Real Swedish meatballs

There are as many recipes for meatballs in Scandinavia as there are cooks. Recipes vary regionally, too, both in ingredients and sizing. Sadly, nowadays a lot of people buy meatballs instead of making them. The homemade version is so very wholesome and worth the effort. Serve with creamy mashed potato.

The Scandi Kitchen – Bronte Aurell

Serves 6

For the meatballs:
30 g porridge oats or breadcrumbs
150 ml meat stock (chicken works well, too)
400 g minced beef
250 g minced pork (minimum 10% fat)
1 UK medium egg
2 1⁄2 tablespoons plain flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon ground white pepper
a dash of Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
1 small onion, grated
butter and oil, for frying
mashed potato, to serve

For the stirred lingonberries:
250 g frozen lingonberries (available in some speciality food stores and online)
100 g caster sugar

Cream gravy:
meat stock
1 tablespoon plain flour
a good glug of single cream
salt and ground black pepper

Method:

If using oats, soak them in the meat or chicken stock for 5 minutes.

Mix the minced meat with a good pinch of salt for a couple of minutes in a food processor to ensure it’s blended thoroughly.

Add the eggs, flour, spices and Worcestershire or soy sauce to another bowl and mix with the soaked oats or breadcrumbs and grated onion, then add this to the meat mixture. You’ll have a sticky, but moldable, mixture. Leave the mixture to rest for 20–25 minutes before using.

Heat up a frying pan with a small knob of butter or oil and shape one small meatball. Fry it until done and then taste it. Adjust the seasoning according to taste and fry another meatball to test it until you get it just right.

Shape the individual meatballs in your hands – it helps if your hands are damp. Each meatball should be around 2.5 cm/1 in. in diameter, or larger if you haven’t got time.

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan with a dash of oil and carefully add a few meatballs – make sure there is plenty of room for you to swivel the pan round and help turn them so they get a uniform round shape and do not stick. You’ll most likely need to do this in several batches. Cooking time is usually around 5 minutes per batch. Keep in a warm oven until needed.

When your meatballs are done, keep the pan on a medium heat. Ensure you have enough fat in there, if not, add a knob of butter to the pan. Add a tablespoon of flour and whisk, then add a splash of stock and whisk again as you bring to the boil. Keep adding stock until you have a good creamy gravy, then add a good dollop of single cream and season well with salt and pepper. The colour of the gravy should be very light brown.

To prepare the stirred lingonberries (rårörda lingon) simply add the caster sugar and stir. Leave for a while and then stir again, until the sugar dissolves and the berries have defrosted. Store leftover stirred lingonberries in the fridge.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

Stay safe! Busting the STI myths

That’s right; we’re talking safe sex. But before you roll your eyes and say, “yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before”, stay with us. Maybe you haven’t.

We’re all aware of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and infections, sure, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there too that could have dire consequences for your health. But never fear. We wouldn’t let that happen now, would we? Here are a few things you might not have quite right:

STIs and STDs are the same thing

First up, before we start talking about STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), it’s important to understand that they’re actually two very different things. You might have noticed that recently STI is used more than STD and the reason is simple; STIs are always the starting point, but don’t necessarily lead to STDs.

For example, around 90% of women who get infected with HPV don’t exhibit any symptoms and clear the infection within two years, this is an STI and rarely leads to cervical cancer, the STD that HPV can result in.

Sexually transmitted infections can often be symptomless and don’t always lead to the nastier diseases they can cause right away, so if you diagnose an STI early through regular testing you may be able to avoid ever exhibiting symptoms of an STD.

You can’t get an STI from oral sex

You can, and it sucks. Forms of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes, HPV and even HIV can be transmitted through oral sex; you can both give and receive an STI from oral. Condoms and dental dams can prevent infections being spread but the best sure-fire way to avoid STIs from oral sex is to make sure both you and your partner have been tested beforehand.

You can’t get an STI if the guy pulls out before climax

If only it were this simple, nope, you still can. Same goes for getting pregnant, FYI.

Once you’ve had an STI you can’t get the same one again

Yep, YOU CAN. This ain’t chicken pox.

STIs will go away on their own

Nope! While they can often be symptomless, this doesn’t mean they aren’t there and waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. The quicker you get rid of them the less chance of long lasting damage. So regular check-ups and treatment as soon as an STI is detected are absolute musts.

