Sunday, July 27, 2014

Beating the bushes

My friend Amanda and I don’t get to see each other nearly as often as we would like to, but yesterday I hopped on my bike (well, her bike actually) and pedaled away towards Woodinville where she lives with her husband and adorable little munchkin. Easy enough, right? Absolutely! The only reason I don’t do it all the time is because her house is about 40 km away from mine. Adding a few extra kilometers due to mishaps in the Woodinville maze, I ended up cycling 85 km yesterday; a respectable distance if I might say so myself. (And I might, because this is my blog, thankyouverymuch.) 

Besides catching up on all the gossip whilst noshing on a lovely lunch, another objective of mine was to find some ripe blackberries along the bike trail. I had promised someone that I would make them a blackberry crumble pie later that day and would not like to disappoint. There were no reasons to worry, however; fate was smiling upon me and the brambles that lined my path were heavy with dark, juicy berries, warm from the beaming sunlight. The two containers I’d brought were soon overflowing and I silently cursed myself for not choosing bigger buckets. In all fairness though, it would’ve been quite the challenge to bring back a bigger harvest on my bike.

Still, my quota was far from filled and this morning I therefore decided to check out the blackberry bushes by Green Lake where I gathered some sweet fruits last year. This time I put four plastic boxes in my backpack to ensure that I would keep myself busy for a while.

One hour later:

‘Twas a good harvest.

Yesterday’s pie was a triumph as well, although I had to improvise a little with what I happened to have in my pantry, all in the spirit of Cajsa Warg. Starting with a recipe from Arla, this is what I cooked up:

Blackberry-nectarine crumble pie




  • 3 nectarines
  • 250 g (8.8 oz) blackberries
  • 0.5 dl (0.2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch



  • 0.75 dl (0.3 cups) granulated sugar
  • 1.5 dl (0.6 cups) rye flakes
  • 1 dl (0.4 cups) unbleached white flour
  • 125 g (4.4 oz) vegan buttery sticks

The nectarines were thinly sliced and put in the bottom of a buttered, round baking dish. I filled up with berries and covered them with sugar and cornstarch mixed together. Apparently, I was out of rolled oats which I would normally use for the crumble, but rye flakes worked perfectly fine as a substitute. The flakes were mixed with flour and sugar, and crumbles were properly crumbled after adding room tempered butter to the bowl, paws getting nice and greasy. (This is a hands-on business; there’s no messing around with spoons or silly tools.) The doughy clumps were finally distributed over the fruit and the pie was baked in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes at 225°C (440°F). The result was served warm, nicely accompanied by a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. A victory of juiciness! 

Next time I might add a little bit of fresh ginger to the fruits, which I believe would add very nicely to the sweetness. All in all, it was an excellent berry adventure, well worth looking like I’ve been wrestling a pride of lions.

(For those of you who don’t know: blackberry brambles are the most viciously thorned organisms out there. Not for sissies!)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Head in the clouds

Sunday, July 20. Tolmie Peak, Mt Rainier National Park. I now know what it's like to be in a cloud. It's quiet, it's wet, it's hazy. It's slippery, it's cold.

What's more, it's absolutely wonderfully enchanting. It's Moominvalley incarnate.

Follow the path. What's on the other side?

 Hattifnattar? Xerophyllum tenax.


A newfound friend.

This place! This place.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ducking and dodging (and kissing)

The past week was quite eventful with several birthday festivities and other social gatherings, leaving me a little behind when it comes to reporting my doings and dealings. Nevertheless, I simply must give a short recap of last Tuesday, when I had the pleasure of joining a friend in the boating community at the committee boat for the Tuesday night Duck Dodge sail race on Lake Union.

This is a true Seattle tradition, currently on its 40th year, where boats of different classes compete in four heats. As the boats finish, they raft up together with the committee boat at the middle of the lake and joyous celebrations ensue, including among other things fraternal/sisterly sharing of Jello shots in various radiant colors.

This Tuesday the theme was "pajama night" and my captain friend Lia had therefore built a floating bed on a barge, complete with mattresses, pillows and multicolored lights, from which her comrades and I enjoyed swimming in the lake, watching the race, drinking, snacking and chatting away, neatly dressed in our jammies. A fantastic evening!

