Sudah berlalu 6 tahun di mana saya menjalani mata kuliah yang wajib di kampus saya yaitu KKN (Kuliah Kerja Nyata). Dan setelah lulus S2 di Swedia beberapa saat lalu, saya baru sadar betapa pentingnya mata kuliah KKN itu, terutama tentang keterkaitannya dengan pembangunan berkelanjutan dan pengembangan diri. Waktu menjalankan KKN, mungkin bisa dibilang saya cuma melakukannya karena wajib, tanpa memahami artinya. Menurut saya dulu saya juga kurang dapat pengertian betapa pentingnya kuliah ini. Yang ada malah antar kelompok berlomba-lomba siapa yang dapat sponsor paling banyak, yang acaranya paling keren, dan yang paling seru. Di blog ini saya ingin berbagi, kenapa KKN menjadi penting, dan mungkin beberapa ide untuk membuatnya lebih bermakna.
It is the time of the year when everything lights up with tiny sparkly lamps and nostalgic songs are being heard everywhere you go. Yes, it is Christmas time! One of the must-do things in Gothenburg is to visit Stora Saluhallen which is the food market in the centre of the city. The easiest way to get there is by public transport to the Kungsportsplatsen bus/tram stop. Bus 50,52,18 and tram 4,5,7,10 go to this stop.
Everything is so festive inside, but not too much! Because everything needs to be ‘lagom’ – as what the Swedes would say. There were Christmas specials in every shop. From smoked spiced beef to Christmas pig-shaped chocolate (yes, they have pig-shaped chocolate as part of the Christmas culture in Sweden). From spiced Christmas tea to delicious Christmas cakes with red berries on top. And of course, because it is Sweden, there is also Christmas coffee. I went to do my Christmas shopping as I wanted to make one of my family’s specialities: beef steak with creamy cheesy mushroom sauce. Other than that, I also planned to bake one of the best Christmas cookies in Indonesia that have been popular since the Dutch colonialism. Even the name is still Dutch: Kaastengels.
Here are some pictures from the market.
The market is so beautiful and cozy. Based on the history that I read from their website, Stora Saluhallen finished the construction in 1889. That makes it 130 years old this year! Wow!
As an architect, I am always blown away by how beautiful the structure is. Talking about spatial qualities, I suspected that there are also some thoughts behind each food stall where the design and the setting make it easy for shy Swedish people to talk to each other while maintaining personal space and safety at the same time (haha, at least that’s based on my analysis). Inside the market, there are some dining spots as well in addition to shops. I had lunch and fika couple of times there and I loved each and every experience I had. I felt like people at the market are so friendly and kind, they are always smiling and selling every home-made stuff with care. It is, at least, one of the many reasons I love going there: to have home-made authentic Swedish food and the freshest high-quality food items. My favourite shops there are Kåges Hörna, Brogyllen bakery, and S.O. Larssons butchery. I wrote about Kåges Hörna in my older blog.
Okay coming back to my Christmas story. After talking to strangers at the market and shopped what I needed, I walked home and ready to whip up some delicious food for Christmas eve. I didn’t take a picture of the steak and cream sauce because (I am sorry) I was so hungry and it was so delicious, I finished everything super quickly. But! I would like to share with you some pictures and the recipe of the cheese cookies that I made: Kaastengels! It was also super delicious especially as I used Västerbottenost – which is a very fragrant type of Swedish cheese with tangy flavour. While cookies usually are sweet, this one is a bit unique because it is cheesy, crumbly, salty with a slight tang to it.
I hope that you enjoy reading my blog and happy Christmas! If you try my recipe below, please send me a picture through Instagram: (at)titisrk.
Kaastengels: Cheesy Christmas Cookies Recipe
100 gr plain flour
150 gr margarine, room temperature cut into small cubes
100 gr grated mature cheese (I used 50 gr mild edam and 50 gr västerbottenost). You can use other types of cheese as long as it is not too soft and has a medium saltiness.
One pinch of salt
One egg yolk for the dough
One egg yolk for eggwash
30gr of grated mature cheese for topping
1. Mix plain flour with salt and margarine with your hands. It will be crumbly and dry, but it is okay, keep going.
2. Add grated cheese into the mixture and mix with your hands. Then, add one egg yolk. You can mix it by hands or a spatula.
3. The dough should be a little humid but not mushy and wet. If it is too mushy, add one tablespoon of flour at a time until it is not too mushy.
4. Mix well until everything is combined, and then rest the dough for a few minutes while you prepare the pan and the oven.
5. Pre-heat the oven with 150 deg. Celcius setting (top and bottom heat).
6. Prepare a flat oven pan, cover with baking sheet/baking paper.
7. With clean hands, sprinkle a bit of flour on your working counter. Take a handful of the dough and roll into about 1.5 cm diameter cylinder. It will be like a snake dough 😀
8. With a clean, dry knife, cut the long dough into 3 cm wide pieces. Put the pieces onto the pan and give about 3 centimetres spaces between each piece. Repeat this process until the dough becomes small pieces.
