Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Newbie Frustrations

Today was one of those days. The flow from previous days was gone and the whole day just went staccato. S.t.a.c.c.a.t.o. Stop, start, stop, start. It just wore me down.

Barn duty was pretty dire, given that we are now just two, after Aurelie's departure. Plus Kai is suffering from hay fever, meaning that I am doing all hay and straw handling. With the calf that needs feeding, it took us around two hours to get out of the barn...

The tasks that I then had planned for the rest of the day just didn't pan out. At all. The boys left me with mainly rotten wood. I couldn't tell pine from birch. I don't know how to use the chain saw to get more wood from the fallen trees. I couldn't find the axe. I cut off a chunk off my finger (milking was painful...). I still couldn't screw on the electrical fencing. My "fashion wellies" are making my knees hurt.
That's milk on the left and manure on the right.
To top it off, I had the barn all to myself at the end of the day, all two and a half hours of manure and runaway calves. And the silly cow whose calf needs feeding has learned to dodge being tied up, meaning that I couldn't feed him.

Frustration! I am used to being efficient and taking responsibility for my work, but I find I am so dependent on other people to teach and show me. And they are not always there. Or they assume that I know everything or can read between the lines. Maybe I should take it as a compliment, being seen as little miss capable Arbeitsleiter, but today it just made me want to cry. I know, how silly. I obviously just need to chill and relish being the newbie.

I guess I am tired as well. I am not used to physical labour eight hours a day and it is taking its toll. Thank goodness we've got a new wwoofer coming on Thursday. He's so being put on hay and shit and milking duty. Mohahahahaha....

Monday, 28 April 2014

Cows with Attitude

I have now spent two and a half days at Höö and I've already made some friends as well as enemies. My fellow wwoofers Aurelie from France and Kai from Sweden have been here for a bit longer and have kindly showed me the ropes. Lovely people and great company in and out of the barn!
Viking Kai with his second breakfast
The cows, on the other hand, have the attitude to go with their heritage pedigree. One massive thigh bruise (and a smaller one on my arse) from a horn and I have learnt my lesson of not trusting them. We're obviously going to have to learn to get along, or otherwise milking is going to be veeeery tedious in the next few weeks. Three litres isn't impressing anyone.
If you squint, you can actually make out the squirt of milk...
What is impressive, however, is the wide range of poop art produced by the cows. Here's a selfie with poop from little miss priss (Doris), before I milked her. Enjoy!

Really, you should be impressed, cause the boys produce something veeeeery different

My First Week of WWOOFing

I have now spent a whole week at the farm in Höö. Farm work is definitely full of routine, but also some surprises.

In terms of routine, shovelling shit is numero uno. All days start and end with manure in some way, shape or form. At 8 am and at 6 pm, we feed the animals and scrape/ shovel/ push/ lift/ wheel out the massive amounts of dung onto a giant heap of poop and straw outside. I never knew manure could be so... unwieldy. So unpredictable. You think you know how to approach it, you think you can handle it with a certain movement, only to find out that it's a wet one and it is intricately entwined with the straw and other dry matter and refuses to budge until you find a FORK to dig it out. Training in the gym doesn't prepare you for this...
So much shit, so little time
Once the morning barn shift is done (1 - 2 hours depending on how many people are involved), we help out with anything else that needs doing, such as preparing the kitchen garden (more manure), checking fences (loooong walks in the forest), harrowing a field (first time on a tractor, first time harrowing, yes, I'm impressed with myself) or clearing shrubbery.
I had machine envy. Aurelie really rocked this one. 
Before lunch, I go for my first swim of the day (second one at dusk, of course!).
Ah, bliss. If I hadn't burnt my bum in the sun...
But certain days are a bit more special. Like this morning when the little spotted calf was out gallivanting in the barn. Or when we had to chase down the ponies that had escaped through a broken fence. Or this evening, when another the little calf needed force feeding and his mother wasn't having any of it. Now that was interesting! Aurelie and I managed to get him out of the pen though, with me holding him between my legs and Aurelie feeding him. Fingers crossed he makes it.
Stronger than you think. Even took a kick to the head from mommy cow. It was meant for me.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Rediscovering Your Inner Child (Moose on a Stick)

I don't remember the last time I built a campfire. And I haven't felt the urge to build one since childhood either. So when Aurelie and Kai suggested we get some moose meat out of the massive chest freezer in the cellar, buy some wine and go build a fire somewhere, I wasn't really too keen. I just wanted to sleep!

