Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Champagne!

Go grab your champagne glasses cos I'm opening a bottle of bubbly!

What's the occasion I hear you ask? Not that one necessarily needs an excuse to drink champagne. We drank lots of the stuff when we worked in Luxembourg - it's as cheap (and sometimes cheaper) than the wine there. Though, of course, the local Luxembourg stuff is called crémant and not champers due to strict French policing of the Champagne brand. But I digress!

I'm celebrating my one year anniversary with NEWO and Jonathan Roche. Who he, I hear you ask? Again. He's the personal, virtual trainer of the Flylady. You knew it was all leading back to her, didn't you... ;)

I had seen (but not actually read) his e-mails for months. Was actually getting annoyed by them - I didn't need him, I HAD a gym membership and USED it a couple of times a week. But the Flylady kept going on and on about how wonderful he was, and that he used the same principles - babysteps.

I've always loved the Flylady's radio show (indeed all of the shows from the big Flylady 'family') and one day, when I ran out of BlogTalk shows to listen to, I listened to Jonathan's show. I know I said in my head, dang that Flylady! :) But I liked what I heard. Love listening to his Boston accent and his catchphrases. Yep, we really are kicking-butt! ;) How to get fit without any equipment. How to be creative with your workouts. You don't need to go to the gym. How to make exercise a part of your life instead of that old 'don't have the time' line.

Listened a few more times and really started thinking about things. No, I'm not overweight (actually have trouble keeping my weight up) but always had that tired feeling. Have had it for 10 years! LOL

So I got rid of my gym membership (didn't like the music they played anyway), armed myself with my iPod and went outside and ran. (Those who know me will tell you what a strange sight that must have been.) I don't think I managed even half a kilometer. But, hey, it was a start! I left a comment on Jonathan's BlogTalk page:
  • 25--09--08 I've been 'flywashed' again! LOL I started listening to your show (after reading the testimonials that Flylady sends out), have just ordered the NEWO programme, and went out this morning for a RUN! (Normally just do aerobics classes at the gym.) Go you and go me! Greetings from Copenhagen, Denmark.

And to use a corny cliché, that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship! Got off to a flying start. Crashed (of course) but got back on the NEWO bandwagon and today am doing just fine, thank you very much. Run two or three times a week (in all weathers and temperatures) and do (at least) the basic 6 minute strength training on the other days. And, yes, I feel like a NEWO rockstar! ;)

So we're one year down the NEWO line. The Flylady was right. (Dang! Again!) Time to lift the bar a bit higher and set new goals. But right now, I'm just going to enjoy the small, personal victories. And the champagne. And some cake. And the icing on that cake? Ran my very first 5k in May (in a time of 36.25) and ran my second 5k two weeks ago (30.25).

Go Jonathan and go me! Bottoms up! :)

Crafty Tuesday - Halloween 1

Halloween is a fairly new tradition in Denmark but it's getting bigger (read => commercial) all the time. But my kids certainly enjoy all the spooky crafts that they do at the afterschool club and, of course, Halloween night when they go out 'guising'.

Here are a couple of food ideas to get the Halloween pumpkin rolling. Both are simple enough for kids to do on their own. We've made these several times to take into nursery and school and they're always a huge hit.

First, the politically-correct, healthy option...
SKELETON HANDS

You need:
  • box of disposable plastic gloves
  • popcorn (ready-popped if you're pushed for time, and who isn't?)
  • sellotape, ribbon or wool
  • raisins or small sweets (optional)


Fill the plastic glove with popcorn. If you want the 'hand' to have fingernails, you can put a few raisins or sweets into the bottom of the fingers of the glove first. But be warned, it is fiddly and time consuming - especially if making for a large class... You have been warned! ;)



Tie the top of the glove with sellotape, ribbon or wool. We used orange and black ribbon in keeping with the Halloween colours.

And now for the not so healthy - but very cute - option...
GHOST CUPCAKES

You'll need:
  • cupcakes (I use Nigella Lawson's blender recipe - easy peasy and deee-licious)
  • marshmallows
  • ready-to-roll white icing (not available in Denmark, so my Mum brings it over from Scotland for me)
  • food colouring (black is best) and a cocktail stick/toothpick

Roll out the icing between two sheets of baking paper (or an unused bin bag, cut open) until it is really thin. Cut out large circles using a glass or a bowl.

Top each cupcake with a marshmallow and 'drape' the icing over so it looks like a ghost.
Dip the cocktail stick in the (black) food colouring and make two dots for eyes and a slightly bigger one for a mouth that says "Woooooooo!" on your ghost.
There you go! More Halloween crafts next Tuesday - see youse! :)

Monday, 28 September 2009

Copenhagen Kitchen - week 4

Feels quite funny to be typing 'week 4' because it seems like just yesterday we started work on the kitchen remodel. And yet I've almost forgotten what it was like in the old kitchen...thank goodness I put that video on youtube! ;)


I'm flying along in my camp kitchen in the basement. OK so it's not the brightest or biggest of places (need to get an extra lamp from Ikea - I.crave.light) but it's working fine. Biggest help has been menu planning. Which is kind of funny because that, along with paper clutter, has always been my achiles heel. Hoping it will last beyond the remodel and be my latest, new Flylady habit. I do my online grocery shop and post the menu here on the blog every Thursday. Keeps me accountable. And (do I really need to say this?) the cost of my food bill is going down and I'm trying out more and more new dishes. We even had Eve's Pudding for dessert last night - something I haven't had since I made it with my Mum back in Scotland over 25 years ago :)


On the kitchen front? We now have a cement floor to walk on! :) And the builders continue to work like trojans. A couple of small hiccups, but we're on schedule. They did, however, find a leak from the bathroom on the first floor... Work starts there tomorrow morning - so no more baths or showers there until probably the weekend. But, hey, we've still got the loo, and a loo on the ground floor, and a makeshift shower in the basement (where I have my camp kitchen), so it could be worse, right?!



The major addition to the kitchen this week will be the new, flat ceiling. (At the moment there are two different ceiling heights, and one of them is sloping.) In Denmark there is a tradition of having a rejsegilde (small party or reception) for the builders and all those involved when the roof of a new house goes on. They put a little flag at the highest point on the roof together with some wreaths. Then serve unlimited amounts of Danish frankfurter sausages, cola and beer! ;) I'm planning to do the same when our kitchen ceiling is finished... So that's all for today - I'm off to add sausages and Carlsberg to my shopping list. See you next Monday! :)

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Christmas Planning - week 4

The Flylady has now started a Super Fling Boogie (basically means getting rid of the clutter around the house) for the lead up to Christmas planning. I'm definitely jumping back on that bandwagon with a vengeance this week - because I'm beginning to feel the sideeffects of having too much focus on the kitchen remodel. The clutter isn't too bad around here any more (have I mentioned Flylady?!), so my plan of action is to do a 15 minute declutter in each of the main rooms Monday through Friday. Let's see how that goes... ;)

On the planning side this week, I'm looking over the menus and food that I want to cook this year. As I mentioned in a previous post, we have my family from Scotland staying here for 10 full days. Which means it's a 24hour merry-go-round of breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and snacks. So having a menu plan (and a well-stocked pantry) keeps me sane and less cranky.

