Monday, 22 September 2014

DIY - IKEA Task Lamp Update

Copper and bronze have slowly been coming into the limelight over the past few years.  Earlier this year at the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair, during Stockholm Design Week, it was everywhere.  I decided to update a pair of old black IKEA Antifoni task lamps by spray painting them copper. 

IKEA Antifoni Task Lamp gets a Copper Update

The process is easy but a little smelly so better to do it outside if you can.

1.  Protect the areas you don't want painted (cord, bulb socket and switch) with masking tape.

2.  If you are super thorough and love prep work, then you can give the metal a light sanding with fine sand paper.

3.  Spray paint the lamp.

You can find acrylic spray paint at most hardware stores but the selection may be sparse.  I went to a little shop here in Stockholm (HL Store) that specializes in street gear, skateboards and graffiti and other more "urban" arts.  The spray paint colour selection was very impressive and the prices were better too.

4.  If you go with a copper or bronze look you'll need to seal it with a spray lacquer otherwise it will show fingerprints.  Wait for the original colour to dry for about an hour or 2.  Wait 2 hours between lacquer coats.

And, that's it.  

Friday, 5 September 2014

Vietnamese Pho Soup

Vietnamese Pho is one of my favorite foods.  In Toronto there were several really great Vietnamese restaurants with fantastic soup.  Stockholm is much less saturated with authentic Asian restaurants.  When I finally did find an authentic Vietnamese restaurant, the soup cost 150 kr.  The exchange on that is approximetely $23!  For soup!  If I ever wanted to be truly reunited with my pho, I would have to learn how to make it myself.  I've tried before and failed.  I've heard it said that a true pho broth should take 6 hours and I always imagine there being a gaggle of old Vietnamese grandmas in old Vietnamese grandma heaven looking down on me and having a good laugh.

Turns out that a decent pho can be very easy to make and quite fast too.  Here's the recipe I used via the Food Network with a few alterations according to the soup I used to get in Toronto.

1 packet flat rice noodle, prepare as directed, drain and put aside

12 ounces lean sirloin beef, fat trimmed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, halved
1 4-inch piece of ginger, halved (calls for unpeeled but I peeled mine, either is fine I'm sure)
3 cups low sodium beef broth
3 cups water (pho is a light broth so I actually added a little more water than this)
5 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 tablespoons fish sauce

4 scallions
fresh cilantro
fresh bean sprouts
fresh Thai basil
fresh lime

Prepare the rice noodles as the label directs.

Place a large pot over high heat. Poke the meat all over with a fork to tenderize it and season with salt and pepper. Sear the meat until slightly cooked but still rare, 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer to a plate. Add the onion and ginger to the pot; cook about 4 minutes (I added a bit of canola oil to the pot at this point because the ingredients were sticking and the bottom of the pot was going to burn) . Add the broth, 3 cups water, the star anise and cinnamon, reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the scallions and tear the cilantro. Thinly slice the meat against the grain.

Add the fish sauce to the broth and boil 5 minutes. Discard the ginger, star anise and cinnamon stick. Remove and slice the onion. 
Divide the noodles among 4 bowls; top with the broth, beef, scallions, cilantro, bean sprouts, Thai basil and onion with a side of lime wedge.*

You will also need some Hoisin Sauce and Sriracha sauce.  Each person uses these to their own taste.

*These fresh ingredients added at the end are essential for a good Pho.  Never leave them out and if you ever go to a Vietnamese restaurant in Toronto and you don't get a plate of these on the side, they assume you don't know any better.  Ask for it.

Sommarstängt and Welcome Back

Sommarstängt is a phenomenon in Sweden when shops or businesses shut down for a period of time during the summer.  Don't even dream of getting anything done during the month of July.  And then there are several weeks during August when people try to catch the last of summer before the dark sets in. 

With a move in mid-June and no daycare set up in the new location and all community services on vacation, I found myself in a state of Sommarstängt.  Now everything is back in order and hopefully we can get back to design in Stockholm.

Nu kör vi!