9. Whisk lightly one egg yolk in a small bowl. Brush the egg yolk onto the cookie pieces.
10. Top with grated cheese and then bake for 25-30 minutes until the colour is golden.
11. Take it out and wait until cool before storing it in an air-tight container.
12. Enjoy with warm tea or coffee 😊
Summer 2019. It was a scorching hot day when I ordered a big glass of iced tea and a cup of affogato in a compact, beautiful cafe right by a rice field in Sleman with two of my best friends. The tea was so good and refreshing, served in a basic tall glass with no straw. There were straws to take, metal ones. This experience surprised me of how local business in my hometown has started thinking about creating a statement to be an environmentally-conscious business. This cafe was run by 3 young, idealist coffee-lovers. Most importantly, I am happy to know that this cafe was not the only one. I visited many more and they never failed to give me such a good feeling of hope and optimism. These moments got me reflecting upon many things. One of which was related to my former relationship with a world-famous coffee brand.
I used to go to Starbucks every three or four days when I was 20 to 23. I was a regular customer that I know the names of all baristas in at least two branches in Yogyakarta and they knew me as well. One of them is my best friend so I always loved to go there and see him. I was a member, too where I got exclusive cards and discounts every now and then. You could say that I was influenced and exposed to Hollywood celebrities more than most people of my age in a small city in Indonesia. I took a picture every time I sip my drink with that green straw. I never forgot to post the notes the barista made on my cup online. I collected those signature tumblers from cities around the world. It was a series of proud moments. I wasn’t looking for recognition but I did get it. No idea if it was for the cup or the coffee or for an idea creation that surrounded the statement made by my posts.
It has been almost 4 years until a month ago that I have not purchased another cup of cafe misto at Starbucks – a simple yet comforting type of drink that I like the most. I have been living in Sweden for 2 years and I wanted to try local coffee shops instead of going to chain shops – not only for the sake of experiencing the culture but also for supporting local businesses. Plus, none of my friends like going there as they thought it was overpriced. It was definitely a surprise to me because I thought considering that they are used to this higher currency, the price was okay. But, nope. That was one of my initial realizations. I had been supporting a business that is out of my league, financially. But I did it for the gram. I felt sad but at the same time inspired, that I continued going to local shops instead. And man, they offer something I have been looking for – a feeling of home and originality.
I visited Starbucks for the longest time a couple of weeks ago where I ordered what was my second favorite drink: classic signature chocolate with one espresso shot. I paid about 60,000 rupiah (40 SEK / 4 Euro) for a grande. I was not too surprised that I got what I remembered as a good cup of strong, bittersweet chocolate drink. Something I admire Starbucks for, the way they train the baristas properly so that the drinks are high quality and standardized. They might be also the one that set the trend of calling customer’s names over an order, putting personalized notes on a cup, etc. This experience got me thinking, real deep about what I have learned.
I missed out on a lot of things in my hometown for something that can be found nearly anywhere in the world.
I missed out on small, cozy, non-air-conditioned coffee shops with natural fresh air, serving excellent coffee for not even half the price. I missed out on the ingredients that were locally-sourced, which means – I missed out on something that might be more sustainable in the way it has been produced and distributed. By supporting these young Indonesian idealists, I might help local businesses and coffee planters – a profession that is commonly considered underpaid by international trade.
I feel mostly guilty. Not only for the local businesses that I have been neglecting, but also for the environment. I cannot imagine how much I have been using single-use plastic cups and straws for the sake of cool posts on my social media. I still can see lots of people, especially in Indonesia are still doing the same. Sure now they have reduced the usage of straw but the cup is still plastic. There must be a reason why Starbucks is still up and running successfully in Indonesia despite our ratio between salary and price per cup of coffee. There must be still a huge demand for it.
Right before I left Sweden, the one and only Starbucks chain in Gothenburg – the second biggest city in Sweden – closed down permanently. In Gothenburg one can still find many chain coffee shops, too with an exact same concept. So I wouldn’t say the same problem is not there. Still, I have no clue why the queen mermaid has lost in the Swedish market. I hope it was for a good reason for both sides or more.
Now to end this blog: I must say thank you to Starbucks for the inspiration and learning points.
I am writing this blog as my expression of concern and at the same time, pride. I am proud of how Indonesia is moving towards a good direction in silence. Through the minds and hands of the young people who are now doing something with passion and good intentions. We are not loud when we want something. We just do it. Like Bali. I mean, who knew that suddenly this beautiful island banned plastics for good. Like Surabaya. Who knew this second biggest city in Indonesia pioneered the eco-friendly bus through payment with plastic bottles. Most importantly, Indonesia, you are better at many things. I just hope you have more supporters. Of course, you are not perfect. And I never said this out loud, but it turns out that I love you more than I knew I would.