Almost Perfect Nordics


A dear colleague and friend gave me the book The Almost Nearly Perfect People: The Truth About the Nordic Miracle by Michael Booth. I am only into the introduction so far, but it has already made me laugh some chuckles of recognition:

“But where were the discussion about Nordic totalitarianism and how uptight the Swedes are; about how the Norwegians have been corrupted by their oil wealth to the point where they can’t even be bothered to peel their own bananas; how the Finns are self-medicating themselves into oblivion; how the Danes are in denial about their debt, their vanishing work ethic, and their place in the world; and how the Icelanders are, essentially, feral?”

summer reading


I have definitely fallen off the daily blogging wagon. I guess it’s hard when there are so many other things going on.

This week I have been given two books – summer reading time.

The first: Michael Booth’s The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia. It looks fantastic and hilarious as well as informative.

Next Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.

Looking forward to both – it has been far, far too long since I read something for the sheer enjoyment of reading. (Hungarian language textbooks aside.)

random american eyes – USA v Portugal – corey hart wins


I missed the first US goal v Portugal in the World Cup match tonight because my VPN proxy was on the fritz – and this led to many random statements, thoughts and directions.

First when I said, “I am glad Team USA did something even if I was unable to see it with my American eyes”, this led to discussion about how “American eyes” sounds like a song (and made me think of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the conversation between the Bajoran Kai Winn and Cardassian Gul Dukat, “The kosst amojan is not for your eyes”). We discussed “Bette Davis Eyes” and other one-hit wonders.

I mentioned how Canadian Corey Hart should have been a one-hit wonder with “Sunglasses at Night” but somehow got at least one other hit with “Never Surrender“. My conversation partner said, “I have no idea who that is. Coreys Haim and Feldman but that’s all the Coreys I know.”

Not only did I educate him about 80s “icon” (haha) Hart, I naturally had a reference to Kids in the Hall. The “only Coreys I know” made “these are the Daves I know I know… these are the Daves I know” spring right to mind.

Never surrender, people. If Team USA could hold its own against Portugal (even if it was a draw) and if Kim Carnes can still be out there singing when her Bette Davis song is all anyone remembers, and Hart … well, Corey Hart may not have surrendered, well, we can keep on keeping on.

Experimental gluten-free brownies


My gluten-free baking efforts are a bit hit or miss, but it does not stop me from trying. Up today – gluten-free brownies made with coconut flour. I am skeptical but I guess on Tuesday when I feed these to people, I will find out for sure.

Gluten-free, paleo brownies

Gluten-free, paleo brownies

Here’s what to do for your own gluten-free coconut flour brownies:
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 300F/150C; grease a small square glass baking dish.
  2. Mix together all ingredients. I beat the eggs a bit first, added the butter and vanilla and then added the other ingredients and ended up with a thick, paste-like batter
  3. Pour into the baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  4. Cool for 30 minutes before cutting or removing from the pan. Cut, serve (or store for up to a few days in an airtight container).



I was gearing up for a big bake – and it was after all the stores closed early for Midsommar. I looked through my cupboards once, twice and even a third time because I was sure that I HAD TO have a giant, industrial-sized container of cinnamon in there. But there was absolutely no cinnamon in my cupboards – which is unheard of. Not even cinnamon sticks. This put a little kink (not the good kind!) in my baking plans, but I plowed ahead… only several hours later did I notice that there is a massive container of cinnamon sitting on my countertop – where I had looked already several times but just experienced temporary blindness, apparently.

Cinnamon Goliath towering over ginger David

Cinnamon Goliath towering over ginger David

Filled butternut squash cupcakes


It’s baking experimentation time!

I have a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes but… I had a butternut squash sitting here for a while that I was going to use for some savory meal that I never got around to cooking. Having substituted butternut squash in other pumpkin recipes (soup and pie), I figured a cupcake or muffin could not be too challenging a substitution.

I baked the squash, scooped out the baked “innards” and will now puree. After that I will mix it all up into a spicy cake batter and put that on top of a pepparkakor crust in cupcake papers. And, to be a whole lot like the maven of Bake It in A Cupcake, I will pop a Rolo candy (or actually in this case another substitution – these are turning into an imitation/substitution fiesta – a Norwegian copy of said caramel-filled chocolate candy, Smil) in the batter. And BAKE!

I have not quite decided on how to frost these little monsters, but we’ll see how the cupcakes turn out before plotting the finale.

USA in World Cup Group of Death


Leave it to Stephen Colbert to give us a lovely outlook on the US chances in the World Cup.

Stephen: “Why won’t he motivate our team?”

Beinholtz: “Do you mean lie to them? Tell them that they are better than he knows them to be? Nein. To love someone is to confront them with their own worthlessness.”

þjóðhátíðardagurinn – icelandic independence day – but… USA! USA! USA!


Today is Icelandic independence day, part of the reason I always take this entire week off from work. June 17 (Icelandic independence day), June 18 (my birthday) and then the Swedish Midsummer holiday.

But in the midst of my celebrating my own birth, the birth of a nation and the cyclical birth of summer and bright summer nights, I am secretly (or not so secretly) chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” – which, if you know me, you know I would never in a million years do. But as I indulge in football match after football match in this year’s World Cup, I was cheering on the underdog American team but did not actually think they’d do anything. But then Seattle Sounders‘ player and national team captain Clint Dempsey scored in the first 34 seconds of the US’s first match (against Ghana). And the US actually won. Shocking.