STI/STD tests are horrible, painful experiences

You might have heard some horror stories about various objects going *ahem* up things, painful injections and all manner of nasty experiences. But, actually, an STI test is often as simple as urine test. Peeing in a cup can be tricky, but it’s not exactly a horrifying experience is it? As for the other stuff, it’s 2016, going to the doctor doesn’t hurt anymore! These guys know what they’re doing. Plus, nothing they can do to you at the clinic is as bad as what the STI/STDs can do to you.

Wearing two condoms makes you less likely to get an STI

Sounds genius right? NOPE. Wearing two condoms can actually generate more friction, which can cause the condom to rip or tear which can leave you exposed. Best to stick to one. If you’re worried, maybe try extra-safe condoms, they’re much more reliable.

You can get an STI from a toilet seat

This is a terrifying myth. It can’t happen, so don’t worry! There has to be bodily contact (with the exception of needles) for you to get an STI. Oh and for the record, you don’t have to wear your full hazmat suit around anyone with an STI; you’re safe unless you have sex with them!

If someone has an STI, they must be sleeping around

Not true, it only takes one time to catch an STI so that’s no indication of how much sex someone is having. Oh and if someone is having lots of sex, SO WHAT!? As long as they’re being safe, it’s all good.

So there you have it folks, hope we’re all clear! Say safe out there, yeah?

If there’s anything you’re still not sure about, feel free to hit up on @mtvstayingalive or head over to mtvstayingalive.org/blog for more advice!

Condoms: there’s no excuse not to

Let’s talk about The C Word. No, not that C Word. Condoms. For some reason, condom has become a dirty word in some bedrooms, with many people claiming that condoms just take all the fun out of sex.

If, like us, you’re sick of defending that safe sex is the best sex, then fear not; we’ve got you covered. We’ve collected a few of the most popular excuses for abandoning the rubbers, and have the perfect response to anyone who tries to talk you out of using one. And if you still get a ‘no’ then seriously think if you want to be having sex with someone who’s trying to make you take risks you’re not consenting to.

So, hands up if you’ve ever heard one of these before…

“Sex just feels better when we don’t use a condom”

Ah, this old favourite. Chances are we’ve all heard this at some point, and it’s not just men who try it; a girl in this week’s episode of Sex Pod confessed that she prefers the feeling of condom-free bonking.

HOWEVER. This doesn’t have to be the case. A huge number of brands are now making ultra-thin condoms, which promise that they can give you full protection as well as full sensation. The dream combination. Plus, you can concentrate on enjoying sex, not fretting about what’s next, when you know you’ll be both pregnancy AND STI free. We recommend politely directing your partner to the ultra-thin selection at the pharmacy.

 

“I’m definitely clean, you can totally trust me”

“Pics or it didn’t happen.”

While it’s great that your sex partner is proactive enough to be getting regular STI tests (or so they say), you can only take their word for it, and that’s a real risk to take. Because when it comes to some STIs, no matter what anyone says, there are no ways to spot them, without getting tested. But, if you’re determined to commit to condomless sex, why not make a day of it and take a couple’s trip to the local GUM clinic? Testing centres can be very romantic… Plus, then you’ll know for sure.

 

“There just isn’t a condom big enough to fit me”

Have you seen that video where a girl literally fits her ENTIRE LEG into a condom? Just show that to anyone who tries to persuade you that they’re simply blessed with genitalia of such monumental proportion that condom companies don’t know how to handle them. And if they’re still moaning it’s too tight a squeeze, there are a range of specialist sizes out there. But chances are, the only thing about them that’s really a problem size is their ego.

 

“I’ve got a latex allergy”

“Oh no, poor you! That must really affect your ability to use standard dishwashing gloves. Anyway, here’s a non-latex condom. They make those now, you see.”

 

“No one else has ever complained”

WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU. Plus, sex is a private and intimate act between two people, and the only opinions that matter are the opinions of those two people. Previous experience counts for nuthin’.

 

“I’ve got no money”

Penny-savers, rejoice. You can bag free condoms from your local contraception or sexual health clinics, and even from your GP or nurse practitioner, so there’s really no excuse for playing the budget card. Cos a baby – or taking time off work to deal with an ignored STI – is going to be a whole heap more expensive.

