Recipe 3: Baked Apple Dumplings (Drottning Äpplen)

Recipe 3: Baked Apple Dumplings (Drottning Äpplen)

The apple dumplings are supposed to be served with rum sauce, (the recipe for it is included below this recipe in the cookbook), but considering the age of my family and the fact that we have no rum in the house, and I was not about to go through the efforts to purchase some just for this recipe, I served the dumplings without the sauce. It made sense, then, that my siblings said it ought to include something else with it, and I like their suggestions a little better: cinnamon sugar on top, or sugar included in the dough. It could also be served with ice cream, as each of the apple dumplings are similar to what mini apple pies might taste like.

Recipe 3(2).JPG

After the last recipe, my family was pretty eager to try another one of the desserts I put together from this cookbook. And they were certainly not disappointed.

This recipe takes quite a bit of time to put together by yourself, but in the future I could easily throw together the dough and the cinnamon sugar for the inside of the cored apples and set them out as an apple dumpling bar for them to put their own together themselves.

Total prep time…I don’t have a clue. I kept getting distracted with other interesting things like Pinterest and how unacceptably cluttered the baking counter was. But I can imagine it took about 30-40 minutes, not including the 55 minutes the dumplings were in the oven.

Altogether, this was a fun and simple, (though time-consuming) recipe. It turned out really well and I would love to make it again.

My rating: ★★★★☆

My siblings told me I ought to put four and a half out of five stars, but I have no idea how to create a half-star.

Recipe 2: Apple Crisp (Äppelpudding)

Recipe 2: Apple Crisp (Äppelpudding)

This recipe was all rainbows and unicorns. The Apple Crisp was definitely a hit for my family, and they all immediately loved it.

Essentially, this dessert was very easy to pull together, and didn’t take any longer than about 20 minutes of prep time, (not including the 60 minutes the dessert was in the oven). I used six granny smith apples in an 8×8 inch glass cooking pan, and at first glance I thought it was far too full, but it ended up being the perfect amount. The crisp sprinkled  in a thick layer on top consisted of sugar, flour, baking powder, and butter. Over that was poured a cup of water. I figured that was too little, but not by any means. In fact, it may have been just a tad much. But in the end I think it worked out really well.

The recipe suggests using whipped cream when served, but, for future reference, if served warm (recommended), the whipped cream melts beside it. Plus, the serving is already so filling, the whipped cream in addition was almost too much.

My rating: ★★★★☆

The only reason I’m not giving it a five out of five is because all the rest of the seven members of my family said it was a four out of five. And that was explicitly because my mother is an excellent cook and she spoils us with her heavenly food 24/7.

Recipe 1: Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce (äppelkaka med vaniljäs)

Recipe 1: Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce (äppelkaka med vaniljäs)

“It tastes a lot better than it looks.” –Famous last words of some chef.

I started with desserts first because I’m a broke college student who can’t afford basic meats that are required for typical dishes. But my family certainly isn’t complaining about this predicament. Although, my brother was the first to try out my first creation and this was his comment:

“It’s interesting. Like, you get a different taste the more it goes through your mouth. I’m not really sure what to think of it. But it isn’t bad.”

This, for the record, was after I told him multiple times to be completely honest with me. He also agreed with me that it tasted like oatmeal pudding. Upon googling what Apple Cake with Vanilla Sauce was supposed to look like, I found that everyone’s except mine was in actual cake form and not some sort of mush. The above photo is my attempt at making it look presentable.
In my logic, there was absolutely no reason according to the recipe for it to be able to come out hard enough to stand up by itself on a plate. The bottom of the 8 1/2 inch baking pan was covered with fine breadcrumbs, sugar, cinnamon and butter, topped with 3 1/2 cups of sweetened applesauce, and another layer of the breadcrumb concoction on top, baked at 350º for 30 minutes.

Admittedly, I did use too much butter as the result of a complete blonde moment, but I managed to fix that, so I don’t think that would have had anything to do with the fact that it came out like an odd pudding.

Update: the rest of my family also enjoyed the dessert. (And for the record, my family has definitely always been my biggest critic, so I take their opinions fairly seriously.)

The vanilla sauce was a bit tricky with timing, but that was partially because it didn’t even enter my mind at the time that I could have made it during the 30 minutes that the main part was in the oven instead of the 10 minutes during which the first part of it baked. During that time, I had my sister stir the sauce (which didn’t thicken as the recipe said, even with the cornstarch, it just boiled over. But it essentially didn’t cause a problem in its effectiveness.) while I juggled separating eggs, removing the dish from the oven, removing the butter that didn’t melt (blonde moment repair time), and mixing into the breadcrumbs and butter the sugar and cinnamon that I’d also somehow overlooked. I was able to improvise pretty well, and it worked out as though I hadn’t made those errors. Still laughing about that though!

