Friday, 24 June 2011

Not farewell...au revoir!

The kids had their last day of school today and that means one thing - the summer holidays are finally here! Thanks to Flylady routines, this year I made it through to the end unscathed...  And without leaving a trail of destruction (and dirty washing) behind me!  ;D
It also means that, along with my 44th birthday tomorrow (I love this age, life has never been better!), I'm celebrating my second full year here on the blog...  Where does the time go?   Seriously?

Look what I got as a birthday present this morning from my dear friends:
a world-premiere...a Magtens Korridorer key chain! :D

Anyway, it's time to shut up shop.  Time to tidy my blog desk.  Time to sleep longer in the mornings.   Time for trips down to the local beach.  Time to read our books in the garden after dinner (swaddled in blankets).  Time to pack our suitcases for our trip to Spain and France.  Time for the kids to make me pancakes for breakfast.  Time to sleep in the tent in the back garden.  And, of course, lots and lots of skinny dipping!
.

Don't worry about your hairy (freckled) knees...take the plunge! :D

Here's wishing you a long and wonderful summer.  See you at the end of August! :D

Love
Diane
xoxo

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 23 June 2011

We've almost made it!  One more day of school to go and then it's six weeks of summer holidays...me included!  So this is my final menu plan until the middle of August.  I shall still, bien sûr, be planning menus (it's a firm habit) - just not posting them here...  But don't despair - I have 78 of them already posted here on the blog...  Click here for inspiration! :D

But back to this week's menu:

*  homemade beefburgers on wholemeal buns with veggie sticks on the side (which didn't get made as planned last week)

*  wholemeal pasta spirals in a creamy pesto sauce with grilled pork sausages

*  DH and the kids are taking me out to dinner for my birthday - hooray! :)

Now that I'm turning 44, I should probably do as the stars do and hide behind my sunglasses...
Instead, I'm stripping off and taking the plunge! ;D

*  roast lamb (done in the oven) with rösti potatoes (also done in the oven), tomato salad, asparagus and hollandaise sauce

krebinetter (Danish meat patties, dipped in seasoned breadcrumbs, pan fried) with rice made in my (beloved) ricecooker, broccoli and carrots

This is how the 'krebinetter' looked, last time I made them.

*  grilled ryebread sandwiches and soup

*  leftover night: this week it will probably be pasta with all the leftover veggies I can find in the fridge, jazzed up with cubed, chunky bacon

That's it! Bon appétit!

Hope you have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! I'll be back to close up shop tomorrow... :)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Happy Sankt Hans! Happy Midsummer!

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

The direct link is

 
Tomorrow night the Danes – young and old – will be out in force celebrating Sankt Hans Aften (Saint John’s Evening).

It’s a celebration of the summer solstice and falls on the evening of the 23rd of June. The Danes gather around bonfires, often topped with effigies of witches – the idea being to send them off to North Germany, ha! There are bonfires everywhere. All along the coast and beaches, in parks and forests and in town centres. Some bring a picnic dinner to share, there’s usually a båltale (bonfire speech) by a local dignitary or VIP and, at around 10pm when it’s just beginning to get dark, the bonfire is set alight and that’s your cue to start singing a midsommervise (midsummer hymn) called Vi elsker vort land (We love our country).



Two years ago the kids and I went down to celebrate Sankt Hans at the canal in Hellerup. A gospel choir entertained hundreds of spectators with a short concert and at 9pm the bonfire – out on a pallet on the water – was set ablaze. We sat on the quayside, equipped with (very large) icecreams, while others enjoyed dinner on their boats and yachts (anyone want to invite me this year? Please?) and a good time was had by all…



Let’s cross our fingers that the Danish weather gods will be on our side again tomorrow night…

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Sale! Sale! Sale!

Well, here I am doing yet another thing I'd never thought I'd do.  Be standing outside a Danish department store at 7.20 pm on a lovely summer's evening waiting for them to open the doors for a special 'VIP' pre-sale.  Admittance only for us (apparently) special souls who possess the store card...


I don't normally go way out of my way for a bargain but as the (rather lovely but - eek - really rather expensive) Danish designer dress I looked at on Friday morning - as a possible birthday cadeau to myself - might, just might be reduced to half-price, I thought I'd come and take a peek and see if they have one in my size...

The doors are about to open.  Wish me luck!

(And if I'm not back...have a terrific Tuesday!)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Summer Swimmer Cake

Okay, I have to apologise in advance for inundating my blog with foodie stuff right now. (On Friday I posted a Taco Salad we made for the After School Party salad competition - and won!)  But, hey, it's high season for school events (4 days of term left to go - hooray!!!) - and this cake we've just made to take into DD9's class tomorrow is just too cute not to share! ;D


DD9 and I got the idea from familyfun.com (they have lots of summer cakes here).  It's one of my absolute favourite websites for crafts, recipes and games.  They even have a video for the snorkeler cake, showing exactly how to make it.

We used shop-bought cake layers and used the Danish sweets we had to hand.

