Sunday, April 30, 2023

spring has sprung 2023, part II


I attended a great talk with well-renowned vegan activist and author, Tobias Leenaert last month. He has wrote ’How to create a vegan world, a pragmatic approach’ which I highly recommend. It was a very good, insightful and thought-provoking evening. And quotes that akways make me cry in despair. What a horrific world humans have forced upon innocent  beings. And still the majority of humans on this earth don’t give a f—- about that. Us who do care live with that knowledge of that fact every single day, with every breath we take, can you imagine how heart crushing that is? And still it’s not nearly as painful as the pain and suffering  humanity inflict of billions of other animals every single minute, hour, day, week, month, year…

I got the lovely green mug at the event. It reminds me I’m awesome every single day. 

And on the subject of that kind of awesomeness, here are a few of those things that have brought me little pockets of joy these past few months:

Rimbobullar ie Rimbo (a small town in Sweden) buns were a fond childhood memory, but I haven’t baked them for ages. Until now. Vegan baking is so simple these days, with dairy free butter, dito milk and aquafaba. They turned out lovely, but the recipe lured me to add raspberry jam to them, which was a mistake. The original recipe is filling with vanilla cream only. So next time that’s what I’ll bake. Freeze well they do too.

I love how you can create amazing plantbased frozen cheesecakes with silken tofu and whipped dairyfree cream. Melt in your mouth delicious they are. And the Christmassy recipe I posted a few posts ago. The blueberry/pistacchio one here is made with crushed digestives instead of ginger bread cookies, and flavoured with vanilla and cardamom. Other than that the recipe is the same.

I’m a big fan of creating colourful, hearty, filling vegan salads with different textures and flavours. Usually I use organic smoked tofu as protein, because it’s so simple to prepare, like with the salad above. But I like to vary the carbs, noodles, pasta, buckwheat, brown rice, potatoes. Here I used organic lettuce, grated carrots (always carrots, always), boiled potatoes, air fryed polka beets and sunflower seeds. Served with a simple sauce made with dairy free creme fraiche, tomato relish, salt and black pepper.

Below is the last batch of vegan cinnamon buns. I topped these with little leftovers of dark chocolate, pistacchios and pearl sugar. They were delicious, and there are still some left in the freezer. Imagine that.

I ordered a tofu press months ago, late December or early January, luckily I did not pay in advance, because somewhere along the way it just disappeared in the mail. After a month of waiting and no updates I contacted the company (in the Netherlands or Belgium) and they acknowledged the order had disappeared along the way, but they would send a new one and update me as soon as they had news. Nothing happened and after another month I contacted them again. The reply wasn’t very customer friendly and I decided to opt out of the order altogether. I would absolutely love to get a tofu press, but this was a hassle so I would prefer to get on in an actual physical shop. Which seems to be ridiculously hard to find in Stockholm. The Asian shops I’ve been to so far have no idea what I’m talking about. Which is so bizarre imho.

Haven’t thought of an air fryer until I saw tofu being prepared with one on Instagram last year. I’m no fan of having lots of kitchen machines, most of them end up collecting dust is my experience, but I decided to take a leap here when the price was decent. I’ve been using it most weeks ever since and I find it pretty good and versatile. Just as long as you don’t put ’too much’ potatoes at once in the fryer bowl it makes nice fries/wedges too.

So using the air fryer for tofu is also a way of pressing water from it and at the same time cooking it. For pan frying the regular frying pan is still the way to go, obviously, but other than that I think the air fryer is both energy and time saving. 

Two of my favourite go to dishes these days, apart from those hearty salads, are versions of full English vegan breakfast for dinner, and fluffy American  pancakes made with silken tofu (those are even better than the banana pancakes I loved for so many years now). 

Ever since I discovered how easy and delicious it is to make scrambled tofu, I make it regularly. With black salt and turmeric added of course. Perfection. 

There’s a fairly new (a couple of years old?) vegan restaurant in the city, called Chou Chou. Owned by a vegan food blogger and investors. They have a lunch buffet that is great, where I’ve had the pleasure to visited with a friend a few times since December last year. Have never eaten dinner there, they now serve cultured steaks too which is suppose to taste amazing. Obviously as a vegan I’m not the least bit interested in tasting it myself but I can see it’s a practical and cruelty free way to convince those who are not yet free of their meat addiction, that there are better and more sustainable ways to eat.

The interesting thing about Chou Chou is that they don’t make a big deal about the restaurant being vegan, the food is just very good, versatile and the dishes are classics just free of animal parts. Simple as that. The location is very city central and I don’t think the majority of guests are vegan/activists, more business people who like a good and hearty lunch deal.

