Missus Smarty Pants, the style sister of the Flylady family, often mentions accessories when putting together an outfit. I've never been a shoe fetichist (though I have been known to buy the same shoe in two colours when I do find some that I love...like my sweetie sandals from Ecco).
I've been hoarding collecting them since I was a child. My Granny loved (bright) jewellry and scarves, my Mum not so much, so I think the gene skipped a generation and reappeared in me :) I got lots of stuff from Granny when I was a child and, when I started Secondary School (age 11), I started buying them myself from charity/thrift shops. And, joy of joys, when I started earning my own money working as a secretary (age 19), I was able to buy them from the department store!
I have (literally) two boxes full and the ones I'm currently wearing are in a drawer. Or three. There are lots of days when I wear two scarves - one as an accessory for my outfit, another for warmth if I'm going outside and wearing a coat. I never throw a scarf away these days. Unless, of course, the colours just don't suit me...Missus Smarty Pants has taught me well! ;)
You can almost tell the decade I wore them by their shape and material: small, cotton, squares (late 80s, worn in a jaunty French style) large, square silky Hermès type ones (90s, used them tucked inside or outside the dark business suits I wore at the EC Court of Justice), long thin knitted ones (early 00s, in bright colours worn over jumpers and coats).
These days I'm back to the large, square scarves - but wearing them this way, see photo above. The current Danish trend is to have an exaggerated v-shape at the front. This is the outfit I've got on today. I bought the jumper yesterday for a pittance from Mango (they have great colours and their prices are similar to H&M). Came home from town and discovered an old scarf in the very same colour, pale rose pink.
And this is my current 'I'm-in-love-with-this' scarf. From one of my favourite scarf producers, the Danish company Erfurt. Paisley pattern, also very 'on-trend' here in Denmark right now. The base colour (green) is not one I wear very often these days, but the colours in the scarf suit me and it goes with everything else in my wardrobe. And it's got bells on...or at least green, white and pink pompoms! ;)
It'll be another few weeks before the new kitchen is in place and connected. So I'm still trying to use us stuff from the old freezer and keep the menu fairly simple. I am beginning to hate washing up without a sink! LOL
Crispy chicken with lots of veggies (courgette, carrot and baby potatoes).
Kids have a babysitter tonight and are allowed to order their own pizza... Weekly ration of sweets - Danish tradition - so no dessert. DH and I are - stone the crows - out to a posh dinner and I am going to enjoy every dang minute of it :)
Happy Halloween! It's been been a loooong week, so we'll want to hibernate... Going to make one of DH's favourite dishes - grilled lamb steaks - with couscous and tomato/parsley salad. DS9 is out to a Halloween party with the boys from his class and we'll take DD7 out guising before we eat dinner. It'll be too dark and cold after 7pm.
Haven't done crispy pork chops for a while (chops dipped in egg, then seasoned crumbs, fried in the pan and finished off in the oven). And they always go down well - sometimes I don't even get leftovers for my lunch - hrrrmph! :) Will no doubt serve with the usual combo of gratin dauphinois and baby peas or sugarnaps.
This is Scout night (for both kids, at different times...), so need something easy as I am driving forwards and backwards. I've got some ready-made chicken parcels (chicken wrapped in bacon and puff pastry) in the freezer, so might use them along with spelt done in my rice cooker. I usually do half spelt and half basmatic rice, and the kids eat it up without blinking! ;)
DD7 is going to a schoolmates house (Dinner Club), so she won't be eating with us. DH may be working late tonight, so we there could be an opportunity for... SUSHI ...for DS9 and me! :)
My DKs (dear kids) go to a local Danish school. All communication is done via the school's intranet - which has put an end to the 'paper-lost-at-bottom-of-schoolbag' syndrome! ;)
The After School Club posts a Weekly Plan, with a run down of the planned activities. Everything from painting Warhammer figures to running in the local woods, making jewellry, band practice, photo workshop and face painting. The kids can also just draw or dance, play tag with their friends, or take the gokarts and rollerskates (helmets and kneepads) from the shed in the playground. The After School Club also sends out the 'menu' for the afternoon snack...for example, fresh fruit salad or homemade pizza or pasta salad. Today (Wednesday) they can sit outside and do woodcarving at the school's covered bonfire area or do indoor crafts. And there will be hot soup at 3pm, made over the campfire! :)
The teachers also send out a Weekly Lesson Plan so we know what they will be working on, what the homework is, if they need outdoors or indoors gymclothes, etc. This week is a bit special because it's Reading Week for the whole school.
No schoolbooks or gymclothes required this week. The only things they have to take are:
pencil case (and their scissors and glue stick)
a book of their choice
a pillow or rug (so they can get all snuggly)
a soft toy or doll (that they can read to...)
There are lots of different reading and writing workshops, fiction and non-fiction. And lots of time, of course, to just chill and read. There's a 'reading barometer' when you come into the school, and a red string is working it's way around the corridors - like something from a fairy story - 1 metre of string for every 1,000 pages read. By Monday afternoon the kids (from 0. to 9. grade) had read 18,455 pages, so I hope they've got lots of red string.
And great thing about this week? No homework... ;) Happy reading!
Here's another 15 minute craft using the sewing machine - Shaky Cards! :)
old plastic folders
old greeting cards or paper/card or photos
sequins/glitter/beads/cotton wool or ..?