We used liquorice for the hair, marshmallows/M+Ms for the eyes,
biscuit for the nose and 'shoe lace' liquorice for the mouth
It took about 15 minutes to assemble - including the time to dig out the snorkel set and give it a rinse (yep, there was still sand on it from last year...). And the clear up was nice and easy too! 

Bon appétit!

Hope you have a marvelous Monday! :)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Taco Salad


As I wrote in my menu plan post yesterday, this evening we're off to the After School Club Summer Party.  Instead of the usual cake competition, they moved the goalposts on us this year and made it a salad competition - so we had to put on our thinking caps and come up with something in a flash.  Here's DD9's entry...all ready for the judges!

I made sure to replace the tequila with water...just in case! :P
It's our attempt at a Taco Salad: kidney beans, red pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, sweetcorn and lots of lovely, crushed, crunchy tortilla chips...


With grated cheddar cheese, mild tomato salsa and crème fraîche on the side....which for me is the best part of the lot! ;D


Let's hope that DD9 has a winner on her hands!

DD9 with her entry for the competition :)
Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! :)

PS: She won!  And was over the moon! And was very pleased with her prize - which she shared with her best friend - a bottle of organic elderflower juice! ;D

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 16 June 2011

It's going to be a mad week because we have a school event or party almost every day - eek!  So I'm cutting myself lots of (soft, silken) slack and have planned a menu using mainly oven-ready or part-prepped dishes...

Biksemad, which is Danish 'hash': cubed, fried potatoes with onion and beef, topped with a fried egg and pickled, cubed beetroot
image
Last week's chops
*  Summer party over at school - we'll be taking wholemeal pasta with tomato/basil sauce and Danish meatballs.  And a salad - which is top secret - as our entry for the Tastiest/Best Looking/Most Original Salad Competition! ;D

*  "Running Dinner" with parents from DS11's class.  I'll have five guests at our house for the starter which is going to be warm baby potatoes topped with dill/crème fraîche sauce, smoked salmon and prawns...



*  Lamb kebabs with pseudo greek salad of red onion/cucumber/tomato and feta cheese, homemade pita/naan bread (was originally planned for last week)

*  Homemade beefburgers on rolls with veggie sticks, Cheetah Shake to drink

image
Cheetah Shake = healthy banana milkshake/smoothie! :)

*  Pastry parcels filled with chicken, bulgur made in my (beloved) ricecooker, sweetcorn
image
Last week's egg fried rice - my 'planned' leftover dish
That's it, folks - bon appétit!

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! :)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

You are what you eat?

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


I’m usually a firm believer in the old adage “You are what you eat”. But I’m really, really hoping it doesn’t apply to these Danish sweets… ;)

image

Despite their not terribly attractive name, skum (which is actually the Danish word for ‘foam’ or ‘froth’) are just dainty, squishy, fluffy, pink and white marshmallows. You’ll also see them parading under the equally silly name of skumfiduser…‘foam things’.

I’m telling you this now - in this ‘high season’ for toasting marshmallows over barbecues and bonfires – because it was (yet another) one of those words that was sadly lacking in my English-Danish dictionary when I first arrived in Copenhagen.

Velbekomme and have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Honey for my little honey

[Just in case you were wondering...there was no post from me yesterday as Denmark was closed for Pinse (Whitsun)!]

Last week we took a trip to our local botanic gardens - just 2k away from us - and saw that there are now beehives down there.  Aha!  (We thought out loud.) Maybe we can buy some as 'medicine' for DS11?  If you haven't already heard it on the grapevine, apparently honey (but it has to be local stuff) can help build up immunity to hayfever.  And as DS11 suffers terribly from birch and grass allergies (aww, the poor wee soul!) and is mad about honey, what on earth are we waiting for?

We could hear the bees before we could see them...bzzzzzzz!
Lo and behold - the same day - we picked up DS11's classmate to drive to scouts and discovered that his neighbours sell honey from their bees.  He lives 200 metres away from us.  How local is that?! :D

So we promptly bought three jars of the lovely runny stuff.  For the princely (and very competitive, at least for Denmark) sum of kr. 110 (about £13 or $22).  Let the games begin!

Forårs honning - summer honey
Right now DS11 is taking a spoonful of it each morning.  And we put a couple of spoons in our banana smoothie/milkshake today (see our recipe here).  And topped it off with a scoop of Ben and Jerry's Phishfood.  Now...isn't that just what the doctor ordered? ;D

Hayfever or (s)not - hope you have a terrific Tuesday! :)

Friday, 10 June 2011

Taking the plunge!

I love being 40 plus.  With age comes maturity.  And self-acceptance.  And it also gives you the chance to get away with doing things which - in your teens, twenties or thirties - would be considered weird, ill-advised or just downright embarassing!

