and then there was colour II




I admit that it was mostly blue, but blue means blue skies and blue sea. It was only one week, but I think that now I have enough colour to get me through winter. But then again, I could always go for another glass of fresh pomegrante juice.

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and then there was colour I





Just a pinch of colour is all I need to get through the Swedish winter. And, also, some blue sky. And maybe a few glasses of fresh pomegranate juice.

T
oda Tel Aviv!

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one night in copenhagen




Flights tend to be cheaper out of Copenhagen than out of Goteborg.
It gives me a nice excuse to see friends and to spend far too much money on coffee.

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layers of breakfast


If I was as good at dressing in layers as I am at eating in layers, perhaps I would have not caught a cold. However, just because my diet has been reduced to raw garlic, ginger and honey, does not mean that I can't reminisce about recent delicious breakfasts (that I hope to repeat soon).


Apple-Quinoa Parfait

inspired by vanilla & lace and tasty kitchen

Ingredients

1 apple, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
dried cranberries
1 tbsp. brown sugar, or maple syrup
cinnamon
nutmeg
a pinch of salt
zest of half an organic orange
1/4 cup dry Quinoa (I used red)
1/2 cup water, milk, or apple juice
1 cup Greek yogurt
honey

Melt butter in heavy frying pan over medium-low heat. Add apple, dried cranberries, brown sugar or maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cook until apples are soft and caramelized. Mix quinoa with cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, orange zest and salt. Cook in water, milk, or apple juice. Once both quinoa and apples are cooked, let cool slightly. Mix Greek yogurt with honey. Layer yogurt, apples and quinoa into two glasses. Top with cinnamon and honey.

Guten!

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on time


Soon I will be scribbling packing lists (sandals for Israel and snow boots for Germany), returning library books last minute, and hoping that I put my passport in an easy to find place. But for now I rather think about Saint Lucia, the economy of secrets, and the Oktoberfest sky.

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back to pickles




In a few weeks I will be celebrating a very merry German Christmas. And such a German Christmas implies long car rides on the Autobahn, as well as road-side snacks. Years ago, I discovered road-side pickles somewhere in Thuringia. Now it is hard to imagine long car rides without them.

Before moving to Sweden, I made my first batch of fresh-pickles. A few ingredients plus ten days in the fridge, and I think maybe, just maybe they were even tastier than German road-side pickles. However, airport regulations discouraged me from packing any in my bag.


Spicy Dill Pickles

inspired by the l.c.b.o. food and drink magazine, summer 2010

Ingredients

a dozen pickling cucumbers, about 3-4 inches
8 cups cold water
1/2 cup pickling salt (or very coarse salt)

garlic
fresh dill
black pepper
red pepper flakes
mustard seeds
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar

Rinse cucumbers. Cut off both ends. Place in a large bowl or bucket, cover with salt and water. Weigh down the cucumbers with a heavy plate and leave for 12-24 hours. Rinse off the salt with several changes of water. Mix 2 1/2 cups of water with 2 cups of white vinegar. Mix together spices. Pack cucumbers into several sterilized jars. In each jar add garlic cloves, a branch of fresh dill, 2 tsp of spice mix and enough vinegar to cover the cucumbers. Refrigerate for 10 days before serving. These are very crunchy pickles and can be stored in the fridge for about a month.


Guten!

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the light bulb and the bird cage


One winter afternoon I escaped Berlin's cold by going to the Hamburger Bahnhof. At the time the large exhibition hall was hosting works by Joseph Beuys. Contemporary art without Beuys is like brownies without chocolate, it just does not really make as much sense.

One of the pieces displayed in the room was a large, rusted cage. Inspired by Beuys, we began a hunt for an old bird cage. Since then, the bird cage has housed passports, fabric birds and, now, a light bulb.

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arugula salad with dried figs and walnuts


When the winter turns colder, my apartment becomes nicer. My cupboards are filled with dried fruits, nuts and honey. One pair of slippers and one pair of moccasins wait for my feet each morning next to my bed. I buy plants and my roommate buys candles. Growing up in Canada I have never been afraid of snow, but I admit to still having some fear of the cold.

