What comes to your mind when you think of a healthy pantry? Nuts, legumes, fermented or canned vegetables, self-made marmalades, chutneys, broths, pastes, and all kinds of this stuff, filled in glasses, stocked for use? At least, this is what our pantry looks like. Yet, a much bigger, multyfaceted, surprising and incredibly healthy pantry opens before our eyes: nature! Visit Sweden* wants to call attention to this natural pantry with a special initiative.

 

The Edible Country

 

With ingredients picked straight from nature, the four top chefs Titti Qvarnström, Niklas Ekstedt, Jacob Holmström und Anton Bjuhr created a menu together. The recipes and a detailed manual how to prepare them make it possible for anyone to cook them in nature itself. The initiative is an open invitation to dive into Sweden’s landscape and to enjoy its variety.

It shall bring us closer to what was natural once: the knowledge about wild growing, edible plants. The project wants to show, how easy and accessible healthy food can be. Berries, mushrooms, herbs and much more grows in Sweden’s fabulous and diverse environment. You just have to grab it.

For us, the idea behind The Edible Country could be a base to place confidence again into the grapes of nature. Do you, too, hear your parents warn you “Don’t eat wild berries! The fox tapeworm is life-threatening!” This way, you suck in a fear of nature starting in your childhood. Sure, you should know what you do, and not start collecting without background knowledge, but is this not the key? Imparting knowledge instead of warnings and restraints? Isn’t it absurd that we rely more on what the industry serves us in the supermarkets instead of on the origin of our food, and on the most natural way to collect and process them ourselves? Just this process is balm for the soul.

As part of an international group we were the first to experience The Edible Country right away. With the instruction of our experienced guide Pontus we roamed the woods of Småland to collect mushrooms for the menu. This alone was a highlight and worth the travel. With our full baskets we went deeper into the woods to cook a menu with two of the top chefs. We were especially looking forward to cooking on open fire in the woods. You know how much we love preparing our food like this. How wonderful the experience would be, we only got to know when we saw the little valley from the top of the hill. Amidst the moss-grown stones a beautifully set table was waiting for us. Next to it, flames were already licking in the fire bowls, and all the collected ingredients, berries, herbs and mushrooms were ready to cook. We did not believe our eyes!

It was a bit mean, actually. On the one hand, we could not let go of our cameras. On the other hand, we wanted to be in the middle of it all, to experience the preparation and cooking, chopping ourselves and ask thousands of questions. Thankfully, we are two and could split and rotate.

Still, we could have extended this experience for a few hours or even days. When do you have the chance to cook together with top chefs?

The three dishes we prepared together were surprising and extraordinary, despite or maybe because of the few ingredients and the simple preparation over the open fire. For us vegetarians there was broth from the woods with spring water, various mushrooms and herbs with browned butter as appetizer.
Chanterelles, juniper berries and common sorrel were the main course. Acorns and hazel nut crumble with wild fruits and stewed berries were the sweet finish. Apart from aromas from the woods, we only seasoned with butter, salt, and honey. You don’t need more to be completely soulful afterwards.

It is incredible how much inspiration we gathered within a few hours. Be it the insight that field penny-cress, which grows in front of our door, is pretty tasty, or that you can serve wild herbs like yarrow as dessert. That for a strong broth you don’t need more than a few mushrooms and herbs, or that acorns, after cooking them a few times, are actually edible and taste fantastically…

 

It was an unforgettable experience for us. We are incredible thankful that we were part of this project and were able to see Sweden’s uniqueness. Even if the top chefs came together for this event and usually cook in their own restaurants instead of in the woods, it is possible for everyone to experience such a dinner in this special environment. In Sweden, everyman’s right is a basic rule. A respectful contact with nature granted, everyone is allowed to roam the countryside. This way, and following the recipes and instructions of the chefs, you can collect the ingredients yourself and cook the dish wherever you like.

Alternatively, you can book seven handmade wooden tables with ready cooking gear from May to September. These tables are spread at special spots all over Sweden: Skåne, Western Sweden, Lapland, Jämtland, Småland, Stockholm Archipelago, and Värmland.

Who think he or she is not capable of collecting the ingredients on their own can book an experienced guide who will show you the collection sites and answers all questions about nature. 

More information about this wonderful project you find on the website of Visit Sweden.

When special people come to visit there has to be special food, too. For us, a certain cake is extraordinary: the Naked Cake. Usually, we keep it pretty basic with „Granny’s Cakes“ like crumble cake of all sorts, sheet cakes, etc. Thus, we relied on one of our classics for this recipe. A moist carrot cake with lots of nuts, dried apricots and other delicious details. We love how variable it is. Be it in a spring form or a whole tray for larger groups, or as cupcakes, be it vegan with aquafaba and cashew creme, or not vegan with a cream cheese topping, as in this case. The cake is just too delicious to not experiment with it. The basic recipe you find in our cookbook.

