tisdag 6 mars 2012

Graduation of life and a good Swedish Beef and Beer Stew

Last summer our family went to Shanghai to participate and celebrate a graduation festivity. We Swedes are very found of such celebrations. Proud and touched we received the student and sang to his good health and good luck in his future work and life as we usually do in Sweden. We had then a fantastic graduation party and a wondrous night in Shanghai. However the students had a professor, mr. Strombeck who gave a fantastic speech during the graduation ceremonial that remained with me since then. I will now, with professor Strombecks approval of course, try to reproduce his wonderful speech to the graduates.

The student himself has produced all the photos for this blog and supported his old uncles hazy memory. Thank you Fredrik and good luck in Milano!

Strombeck’s Speech

We all have fears. There’s a story:
“During the Han dynasty, there is a general who’s name I’ve forgotten. If you know the name please share it with me after. He was going into battle and he looked across the valley and he saw bamboo trees. He looked out there and he thought, “there are so many soldiers out there and we don’t have a chance.” But he went to battle anyways, but he went without commitment, without passion. The result he was beaten. But when he got to the other side of course, going in there with without passion and without commitment. He found out that the soldiers in-fact were bamboo trees. Illustrating the point that our fears are imagined. I know all of you and go without fear, go with passion and go with dedication and you will be fine.”

A metaphor from one of my favorite philosophers C.S. Lewis.
“Boats have to ask themselves three questions.
The first questions is: how do you keep from sinking? How do you stay afloat? That’s obvious, right? 
How do you keep from sinking? By the way, I’m not really a boat person I fly more. Like many of you. But airplanes can ask the same question, how do you prevent them from crashing. So that’s question one.

Question number two is: How do boats prevent from running into each other? Same as with airplanes right? You got the first two questions? Because ten years from now I’m going to ask you. Email and google and all that so I will find out! Well what C.S. Lewis really was refering to in question one and two is this. It’s about ethics. The first one, how do you keep from sinking?Thats your personal ethics. You know, what standards do you set for yourself? We’ve talked about this in class haven’t we? We’ve gone around the room and asked, what do you think about this? Some of you said: “well it depends” and some of you said: “ No this is right” or “ this is wrong”. So that’s the first question, personal ethics. 

The second question then: how do you keep from running into each other? is social ethics. It’s how societies function. We debated that as a class, is that an absolute, can we prove it empirically or is it just a matter of opinion. An example would be this, you were to take your finger and rotate it clockwise up here and then you go down you look at it from the top you find that it is now in a different position or different rotation. See this is clockwise for me but for you it’s counter-clockwise. Well, points of view right, what i think is the truth isn’t always the truth. You got the first tow questions? What’s the first one? How do you keep from sinking and that’s personal ethics. Second one? How do you keep from bumping into each other and causing chaos? That’s what organization and society is about.

The third question and the last question is really the most important. I pause, you know because there is drama there. If i were in class I would take my glasses off. Which you know what that mean, “pay attention he’s going to say something” but if i take my glasses of i have to read something. An acquaintance of mine had this on his answering machine, do they still have answering machines? I haven’t been outside of china in so long i don’t know? I don’t call anybody where they do. But, if you know what I’m talking about. My friend use to have this message, but remember question number three, do you remember it? ohh wait I haven’t told you yet.

Question number three, the most important is, what are the boats doing out in the ocean in the first place? I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Here’s what my friend had on his answering machine, “Hi this is Charlie, I’m not available right now, but please leave your message be responding to life’s two most important questions, who are you and what do you want?” Well that’s a bit humorous, I use to call him sometimes just to hear him say that. But it’s such a great question, because it’s the most important thing in life, on a human level. Who are you and what do you want? And that’s the third question, why are you out in the ocean? Or if you’re an airplane why are you out in the sky? And if you can answer that question, honestly and looking inside yourself.

The first two questions become much easier to answer. As you go to university, you’re going to have frequently the opportunity to make important decisions. Maybe life decision. I will guess that you probably will meet your future mate in the next three or four years. Yeah, thats exiting. I think it was Anna who said, all those things about no wife, no problem, no husband and the suddenly there you are. Well if you keep in mind that the choices you make to “who am I?” and “why am I here?” then it will be easier to answer the questions of how to stay afloat and how to keep from sinking.

Why? Because then you will know who you are and you will know your purpose and you need to have purpose in life. As you go through life, as you go through these next few years. We should say go and make a difference, no and go and make a difference of course but find purpose, a positive purpose and the rest will simply start falling into place. Also do this, surround yourself with people who make positive choices as well. That goes for all of us, myself included. Some of us are probably thinking, okay Strombeck do you do that?

Do you follow those rules? There’s something we didn’t tell you. Knowing the answers in life doesn’t guarantee that you will get it right. Knowing the answers doesn’t mean you will get it right. Ohh no. Well we’ve proven it right? Take a test, an exam. Then afterwards you go, I can’t believe I made that mistake, I know the answer. Life is quite that way isn’t it? “I knew that, I should have known better.” So just remember, we make mistakes, find positive purpose, know who you are and then the other answers will come. I know you want to answer this question, who are you, and pretty soon you will be able to say, I’m an scis graduate! and what do you want? I think it’s right here in-front of you. (pointing at the diplomas.) So I will leave you back to it. It’s been a wonderful three years, I’ve had almost all of you in class. I think really all but one. It’s been just a terrific time! You’re going to do a great job in life, I know it! Congratulations to you!” 

And now something really rich to cook and eat while you meditate over the question: What are you doing out in the ocean? What are you doing with the gift of LIFE?

Swedish Beef and Beer Stew

An amber or dark Swedish beer is ideal in this dish for example 
Svart (Black)
11348, 5,5 %, 33 cl, 20,40 kr, Gamla Slottskällans Bryggeri, Sverige

Gustafs Finger Strong Bitter

1313, 5,8 %, 33 cl, 18,90 kr, Dugges Ale & Porterbryggeri, Sverige
though most amber beers or brown ales—such as Newcastle—would work just fine. Garnish with fresh thyme and splash homemade black currant juice over the dish just before serve.

  1. Ingredients

  • center-cut bacon slices, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
  • 5 cups sliced mushrooms (about 12 ounces)
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • bottle amber beer important that you use dark beer
  • slices carrot
  • 4 cups slices parsnip and celeriac root (about 1 pound)
  • 2 cup  dark beef broth ( homemade or use cube)
  • 2 tablespoons country-style Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 green sliced peppers
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • bay leaf
  • 4 potatoes you can use sweet ones if you like

Prepare your ingredients before you heat the pan that´s a good advice I´ll think.

Cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp i a iron pan with a iron lid suited for oven cooking. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings; set aside.

Add half of beef  and browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan in to another pan.

 Repeat procedure with remaining beef.

  1. Add onion to pan and sauté. Stir in mushrooms and garlic sauté until half of liquid evaporates. Stir in flour and stir occasionally. 

 Add bacon, beef, carrot, and remaining ingredients to pan; bring to a boil. 

Add beer and stir, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Put the lid over the pan and place in oven at 130 Celsius and cook for three hours or until ready.

I wish you all a fine meal and good conversation too!

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