeup? FOOD!!! Glorious, food. So much, that on Black Friday I actually headed to the grocery store instead of competing with all the other madness. Later on, when I just happened to be also browsing online for more food (yes, that happened) I purchased my very first advent calendar from Holland & Barrett. I don't know if you noticed, but December first was yesterday. I can't even tell you how much joy I had from that first silly piece of milk-free chocolate. It got me wondering what else was out there in the world, that I could open one little door at a time for all the remaining days until Christmas.

Luckily for all you Swedes, I have tirelessly hunted down all the still in-stock food and drink advent calendars that I could find—that could be purchased in or shipped to Sweden—and listed them below. Which, of course, comes up to a total of 25 items. I have literally made an advent of advent calendars. MIND = 💥. So, while I sit around with that song that starts "On the first day of Christmas..." repeatedly stuck in my head, I hope you all have enjoyed your very first (and second) day of Christmas and will enjoy this list as well.

 


2018 Foodie (and Drinkie) Advent Calendars:

1. MyMüesli2Go Advent
A calendar packed with 14 to-go MyMüesli portion-sized cups.


2. Kinder Mini Mix Advent
Of course, I had to add in a classic Kinder calendar to the list. It's listed as available in Öob stores throughout Sweden but if you are in Stockholm, you can also get it through Mat.se.


3. Haribo Advent
In case you are getting a little sick of all the holiday chocolate, here's a fun gummy candy calendar to still get in your daily sugar fix.


4. Hopt "Beery Christmas" Advent
24 craft beers from world-famous breweries delivered to your door.


5. CHASE "Twelve Festive Single-Estate Spirits" Advent
This British distillery has a sample collection of 12 of their fruity vodkas and gins available with international shipping through Selfridges.


6. Lindt Advent
I mean, who can argue with this?


7. Fortnum & Mason Tea Lover's Calendar

Enjoy this classic British brand's tea calendar with international shipping from their web store.


8. Fortnum & Mason Wooden House Calendar
Ok, so this is a bit of a splurge item, but it's a keepsake re-fillable wooden advent calendar with the iconic Fortnum & Mason storefront illustrated on it. It comes with Fortnum’s Gold Chocolate Coins, Milk and Dark Chocolate honeycomb bites, Foiled Milk chocolate Santa and Snowmen characters, Green and Red chocolate beans, Jellybeans and fruit jellies. So, even with the shipping to Sweden, I think it's still worth the hefty price tag.


9. Jelly Belly Advent
America's classic jelly beans, but here in Sweden!


10. Ginvent Calendar
Another Item from Fortnum & Mason with international shipping to Europe. It may have another hefty price tag, but it sounds oh so fun. Who doesn't want a craft gin cocktail every evening—out of a box that looks like a tiny bit like a Swedish flag?


11. Saveurs et Natures Advent
Some french ecological chocolate? Yes, please!


12. Let the Weekend Be-Gin and Tonic Advent
A gin and tonic filled calendar for those of us who really only want to drink on the weekends.


13. Coffee Advent Calendar
A coffee calendar for the elevated caffeinated types.


14. Pärlans JulKalender
A Christmas Calendar for the serious caramel fan!


15. Joe & Seph's Gourmet Popcorn Advent
Apparently, the Brits have cornered the market on cool foodie calenders this year. This gourmet popcorn one sounds amazing.


16. Quevedo Port Wine Advent Calendar
If you love a good glass of port wine with dessert, this is where it's at.


17. 24 Days of Rum
And of course, there's a rum one too, if you are feeling a little more like a tropical cocktail this December.


18. 12 Days of Pringles
For those real big Pringles fans. This every other day flavor exploration of their classic chip is available through Amazon UK.


19. Hampton Selection Jam & Marmalade Advent
This seems like a fun addition to change up your daily breakfast porridge or toast this month.