We're going to make 'shaky' greeting cards using old plastic folders. The kids and I used old Christmas cards for the background (we throw our old birthday, Easter, Xmas cards into a big box and the kids use them for projects) but you could draw a picture or use a photo. Use your imagination! ;)
Take your card or picture and place it on the plastic folder. Draw around it with a felt pen, leaving a margin all the way round for the stitching. Cut through both layers of plastic, so you have two pieces. If you're going to write a message on your card, do it now, then sandwich the card between the two pieces of plastic. And then let your imagination run riot. Add some glitter, sequins, stickers, tiny beads or cotton wool. In the Xmas tree card (below) we used a handful of those tiny circles of paper that come out of the punch machine for 'snow'.
Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch - put in a contrasting thread if you like - and zigzag your way all around the card.
Voilà - a greeting card that's a bit 'different', recycles old materials and costs nothing to boot! :)
And now, the end is near, and so I face...the final weeks of the kitchen remodel! ;) Yes, Poggenpohl came this morning at 8am and started putting together the new kitchen. We had a very quick meeting with the builders to discuss water and electricity connections, paint repair jobs etc and the story is that we'll probably be "finished finished" in about 2 weeks. Fingers crossed! ;)
Here are some photos to keep you (and me) all going. Looking good so far. The kitchen units and worktops should be completed by next Monday.
This is going to be our built-in bench.
And this is where the oven/hob is going to be.
And this is the long, long worktop where the sink and dishwasher will be.
And now I must go, because I have guests coming for dinner within the next hour. And what's for dinner, I hear you ask? Beef stroganoff from the crockpot, rice from the rice cooker, green beans with sugar and bacon. And the pièce de résistance? Boca Negra cake. A flourless chocolate cake, which I've never made before. Thank you to the lovely Candace (whom I can always trust on these things...she teaches children for a living, for goodness sake) for pointing me in the direction of the recipe. The original called for rum - I used Malibu :)
The Flylady is now sending out 'Cruising for the Holiday' missions and Danish shops are beginning to decorate - so it's officially acceptable to start preparing for Christmas! We also put the clocks back last night - so it's pitch black at 5.30pm now, which means it really feels like Christmas is just around the corner...8 weeks and counting! :)
My twisters (Twitter sisters) have been talking shortbread. Here's my contribution. As usual with my favourite recipes, it's fast and furious. A few ingredients from the larder, child friendly, freezer friendly, smells heavenly and tastes divine...what more do you want? ;)
325g plain flour
vanilla of some kind (vanilla powder is common in Denmark)
200g butter (don't even try using margarine)
2 egg yolks
Put the flour, vanilla and butter (cut into chunks) into your food processor. Switch on the motor. When it starts to look like breadcrumbs, add the sugar and egg yolks. Process again. When it starts coming together, and going round and round the blade like the motorcycle of death, stop.
Put the dough into a large plastic (freezer) bag. Roll it into a long sausage shape and either chill for about 1 hour or freeze.
When you're ready to wow guests or family with warm shortbread biscuits, preheat your oven on to 350f/175c. Remove from the plastic bag and slice finely with a sharp knife. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. They don't spread too much, so you can put them fairly close to each other. They're ready when they're just baked around the edges. Leave to cool. For a 'Last Christmas'sy-feel, sieve some icing sugar over the top.
You can eat them as they are - and they are exceedingly good - or you can stack them up for a show-off dessert. We've served ours with coffee and chocolates (at the end of dinner) and as dessert, sandwiched with fresh strawbs and whipped cream :)
I've suddenly remembered that I've a similar recipe for savoury cheese biscuits... Will go hunt down that recipe and post soon! :)
Nikki Starr from the Flylady family is thinking of doing a food show on BlogTalkRadio. Ooooo, I love food talk! And I love food...here's a rundown, in no particular order:
chocolate (Ritter Sport with Marcipan or Chocolate Mousse) I'm not a 'high percentage' chocolate snob - I'd rather have a huge, cheap Easter egg that you can break into hundreds of pieces and nibble all day long...
salt n' vinegar crisps
fresh raspberries (especially with a light sprinkling of sugar and some single cream poured over)
a runny boiled egg with buttered, toast soldiers
foie gras or warm, fried lobe of foie gras
champagne - any time of the day ;)
gin & tonic
crisp white wine in a bedazzlingly clean glass on a stiff white tablecloth
a good bloody steak with béarnaise sauce
chips/fries with mayonnaise or Scottish 'chippy' sauce
So - what's cooking in my little 'camp' kitchen this week?
Didn't make the Spaghetti Bolognese (pasta with meat sauce) yesterday as planned, so going to use the mince/ground beef today to make Cannelloni (pasta tubes). Last time I made Cannelloni was over 10 years ago, before the DKs were born, so it's definitely time to give it a whirl :)
Event at school with DS9's class. One parent + child to be at the school late afternoon (in the home economics classroom) to make the meal and set the tables. Later the rest of the family are invited for dinner. Should be interesting! ;) It won't be a late night because the final of "Denmark's Got Talent" is on the telly...
Have promised the DKs to make homemade Pepperoni Pizza (which we didn't have last Sunday, because the little table-top oven was full of Christmas cake). We're trying something new...Stuffed Pizza Bites. [Postscript: these were fantastic - make sure to make double quantities!] And what goes well with Pizza and Salad? Why Ben + Jerry's Phishfood, of course! :)
I have some fresh cod from the fishmonger and am making homemade Fish Fingers. Mix half a cup of milk with a couple of spoonfuls of flour. Dip strips of fish in this batter, then dip again in seasoned breadcrumbs (add some grated parmesan, chili flakes, dried herbs, whatever your family likes). Put on a baking try (baking paper for easy clean-up) pour over a little melted butter or a bit of olive oil and bake in the oven at about 200c/400f for about 15 mins. We'll serve with garlic pan-fried courgette/zucchini and rice or bulgur done in my ricecooker. My DKs love this dish.
