anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Archive for the ‘Food + Recipes’ Category

Win an Original Papercut

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I’m sending Issue 7 of Comestible to the printer this week, and to celebrate the release of the new issue I am giving away this original asparagus papercut.

Everyone who has a 2018 subscription will be entered, and one random winner will be chosen to receive the signed papercut along with Issue 7. All you have to do to enter is subscribe to Comestible by April 16, 2018. Comestible is 100% reader supported, with no advertising. Every issue features essays and artwork about food, the places it comes from and the people who produce it, as well as seasonal recipes. It’s all made possible by readers, so every subscription helps ensure that the publication stays in print.

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Written by Anna Brones

April 4, 2018 at 15:55

Sliced Rye and Almond Pepparkakor

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Growing up, we always made a recipe out of the classic Swedish baking book Sju sorters kakor, called Franska pepparkakor, French gingersnaps, for Christmas. Why they were French I am not entirely sure. I have lived in France and never encountered anything similar.

A more apt name is skurna pepparkor, sliced gingersnaps. I like making these because they take much less time than rolling out and cutting traditional pepparkakor but still use the same iconic seasonal spices. This year, I adapted the recipe to be a little less sweet and also be made with 100% rye flour. I like making whole grain cookies, because they are far more robust in flavor than baking with traditional all-purpose flour.

These cookies are great on their own, but also pair very well with a little blue cheese. And a mug of glögg of course.

Sliced Rye and Almond Pepparkakor

Ingredients:

1 cup (5 ounces, 140 grams) almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces, 225 grams) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces, 50 gram) sugar
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) molasses
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons cardamom
2 teaspoons cloves
1 teaspoon black pepper
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups (8.75 ounces, 250 grams) rye flour

Preparation:

Chop the almonds and set them aside.

Cream the butter, sugar and molasses, then mix in the spices and orange zest until well blended.

Mix the baking soda with the flour, then add to the wet ingredients. Work the dough together (it will be quite sticky).

Form the dough into cylinders, about 12 inches long and wrap in parchment paper or a tea towel. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (Note: the dough lasts for a few days in the refrigerator so if you don’t get around to baking them right away it’s totally fine.)

Grease a baking tray and cut dough into thin slices. Place the slices on the tray and bake at 375ºF (180ºC) for 10 to 12 minutes.The cookies don’t spread out very much, so you can put them pretty close to each other.

Written by Anna Brones

December 22, 2017 at 07:36

Making Glögg

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“When I first moved to Washington, you couldn’t buy grain alcohol without a prescription…. so I asked my dentist if he could write me one.”

A couple of years ago, a 90-year-old family friend was sharing this anecdote of her glögg making experience (a leftover prohibition thing). Of Swedish heritage, her recipe was one that had been passed down by her father. It always involved grain alcohol, and she insisted upon making it the same way he did. There was no other option. Which is why this sweet woman was in the dentist chair asking if perhaps she could illegally get her hands on some.

This isn’t a story of alcohol, but a story of tradition.

When we attach to a certain recipe, a song, a book, an activity, what we’re really attaching to is a regularity that ensures nostalgia. Tradition is a fixed point on our life journey, one that we can always turn to. It’s also one that shifts with time, evolving as we do, much like a recipe; the origins stay the same, yet we adapt based upon our personal preferences, modernizing along the way, keeping the idea of tradition but at the same time turning it into something new.

Every family has a holiday pastime of some sort. A friend recently shared with me the story of her favorite Nutcracker experience; the classic ballet wasn’t seen at a theatre, but on a television screen in a community hall in a town where she was passing through. And if we don’t have traditions, we often find ourselves making new ones. What we drink, what we eat, what we listen to – these are all things that are imbibed with memories, and memories to come. Traditions tie us to culture and history. They are what keep us alive.

This is not to say that tradition can’t be broken. Certainly, there are times that call for breaking with the norm and creating something new in the process. But I am convinced that it’s not the actual thing that we make or do that is the important part, it’s simply the act of doing it.

***

One of my holiday traditions is glögg. In my family, we don’t drink glögg (i.e. Swedish mulled wine) until the first of advent, and making it is an important affair.

There are many variations of glögg out there. My father makes his with vodka and madeira, and of course, the family friend mentioned above still insists on grain alcohol for hers (the last time she brought a bottle of glögg to a gathering it was in fact in an Everclear bottle, “glögg” marked clearly with a Sharpie marker on a piece of masking tape).