I'm making photocopies of the recipes I'm going to do (main courses and desserts) and adding them to the Recipes section of my Holiday Control Journal. I've already got some Christmas biscuit recipes in there together with, of course, the Christmas cake that we are all baking next month. Isn't that right, fellow flybabes? :)

I also like the idea of preparing a few meals to freeze for the month of December when we will otherwise be gadding about and busy with school parties etc. Pippa and Krista gave me the idea for that - thanks girls! :)

For example, I made Danish meatloaf for dinner yesterday. It's easy to make but the worst part is the clean-up afterwards. So I just doubled the quantities - it all goes in the mixer - one went straight into the oven and the other one (already clad with bacon) I wrapped in baking paper, then put into a freezer bag. So in a couple of weeks time, I'll pull it out and cook it as usual. Hey presto, no work involved! So now I just need to put on my thinking cap and find some other good recipes to do that way...

Right - I'm off to finish my photocopying. Remember to check out what Pippa, Krista and Candace are up to and see you back here next Sunday! :)

Pippa http://amothersramblings.blogspot.com/

Krista http://typical-ramblings.blogspot.com/

Candace http://flybabydiary.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Danish Meatloaf 'Forloren Hare' (Mock Hare)

Today I'm making Forloren Hare for dinner. I'm actually making two - one for tonight and one to put in the freezer for later. I never ate meatloaf until I came to Denmark in 1998 - it's not something that we ever ate in our family in Scotland. But I can't get enough of it now - especially the sauce I drown it in ;)

[If you'd like imperial measurements, my recipe is here.] You'll need:
  • 1 onion, 1 carrot and 1 clove of garlic (see below)
  • 500g minced pork/veal/beef, any combination you like. The traditional Danish combo is ½ veal + ½ pork and it comes ready mixed in the supermarket.
  • 1 dl breadcrumbs (also from a packet)
  • salt & lots and lots of pepper!
  • 1 egg
  • about 1 dl cream or milk
And for cooking it:
  • packet of bacon (long strips)
  • 2.5 dl milk
  • 2.5 dl hot water
  • stock cube
And for the (heavenly) gravy, 'brown sauce' or brunsovs:
  • ½ to 1 dl cream or milk
  • 1-2 spoons of Maizena (sauce thickener)
  • 1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly (you want a bit of sweetness)
  • salt & pepper (duh!)
  • gravy browning if you use it
Put a roughly chopped onion, carrot and the clove of garlic in your mixer and reduce to a pulp. I put in the onion and garlic for flavour. The carrot isn't essential, it's just for extra, hidden, veggies and because I always have a house full of them :)

Add the meat, breadcrumbs, seasoning, egg, milk or cream and run the mixer until the whole thing starts to come together and starts going round the blades like a motorbike in one of those Wall of Death things ;)

Put the mixture into a large ovendish and pat it down a bit, so it looks like a big, fat, long sausage. Cover the whole thing with strips of bacon, working from left to right or top to bottom. It's your call!


Put into a hot oven, 225c or 425f for 15 minutes until the bacon starts sizzling. Then turn down the oven temperature to 200c or 400f and pour the milk/stock mixture around the meatloaf. Continue cooking for about 45 minutes. Check in the middle that it is hot and cooked all the way through - will depend how 'fat' your meatloaf is.

Pour the milk/stock mixture through a strainer (if you can be bothered...) and put into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Adjust with more cream if necessary ;)

For a really traditional Danish meal, serve with boiled potatoes, peas or hot red cabbage, pickled cucumber slices, asier (a strange pickled 'white' cucumber) and loooooots of sauce.

And as they say here - velbekomme! :)

POSTSCRIPT:
This meatloaf freezes well. Freeze uncooked. Wrap in foil and put in plastic bag. Defrost in fridge the night before you want to use it. Cook as directed. Then enjoy!

Friday, 25 September 2009

These are a few of my favourite things (Kitchen gadgets)...

I saw a pressure cooker on sale yesterday. Do people still use them? My Mum used hers all the time when I lived at home (and still uses it today). She was a working mum, and she loved the short cooking times. I just remember lots of steam in the kitchen and the foghorn sound when she cooled it down in the sink and literally 'took the pressure off'! :)

I used it just the once. We made "Pressure Cooker Chops with Apple and Cheese Sauce" in Home Economics class (still have the hand-written recipe) and, of course, I had to try it out at home.

I have the usual array of gadgets: kitchen blender/mixer, 2 crockpots/slow cookers (medium and large), handmixer, breadmachine, small sandwich toaster/wafflemaker and the standard microwave and jug kettle.

But my most-used appliance has to be my ricecooker. Not because I can make fantastic meals with it, but because it does a lot of the ground work in my kitchen. I use it to make rice (duh!) but also use it for brown rice, spelt, bulgurwheat and couscous. We only have potatoes about once a week in our house. And I have used it to cook small amounts of potatoes and pasta.

I'm on my second ricecooker - the first one had a 'plonk-on' lid and didn't do a great job. My current one has a 'clamp-down' lid and has 1 and 2 hour programmes. The 1 hour cycle is great for making creamy ricepudding. Just remember to stir it from time to time, so that you don't get a brown bottom ;)

Mine also comes with a small steamer tray. So I can cook rice and steam chopped carrots or salmon fillets at the same time.

I've also recently started making omelets in it. Switch on the machine and programme it for the normal rice cycle. (At this point you can put in a knob of butter and sautée some mushrooms or peppers. Or just pop in some fresh spinach.) Pour in the egg/milk/salt&pepper mixture, clamp down the lid, and go off and do something for 10 minutes (shower time?). When you come back, the omelet will be softly set and read to slide on to plate :)

I'm always looking for ways to jazz up rice. Adding turmeric for yellow colour, raisins and spices for Moroccan style, cardamom seeds for Indian, crushed peanuts or pinenuts for more crunch, etc. Here's a dish which can stand alone:
  • rice or whatever pulse you are using
  • tin of tomatoes
  • bit of sugar to counteract the acidity of the toms
  • salt & pepper (duh! again)
  • water or stock (use a bit less than normal because there is liquid in the tin of tomatoes)
When the rice has finished cooking, top with chunks of feta or goat's cheese, finely chopped spring onions, sour cream/crème fraîche and maybe some fresh herbs.
As always - at the risk of repeating myself - bon appétit!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Menu planning Thursday - 24 September 2009 (Recipe Cold-Risen Bread)

Right, going to start posting some recipe links...enjoy! :)

Thursday
  • trying out Blender Quiche. Don't have 'Bisquick' or 'baking mix', so just going to put the ingredients for baking mix in, switch on the blender and see what happens! ;) Brownies for dessert (because I'm baking a large batch for DD7 for tomorrow night, we'll just steal a few...) /// POSTSCRIPT: This dish turned out absolutely fab! Used cheese and some leftover ham as the base. Didn't even use my blender (to save on washing up...) - just whisked the eggs with flour and baking powder, then whisked in cream, milk and oil. A very small crust forms around the edges of the quiche. We ate so much of it that I was worried there wouldn't be leftovers for me... ;)
Friday
  • DD7 isn't home for dinner - she's at a sleepover at the Scout hut (hence the large tray of brownies from yesterday...) Haven't quite decided what we're having - maybe some Veal in Horseradish Sauce which came from the butcher's shop. Just needs defrosting and heating. No dessert, DS9 will get his weekly ration of sweets ;)