The new kitchen is being fitted and we are going to see Muse (the Gods of Rock) in concert, so will probably be a busy day for me. Going to do a 'Goulash' type of stew (beef, paprika, tinned toms, red pepper) in the crockpot and will serve with mashed potatoes and spinach salad.
Scout night for the kids, so we are coming and going at different times. Spaghetti Bolognese/pasta with meatsauce.
Roast Chicken with various root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, beetroot) - time to embrace autumn...
Oprah Winfrey was in Denmark recently, promoting Chicago for the Olympic Games (which ultimately went to Rio). While here, she made a programme about Denmark. The show will be shown in the US on Friday and the title is (I kid you not) "Oprah on Location: The Happiest People on Earth"! :)
I lived in Scotland for the first 20 years of my life, then spent another 10 working in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - that tiny country of 300,000 inhabitants, tucked inbetween Belgium, France and Germany. It was in Luxembourg that I met DH, and we got married and moved to Copenhagen 10 years ago. So I'm not Danish myself but have two Danish-Scottish kids, so that's pretty close ;)
Yes, the circa 5 million Danes are generally a pretty happy bunch. What makes us happy? The definite change in seasons? The long, long, long summer evenings? Danish traditional food - different types of pickled herring, roast pork is all shapes and forms, a staple diet of ryebread? Beer and snaps? That Denmark is made up of over 400 islands - you're never far from the sea? Affordable daycare for kids? Breastfeeding in public is the norm? That education in schools and universities is free? Equality for the sexes? A talent for, and emphasis on, good design? 2 million cars in Denmark and over 5 million bikes (and miles and miles of cyclepaths)? Libraries which are not only overflowing with books, multimedia, magazines (in several languages) but also organise free craft workshops and concerts? A love of football and a team that just qualified for the World Cup in South Africa next year? National pride from this tiny nation when a sportsman wins a gold, silver or bronze medal? The desire to be eco-friendly? A healthcare system which works pretty well and takes care of you from cradle to grave? A love of satire and a very, very dry sense of humour..?
Of course, not everything is rosy in the state of Denmark. At the moment there is a street war going on in the usually quiet streets of Copenhagen between Danish Hells Angels, called 'Rockers' - or can't we just call a spade a spade and say 'Big, Ugly-All-Day Bullies'? ;) - and a rival gang. On Monday night there was a drive-by shooting at a nearby resto where DS9 and I go when we need a sushi fix. It's in a so-called 'posh' area of town. There were several families having dinner in the restaurant at the time. Luckily only a gang member was hit.
No sooner than the story made the news, came an outcry from the Danish public who are worried that next time an innocent bystander will be killed. This morning I heard on the radio that restaurants and fitness centres are beginning to turn gang members away. Now see, there's something about the Danes that made me happy! Have a wonderful Wednesday, wherever you are... :)
Here we are again...another Halloween craft that shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to complete. Unless, of course, your kids want to sit at the table for longer than that! ;) We used stuff that we've got lying around or can be bought at the supermarket.
We're still on our ghost theme because that's what my two have decided they want to dress up as for guising this year. Need to go and check and see if I have any old white sheets that are ready for decluttering...
plastic or paper cups
kitchenroll/white cloth or white paper
string/thread or ribbon
pen or paint
plasticine (to help when making holes)
Take your paper cup and make a small hole in the bottom. The safest way is to take a lump of plasticine, put your cup on top and push through using a pair of scissors or screwdriver (or chopstick, if it's a papercup).
Turn the cup upside down. Cut a long piece of string. Take one or two sheets of kitchen roll and place those on top of the cup. If you're using two sheets, make sure the corners don't match for the best effect. Push the string through the kitchen roll and through the hole in the cup. Fix inside with a piece of sticky tape.
Draw on a couple of eyes and your ghost is ready for takeoff ;)
DS9 also wanted to share his very own Halloween idea with you...a 3-D picture. Cut out spooky shapes and colour them in. Fold small pieces of paper like a concertina/fan and use these to stick your shapes on to your background paper.
Well, well, well. We're now well over halfway through the kitchen remodel and I can't get my head round the fact that I'll actually be using my new kitchen in just a couple of weeks - eek!
We decided in January that this would be the year we would go ahead and do it. My dear architect friend A-M (who teaches at the architect school here in Copenhagen) offered to help. She loves the style of our 3-storey 1930s house and knows our taste. Our house is built in 'Bauhaus' or 'International' style (made famous by the architect Le Corbusier in the 1920s) which basically means that our house looks like a big shoebox with straight, clean lines and has very functional rooms.
We bought our house when DS9 was a baby and love it and the plan is to live here for the rest of our lives... ;) The only 'problem' with the house is that there's no place to eat in the kitchen. Our dining room is too big when it's just the four of us, so we eat in our garden room which has been a good solution until now, but involves carrying things to and fro through the main hall.
So A-M put her architect thinking cap on and came up with a portfolio of ideas which she narrowed down to three - all of which were brilliant and nothing we could have dreamt up ourselves! We then spent another month looking at our old kitchen with new eyes, adjusted the new plans accordingly and spent a couple of weekends finding the right model. We looked at around 8 kitchen shops but there was no competition - Poggenpohl, the old, established, Germany kitchen company was 'just right'.