20. C&T Organic Hot Chocolate Advent
Is there a better (non-alcoholic) way to celebrate the season?


21. MunchKings Christmas Advent
I just can't say no to 25 days of gourmet nuts and savory snacks. Can you?


22. Moo Free Dairy-Free Chocolate
For those of us who want to join the party, but without the cow.


23. Baileys Original Irish Cream Chocolate Truffles
All I have to say is... "YUM!"


24. Drinks By The Dram Scotch Whisky Advent
For the real OG's of Christmas.


25. C&T Organic Superfood Advent
For the responsible self-gifter. 24 completely gluten-free, delicious Advent snacks with 24 blends of soya, almonds, cashews, goji berries, cranberries, and other snacks from Landgarten

Thanksgiving in Stockholm

Thanksgiving is a day-long celebration and feast, for both Americans and Canadians alike. The US holiday is on November 22nd but isn’t usually celebrated here in Sweden. However, I’m finding that a lot of restaurants, turkey suppliers and other Americans are trying to import the tradition more and more. Which of course, I think is great. When I usually explain my family’s traditions for the holiday, a lot of Swedes find that what happens is very similar to what they do on Christmas. And, who could ever argue against having a second Christmas?! 😋

I suggest you grab your friends and/or family here in Stockholm and find a way to have a meal, share what you’ve been grateful for this year, and celebrate with us turkey-and-pumpkin-pie-crazed northern Americans! The day should hopefully leave everyone with full bellies, a sense of family (or community), and enough warm and happy vibes to get you all the way through the cooling temperatures of the season— until Christmas. 

If you can’t get around to hosting your own feast or finding an event (like the one Henrik and I did, that I will try to post more about later) you should at least go to a fun restaurant with a festive Thanksgiving dinner menu. I have found a few places that are celebrating the holiday in Stockholm this year, and have listed them below. If you are interested, I recommend booking your table at any one of these places as soon as possible. I hope you all enjoy this list and have a super happy Thanksgiving this year! 🦃🍂🍗🧡💛

Here are my recommendations to have a Thanksgiving dinner out in Stockholm:


Low and Slow Smokehouse
Luntmakargatan 98
Thursday, November 22nd (by pre-booking only)
Reservations made by email: bbq@lowandslow.se
Two-course meal for 350 sek per person.

Main course: smoked turkey, candied jams, green beans, stuffing, a kale, and cranberry salad and cornbread. 

Dessert: pumpkin pie!


Yellow
Jakobsbergsgatan 23
Thursday, November 22nd 
Reservations made on their website: http://yellowsthlm.com/thanksgiving/
Three-course menu for 495 sek a person

Appetizer: pumpkin soup with cream cheese, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries 

Main course: stuffed chicken, a side baked sweet potatoes filled with bacon, jalapeños and cheddar, a side of yellow beans with caramelized onions, chicken gravy, and cranberry sauce. 

Dessert: Pecan Pie, caramel, marshmallows, candied pecans, and chocolate


Austin Food Works
Norrtullsgatan 24
Thursday, November 22nd, 23rd and 24th
Reservations made on their website: http://norrtull.austinfoodworks.se/
Three-course menu, no price listed yet

AFW will be publishing more about what’s on their menu a little closer to the date. Stay tuned to their @austinfoodworks Instagram account for more info.


Kitchen and Table
In the Clarion Hotel Sign, Östra Järnvägsgatan 35
Thursday, November 22nd and 23rd
Reservations made on their website: https://kitchenandtable.se
Three-course menu for 495 sek

Appetizer: foamed pumpkin soup with pumpkin cream flavored with vanilla, sprinkles on panko fried rosemary, egg 63, roasted pumpkin kernels, pickled chili, peeled rose pepper, roasted pumpkin 

Main: turkey “to share”, lemon and thyme gravy, Karl-Johan mushroom cappuccino, roasted root vegetables, sweet potato, carrot, cabbage, fried green kale 

Dessert: apple pie burrito, dates, crumble of mixed nuts, apple chips, custard sauce