Friday, November 30, 2012

Swedish Taco Night Fridays: Corn Tortillas Revisited

Making Chicken Taquitos Again - What Else Is New ?
It came to me as a matter of curiosity if Swedes really know how to use and first prepare Corn Tortillas in order to enjoy them properly. It is only a recent inclusion at the ICA Stores that I have even seen them sold here at all. But flour tortillas are what are best known here and most Swedes use them as a Falafel Wrap like for a burrito or fold them after heating in the microwave into the familiar Taco shape. But if you simply nuke Corn Tortillas  in your  microwave and attempt to fold and use them as a Taco shell, you'll be greatly disappointed. Try and fold one of those nuked Corn Tortillas to make your flavourite Taco and no doubt you will experience it cracking or splitting apart. Who wants that ? Cooking the Corn Tortilla in Canola Oil [ Rapsolja ] not only gives the Corn Tortilla a more pliable leathery texture, but it also enhances and brings out the flavour of the Corn or Maize flour that you otherwise would have missed. To illustrate it another way, it should be done for the same exact reasons you add just enough Salt to your favourite foods and to bring out the flavours within that would otherwise be lost. Beyond this I really don't have much to add other than follow the pictures below and the explanations of what I did yesterday.
Started making more batches of Chicken Taquitos for storage in freezer for future use and decided to also make Corn Tortilla Soft Taco Shells and home made Corn Chips

Put one Corn Tortilla at a time and QUICKLY [do not linger]  cook on both sides. The idea or goal here is to make the Tortilla Taco Shell soft and leathery, not hard and brittle where it will break apart. So quickly warm up and lightly heat both sides inside the Canola Oil in a Cast Iron Frying Pan.
Now while the Tortilla is still hot and pliable, take your Tongs and fold it over halfway to make the folded characteristic Taco Shape.

Put the newly created Soft Taco Shell on a plate of paper towels to drain off excess oil while you place another Tortilla in the pan behind it.

After the Corn Tortilla Taco Shell has drained enough, place in a dish or Taco Shell Warmer which you can put on the table for family and friends to pick and build their own Tacos with all the other ingredients you've provided.

I often will do at least two at a time to speed things along. Here's an important note. Pay attention! DON'T cook them too long. If you do, you will get nothing more than a glorified large Taco Chip which will crack and break when you attempt to open it up and fill with your flavourite ingredients. REMEMBER, you want it to be the consistency and texture of soft leather. I know you all know what I'm taking about. You may need to practice this.

Okay, shifting gears here for a moment. You can actually cut an entire stack of Corn Tortillas with a shape knife into triangular wedges for making Corn Chips for dipping into Salsa or Guacamole. Most of the store brand Tortilla chips sold in Sweden are from a liquid corn flour dough mix which is shaped or injected into a mold into the characteristic triangle or round shapes for Nacho chips and then cooked. These are not the true chips served at Mexican Restaurants over in the States or Mexico. Most make their own and serve them hot to you as an appetizer. These chips are superior in flavour and texture. 

Again place and cook them in the Canola Oil just like you did the whole round corn Tortilla for Taco Shell creation. However in this case, you want to leave them longer to become hard and crispy, but not too long or they will burn.

Once again, just as you did with the Corn Taco Shells, place these chips on a paper towel to drain and lightly salt them. Notice the right amount of Taco Chip colouring here ? Then just place them all in a large bowl for serving on the table.

Ooooookay, and finally one last picture. This is what you don't want to do. I had one last batch of corn wedges and was in a hurry, turned up the heat and covered with a lid. Got busy doing other things and saw the steam arising from the lid and found the darker chips. However, unbelievably they still tasted good. But it's a colour thing. Looks better to your guests to have the light crispy look as opposed to burnt!!!
Enjoy Your Friday Taco Night!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Pleasant Autumn Afternoon at Björngårdsvillan Cafe in Slottsskogen