We're using our usual local builders on the remodel side of things - we use them loads of times in the past. Because they take pride in their work, are reasonably priced and are just very, very nice! ;) We're on first name terms with them all - electricians, brickies, plasterers, joiners, painters, plumbers, etc. Which is a definite advantage when you have your house full of people from 7am til 4pm for almost 2 months.
So what has happened since last week? The painter has been here and done his job - looking good! Photo junkies can get their fix over at Picasa.
The two new windows and door (out to the deck/garden) arrived by lorry about an hour ago and the joiner is fitting them as I write. Then the plasterers can finish the floor and then...the new kitchen is being delivered on Monday - yippee! So don't forget to check back here Monday. It'll be interesting, promise!
Hooray! Just read an e-mail from the Flylady and her "Cruising for the Holidays" (planning for Christmas) starts tomorrow, Monday 19 October...
If you've been following my blog, you'll know that today I'm baking my Xmas cake! See my earlier post :)
Today I'm also wrapping the presents I've bought so far and working on an 'Advent Calendar' of things for our family to do in December. So that we can build up to Christmas in style and enjoy doing all the things that make it Christmas for us. Some of them are school events, some are crafts, some are simple pleasures. If you want more inspiration, Krista has a really nice '25 Days of Christmas' on her blog.
Here are the ideas I've come up with so far. The kids are giving me their own
make bird feeders
breakfast/make Xmas decorations at DKs school
evening Christmas party at Scouts
make decorations from pinecones, chesnuts etc
decorate outside Xmas tree with our 'natural' decorations and tiny apples
The Flylady's culinary sidekick Leanne Ely from http://www.savingdinner.com/ sent out a recipe for crockpot applesauce last week. I've been thinking of doing this for a while - because I have a glut of apples from the garden, and at the moment I'm buying applesauce in a jar from the supermarket to make my Porridge Pancakes. So it would, of course, make sense for this canny Scot to make it herself! ;)
So in the interests of science and my blogfollowers, I'm going to try it out for you...
I chopped up about 20 cooking apples (only removed the cores and any obvious bad bits). Threw it all into my biggest crockpot (6 litres, I think), and it came almost up to the top. Sprinkled on some cinnamon and pushed in a couple of vanilla pods. No water. No sugar. Put on the lid. Switched on low. And off we go. Looks like this so far:
Will update the post with progress reports - see youse soon! :)
Here's the menu for the week. We're still in the midst of the kitchen remodel, so simple is still the keyword! :)
Still visiting Mum and Dad, this is our last night in Scotland. Going out for dinner with DB (dear brother) and DN (dear niece) :)
Back to Copenhagen in the afternoon. Have ordered online groceres to be delivered today. We'll be busy unpacking so will probably do something from the freezer like Danish meatballs, ricecooker rice, Goma dressing, salad and fresh veggies. Kids get their weekly ration of sweets tonight during the TV parade (Disney Show, Denmark's Got Talent and Danish Dancing with the Stars).
Will need some comfort food. Thinking roastbeef, béarnaise sauce, boiled baby potatoes, tomato & chive salad. Simple and yum. And lots of red wine ;)
Happy families! Homemade pepperoni pizza and Krista's brownies for dessert... Her recipe is here, scroll down and print out her dinky menu card. It's that simple. And so is the recipe!
First day back at school for the kids after the autumn break. Time to pull out my trump card...Danish meatloaf that I prepared a couple of weeks back (made two, put one in the freezer). Just needs to be cooked in the oven! My recipe is here.
Scout night for the kids (at different times). Today it'll be spelt burgers (from the freezer to the oven, 10 minutes), wholegrain buns, handful of crisps and a bowl of cucumber/carrot/pepper.
Spaghetti bolognese (pasta with meat sauce) with lots of fresh parmesan and a spinach salad. Kiddies food that we all love...
We're still visiting my Mum and Dad in Scotland. Last night it was time to give the DKs (my DH is Danish and the DKs are both born in Denmark) an important lesson in Scottish culinary customs - a visit to the chip and chipshop :)
My Dad and DB (dear brother) had classic fish suppers ('supper' means served with a portion of chips). My DN (dear niece) ordered a deep-fried pizza. The pizza is dipped in batter then deep-fried... And yes, it's true, they do exist - as do deep-fried Mars Bars and deep-fried Bounties!
I decided to have a different kind of supper. Here's mine - something I used to eat regularly when I lived in Scotland over 20 years ago. It's served on a bed of chips, doused generally with chippie sauce (brown HP sauce which is watered down with vinegar), and is eaten straight out of the paper. These days it's blank paper they use for wrapping, not newspaper.
Can you guess what is is? I'll reveal the answer tomorrow.
Bon appetit! :)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And the answer was: a white pudding (or 'mealy pudding') supper. No meat! Just oatmeal, onions and spices. Guaranteed to stick to your bones.... :)
I'm in (hopefully) sunny Scotland right now, visiting my Mum and Dad. But didn't want you to miss out on Crafty Tuesday...so here's one I prepared earlier! ;)
Today we're doing more decorations that can be done by the kids and that don't take more than the magic Flylady 15 minutes! Any arachnaphobics out there? Hope not.
And if you're not lucky enough to have endless supplies of free chestnuts falling from the trees where you live, you could also use styrofoam balls - just make sure to paint/spray them first.