Saturday
  • comfort food required today, methinks. So having a Danish classic Forloren Hare ('mock hare, type of meatloaf). Will post recipe on Saturday :) Served with baby potatoes, lots of cream-enriched sauce, beetroot and peas.
Sunday
  • will use up leftovers of Forloren Hare and probably serve with pasta. Have been reminiscing with my Be-Ro book the last couple of days, so might make Eve's Pudding (you'll have to search for the recipe on http://www.be-ro.com/ it won't allow me to make a direct link) with apples from the garden.
Monday
  • trying out a new crock recipe today. Don't know about you, but always feel exhausted Monday afternoon and it's nice to be able to dish up and not have to think too hard :) Thai chicken with home-made curry paste (but I'm using a jar...) Will serve with rice from the ricecooker. Promise to share recipe if it's good!
Tuesday
  • Scout night = need something easy. Will probably do Spaghetti Bolognaise (Spaghetti with meat sauce) Fry your mince/ground beef, add a good jar of tomato sauce, heat, serve, stand back and enjoy the ooos and aaahs from the kids ;)
Wednesday
  • trying another new recipe today, will make it with Danish (frankfurter style) sausages (not smoked) Sausage Potato Soup Will probably do it in the crockpot, just to try. And will make some cold-risen bread, recipe below :)
* * * * *
COLD RISEN BREAD
  • a small packet of dry yeast (50g fresh if you insist on using it)
  • 1 kg flour (white for ciabatta style, or mix wholemeal in for healthier)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (I love Maldon Seasalt)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 litre cold water
  • oil (olive if you have it)
  • dried herbs, salt & pepper (optional)
Mix the yeast, salt, sugar and the flour (keep back a cupful) in a large bowl. Pour in the water and mix - I use a handmixer but you can use a wooden spoon if you need the upper arm exercise ;) Just mix until it is coming away from the sides of the bowl but is still gooey and'dusty'. Add a bit more of the flour if you need to. Do not knead! (That's the best part of this recipe.)

Sprinkle on the rest of the flour, cover with plastic wrap and leave on the kitchen counter for about 4 hours. It will double in size. You can also put it in the fridge and leave it there for 12 hours or overnight. If you're going to do the overnight thing, I'd use just half the amount of yeast because it will rise and fall again before you bake it.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees, 425f. Tip the dough (which will still be bubbly and wobbly) into a LARGE baking tray. Mine is from Ikea and is 15"x 12" or 38cmx30cm. I put baking paper in the bottom of mine, for easier lift-out and clean-up.

Now, if you want to make it look (and taste) really good, mix some dried herbs and salt and pepper in a little bowl. I sometimes get out my pestle and mortar and crush together: dried rosemary, chili flakes, garlic seasoning, lemon pepper and Maldon Seasalt. Use your fingers to make indentations (holes!!) all over the dough and drizzle over a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Then shake your herb mix over. More is definitely more in this context ;)

Bake for about 30 minutes (keep an eye on it, first time you make it) until it is golden brown.

Remove from oven and sprinkle more of that lovely Maldon Seasalt on.

Bon appétit!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Tiny tears

DS9 has started cycling home on his own from school. (Yes, we're lucky to live here where cycling is the norm, not the exception.) Which is fantastic for many reasons. Gets me off the hook [just joking!], gives him some freedom, great for his health and self-confidence. And - being 2009, the year Copenhagen is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference - it's of course great for the environment ;)

And when DS9 comes through the gate, cheeks rosy, eyes shining, all togged up with his cycle helmet on and huge school backpack on his pack, it happens. Yes, I get that little 'Mum' tear in the corner of my eye...

I think they put those tears into your system when your first baby comes out. I can get one at the strangest times and 9 years later they are coming closer and closer together! :) They normally appear when I hear kids singing Christmas songs (not even kids I know), when people tie the knot (again I don't necessarily have to know the couple...) and when listening to personal speeches at Danish birthday parties (yes, I may never have met these people before). Or watching kids watching kids' theatre (?!) and [thanks to OzDane for reminding me about this particular one] seeing the Danish football team's faces listening to the Danish national anthem (and I'm not even Danish)...

And then there is the killer - when we sing Barndommens Land in assembly hall when the new school term starts. Never fails. This year I thought I was doing really well, cool as the proverbial cucumber. Until we got to the very last verse and - voom - it hit me! :) My favourite teacher always gives me a knowing look when that song finishes because we BOTH can't stop the tears! LOL

I'm afraid I can't find a decent English translation of the song, but basically it's a bittersweet description of the journey from boy to man. I've finally decided to stop worrying about how to stop or cover up those 'Mum' tears. Yes, I'm going to be terribly philosophical about the whole darn thing and see them as a part of my journey from girl to woman! ;)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Crafty Tuesday - Hearts

Tuesday morning...rain pouring down today in Wonderful Copenhagen. Been for my morning run with friends in the local park, showered (again) and dressed to shoes (again), did a 15 min declutter of my wardrobe so now it's craft time...



Quick and easy project today. If you don't have a sewing machine, then you can also do hand stitching - just do a big running stitch. I'm not into the whole 'shabby chic' vibe, but you can always claim that that was the look you were going for ;)





What are we making? Stuffed hearts, or any shape you want. Just take the idea and run with it. You're going to need:

  • small pieces of material (use up any scraps you have)
  • stuffing (or chopped up bits of material, old tights/pantyhose!)
  • glue
  • needle and thread or sewing machine
  • scissors or pinking shears (avoids frayed edges + frayed tempers)

I'm making hearts. Cut out 2 heart shapes, put them WRONG sides together and sew round the edges. We are not going to be turning these inside out, so you can make a decorative stitch, slightly in from the edge, all the way around if you like. Or use a different coloured thread. The creative side is up to you! :)



Now you cut a small hole in the front of the heart. Do I need to say that you do this VERY carefully?! LOL Then stuff the heart, using the old pencil trick if necessary to get things right into the corners. If you want to make little 'smelly' sachets for the bathroom or dresser drawers, you could put some lavender in there too.




Cut out another small shape and stick it over the hole we made with glue (use fabric glue if you want to make these more robust). On the first heart, I've glued on 3 little buttons from my stash. I tied a simple bow and stuck it on to the centre of the second heart.


Anyone else out there with us on the 'we're already planning for Christmas'? ;) I've also seen these made as Christmas decorations as a variation on the Advent Sunday theme. Just make four little hearts and write 1,2,3 and 4 on with a marker pen.

OK, we're done. Rain has stopped and I'm off on my bike down to the chemist. Ciao for the now :)

Monday, 21 September 2009

Copenhagen Kitchen - week 3

Three weeks into our kitchen remodel and things are chugging along nicely. A few minor setbacks, lots of loose ends, but lots of progress.

Got a bit disheartened with the constant layer of dust which seeps out of the kitchen and up to the bedrooms on the first floor, all the rooms on the main floor and down to the office/laundry/workshop in the basement... But a quick feather dust followed by 10 minutes with the hoover and another 10 with a mop gets us back to 'normal'.

The Flylady mantra of 'you can do anything for 15 minutes' has been my saving grace. Because for me, the hardest part is getting started and fighting the inner princess that says 'poor old me, waaaaa, I don't want to do this and I don't have the time'! :)

The builders arrive at 7am and I try to do the clean up as soon as they leave for the day - which can be anytime between 3pm and 6pm. If I'm honest, the 'dust' situation is getting better. They're finished all the demolishing work and are building things up again. The skip which contained the old kitchen has been towed away, so there isn't much to see in the front garden.

Though now part of the lawn in the back garden is covered with boards/cement mixers/sand etc. In my pre-Flylady days I would have given up on the garden completely ('why should I bother when part of it is such a mess?') but this time I'm out there weeding/pruning for 15 minutes a day and mowing where I can. Don't think our garden has ever looked this good in the 9 years that we've been here :)

One strange thing about this whole business is that from time to time I 'miss' the old kitchen. For example, if I'm prepping dinner in our camp kitchen in the basement, I have an urge to look in an old kitchen cupboard. Which I can't - for obvious reasons! I suppose I spend so much time in the kitchen, it's like losing a limb! LOL Thankfully I had the forethought to take lots of pictures for the quintessential 'before & after' album.

