My first visit to Iceland was actually a long layover… on my way to Sweden! Longtime readers will know I’ve been to Sweden before – this is actually my fourth trip there, and the third since I started this blog. (Hankering for more posts about Sweden? Here’s my archive.)
My friends Katherine and Peter live in that house in the distance, located on a rural island about an hour outside Stockholm. One of the things Katherine was most excited to show me was her expansive vegetable garden, and I was excited to see it!
My previous visits were all in June, which was way too early in the season to harvest much of anything. This visit, though, was in September, so we ate multiple things from the garden every day, and it was amazing.
Katherine’s garden is huge, and it’s bigger each time I’m there. The first photo in this post is of the garden, but it’s evolved a lot in the years since I took that photo.
I struggle keeping houseplants alive, so I was very impressed to see all the things that Katherine grows – over two dozen kinds of fruit, vegetables, and herbs! Here’s just a few of them:
Brussels sprouts – the edible bulbs grow along the stem. I love love love Brussels sprout stalks! Some of these got sauteed and added to a salad.
Onion, still in the ground:
Big pumpkins – this one was still growing and hadn’t ripened yet.
We enjoyed the last few plums from their plum tree.
Tomatoes. All the green ones went into a roasted tomato salsa that Katherine made one night.
Two types of kale, plus zucchini! (And Brussels sprouts at the bottom of the bowl.)
We picked a few more zucchini and sauteed them on my last night.
They have about 10 apple trees, and one morning we harvested all the remaining apples off of them. We sorted them into piles:
The most beautiful on the black tray, juicing apples in the bags, and the rotten or wormy ones in the wheelbarrow, to get added to the compost heap.
Then, we went on an outing to a local place called Appelfabriken (literally translates to ‘apple factory’), a combination restaurant, cafe, and juicing facility, to have the apples pressed into juice, which they did on the spot. Here’s me and Kai, awaiting our turn to dump the apples down the chute:
See ya on the other side, in juice form!
In addition to the vegetables that Katherine intentionally grows, we also ate enormous, edible mushrooms that Peter found growing under the lilac bushes out back! Check out these dinner-plate-sized babies – they’re called parasol mushrooms.
We ate these a couple times: chopped and sauteed with thyme and lemon, and served on knäckebröd (a thin Swedish cracker).
You can imagine that with all this amazingly fresh produce around, we ate most of our meals at the house. Katherine and Peter also hosted a couple dinner parties while I was there. One night was an oyster party – and I had never shucked an oyster before, so that was fun (and a challenge) (and a learning experience).
The next night we had a traditional crayfish party, which is common in Sweden in the warmer months. You can buy specific crayfish party decorations…
…including crayfish party hats!
And then you go to town peeling and eating crayfish, stopping every once in a while to sing Swedish folksongs and drink a shot of schnapps.
As I said, most of our meals were at the house. I was there five days, and we got take out (sushi) once, and I think we ate out twice. One day, while walking around Stockholm, we ate a small lunch at a coffeeshop – I had a tuna and avocado sandwich. Another day, Katherine and I went to a museum, and ate lunch at the restaurant there. We each had an open-faced sandwich, and then cut them in half and shared them.
My sandwich (in the foreground) had herring, egg, mustard, potato and greens, and Katherine’s was proscuitto (or another variety of cured ham) and an avocado cream. Both were delicious.
So that’s the run-down on my eating while on vacation. I ate very healthily – which is easy when there’s an incredible garden on the premises! Here’s Part Two, where I share more about exercise and the other things we saw and did while I was there.
Keep it up, David!
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