These can be hung in windows or outside your door. This is something the kids always make at nursery and school in Denmark. And as we're surrounded by chestnut trees, the kids come home every day with their pockets full of them.
chestnuts/conkers or styrofoam balls
cocktail sticks or matches
a small implement for making holes (like a screwdriver)
Make about 8 holes round the outside of the chestnut. Push in the cocktail sticks or matches - it should look like a wheel. Take a long piece of wool and weave it in and out of the 'spokes' of the wheel. It doesn't have to be perfect! Did I mention this project was great for kids? ;)
Keep winding around and around. Remember to leave a long piece of wool when you are finished, so that you can hang it up. You can use different yarns for different effects. DD7 liked the orange wool because it was so soft, I liked the black wool because it looked more scary...
chestnuts/conkers or styrofoam balls
a small implement for making holes (like a screwdriver)
something to make eyes (for example, stick-on googly eyes, small round white stickers, glitter glue)
Make four holes on each side of the chestnut. We used 2 pipecleaners for each spider. Cut each pipecleaner into 4 equal lengths, so you'll end up with 8 in all. Stick them into the holes you've made and voilà, your spider has legs! Stick on some eyes. Use what you've got to hand. We just used a couple of dabs of glitter glue.
And, of course, you all know what it's like when kids get carried away doing crafts? DD7 went off on a completely different tangent and came up with this...
Today's post is a bit of a cheat because there is no news as such on the kitchen remodel - aside from the fact that things are going swimmingly and the painter is now hard at work - because we have 'escaped' to Edinburgh for a few days! :) It's the school's autumn week and we have taken the chance to go and visit my Mum and Dad in Scotland - hurray! Got here this morning and it has been a delight to wash up dishes in a normal sink... [insert a very long sigh]
DH couldn't take time off but is making sure things go as planned back at the ranch. And, if all goes well, when we return to Copenhagen on Friday, we may even have doors and windows - yeehaw!
Promise there'll be a proper update (and more photos...) on the kitchen next Monday. Until then, I'm putting my feet up and enjoying Mum's cooking! ;)
Today I'm getting all my ingredients together for baking our Christmas cake next weekend :)
As I mentioned in a previous post Christmas in July, we have a new tradition in our little Danish-Scottish family of baking this cake around the school's autumn holiday. Things are still fairly quiet in mid-October and it's a bit like a 'starter pistol' for me to really start looking forward to Christmas.
The plan is to bake this cake next weekend - 17/18 October. Please join in if you can! And then we'll 'feed' the cake every week up to Christmas. I usually do it on WHB day (Mondays).
•450 g mincemeat from a jar (1lb)
•225 g wholemeal flour (80z)
•3 level teaspoons baking powder
•150 g dark brown sugar (5 oz)
•150 g butter or margarine (5 oz)
•175 g mixed dried fruit, chopped into small pieces (6 oz) [I use whatever I have handy - normally prunes, raisins, apricots, cranberries]
•50 g walnuts (2 oz) [yuck, don't like nuts in cakes, so I don't use them ;) ]
•grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon [I don't always bother]
Put everything in a large bowl. Mix with an electric hand whisk if you have one because this mixture is pretty heavy. Get everyone in the family to stir it with a big wooden spoon (just for theatrical effect) and make a wish. Naf, I know, but that has become our little Danish/Scottish family's tradition.
Pour into a 20 cm (8 inch) round or square cake tin. Make sure the base and sides are lined with paper, because it's going to be cooking for a looooong time.
Put into the oven gas mark 4, 325 fahrenheit, 170 celcius. Check it after 1½ hours. If it is firm and springy in the middle and doesn't leave a mark when you press it, it's done. Otherwise give it a bit longer (can take up to 2 hrs in all). Depends on your mincemeat, what fruit you're using etc.
Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack. Don't bother taking off the paper.
I then wrap mine in tinfoil, put it in a plastic box and feed it once a week. As I said above, I do it as part of my WHB each Monday morning up to Christmas.
Feeding it involves poking it several times with a skewer, then drizzling with a couple of tablespoons of Drambuie (Scottish whisky liqueur). Or cognac, Grand Marnier, brandy - whatever you happen to have to hand (can't really be tasted in the final cake, mainly gives a richness to the fruit).
Please leave a comment below if you are going to join me next weekend, 17 October 2009 :) I'll be tweeting as I make the cake on twitter.
And for more Christmas planning inspiration, don't forget to go check out Krista, Candace and Pippa :)
We have a glut of bananas right now which normally means that either banana cake or Cheetah shakes/smoothies are on the cards...
I normally freeze any old bananas we have (just break them into small chunks first and throw into a freezer bag) so we always have them ready for this smoothie. This one tastes very similar to Macdonalds chocolate milkshake - but is, of course, a tad healthier ;)
Cheetah shake is actually a misnomer because, as the milkshake is made with bananas (obviously there is no cheetah in it...), I would call it a Monkey shake. But, hey, the kids came up with the name and drink the darn stuff, so who cares? ;D
about 1 cup or 250mls milk
1-2 bananas (depending on how thick you want it, frozen work best)
1 big squirt honey
1 tablespoon of chocolate drink powder
Blend the whole lot, pour into little fancy glasses, add a straw or a parasol and there you have it. Happy Saturday! :)
Still on the music theme and still on list-making - two of my favourite things :)
Ten unforgettable concerts. Gosh, where do I start? Have seen more rock concerts than I can shake a really big stick at. Grew up with punk, then new wave, new romantics, ska, etc, etc and these days I'm listening to rock and electronica. Have resisted the urge to go look at the Edinburgh Gig Archive because I'll be sucked in - once again - to that fabulous time machine...