I update the album every couple of days

http://picasaweb.google.com/DianeDenmark

And I add videos when there are big changes

http://youtube.com/user/FlybabyDianeDenmark

That's all for week 3. Join me in week 4, when we hopefully have a kitchen floor to walk on! ;)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Christmas planning - week 3

Thanks to the Flylady, I'm gradually getting out of my old 'perfectionist' way of buying Christmas gifts. It's the thought that counts - right? So I don't need to spend hours choosing the 'perfect' present for every single person (over 30 of them this year) on the list and spend another half hour agonising over how to wrap it...

Here are a few of my ideas, would love to hear yours too! :)

For teenage nephews and nieces: gift vouchers for their favourite store, plus a calendar of their favourite football club or heartthrob [sigh...]

Schoolteachers: DD7 has new ones this year, so they'll get a voucher for a book shop, the 'old' teachers get a small box of shortbread or chocs.

Scoutleaders: DD7 and DS9 both go to Scouts. Instead of getting individual presents (there are about 9 leaders in all), we buy a big box of Quality Street for them to keep at the Scout hut - just for the grown ups ;) Went down a storm last year.

'Courtesy' aunts & uncles to our DKs: the lastest school photo of the DKs, in an Ikea frame, nicely wrapped

The bin men (we have the same ones all year round): a few bottles of Xmas beer (with a bit of tinsel round it) that I leave on top of the bin

The postman (a young Polish guy, cheery chap): he's getting a small box of chocs or biscuits and Xmas tea - the wee soul!

And last, but not least...me! (Thank you again Flylady for the idea.) DH will buy me some sort of 'big' present, but last year I actually bought a few 'stocking fillers' for myself - a DVD, a book, Origins makeup. Because 'Mum' never gets many presents herself does she? ;)

That was it for week 3. Come back next Sunday and find out what I'm up to. And don't forget to go take a look at how Xmas-planners extraordinaires Candace, Krista and Pippa are getting on! :)

Candace http://flybabydiary.blogspot.com
Krista http://typical-ramblings.blogspot.com
Pippa http://amothersramblings.blogspot.com

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Chocolate Marshmallow Pie



It's Saturday afternoon. DH is away on business for the weekend. Both DS9 and DD7 have friends coming to stay overnight. Which means this is a perfect occasion to make an over-the-top dessert...

Chocolate Marshmallow Pie. Yep, the title certainly caught our attention :) It's from the last cookbook I bought - "Helen Corbitt's Cookbook" (1957, second-hand via http://amazon.co.uk/).

If you want to get in on the (heart-attack inducing) action, you'll need:
  • one pre-cooked pastry case/pie shell (I actually made my own this morning - only because I didn't have a roll-out one in the freezer)
  • 20 marshmallows
  • 3/4 cup or 170mls milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • teaspoon of vanilla (I used the Danish powdered stuff)
  • 1 cup or 250mls cream, whipped
The recipe says to use a pie dish which is 8 inches (20cm) but I used a sponge tin which is 9 inches (23cm) and it turned out fine.
Very simple recipe. Heat the marshmallows, milk, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla very slowly in a saucepan. Keep mixing until the marshmallows dissolve. Leave to cool. At this stage, it looks like hot chocolate :)
Whip the cream and fold it carefully into the cold chocolate milk. Pour into your pre-baked pastry case and chill in the fridge until set.
It's now 4.30pm and we haven't eaten it yet, so you'll need to check back later for a full match report and a full technicolour photo. I did lick the bowl though, so I don't think we're going to be disappointed ;)
Bon appétit!

Friday, 18 September 2009

These are a few of my favourite things (Cookbooks)

Decided to make Friday a day for sharing a few of my favourite things.

And - as regular readers of this blog are already aware - my mind is full of our kitchen remodel at the moment - so today's post is going to be about cookbooks ;)

I've got a shelf full of them in the posh bookcases in our living room, another shelf of them in my office and (when I still had a proper kitchen) had a shelf full of them in a cupboard. Did as the Flylady suggested and decluttered when I was emptying the kitchen and gave away a large box to the local charity shop. I'm sure there'll be someone who is just itching to add "Lady Claire Macdonald & ASDA - How to cook vegetables" to their collection...

Here are the two books which have followed me from Scotland to Luxembourg to Denmark (6 moves) and which I still use on a regular basis:
  • "Home Recipes with Be-Ro flour", one of those little baking books that you get free buy sending in coupons from flour bags. Mum and I always used this one on Sunday afternoons when we baked Rhubarb Crumble, Eve's Pudding and Pineapple Upside-down Pudding - not to mention Flapjacks and Scones! Dad and my big brother were out in the garden and Sunday night was bonfire night. Memories! :)
  • "The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook" This was the first 'big girl' cookbook I ever bought, my version is from 1992. I left Scotland (where I was living with Mum and Dad) to move to work in the tiny country of Luxembourg (hidden deep in the heart of Europe) when I was 21. I needed a good, basic book that could help me feed myself. And also the (literally) hundreds of dinner guests that I would entertain in those 10 years in the Grand Duchy. Mum has been a subscriber to Good Housekeeping magazine since I was a wee girl. And still brings me over the latest issue when she comes to visit ;)
Here is the big blue book that is my guiding light on all (culinary) things Danish:
  • "Gyldendals store kogebog", very similar to Good Housekeeping book, but no pictures whatsoever.
Two modern cookbooks that I keep coming back to:
  • "Nigella Express" I actually have 7 Nigella Lawson books and love to read them ALL. I read them before bed, like I read novels. This is a good basic 'working mums' book with easy ideas and fantastic pictures.
  • "Ainsley Harriott's Complete Gourmet Express (both Gourmet Express and Gourmet Express 2 in one volume)" I can't stand watching Ainsley Harriott on the television but he does have great, simple recipes. First thing I made from this book was Red Onion Relish - always gets rave reviews.
And two books I bought recently and which have pride of place on my nightstand:
  • "Katie Bishop's Slow Cooking, Easy Slow Cooker Recipes" For once, a slow cooker recipe book that is fairly modern recipe-wise. Have just bought the ingredients to make Sticky Orange and Sesame Chicken Drumsticks and Thai Chicken Curry. Will let you know!
  • "Helen Corbitt's Cookbook (1957)" Bought this second-hand through http://amazon.co.uk/ . Discovered Helen Corbitt (famous American female chef who worked at Neiman Marcus) because of a recipe on the back of a notelet I've had since I was a child. See my blogpost "Note(lets) from a Small Island" for the (amazing!) Apple Cake recipe). Now I've got a whole book of her stuff - yipee! - and the DKs and I are making her "Chocolate Marshmallow Pie" tomorrow. Watch out for that blogpost...
That's all folks - bon appétit! :)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Menu planning Thursday - 17 September 2009

Decided to make Thursday the day I plan my meals. Mainly because I love the security blanket of having the weekend food planned in advance. I order my groceries online for delivery Wednesday or Thursday so, if I get my act together, I can avoid any last minute shopping on Saturday.

I'm still keeping things simple due to the kitchen remodel (check in here on Mondays for updates) - and we're still eating our way through the contents of the old freezer ;)

Bon appétit!