But I got my ass in gear and marinated the meat, Aurelie sharpened some sticks and Kai organised the wine, and we set off after clearing out the barn for the evening. I didn't think I would have any wine, so Aurelie kindly filled a thermos with water. "Unfortunately", we needed the thermos to carry lake water to contain the fire, so I had to wash down the moose meat with wine anyway, what a chore! (Not)
Posing with meat on a stick
In the end, we spent a fantastic evening by the fire, consuming a helluva lot of moose (all 3 courses consisted of moose on a stick) and an awful lot of wine. Some of us are paying for it today. Funnily enough, not me! :-) Maybe because I consumed the most moose? 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Organic Shopping in London

Internet shopping is great, but sometimes I just want to see, touch and smell what I am buying (and I don't want to wait a few days until it arrives by post). Bumblebee is a great find for all my organic needs: vegetables, herbs, nuts, fruit, dairy, eggs, random beauty products and even refill for my washing up liquid.

Yesterday, I found organic potato starch in the shop, so I have started my own resistant starch experiment. Exciting.
Possibly my favourite part: loads to spice up my food (life)

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Satisfaction of "Proper" Work

It's my last evening with my parents before I head off to volunteer at the organic farm in Småland. I've been in Sweden for 3 weeks now and time has flown by! First a visit to foodie Lund, then the low carb cruise, then almost two weeks of hard labour in my parents garden.

Ok fine, after spending most of the last 12 years in an office chair, anything that involves a spade, an axe and a sledgehammer is likely to feel like hard labour. Especially since my pride wouldn't let me stop until I finished the project that Cat and I started... Ta-daaa! (Try to contain your excitement.)

The wonder of Skummeslövsstrand: I shall be charging tourists for a glimpse
Lovely brother-in-law Si thinks our terraces look like something from the Tough Mudder obstacle course. Oh well, let's see what magic mamma can work while I'm away. Strawberry plants are a good start.

Digging holes, shifting sand to and fro and picking fights with never-ending root systems has been hard work, but also a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I don't think I've ever willingly exhausted myself like this before and actually enjoyed it. I've enjoyed getting dirt under my nails (and in my hair, eyes and down my cleavage), getting progressively stronger, more stable, more nimble, feeling the sun and wind on my face, hearing the birds and bumblebees around me, seeing my work result in something useful.

Maybe the latter is what brings me the most joy. Being useful. Producing something tangible.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Resistant Starch Experiment

This is something that hasn't been sighted in the Paulsson household for years. Gasp, p-p-p-potatoes!

Scary Mary
I would normally avoid potatoes for their blood sugar spiking properties and their antinutrients, but I have decided to start a little experiment alongside my low carbing paleo house deity, Mark Sisson.

A little while ago, the idea of resistant starch started making the rounds of the paleo community. Anecdotal evidence of better blood glucose tolerance, sleep, digestion and body composition popped up on various blogs (Free the Animal seemed to be one of the more vocal/ slightly obnoxious ones), but it took a while for Mark Sisson to jump on board. And for me. Low carbing has been a way of life for almost three years now, why would I want to introduce starch again? But although my low carb version of paleo suits me really well, I am always open to new ideas and ways of tweaking my diet. Especially as I sometimes wonder if perhaps long-term ketosis may not be the cure-all, especially for women. 

Anyhow, I am now experimenting for a month with cooked cold potatoes as well as green bananas (plonked into unsweetened smoothies of avocado, avocado seed, spinach, coconut cream, lemon juice, cinnamon). The theory behind resistant starch is that it passes through the digestive tract to be broken down further down the line, feeding not your blood glucose depots, but rather certain beneficial gut bacteria that would otherwise get starved on a low carb diet. 