I think tradition is important, because it gives us something to look forward to, something to celebrate. In my home, glögg is a reminder of the season. The smell of spices fills the kitchen, giving a sensory cue to commence the holidays.

If you’re interested in making glögg a part of your own holiday traditions, I’ve got two versions for you: an alcoholic one and a non-alcoholic one. As always, there are many renditions out there, and these happen to be the ones that I make in my kitchen. My basic glögg is strong and sweetened only by the addition of dried fruit. If you like yours a little sweeter, consider adding port, sugar, honey, or even a little freshly squeezed orange juice.

Everyone deserves the chance to make their own traditions. What are yours?

Glögg

1/4 cup chopped figs

1/4 cup raisins

Zest of one orange

2 tablespoons chopped ginger

2 cinnamon sticks

2 teaspoons whole cloves

5 whole green cardamom pods or 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1 teaspoon anise seed

1 cup whiskey or aquavit

1 bottle red wine, full-bodied

Optional:
1 cup port or Madeira (this will bring a little additional sweetness to the glögg)
2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey

Garnish:
Blanched almonds
Raisins

Directions:
Place the dried fruit and spices in a glass jar, cover with the alcohol, seal with the lid and let sit overnight (or at least a few hours if you are pressed for time).

Strain the spices and pour the alcohol into a large saucepan along with the red wine (and port or madeira if you are using it).

Heat on medium/low heat until warm, but not simmering. Strain out the spices, then serve warm. **If you want a slightly spicier glögg, then leave the spices in and remove once you have heated it.

This glögg tastes better as it has sat for a bit, so ideally, make it the day before you want to serve it. Once you have heated it, let it cool, and place it in a cool, dark place. When ready to serve, heat it up (but don’t let it boil), pour into small glasses and garnish with blanched almonds and raisins.

If you are entirely short on time (this is the holidays after all!) and in the need for “quick glögg,” add the dried fruit, spices and whiskey to a saucepan and place on medium heat until the alcohol warms up and you can really smell the spices. Add the wine. If you need to sweeten the glögg, stir in a little port, brown sugar, honey or freshly squeezed orange juice.

Non-alcoholic Glögg
Note: This one doesn’t use dried fruit in the base since usually the cordial or juice is sweet enough on its own. Up to you if you want to add more sweetness!

2 tablespoons chopped ginger

2 cinnamon sticks

2 teaspoons whole cloves

5 whole green cardamom pods or 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1 teaspoon anise seed

Zest and juice of one orange

1/2 cup water

About 3 cups fruit cordial or juice, ideally something tart like lingonberry or black currant, or even a grape juice that isn’t too sweet

Garnish:
Blanched almonds
Raisins

Directions:
Place the spices, orange juice and water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover and let sit for at least half an hour. Overnight is good too!

Strain out the spices, then pour the liquid back into the saucepan along with the juice. Heat and serve, or heat and let cool, then bottle until ready to serve. When ready to serve, heat the liquid and pour into small glasses, garnish with blanched almonds and raisins.

This story/recipe originally appeared in my 2017 digital advent calendar: 24 Days of Making, Being and Doing. Want to receive it in your inbox? Subscribe to my newsletter. Want more Swedish recipes? Check out my books Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break and Live Lagom: Balanced Living the Swedish Way,.

Written by Anna Brones

December 8, 2017 at 06:00

Using Food to Change the Thanksgiving Narrative

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For many of us, our associations with Thanksgiving are mostly about food. Cranberries, pumpkin pies, stuffing and all those other things that turns the food media world into a seasonal frenzy of recipes and roundups. It’s a holiday where we’re encouraged to gather with our friends and family and be thankful, showing gratitude for what’s on the table and the people we share it with.

These are admirable ideals, however when we talk about Thanksgiving, share iconic recipes, gather around the table, we avoid the harsh reality of a holiday with a dark past, one of slavery, plague and massacres. At its core, Thanksgiving is a story of genocide, and instead of facing that reality, it’s a holiday that we have chosen to mythologize, erasing real stories and people along the way. Instead of the truth, the false narrative around Thanksgiving allows us to focus on the easy stuff, in the form of “10 Best Pie Crusts” and “25 Creative Stuffing Ideas You Never Thought Of.

