Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Mix and Bake Cake

Okay, we're just coming into the month of June which means that we're well and truly back in the season of school trips, end of term parties and summer picnics :)

Here's a really simple 'mix and bake' cake that I've been making for years.  So simple that DD9 can make it all on her own - though I generally get left with the washing up while she licks the bowl...  It's a plain 'tray bake' kind of cake which doesn't need any icing - which means even less work for the cook!  The dried coconut makes it lovely and sweet and moist.  You can, if you wish, jazz it up by adding chocolate chips or e.g. cranberries - that way, people won't notice that you keep bringing the same cake to parties! ;D

You'll need: 
  • 800 ml dried coconut (use a jug to measure)
  • 150 ml plain flour (use a jug to measure)
  • 400 ml sugar (use a jug to measure) - you can use less if you wish
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla powder
  • 250g butter or margarine (one tub)
  • 4 eggs
  • OPTIONAL: about 100g (4oz) cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips, chopped apricot, chopped nuts 
Put everything into a bowl.  (I take the butter or margarine out of the fridge about 1 hour before I'm going to use it - that way you can mix it straight in.  If you're running short of time, go ahead and melt it.)  Mix well to make sure that everything is moist.  That's it! :D  Remember to mix in any optional extras like chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into a baking tray (I always line mine with baking paper for easy removal and wash-up) - size approx. 30x40 cm - and spread it out evenly.  Pop into the oven for about 30 minutes at 200c (400f).

Check after 30 minutes.  If it isn't golden brown and springy, give it another 5 or 10 minutes.  Let it cool in tray and then slice into squares.

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the finished cake...DD9 took it to school before I could snap one!  Luckily, there were two pieces left.  One of which I ate (mmm!) and the other tiny piece is Daddys! ;D

Bon appétit!

Have a terrific Tuesday! :)

Monday, 30 May 2011

Down the Garden Path (Week Five)

It's been a very wet week.  Which means that I've had a fantastic excuse to be terribly lazy in the garden and have done almost no'wt apart from 'lawnmothering' (mowing the lawn) since last week!

Seedlings still need to be put into bigger pots or into the ground.  But we'll no doubt get round to it soon because Danish schools are on holiday Thursday and Friday due to Kristi Himmelfart (Christ's Heaven Flight) - or Ascension, as it's boringly called in English... ;D  So we've got a looooong weekend ahead!

The garden is really blooming now.  Here are my 'loo-brush' flowers - these purple ones are about 50 centimetres tall...

and the mini pink 'loo-brushes' which are about 10-15 centimetres tall.

Peonies (we have a large bed of them) are just beginning to pop open...huge red pom-poms!

I have to say that one of my favourite summer flowers are sweet peas.  I discovered that you can buy perennial ones (i.e. you plant the seeds and they keep coming back) which is absolutely magic.  The only drawback is that they don't have any scent...  But, until I get more organised, I'm quite happy to watch these ones come up year after year.  Just be careful where you plant them though...  I planted a few seeds next to a wall at random, thinking I could move them later.  No joy - those roots were not moving!  So be careful where you put them...

The cherry tree (which we planted when DS11 was just a babe in arms) is now covered in cherries and we're hoping for a good crop if those pesky birds don't get there first...  Last year we came back from holiday to find that they had polished the whole lot off.

Here's hoping for a more productive week...  At least we're now in for a dry spell and the sun is going to be shining, so maybe I should go make some hay? ;D

Have a marvelous Monday! :)

Friday, 27 May 2011

Just the two of us

DH is out tonight and DD9 is at a sleepover.  Which means that DS11 and I have the house to ourselves.  And what does that mean?  Sushi for dinner! (We're the only two in the family that like it, so it's a very rare treat.)

I'd planned to post a photo of our delicious takeaway but - alas - got so carried away that we polished off the whole lot before I realised...oops!  (And very yummy it was too.  Burp.)

Time to light some candles, get the fire going on this damp and dreary Copenhagen summer night and pop a DVD in the player.  Hot Fuzz, Dr Who and several Harry Potters...  Hmm, what shall we start with?  Decisions, decisions! :)

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! :)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 26 May 2011

Happy 'Little Friday'! Weather is sunny (at least for the next 10 minutes), I was out 'lawnmothering' earlier and there's no other way to put it off...it's time to sit down and menu plan - eek!