The vegan cream pastry seen in the photo is something as original as a saffron croissant semla. Ie almond paste and whipped dairy free cream filling. It was very good. Bought it at the twice annual Vegan Day at my favourite cafe/bakery Bageri Passion. Went there for breakfast with little mum in February (next Vegan Day will be in September), and the queue was already lining up prior to opening up at 8 am. It was very heartwarming to see. And the patience from everyone with people taking their time chosing pastries, cakes, sandwiches and cookies all starry eyed over the fact that on this special Saturday everything sold in the cafe is vegan only. It’s just such a lovely lovely tradition. 

One thing that I’ve really longed to bake again is all vegan bagels. And with my kitchen machine I finally can. Made this first batch last month and for a first time bake - after a many years long hiatus - they turned out great. As it happened, right about after I baked these the Philadelphia vegan cream cheese was launched in Sweden. It’s pretty much indistinguishable from Oatly’s På Mackan cream cheese, but I think us vegan Swedes have dreamt of Philadelphia cream cheese going dairyfree for so long now we have painted it to be something just extraordinary cream cheesy. And while very good, extraordinary good it is not. I have finished several tubs on my breakfast sandwiches, since I saw it in the grocery store though. Because mmm…

With the shoe sales several months ago now, but at least this side of new year’s, I treated myself to two pairs of very different vegan shoes. A few of my old leather shoes have begun to show signs of being worn out, so I felt it wasn’t just a case of having the wants.

The pink pair is in fact a pair of much coveted Rombaut sneakers/mary janes. They are not only vegan but also made of apple skin. How brillant and interesting is that?!

They are quite chunky (which I love, but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea I know) and heavy. And they do need quite a bit of softening up by walking them indoors. Which is more work than I had ever anticipated, but since I have become proned to blisters and hate how persistant they are to stay once I get them, this needs doing and patient I have to be obviously. Job best done with thick socks I’ve realised. Bare feet is a no no.

The other pair is a lovely blue micro suede sneakers/oxfords from Spanish ART shoes (sister brand to beloved El Naturalista). Those I’ve weather proofed and worn once. They felt like a decent, comfortable pair.

Perfect to wear with a pair of blue tights from my favourite tights-brand Snagtights. Colour is called Midnight, but the hue is more bright blue no clouds in the skye-blue.

You know what, I had plans of doing something fairly radical with my hair this spring and getting it coloured in violet. At a hairdresser. Turned out to be quite costly, and there are better ways in this world to spend money, so once again I turned pink with Maria Nila’s vegan hair colour masque Pink Pop. It obviously only lasts about 5-8 washes but it’s a nice way to make a wee change now and then, while continuing to embrace the greys. 

So here I am, here we are, and this is the end of blog post II in spring has sprung 2023. Stay tuned for part III coming in a not too far future.

Until then, stay safe, be kind, be compassionate out there, m’kay?

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

spring has sprung 2023, part I


Almost two months later I emerge, alas not a new and improved me, myself and I. But I am good enough as I am, and some days even awesome and brilliant. And one day, one week, one month at a time I try to be better than I was yesterday, last week, last month, last year. And make more of a difference and impact. Every little step counts.

And yes I’m still furious and in despair about our mindbogglingly incompetent Swedish government. And all the damage they cause our society and the world each week with their stupidity and shameful behaviour. And how much money that cost us all. 

But I also see that this is the case in the overwhelming majority in countries all over this planet. Most of societies seem to display permanent (covid) brain damages through their (in)actions and that is just scary as hell.

In order to find some peace of mind, and get back on track, create some momentum, I took an online course called ’Brilliant, Passionate You’ which I passed during Easter. As it was created during the pandemic it felt somewhat… well, not as well-composed and inspiring as I had hoped. Still, it had its moments and some lectures were very good and insightful and I did learn new things and interesting concepts. It’s obviously more a soft skills course rather than hard skills. 

But as my mind has still not regained its pre-pandemic vigour, and the strains and stress of last years kafkaesque real life drama also has taken its toll of both mind and body, this was a perfect level and kind of course for me at this moment in time.

So other than that, what has happened so far this year in the World According to Pia? Well, I try to focus on the good stuff, and create as many little pockets of joy as possible. More important than ever these days, in this crazy crazy crazier than ever world, to be able to keep on keeping on.

I’ve made a little photo album on my phone consisting of about 60 photos. From that I’ll chose a few random ones for a few posts to come, and talk about various little happenings that (mostly) have brought me joy or new insights.

