The mornings are cold. The porridge season has begun.

Three breakfasts, the best parts of three dinners (most flavour for least weight), plus cooking oil and spices.

I am wondering if the coconut cream is worth the weight.

I have made hyperbolic paraboloids in my oven!

I’m preparing for a four-day hike in the Swedish mountains. The early preparations are already done, especially all purchases – train tickets, map, some extra equipment. What’s left is packing – and food preparations.

I’ll be hiking hut-to-hut and the huts all sell some food, and I could make do with what they have. But I know from experience that if I only have dull, unvaried food to eat, I will have little appetite and will struggle to eat enough. I could do it for a day or two, but probably not four. So I intend to buy the heavy ingredients at the hut shops (pasta/rice, lentils, tomato sauce etc) and then “spice up” my meals with, well, spices and other extras that I bring with me.

The internet says that if you want variety in the meals during your hike, and don’t want to lug a heavy pack, then drying your own food is the way to go. It sounded complicated and inconvenient, so I wasn’t too excited about this idea at first. But it turned out that it only sounded that way because people have (of course) found ways to make money out of it – by selling books and dehydrators and whatnot. I just chopped up my food and dried it in the oven, and it was the easiest thing in the world. Hardly any effort at all. And the weight after drying is just a tiny fraction of the original.

The strips of bell peppers dried into wrinkled strips. The leeks turned papery and fragile. But the carrot slices came out really cool. The outside edge barely shrank at all, which turned the carrot slices into these interesting paraboloids. I wonder if it was because I didn’t peel the carrots first.

Every summer in Estonia we buy fresh peas in the pod and then stuff ourselves. I can buy a whole kilo, and when I put them in a bowl on the table, they’re gone in less than a half hour.

Here in Stockholm there aren’t many places that sell them. But the local produce stand at Spånga torg sells Finnish peas, among other exotic non-standard fruits and veggies that you cannot buy in normal supermarkets. (Such as persimmons and mangoes that are actually ripe, unlike the hard inedible things you get in supermarkets, and Swedish plums, and small Turkish apricots, and other such delicacies.) I bought peas today, and it was like a flashback to summer. Peas are like a concentrated essence of our summers in Estonia.

I’m forty years old today. Happy birthday me!

Birthdays are intrinsically not particularly interesting. But they are a good excuse for cake. Ingrid and I picked cherries and baked a cherry and ricotta cake for my birthday.

We have a nifty little cherry de-stoning tool which makes the job incredibly easy, but it’s still very, very messy. Cherry juice splatters all over everything nearby. So we try and do this job outdoors if possible.

Ingrid chopping mushrooms for making stuffed bell peppers. It’s one of Adrian’s favourite dishes, and one of the very few that Ingrid can confidently make without any recipe, so she chooses it quite often when it’s her turn to cook dinner.

The other ingredients in the stuffing are rice, finely diced mozzarella, tomato paste and crème fraîche.

It feels good to be back home.

I have missed cooking proper meals, that I can spend more than 20 minutes on, and that involve spices and condiments other than just salt, pepper and sour cream.

I have missed my own bed; I have missed falling asleep next to Eric.

It is really hard to predict which new foods the kids will love, and which ones not. I still don’t understand why Ingrid loves sushi so much, but only with salmon and prawns. Or what’s so awesome about stuffed peppers, while other stuffed vegetables are “meh”. And why freshly baked garlic bread is the best thing ever, according to both kids, while Ingrid definitely wants no garlic in the sauce when she cooks spaghetti with tomato sauce.

Garlic bread, in any case, is delicious. I buy ready-to-bake mini baguettes and stuff them with as much garlic butter as possible (and make the butter seriously garlicky). And then I make a soup of some sort to accompany the bread, because garlic bread on its own does not count as dinner in my mind, although the kids would probably be equally happy without the soup.

We painted pretty eggs. They were so pretty that even Adrian, who doesn’t normally eat eggs, ate one.

If it was just about the painting, we could have done many more, but I feel we should paint only as many as we can eat. Which is not a lot. Boiled eggs are a good breakfast food, but not hard-boiled ones. That is not the most delicious way of preparing eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are OK when still newly cooked and warm, but after a day or two… not so much.

Corn fritters. Mise en place like a pro.