Lawn is looking lovely but I'm not going to
show you the weeds in the flower beds ;D

*   Krebinetter (Danish pork patties) with jasmine rice made in (beloved) ricecooker, green salad

*  Lamb steaks baked in the oven with green beans/garlic/honey and leftover jasmine rice

DD8 slathering mustard and brown sugar on to the lamb steaks
*   "Fish n' chips" - salmon steaks (I add a 'crust' of breadcrumbs/seasoning/herbs) and oven chips

*   Takeaway sushi for DS11 and I on the night that DD8 and DH are out - yippeeeeee! :D

*   Confit de canard (duck confit - from a tin all the way from La France) with baby potatoes and a salad of red cabbage/carrot (see Tuesday's post about red cabbage/being all grown up)

DS11's favourite food is sushi but confit de canard comes high on the list too :)
Chicken, sweet potato and coconut curry (from BBC Good Food website) - which I'll make in my crockpot.  We recently made our own naan bread (another BBC recipe) - which was a huge success - so will no doubt make some to go with the curry...

*   Leftover night this week will probably be a frittata (there are lots of eggs to use up) with veggies from the fridge that have seen better days...

That's it - bon appétit!

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! :)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

When Blue Monday isn't New Order

* * * This post appeared earlier today on www.denmark.dk - the official website of Denmark.
The direct link is

My husband came home from work on Monday and said “…half of Copenhagen was in town today”. Elementary, my dear Watson, because it was “Blue Monday”!

If you hear “Blue Monday”, you think of the New Order song. Not in Denmark.   Blå Mandag or “Blue Monday” is a Monday in May or June when hoardes of 14 year olds have fun with their friends, show off their new gear, drink a cider or a beer (or two, or three) and get to spend some of the (wads and wads of) money that is burning a hole in the pocket of their skinny jeans.   And Danish schools officially give them the day off to do it…   And why is that? Because they’ve just been “konfirmeret“. Confirmed as members of the Danish church!

In seventh grade they’re invited to “gå til præst“ (‘go to the priest’) which basically means going to a series of meetings at the church.   Not only to learn about the Bible and the rituals of the Danish church but also to discuss life’s ‘big questions’, faith, life and death.   And – hey – don’t worry if you discover that you don’t actually believe in God.   You can still be confirmed - because the ceremony is a confirmation of the christening ceremony, with God saying “yes” to you.   Not the other way around! ;D

The meetings run over the course of several months and culminate in a grand church ceremony – the girls and boys traditionally dressed in white - in April, May and June.   (With churches often performing two confirmation services in one day – sometimes with standing room only at the back!) It’s a milestone for Danish kids and their families.   You’ll often hear confirmation being referred to as a rite of passage, when “the child takes his place amongst the ranks of the grown ups”.   After the ceremony, and a good half-hour of photo-taking both inside and outside the church, there’s a lunch at home or in a restaurant for family and close friends.   And during lunch the kids finally get to the highlight. Opening the gifts!

The kids I know told me that this year’s gift from Mum and Dad is a laptop computer, the latest smart phone or a flat screen tv.   Thirty years ago, when my husband was confirmed, it was jewellry, a watch or a new bike.   (And those Gyldendal red dictionaries were clearly all the rage too, because we seem to have an entire shelf of the things.)

But right at the very top of the kids’ wish list is money.   Cheques or cool cash, please. And grannies and grandads, aunties and uncles are apparently quite happy to give cash instead of a specific gift.   And very generous they are too.  According to a survey by the bank Nordea, this year Danish kids will receive on average gifts worth a whopping 17,000 kroner (US $3,200 or GB £1,980).   With a third of the money being spent immediately…   Is it any wonder they can’t wait for "Blue Monday"? ;D

Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

I'm all grown up

Occasionally I get an a-ha moment and realise that I'm all grown up.  Like when the doorbell rings (for the second time this month) and one of DS11's schoolmates or a friend's daughter is standing there, asking to borrow baking powder.  And I have it.  In fact, I have three pots of it!  (Hoarder, much?)  Or arriving at a party on time - nails painted, gift wrapped and card ready.  Gone are the days of writing the card - in that tell-tale squiggly writing - in the car on the way.  Or when I look around the garden and think, 'This is all mine!' (Though, on the other hand, the responsibility of looking after it is all mine too - see yesterday's post on the subject of never-ending garden upkeep).

