Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are you crazy about Barbapapa'?

I am!!!
Here in Sweden it is very fashionable to have a lot of items Barbapapa' - style, and therefore, it is really easy to find a lot of accessories and not, for me or for Isabella (or we get them as present, of course).
It is possible to buy clothes both at H&M and Åhlens, for babies and kids, but at Åhlens it is also possible to find different items: sheets, toys, towels and even some object for the kitchen.

Every time I go in one of the two shops, I am very tempted to buy a lot of things, but luckily, I seldom do so (after all, we have already enough clothes, toys and items at home!)
My latest purchase is this funny pot-holder:

What there is not here in Sweden though is a set of furniture and accessories for babies with Barbapapa' theme. Luckily, Foppapedretti compensates for such loss!
There is everything that would make every (crazy) parent drool!
Just check here: Barbapapa' & Foppapedretti. From a light stroller, to a nursing table!
More than once, I was tempted to consider buying the Barbapapa' crib for Isabella, if the price would have not been prohibitive (add to that the expedition costs!).
Pity, though, is that Foppapedretti doesn't sell in Sweden...maybe it is time to evaluate a franchising option? Or at least, I should write a wish-list for Christmas for me and Isabella...

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Two cats are better than one

Thanks to Annika & Rolf for this fine birthday present!

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Friday, August 26, 2011

An afternoon in Karlskrona

For a reason or another, we have never managed to do something "funny" on our wedding anniversary. This year, we were closed to yet another disaster. After some discussion over the topic, we decided to take advantage of the place where Mattias would have been for discussing heavy strategy about his work place, to go and visit Karlskrona (Mattias was in Blekinge with work overnight).
I have always wanted to go there since the Naval Port is in the list of world heritage items of the Unesco.

So, on Thursday morning, after a colorful "Isabella's morning", enriched with a lot of change of clothes, tears and hurry, I took the car and drove with her on the E22, the strangest highway of the planet (or at least in Europe), for picking up Mattias at Järnavik, where he was waiting on a bench for a LOOONG time.

After a quick lunch at "Royal Thai" in Karlskrona (I recommend it because at least the waitress is quite hilarious: she underlined for me that I was not supposed to give the beef salad that Mattias took to Isabella because "too spicy"...), we started to walk in the town.

The only item on the list was the Maritime Museum, so we improvised for everything else. We took a road down from Stortorget and at the sign "Rosenbom", Mattias told me that we would go there although it was nothing super fancy. We reached the military area where the Amiralitets Kyrkan is located and there there was, the statue of Rosenbom. The story about him and why he is there can be read inside the church (the biggest wooden church in Sweden, quite pretty, indeed).

It seems Rosenbom was met by a Selma Lagerlöf's character, Nils Holgerssons, in his wonderful trip around Sweden.

We took a stroll down to the sea, and we could observe a nice area, where on the right there was the military zone and one could see submarines and far away, a radar (I think) and on the left we had some fancy building (or at least, historical one) and in front of us the Old Shipyard.

We walked on the Old Shipyard and the buildings were interesting, although they can't be visited (or at least, we didn't think they could?) but we found some other interesting items...
For example, an head in a playground near the beach (a blue flag beach!!!)!?
Or this utterly comfortable bench near the museum...

A collection of sharks just outside the museum:

And a nearby diving bell that Mattias wants to explore:

Finally, our destination!

The museum was quite interesting, but a bit "old fashioned" in the exhibitions style. This means tons of objects and knowledge, but too much to be grasped in one visit. Quite cool was the "underwater" tunnel, but disappointing the exhibitions about the cold war. Too noisy, no information in English, too much "blablabla...".
The best part? The last room, with the figureheads, was the best. A beautiful room with the view on the sea, all these impressive figureheads around. In a more sunny day, it might have been breathtaking!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bacon rolled chicken drums

This is the variation of a quite classical recipe, where chicken drums are dressed with mustard and then they are rolled in bacon slices.


  • 10 chicken drums
  • 20 slices of bacon (or pancetta)
  • 2 leaves of laurel
  • 10 cl of cognac
  • 2 spoons of olive oil
  • a small bunch of rosemary
  • a nip of cayenne pepper powder
  • a nip of paprika powder
  • a quarter of a stock dice
  • one garlic clove
  • mustard
Take the chicken drums and wash them. Remove the skin by pulling it away.
Make 4 - 5 cuts in each drum with a knife and "massage" the mustard in the meat, all over the chicken drum.
Roll 1 or 2 (depending on the bacon slice length and the size of the drum) bacon slices so that the meat is completely covered by the bacon.

Put one spoon of oil on a oven baking tin and dispose the drums. Pour the cognac, the remaining oil over the chicken and add the different herbs and spices.
Take the stock and crumble it over the meat. 
Slice the garlic in thin slices and spread them over the tin as well.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, when ready put the chicken in it and let it cook for about 45 - 50 minutes. Twice during the time, take the juice and cover the chicken with it so it doesn't dry.
The chicken is ready when the bacon is crispy.
Serve with a nice plate of oven-baked potatoes!

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Restaurants and food in the St Gran Bernard's Valley

When in the Alps we were obviously lazy, after being spoiled for 10 days, in the cooking, so we took the occasion to go to some restaurants and eat some typical food (yes, of course, it is summer and that food is "winterish", but this winter we were sick and we didn't have the opportunity to taste anything!).

First of all, it is worthy to mention that one of the best things there is a specific type of ham, called Jambon de Bosses, that is just too good (when well cut...). We had the occasion to go to a small place, at the entrance of Bosses, called Sous le Pont de Bosses or something like that, where you can eat a tray full of mixed cold cuts and cheese, among which the Jambon. The price was a bit high (about 21 € for two people), the bread was not the freshest they had produced that day, but it was totally worthy eating Jambon, Lardo d'Arnad, some salame and four different types of cheese, especially toma.