The road entrance into Slottsskogen via Göteborg Botaniska Trädgårdens Trolley Station. This day of October 28, 2012 was a welcome relief from the constant cold wet weather which for the most part has plagued Scandinavia for the entire year. Ask anyone and you'll find there was hardly any summer to speak of. 
Slottkogen Site Map
For the most part, this was a pleasant day and one of the most memorable times of Autumn fall colour I have seen in all of my almost 7 years having lived here in Göteborg. The easiest way to get to the Björnvårdsvillan Cafe is by way of Trolley to Botaniska Trädgårds Stop. From that point it is an easy directly straight ahead walk towards the Cafe which will eventually come up on your left hand side of the walk. The trees of the  Slottsskogen Park is loaded with numerous Northern European Oak (Quercus robur) which produces most of the Fall colour you see in the Park. There are also other trees like Björk [Silver Birch] (Betula pendula), European Aspen (Populus tremula), Gray Alder (Alnus incana) and Norway Maple (Acer platanoides). Beautiful walk all the way to cafe with all sorts of families taking advantage of the rare sunny day and even  the squirrels and birds were out in force rejoicing in the brief pause between storms. 

One of the major things I do like about Swedish Parks here is
the way they leave dead tree snags in the forests. They provide
perfect cover and potential building sites for the native woodpecker
here which bores holes into the dead wood of the tall tree trunk,
which late will be utilized by other cavity nesting birds or even
by the local squirrels.
Brief Björnvårdsvillan Building History

Historical Source Info:

Photo by Biketommy 2010

Modern appearance of  the
Björngårdsvillan Cafe
The modern building architectural-wise leaves much to be desired. It is a product of the 1960s design which was even typical of the bland architecture I grew up around in 1960s California. As you can see from the photo here on the right, this generic style example of modern architecture as it was considered in the 1960s lacks the character and charm of the original building. Having said that, the present owners who run the Cafe have gone to great lengths to invest much into giving their restaurant and coffee house a warmth and charm that are not normally found in Sweden in this line of business. Clearly, when someone ventures out for an afternoon or evening meal, besides great food there is an element of atmosphere that is desired. One of the owners, Bashar and his partners have invested a lot of time, energy and money into upgrading the decor of the cafe. The Cafe itself was originally built in 1906 with a design look that was popular back then called the Norse Skansen Style. The restaurant struggled for sometime because government regulation did not allow for Alcohol to be served on the premises. In fact early one it was even abandoned for around ten years before attempts were made to reopen. Sadly, the building burned down to the ground on December 14, 1951. Nothing was saved. It wasn't until 1962 when the present structure was rebuilt by a group of businessmen.  Take a look below of the once grand looking structure which truly looked more like a Victorian Style Railroad Depot.
At present the restaurant has the look and feel of a modern day Coffee House in Seattle, Washington where Radio Host Frasier Crane, family and friends would show up for a warm & cozy getaway for private  KaffeeKlatsch. What I personally noticed this past summer is that early in the morning when the Cafe first opens, the book reading crowd would come in for their flavourite Coffee and dessert treat, only to find a quiet corner either inside or out in the outdoor veranda under a sun umbrella to enjoy a few moments of pleasure reading just before the busier lunch crowd came through around 12:00 noon. And come they do. This place is extremely popular with young families with children who visit the Slottsskogen Zoo located on the hill just above the Cafe. The later afternoon crowd will enjoy a quiet time with friends and several of the concerts which are often a daily afternoon summer feature there at the Cafe an the outdoor Amphitheater. 

The main manager and operator of the Cafe, Bashar, is extremely conscientious and hospitable to his customers needs. It is he who has designed the main menu along with some input from partners & close friends, but mostly Bashar is the Head Chef at the restaurant. He runs a disciplined ship and I can personally account for the extreme cleanliness of the kitchen and back storage rooms. He is tireless and always energetic. I have no clue where he acquires all his energy, as you very rarely will see him take a break. He is also mostly, along with partners of course, responsible for many of the newer changes at the restaurant. Not only the menu, but also the decor and newer furniture which many will recognize as different from past visits. His brother also often works there as an assistant and he is also a very genuine incredibly nice and friendly individual. customers respond favourably to his service there. 
Having Coffee and saying hello to 
Bashar's brother Wasfi
It should be noted that aside from the wonderful assortment of desserts and other treats made from scratch, they also have a large variety of gourmet styled dishes like various Greek style Salads, Salmon Salads along with several pasta dishes and several different Lasagna dishes. It is also important to note that unlike the original restaurant of several decades ago, they do serve several domestic and imported Beers here, like the very well known Czech Republic Staropramen Beer or the ever popular Mexican Brew from Mexico Cerveza Corona. At least this is what I've seen most customers drinking outside while watching the concerts and other festivals. 