Last night I had another 'grown up' moment. When I was standing slicing carrots and red cabbage to be eaten raw in a salad.  (Strangely enough, also for the second time this month.)  Me!  The girl who never ate her vegetables as a child.  (Go ahead, ask Mum).  Who never cooked red cabbage til she moved to Denmark in 1998.  And who certainly never used it raw - in a salad - to be eaten by the family on a bog standard Monday night - until May 2011.  And here's the rub...it was blinking lovely!

...Whatever next?!

Have a terrific Tuesday! :)

Postscript: by complete co-incidence, I just found another post I wrote about me feeling like a grown up Just an old fashioned girl from May 2010.  Perhaps May is the month of contemplation?!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Down the Garden Path (Week Four)

Back from a wonderful long weekend in Sweden (Friday was a holiday in Denmark due to Big Prayer Day) and back to a garden where I swear everything had shot up two feet in the two days that we were away...eek! ;D

Anyway, I got out and 'lawnmothered' (cut the grass) as soon as I had unpacked our suitcase and put the first load of washing in the machine - yep, old Flylady habits die hard! :D

In my last garden update, I was planning to weed the stone borders around the house. Here's what I came up with...

So the stone borders are now looking much better - well, at least for a day or two.  I shall keep a beady eye on them.  And my beloved gas weed-burner close at hand.

I always find that, when I travel, I come back home full of new ideas for cooking etc.  This time I came back with a couple of new loungers for the garden!  They had this type of chair at our holiday cottage by the lake in Sweden, and the kids decided that we just had to have similar ones for the garden.  DH and I fully agreed.  So now we just have to fight over who gets to sit in them...and as I do all the gardening, that surely means me first?  ;D

Next on my list?  Doing something about the zillions of dandelions in the lawn.  And weeding the garden paths...

And what am I looking forward to?  The rhododendron are almost ready to burst into bloom!

And my favourite time of day? Early morning or early evening when the lilac scent assaults you! :)

I'm off out to have a lie down on my new lounger.  Check back next week for another update on the green front.

Hope you have a marvelous Monday! :)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 19 May 2011

If you saw yesterday's post Big Buns for Big Prayer Day, you'll know that it's a public holiday tomorrow and therefore a long weekend - hooray! :D  So we've got our fingers crossed for good weather and will be taking things nice and easy...

'The prom' - at the bottom of our road.
The huts out on the water to the left are for 'winter bathers',
there's also a beach, a fort, a moat, cannons and a tiny campsite!
Here's the menu for the week:

*  big, meaty sausages with honey/chili/ketchup sauce, flash-fried savoy cabbage and mashed potatoes

*  homemade lasagne with green salad

I've made two large batches - one to eat, one to freeze
suppe - Danish meatball, dumpling and carrot soup (as a treat for DD9 when she gets back from school camp)
*  lamb steaks - which have been on the menu plan (but are still in the freezer) for weeks! ;D

*  homemade beef burgers on wholewheat buns, veggie sticks and a handful of crips on the side

DD9 tucking into some freshly made naan bread/flatbread - easy peasy to make and yummy!
*  chef's surprise = wholewheat pasta with whatever veggies and meat I find lurking at the back of the fridge ;D

That's it - no post tomorrow from me due to the holiday.  Have a lovely Little Friday and a wonderful weekend! :)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Big Buns for Big Prayer Day

It's Wednesday which means that [drumroll, please] it's time for another post about those crazy (but lovable) Danes.  Today it's about their crazy (but practical) approach to religious holidays...

You can read the post over at denmark.dk (the official website of Denmark) and the direct link is

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Bah humbug - blinking Blogger!

Just a quick update to let you know that "blogger" went wonky on Friday morning.  Apparently most blogs are back up to date but I'm sulking because

a) my menu plan which I posted on Thursday morning has now completely disappeared from the face of the earth

b) the post which I had written for Friday disappeared from the draft section.

Boo hoo!

Oh well, onwards and upwards.  Normal service will be resumed immediately....starting with my traditional Wednesday post about "those crazy Danes"...

Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Bumping into Benny

Today it's Wednesday which means I've written another post about those crazy (but lovable) Danes over at denmark.dk - the official website of Denmark.  And today's subject?  A bit of Danish poetry!  (Fear not, I've translated it into English for those of you not quite up to speed in Danish...)