Thursday
  • Leftover crock lasagne, rice pudding made in the ricecooker for dessert

Friday (have an early evening Scout party)

  • had originally planned to make quiche, but will probably do Danish meatball soup with hot rolls instead. No dessert tonight because DKs get their weekly ration of sweets while watching Disney Show (Danish Friday tradition)

Saturday (friend of DS9 coming to stay overnight)

  • takeway from the local pizzeria, Ben & Jerry's Phishfood for dessert OR might make "Chocolate Marshmallow Pie" with the DKs ;)

Sunday

  • Lamb steaks with creamy, garlic oyster mushrooms, flash-fried Danish 'pointy' cabbage and bulgurwheat done in the ricecooker

Monday

  • Roast chicken legs, baked potato wedges (all in same pan), sugarsnap peas

Tuesday (Scout night for both DKs at different times...)

  • Danish biksemad which is basically cubed fried potatoes and meat topped with a fried egg and served with small cubes of beetroot, ketchup and HP sauce - the DKs love this, me too :)

Wednesday

  • Hot pitabread pockets with ham, fresh veggies on the side

Thursday

  • Danish meatloaf done in the crockpot, baby peas, boiled potatoes and lots of lovely sauce/gravy - yum!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Post Office blues

Right, I'm in a bit of a foul mood as I type, because I biked down to the Post Office in our town and it wasn't yet open... And what time does it open to 'serve' (and I use that in the loosest sense of the word) the general public? 11 am!

Now I should, of course, be grateful that we actually have a Post Office here in our town. They're closing them down all over the country because there isn't so much 'over the counter' business for them these days. Yet everytime I go to the Post Office I have to pack a big bag with extra patience to endure the neverending queue.

Last Christmas (insert a bit of Wham here) the other 40 plus customers and I had a ball of a time joking about the wait. It was seriously verging on the ridiculous. Someone offered to go and get us all coffees, someone suggested bringing in benches from the street and we even debated trying to make some money out of our misery by selling our 'wait' numbers to the highest bidder... I suppose you might compare it to that 'all in the same boat' wartime mentality.

In the end I got my parcel (which the Post Office hadn't even attempted to deliver to our house...) on my second visit to the post office because they couldn't (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) locate it the first time ;)

Anyway, it's taken me 20 minutes to write this post and I really should be getting back down to the Post Office again. So I'm going out and, in the infamous words of Captain Oates, I may be some time... :)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Crafty Tuesday - Decorate with serviettes


This week's post is something that my DKs love doing because it involves glue ;)

We're going to take a few bits & pieces like clothespegs, matchboxes and plain gifttags (we used wooden ones) and transform them with patterned paper napkins/serviettes.




First of all, give all your matchbox a coat of white paint (or some neutral colour).


Take your napkin/serviette and carefully peel off the white backing part (sometime are 2-ply, some are 3-ply). Then tear or cut out the motif you want to use. Doesn't have to be absolutely perfect - this is why it's a great activity for the DKs :)


Take some basic glue - the kind that's invisible when it dries - and put a thin coat on the matchbox. Then carefully place the motif where you want it, and paint another thin coat of the glue on top of the whole thing. Let dry. You can buy (expensive) découpage glue, but basic school glue works just as well.


If you like, you can also embellish further with glitter glue, sequins, stickers etc. Voilà - we're finished! My own personal favourites are the clothespegs we made last Christmas... We string up lengths of red ribbon over the doubledoor into our dining room and use the pegs to hang up our Christmas cards...makes a very festive washing line :)



OK folks, see you back here next Tuesday at the craft table!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Copenhagen Kitchen - week 2

Is it already Monday morning? Gosh, time sure flies when you don't have a kitchen to speak of! :) It's exactly 7 days since our old kitchen was torn down and we've been surviving with the 'camp kitchen' set up in the basement.

Actually, 'surviving' isn't really an apt description. We've actually been eating rather well, if I say so myself ;) My DSIL came to stay with us on Wednesday and got a three course meal when she arrived (not to mention two-course dinners the other days and hot rolls every morning for breakfast). And I've already baked apple cake (see my post Don't sit under the apple tree for recipe) and brownies (see Krista's blog http://typical-ramblings.blogspot.com/ for that recipe) in my tiny, tabletop oven. So we're doing pretty well.

There have, of course, been a couple of hurdles. Washing up being the most noteworthy one. Now, if you don't have a sink, I suggest two large washing up bowls (one with soapy water, one with clean water) and a couple of dish drying racks. We saved one of the old wooden worktops and I bought a couple of 'hurdles' (tressle table legs) to go underneath and - voilà - here's my new shiny sink for the next 7 weeks :)




And what's on this week's menu?

Monday

  • Leftovers from yesterday (ham, gratin dauphinois, green beans), brownies for dessert

Tuesday (Scout night)

  • Speltburgers (from the freezer to the oven, 10 minutes), on wholegrain rolls with crisps or tortilla chips on the side and fresh veggies (carrot + cucumber sticks, cherry toms)

Wednesday

  • Crockpot lasagne (didn't make it last week as planned) Thanks to Krista (yet again!) for the idea

Thursday (I'm out to premiere of nr 2 Stieg Larsson film)

  • Leftover crockpot lasagne, ricepudding made in ricecooker for dessert

Friday (DH away)

  • Quiche lorraine and salad, no dessert because DKs get weekly ration of sweets

Saturday (DS9's friend coming to stay the night)

  • Takeway from the local pizzeria, B&J icecream for dessert

Sunday (DH away)

  • Hot pitabreak pockets with ham, fresh veggies

* * * * *

See you next Monday for an update!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Christmas Planning - week 2

Here we are, one week later, what have I done?

Well, I haven't physically done very much. Though I did buy 2 jars of mincemeat when I was out shopping, so I've now got all the ingredients I need to bake our Christmas cake in October :) By the way, if there ar others who are joining in on that, leave a comment on my post "Christmas in July" and I'll put you on the list! :)


What I have been doing is a lot of mental planning. My Mum (75) and Dad (78) in Scotland always come over and spend Christmas with us. And last year my brother and my niece came too. And DH's brother and DKs will also be with us for some of those days. So we have a full house for 10 days. So, yes, planning is the order of the day.


Mum and Dad are too nice to ask if they can come for Christmas year after year (and I always assume that they KNOW they are always welcome), so they just wait until they are asked... Which usually means that I'm on the phone with them sometime in November before we get things finalised.


Not this year, I've already asked them (in August - ha!) and I'm going to book their flights for them. That way, I can co-ordinate it with any parties etc we are going to. For example, this year DH and I may make a trip to nearby Malmö in Sweden to see Eddie Izzard (British comedian). Would therefore make sense that Granny & Grandad are already here and on hand to look after the DKs! ;)


Other news? Hmm, I've bought my stamps for sending 30+ Christmas cards. Just need to order the Christmas cards! LOL Usually I order photo-upload cards from http://moonpig.com/ in the UK. Have had a little look around on the net though and might order elsewhere this year. I'm also hoping to get a really good picture of the kids together with my Mum and Dad when we are over for a visit in the middle of October - wouldn't that make a great card? There'll still be good time to order the cards and have them sent to me early November.

OK, that's it! Was out running a 5k today, dinner is almost ready and tomorrow's lunchboxes aren't going to pack themselves ;) See you next Sunday for more Crimbo fun!

And don't forget to go take a look at how Candace, Krista and Pippa are getting on! :)

Candace http://flybabydiary.blogspot.com/
Krista http://typical-ramblings.blogspot.com/
Pippa http://amothersramblings.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Run for your life

As of friend of mine's Dad used to always say: It's a great day for the race...the human race! :)

I'm also hoping it's going to be a great day for the race tomorrow, Sunday, my second go at a 5k. Did my first official one back in May with a group of friends (the 'Charlottenlund Running Chicks') in a time of 36 minutes. Tomorrow I'm doing it solo.