Watch this space. Or should I say "smell this space"? A week in, I have noticed two things. Amazing sleep quality (and I mean sleeping like the dead) and, on the flip side, pretty grim fartage. Let's hope that the latter is a passing thing...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Lowdown on Lamb Offal

Well, the butcher did ask us if the lamb kidneys, liver and hearts were for the dog... I now understand why. Sort of.

The reason we got lamb offal was simply the short notice we gave him. And since we're generally feeling pretty adventurous, we said "why not?".

So what was the verdict? Not too favourable, I'm afraid.

  • Lamb kidneys behave like little bouncy rubber balls and taste of barn. A barn full of sheep. Pooping sheep. 
  • Lamb liver tasted plain weird. The pâté tasted as if a whole bottle of shampoo had been dropped into the batter. Lil T didn't seem to mind too much though. 
  • Lamb heart stuffed with lamb mince and wrapped in bacon was a winner though. Tasted of lamb, yet not too strongly. The free anatomy lesson was a bonus. Let's just say that some parts are easily recognisable. 

Anyhow, next up is organic, free range beef offal. Lamb was just a bit too weird.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Instead of a Workout

We're still knackered after the CrossFit workout, so Cat and I skipped the morning run. Weaklings, I know. Instead, we spent most of the day working in the garden. Raking grass, cutting branches, lifting roof tiles, digging holes, refilling holes, playing with daddy's axe...

Posing with weapon
As pappa is still recovering from his surgery, he had to resort to giving instructions. More difficult than you think, as he'd rather do everything himself. Cat put him in his place though.
Always a pleasure to boss your dad around 
I have a feeling we'll be sleeping well tonight. And probably aching some more tomorrow. 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Checking Out Swedish CrossFit

Today Cat and I checked out our first Swedish CrossFit box, making friends with some lovely ladies in Ängelholm. Coach Kitt (the deceptively sweet-looking lady in the middle) showed little mercy to the newbies, testing our thigh pain threshold... Oh yeah, Cat and I will be doing some rather awkward walking tomorrow.

It's called the "red face gene", be proud 

Friday, 11 April 2014

An Average Thursday Menu II

The great thing about paleo is how easy cooking has become. With some simple prep, good quality ingredients and plenty of good fats, it is difficult to make a mess of it. This is what we ate yesterday.

Breakfast: Spiced banana scrambled eggs with bacon and blueberry "sprinkles", served with egg latte.   Lovely, as usual, but Cat and I both got a bit hungry by 11, so had another "latte".

Lunch: The usual lunch at Casa Paulsson is leftovers. This time it was ox heart stew with a bit of extra stock added. I chopped up a bit of cauliflower, tomato and avocado to "line" the plates and then added the stew. Served with a dainty side of avocado/green banana/spinach/coconut cream smoothie. Cat and I were quite active yesterday, because we had to have a snack of pâté and salad a few hours later.

Dinner: Fish curry with cauliflower "rice" and sauerkraut salad. The curry made mamma break into a sweaty rant about who put too much spice into it, ha ha. If she wants me to cook, she better get used to it. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Excursion in Search of More Offal

Cecilia and I made a little excursion to a local farm and butcher shop this afternoon. We were looking to find a supplier for high welfare/organic offal. Turns out Lindegrens is the place, but we need to order in advance.

We did however meet two great characters: Cecilia the pig and Peter the butcher.
Cecilia is making friends with her namesake
Peter is showing us where all the meat comes from

I Heart Heart

Since going paleo, I have come to love liver. Lucky me, given its superior nutritional profile to for example muscle meat.

