Monday, September 30, 2013

Swedish word/phrase of the week

Wonderful news! There is an outbreak of impetigo at TWOs dagis. That means that I am now on the lookout for an utslag. An utslag being my Swedish word of the week. 

I am a huge fan of literal translations. They make me giggle, they make me examine my own language more and they help me get my head around my third language, Swedish.

Today's word is utslag, or rash for those among us who don't understand Swedish.

Literally translated however, it means out (ut) strike/stroke/hit (slag). I love it for so many reasons. Ut sounds to me like a Scottish person saying out. Slag is funny just as it is. I'm reminded of the Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels movie. I'm reminded of mining, though precisely why that is funny, I've yet to determine. 

In any case, out strike/stroke/hit makes a bit of sense when you think about it relation to a rash. You can get an outbreak of pimples, so why not other kinds of skin conditions? 

May we all live in hope that TWO manages to avoid this utslag and remains blemish free for the foreseeable future. We've already had scarlet fever and chicken pox in this house, I don't fancy impetigo. 

So a challenge to all who read this, insert utslag into your conversations this week, I know I will. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

My new obsession - dyeing wool (or how I made myself some Gox box socks)

I belong to an online mothers group. There are thirty something women who were all due to have babies around the same time, between the 15th and 28th of February 2011. It is through them that I found out how easy it is to dye your own yarn using food colours. It has turned into somewhat of an obsession. No longer do I look at the coloured yarn and think what I can make with it. I look at the natural coloured stuff, or the white and imagine what colour I can make it. 

I followed a tutorial that one of the Mums linked me to, you can see it here. I wanted to show you a start to finish version as I do some things different to the methods described there. 

First I skein the yarn, which is pretty much just putting it over the back of a kitchen chair and wrapping it around. Or I put it over my knees and wrap it. This is best performed when the wee one (TWO) is not around as she likes to 'help'. 

It usually ends up looking something like this :


Then I tie it in different places, making sure that I weave the ties in between the strips of yarn. I generally try and use something that is of a different colour to make sure I can find it again after I've finished.



Then it is soaking time. As per the tutorial, warm/hot water with vinegar in it. I have some crazy strong Swedish vinegar, 24% acetic acid. Normal stuff is about 6% so I add just a little to my warm/hot water and it seems to work. For more specific volumes, see the tutorial there. 30 mins at a minimum, but I often leave if for a long time because I get distracted easily.


There you can see my white yarn having a wee soak. 

Once it's nice and soaked, I add it to my dye pot. I add some of the dye to a big pot of water on the stove, with another splash of vinegar for good measure. You need enough water to cover the yarn.

Here is my colour choice, lemon yellow for some bright as all get out socks for the cold and dark Swedish winter. 


 Lower the yarn in and poke it to get it to be submerged, but no stirring or swirling, that way felting lies.


Here is one place I vary from the tutorial given on the link, I will sometimes just let the yarn sit in the pot overnight without heating. It does work, it just takes time. If you don't have forever and a day, put the stove on a low heat and remember, boiling equals felting, so warm but not boiling is the plan.

I check the yarn every so often, say 15 mins or so, until one of two things happens. 1. All the dye is gone from the water or  2. They yarn looks a little bit darker than I want it to end up.

Then if you have just be leaving it in the pot without heat, time to rinse and enjoy your newly dyed yarn. Or if you have heated it, let it cool down in the pot and then rinse.

Here is my rinsed yellow yarn


I took this yellow yarn, with its variegated colour and knitted myself a pair of short yellow socks. Unfortunately, as seems almost always the case for me, I ran out just before I finished the second sock. So I had to dye some more yarn. It ended up slightly less variegated than the first. Here are my newly knitted YELLOW socks. Ready to keep my cold feet warm this autumn and winter. And not a moment too soon, it was frosty this morning. They would also do well should I encounter a Gox that needs boxing. We have been reading a lot of Dr Seuss of late and every time I see the page about yellow Gox box socks, I think of these beauties.

yellow socks 3yellow socks 2

And that is my story of how I dye yarn. I've done quite a bit, and I intend on sharing the other exploits here soon. But for now, I have to head off and wash said yellow socks along with a banana encrusted jumper that TWO needs in this less that warm weather. Raveled here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Low FODMAPs Thai Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Since moving to Sweden in 2009, I began to have gastrointestinal issues I'd never had before. I was bloating a lot, having rather unpleasant IBS style attacks at least once a week and I couldn't pinpoint the cause. I tried all manner of things and couldn't manage to work out what it was. 