It's Saturday afternoon, just coming up for 4 o'clock and I'm pinning my bib number on to my t-shirt and fixing the chip on to my running shoe. Mixed feelings in my tummy. Excited to get out there tomorrow with my specially put-together running playlist of songs - and scared as hell because I always get a feeling 5 minutes into every running session of 'I can't do this'!

But I've trained for it (thanks to Jonathan Roche, NEWO, Flylady, and of course, my Danish running buddy-mummies, Helene and Vibeke), have done it before and know that I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and let the music pull me along.

Here are my weapons of choice:
  • When Saints Go Machine "Spitting Image"
  • Agnes "Release Me"
  • David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland "When Love Takes Over"
  • The Presets "I Go Hard, I Go Home"
  • De'Lacy "Hideaway" (track is 11 minutes long, very hypnotic!)
  • Magtens Korridorer "Vesterbro"
  • When Saints Go Machine "Spitting Image"
  • Röyksopp "The Girl and the Robot"
When I come out of the De'Lacey track (which is very hypnotic and is over 11 minutes long), I'm hopefully on the home straight. If I can finish the race while Magtens Korridorer (my sweetie Danish friend Rasmus and his band) are still playing, I've achieved my goal. And if I'm still running while the last two songs are playing, I'm just going to relax into the run and enjoy the music ;)

Update tomorrow!

****

Tough race! Felt a bit down around the 2 to 3 km posts, but kept walking/running. Started to get my hopes up when I saw the 4km post in the distance, and I was still listening to the De'Lacey song... Then came Magtens Korridorer, we were back from the seafront and in to the park again, people were clapping and I decided to give it all I could. Saw DH, DD7 and DS9 waving and jumping just before the Finish Line, so ran as fast as my little, jelly legs could carry me! LOL

Final time? 30.25 (whole 6 minutes faster than my first 5k) Yeehaw!!!

Friday, 11 September 2009

One potato, two potato, three potato, four!

Yesterday I made 'baked' potatoes in the crock for the first time. Yay, they turned out great! Another dish (if you can call it that) to add to my crock repertoire that isn't a soup or stewy-type thing.


I tend to overlook potatoes a bit, even though they are one of my favourite vegetables. OK, I like them boiled, mashed, as wedges/chips and pre-made röstis.

But I remember very clearly, on one of my first visits to Denmark, being served up a very 'posh' potato. It was at my future DMIL's house (in Viborg, Denmark) and they went by the name of Hasselbach potatoes. Hasselbach being the name of the Scandinavian person who came up with the dinky idea in the first place.


You take a normal, washed, raw potato and 'nestle' it on a wooden spoon, so it doesn't roll away...






Take a sharp knife and make deep slits through the potato. The wooden spoon will stop you chopping all the way through and ending up with several bits of potato ;)

Put in an ovenproof dish or baking sheet. Brush with a bit of oil or melted butter, sprinkle with salt, herbs, whatever you fancy and bake for about 30 minutes in a fairly hot oven.


Voilà - a potato fit for a Scandinavian King!

(Forgot, in my rush to eat the darn things, to take a picture of the finished product. So you'll just have to make them yourself or wait until next time I serve them!)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Slow cooker/crockpot baked potatoes

I'm experimenting today. Have jammed several large baking potatoes in my biggest crock. No water, no salt, just tatties! :)




The time is 9.45 am. Going to leave them until tonight and we'll see how they turn out... Are you as excited as I am? ;)


Check back here later for updates.



*******

4 pm and everything smells good. They 'look' as though they are already cooked. Not going to take the lid off just yet, because I want to leave them as long as possible - just to make sure they won't explode if I don't prick them first and leave them all day ;)


6 pm and it's time to serve up! They look a bit like boiled potatoes (skins are, of course, not crispy), their bottoms are slightly darkened (as if they had been on a baking sheet).
Now for the taste test! :) Slice them in half and they mash easily. Quite yellow inside, not white, but quite fluffy. And they taste great with lashings of butter and grated cheddar cheese...

Things I would do different next time? Will try pricking them first. Read somewhere that makes them very fluffy inside (lets the steam inside escape).
And the million dollar question...would I make these again? Definitely! :)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Love that accent!

OK, so I have a slight Scottish accent. I speak pretty fluent Danish but, of course, there's no running away from the accent - even if I wanted to... ;) Most Danes presume I'm American - partly because I have a certain twang or lilt when I speak - but mainly because I don't speak Danish the way English people do = badly or not at all! LOL

One of my favourite books as a child was 'Whisky Galore'. Maybe you've seen the black & white film? The story takes place far away in the Scottish Hebrides, on two fictive islands, Great Todday and Little Todday. The islanders are hard-pressed (wouldn't you be??) by a shortage of spirits during the second world. Indeed, Dr Maclaren even declares that the death of one of the regulars of the Snorvig Hotel is due to the shock of not being able to get his regular third dram of whisky or third beer :)


A few days later a ship, laden with crates of whisky bound for the US, sinks during a heavy storm. The cargo mysteriously disappears...and the Scottish islanders have, of course, nothing to do with it! ;)

I love it because of the accents. Here's a passage from the very first chapter, straight from mouth of the lovable Captain MacKechnie:

"Ah, but the Sabbath's not what it was. When I was poy, man, it wass a tay. My word, what a tay, too, what a tay! I remember my mother once sat down on the cat, because you'll understand the plinds were pulled down in our house every Sabbath and she didn't chust see where she was sitting. The cat let out a great sgiamh and I let out a hugh laugh, and did my father take the skin off me next day? Man, I was sitting down on proken glass for a week afterwards."
I'm currently loving books by the Italian crime writer Andrea Camilleri which take place in (probably the most corrupt place in the entire world?) Sicily. Commissario Montalbano (the anti-hero and detective) has a small, but colourful staff. My personal favourite being Catarella, who is mistakenly given the job of answering the telephones at the station, because they thought he would do less damage there than anywhere else...

"Beckin' pardon, Chief, for the 'sturbance. Tree days ago somebody aks for you, Chief, wanted a talk t' you in poisson, but you wasn't 'ere an' I forgotta reference it to you. They said as how Vice Commissioner Tamburrano's wife was dead."
I also love these books because
  • the translations into English by Stephen Sartarelli are incredible
  • they make me laugh
  • Inspector Montalbano relishes his food. He eats at his favourite trattoria most days and the author is generous enough to share every detail of those sacred meals with us. In "The Voice of the Violin" the telephone starts ringing when Montalbano is at home boiling pasta and, to make sure not to jeopardize the proper al dente texture of the pasta, he pulls out the phoneplug :)
For any other ladies of a certain age out there, I can highly recommend watching the 'made for TV' films if you get a chance... Here's a rather nice shot of the Inspector. http://fuorivista.eu/luca_zingaretti.jpg Or you can do a search for Commissario Montalbano on http://youtube.com/

And did I already mention that the Inspector likes to swim 'in the altogether'? ;)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Crafty Tuesday - Garlands

Krista over at http://typical-ramblings.blogspot.com/ has started doing crafts on a Tuesday. I said I would join her so here goes! :)

I like to make things with my sewing machine and am lucky to have a huge office in our basement where I have a big table just for me and can therefore have it set up constantly. I don't make clothes or anything remotely complicated, I mainly use it to make small alterations and 'embellish' things :) Thanks to a nice group of creative Danish friends, I've also learned how to use it for making Christmas decorations and paper crafts...