I am an avid salad eater and in the winter my cravings for all things green and fresh become all the more intense. Salads with fruit tend to be my favourite (which is rather obvious with past mentions of an orange and fennel salad and a watermelon and cucumber salad). A version of this salad - one with arugula with nuts, dried or fresh fruits, some cheese and a simple dressing of good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey - is one of my repeated staples and with each repeat, it is always becomes something new. Try arugula with peaches, almonds and goat cheese. Or, arugula with pear, walnuts and blue cheese. Or when you have a well stocked cupboard and little desire to put on your snow boots, try arugula salad with dried figs and walnuts.

Arugula Salad with Dried Figs and Walnuts

Ingredients

a handful of arugula
dried figs, cut into quarters
walnuts, toasted
a few shavings of pamigiano-reggiano
good olive oil
balsamic vinegar
honey
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Mix together arugula, dried figs and walnuts. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss. Assemble onto plates. Top with a drizzle of honey, sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a few shavings of parmigiano-reggiano.

Guten!

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polenta for breakfast



Before moving to Goteborg, I had never made polenta. One morning my roommate whipped it up with an egg on top and some parmesan and it has become a regular part of my breakfast ever since. Because of its neutral flavour, I alternate between sweet breakfast polenta and savory breakfast polenta. Now that afternoons in Sweden -and often mornings- look like a black hole, I find myself tempted more and more by sweet breakfast polenta.

Polenta is all about stirring. With a little coordination making polenta becomes a chance to catch up on reading, or a chance to simply admire the moments in which the weather does not resemble a black hole. Polenta is also all about adding what you please. It is a nice change to my typical oatmeal, then quinoa then oatmeal again breakfast routine.

Breakfast Polenta

Ingredients

polenta (for me 1/2 cup, for me and others 1 cup)
water (4 to 1 ratio for soft polenta, 2 cups for me, 4 cups for me and others)
a pinch of sea salt

dried fruit (cranberries, dates, figs, raisins)
nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
fresh berries
honey

Bring water to a boil. Slowly add the polenta and the salt, stirring all of the time. Reduce the heat slightly and keep stirring. Stir some more. Read while stirring. And then stir some more. Should take half an hour or so. Dress up polenta as you please with nuts, dried fruit, honey and fresh berries.

Guten!

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postcards from göteborg


Sometimes I have to live in a place a while before I can begin to buy postcards.

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missing maple


There are few things that make me nationalistic. I spend much time deconstructing the concept of nationalism and am greatly interested in its roots. My personal identity I try to keep separate from the identity of my country. I do not sew a Canadian flag on my backpack and I do not feel patriotic towards the red and white maple leaf flag. However, I do feel patriotic towards maple syrup. Other than my family and friends - of course - it is one of the few things I miss about Canada.

Maple syrup and I have bonded over the years - over pancakes, drizzled on Greek yogurt, over marinades and in cakes. My aunt is coming to visit me next week and when asked if there was anything I would like from home my answer was obvious: a big bottle of maple syrup.

Granola made with maple syrup is one of my breakfast favourites. However, maple syrup priced in Swedish Kronor is something that I cannot afford. But, with a big bottle from Canada things are looking up.Granola can be approached from dozens of recipes with dozens of ingredients. A lot of granola is made with butter or a neutral oil, but I usually skip both and just use maple syrup.



Orange-Maple Granola

Ingredients

rolled oats, 2-4 cups depending on how big the batch
zest of 1-2 organic oranges
ground cinnamon
ground nutmeg
maple syrup (or honey), 1/4 - 1 cup
dash of sea salt
your choice of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
your choice of dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, raisins)

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Mix rolled oats with salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add maple syrup and orange zest. Stir to coat evenly. If you wish, add nuts now. I often add them after. Place oats on a cookie-sheet lined with baking paper, or in a large baking pan. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until brown. Stir occasionally while baking. Once crispy and brown, remove from pan and mix with dried fruit (and nuts, if you have decided to skip toasting them). Let cool and then store in an air-tight container.

Guten!

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falling for soup


Cooler temperatures have begun to make themselves comfortable here in Goteborg. I am okay with this as long as I have a warm parka and a kitchen full of ingredients to make soup.

