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Lucky To Be Born…

A study by the Economist Intelligence Unit released a few weeks ago was a scientific attempt to calculate the best countries to be born in. It was no surprise that Sweden was in the top 5. Sweden is ranked 5th in the world in the Human Development Index. Swedish people have the highest life expectancy in Europe (at just over 80 years). Not only that, but Sweden has the lowest gender employment-rate gap in the world. So basically it is a wonderful place to be born, to live and to raise a family. But more than that, Sweden is a generous nation. The most generous in fact, according to statistics, it gives more in charity to poor countries than any other nation on earth. Sweden is not only a great place to be born, it is also be a great place to have kids. With free education, great healthcare, and the longest and most generous maternity/paternity leave in the world (480 combined days at about 77% of your salary), who wouldn’t want to raise their children in Sweden!

 

A Little History:

Sweden is the cradle of what we would consider the Germanic cultures. The Norse Vikings, Goths and even the Russian Empire can trace it’s routes back to Sweden. Much of the early history of Sweden is dominated by the Vikings, who traveled as far as India and America (before Columbus), and helped to settle many parts of the world. During the 17th century, Sweden emerged as a global power, becoming the third largest country in Europe.

In 1700, the Great Northern War commenced between Sweden and Tsar Peter from the Russian Empire in an attempt to control the Northern Seas and its territories. This would end by a stunning defeat in 1709 at the Battle of Poltava, and with The Treaty Of Nystad signed in 1721, the decimation of much of the Swedish Empire was complete.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the population of Sweden doubled, thanks to better medicine, food and peace. The country, however, could not accompany this influx of people and Sweden was ripe with poverty and starvation. Millions of people would immigrate to the United States in search of a better life for themselves and their family.  Some scholars argue that this mass exodus was one of the only things keeping the country from chaos.

After the 2nd World War (in which Sweden remained neutral), Sweden prospered thanks to an intact industrial base and ties with the Allies who had won the war. Although Sweden has gone through many ups and downs economically (as have all nations), Sweden today prospers and is a leader among Europeans.

 

To this day the Swedish people celebrate their neutrality and peace. 1814 was the last time Sweden has been at war. Next year will mark the 200th anniversary of peace for Sweden.

The Recipe:

IMG_1987For this recipe we are going to be cooking Swedish meatballs. This is a very hearty dish that includes a lot of “hands-on” preparation. The gravy will take patience as well so plan on starting early. This is a great dish to make with a partner because it takes a lot of coordination and teamwork to make things happen!

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 340g Pork Mince (3/4 lb)
  • 340g Beef Mince (3/4 lb)
  • 2 slices White Bread
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 3 Tbsp butter or ghee
  • 1/2 cup Onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 Large Egg Yolks
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt plus a pinch
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 Cups Beef Broth
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Pasta (any type) optional

Method: About 1 Hour

First thing to do is pre-heat your oven to 95 degrees C (200 F)

Tear up the two pieces of bread into small pieces in a small bowl and then pour the milk over them and set aside to rest and soak.

in a pan, melt 1 tbsp butter and a pinch of salt… then cook the onions until they are soft.

In a large bowl (or a stand mixer if you have one) combine the pork mince, beef mince, egg yolks, salt, allspice, nutmeg and onion. Mix for 2-3 minutes with a spoon (or mixer) until combined evenly.

IMG_1979

Using a scale (if you have one), or just by estimating with your hands, measure out 28g (1 ounce) of mixture and then roll into a ball with you hands. Do this until all of the meat has been rolled into balls.

IMG_1983

This would be the point at which you would start cooking your pasta if you have chosen to have it with this meal!

Next heat up the remaining 2 tbsp of butter in a large frying pan and then cook 7-10 minutes or until cooked on all sides. Once the meatballs are cooked, place them in an oven safe dish and place in the oven to keep warm while you prepare the gravy.

IMG_1981

Reduce the heat to medium-low or low (depending on how hot your stove top gets).

Add the flour to the remaining juice in the frying pan and cook for about 1 minute. Then slowly add the beef broth a little at a time and whisk continuously. Once all the beef broth is added, keep stirring until the gravy starts to thicken, at which point you will add in the cream. Cook until you have reached the desired consistency.

IMG_1986

Remove the meatballs from the oven, combine with the sauce and enjoy!

Further Reading:

Here are some interesting facts I found out about Sweden:

  • As of 2006, Sweden had won 588 (winter and summer) Olympic medals, a feat only excelled by 6 much more populous countries (the USA, the USSR, Italy, France, Germany and the UK).
  • As of 2006, Sweden had obtained 27 Nobel prizes, including 5 Peace prizes. This is the 5th highest number of laureates in the world, and the highest per capita ratio.
  • Sweden has the highest number of McDonald restaurants per capita in Europe (although that is only about half of the US ratio)
  • With 42.7% of female parliamentarians (in 2002), Sweden has the highest proportion of women lawmakers in the world.
  • In 1862, Sweden became the first country to grant suffrage for (married) women in local elections.
  • Sweden is set to become the first country in the world to phase out petrol for biofuel.
  • Sweden has the highest number of nuclear plants per capita, with 10 reactors for 9 million inhabitants.
  • Total taxation in Sweden amount to 54.2 % of GDP, the highest level worldwide.
  • Stockholm is the only city in Sweden with over a million people.

Stockholm Globe Arena:

The Stockholm Globe Arena is the world’s largest hemispherical building, with a diameter of 110 meters, an inner height of 85 meters, and a total volume of 600,000 m³. It is also the world’s largest scale model of the Solar System.

 

Credits:

For this recipe we used a recipe from Food.com.

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