The direct link is here http://blogs.denmark.dk/diane/2011/05/11/bumping-into-benny/

I shall try and turn this photo the right way up tomorrow! ;D

Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Join the Garden Party (Week Three)

Eight days have passed since Join the Garden Party (Week Two) and, again, there has been a lot of activity in the garden.  Mostly from the garden's side!  ;D

To be perfectly honest, I was a bit late with my 'lawnmothering' this week, so the grass was almost knee-high and the dandelions heads were towering towards the sky!  Thank goodness I have this blog to keep me accountable...  I decided to get out before lunch today and just get on with it.  So the lawn is now fit for a King or Queen or maybe a game of croquet?

This is a picture of the back lawn.
We have more round the side of the house
and the front. Mowing time? About 40 minutes.
DD9's seeds have shot up and we should be able to plant them outside now (we haven't had frost for the last 10 days)

Next on the agenda are the stone borders around the house which looked perfectly fine just four weeks ago but are now chock full of grass.  I'm tempted to blast them with my gas weed-burner, but I know that I have to get out my little chair, sit my little bottom down, and take out the largest weeds by hand.  And THEN I can blast what is left with my weed-burner - yeargh!

Join me next week for an update?  It should be blooming lovely!  ;D

A couple of flowering bushes
that we planted a couple of years ago :)
Have a terrific Tuesday! :)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Scaredy Cat Challenge - Spring in my Step 2

Dear regular readers

Oops - somehow I forgot to post this!  I wrote it a few weeks ago but it got lost in the run up to our trip to New York...  I'm still working on this particular challenge, so the next update will be coming very soon :)

New shoes...from New York! :)
 * * * * *
Time for an update on my latest Scaredy Cat Challenge...getting my (less than perfect) feet sorted out!

It's a three part challenge:

1) I've been for my second visit to the skin specialist to get those pesky verucas frozen off (okay, that's probably 'too much information' but you need the 'warts 'n all' version - boom boom!).  My feet are looking much better already.  She'll do the biopsy on the mysterious mole on my next visit.

2) I went into town yesterday (yes, yes, you guessed - it was Anti-Procrastination Wednesday in Flylady land!) and had my feet checked at the orthopedic shoestore.  Very simple.  Take off your shoes and socks, stand on a large photocopier (on floor level...) and the computer spits out a coloured print showing exactly where you're putting the most pressure.  Not the prettiest picture I've ever had taken of myself  ;D

The foot man said the bones at the front of my feet had worn away due to too much strain.  Probably due to the 20 kilos (44 pounds) I put on when I was pregnant?  My normal, current weight is 52 kilos (114 pounds).  And running three times a week has probably made things worse.

Just back from a run...with a red nose but lipstick intact! ;D
He's making me a pair of insoles that I can use in different shoes (boots, pumps, sandals) as well as my running shoes.  They'll be ready next Wednesday and my little private health insurance policy will cover roughly one third of the cost.  Hallelujah!

He said that, given the current condition of my feet - without insoles - I'd soon start getting very sore feet.  And ultimately a sore back.  Yikes!  So glad I went ahead and got it sorted...  And the whole thing only took...5 minutes!

We also got DD8's feet 'photocopied' because she walks on the inside of her feet.  He recommended that she practice dancing on her tiptoes to her favourite music for about 5 minutes a day in order to strengthen the muscles.  He'll check her again after the summer.

3)  The third part of this 'Holy Trinity of the Blessed Feet' was to arrange regular visits to a chiropodist.  So that's my next task...

Hope you've embarked on your own Scaredy Cat Challenges?  Let's hold hands and be scared together!

Have a marvelous Monday! :)

* * * * * *

Friday, 6 May 2011

The path less travelled

Behold!  O wondrous sight!

I've decided to post a pic of my favourite path (which I think is the most beautiful in the world) because I'm not going to be seeing it for a few weeks.  Boo hoo!  Birch levels have been crazy for the past fortnight and, though I'm not directly allergic to the pollen, it's been causing me no end of gip with my asthma.  And making my nose run like the proverbial tap.  (Not to mention making it rather red and blotchy - eek!)

So - as from next week - all (jogging) paths will lead to the beach!

