Travel

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

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STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Our list is fairly short. We revisited places a few times and we struck out a few times but hopefully this is helpful. We poached most of these from David and Luise who live there. Stockholm is made of 14 islands, we spent a couple days in Norrmalm and the rest in Södermalm. Being there in Autumn meant options like ferry cruises weren't running and our Californian bones couldn't quite come to terms with the extra windchill that riding bikes would have subjected us to, so we only made it as far and wide as our feet could take us between half-hourly croissants. All that to say, we would have loved to see more, but highly recommend the little bit we did see. 

Pom and Flora - There are two locations now. You may have better luck getting a table at the Odenplan spot because it has more space, but both were packed when we visited. They also have a larger menu and the salad/egg bowl deal I got was my favorite meal the whole trip. A great breakfast and lunch spot, lighter options, pastries etc. 

Cafe Pascal (Odenplan) - we enjoyed multiple coffees and a number of hours here reading and watching. It's a simple, beautiful space with great coffee. You can get espresso drinks all over town but their's were wonderful. The pour over is light and unique and I had three oat milk cappucinos one rainy morning which either makes them delicious or me crazy, you choose. 

Fabrique Bakery - I was told by multiple people to get a cardamon bun so we tried one here... and also a brownie :) Not necessarily a place to hang for awhile, but a nice afternoon snack and coffee. There are multiple locations. 

Urban Deli - So this is a specialty market and also a great little happy hour/dinner spot. There are a few locations, and the one in sodermalm has a bustling bar and restaurant. Try to grab a table early, great people watching, or pick up picnic goodies. 

Meatballs For The People - This was a Yelp find from Hugh, pretty close to our Air Bnb. I was hesitant, I don't love meatballs, but I had the vegan ones on top of a green salad with roasted squash, goat cheese and pickled onions and it was my second favorite meal of the week. Great ambiance. Grab a window seat. 

Osterlanggatan 17 - We found this while wandering the streets of Old Town. They had some great breakfast/brunch options and it was packed for lunch. The dinner menu didn't look as intriguing to me, personal preference, and the neon bar lights didn't go with the nordic vibe but whatever, it was nice. 

Kaferang - They have two locations. Again with the breakfast and lunch being amazing. Super fresh and delicious salads and soup and a yummy bakery case. When we're traveling sans kids, we pick places that feel nice to just hang for awhile and eat and chat and read and have wifi ;) This was an awesome spot. 

Fotografiska - So, according to a few Swedes we chatted with (meaning we didn't make this up), Swedish people are apparently known for their reserve when it comes to outward expressions of emotion. Hugh and I were both crying in the Paul Hansen "Being There" exhibit. We may have been the only ones, but it was hard to see through blurry eyes. Whether you're a public cryer or not, it was a heart wrenching collection of images from his job as a photojournalist covering conflict zones across the globe. The images were paired with with essays and short stories he'd written to accompany and bring context to the already powerful imagery, and oh my goodness, it will break your heart. Obviously this exhibit won't be there forever, but you should visit regardless. 

On a lighter note, the cafe upstairs has a stunning view and the food was great too. I love having wine at lunch fyi. 

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HARVEST SALAD WITH SPICE ROASTED CARROTS

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 I am comfortable here in Southern California. We have pretty moderate temperatures, the air smells clean from the coastal breeze, we have family close, friends around we've had for decades, we live in a safe area and have jobs we like which support the life we've built in this place (it's a privilege to write things like that, that is not lost on me, especially these days). There is traffic and smog, and property is stupid expensive, but the positives keep us here and hustling. Sometimes being comfortable feels stale and stagnant, and stagnancy does not breed creativity or action or new ideas or a life that feels lived in. Whenever I feel like I have nothing to write or nothing to cook, I need to leave. I need to learn something new, meet new people, eat somewhere I've never been. Travel has always shaken up my routine and paradigms in the best way. So when I landed in both Boulder, CO and Vietnam this past August, I felt ready to learn and absorb a process that was new to me. Celestial Seasonings has been making tea since 1969. I took a tour through their facility and saw the bones of how they blend and produce more than 100 blends of tea. I drink tea, I know what I like, but I can't say I knew very much about the process or curation until I went on this adventure and tasted what a good cup of tea should taste like.

The rural areas of Vietnam are breathtaking. There are people transporting loads five times their size on the back of a scooter, acres of cinnamon trees and people quietly harvesting within the rice paddies, the tops of their conical sun hats poking just above the horizon. My favorite part was watching the people and their process. You can be running the same routine for a while and you start to not even see it any more. My eyes were glued to the window on the long car ride to the cinnamon farm, I listened to every word of the tour, I soaked in each person I saw. How hungry I was to learn and see.