Today I'm going to show you how make paper garlands. We did Danish flags (for a football match DS9 and DH were watching on the telly...) but let your imagination run riot.
The first time we made garlands on the sewing machine was at Christmas and we made hearts (the main Danish christmas symbol). DD7 and her friends cut out large heart shapes, decorated them with glitter glue and felt pens and then we 'sewed' them all together vertically to hang in windows. You might want to cut out the letters of the alphabet and make your child's name? How about a 50th birthday banner?

For the Danish flags we used:

paper or carton in white and red
pair of scissors
glue stick
sewing machine and red thread

First cut out your shapes. We cut out red squares and then added strips of white paper to make the Danish flag.

If you're using paint, glitter glue or sticking on sequins etc do it now and let it dry thoroughly ;)

Thread up your machine top and bottom with the desired colour. Start the machine (bog-standard normal stitch) and let it run (with no paper or material under the foot), pulling the 2 threads behind the machine. This will give you a length of thread for you to hang up the garland later...

Take your paper shape and sew through it and leave a little space before you sew on the next shape...continue until you have a nice, long garland.




We did the flags horizontally for hanging on a wall. But, as I said, you can also do them vertically, so that they can be hung from the ceiling or taped to a window (everyone say aaw!).

Voilà! Time to sit back and enjoy your handiwork and go grab a cuppa :)

Monday, 7 September 2009

Copenhagen Kitchen - week 1

From now on my Monday musings will be dedicated to progress on our new kitchen. Today, of course, I'll mainly be concentrating on the the lack thereof... ;)

This kitchen remodel is going to be a true test of my Flylady routines. Been listening to Marla a.k.a. The Flylady on http://blogtalkradio.com/ (archive available) and been reading her e-mails for years (you can subscribe for free at http://flylady.net/), so a lot of good things have sunk in :)


The main thing I have learned along the way --- and which has helped me through other remodels of the house, family bereavements, and general taking-what-life-throws-at-you --- is to keep going! As long as you keep following your routines as best you can, you'll be making progress. Gives you something to cling to, or hang on to for dear life! ;)

For instance...last night I had a lovely bubble bath complete with candles, glass of wine, chocolates and a book. Went to bed super early and got up a bit earlier this morning, so I could get the DKs to school 5 minutes earlier than usual. Had already set out the breakfast things last night, after dinner, because our makeshift kitchen is in the basement, and it'll take the DKs a few days to get used to the new setup :)
The first of the builders (electrician) turned up at 8am. He set to work. I did too. Mondays are the day I do my cleaning or WHB (see earlier post for description). I just carried on regardless, though I, of course, had to stop from time to time to help move appliances and discuss some practical stuff. The boss of the firm also popped in, and the plumber also arrived to disconnect water and gas connections. But I just carried on the best I could and tried not to get sidetracked. Heck, I even managed to put the minced beef I managed to brown (at 7.55am, just after I took the DKs to school) in the crockpot together with a jar of good tomato sauce, so dinner is already under control :)

What would I have been like today without Flylady? Hmm, first of all, I would have been very cranky (having still been up after midnight, moving stuff down to the basement), irritated over the mess in the house (yet sitting on my backside doing nothing), racking my brains on where to take the family out for dinner (never mind what I was going to put in the DKs lunchboxes the next day), completely overwhelmed, would forget to eat lunch, or anything for that matter, and (as I said to Candace on twitter yesterday) probably cowering in a corner with a bottle of blue gin! ;)

Anyway, builders have finished for the day, I've just had my afternoon nap, been drinking my water and eating regular meals today (from my 'field kitchen') and I've just enjoyed a brownie (Krista's recipe) which we had the forethought to bake yesterday - the last chance we had to use our big oven...

So things aren't perfect. But they're pretty darn good!
Tune in next Monday for the next update or follow the fun on http://twitter.com/DianeDenmark :)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Christmas Planning - week 1

I've got something 'warm & wonderful' as Flylady suggests (today, that's a cup of chai and a digestive biscuit) and I'm looking through one of my favourite reads...my Holiday Control Journal! :)

If you want to see what's in it, go to http://flylady.net/ and take a look around at the http://flylady.net/pages/holidaycruising1.asp section. Plenty of good stuff there to really get you in the Christmas mood :)

Now, if you're not ready to get on board, don't worry - there's plenty of time yet. The official Flylady holiday planning doesn't start until the middle of October. If you're signed up for her e-mails, she'll send you missions and ideas starting then - and you'll still be ready to sit back and enjoy Christmas on 1 December :)

I downloaded my Holiday Control Journal in 2006 and it's in a ring binder. I've extra dividers in there for:
  • Christmas card lists
  • Recipes (including my Christmas cake, baked in October)
  • Gifts (including a list of label/shoe sizes and a list of general gift ideas for teachers/Secret Santa etc)
  • Games & Songs (including mini Danish songbooks)

Today I've printed out new, clean pages for Christmas gifts. Last year we gave presents to over 25 people! But that also included small gifts for teachers and Scout leaders :) I'm writing in all the names and making small notes. Some of the gifts will be carbon copies of last year - for example, for small gifts we often give a box of Scottish shortbread and a packet of special Christmas tea. Which is also a clutter-free gift ;) Nieces and nephews always get money/gift voucher and then a small, silly thing. The kids aunties and uncles usually get the latest school photos, put in a nice frame from Ikea. Cheap and, hopefully, cheerful :)

Having the list written, means that I can now start buying/making gifts. For example, next time I'm shopping at Ikea, I'll make sure to go and take a look at photoframes. If I'm in the dollar store (or 1okroner, as it is in Denmark...) I'll be on the look out for stocking fillers.

So that's it for today. If you're joining me now, making a folder is a good place to start. If you're not quite ready for the full Christmas experience at the beginning of September (and who can blame you?), feel free to come back when you are! :)

* * * *

Candace (@C_Joy) and Krista (@luvschweetheart), my twitter pals, are my Christmas partners-in-crime. Go check them out! The idea is to post once a week on a Sunday, with progress, thoughts and ideas. And hopefully give you some inspiration! :)

Candace http://flybabydiary.blogspot.com/

Krista http://typical-ramblings.blogspot.com/

* * * *

Friday, 4 September 2009

Apple puffs

We've made Apple Puffs for tonight's dessert. I wrote a blogpost yesterday about the apple trees in our garden and actually inspired myself - ha, ha!

This is an easy, peasy recipe. Can't remember where I first saw it, but I'm guessing a Danish magazine, as there is the option to use marcipan... a Danish stalwart. Feel free to use pears or peaches if you have those. Even tinned fruit turns out pretty yummy...




You will need:

  • a packet of ready-made puff pastry
  • apples, pears, peaches (from your own orchard ;) or tinned)
  • small packet of marcipan (optional)
  • butter or margarine
  • sugar, demerara/brown/white or honey
  • cinammon (optional)
Roll out the pastry and cut into individual squares or circles. You can also do heartshapes for 'that special someone'! LOL

If you're using marcipan, roll it out (I place it in a plastic bag before rolling, so there's no mess) and cut out small circles and place them on top of the pastry shapes.


Next, peel and slice your apples in half, carefully remove the core. Slice it, trying to keep it's shape.

Place the apple on to the middle of the pastry (or on top of the marcipan layer if using) and push down gently so the apple fans out (so it looks 'cheffy').

Brush the whole thing with melted butter or margarine and sprinkle with whatever sugar you are using. Sprinkle on a bit of cinammon too, if liked.
Bake the aple puffs in a hot oven (400f, 200c, gas mark 5?) for about 15 minutes until golden brown and puffy.