Since the temperatures started to drop I have made this soup a few times, each time a bit different. Carrot and ginger is a classic combination and rather forgiving, so feel free to experiment. I made it once with miso. Another time with shrimp. Another time with coconut milk. All variations have been delicious, a sign of a good soup recipe.
a basic variation served at a dinner party

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Ingredients

a generous chunk of butter, or olive oil, 2-3 tbsp.
1 large onion, or 2-3 smaller ones
fresh ginger, minced (at least 1 tbsp.), to taste
500 g. carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups water or vegetable broth
juice of an orange (about 1/2 a cup)
salt, to taste
fresh herbs (such as mint) and olive oil for garnish

Heat the oil or butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, ginger and salt. Cook until softened and then add water, or broth. Bring to boil and then let simmer until carrots are very soft, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly and then puree soup in batches. Reheat and add orange juice and a bit more ginger (if you please). If using miso, add about 2 tbsp. If adding shrimp, add cooked shrimp and heat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with olive oil and mint.

Guten!

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postcards from louisiana


A short train ride north of Copenhagen is my favourite museum: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Inspired by the idea of visiting a crazy uncle's house in the country side, Louisiana takes a more personal approach to the exhibition of modern art. Works are displayed in long corridors and in rooms with big windows and views of an even bigger coastline. It is a charming alternative to a white cube. To make the place even more appealing, their exhibitions are flawlessly executed and take creative approaches to the work of artists such as Anselm Kiefer (on exhibition now), Sophie Calle, Lucien Freud, Tal R., and Candice Breitz.

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a sandwich for friday


The nice thing about an essay-writing day is that I have an excuse to stay at home and make a nice lunch.

Between reading a book by Afua Cooper and writing a paragraph about myself in Swedish, I ate a sandwich. And what a sandwich it was! I have never been much of a sandwich person, but if I get into the habit of baking brioche regularly and buying fresh shrimp all that may change.

Cucumber and Spicy Shrimp Brioche
Ingredients

a few fresh shrimp
(my local fiskvagen has delicious shrimp that are conveniently already cooked)
fresh chives
creamy dijon mustard
cre
me fraiche
a few squeezes of a lemon
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a generous pinch of sea salt
black pepper
thinly sliced cucumber
mixed greens
a few slices of brioche, day old is best

Toast a few slices of brioche. Mix mustard, creme fraiche, and lemon juice. Add fresh chives, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and then add shrimp and mix well. Place mixed greens and cucumber on brioche and then add the shrimp and the remaining sauce.
Guten!

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apples in autumn




Apples are the ultimate symbol of autumn. They hang ripe from trees. They fill up barrels and baskets at local markets and grocery stores. They get turned into pies, crumbles, jellies, jams and even butter. A few weeks ago I made apple butter and have been waking up to it ever since. Apple butter is lovely served on whole-wheat buns, pancakes, or even mixed with some oatmeal.

Apple Butter

Ingredients

a nice mix of apples (I used about 8 medium to large apples)
unrefined sugar (I used about 1 1/2 cups)
cinnamon
nutmeg
juice of a lemon

Peel, core and cut apples into medium sized chunks. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to boil and then cook at a simmer until apples are soft and easily punctured by a fork. Drain apples and then mash (by hand or by machine, as you wish and as you have). Return apples (now resembling apple sauce) to pot and cook over low to medium-low heat. Add sugar, spices and lemon juice to taste. Cook until apples thicken and darken. This can take several hours (around 4 or so) depending on the heat of your stove and your patience. Stir frequently. When apple butter is close to ready, sterilize a couple of jars in boiling water. Add apple butter to jars, seal, and return to boiling water for about ten minutes. This will preserve the apple butter so that it can be stored in your pantry for months. Skip the last step if you are planning on eating it pretty much all at once (which is desirable, of course). Guten!

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postcard from berlin


I have a postcard addiction.

It is true, I just cannot have enough. I am always trying to get more. This translates as always being on the hunt for unusual and beautiful postcards. The usual hunting locations include flea markets, second hand stores, museum gift-shops, and my grandparent's basement. However, my most prized postcards come from a rather unsuspected location: Schuhmacherei Sprecht.

In Kreuzberg, in Berlin, is a shoemaker. In the front of his shop is a bicycle and a small dog that usually naps in a basket. In his shop are old leather shoes that he makes look new again. There are also two racks of postcards made in Berlin in the 1980s and 90s. The first time I entered his shop I came with a pair of sad boots that needed new soles. He took one look at them and made sounds of pain, the pain that I had caused my poor boots. Feeling guilty, I let my eyes wander off and there I saw the postcards. My favourite capture just a fragment of a Berlin building plus a very, blue Berlin sky.

Berlin, ich vermisse dich.