Before we start, here are a few of the other bands I've seen (some of them several times): Ian Dury + The Blockheads, Glasvegas, James Brown, Orange Juice, Beck, Blondie, The The, Bad Manners, Prefab Sprout, Prince, Altered Images, The Fratellis, The Farmer's Boys, Kent, Hall & Oates, New Order, The Klaxons, Hue and Cry, MC Solaar, The Proclaimers, Heaven 17, The Boomtown Rats, OMD, Robert Palmer, Sterling, INXS, Penguin Café Orchestra, 1990s, Michael Jackson, UB40, The Tourists, Simple Minds, Spear of Destiny, Thomas Dolby, Franz Ferdinand, The Smiths, The Nits, Tina Turner, Spleen Utd, Michael Simpson, The Human League, Cocteau Twins, Tue West, Sting, Friends Again, Love and Money... ** I shall add to this list as they pop into my old head :) **
So here's the 'official' top 10 list. Due to having given birth twice, I'm a bit hazy about some of the dates. And, as so often happens with these 'from the hip' blogposts, will no doubt think of 10 more concerts as soon as I hit the 'publish post' button! ;)
THE BUZZCOCKS + JOY DIVISION, Edinburgh 1979
My first ever concert. Little did I know back then that the support, Joy Division (lead by Ian Curtis, who hanged himself months later), would be iconic in music history. Only thing I remember about the Joy Division part of the evening was that Ian Curtis was a weird dancer. And not a happy chappy.
THE HIGSONS, Edinburgh University, 198?
My Dad was annoyed when he discovered, on dropping us off, that the concert didn't start until 10pm (my friend Gillian and I were schoolkids) and that he would have to come and collect us at midnight on a schoolnight :) Most memorable today because the lead singer was Charlie Higson, now a well-known comedian ("The Fast Show" and "Swiss Toni").
KRAFTWERK, Edinburgh, 198?
You would think that a group who stand stock-still for most of the time would be boring. Not.
KID CREOLE AND THE COCONUTS, Edinburgh, 1983
A big party.
SQUEEZE, Edinburgh, 198?
Found out just before the concert that they were splitting up and this would be their 'Farewell' tour. (Though they, of course, reformed and toured again...) My pals and I cried after the show (ah, we were so young!) because it had been so fantastic and went for a hot chocolate at a café on Leith Walk afterwards. Memories ;)
THE CLASH, Edinburgh, 1984?
Saw them a few times. The last time I saw them I knew that punk/new wave was finally dead because Joe Strummer told the audience to stop spitting on them, or they would leave the stage ;)
I've seen Elvis Costello more times than I can remember. First saw him in the late 70s. If I look at my (alphabetically organised) CD collection, he fills a very large space. Hard to choose but will say Falconer, Copenhagen, 200?. Stage crew started packing up and he kept on singing for us acapella. My fave song is Pump It Up and I still love him - please watch the video, those legs are fantastic ;)
MUSE, Copenhagen 2007
Where do I start? Everyone needs to experience Matt Bellamy live. As I've said before, a few days after the Muse concert a religious group came a-knocking and asked if I had a God. Was sorely tempted to reply, "Yes, and his name is Matthew Bellamy", but very much doubt they would see the funny side.
THE STRANGLERS, Copenhagen 2009
Wasn't expecting much more than a nice trip down memory lane (I saw the Stranglers 7 or 8 times in the 1980s) but was completely blown away. Especially by Baz Warne, their new singer. Even DH was impressed and said that he would like to come back in another life as Baz Warne. I'd like him to do that too... ;D
MAGTENS KORRIDORER, Copenhagen
Can't make this list without mentioning my sweetie friend, Rasmus, who twilights as guitarist in Denmark's finest rock band Magtens Korridorer (which translates as The Corridors of Power). Always a fantastic atmosphere at their concerts - like being out partying with friends (including the beer and the singalong part). And, yes, we always buy our own tickets for the concerts. And, yes, we get to go to the After Parties - though I haven't seen that free beer they keep promising me yet... ;)
Happy Friday! Hope you get a chance to enjoy some live music soon :)
We're soon off to Scotland to see my Mum and Dad (yippee) so just a half-week of planning. And then an easy peasy recipe for my Porridge Pancakes.
Didn't use chicken last night (plans changed) so using it today for Baked Teriyaki Chicken. Doubling the sauce, because I <3 sauce! Serving with sugarsnap peas and egg noodles.
Making Crockpot Lasagne. Don't think I'll ever go back to using an oven for lasagne again! Just put together in the morning and let cook all day - doesn't burn! ;) Krista gave me the idea for using the crock. I adapt her recipe slightly and use what I have on hand. And if I want to make it super simple, I just fry the mince and add a jar of Dolmio tomato sauce ;) Her recipe is here. Just scroll down the page. She even has some dinky menu cards, so just hit 'print' and run off to your kitchen!
My (sweetie) DBIL is coming to look after the DKs tonight. DH and I (and some friends) are dining out at a special event... A chef from San Francisco is in Copenhagen and doing some special dinners, profits to the Red Cross. You can read all about it at http://TheJetSetChef.com/wordpress
Leftovers of the Crockpot Lasagne and all the salad/veggies we can eat...because we need to clean out the fridge before we leave for Scotland. DH is staying at home, but as he hasn't been in a kitchen for over 10 years, I'm not expecting him to suddenly go wild and get his apron on ;)
Have been tinkering with various recipes for a healthy pancake for the cold, winter mornings. And as I'm the shortcut Queen, I wanted something that involves no effort and items that I always have on hand. Had them for breakfast this morning and the DKs gave them thumbs up:
2 cups (1pint) porridge oats
1-2 cups flour (wholemeal, rye, plain white...whatever you have)
1 cup (½ pint) puréed apple/applesauce from a jar
about 1 cup (½pint) milk (we still drink cow's...gasp!)