After decades of eating fast food and then thinking healthy was packaged foods labeled as "fat free" and "sugar free," I fell in love with food by working on a farm. I was romanced by the entirety of it - seeds, care, harvesting, market, cooking. To be in Vietnam and witness all that goes into producing cinnamon, one of their largest exports, reminded me of what I love about all this food stuff. Celestial Seasonings showed me the steps of creating tea from seed to sip. The care towards the cinnamon process is followed all the way through to the tea - that assertive but balanced cinnamon involved in India Spice Chai or Bengal Spice gets paired with a handful other spices to make it taste just right in your cup. I met the farmers, the women who clean it up, shave it down and dry it out (process it), I saw how they package it for Celestial Seasonings who then flavor pairs it with a handful of other spices. I met Charlie Baden, their Senior Blendmaster, who takes herbs and botanicals and creates recipes for a perfect cup of tea, and Mo Siegel, who started the company all those years ago in Boulder. The stories within our food system can be gross and greedy, but they can also be really inspiring and motivating. There is a video of part of the story over on my Instagram page.

So I came home with fresh cinnamon and felt like trying something new. I always put cinnamon in baked goods, but how could I use it in a savory application? I grabbed other aromatic spices to play off the naturally sweet carrots and roasted them until just tender. They are delicious straight off the tray, but I will dump nearly anything into a bowl of greens to make a meal of it, so we ended up with the recipe below. I'm predictable with my favorite things, eh? A leopard can't change its spots, even across the globe and back within five days. So into the kitchen with fresh eyes, lots of vegetables, nothing overly complicated or time consuming, and gratitude for the process.

This post is in partnership with Celestial Seasonings

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HARVEST SALAD WITH SPICE ROASTED CARROTS // Serves 2-4

As written, this is a wonderful side salad or a base salad for two to add your choice of protein to make it a meal. Some seasoned chickpeas or rotisserie chicken on top make this an easy weeknight dinner or to pack along for a work lunch.

Line your baking tray with parchment paper for easy clean up of roasting the carrots. 

1 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne, more to taste if you like spicy
1/2 tsp. sea salt
5 cups spring mix
2/3 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
2/3 cup (about 5 ounces) crumbled sheeps' milk feta cheese
pomegranate seeds, for garnish

dressing

1 Tbsp. minced shallot
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Pinch of fresh chopped parsley
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

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Preheat the oven to 400’. Cut the carrots into 1” slices, on the diagonal and put them on a rimmed baking tray. Drizzle them with the oil, maple, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cayenne and salt and toss to coat well. Spread them in an even layer and roast for 25 minutes until tender and browned on the edges. Remove to cool completely. 

While the carrots cool, make the dressing. Into a bowl, combine the shallot, dijon, honey, vinegar, salt and parsley and whisk well. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste for seasoning. The dressing can be made up to three days in advance.

To assemble the salad, dress the greens with desired amount of dressing. Top with the carrots, chopped pistachios, crumbled feta cheese and a handful of pom seeds. 

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NUT BARS

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My sister in law made these for a family picnic last weekend and Hugh hasn't stopped talking about them. You know how Lara bars taste reminiscent of real food but they are just too sweet? Personal opinion. Too many dates! Dates are cheaper than nuts per volume, it's business, I digress. For maximum snack staying power we want fat and protein, less sugar, so these are basically a mash of nuts, coconut, coconut oil, and the teensiest bit of maple to gild the lily. Yes, these are super high fat but it's good fat and we got mixed messages about all that too many years ago. Especially if you're active or nursing or in school or diabetic or vegetarian or alive! You need good fats! Speaking of health, the chocolate here is very optional, but I was aiming to make them more attractive for a photo and use them as currency to get my children to eat vegetables. I know you're not supposed to do that, negotiate with toddlers, but I can't help myself sometimes. It seems the only way some nights. ANYWAY. So easy. Two dirty dishes and at least a few days of on-the-go snacks covered. 

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NUT BARS // Makes 12
Adapted from Kitchen Stewardship

The coconut oil here acts as glue for the whole situation, therefore, they hold together better when refrigerated, to remain in a more solid, bar-like state. They are fine at room temperature, but note they will be more delicate and not travel as well. 

2 cups raw almonds (or other crunchy nuts)
1/3 cup flaxmeal
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed if it's rock solid
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. maple syrup

chocolate drizzle, optional
(melt between 2-3.5oz. (to taste) of dark chocolate, drizzle over the top of the bars. Refrigerate until it hardens. Cut the cold bars into squares) 

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Into a food processor, add the almonds and flaxmeal. Pulse a few times to chop the almonds well, Add the coconut, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt, cinnamon and maple and pulse until the mixture forms a coarse paste. If the mixture looks to dry (it should look, add another spoonful of coconut oil and/or maple. 
Transfer the mixture to an 8x8 baking dish (lining it with parchment paper will make it easier to pull the whole square out and cut them for portability, but this is not crucial) and press the mixture down into an even layer with a large spoon. If you are doing the chocolate drizzle (note above) you can do that now, and then chill the entire situation. Refrigerate them to solidify (about 1 hour). 
Cut the bars with a clean, sharp, knife, and store covered in the fridge. 

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