I should probably mention an interesting little tradition as well, that apparently applies to all newcomers at this race, or "virgins" as they (we) are called, namely going from boat to boat after the raft-up, kissing all the captains.




I debated the matter with myself for a little while but eventually decided that upholding naval traditions is in fact quite important, and thus embarged on the mission accompanied by an awesome lady and fellow Duck Dodge newbie named Lindi. I figured that when all is said and done you're only a virgin once, so what the heck...

I have to admit though that we didn't quite realize what we had gotten ourselves into, but thirty-six boats later we actually finished the task. Quite proud of myself, to be honest; those were a lot of beards, I tell ya.

Lindi, myself, and Captain Lia.

The floating bed, as seen from above.

The raft-up.

To sum up: it was one of Those Nights. A really, really memorable, super fun, and kinda sorta magical night. All thanks to Lia!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer fun and a new hangout

Another sunny Saturday, another restful weekend. Time flies, but I'm trying to make the most of these lovely summer days; before I know it it'll be fall again. My last in this city? Let's not think about that right now.

Patrik and I had a great time during his visit, watching World Cup soccer, going to the movies, running, eating lots ice cream/gelato/frozen custard, celebrating 4th of July, nomming on great food, shopping, exploring Capitol Hill and Ballard, playing boardgames, watching boats go by and just generally chitchatting about everything and nothing. A really, really fun week!

Patrik, David and Amelia rockin' the red, white and blue for 4th of July.

Ice cream! One of the many frozen treats this week.

Browsing in the blazing sun at Fremont Sunday Market. Too hot for shopping, though.

As I'm writing this I'm sitting at Yellow Dot Cafe in Fremont, watching the Brazil-Netherlands bronze game. This place has become a favorite during the World Cup, offering not only comfy seats, friendly staff/clientele and good coffee, but also a fabulous big screen tv on which I have watched seemingly countless games by now. Ok, I can probably count to <10 but you get the picture; in less than a month I've become a regular here, and I like it. However, there are many lovely cafés in the area so I'll probably branch out more again after the WC ends tomorrow. But first I have the exciting final between Germany (yaay!) and Argentina (booo!) to look forward to; a game I will watch with excellent long-distance company back in Sweden. I owe my friend Gäddan a lot for keeping me company through WhatsApp and providing live updates when I've been unable to watch games because of work or other colliding engagements. Thank you ever so much, Gäddan! It wouldn't have been the same without you.

Ahead of me now are a couple of more low-key weeks, until the end of July/beginning of August when I get two back-to-back visits from Swedish comrades. But first, a little bit of work perhaps?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sizzling sun, snowy slopes

The trend is approaching statistical significance; whenever I have people over from Sweden the Emerald City pampers us with gorgeous weather. Patrik arrived on Tuesday and Seattle responded with a new heat record of 34 C/94 F. Jeez! I'm not complaining or anything, but really..?

(Okay, I am sort of complaining; It was very hot.)

Today the temperature was more agreeable as Amelia joined Patrik and me for a roadtrip to Mount Rainier National Park, where the plan was to hike along the Wonderland Trail from the Fryingpan Creek bridge to Panhandle Gap. Fully equipped with burritos, cookies, energy bars, trail mix, Rainier cherries, sunscreen, bug spray, fist aid kits, spare clothing, and tons of water, we eventually had to admit defeat and turn back close to Summerland. Why? Because of snow. The running shoes we were all wearing just weren't fit for climbing the steep hillside, skidding in the slushy snow. Getting up there safely: maybe. Going down: not so much.

Still, the 12 km round trip provided plenty of amazing views and we had a wonderful time in the national park, as well as on the way there and back.

I absolutely definitely totally need to do this again. Thumbs up!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy, sunny, smily days

What am I so cheery about? Well, let me sum it up:
  • Summer is here
  • World Cup is awesome
  • Work is fun

 Nothing to complain about, in other words. Oh, and of course:
  •  Patrik is coming today