Beside the cake we wanted to create an unique setting for our kaffeeklatsch with our friends Jules, Maria and Justus from Herz & Blut.

After the last plants left the greenhouse a few weeks ago it was time to use it as living space once again. Sure, in winter with outside temperatures around freezing point, the temperatures inside the greenhouse never rise above 10-15°C. The days are just too short. At least, the cold wind and the moisture stay outside. Wrapped in woolen pullovers and scarfs, and with a lot of candles the atmosphere still gets really cosy. Especially, when the sun sets spectacularly just as it did this particular evening.

Even if we could plant salads during winter, or sow the green manure, we just love to use the greenhouse for ourselves outside the gardening season. Until it is time to sow the young plants and it is warm enough to bring them into the greenhouse in early spring, we will take this opportunity.

We are not what you call full-hearted Christmas enthusiasts, but when the days become shorter we definitely appreciate the contemplative atmosphere. We love decorating our house according to the season and occasion, thus winterly and festive. Still, we don’t turn our house upside down, but especially decorate the place where we gather with our beloved ones: the dining table. The centerpiece of our decoration is a branch which we found during a stroll. Hung beneath the ceiling and equipped with candles it captivates the eye due to its elegance. We are thrilled by the results since it shows you don’t necessarily need a Christmas tree or Advent wreath. We added to the natural materials of our this year’s festive decoration small, atmospheric still lifes, which we made with our instant picture printer FUJI instax SHARE SP-3*. The instant pictures support the calm ambience and play with the details of nature, art, and presentation.

We are often asked for our inspiration, and the answer is simple: nature offers the biggest treasure. Minimalistic and damped, yet cosy and atmospheric – this you achieve best when using natural, recyclable materials. Not to mention the fact that it is resource and space saving.

Another advantage: we get some fresh air to make our cosy little home even more cosy for the festive season. The fun of decorating already starts with collecting branches, grasses, and cones.

Instead of an Advent wreath on the table we hung a huge birch branch above our table. We fixed the obligatory four candles with copper rings. This way, we even have more space for our handmade earthen tableware, which adds to the natural setting, while the golden cutlery emphasizes the festive occasion.

When it comes to table cloths and napkins, we preferably work with dyed linen or natural linen. The folds, which develop over time, add a special character to the whole setting. Conveniently, since ironing becomes obsolete. Our treasures which we collected outside, look especially beautiful on linen. Pine cones, chestnuts, grasses, and leaves harmonise with the soft and natural colours and material. Also, we like how the single items correspond with each other: beeswax tree candles correspond with the honey coloured napkins and the delicious festive pie, while the brown table cloth correlates with the cones on top.

If you follow our blog for a longer time, you know that we are huge fans of instant pictures. It’s not for nothing that we are, together with Nic from Luzia Pimpinella, Igor from Happy Interior Blog, Jules from Herz & Blut, and Vreni from Never Ever, enthusiastic ambassadors for FUJIFILM instax. Susann already wrote about the relevance of instant pictures in her youth. To capture the evanescence of the moment carries an own poetry, and to visualise all these memories, which would have been long gone by now, just by taking out these instantly taken photos…this is magic.

Just as important as collecting and treasuring memories is to us, we love to share memories. We are especially delighted that we can produce a repeatable outcome with the Fuji instax printer – if we want to. Just like the principle of sharing one photo, keeping one, printing next one multiple times and share it with our friends after the festive meal. 

Instead of making spontaneous, fleeting snapshots for the decoration we chose an artistic execution. We took photographs of our wintery motifs like pine cones, walnuts, thistles and grass as a still life on a rusty steel surface. This way, the instant pictures support our natural decoration with staged motifs. We love the harmonic connection between nature and artificial nature, or rather art.

That’s also why we chose a black frame for the instant pictures, since this one appears very elegant.

Be it name tag, menu, or gift tag, the instant pictures are versatile. Either we just put them on the seat, plain and simple, or we stick it to a pine cone and write the name with a light pen on the black frame. Or we use the front as a picture and glue it to some kraft paper, on which we note the single courses of our menu. Instant pictures are also perfect as gift tags under the Christmas tree.

We took all instant pictures with our smartphone’s camera, but we also could have used our Fuji XT-3, which is compatible with the instant picture printer as well. The printer is easy to set up, you just connect your smartphone or camera with the printer via wifi. Put in the film cassette and there you go. Another big advantage: the printer is not depend on electricity, so you have a wireless printer to go.

Another advantage, which the format and the printer have: we can pointedly set up our pictures, shoot them, and chose and edit them calmly. This way we fulfilled our artistic aspiration, yet kept the nostalgia you feel when looking at instant pictures. Just try it, you will see that the best ideas evolve while…right, while doing it!

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