Cut to 2011 and one of the women in my online Mums group in Australia suggested I look into fructose intolerance. She said her husband had it and his symptoms sounded the same as mine. I was rather skeptical, as I felt I had exhausted so many possibilities previously with no reduction in symptoms.

I emailed a dear friend in Tassie who is a hospital dietician/nutritionist and asked her if she had any information about what I should do. She said she didn't know too much about it and sent me what info she did have. 

FODMAPs is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo- Di- Mono-saccharides And Polyols (brief wiki summary here). It's effectively sugars that are fermented in the guts of people like myself. The fermentation process means that you get IBS symptoms, like bloating, distension,  diarrhea and/or constipation. 

Since I started on the low FODMAPs diet, my symptoms have not just improved, they have disappeared. The only time I get a return of symptoms is if I slip up and have too much of any of the FODMAPs. 

I have performed a few experiments on myself in this regard and I can tell you that wheat is a total no no, as is honey unfortunately. But the experiments have determined that nothing more terrible than a little extra gas happens as a result of a glass and a half of riesling. So I'm hopeful for a return to very occasional and small quantity wine drinking. 


So I have gone about adapting some of my existing recipes to ones that are FODMAPs friendly and mean that I've got some variation in my diet from my 'safe' meals. 

My Mum had a Thai pumpkin soup recipe that I tried out for the first time about 18 months ago. And here is my adjusted FODMAPs friendly version.  


1 kg pumpkin*, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon garlic oil**
1 teaspoon sambal oelek

2 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon grass
4 cups chicken stock (FODMAPs friendly***)
1 teaspoon fish sauce
The juice of a good juicy lime (original recipe says 3 tsp but I like sour)
1 cup coconut cream
2 tablespoons fresh basil
2 tablespoons fresh coriander


  1. Heat oil in a pan, add sambal oelek, lime leaves and lemon grass. 
  2. Cook on a medium heat until fragrant.
  3. Add pumpkin, cook stirring 1 minute, or in my case until your stock has defrosted and you can get it out of the tupperware.
  4. Add stock, fish sauce and lime juice.
  5. Simmer, covered until pumpkin is just tender. 
  6. Remove lime leaves.
  7. Blend your delicious cooked pumpkin.
  8. Add coconut cream and herbs to pumpkin mixture, stir until heated through
  9. Serve!

If you fancy making this the non-FODMAPs friendly way, add two cloves of crushed garlic at the start with a chopped onion when frying off the sambal oelek, lime leaves and lemon grass.

*So while I use butternut squash, being the one pumpkin that is readily available in Sweden. It is a moderate FODMAPs containing food and the portion needs to be limited. However, Jap/Kent/Kabocha pumpkins are considered safe on the app provided by Monash University. So if you can, get one of those. 
**You can get the flavour of garlic without the pain by sauteing a couple of cloves of garlic in your oil of choice for a few minutes and then removing the garlic. I usually make 100-200ml at at time with a good number of cloves to have on hand when I want my oil flavoured. Whatever you do though, don't use fresh garlic and let it infuse in the oil. That way leads to potential botulism and I'd hate to be responsible for that. 

***we regularly make a roast chicken and take the opportunity to make a stock with the carcass. The stock is then usually used in our risotto. It is both delicious and friendly to my belly. I will write a FODMAPs stock recipe soon, but suffice to say, it excludes onion and garlic, but doesn't lack in flavour. And the recipe has been blogged.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Socks for a fellow dance enthusiast

gaspers socks
 My lovely friend, G, is my dance teaching partner. We've been teaching balboa together for about a year now and I think he's hilarious. He's originally from Slovenia and moved to Sweden for love. What I admire about him is his enthusiasm and joy for dance and life. His generosity of spirit is also pretty impressive. He has certainly made an impression on the wee one. She hadn't seen him for a few weeks, but said quite clearly "dancing with G" to me a few days ago. gasper's socks2
 It was his birthday in November and I hastily attempted to knit him a pair of socks before his birthday party. But I failed. They were nowhere near ready by the time the party came around. He has such big feet. So it was only a month or so ago that I was able to present him with the socks. I think he appreciated them though. What do you think?

I noticed too late that I was running out of the brown/natural coloured wool, so one toe is quite significantly more purple than the other. My theory with these kinds of situations is that it shows that they were hand made.