Take your shower and get dressed to shoes. Dump the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Finish drying your hair and put on your makeup.
Put your frying pan on to heat up - I have a non-stick one from Ikea. No fat required. Mix your mixture thoroughly, add a bit more milk if necessary, and drop spoonfuls into the pan. I managed to get five little ones in there at a time. Make sure the fryingpan isn't too hot, because they brown very quickly. Flip over when bubbles appear on the surface. Serve with your favourite toppings (we used sugar/maple syrup/jam), prepare for adulation and bon appétit! ;)
DS9 and I went to the Danish National Museum on Sunday. Just a quick visit - he wanted to see the national treasure Guldhornene - two golden horns. We looked at a special exhibition about the rain forest, Egyptian mummies and, of course, all the Viking 'stuff'.
If you mention 'Vikings' people automatically think of a bunch of hoodlums...looting, pillaging, raping and generally running riot. But they were also expert craftsmen and designers. Modern Danes are still renowned for their design skills but have (happily) moved away from the warrior mentality. New settlers to Denmark are still in for a bit of a culture shock, though, especially when it comes to raising children...
A French friend of mine nearly fainted when she found out that children sleep outside in their prams. My Mum did the same with me in Scotland. But here it's not something only reserved for the summer. They do it all year round, also mid-winter, when it's raining, snowing...you name it. Though the Danish health authorities don't recommend it if the baby is ill or if the outside temperature is below minus10c/14f :)
When our DKs were small, they slept in a pram which I parked in our garden. People who live in flats often have an old, extra pram permanently parked on their balcony, so the baby can get their daily nap. And at kindergarten they have specially built, large wooden cribs for the kids. The cribs are parked in a shed when the weather is particulary nasty. Our kids were sent off with their favourite small duvet/comforter and pillow. Do I need to tell you that kids get a really long, good nap this way, or have you already worked that out for yourself? ;)
And you must get your kids kitted out appropriately. Wellie boots, waterproof trousers and raincoat, thermal boots and a skisuit for the winter. Not because we get a lot of snow or we're all off on ski trips. You need good gear because Danish kids are out in all weathers. Trips don't get cancelled because of the weather. Our kids go to the local, Danish school and the policy there is that the kids are outside during breaks. Even if it's raining or snowing.
Because as the Danes say, "There's no such thing as the wrong type of weather. Just the wrong clothing!" :)
The above may seem a little 'barbaric'. But to be honest, the Danes are - on the whole - a healthy and hearty bunch. And I've got my own two little Vikings to prove it ;)
Another two fast and furious Halloween ideas for you, both of which the kids can make on their own :)
Good to give out to guisers ('Trick or Treaters') who ring your doorbell. Maybe together with one of the SKELETON HANDS I posted last week?
some scraps of white cloth/paper/tissue paper/kitchen roll/paper towels or even paper tissues
sellotape or white thread
black pen or paint
Take a square of white cloth or white tissue/paper. We ended up using kitchen roll - it has a really nice drape to it! Just want to say a quick 'thanks' to my running mate, Vibeke, who put the idea of kitchen roll into my head. It all started out with a misunderstanding about the Danish word for 'tissue paper' versus 'tissues' you use to blow your nose... ;)
Wrap it around the top of the lollipop, drape it like a ghost and secure with sellotape or thread. We used thread - looks good but a bit finicky to tie. Draw two black dots for the ghost's eyes. Done! We also used some silver glitterglue on the eyes of one of the ghosts...and I have some fluorescent paint in my craft box that we might use next time.
A great little decoration. And a good alternative to carving pumpkins for really small kids (or impatient grown-ups).
black felt pen or black paint/small paintbrush
Paint your stone orange. For extra brownie points, let the kids mix up their own orange colour ;)
Using a pen (or a brush with black paint) draw on a face - scary, happy, goofy or ..? Get some inspiration from the net - just google "jack-o-lantern face" - or click here for ideas from Martha Stewart. Let dry. You can varnish them (the spray type is best) if you want to keep them until next year.
Small stones are great for table decorations and paperweights. Large stones (or several small ones) are good for putting outside your front door. We made some last year - didn't varnish them - and they have survived rain and frost no problem.
Builders were here this morning at 7am - as they are every day - and the kitchen remodel charges on at a lightning pace. There are a bunch of them here today:
2 brickies - who are laying floor tiles on top of the cement floor they made earlier, which covers the electric floor heating 'net' put down by the electrician, which was laid on top of another layer of cement made by the brickies, which covered metal runners, which were placed on the old wooden joints from 1933...
1 joiner - removing the doors and surrounds so the brickies can lay the tiles right up to the doors
1 gaffer (big boss) who comes to check in on things every day
1 electrician who is finishing off some wall sockets, then the brickies can finish preparing the walls
Work on the leaky bathroom on the 1st floor has finished, so we're now back in business with that. So no more mess on the 1st floor. Thank goodness.
