Book Review: Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break

FIka

Firstly, what is Fika?

…coffee plus something to eat…

.. the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee… and find a baked good to pair with it.

Further to truly “Fika” (used as a verb):

requires a commitment to making time for a break in your day, the creation of a magical moment in the midst of the routine and he mundane. Mika is the time when everything else is put on hold.

My grandmother is Swedish. She was born here in the US, but from what I understand retained a strong Swedish tradition. In the past year or so I’ve found myself drawn more and more to further discovering that heritage. So when I saw this book available for a review I jumped at the chance.

This book, Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall goes into a bit of the history of Fika; both what it is and how it’s evolved over the years. It then delves into the recipes.

It’s broken into six chapters, each delving into a different aspect of Fika (modern-day, outdoor, and bread and sandwiches are just a few examples). Following a short little essay pertaining to each topic is a collection of recipes.

I would have submitted this review a few weeks back, but I decided that I absolutely needed to try a few recipes first!

I tried two that were chocolate based: kärleksmums (chocolate coffee squares) and chokladbollar (chocolate balls) and kronans kaka (almond potato cake).

The coffee squares turned out great (except I think I left them in the over about 3 minutes too long). But the flavor. Oh my! Actually the flavor of all three of the desserts was amazing. I found them to be very “grown up”. What I mean by that: (the first two) were chocolate. But they weren’t the sticky sweet chocolate that we normally associate with a chocolate dessert. That didn’t stop my kids from eating them. 🙂

There were also a few gluten free options (the chocolate balls and almond potato cake were both GF).

Something to keep in mind: if you aren’t keen on using a lot of butter then keep in mind that a lot of these recipes have butter as their starting base. I definitely wouldn’t classify these as “healthy”, but my view on desserts is: I would much rather have desserts made with real ingredients (real butter, milk and sugar) than a low-fat variety. Because at the end of the day desserts are still desserts and moderation is key 🙂

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I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Book Review: Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing

As I’m sure at least some of you know, I have a definite weakness for Children’s Books! While browsing for a new book to review at The Catholic Company, I saw they had Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing by Amy Welborn.

bambinelli-sunday-christmas-blessing-1055995

I’m also always on the lookout for good Christmas/Advent books to share with my children, so I was very excited to check this book out. It follows the story of the boy, Alessandro, who is living in the city of Naples with his grandparents while his parents are away. His grandfather is an artisan who makes figurines for Nativity sets. When Alessandro is feeling lonely and unhelpful his grandfather challenges him to make a bambinelli, a Christ Child figurine, to take to Rome to be blessed by the pope on Bambinelli Sunday. Along the way he learns lessons of love, perseverance, and generosity.

Having grown up neither Italian or Catholic the tradition of the blessing of the Baby Jesus on the third Sunday of Advent, was completely new to me. I very much enjoyed learning about a “new” (for me) tradition.

The one thing that was not expected, the author makes a few references to the illustrations as part of the story telling. And while that doesn’t detract from the story, it caught me a little off guard, and a younger child may miss it if it’s not pointed out.

This is a beautiful story of love; the love of a grandfather for his grandson. In turn it’s also an example of love which Jesus has for each of us even when we make our own mistakes and don’t do things perfectly. I can’t wait to share with my own children when we bring out our Advent and Christmas books.

I was provided a copy of this book, free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.