Monthly Archives: June 2010

Bean’s Trip to Europe – Part 2

Click here for part one all about Stockholm.

From Stockholm, our next stop was:


I’m assuming that most of you have never heard of Motala – I hadn’t either until I learned that was where Mr. Bean’s Grandpa was born and grew up before coming to Canada. It’s really quite a cute city – especially by the river and lake:

Motala's Shoreline on Lake Vattern

Mr. Bean in the City Park

Motala is known for a couple of things: it is the location of a long-wave radio transmitter built in the 1920’s and it’s on the Göta Canal. Oddly enough, both were used to transmit something between Stockholm and Gothenberg.

The radio transmitter used to consist of two towers (unfortunately not the Lord of the Rings kind) with an antennae strung between them.Personally, I would hate to be the person who had to climb to the top to take the antennae off when they stopped using it in the 1960s.

One of the really neat things about the Göta Canal is the widespread use of locks, which are used to compensate for elevation changes. The engineer in me and the physicist in Mr. Bean were quite impressed and happy to visit and marvel at the locks.

Try and figure out what is weird with the following picture:

That’s right, the Göta Canal runs over top of the highway. Not something you see everyday.

Motala is also famous for being the start and finish location of the Vätternrundan, a 300 km bike race that up to 20,000 people participate in every year in June. We weren’t there at the right time, but we pretended to be in the race anyways.

One of the highlights of our trip was meeting up with our newly found Swedish relations – it’s actually Mr. Bean’s dad’s second cousin’s family. We knew of them as she wrote to FIL Bean when they were kids to practise her English and then would send a Christmas card every year. He only wrote back once (find a 12 year old boy who would write back more than once) until he wrote back this spring announcing that we were coming to Sweden and would like to meet them. Fortunately for us, she wrote back!

As well as inviting us over for dinner, lending us some bicycles and letting us use their laundry facilities (hey, it’s important!) they took us on a tour to see some of the neat stuff in the area, like a ruin of a monastery that was built in the 1100s. It was pretty cool!

Mr. Bean and the Toilet

We also went to a hill and cliffs that overlooked Lake Vattern.

View of Lake Vattern at the longest inland sand beach in Scandinavia

They also took us to see a St. Birgitta’s Abbey built in the 1300s and a castle at Vadstena from the 1500s.

Apparently people were much shorter back then...

Of course, it wouldn’t be a worthwhile stop on our trip without some fun and ridiculousness!

"Stand Back, I'm about to try Science"

I tourist?

Watch Out Below! (Mr. Bean from our hotel room window)

Next up: Gothenburg (or Göteborg in Swedish)!


Filed under Life

Blueberry Banana Polenta Cake

I’ve really been enjoying making recipes from Karina, The Gluten Free Goddess, because most of her recipes are usually gluten, dairy and soy free and usually quite easy to make egg free, which is very desirable for my family! For a party where the main dessert was ice cream cake, I chose to make a variation of this Banana Polenta Cake so that my family could also eat something and it didn’t disappoint.

Blueberry Banana Polenta Cake

Adapted from Karina’s Banana Polenta Cake

3/4 c. brown rice flour
1/4 c. potato starch
1/4 c. Sorghum flour
1/2 tsp. xathan gum
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 + a little tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. cornmeal
Egg replacer for two eggs
1/2 c. oil (I used half olive and half canola)
1 1/3 c. brown sugar (The original recipe called for 1 3/4 c. sugar,  but it was still quite sweet with the amount of sugar I added.)
4 bananas, mashed into a puree
1/3 c. rice milk + some to adjust consistency
2 tsp. vanilla
1 – 2 c. of fresh blueberries, washed and dried

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 13″ baking pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flours, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, xathan gum and salt. Set aside.
  3. Mix the egg replacer; add oil and beat until combined using a whisk.
  4. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
  5. Add in the banana, milk, vanilla and nutmeg and beat until smooth.
  6. Add the dry ingredients into wet, beating to combine using a wooden spoon.
  7. Mix in the blueberries and add extra milk to change the consistency if necessary.
  8. Pour batter into baking pan and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. The cake should appear slightly golden brown at the edge, firm to a light touch.
  9. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: I did not remove the cake from the pan while it was cooling so that it would not lose its form and it helps keep in the moisture better. However, since I used egg replacer, it is important to NOT cover the cake until it is completely cooled as the trapped moisture can make it somewhat mushy and sticky.


Filed under Baking

Bean’s Trip to Europe – Part 1

Mr. Bean and I were lucky enough to spend two weeks in Sweden and one week in Germany as a sort of graduation/birthday present for me. I have been to Europe a few time before but it was Mr. Bean’s first time, which made it all that much more exciting.

As you can see in the following map, we started in Stockholm and looped around southern Sweden. Thus, I’m going to start off my recap in Stockholm and proceed from there. 🙂

It is important to note that the opinions about places are mine and are based on experiences I had while in Sweden/Germany, so they may not be the same as expressed elsewhere.


Stockholm is a very beautiful city that is definitely worth a visit. Since Sweden wasn’t bombed to bits during the Second World War, there are lots of very picturesque old buildings, especially in Stockholm’s Galma Stan (Old City). Stockholm is built on an archipelago, which means a lot of very scenic and beautiful waterfronts.

Mr. Bean and I rented an apartment in Sodermalm, an island in southern central Stockholm that used to be the home of the working class but now is a fairly trendy area. Our apartment was off the main drag, which suited us well as it was pretty quiet. I do recommend trying to rent an apartment, especially if you want to cook some of your own food like we did. Plus, they are generally less expensive than hotels, which definitely a bonus.

View from our apartment's balcony

The first full day that we were in Stockholm, we wandered around on foot for pretty much the entire day. We wandered around the Galma Stan and the main tourist/shopping district. I really wanted to go to the ABBA museum that our guidebooks were talking about, but apparently it doesn’t exist.

Of course, like in most of Europe, there are lots of really neat churches.

We also visited the Vasa Museet – a museum about a reconstructed ship that sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was rescued in the 1960s. It’s pretty neat as most of the ship is original and archaeologists have been able to guess the lifestyles of people at that time based on what remains they found inside.

2010 is a bit of a special year for Stockholm because the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is getting married on June 19th, so there are lots of ads for “LOVE Stockholm 2010”. You can also buy wedding candy and paraphernalia of all kinds just to satisfy your royal wedding cravings. I found how excited the country was about the wedding to be quite cute and I have to admit that I might actually watch part of the wedding online because I’m cool like that.

One of the things I really liked about Stockholm was the public transit system. So. Amazingly. Efficient. (P.S. I come from a city where public transit is somewhat mediocre as we suffer from urban sprawl.) Plus, their buses are run using biogas made from taking human/animal waste, alcohol from customs, an anaerobic digester and time. How cool is that?

Oddly enough, route 3 was the route Mr. Bean and I took to visit a work colleague of his. It was awesome because it came every three minutes during rush hour.

Next up? Motala, a smaller city along the Gota Canal, where Mr. Bean’s grandfather was born.


Filed under Life

The Newly Convocated Bean

Yesterday, I walked across a stage and received my Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering. (With Distinction!)

It’s somewhat a bizarre feeling to know that I’m done my undergrad and that I most likely won’t  be going  back to school in the fall.

I’m going to try to appear around here more frequently now that I’m convocated and that our trip to Europe is complete, but life seems to be doing a good job of placing priorities elsewhere. Unless, of course, anyone is interested in seeing pictures from Europe. 😉


Filed under Life, School