The plumber and electrician are also finished putting cables/pipes through our hall cupboard. So yesterday we were able to replace all the coats, schoolbags, basket 1 (bike helmets + bike keys/lights), basket 2 (umbrellas) and basket 3 (old grocery bags), together with the emergency torches and fire extinguisher :)
I'm still updating the Picasa web album on a daily basis. Click here if you're interested in photos. And here for videos.
And as it's Monday - which is WHB day if you live in a Flylady world - my final job was to change my hoover bag and give it some TLC. So I'm ready for whatever (dust) this kitchen remodel can throw at me ;)
The Danes have more traditions than you can shake a (very big) stick at. What about eating goose (or duck, as is now more common) for dinner on 10 November, as a prelude to St Martin's Day? Eating 'hveder' (hot, white rolls) and going for a walk around Copenhagen ramparts on the evening before 'Big Prayer Day' - introduced in 1770, when 11 religious holidays were rolled into one :)
Christmas is the high point. From the traditional biscuits that are baked, the hot donuts that are served with jam, sugar and glögg (mulled wine) at every Christmas party, the garlands of Danish flags that go on the (real) Christmas tree, the singing of songs while 'dancing' round the tree before the opening of presents on Christmas eve, to the weaving of hearts that are the Christmas symbol...to name but a few! ;)
And then there are the Advent calenders. Not the paper type, like we had when we were kids in Scotland. Where you open one door per day, to reveal a picture of a snowball, Santa Claus or a candle. Nor the modern type, where there is a little chocolate behind every door.
In Denmark kids get an advent calendar of 24 small presents. One present each day until the evening where Christmas is celebrated. Not large presents - but they are all individually wrapped, and opened each morning before the kids go to school. Which is a lovely idea. In theory. But rather difficult (not to mention expensive and stressful) in practice. Because poor old Mum (and it's always Mum isn't it?!) has to buy all the gifts and have them wrapped and ready by 30 November.
I've done it a couple of years. Of course. Because I love traditions. The kids are (and who wouldn't be?) delighted the first week or so and it makes getting them out of bed on a cold and dark December morning a doddle. But very soon they are unwrapping the (normally plastic, cheapo) gift and it is thrown into a pile with all the others. And by the end of the month, they even forget to open them. Sad but true! ;)
So now we've jumped on to a variant of that tradition, the 'Advent Sunday' gift. Along the same lines as the Advent candle decoration where you light one candle every week (just like they used to do on Blue Peter). Which means that they get a (slightly larger) token gift each Sunday (duh!) up to Christmas. Less to buy and less stressful for Mum. Usually I buy a book or some type of puzzle.
And did I mention the Advent calendars on Danish TV, where one episode is shown every day in December? No? Ah well, we'll keep that for another blogpost... :)
Oh my word. Just realised that I have been blogging every day for another full month - hurray, I've finished a project! ;D
Not planning to stop here...of course. But what started as a ragbag of blogposts seems slowly to be taking shape. Each day of the blog week has a purpose. Nice to have a plan for each day, just like the Flylady does for your house + head. Great to have some focus because, as she so rightly says, "Focus makes you fabulous!"
Here's how things are hanging right now:
SUNDAY: planning for Christmas
MONDAY: updates on our 2-month kitchen remodel
TUESDAY: easy crafts
WEDNESDAY: something about me, my family or life in Denmark
THURSDAY: menu planning
FRIDAY: things I love (I'm a very 'black and white' person when it comes to liking or hating things. The only grey around me is in my wardrobe -my base colour...)
SATURDAY: often a recipe for a cake or dessert, cos that's when we like to be all 'cosy' at home :)
So if you like what you've seen here, then hang around - there's lots more in the pipeline. And if you've got a great idea, drop me a line - I'd love your input! :)
Yes, we're back to wonderful list-making! :) When I'm out on the town and have had a drink (or three), I always have the urge to go dancing. I love rock and electronica but if I'm out for a dance, then it's dance music I want to hear. That's why it's called a 'disco', n'est-ce pas?
Here's a (provisional...) list of 10 songs that'll get me on the dancefloor. Or will make it impossible for you to drag me off it... ;) Some are old, some are new. But as we said in the old days, "Say what? House music all night long!"
My online groceries arrived last night. We're lucky to have a good delivery service in Copenhagen that only costs about 30 kroner (£3). You place your order before midnight for delivery the following afternoon/evening. www.yellowman.dk
Roast chicken, roast baby potatoes, carrots, thyme (all roasted in same dish for easy clean-up and maximum taste) and flash-fried bright green Danish 'pointy' cabbage. Kids get their weekly ration of sweets/candy, so no dessert ;D
Will hopefully be going out for dinner! :) Have decided that eating out once a week is a nice reward for putting up with the kitchen remodel - 4 weeks done, 5 weeks to go...
An old family favourite, crispy pork chops with gratin dauphinois and green beans with bacon & sugar. Haven't decided on dessert yet but, given the weather at the moment, will be a nice, comforting pud :)
Blender Quiche (ham some leftover ham in the freezer) with a dish of fresh, raw veggies. This worked out SO well last week that I can't wait to make it again! :) I just added some flour and baking powder to the eggs and other ingredients.
Scout night has come round again...so it's something easy and fast. Danish Meatball & Doughball soup. The meatballs and doughballs come ready frozen, I just add chopped carrots and chicken stock and heat through. Serve with good, wholemeal bread. And the kids lap it up ;)
Wok chicken (garlic, ginger, chili, chicken, ketchup), topped with cashew nuts and spring onions, will serve with chinese-style noodles and sugar snap peas