Zesty spring vegetables (sugo primavera)

Serves 2-3
Prep- 5 mins
Cooking time- 5-10 mins

Ingredients:

Dried pasta suggestion: 200g spaghetti, linguini or tagliatelle
If using fresh pasta: dough made with 200g flour, 2 eggs and pinch of salt

8-10 fresh asparagus spears, woody ends removed
30g salted butter
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
2 large handfuls peas
zest and juice of 1 lemon
fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Method:

– Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente. About 5 minutes before it’s ready, start the sauce.

– Cut off the asparagus tips and keep to one side. Using a speed peeler, peel the stalks into thin strips. (If you don’t own a speed peeler, use a potato peeler)

– Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan. When it starts to bubble, add the rosemary leaves and cook for about 2 minutes, until they start to crisp up. Add the asparagus tips and strips to the frying pan along with the peas and lemon zest. Stir together and season with salt and pepper.

– Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the pan and mix to coat in the sauce. Serve with the lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a little grated parmesan.

Bruschetta

Pea and Avocado Pesto

Preparation time: 10 mins
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:
2 handfuls of fresh basil
2 handfuls of parmesan cheese (30g)
50g pine nuts
2 handfuls of peas
1 ripe avocado
1 clove garlic
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Blitz all ingredients together and serve on toasted bread

 

Classic Tomato Bruschetta

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Chilling time: 20 minutes, or
overnight
Cooking time: 5 minutes

300g fresh heirloom tomatoes (variety of colours)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
8 fresh basil leaves, plus extra to garnish
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle if needed
fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic glaze to garnish.
6 thick slices of ciabatta or baguette

Chop the tomatoes into small chunks and place in a bowl with all their juices.
Place the garlic on a chopping board and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Using the flat side of a knife, squash the garlic, moving back and forth to make a paste. Add to the bowl with the tomato flesh. Tear the 8 basil leaves into small pieces and add to the bowl along with the oil. Stir together and season with salt and pepper.
Marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, or longer, if possible.
Toast the ciabatta or baguette slices until golden. (You can do this using a toaster or drizzle the bread with a little olive oil and brown in a frying pan over a medium heat.)
Spread each slice of bread with a tablespoon of the tomato mixture and garnish with a few basil leaves and drizzle of balsamic glaze.


Garlic, Celery and Lime Bruschetta

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

Ingredients
4 large sticks of celery
1–2 garlic cloves, peeled
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle if needed
juice of ½ a lime
fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thick slices of ciabatta or 1 baguette
Method:
Put 3 sticks of celery and the garlic in a food processor and blend to a purée. Scrape into a bowl. Finely chop the remaining stick of celery and leave to one side.
Add the oil and lime juice to the puréed celery. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and stir together to combine.
Toast the ciabatta or baguette slices until golden. (You can do this using a toaster or drizzle the bread with a little olive oil and brown in a frying pan over a medium heat.)
Spread each slice of bread with a tablespoon of the celery mixture and garnish with a sprinkling of the finely chopped celery.

Help, advice and support organisations

If you’re looking for for further information on some of the issues covered during our phone-ins, there are help and support organisations that may be able to offer advice:

Autism

We had a huge response to our phone-in about autism (Tuesday 22nd March).

If you want more information about autism, or sources of help and advice, please go to autistica.org.uk

For information and advice for older people with autism, you can also go to ageuk.org.uk

Child abuse

If you were affected by the issues raised during our phone-in on Thursday 24th March, there are organisations that can help.

NAPAC, the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, provides a range of services offering direct support to survivors. For more information, visit www.napac.org.uk.

Estrangement

On Wednesday 13th April we discussed issues surrounding discovering the true identity of your biological family. Stand Alone supports people who are estranged from their family or children. Its primary objective is to break down the stigma around estrangement and support estranged people in their daily lives: www.standalone.org.uk.

Food and diet

On Thursday 21st April we discussed fussy eaters. GOSH offers further advice for parents: www.gosh.nhs.uk.

Missing people

Missing People is the only charity in the UK which specialises in, and is dedicated to, bringing missing children and adults back together with their families: www.missingpeople.org.uk.

Stalking

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in our discussion on Monday 2nd May, you can get in contact with Paladin, National Stalking Advocacy Service, at paladinservice.co.uk.