Another note: the sauce turned out especially yellow because the yolks I used were from farm fresh eggs, which are typically higher in carotene than eggs you’d buy at the store.

Overall, prep time was approximately an hour.

And in my opinion, the sauce was the tastiest part.

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Introduction: my crazy idea

Introduction: my crazy idea

I’m pretty good at dreaming up random ideas. Making those random dreams a reality, on the other hand, is not so easy. As a college student on summer break, I reasoned that now would be the perfect time to start one of my crazy ideas: blogging my way through a cookbook.

A year and a half ago, I ran into my high school photography class teacher who was delivering bread to the local cafe where I’d been working. Somehow, our conversation melded together my passion for Sweden and my less-than-excellent cooking skills. He recalled a certain Swedish cookbook he’d picked up at a sale years ago. We agreed on a trade of one of my large photography prints for his cookbook and made it a deal. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen him since then to deliver to him that print, but somehow he was able to get the cookbook to me. If you’re reading this now, sir, forgive me; know I haven’t forgotten you.

Recently, I watched Julie & Julia, a film about a young woman who is inspired by the famous American cook, Julia Child, who lived in France. She worked her way through the cookook and blogged about everything she did. (The entire movie is quite cute and very realistic. I highly recommend it). I was inspired by this, and decided that it was time to make my desire to someday actually enjoy cooking a reality.

I have kind of  love/hate relationship with food, and I don’t really find cooking or baking altogether enjoyable, but I’m hoping that through these 180 pages of recipes I will be eased into more of a liking for making food, and simultaneously create a new hobby for me.

Disclaimer: unlike Julie in the aforementioned film, I will not be making this a daily post where I’ve conquered multiple recipes at a time. Rather, I will more than likely treat this as more of a casual, every-other-day trend with one recipe at a time.

Also disclaimer: my posts will not contain the entire recipes themselves, just the reviews of them.

Recipe book: Swedish Recipes Old and New. Chicago, IL: American Daughters of Sweden, 1955. Print.

Hope

Hope:

This isn’t the end.

This is just the beginning of just a chapter of your life.

This chapter could last two paragraphs or 60 pages.

This chapter could be the most exciting chapter in the book, it could be the climax.

This chapter could actually also be a low point in the novel of your life, and it could only get better.

Hope:

God is in control.

You can rely on Him to take care of your needs.

You are an imperfect decision maker, but God is a perfect decision maker.

You are imperfect at pursuing a thing, and God is the Master Perfecter of all plans, and WILL, He TRULY will fulfill them in the most perfect way there could ever be.

A Calling for Sweden

I find that in the light of what I am about to talk about, it would be important for you to know my personal testimony as well.

To an extent, it’s fairly simple how I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior: I grew up in a Christian home, with godly parents and five younger siblings who were taught alongside me in the Word of God. I received Christ when I was about 4-6 years old. I was homeschooled up to the 8th grade and was enrolled in a small, private Christian high school when I entered 9th grade. I am grateful for my upbringing in God’s Truth and the valuable things that my parents taught me and involved me in.

Where my spiritual walk really began was when I was 12 or 13 and began to question many things such as whether or not the earth was created in 6 literal days or an extended period of time, and am I really going to heaven. These things along with many others led me to a path of growing closer to God as I grew older. However, when I was 17, I became angry at God for who He created me to be and where He had left me in my life. I was so consumed by the prospect of being so insignificant that God couldn’t use me for anything and I would never be successful like so many people I knew. Everything God had brought me through up to that point in my life was consumed by my anxieties of inadequacy and uselessness in life. But then I attended an intensive Bible camp where I discovered God’s love for me in a unique and personal way, and it turned my perspective around back to Him in a beautiful way. There is more that I could write about this particular part of my life, but at this time I will remain focused on the intent of this article. Ever since I attended the intensive Bible camp I have naturally still struggled with returning to those thoughts of inadequacy and insignificance, but God always somehow reminds me of how He made me victorious from those captive thoughts and what Truths can set me free if I let Him take the reins of my life.

