mor mor's visit

Living far away from your family is unusual I think, many people I know moved close to their family when they had children. We didn't have that foresight, in fact it didn't even cross my mind. I left home when I was 18 and lived all over the place, so going home to Minnesota wasn't a thought when we were living in New York City and had our son. The only thing on our mind was to be close enough to Manhattan that we could visit easily for work and inspiration. Now, ten years later I really miss being near my family. When we DO see each other we get so excited and it becomes such an event. The kids and I gear up weeks in advance, we make a big sign/banner to hold up at the airport and we figure out what we are going to do together, and for a visit by my mom (mor mor) we talk about what she is going to cook for us, what cookies she will bake and the cakes that I miss from my childhood.

Mor Mor is 84, she is still working, although only two days a week, which keeps her busy. She has tried to quit a few times, but each time she gets so bored and ends up going back to work! She is the busiest lady I know, whenever I talk to her on the phone she is going to a party, going 'up North' with her lady friends or cooking and baking at the Swedish Institute. She takes a long walk EVERY day, something she has done for the last 20 years and it has kept her in tip-top shape, and you won't find her sitting down often, she is always doing SOMETHING.

If I told you how our days have gone since she got here you wouldn't believe it! She runs me ragged, and every night I just can't WAIT to get into bed. Her biggest concern when she is here is not to play games or hang out with the kids, she loves them, but that's not her thing - she is up at 6am and wakes me up and asks me what we should do for breakfast (!?) - yes, 6:00 am! - she makes the kids lunches, with perfectly cut sandwiches, crust cut off and all, perfectly trimmed carrots - I throw together their lunches in 3 minutes, hers take at least a half hour, but they are perfectly elegant and perfectly perfect. Once we get the kids off to school I can just see her rubbing her hands together with all the things we are going to clean and do for the day (forget that I have to WORK!) - I tell you it's like we are kids again, except I have to tell her what to do... then we have coffee together and snacks and lunch, it's really a delight.

It's one thing when you are away from family, you really never get put in your place. However much I thought I had the parenting, marriage, work thing together your mom can put you in your place. It's a wide range of how totally WRONG I can do something - she comes up behind me and shows me how a really CLEAN pan should look, did I know that I can polish my copper kettle?, and the best way to fold a towel so it will fit perfectly in my closet - to the things that I can do really RIGHT - which is basically anything I can do on my magical computer (she stands behind me and exclaims in amazement at just about anything we look at - facebook "oh you can type so fast" - ordering a book for her on Amazon "oh, I can't believe you can do that so fast!"), how fast I can put together just about anything from Ikea and her complete wonderment that I play games with my kids "oh, it's so nice that you do that I never did that..."

I think that Swede's have a slight obsession with doing everything in the really RIGHT way, the most efficient way and the most handy way. It runs neck and neck with the obsession with the Swedish flag. I'm not making fun of it, NO not by any means, I mean what a great obsession to have if you are going to have an obsession! My mom places so much emphasis on doing something the right way that it's becomes borderline stressful, especially for my husband (there is very little that he can do right) although she loves him (but wishes he had a 'real' job, you know an Artist is not a 'real' job). But it's not stressful, because it comes naturally to a Swede! Or is this just MY family! (WHAT!?)

On this particular visit we were waiting for the "rull tårta" - it was the cake I grew up with and loved! and suddenly missed, so upon arrival she whipped up one (well Mor Mor never really 'whips' something up, it took ALL morning, but the result... delicious! - and perfect). We also needed to make a trip to Ikea, we ALWAYS make a trip to Ikea. We purchased a few things to put together, napkins, dish brushes, candles - usually the same things each time. We planted plants outside, mostly flowers, cleaned up and swept outside.

I think what I wanted to say is that it is SO nice to have your family around, just the ease together, but also the respect for each other. I tell you I was not about let her down, when she is here I have to show her how well we keep it together, if not she will worry about me, and you don't want an 84 year old to do that...

recipe: rull tårta
(it's really called "dröm tårta" or deam roll - but I like "rull tårta" or roll cake)

3 eggs
1/3 cup potato starch or corn starch
2 tbls cocoa
1 tsp baking powder

7 tbls stick butter
3/4 cup posdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

line baking sheet (12"x16") with parchment paper. beat eggs and sugar until very thick. combine dry ingredients and fold into egg mixture. spread the batter evenly over the prepared pan. bake at the center of oven for around 5 minutes.
turn the cake out onto parchment paper sprinkled with sugar. remove the paper from the cake and let cool completely.
for the filling beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. add the vanilla and beat in the egg yolk. spread the filling over cake, roll up and place seam side down, on a platter and refrigerate for at least one hour before slicing.
(recipe from Swedish Cakes and Cookies -by Melody Favish - click here to buy)