However, there are plenty of other types of offal, including kidneys, lungs, brain and heart. Yesterday, the day had come to try out the latter in the shape of ox hearts.
Ox hearts
We brought out the pressure cooker again and made a stew: 
If I hadn't known, I would never have guessed
We used a recipe for heart stew, but realised that we might as well have used any old recipe for stew. The verdict: Heart tastes similar to normal braising/ stewing steak, but with a slightly gamey touch. Lovely! 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Learning About Cows on a Plane

On my flight to Sweden yesterday, I did something quite unusual for me: I started chatting to the man across the aisle. I saw him reading a magazine on cows and couldn't resist! Turns out, he has four cows and keeps them as his hobby. He spoke lovingly about rearing Limousin cattle. It sounded like hard, but rewarding work. To make a long story short - and I could go on forever about what I learned about cattle - we are going to visit the local butcher (Heberleins) who happens to sell local Limousin meat, so we can try this amazing meat.

If you are in the south of Sweden, you can get Limousin meat from my new friend's brother here.
Beautiful Limousin cows

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Stock Experimentation Mode

We consume a lot of stock in our house, mostly as a hot drink alongside a savoury breakfast or as a quick way of creating soup for lunch. With a pressure cooker, making stock is a quick, easy and CHEAP way of creating wonder food. In addition, it feels good to make use of parts of the animals that would otherwise go to waste!

For this week's stock of stock (har har) mamma and I decided to go a bit crazy in the meat aisle. We've done pig's trotters before:

Dainty little trotters
But these little beauties were a first (ok, fine, they look pretty gross even to me):

As we say in Swedish: griseknorr
Verdict to follow!

The only little pesky detail is that although these pigs are of Swedish origin (as opposed to Danish, brrrr), they were conventionally reared. :-( I am working on finding ways of sourcing ethically reared meat, but it will take a bit of time. Watch this space!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Portable Paleo Food

I have learned the hard way that suitable food is hard to come by when travelling. On a recent train journey, I had to resort to buying an egg mayonnaise sandwich and a pre-packaged, then microwaved burger. These finds were then raided for their content and the bread disposed of. Less than ideal, especially since I foolishly read about the meat content in the burger patty (less than 50%), but at least it meant that I survived all the way home.

Ahead of my flight to Sweden tomorrow, I have made some portable paleo friendly fare: bacon wrapped mini omelettes with leek and courgette.

Here's what I used for six:
4 eggs
2tbs creamed coconut (previously mixed with hot water to form a paste)
1/2 courgette, finely chopped
4 cm leek, finely chopped
7 pieces of streaky bacon
Salt and pepper
Ghee to grease the tin

Whisk eggs with creamed coconut, then mix in the leek and courgette. Add salt and pepper to taste. Grease the muffin tin and line with bacon. I used six pieces around the edges and cut up the seventh to go into the bottoms. Pour in the egg batter and bake in the oven for c. 20 minutes at 175 degrees.

This recipe can be varied endlessly, depending on what you have in the fridge. Sundried tomatoes and capers add extra flavour, fried mushrooms, onion and garlic is great too.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Low Carb Booze Cruise

So I've been talking about this low carb-themed 24 hour booze cruise for a while now and yesterday I finally boarded M/S Galaxy in Stockholm.

I admit, I boarded this with a tiny bit of trepidation...
The Swedish LCHF (low carb, high fat) movement has been growing immensely over the last decade and this year's cruise hit an all time record attendance of over 500 low carb converts. LCHF is still seen as a bit of a cult in mainstream society, but many of the "teachings" are starting to trickle through (WeightWatchers are regularly ridiculed in the media, sales figures of light products such as margarine have decreased sharply, supermarkets are stocking more organic fruit/veg, etc). As the Tesco slogan goes, every little helps...