Outdoor Picnic Area
But let's not forget some other adult beverages for which their patrons consume in moderate quantities. Somersby which is a alcohol beverage company from the United Kingdom, produces several varieties of Cider which are sold here. The popular ones I've seen here are the original Apple Cider, but also Pear and Blackberry Ciders. My wife and I visited Poland back in April of this year and we experienced Somersby's Apple Beer. But they don't market it here in Sweden. At least we've never found it at the government store called the Systembolaget . Whatever! I have mentioned it to Bashar, but the distributor knew nothing about it. This beverage doesn't have the normal sticky syrupy taste and texture of many sweet ciders. The Apple Beer has a distinct hint of Apple all compacted into a great tasting beer. By all means keep asking for it at Systembolaget, maybe they'll order it.

BTW, here is the link to their full Menu. Keep in mind they are always experimenting with newer and newer specials, so keep up to date: Björngårdsvillan Cafe Menu

The Concert Stage is quiet now in Winter Season
But not so quiet during the summer season

Full Website Home Page and Blogg.

This is the view from the outdoor veranda picnic area. It is quiet now in Autumn and Winter, but kicks in come May when temperatures warm and people who have endured months of Cabin Fever are itching to get out into the city Parks and sunshine with there families

But it can reeeeeaaally get crazy and busy in the summertime. Of course those long Swedish Summer Nights where it doesn't get totally dark until 11:00 pm (23:00) actually encourage the Park visitors to linger longer.
I've actually got more pictures and photos of the park, but this will do for now. This page is mainly dedicated to the wonderful time we spent at Björngårdsvillan Cafe. Next Slottsskogen Park post will have more nature pics, for now enjoy the Cafe. They are only open on Weekends now but will be open full time in spring. Look up the website for full directions and open/closing times.
Important Reference Links for Reading:
Slottsskogen Park in Gothenburg since 1874
Björngårdsvillan Cafe - Facebook Page
Varför? Därför! Björngårdsvillan Cafe

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cahuilla Mountain Wilderness, Anza California

photo credit: Wikipedia
"The United States Congress designated the Cahuilla Mountain Wilderness (map) in 2009 and it now has a total of 5,585 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Forest Service."
I'm mainly writing this as a supplementary to my cloud formation post on my other blog Earth's Internet. With this post I wanted to mainly help viewers and readers to appreciate a designated Wilderness area in southern California where most have never been to as a result of it's out of the way location and inaccessibility. It is a beautiful example of old growth Chaparral plant community intermingled with pure Coulter Pine Tree Forest along with numerous Black Oak, Engleman Oak, Interior Live Oak and several other large old growth Scrub Oak species. The dominant old growth chaparral species being Redshank or Ribbonwood, Mountain Mahogany, Manzanitas and various Ceanothus. There are a couple of individuals who post online who have hiked and documented much of what they saw and experienced and I thought I would post these links here for you. This first one is from a Sylvia Ender who I believe belongs to the Coachella Valley Hiking Group and here is a link to here Flicker Photo Stream which works as a slide show.

The next link is from a Anthony Jones website where he documents hikes and journeys he takes. He also has a photo stream and a 15 minute video which he also narrates.

Below is Antnony's video of his Cahuilla Mountain Trek with his friend John Nelson. In this video and actually both photo Slide Show Streams above, please take note of the the former old growth chaparral plant community and forested areas and the results of an Arson set fire which took place back in 1996.