Serve with whipped cream, pouring cream or (DD7's favourite) icecream.

Happy Saturday night!
With love from Denmark <3>

Don't sit under the apple tree...



My friend Marylin alias SoftThistle on http://twitter.com/ announced yesterday (or should I say, screamed with joy?) that she was moving. To be exact, she said she was moving to a house with 'a deck in the garden and an apple tree'.
Now that made me smile because, when we bought our house (after living in various appartments), the first thing I said to people was '...and it has apple trees!' On closer inspection, one tree was cookers, the other eating apples.


I'm not sure why I was so excited about the apple trees - probably because it's that little girls' dream of getting a real house, with garden, white fence, the whole package.

Anyway, we moved in. DS9 was nine months old at the time (DD7 was just a lovely figment of our imagination) and I eagerly collected the apples and made apple pie, apple crumble, apple turnovers and apple strüdel. The next year I chopped up the apples, cooked them in the biggest pot I had and made jar upon jar of apple jelly (it's like a clear jam).

Then, of course, DD7 came along. My excitement with our apple trees wore off. They grew bigger and bigger - or at least, that's how I saw them in my head :) - and they became a chore... Everyday I would look out and see the windfall apples lying on the lawn. Sighed and thought, oh, that's going to take me ages to pick them all up. So didn't bother and, of course, you can see where all this is going. Lawn was filled with apples, which rotted at a rate of knots and the whole thing turned into a sorry mess. Then I spent what seemed like the whole of Sunday picking them up (yuck!) before DH could cut the grass.

Fast forward to 2009. We're now doing Flylady, aren't we? ;) So every day, normally on my return from taking the DKs to school, I go and pick up the windfall apples. Takes me a couple of minutes tops. We have 3 green garden refuse bins which are emptied every 14 days (how lucky is that), so there is no excuse.




I also try and pick a bag a day to give to friends, school, scouts, anyone who will take them off my hands!

Still looking for ways to use them up. The cake recipe I posted the other day ('Note(lets) from a small island) was fantastic, so I'll be baking plenty of those - in different baking tins to confuse the family...

But if you can think of some other good uses for them, I'd be happy to hear from you! Marylin and I will thank you for it ;)

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Making a list and checking it twice...

OK, let's have a show of hands... Who loves Christmas planning? Me, me! [bustling to front of queue] :)

I normally start at the end of October, when the Flylady http://flylady.net/ starts sending out daily missions. Nothing major - just a bit of planning and doing a little every day. So that when 1 December comes around, you've done the groundwork and actually have time to enjoy going to Christmas parties, end of season Scout group get-togethers, tree decorating parties and breakfast-make-decoration-mornings at school. And something I didn't do pre-Flylady, just soaking up the atmosphere, lights and decorations in town. I now also enjoy watching everyone else running around like headless chickens, but that's not exactly very charitable or in keeping with the Christmas spirit, right? ;)

This year I'm going to start a bit earlier. Mainly because the kitchen remodel starts on Monday and I'm not expecting to be back up to speed with the brand new kitchen till mid-November. But also because I can't wait to get started :)

My good friend Krista from http://typical-ramblings.blogspot.com/ is going to be posting every Sunday on her blog, and I'll be doing the same.

She's using the Holiday Grand Plan from http://organizedchristmas.com/

I'm using the Holiday Control Journal from http://flylady.net/ I started using it 3 years ago and it has made Christmas so easy. Have been so organised about the whole thing, that I can actually do the whole traditional bit, and actually enjoy it! :)

You can find the Flylady Holiday Control Journal - and lots of other Christmas planning stuff - at http://flylady.net/pages/holidaycruising1.asp

My first job is to get out my Control Journal and look it over. I use the same one every year, and just tweak it. Though I will need to print out a few fresh pages (the list of gifts, menuplans etc).

Please feel free to join in! In Sunday's blogpost, I'll let you know where we're at :)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Kitchen countdown not meltdown

The builders are coming to demolish our kitchen on Monday. I need a REALLY easy menu for that week because I know that things are NOT going to go exactly as expected. Added to that, my DSIL is arriving midweek and we'll want to be out and about spending our DHs' hard-earned cash ;)

On the whole, I'm feeling pretty good about the whole remodel project because:
  • I've made a Kitchen Remodel Control Journal (à la Flylady)
  • I've set up a temporary kitchen in the laundry room (tabletop oven with 2 electric rings, microwave, crockpot, ricecooker)
  • when the new kitchen is finally up and running we'll have an 'American' fridge that will give us not only cold water and icecubes, but crushed ice so we can make G&T slushices :)
Here's the menuplan:

Monday (day they knock down the kitchen)
  • pasta med kødsovs a.k.a. pasta with meatsauce a.k.a. spaghetti bolognaise. Will probably make meatsauce (i.e. fry meat and add ready-made jar of tomato sauce) in morning and put in crockpot, so I have that 'ah, Bisto' feeling all day :) Will serve with platter of raw veggies.
Tuesday
  • ovenbaked breaded fish (from the freezer) with rice (made in ricecooker, will make plenty so have leftovers for tomorrow) with French green beans. Beans can go in the same ovendish as the fish, will drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with Maldon salt and put a few cherry tomatoes in there as well. Also some finely chopped anchovies... And, no, to all you anchovy-haters out there - you can't taste them at all, they just give a deep flavour to the beans. It's an Italian trick.
Wednesday

Thursday (DSIL has arrived and is ready to shop...)
  • crockpot lasagne, served with spinach salad
  • cake for dessert (we'll buy something nice when in town)

Friday (TV night with 'Disney Sjov' and 'Denmark's Got Talent')
  • whole beef joint or individual steaks with béarnaise sauce, tomato/red onion salad and new potatoes
  • kids get weekly portion of sweets, we'll have leftover cake and chocolates :)
Saturday
  • probably out for dinner in town :)

Sunday (I'm running a 5k race early afternoon)

  • we'll probably get a hotdog after the race, so will just have some suppe (meatballs/dumplings in a single frozen package, just add your own stock and carrots - Danish comfort food), served with hot rolls
  • Ben'n'Jerry's Phishfood icecream (chocolate fish and marshmallow). Largest portion for the girl who ran the race! ;)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

No turning back

1 September 2009

Here we are, the first day in September and I made it. Have written a blogpost every day for the last month and yes - have thoroughly enjoyed it! I can see, this far down the blogging road, that my page isn't very high tech and needs a bit of organising and pruning but, in true Flylady style, I will try not to get bogged down in the details and just concentrate on writing what comes to mind and especially to heart.

There have been a couple of posts about life in Denmark (more of those in the pipeline), a few about me and the family, and rather a lot of recipes and food talk. Which doesn't really surprise me at all because I 'heart' food and it was Emma (@orangeflowers on http://twitter.com/) who was on at me to start a food blog that got this whole thing rolling.

Still not sure where this blog is all leading. Will start posting some craft ideas (have a big box full of 'idea's I had for a book [ha]), more stuff on my life with Flylady and, of course, Christmas planning is also starting this week (yay!).

I got a phone call an hour ago from our builders to say that they were coming to start demolishing our current kitchen bright and early Monday morning. They will be here for 5-6 weeks knocking down walls, putting in windows, laying new floors, lowering ceilings, moving water and electricity and whatever else our swanky, new kitchen requires. We won't have access to that room until 1 November. So be prepared for lots of blogposts about rice cookers, crockpots and one-pot cooking ;)

Thanks for following and happy 1st September!