It was surreal to finally listen to and even talk to some of the people that have inspired me over the last few years. I spotted some of the very early pioneers in the crowd and on stage, including Dr Annika Dahlqvist and Dr Andreas Eenfeldt. I listened to and met a bunch of bloggers, both small time ones like me as well as bigger names, including the force of nature called My and one of my mom's favourites, Tommy Runesson (this one is for you, mamma ;-) ):

Tommy gets mobbed by fans all the time
Being the Lone Ranger, I crashed a few "parties" as well. The "I'm a celebrity on Instagram" entrepreneurial girlie crowd happily let me join their entourage, slightly overwhelming me with their "Insta" celebrity spotting and food logs. I had breakfast with two of the teachers on the paleo nutrition course that I will be attending this summer, Jonas Berqvist and Louise Edlund, as well as one of their former students Lena Winroth. And to top it off, I had dinner with lovely Olle, a thoughtful and inquisitive young man who kept me entertained in the queue for salami and cheese:

All smiles after bagging some salami
All in all, this was a fantastic crash course in Swedish low carb culture. Nothing new in terms of lecture content, but loads of new input for me on how people think and reason around low carb/ paleo, etc. And again, I was blown away by how open, friendly, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial people are. Go Sweden. :-)

Friday, 4 April 2014

Second Best Use For Nettles

Sporting my gardening gloves, I raided my local park for these beauties this afternoon. A whole bag full is now soaking in a pot to make an all-natural fertiliser.

This is clearly only the second best use for nettles. The best use would be nettle soup, but I don't think I would be able to find any nettles in London that haven't been exposed to dogs.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

My Menu on an Average Thursday

Just because I haven't done it since the Whole 30, I thought I'd share what I've eaten today. It's possibly not the most inspired menu, but it was tasty and quite varied.

Banana omelette, bacon and spinach
Home cured bacon is the best, but not the prettiest
Leftover soup: roast chicken thighs, carrots and beetroot in homemade stock and creamed coconut
There's no better way to use up leftovers than in a soup
Wild venison and beef mince fried with some carrots, creamed coconut and spices
Purple sprouting broccoli and leek in ghee and coconut oil with lemon zest, lemon juice and ginger
I have waited so long for purple sprouting broccoli in my veg box - it did not disappoint!

In Praise of Scanian Gastro Geeks

I spent my first day in Sweden doing what I do best, yap with strangers, preferably about food and fodder. I figured I might as well put my new business cards to use right away. First up was soup mecca Buljong, followed by Saluhallen, Lund's indoor foodie market.
Soup kitchen extraordinaire
What first struck me was how passionate people are. The soup enthusiast founder of Buljong who never compromises on local & seasonal ingredients (no Swedish asparagus this year = no asparagus soup, deal with it). The mustard farmers at Petersborg who wouldn't dream of spoiling their products with additives (e.g. citric acid, aka mould and solvent). The butcher at Holmgrens who prides himself in minimal wastage:
Meat proud butcher
The second thing that struck me was that my private little fear of not finding likeminded people is unfounded. Although I had surprisingly few hesitations about ditching my previous career and going off on a paleo tangent, I have been ever so slightly fearful of how my fellow countrymen would receive me. Being a Londoner meant being just another (weirdo) foreigner among other foreigners, a perfect parallel universe for an expat kid. But these people blew me away! Passion, enthusiasm, fire in their bellies. Oh yeah, this is going to be good...

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Paleo Pitstop in Lund

How lucky am I? Fresh off the boat in Sweden and I get a welcome breakfast like this.

Carro gets all excited about her egg
Carro was one of my first low carb mentors 3 years ago (cheering me into a largely cream-based ketosis). Funny how things go! Who could have guessed that her early influence would eventually lead me back to Sweden, first stop her kitchen?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Primal Breakfast Habits

Moving out of my last London flat has been a stressful experience, to say the least. I'm not sure what it is about cleaning, scrubbing, polishing, chucking out and packing that is so very painful, but it finished me off.

Luckily, I have some fantastic friends to look after me during my last days in London. Not only do the Nañawas make me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside, they also have excellent breakfast habits... Bacon/chorizo/cheese/cream scrambled eggs with pork adobo and a side of triple shot americano & cream, anyone?

Communal nose picking is sooooo primal

Marketing Paleo

Our first Paulsson Paleo business cards. Just in time for Cecilia to take to Sweden and hand out at all the Paleo / Primal events and Organic Farms she is going to visit and work at. Spread the word!