Credit Photo:
From Cahuilla Summit looking east at El Toro Peak in the Santa Rosa Mountains in the distance and Thomas Mountain in the distance on the very left side of the photo

This is yet another beautiful shot looking east from what I believe is the southern side of the Cahuilla Mountain where many residents of the gated community from Lake Riverside area will often ride their horses up that part of the mountainside. The trailhead below at Lake Riverside is at the mouth of a canyon which contains several large California Sycamore Trees. This is a rarity because the odd climate up there often has a late spring freeze which will irritate any gardener whose hard work gets thrashed by the late frost. On that note, for all gardeners who plan on growing a Sycamore up there, here is a photo I have published before on my blog, but have never pointed out the California Sycamore failure which unbelievably is almost 30 years old, but you wouldn't know this from the shape it's in. Take a look below at my photo again.
Okay, left hand side California Sycamore Tree. Notice the sickly condition ? What happens to  any Sycamore if it's genetic origin is from much lower elevations is that they will bud break early and the late freeze will fry the foliage. This poor  tree has had this happen almost every year since  it was planted in 1985.  Had I been smart enough or known more on location genetics, I would have  collected seed from local areas as opposed to a  Nursery Tree from San Juan Capistrano Anyway enjoy the adventure photos from Cahuilla Mountain provided by other hikers. Once again my providing this here is to not distract from my post on Earth's Internet on weather modification technology which is actually based on natural climate creation phenomena involving physics, chemistry and biological plant resources as the actual driver of climate on Earth. Take a quick look at an illustration from a company using WeatherTec innovations and the identical comparisons I make of Cahuilla Mountain. and follow the link below for further info on this amazing complex weather creation and maintenance system found in the natural world.
Here is the link:

An in Depth View of Earth's Climate Creation & Maintenance Mechanisms and the Synthetic Biology Science is Pushing as a Replacement Solution

Meteo-Systems AG © Copyright 2008 METEO SYSTEMS. All rights reserved.
Picture or imagine for a moment that the above illustration of that hill is Cahuilla Mountain. Imagine that rather than Meteo-Systems WeatherTec Tower, there is the pristine old growth mix of chaparral and forests. Now you know how cloud formation and rainfall are facilitated through something called orographic & convective cloud formation which incorporates physics & chemistry along with the biological components of an old growth vegetative system as the medium transmitter. Now you know how some of the summertime monsoonal rainfall is created and the reasons why it happens in Anza Valley. You also now know why the global destruction of these complex plant life ecosystems is degrading our planet's climate drivers. The next question is, why do this world's Climate Scientists continually focus so much attention on warming temps and rise in CO2s, when they should be teaching people how nature works and methods for rebuilding ? he answer has more to do with politics, ideology! Something we are indoctrinated into believing Science is immune from. Go figure! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cranberry Verse Lingonberry: What's the Difference ?

Update July 10, 2017
UMass Amherst Food Scientists Find Cranberries May Aid the Gut Microbiome
Excerpt: "Many scientists are paying new attention to prebiotics, that is, molecules we eat but cannot digest, because some may promote the growth and health of beneficial microorganisms in our intestines, says nutritional microbiologist David Sela at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In a new study, he and colleagues report the first evidence that certain beneficial gut bacteria are able to grow when fed a carbohydrate found in cranberries and further, that they exhibit a special nontypical metabolism."
Well, North America just celebrated yet another one of their Thanksgiving celebrations in which one of the iconic must have food dishes served was Cranberry Sauce. Of course there are any number of favourite wintertime seasonal dishes for which the Cranberry is used. But over here in Northern Europe, it's the Lingonberry which is King or rather Queen, depending on how the word/term is used and under what *cough-cough* contextual circumstance it is being used. I'll let some of you Swedes have time to explain to all the foreigners reading here about Swedish women and Lingonberries. *smile*

Lingonberry or Cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) 
Credit Wiki
Well as you can see, the Lingonberry is small and round, in fact much smaller than the North American Cranberry almost the size of a medium to large pea. Certainly Cranberries are bigger, but the taste of Lingonberry is sour or tart, slightly sweet - slightly bitter fruits. They are bursting with Cranberry flavour and could substitute in dishes more commonly thought of with Cranberries. Though while I've never heard of such a thing as Cranberry Jam (doesn't mean back in East USA it doesn't exist), Lingonberries are a favourite here for Jam or Preserves (or Swedish  Sylt). It's absolutely everywhere here and eaten all year long, not just during Holiday season times as the Cranberry is in the USA.

