Thursday, August 20, 2015

Up to my neck in nectarines

Djurgårdsbron in the summer  |  Up to my neck in nectarines on afeathery*nest  |
When we first moved to Europe, grocery shopping seemed so foreign and quaint to me, having grown accustomed to my beloved FreshDirect in NYC. Years ago I didn't think I'd be the type of person to order my groceries online (and R was completely shocked by the idea—at first), but when I moved to the Financial District there were no grocery stores. There were a few gourmet ones in Tribeca and a few bodega-style places closer by, but a proper one didn't actually arrive until my last year there.

So online shopping it was—as the idea of carting bags of groceries on the subway seemed foul to me. When I came across FreshDirect, which wasn't attached to a grocery store and had just started up operations the year I arrived, I decided to try them out.

And I loved everything about them—the online and offline user experience, the wonderful customer service, the huge selection of local products (flowers, honey, eggs, milk, meat, produce, etc.) and the fact that somehow the price was the same or better than a bricks-and-mortar shop.

I was a loyal follower up until our last week in Manhattan (and R, after having moved there and tried the goods, became a complete convert after one order despite his initial reluctance-slash-horror at the fact that I didn't "see" my groceries before purchasing them).

Stockholm in the summer + Swedish flag  |  Up to my neck in nectarines on afeathery*nest  |

But then we moved to Stockholm, and our first apartment was right across the street from two grocery stores and a few blocks away from another (my preferred one), so my new routine included stopping in every few days to pick up a few things on the way home from school on my bicycle. When we moved to Vasastan we were surrounded by grocery stores once again, so my Euro habits continued.

But now we're in Minneberg—where the closest grocery store is a 15 to 20-minute walk away. There is a smaller "corner store" down the street from us, but the selection is super limited and expensive. At first I rode my bicycle or walked the 20 minutes to the real grocery store earlier this spring, but that soon became cumbersome. First because I often purchased more than I could comfortably carry for an extended period of time, and then because my first trimester woes meant managing the many hills on my bicycle or on foot was not so comfortable.

R was always happy to stop off at the grocery store on his way home from work, as the storage options on the motorcycle made carrying bags home quite a bit easier, but as I loathe stopping off at the store after work myself, I hated to ask him.

(Plus I also like choosing our groceries.)

But now that winter isn't too far away, and along with it, a newborn baby, we finally looked into MatHem, Stockholm's answer to FreshDirect, and you know what? It's so good. The same idea as FreshDirect, although with a not as-pretty/user-friendly website.

Which I fell victim to with our first order.

Strandvägen & Nybrokäjen in Stockholm  |  Up to my neck in nectarines on afeathery*nest  |

I had meant to select 4 nectarines for our basket. Somehow the quantity came out to 4 kilograms instead. At first I thought the culprit was a Swedish mistranslation on my part, but it was definitely the site, as our second order resulted in something similar happening (though less overwhelming, as selecting 2 bok choy resulted in two packages of 3 each, versus two actual bok choy).

When our first order came I was home working, so R unpacked the bags. A few minutes later he asked me to come to the kitchen where he pointed to a paper bag full of nectarines and asked, "what happened here?".

I freaked out, of course. He said he'd put everything away, but leave those for me to handle. So back to my work I went and a few hours later I walked into the kitchen, tied back my hair and began my attack—one kilo of nectarines remained in tact on the kitchen counter, the second kilo went into the fridge, while the third and fourth kilos were washed, sliced, and stored in separate Pyrex containers in the freezer.

For the next few days I had nectarines at every meal (oh, did I mention that I'm the only one who eats nectarines in our house?), pulling from the fruit bowl. Meanwhile I turned the rest of the first kilo into a pie. Unfortunately in my attempt to get them cooked as soon as possible I pulled a package of frozen, gluten-free phyllo dough out of the freezer to use. It was the first time I had baked with it and didn't realize that the dough was quite...savory.

Berzelii Park, Stockholm in the summer  |  Up to my neck in nectarines on afeathery*nest  |

R ate half a slice, but it was up to me to finish the rest. I alleviated the oddness of the taste by eating it cold, topped with yogurt and cinnamon which helped, a bit.

The second kilo became an upside-down nectarine cake to much better reception than the pie, in fact it was finished in 2 days.

Phyllo pie disaster aside, I usually have bad luck in enticing R with my baked goods (apart from his birthday cake, which he insists on and which I know to never alter), as I usually get irritated with recipes and amend them, i.e., when I see a cup of sugar in a fruit cake (really?!) I usually bring that way down. Or I try to substitute things I don't prefer for things I do, which sometimes works out well, other times, less so.

(I really should know better than to mess with the science of baking, which is less forgiving than the art of cooking savory food, but I can't help myself).

But bolstered by his enjoyment of the cake, I made another one last night following the same basic recipe, with my own (sigh) adjustments, such as making a cashew/walnut topping, adjusting the sweetness, and other finicky things.

When I pulled it out of the oven I was worried that my newest rendition wouldn't pass muster but we had two slices each (whew!) and R was extremely emphatic in his approval.

Nectarine Pie + Upside-Down Cake   |  Up to my neck in nectarines on afeathery*nest  |
Now I just hope I can remember what I did this time when it comes to baking the other 1.5 kilos of nectarines I still have in the freezer...

P.S. A food photographer, amateur or otherwise, I most definitely am NOT.
P.P.S. This isn't my first run-in with an excess of groceries.

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One year ago: Swedish differences, Vol. 3 & Into the woods & More lessons to learn
Two years ago: Rituals & Growing up Goan & Somewhere else this week

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