The night we arrived we went to the restaurant of the hotel Col Serena. The atmosphere is still from the 70s (as most of the things in that valley) but the food was quite alright. One of the best dishes that I like to eat is the crespelle alla valdostana, which are possibly frozen, but despite that they taste just great. We went to this place because we know that their portion of crespelle is quite "massive", other places have just a smaller portion and... that is not enough for us!
Mattias took a carbonada and I found out that that was a dish I could have liked as well. He finished the dinner with a small glass of genepy (a liquor made with juniper that is typical of the area). The dinner was not too bad, the price was ok, of course, it was nothing fancy, but we were longing so much for the crespelle that anything else didn't really matter!

We were too lazy to go home and cook, the day we took a long walk downtown in the village. Hence, we didn't know where to go and eat, so we decided to try the Le Relais du Pelerin. For lunch.
That turned out to be a bit weird, maybe the dinner would have been better.
We were surrounded by workers and the menu was limited to few, rustic, dishes. We decided to take just a simple pasta, and that was good, but...very simple and very expensive, considering!
We simply were a bit too disappointed, but luckily we didn't decide to have a full lunch!

The last evening before going home, instead of cooking what we had in the fridge, we decided to try instead the only restaurant in the St Rhemy village, the Hotel Suisse. The place is cozy and we found out that the menu was watering our mouths, and for a not too bad price either.
The food was really typical. I took some chestnuts gnocchi with Aosta Blue Cheese and local blueberries, Mattias took some tagliatelle with some sort of mushrooms. The main dish was for me the carbonada (yes, I really enjoyed it!) and for Mattias there was a really nice rabbit dish.
Everything was very well cooked and we concluded the dinner with a saffron creme brulee', which we should have been not splitting.
That was a really good conclusion of the little vacation we had!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Great St Bernard Pass & Aosta

This summer we did a lot of traveling, despite the fact that according to the most popular traditions: once you have a baby you are locked inside your own home!
After spending 10 days in Sicily, we added to our "summer tour" also a new goal: spend few days chilling out in the Alps.

We chose of course the coolest days of August to go there (...) and hence the weather was not that great. This meant that warming up a seldom-used house took about 5 days. Then we had to go back!
Nevertheless, we enjoyed the freshness of the air more than the heat we would have found later on in Gallarate...

We improvised some small excursions touching Aosta, Great St Bernard Pass, St Rhemy (well, that was not a big excursion) and Lausanne.
Aosta turned out to be a quite lively town (well, I have seen it hundred of times before, but never noticed these things), with a lot of tourists and souvenir shops, but also beautiful shops (we found a comic store that was very nice!) and some small event. There were small stands in the main streets where people dressed in typical clothes were showing old-fashioned toys to the smallest ones.
We did a short walk among some of the monuments, touching with the car the Augusto Arch, eating an ice cream in the main square, walking by the Porta Pretoria and finally talking a stroll in the Roman Theatre.

Certainly, the Romans knew where to build stuff!

We decided to pick up the worse day instead for going up to the pass. The road (which is being improved) is quite scenic and the mountains were beautiful surrounded by the clouds.

It was damn cold up there and it even started to rain!
We got "robbed" in one of the coffee places there, where we had to go since Isabella was hungry (and sitting outside feeding her would have been crazyness!). A fake chocolate was incredibly expensive and we were astonished at how the Swiss people there could not understand nor the italian "cioccolata" neither the english "chocolate". How different is it from the french?!?!??!
Since we are at it, we decided also to show Isabella the St Bernard dogs and we invested again in swiss franks for visiting the kennel and observe those beautiful dogs and the quite interesting museum.  In the museum we could read about the history of the place and, even though this was probably the 15 time I have been there, still there was something to learn!
Since the temperature was quickly dropping to northern-Sweden levels, we decided to go back home!

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gooseberry, cinnamon and rhubarb jam

On the wave of the summer fruit and discovery, here there is yet another jam. The second of the season. Actually, I found out that this is a way to use a lot of fruit in a short time and that it is fairly simple (especially if using the jam sugar). We usually get quite a lot of fruit, especially berries, from the cat hotel owners and we have always hard time to consume them.
Also, I think it is really nice to be able to give as a gift a little (or medium) jar of your own jam to people and I like to receive feedback so to make new different "tastes".

This time, I decided to just take what I had and I briefly searched what would be a good combination with gooseberry and I found out that cinnamon would have been the key ingredient to make the taste less flat.
As the previous experiment, I put a bit more fruit than sugar so that it would not be a too sweet jam. And I discovered that people do not like too sweet jams and hence, mine was quite appreciated.

Ingredients for about 1,5 kg of jam:

  • 750 gr of gooseberries
  • 750 gr of rhubarb
  • 1 kg of jam sugar
  • a tea spoon of cinnamon

I warmed up the frozen berries and the rhubarb in a big pot, without adding anything.

Once the fruits was warm and not frozen any longer, I blended the fruit, but not too much in order to leave some fruit to chew on.

I have finally added the cinnamon to the mix!

Since I was still "cheating" using the jam sugar, I simply added it and let it cook for the time written on the package. Well, if I have to be honest, in this case I accidentally left it over the heat some minute extra and burned it slightly (which however gave a nice back-taste to the jam!).

It is finally cooked! As you can see, there are some pieces of fruit that are well visible.
As usual, I sterilized the jar and then I filled it with the jam. It turned out to be a really good jam to eat with cheese. 

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