Now, this is what I really love to talk about, because I am sure that God will get me there someday, somehow, and it excites me as I prepare for the day I set foot on Swedish soil.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been rather fascinated by different cultures, especially regarding my own Swedish heritage. Although I wasn’t too thrilled when my mom dressed me up in a white robe and plopped a wreath decked with candles on my head. She handed me a tray of various breakfast dishes and told me that I was now St. Lucia. As an eight-year-old, I was kind of embarrassed. But looking back on all the years we attended St. Lucia brunches at the local Covenant Church on my birthday, I’d always wondered what it would be like to be chosen as the St. Lucia who got to serve everyone with her accompanying maids. Dad had his Dala horses lined up on his bookshelf, and had encouraged me to read his copy of “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils” but I wasn’t really interested until one summer when I experienced Sweden on an even more personal level.

On a Christian teen girls website I’d joined when I was 14, a girl asked on the global chat, “Is anyone here Swedish?” So I told her that I was. (Because, after all, 25% has to count for something, right?) She and I connected right away. She discovered that I was an American, not a 100% Swede like herself, but all the same, we became fast friends. We exchanged as many emails per day as a human being could conceivably type, and we chatted as often as we could considering the major time difference. We got to know each other really well, and I came to discover the immense moral differences between us. She was a new Believer, and the only one she knew for miles. Having grown up in a secular environment, she participated in immoral practices that she hadn’t known were wrong according to what the Word of God taught us. Her only mentors were priests who certainly didn’t discourage those actions. She was bullied at school. Her family thought she was crazy. My little teenager self didn’t know how to effectively convey encourage or respond to her lifestyle. I felt responsible for when she had finally had enough of this “God thing” and dropped all communication with me. It was too hard for her to live with this knowledge that didn’t back up with the people around her.

Ever since that brief chapter of my life, I have seen God at work, preparing me for one day sharing the Gospel of Christ in Sweden. I have no idea when I will actually get to that point of being there; I have considered options and plans that could land me in Sweden, but those are all up to God, and as His vessel I would like to be able to go as soon as possible.

That is, after I graduate from Association Free Lutheran Bible School in a little over a year. I have learned so much here already, not only on the level of academics through God’s Word that the faculty provides, but also on a personal level through work, social situations, and much more. I am excited to see what God has in store for me as I continue to grow and learn more and more about my identity in Christ and how to effectively communicate the Gospel to others.

Ecuador, 2017

Ecuador, 2017

In the summer of 2014, I went to Romania. In the Spring of 2017, I went to Ecuador. I had two things in mind for this second missions trip: 1) have no expectations, and 2) make it better than the last one.

The issue with these two things was that they contradicted one another. Essentially, I found that I did have expectations in the fact that I wanted to make it better than the last trip. I found myself planning an itinerary in my mind of exactly how I was going to make it better than my missions trip to Romania, and I was not going to be flexible with that plan. In order to make it better, I subconsciously planned that certain things had to happen: I would work hard, I would connect with all the kids, I would be able to communicate myself in a way that avoided language barriers, and I would get out of my comfort zone. I figured that that was what it meant to be a missionary and that I was fully capable of doing all those things. And as I always do as I plan the itinerary of my character, I put my identity in it.

The moment I was introduced to my host family, I realized that it wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d made it out to be in my mind, but I pushed that aside and figured that I was overreacting and that it would get better. And perhaps I was overreacting, but I found it was tougher than I’d anticipated to communicate with my host family. I’d had it all planned out in my mind that we would become best friends with each other, regardless of the language barrier. However, my idea of “best friends” may have been a bit different from their idea, and I had no clue if they even liked me. Car ride upon car ride, I endured long time periods of awkward silences. Or perhaps they were only awkward to me, and my host family thought it completely comfortable? The cultural difference in personalities alone was alarming to me and I couldn’t quite grasp how I ought to reciprocate love for them. Quiet meals were held in the home and walks around Cuenca and surrounding attractions were silent as we fumbled for communication with each other. The first week was admittedly difficult.

As we produced skits and songs for the kids at the schools and Paz de Dios Church, I was quickly realizing that communicating with the children also was difficult, and I was running out of creativity for connecting with them. I felt like I was an awful missionary, and I slowly withdrew to the comfort of my boyfriend or other teammates who spoke English. I felt selfish, and I fumbled around to find ways to work harder.