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! :)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 5 May 2011

If you saw Tuesday's post App-iness, you'll know that I've been playing about with a new cookbook app for my smartphone.  So there are lots of new recipes to try on this week's menu at Casa Copenhagen:

Cold weather hotpot which I shall make in my (beloved) crockpot

Penne with sausage and fennel don't worry about the name, you use fennel seeds and not the real, yucky, stuff! ;D

Ryebread with liverpaté, bacon and mushrooms -
hopefully the kids won't bother with the beer and snaps...
Madder (Danish cold, open sandwiches) on the day I'm at a parents' meeting at school (from 5 to 7pm).  The kids can easily make themselves this type of dinner without setting the house on fire - or, more to the point, this will stop me from sitting at the meeting thinking that they're setting the house on fire... ;D

Summer in winter chicken with rice made in my ricecooker

*  Roast lamb, baby potatoes, stir-fried savoy cabbage and tomato salad

Springtime pasta (tortellini, broadbeans and ricotta)

*  And a 'leftover' night - which can always be made more exciting by the addition of some homemade 'Set your (Flylady) timer muffins' (which take, you guessed it, less than 15 minutes to put together :)

Bon appétit!  Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! :)

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Candles or lightsabers?

It's Wednesday - which means that I write about those crazy (but lovable) Danes! :D

The post is about Danish Liberation Day. And Star Wars.  And you can read it over at my blog desk at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs...

Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


I haven't downloaded too many apps to my new smartphone (an android, HTC Desire).  I'm trying to keep it nice and simple this time around...  But here are two that I use daily.  And being a canny Scot, I can assure you - before you run off to download them - that they're absolutely free! :P

(available for both Android and iTunes)

It probably hasn't escaped your notice, dear Blog Reader, that I'm a flybaby...  ;D  Which means that I keep my home clean and cosy, my life organised and my head carefree using the Flylady programme (also free!).

I use the Chore Checklist app to store my Morning and Before Bed Routines on my phone.  Right at my fingertips.  No more excuses!  This isn't a fancy app by any means.  It does what it says on the box.  And as we flybabies often get carried away with the 'planning' (um, overthinking?!) - instead of getting on with the 'doing' part - that's actually not a bad thing...

(only seems to be available for Android, but maybe you can find something similar in the iTunes store?)

I love surfing the web for food inspiration.  But I don't often get around to making what I see because it's a fiddly process to get the recipe from the website to my kitchen...  I either have to print it out, send a copy to my e-mail or use the browser in my phone.  'My Cookbook' has come to my rescue!  You can import recipes from the major foodie websites (food.com, bbcgoodfood.com, etc) straight to the app using the 'share' tool in your phone's browser.

When you open the app, simply find the recipe you want and select exactly what you want to view...a summary, the ingredients or the 'how to' directions.  It can even read the recipe aloud for you - brilliant!  Very useful if your eyesight isn't quite what it used to be (hello, fellow over-40s!) or if you've got young kids 'helping you'! ;D

A few goodies we made for Easter Sunday lunch
That's it, off you run - go play in the android market (or the iTunes store).

Have a terrific Tuesday! :)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Join the Garden Party (Week Two)

I can't believe four weeks have already passed since I started working on the garden.  This year I wanted to get a head start and came up with a list that I was going to attack one baby step at a time - Flylady style.  (My complete to-do list is here Down the Garden Path).

Last time I posted it was still chilly outside so I was working on jobs like cleaning the deck - see Join the Garden Party (Week One).  Since then, I've given the lawn it's first and second mowing - or 'lawnmothering' as I like to call it! :D

DD9 has planted a few seeds, using the cheat's version from Ikea...  We're hoping to see lots of sweet peas, evening sunflowers and bog standard sunflowers popping their little heads up in the very near future.  And hopefully we should be able to plant them out in the garden by the end of this month.

The sun and heat made a sudden return to Denmark two weeks ago.  Meaning there was also a sudden return of weeds along our fence on the pavement - eek!  But one 15 minute session with a little trowel and a pair of purple gardening gloves and - voilà - we're already looking better!

We have three of these green wheelie bins for garden refuse.
The council empties them once a fortnight.
And after all that hard work, I finally got my 'reward'.  A 15 minute stint with my favourite weapon of choice...my gas-driven weed burner.  Yeargh! ;D

What's next? Hmm, tune in next week for an update...  And if it's lovely and sunny where you are, why don't you relax outside and enjoy your efforts with one of these?

The 'recipe' is here
Bottoms up!

Have a marvelous Monday! :)