“Food media at large still won’t touch the imperialist implications of Thanksgiving with a ten foot pole bc it’s more profitable to pub stuffing listicles,” wrote Racist Sandwich a few weeks ago on Twitter.

I thought about that comment a lot, pondering the importance and weight of food media in addressing cultural history as well as today’s realities. Food is an excellent lens for looking at important topics like gender, race and culture, and in that sense, the food hype over Thanksgiving seems like a massively missed opportunity to highlight the true story and its modern day implications. Avoiding the conversation about the true roots of Thanksgiving means perpetuating the injustice.

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Written by Anna Brones

November 22, 2017 at 13:25

Welcoming the Darkness

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It’s so easy to complain about the lack of light this time of year, particularly after we have set our clocks back and the afternoon succumbs to darkness even earlier. Yet with that darkness comes a beautiful quietness and stillness that’s hard to find at other times of year.

The Scandinavian way to enjoy this is to bring in lots of candlelight. I’ve been lighting candles both in the morning and the afternoon, a way to welcome the darkness instead of falling prey to it. In Finnish, “kaamos” is the world that refers to the time of year when the sun doesn’t even rise, yet there is still a magical lightness that covers the winter landscape. It doesn’t matter if you live in a place of pure winter darkness or not, candles and a pot of tea or a cup of coffee always help.

So in the coming weeks, invite a friend over and have fika by candlelight. (Here’s a recipe for sourdough cardamom buns, if you are in the mood for a little baking)

//

A couple of Scandinavian classics featured in the papercut above: the Kivi candleholders from Iittala and a teapot and mug in the Unikko design from Marimekko. Kivi means “stone” in Finnish, and the candleholder is a gentle nod to the fact that so much of Scandinavian design is influenced by nature. The Marimekko Unniko design dates back all the way to 1964, when the company’s founder Armi Ratia declared that the company would never print a flower pattern again. Designer Maija Isola thought otherwise, and came up with this iconic poppy print that is still used today, over half a century later.

 

Written by Anna Brones

November 9, 2017 at 10:44

Recipe: Chanterelle Tart with Rye Crust

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In Swedish, chanterelles (and other mushrooms that can be found in the forest this time of year) are often referred to as skogsguld, forest gold. Cooking them up in a pan with a little olive oil or butter is as indicative of autumn to me as the changing colors.

I haven’t been out to harvest any chanterelles this season, but fortunately my friend Adam supplies a good stash, and I like sautéing them and serving on top of a slice of rye bread for a simple warm sandwich.

Another good way to put chanterelles to use is in a tart or quiche. I like making savory tarts because they are fairly straightforward and forgiving; just sauté up whatever you want as a filling, pour some whisked eggs on top and call it a day.

For this one in particular, I wanted a flavorful crust to pair with the earthy chanterelles, so I came up with a rye pastry crust. It’s made up of mostly rye flour and a little oat flour.

This is a cozy recipe, perfect for a blustery autumn day with flickering candles on the kitchen table. Leftovers will be perfect for breakfast the next day too, so be sure to save a few slices.

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Written by Anna Brones

November 2, 2017 at 10:42

Comestible on Shortlist for Stack Awards 2017 ‘Best Use of Illustration’

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Ever since I read about a writer’s goal for 100 rejections a year, I have been trying harder to do more submissions, whether they are for writing, for residencies, for awards, etc. The idea of course is that if you aim for 100 rejections in a year, somewhere along the way, you’re going to get a response that says “yes” instead of “no.”

I decided to submit my indie food zine Comestible to the Stack Awards 2017, a selection of awards for independent magazines. These days, the indie mag scene is strong, and every time I go into the bookstore I am amazed (perhaps slightly overwhelmed as well) at the high caliber of content and editorial vision that is out there.

I submitted Comestible to the Best Use of Illustration category, since I think that’s a large part of what makes the publication different. The food media space is inundated with gorgeous food photography, and when I started Comestible I wanted something different. Every issue has featured my own papercut illustrations as well as drawn illustrations by some of my favorite illustrators, Jessie Kanelos Weiner for the issues in 2016 and Molly Reeder for the issues in 2017.

How shocked was I when I learned that Comestible had made it onto the shortlist of magazines for the award? Quite shocked! I am honored to have it be a part of a group of such incredible publications with creative and unique artwork. Check out the full list here.

Yet another reminder that it’s always worth it to put your work out there.

Image: Stack Magazines

Written by Anna Brones

October 25, 2017 at 12:03