So I physically put my all into it. I worked as hard as I could, I did my very best to reach out to the kids, and I got out of my comfort zone as much as I could stretch myself. But when Grace got sick, I began to feel helpless. I couldn’t do anything for her. In addition, the kids didn’t  seem to reciprocate my reaching out to them, and I felt like a loser, ineffective in my work. My host family didn’t talk to me much, so I thought I was doing a poor job of showing them the love of God. I didn’t feel like I was connecting well with my teammates, and I felt as if everyone was judging the way I interacted with my boyfriend.

It wasn’t until one day that I was quietly riding in the truck with my host family and watching the mountains fly past us along the winding road that I realized what I was doing. I wasn’t resting in Jesus, the Creator of all this beauty around me. Every day in the car, I would be in awe of the gorgeous greenery and vibrancy of Ecuador and I was giving praise to Jesus, but I wasn’t giving Him myself and all my plans. I was protecting those because I felt like I could do a better job. As Grace slid to the ground and cried out, I heard God say, “My grace is sufficient for you….for when you are weak, I am strong.” As the rain tapped the truck windows, God whispered to my heart, “Be still.” And as my host family and I hiked up the mountain of their potato farm that day, God reminded me, “Put your identity in Me.” I stumbled upon a patch of beautiful daisies and God breathed into my soul, “I love you.” I pondered these subtle messages, and I was reminded of the story of Mary and Martha, and how Martha had put her identity in the work she was doing, and she got frustrated at Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet, patiently waiting for Jesus, hanging on every word He said. I was Martha. I was frustrated at myself if I was ever still; if I ever stopped working, I would punish myself with self-hatred. And yet, Mary was not despicable, she was soaking in the life Jesus had to offer her. Martha was dying because she wasn’t willing to rest in God and give up her itinerary of the day, and be with Jesus and learn from Him.

I was dying inside. I got sick. Emotionally and spiritually sick. While God was whispering to me these words of comfort and reminding me that this missions trip was not mine, I was pushing Him away and continuing to busy myself with what I thought a missions trip meant for me. My body and spirit betrayed me and I was in such a dark state that I could no longer function in any healthy way. It wasn’t until I was completely shrunken into the ground and I had been forced to my knees that I realized what I had done to myself as a result of this idea I had in my mind of what it meant to be on the mission field. I was depressed, discouraged, and I was constantly beating myself up for no reason other than I wasn’t fulfilling my own expectations. I worked, yes, I animatedly interacted with the children, of course, and I have no doubt that God used those things to plant seeds into the lives of children who were seeking love and Living Water. There is no question in my mind that even in my foolishness God was using me to give life and love where there was need. But even so, I had suffocated myself, and God was there, comforting me and offering me healing and joy that could come from nowhere else, not from my plans, not from my expectations; only from Him.

When God used people and circumstances through this Ecuador trip to speak into my life, and I finally stopped to rest, listen, and accept the gift of grace God was offering me to enable me to sufficiently fulfill the calling God had given me to be a short-term missionary in Ecuador, He opened my eyes to see what level I had brought myself to, and where He could put me instead. Only by the grace of God was I able to at last stand and smile with joy and begin to overflow love in an effective way.

There were may things that I began to realize about the trip, and essentially, God taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined. I can only hope and pray that through those things seeds of love were also planted in the lives of those whom I encountered as well. Eventually, I realized that my host family truly did enjoy having me as a guest, and I didn’t have to spend all that time worrying, and as I look back on the trip, I can see that every single time that I had the opportunity to show love and followed through with it, it was 100% God, and I had the opportunity to be His vessel in those two weeks. Things were hard, the cultural barriers and differences were difficult to hurdle, but when God calls someone to go, we need not be afraid of those things, for He equips us. The beautiful moments that come to mind from Ecuador shimmer like diamonds and blossom in my heart like wildflowers to compliment the cliffside that was the battle God equipped me to fight in this small, yet significant chapter of the life He has given me to live. From spinning tiny schoolgirls in the air to being a participant of the very last skit of the Fall and the Redemption, chills run down my spine at the recollection of these things, and how beautiful it truly was through every up and down to experience life as a short term missionary in Ecuador. Each missions trip is uniquely different, and there is no comparison; God continually works through those whom He calls.

 “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’

 Since we have that same spirit of faith, 

we also believe and therefore speak, 

because we know that the one who raised 

the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us 

with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 

All this is for your benefit, 

so that the grace that is reaching more 

and more people may cause thanksgiving

 to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. 

Though outwardly we are wasting away,

 yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 

For our light and momentary troubles are 

achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, 

but on what is unseen,

 since what is seen is temporary,

 but what is unseen is eternal.” 

—2 Corinthians 4:13-18—