Let’s start with the top photo, and the one above, in which I’m sporting my Dress 2023 - as much as I’m really cutting down on my shopping of new clothes, I’m still sticking to my Dress of the year concept (I’m still continuing to sell of pieces in my wardrobe I do not wear anymore, that don’t fit or just aren’t in line with where I am today, so it’s not as if I’m buying more new stuff to replace old stuff. I still buy less than I sell or give away). Dresses make me happy, as does colours.

This year I was totally smittened by the Marimekko shirt dress version of their classic Jokapoika (every boy) unisex shirt. Every piece of the multicoloured fabric is used up, so no fabric waste, and every dress is unique that way. It’s a lovely piece, I really enjoy the wide butterflyish arms and the fact that my dress has plenty of pink and green passages (my favourite colours and colour combo). If would however been even more perfect if it was a-shaped, knee length, did not have that fairly dominant black/blue striped passage in the front, that the belt did have D-strings just like on the model and that my belt was green not pale pink. Well, one can still wish for perfection, right?

The lovely piece of the Marimekko birch pattern (same as the bed linen in my new year’s post) is another second hand find. A shower curtain I’ve had my eye on for years now, but always been outbid on. Until this time. And it is just as amazing as it seems, a perfect piece to switch to when spring sprung!

Spring has been more winter than spring this year, and the climate emergency is ever present obviously. Because even if April in Sweden/Scandinavia is notoriously capricious and there have been snow in May on these latitudes now and then, this year has been truly crazy, from snow storms like this one day, to heavy rain the next, temperatures ranging from -15C to +10 only a few days later. This should not be happening, and it is deeply disturbing as well as energy draining too.

Last week we suddenly had sunshine every day, with temperatures close to +20C. Which is too soon in April, and it makes me dread this will be another hellish summer like 2018. The next week’s forecast shows plenty of rain and cloudy skies though.

Also living with your geriatric much loved little mum, with declining health issues, is not as easy as one might think. Or quite possibly noone else but me thought it would be just a great, money-saving, cosy, uplifting offering both freedom and security to us both solution, I may have been naïve.

Living this close with somebody again, a person I once lived with for 20 years, is quite different when that person is aging, have developed very poor eyesight, and hearing issues (yes she has a hearing aid, but she finds it very uncomfortable so…), and an aching body from a long active life, as well as a brain that isn’t as quick witted as I’ve always felt it was. As well as new heart issues appearing recently. 

Experiencing this decline and struggles daily is not the same as talking on the phone daily, visiting regularly, meeting up outdoors etc. I swore my role wasn’t going to be an unpaid home aid, but somehow I feel that’s how things have developed. 

And yes, I do believe I owe her everything good after all she has done for me over the years when I have struggled, and not least for everything I went through after M passed away in 2016. We have had so much fun together since forever, and I do concider her my closest friend too, how could I not?

Ideally every citizen in Sweden should get state benefits for helping elderly or sick family members, but that is up to the local government, and our municipality has just removed that possibility, so here we are.

Senior living is definitely not an option, and I think we’re still much in the process of creating new routines and adjust to how things are, but yes, I feel that life, my life, wants, plans, growth, needs are somewhat on hold by this situation too. 

The house needs repairs and fixing, not least that new roofing, which wouldn’t have been an issue if the housing market prices hadn’t dropped drastically last year and there had been a decent, proper profit from the apartment sale. That was not the case. 

Live and learn, live and learn.

And I am well aware about everything I have to be grateful for. Deeply so. I won a court case against an evil authority, after their relentless witch hunt for 1,5 years, for Xs sake! I got my beloved kitties back and that completely  unjust animal ban lifted! 

Little mum and I managed our way through the stress and hard work (emotionally and physically) of selling and emptying  the apartment and moving a whole life into my house, which is now our house. How totally badass is that?! 

We survived a pandemic, and the isolation and small world that created.

It has been a long, dark, cold winter, indoors and outdoors, we bundled up, managed to save some energy, as well as paid those crazy energy bills. And handled the rising food costs. That’s pretty darn badass too!

I am still standing, we are still standing. And that is just enough for now. It has to be. One step at the time. In these crazy times.

And spring, decent spring, does look more like it should every day (and I try to not let the fact that the garden do needs a pretty hefty amount of work after that ornament tree broke with the heavy snow fall before Christmas…).

And I’ve given myself a lovely, fluffy yarn project. Which has so far both ignited, delighted and infuriated me. Here’s a sample glimpse for now, more in the next chapter of spring has sprung.

Be safe, be kind, be awesome out there.
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