Schuhmacherei Sprecht,
Bergmannstraße 52

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squeezing lemons




By day I study critical theory that deconstructs museums, their histories and their mission statements. By night, I bake until my tummy is full and my hands are sore.

I remember my first year of university when after handing in a paper I had one day to read Dante's Inferno and then discuss it. After the introduction, I was inspired by his map of hell. I decided to celebrate it by baking a chocolate cake, listening to Tom Waits, and imagining what hell would look like if each level corresponded with a different musical note. Seven layers of hell and seven musical notes, perfect.

Since then, between reading books and writing papers I can be found chopping chili peppers, melting dark chocolate and sifting flour.

As of late, I have been rather fascinated by preserves. A good friend of mine's family has a farm on Vancouver Island with a basement that is both an ode to and a shrine of preserves. It is rather magical. This summer I made pickles for the first time and ever since I look at mason jars with much more interest.

Today I got busy squeezing lemons. In three weeks or so they will be ready to be served with tagines. After all, winter is coming soon to Sweden. I better be prepared.


Preserved Lemons

Ingredients

organic lemons
coarse sea salt
one sterilized jar

Sterilize one jar in boiling water. Wash lemons well. Cut off ends and cut lemons vertically in four slits, as if you are about to quarter them. However, make sure the lemon stays intact and the pieces attached. Generously pack the cuts with salt. Cut lemons over a bowl and save the juice. Put a few tablespoons of sea salt in the bottom of the jar. Add lemons one at a time, squeezing them gently, and add salt in between lemons. Once jar is full, add a few more tablespoons of salt and then lemon juice reserved from slicing the lemons. Leave at room temperature. After a few days, the lemons should be submerged in juice. If not, add more lemon juice. The preserved lemons should be ready to eat in about three weeks. They will then keep for a year. Refrigerate if you please.

Guten!

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autumn's reflection



The light in autumn is different. Its softness teases my camera and entices both of us - camera and I - to chase it until it disappears. I need to borrow from my childhood a butterfly net, or a glass jar large enough to catch a ray or two of the autumn light.

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when Pumpkin met Brownie




In Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, David Sedaris writes about the forbidden love affair between a squirrel and a chipmunk, as well as other tales of animals who deal with bureaucracy, prejudice, addiction, and love. Inspired by his style, I wonder what the first meeting between pumpkin - hard-shelled and tough - and brownie - soft and sweet - was like.

Perhaps Pumpkin met Brownie in a queue at the grocery store. Pumpkin was buying a prepared meal after a stressful day of hearing about a cousin who was battling an addiction problem with growth hormones (some pumpkins can just never be satisfied with their size, always wanting to be bigger). And Brownie was buying nice cheese and fruit for a dinner party with close friends. Pumpkin was grouchy and Brownie was cheerful. Brownie had a basket of things and Pumpkin had a single, plastic-wrapped meal. Brownie offered Pumpkin to go ahead in the queue. Then Pumpkin blushed. It was lust at first site. However Pumpkin met Brownie, they are quite the pair and what better recipe to show this off than pumpkin brownies.

I usually try to bake with spelt or whole-wheat flours, but sometimes one just has to indulge. And Thanksgiving is an ideal time for just that. A friend and I were so excited upon seeing this recipe we decided that we needed a reason to throw a dinner party and make these brownies. This was November last year. Canadian Thanksgiving had already passed and so we decided that we would celebrate American Thanksgiving in late November. So we threw an American Thanksgiving dinner just as an excuse to make pumpkin-brownies. These are that good.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
from the l.c.b.o. autumn 2009 magazine

Ingredients

Pumpkin Swirl

30 g. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar, raw
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, organic
2 tbsp pastry flour, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or vanilla bean
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Brownie

175 g. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar, raw
2 tsp. vanilla extract, or vanilla bean
2 large eggs, organic and at room temperature
1/2 cup pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a baking pan. For pumpkin swirl, stir cream cheese and sugar. Add pumpkin and mix well. Blend in egg, pastry flour, vanilla and cinnamon. For brownie, place chocolate and butter in a metal bowl of a pot of barely simmering water and stir until melted. Remove from heat, add sugar, then vanilla and one egg at a time. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Put half of batter in prepared pan. Dallop pumpkin onto brownie and then brownie on pumpkin. Swirl. Bake about 30 minutes.

Guten!