image - DishMaps
But that isn't the only favourite usage. It is often traditionally served on the side with Meat Balls and Potato mash which is also called in Swedish "Köttbullar" ( this is pronouced = 'Shirt-Bullar' & translation = Meat Balls). It is not only a favourite of kids when going out to eat, but from what I've observed, it's also prized by those older generation folks and blue collar workers. Go figure! This past summer I worked for two months at Slottskogen which is a Park in Gothenburg at a rather upscale sophisticated Cafe & Coffee Bar called Björngårdsvillan Cafe and this Food Dish was number one on the menu for kids and older folks. The place is under a new management this year 2012. I kept having the mistaken tendency to pronounce Köttbullar as Sh!tbullar - oops! Okay Okay back to Lingonberries. The plant itself in the wild when it is in fruit, looks very much like an impossible cross breeding of the low spreading Manzanita "Uva-Ursi" plant in California and the low growing miniature variety of California Coffeeberry called "Little Sur". Look at the photo below and see if you California native folks don't agree as to it's familiar appearance.

image - Lee Reich
The plants literally look so familiar. They grow underneath the Boreal Forest canopy settings and preferably in acid soils. They don't like alkali soils or hot summers. This is almost the same identical habitat as the common well known forest berry flavourite called Blueberry. I've never been picking for Lingonberries, but I have an idea it's no different than Blueberry collecting where you get yourself eaten alive by these northern Mosquitos.  Urrrrgh! Seriously, what is it about northern Boreal Forest environments and their 10 Gadzillion indigenous Mosquitoes ???

Credit: Privick Mill Nursery
The incredible thing now about the Cranberry bush and fruit by way of comparison is that the fruit are much bigger than the foliage which is exactly opposite of the Lingonberry. Both live in wet acid soils and boggy habitat. No doubt North American habitat for Cranberries has lots of mosquitos around as well. They are harvested however much differently. Ever see those small to medium to large sized ponds with men in full length wading gear and long pole rakes ? The work would be too tedious and difficult to pick one by one by hand, so these small depression areas where the berries are farmed are flooded with clean water and the berries detach and rise to the surface where gathering is made much more easily. 

Photo Courtesy of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.
September is harvest-time for cranberry growers, who collect the red fruit  using special toothed scoops or by flooding the bogs and agitating the  plants. Today’s cranberry bogs can yield as many as 15,000 pounds of fruit that can be crushed and canned or eaten fresh. Cranberries grow wild in the Northeast, and as far south as Virginia. America and Canada produce 96 percent of the world’s cranberries, using them in tarts, sauces, preserves, juices, and more.

Cranberry Bog being "Wet Harvested"


Cranberry Bog being "Dry Harvested"

Photo by Jack Greenlee
Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) occurs in peat bogs like the Fall River Patterned Fen on the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota, USA. Incredibly, this State is the immigrant home of countless Swedes who immigrated almost a century or more ago as a result of a severe famine where one million out of four left Sweden for this State. Not only do they have the almost identical Boreal Forests, but also loaded with Moose, Lakes, Ponds, Bogs and Fens and lots of mosquitos just like Sweden. Now why wouldn't a Swede call this State his or her Nya Hemland ? Now you know the reason for the name - Minnesota Vikings! There are a number of excellent references to Cranberries and Lingonberries. The USDA Blog had some excellent articles earlier this week on a different smaller variety of Cranberry grown in Minnesota. The reference to the read is below.
Cranberries aren't just for holiday meals!
Image -
USDA - Cranberry Fact Sheets
Cranberries, Nature’s Garnets, are Ripening Across the Country
Oregon State Agricultural Extension: Lingonberry Production Guide for the Pacific Northwest
Washington State University: What Are Lingonberries ?
And on the lighter side of Cranberry Humor

Friday, November 23, 2012

Swedish Taco Night Fridays: A Mexican Food Supplies Store in Göteborg

extreme FOOD sverige

Extreme FOOD Blogg 

Yesterday I tripped on over to Gothenburg's (Göteborg) only real Mexican Foods Supply Store. It's a bit out of the way in an older part of the city overlooking the harbour. For those who know the area it's close to the Feskekôrkan (Fish Church) - building looks like a Cathedral but sells fresh fish - don't ask why!  Northern Europe is a challenge for a lot of good spicy flavours traditionally, but in these modern times with more and more exposure to the immigrant influences, things have changed. And for all those "keep things homogeneous only protestors", Hey, it's your own fault, if only Europe didn't try to conquer the rest of the planet and intro all those newer innovations in ethnic food diversity, Hmmmm, then you'd still be stuck with your Sourmilk & Mueusli för Früstuk and Meatballs & Potato Mash with Lingonberry sauce för Abendessen..... - Go figure!

