Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It’s an Anica-thing

In my six months in Sweden, I’ve noticed there’s two things I say rather frequently here, whether I’m talking to Swedes or other international students:

     1. “Well, it depends on the state…” when replying to some question about how something works in the US  
       (Most recent usage: Talking about age of consent)

     2. “That’s not an American thing, it’s an Anica-thing” when explaining something I do that is weird
       (Most recent usage: Me cooking bacon in water, which totally blew my corridor-mate’s mind)

Today we had an unexpected free day off from school – no lectures, no pressing projects or papers to write – just a day I could do whatever. As much as I am a nerd and love school, I do miss being able to just enjoy evenings and weekends without having to do any kind of work. (Or if I couldn’t, at least being paid, typically 1.5 times more, to have to do so. Much better than this homework racket.)

So what did I do, as a college student with a surprise day of freedom? I spent the entire day in the kitchen cooking things from scratch, of course! (It’s not really an American thing, it’s just an Anica-thing.) ;)

Does this have anything to do with Sweden? Nope, outside of that’s my location at the moment. I just love to cook and this seemed a good excuse to sneak in a picture of the beautiful lasagna I made I figured I’d share some pictures of just a normal day off here, lest you think I’m just sitting in Sweden all sad and depressed after my last post. 

Not the best pictures, since I wasn't planing on doing this and took them with my phone, but I'm just a food porn amateur. ;)


I actually started off cooking a bit on Monday, which was a day I needed to work on a presentation and read some papers, but didn't have any scheduled at school time, so I was free to cook too.

I made some marinara sauce, the recipe of which is one of the only good things from being on that low-iodine diet hell over the summer. It's just tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh basil, salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano, pureed as much as humanly possible and simmered for 2+ hours to make it less itchy. (Mild tomato allergy - less cooked and chunks gives me a rash.)

The internet tells me that the air added in the pureeing
is why my sauce is always orange instead of red.
At least you can tell it's homemade then, right?

That batch gave me eleven 1½ cup servings, which is the perfect to make dinner and have leftovers for lunch.

Today though, I started off making some breakfast burritos. This is my third time making these, and they are amazing. I do a big batch and freeze them, and then have a delicious and nutritious breakfast that microwaves in 3 minutes. 

Oven roasted potatoes, eggs, bacon pieces, onion,
bell pepper, and a little cheese = deliciousness

As I've never been much of a morning person to begin with, and now I have to take my thyroid pill on an empty stomach and wait an hour to eat, breakfast was becoming a major problem before this. 97% of the time I end up eating one while walking to the bus stop.

My beauts ready for the freezer. Freeze on a cookie sheet first,
then when frozen you can dump in a giant ziploc without having
to worry that they'll freeze together.

After those went in the freezer, I also made some Italian sausage (not pictured), then took a lunch break and made a bacon cheeseburger with some of the bacon left over from the burritos. :)

Then the pièce de résistance: lasagna.

This was my first time making a real lasagna, and it is quite an undertaking, but the goal was to be able to have a bunch in the freezer for those I'm-too-tired/lazy-to-cook days. (I walk past a kebob place, McDonald's, and grocery store on my way home from the bus stop, and honestly most of the time I cave is because it's been a long day and I don't have anything easy to eat at home.) 

They do have TV dinners and frozen pizza here, but that's not much healthier. Besides, I had a piece of lasagna when I first moved here, and they make it very wrong (which one of the Swedes I live with concurred as he saw I was making it right, so there). Instead of ricotta they use a béchamel sauce. No.

Ready for the oven. Also, Swedish lasagna noodles don't have ridges.
It makes it easier to layer in the pan, but I kind of miss the
festiveness of the wavy sides.

I went all out for my first foray into lasagna: homemade marinara sauce with homemade Italian sausage, spinach, ricotta, parmesan, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella I grated myself. And yes, I enjoyed myself immensely, especially when it came out of the oven...

Isn't she pretty?!?

Don't worry, not quitting my day job to become a food stylist.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Next time more sauce, and I'll mix the spinach in with the ricotta instead of a separate layer like the recipe called for. It should also let me get more spinach in there without really affecting the taste. It's still pretty good though, and earned the approval of the meat-eating population of my corridor.

After dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow, I've got 13 little healthy instant meals in my freezer. Funny thing is this sounds like a diet tips blog post - Just prep ahead and easily eat easy all week! - but it did take up pretty much the whole day and would not interest most people. Me, on the other hand? I had a ball. 

In case you don't believe that spending 8 hours in
a kitchen makes me happy. That's a proud,
dorky lasagna mama right there.

I may have missed my calling at being a housewife on a homestead.


The day ended with a special surprise from the grocery store that completed the evening. 

When I was a kid, there was this commercial for this fancy ice cream thing that I longed to try, but we never did. (It was probably too expensive.) For years, I've dreamed of this dessert: 


I didn't have the Fancy Feast glass goblets to eat it out of, but otherwise it did not disappoint. Kind of like a lasagna made with ice cream and thin chocolate layers. It's like part of my childhood is now complete. 

So there you have it, my random day off, from your weirdo friend. (See, life in a foreign land isn't all walking on cobblestone streets past 1,000 year old buildings and stuff. Sometimes you stay inside, after all.) 


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