Valbo-Ryr

While on my roadtrip in Sweden in October, I took a detour out of sheer curiosity, and ended up in the tiny parish of Valbo-Ryr in Dalsland where I decided to turn back to the highway, as I was kinda on my way back ti Norway.

But first I needed to stretch my legs, and since the light and the autumn colours were gorgeous by the little church, I grabbed my camera took a stroll around the churchyard.

As I mentioned, I was on my way home. I had work the next day, and still about 9-10 hours to drive. I wasn’t ready to leave Sweden just yet, and I think that’s why I took the sudden detour. The striking colours, the beautiful countryside, the lovely language and all the beautiful places I had seen on this trip.. Going back to the daily life at home didn’t feel tempting at all, but I didn’t have any choice.

So, with my newly discovered favourite song quietly playing on the stereo, I reluctantly turned the car around and found my way back to the highway that would take me back to Norway..

Här är stillhet och tystnad, nu när marken färgats vit
från den trygga, gamla kyrkan klingar sången ända hit.
Jag har stannat vid vägen, för att vila mej ett tag,
och blev fångad i det gränsland som förenar natt och dag

Och ett sken ifrån ljusen bakom fönstrets välvda ram
har förenat dom själar som finns med oss här i tiden,
och jag vet att dom som har lämnat oss, har förstått att vi är
liksom fladdrande lågor, så länge vi är här.

Där, bland gnistrande stjärnor som förbleknar en och en,
kommer livet väldigt nära, som en skymt av sanningen.
Vi är fångar i tiden, som ett avtryck av en hand på
ett frostigt, gammalt fönster som fått nåd av tidens tand

En sekund är jag evig, och sen vet jag inget mer…
Bara ett, att jag lever lika fullt som någon annan.
Jag är här, och mitt på en frusen väg finns det värme ändå,
fastän snön börjat falla och himmelen blir grå

 

Koppången, by Per-Erik Moraeus & Py Bäckman

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Some Swedish cows..

Somewhere between Linköping and Gränna, along a teeny tiny country road my GPS suggested would be the shortest way, I encountered a herd of cows in a pasture surrounded by the most wonderful autumn colours. Being raised on a dairy farm, I adore cows and therefore I just had to stop to admire these beauties for a few minutes!

That road might be the shortest in distance, but far from the fastest as I literally drove around in 40-50 km/h to admire the landscape. A truly beautiful piece of Sweden, with tiny farms and cottages, fields and ponds. An oh, did I mention the autumn colours?!

Kroppkärrsjön.

Taking a wrong turn trying to find my way out of Karlstad last week, I came across this beautiful lake just outside the city. Every place I went past on my little road trip last week looked like it was on fire, sparkling in reds, yellows and browns under a clear blue sky. Sweden had really put on her finest autumn colours this year.  I almost wish I had counted all the times I was amazed by the splendour, again and again along the way.

My trip went from Oslo to Hallunda just outside of Stockholm to watch my favourite Swedish singer/actor in a new musical, then following the highway south of the lake Vättern, and across the country to Göteborg to watch a non-replica version of Phantom of the Opera at the Göteborg Opera House.

Thanks to the wonderful scenery, my trip became quite memorable, and even though I spent most of the time all alone in my car, I had a great time. I really needed this, some proper “me-time” all alone, just with my beloved car as my only companion, doing whatever I wanted to and listening to my favourite music on repeat.
And, having this obsession with Swedish singers and musicals at the moment, I often found myself just listening to people talking in stores and in the streets, admiring their language (and kinda fangirling a tiny bit because that’s how my idols speak, haha).

Anyway, Karlstad was my first stop on this trip, where I spent the night before continuing towards Stockholm the next day. And this wrong turn I took on my way out of the city centre, resulted in a lovely little walk along the lake Kroppkärrsjön.

Old stone fences.

Taken out on a drive with the pony. This is one of the most charming spots along this route, with the old stone fence and the huge tree behind me in the first shot, and a lovely view of both the village by the fjord and the mountains. Nordviksula covered in mist and the old fence, telling their tales of times gone by..

Making my own vanilla sugar replacement!

Mead wort, or meadowsweet, meadsweet, bridewort, queen of the meadow (filipendula ulmaria) is a quite commen herb in Europe and Western Asia, and has been used for thousads of years, both as a medical herb, to flavour drinks and food, and as a strewing herb to make the house smell good. (The history of strewing herbs and a list of used herbs and their purposes can be found here, very interesting!)

Mead wort, as I prefer to call it, has a sweet, honeylike aroma, and adds a subtle almondlike flavour to jams and stewed fruits. I recently came across a video showing how to make your own vanilla sugar using this herb, and wanted to try it out myself.

The herb is easily recognized with it’s cluster of flowers, pinnate leaves and characteristic red stem. It is found in damp meadows, fens and often close to water sources. Here in Norway it’s very common around cultivated land and in neglected fields and grazing areas.

 

The flowers are used as both tea and to flavour jams, mead and wine, and the leaves can be used in a medical tea to relieve a number of ailments. For this project you only need the flowers.

First, remove as much of the stems as possible, before spreading the flowers evenly on a baking tray covered with baking paper.

This goes in the oven at 40°C with the door ajar for at least six hours, making your kitchen smell sweet and lovely.
The video said 60°C, but I read somewhere else that herbs might loose some of their aroma and flavour when dried at more than 40°, so I followed that advice instead and it worked just as well.

 

Then it’s ready to grind, using a mortar or a blender. I can’t stand the noise of those kitchen machines, so I used my new stone mortar, which I mentioned in my last post. It took me a while and my hands got quite tired, but I still adore my little mortar.

When you have grinded everything, the last step is to sift the powder through a sieve to remove the rest of the stems. I did this above the baking paper, so that I could easily fold the paper and use it as a funnel to put the powder in its new container.


This was a nearly full basket of flowers, so I decided to make another batch a few days later to fill the jar completely. Luckily, we have a lot of mead wort by our driveway and even more at the bottom of our fields, so I didn’t have to go far to gather more.

I even found one in my slightly neglected flower bed the other day!

And voilá, a jar full of sweetness to be used in various desserts, cream, buns, biscuits and other baked goods this winter. Can’t wait to try it out!

Sweet second hand treasures.

Making mead wort powder – to be used as a vanilla essence in such as baked goods, for example, in my "new" mortar. The mortar must be the best find I have ever done, in a teeny tiny Swedish "loppis" – flea market, along the way on our camping trip last week. And I paid only 60SEK for it! That's about £5,60, and incredibly cheap for one here in Norway. And it's the perfect size as well!

This is going to be used a LOT for my herbs and spices!