Extreme Foods owner Mick Johansson

This is Mick's Mexican Stock Room shelving in the back. There are a number of things here that were of interest to me. Mainly the brand name "Cholula" stood out as well as some other popular brand names which will be familiar to most Americans as a well as Mexicans. I purchased two of the Chipotle sauces produced by different companies. I love the smokiness. Also that Clamato Juice (or Saft) on the right side top shelf is great when you add some Worstershire Sauce, Tobasco Sauce, Celery Salt and some Absolut Vodka. Everything the average Swede needs as a Frukost pick me up in the morning! Kidding of course. 

The Product Stocks!!!

Mick actually carries a common but well known popular brand of various items. One group of sauces which most Americans will recognize on the dining table at many Mexican Restaurants and Cafes in the southwestern part of the United States are the famous "Cholula" brand hot sauces. The original of course being the most popular and well known. I also found a number of other kool things on the shelf like refried beans, though I usually make my own from scratch. And Nopalitos, where are the younger springtime Prickly Pear Cactus pads which look alot like a Beaver's tail, hence the name often refered to some variety of a bluegreen of Cactus in the Southwest known as Beavertail Cactus. The taste to me is much like that of green beans when cooked. I generally wild collect back at home because they usually have a deeper richer flavour as do the fruits or Tunas as the Mexicans call them.

And who in the world could forget my Tenerife Canary Island wild collected Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus pad and growing experiment gone terribly wrong here in Sweden. I thought the growth was great on my red clay Teracata Pot, but so did those stupid Spanish Slugs which have invaded Sweden. Stupid Slugs!!!

More sauces. Some mild, some medium and some hot. Many however are Nuclear on the heat scale. Something of an odd introduction to a northern European culture which is often times known for burning their lips on Katsup!!!

I admit it, I loved the interior decor.
 So Anti-IKEA

Asskickin product line of Southwest Specialty Foods

I loved this section as well. This line of products became introduced into the States somewhere around the late 1980s or early 1990s in a number of Specialty Food Stores found mostly in Tourist locations and then once becoming popular found their way into other main stream commercial Grocery Stores where you may find them today. They were one of the first to utilize the heat and flavours of the Habanero Chiles. My flavourite product, but we probably won't see them in Mick's store because of "Sell By Date Issues" are the Asskickin Habanero Corn Chips. Even though these Chips are eventually too hot to keep eating and you find the need to take a break, once your mouth has cooled off, this craving comes back for more. That's Habanero Chiles 
for you = Addicting!!!

Mick's wife was very friendly and hospitable
 as well. 
Okay, kidding of course!!!

TEXMEX från GRUNDEN by Jonas Cramby
This was an interesting book and one that is
apparently very popular here. Mick expects
to sell many as a gift giving present this year.
There are many in stock on the shelves and
packing crates or boxes.

And last but not least here are the products I purchased. We love anything Chipotle at home. I even make my own Chipotle chocolate mole at home from scratch using smoked Poblano or chile Ancho chiles purchased from ICA Stores. The Clemente Jacques Chipotle sauce in the squeeze container was great and though having some flavourful warmth, was not hot at all. 

I ever so greatful to have found this place in a such a cold northern wilderness where spicy flavours are not a native tradition. Though I hear things are changing. Below is a video in Swedish which is a short documentary of sorts for all those Swedish listeners and viewers. As always - Enjoy!!!

Once again here is the website:

Ingenjörsgatan 5 , Göteborg

ExtremeFood Göteborg

Ingenjörsgatan 5

411 19 Göteborg

Tel: 46+ 031-743 48 87

Mobile: 0708-80 70 18