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postcards from munich

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savory biscotti


I have always been smitten with fall.

I look forward to red leaves, fresh apples, ripe pumpkin, and warm scarves. I look forward to cashmere sweaters, sharpened pencils, fall sunsets, and warm soups.

Savory biscotti is meant for fall. Dip in a tomato or carrot-coconut soup. Pack for a fall picnic. Or, like I did, just eat them straight out of the oven.


Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan Biscotti

Savory biscotti inspired by the Minimalist
Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan inspired by the fall and my pantry

2 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour (I used half spelt, half all-purpose)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
a generous pinch of sea salt
a generous pinch of cayenne, or to taste
a hand-full of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
a hand-full of fresh basil, chopped

Heat oven to 350F/180C. Mix together eggs and Parmesan until thick. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix. Add sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Move dough to a floured surface and knead until until it holds together. Shape into a log, 8 to 10 inches and flatten ends and surface. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until firm. Remove and let cool ten minutes. Cut into half-inch slices on the bias. Lay slices on the baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. Flip and repeat.

You might want to double the recipe. These are that good.

Guten!

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black and white doors



Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

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basic black beans

My mom used to live in Texas and my love for black beans reveals how I have been influenced by the Lone Star state. When I visited her I would always try to convince her to go on a road-trip to Mexico so that we could eat fresh tortillas and buy wrestling masks. Living in Dallas did not make such a road-trip convenient, but the city has certainly enough Mexican inspired food to make up for it. Not to even mention the Southern food, such as grits.

Black beans are high up on my list of comfort foods. Their versatility makes them all the more desirable. Throw them in salads with avocado, baby spinach and tomato, or toss them with roasted sweet potato, poppy seeds, and orange zest. Eat them as a side to a frittata. Mash 'em, re-fry 'em and eat 'em with tortilla or pita chips. They can even be used as a substitute for flour in baking. Yes, black beans are pretty wonderful.

If I am making something savory, this recipe is always where I start. I like to think about recipes as blue-prints. I use them as a foundation, but along the way I always find myself adding or subtracting. I just follow my taste buds and what happens to be in my pantry.

Basic Black Beans

Ingredients

dried black beans that have been soaked overnight
water, water, water
garlic, chopped
onion, finely chopped
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
soy sauce
cumin, if you wish
fresh cilantro, if you have some
a generous amount of sea salt


Soak black beans overnight and then rinse well. In a medium sized pot heat olive oil and then add onion. Add garlic. Once fragrant add black beans and cover with enough water so that black beans are completely covered, and then an inch or two more. Add salt and some cilantro. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Once beans have been simmering for an hour or so add some more garlic, salt, or cilantro. Also add balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, or cumin, or all. Play around with the flavours. Simmer for another hour.

Guten!

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just right chickpeas

Before leaving Toronto for Goteborg, I did what I do best: eating with friends and family.

I love dinner parties. And also barbecues. Both I would list under my hobbies. In fact, I love them so much that I am always in too much bliss to take photographs. This means that normally I have photographs of left-overs. And what a left-over these crushed chickpeas were! I have been loyal to hummus for years, but these crushed chickpeas are a charming change. So charming that I have been making this rather often and packing it for lunch alongside Swedish crackers.


Crushed Chickpeas with Jalapenos
inspired by Lucy Waverman

Ingredients

chickpeas, about a cup
2 tbsp. jalapenos, or to taste (i always overindulge in the jalapenos)
1-2 small cloves of finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup of nice, extra-virgin olive oil
chopped fresh herbs, parsley or cilantro
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Crush chickpeas with a fork. The more texture, the better. Add jalapenos, garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. More jalapeno perhaps?

Guten!

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zwischen Schweden und Deutschland

Just as I was settling in, I took off for the weekend. And then a few more days. My destination was Munich. And I conveniently arrived on the first day of Oktoberfest. This year marked its 200th anniversary. I don't know if because of this the beer was stronger, or the people were jollier, but Oktoberfest did win me over and showed me a very good time.

I will be making the trip between Sweden and Germany many more times over the next year. And each time my camera, my journal and I will be busy collecting new fragments of inspiration.

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en route

i am well fed and happy in göteborg, sweden, en route to being settled in a new city, a new university, and a new kitchen.

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summer berries




We bought out wild blueberries at road-side markets.
We discovered purple raspberries.
And we picked wild raspberries.

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