Would you like an example?  On Wednesday my sweetie Danish friend V and I were down at the beach for an outdoor exercise class.  (We run three times a week come hail, sleet, snow or ice - but mainly we meet for the chat!)  It was a gorgeous Danish summer day.  By 9am the beach was full of mothers and toddlers, a kayak team, dog walkers, holiday makers, joggers.  Basically the World and His Danish Wife...
V and I spied a few people out in the water who were 'winter bathing' or vinterbadning as the Danes call it.  Bathing.  In the (still very cold) sea.  Stark naked.  V said to me, "Well, that's certainly something I could never do!"
And guess what happened, one hour later, when we were hot and sticky after our intensive workout?  You guessed it.  We stripped off.  Right down to our birthday suits.  Together with 5 or 6 other lovely ladies of all nationalities, shapes, sizes and ages - though all of us were definitely well (well) past the 30s stage...  In full view of the whole beach.  And enjoyed a very refreshing dip!  [15c or 59f for those who are interested in the water temp].

And do you know what?  We survived.  We couldn't stop smiling afterwards.  "Intoxicated" sums it up pretty well.  So we did it again this morning! ;D

In fact, we're going to do it the whole summer and - who knows - perhaps even well into the winter?  Today we bought summer passes for the loal bathing huts.  Where we can strip off to our heart's content and bathe - without fear of offending those pour souls who aren't yet fortunate enough to have joined the 40s club yet... ;D

View from the ladies section of the bathing huts,
looking east towards Sweden -
fantastic, non?
Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! :)

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 9 June 2011

Oh my word...just two more weeks and school will be out for summer - yay!  The next week is going to fly by - it's a long weekend (Whitsun or Pinse as they say here), plus DS11 will be away at a scout course, DH and I are out at a party and there are school events...  [she wrote, feeling tired just thinking about it]

Here's this week's menu - all easy to prepare and even quicker to eat!

*  Cold pasta salad (carrot/cauliflower/broccoli) with sausages

*  Grilled chicken (on the barbecue) with baked potatoes (finished off on the barbecue), grilled red peppers and salad
Judging by the knife and fork,
I think it was probably DD9 who set the table... ;D

Pasta med kødsovs/wholemeal spaghetti bolognese/wholemeal pasta with meat sauce

*  Glazed Pork Chops - recipe courtesy of Krista, baby new potatoes and summer cabbage

*  Lamb kebabs with a salad of tomato, cucumber and feta cheese, rice made in my (beloved) ricecooker.  Danish koldskål for dessert


*  Leftover night - will use leftover rice (from the lamb kebabs) to make Egg Fried Rice with Prawns

*  Out to dinner...don't know what we're getting and - frankly - I don't care because I'm not cooking!  Hooray for parties! :D

That's it - bon appétit!

Hope you have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! :)

Celebrate with stegt flæsk!

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

The direct link is
 
 
 
Get ready to wave your Danish flags…because the ‘Killer Cucumber’ saga is behind us and it’s safe to eat your greens again!   ['Eek!' say the nations' kids - having had a welcome break from the ubiquitous stacks of cherry tomatoes, carrot and cucumber sticks that are part and parcel of a healthy Danish lunchbox.   All wrapped up in madpakkepapir (packed lunch paper), of course.   Not aluminium foil. Tut, tut.]

But, as usual, I digress!

Last Wednesday I posted a recipe for agurkesalat - a (killer) Danish cucumber salad.   And what better way to celebrate the return of the cucumber than to serve up agurkesalat alongside this (killer) Danish fried belly pork?  Ladies and gentlemen, mine damer og herrer, I give you…stegt flæsk!

In order not to appear greedy,
just put a couple of pieces on your
plate at a time :)
Stegt flæsk (literally translated as ‘fried bacon’) is a classic Danish dish that you’ll see in lots of restaurants.   Normally with the tag ad libitum – eat all you can eat – because it’s so yummy that, once started, you won’t want to stop.   And rightly so!   The first time I made it, I bought one 500 g (1lb) pack of belly pork.   Now I buy two packs – for our Scottish/Danish household of 2 adults and 2 kids – just to be on the safe side…

You can stege (fry) the strips of belly pork in a frying pan.   But you can also cook them in the oven. Which is my preferred method, as it means (slightly) less mess in the kitchen.

Dab the pieces of belly pork with a bit of kitchen roll to dry them off.  Place them on a rack, with a little space between each (so they don’t stick together when cooking) and make sure you have a drip-pan underneath.   Sprinkle generously with salt.   And I mean very generously. ‘Bad-for-my-blood-pressure’-generously.   The salt helps to draw out fat and water, making it very crispy.



Pop into a really hot oven (around 225 c or 450 f) for around 20 minutes.   Keep checking!   You want them really crisp.   Not burnt.



When the strips of belly pork are nice and crispy on one side, flip them over.   From this point you have to be really vigilant because the second side never takes as long as the first…   So watch them like a hawk!



Nice and crispy on both sides?   Then you’re ready to serve up.   We always have it with the traditional accompaniments of persillesovs (homemade parsley sauce) and boiled potatoes.   Not forgetting, of course, some of our (killer) Danish cucumber salad, agurkesalat ;)

Velbekomme!   And skål!   [she said, holding a nice chilled Carlsberg]

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Star Prize? Dinner for Two!

I often write a speech or a quiz for friends' birthday parties and am always on the lookout for new ideas...

A couple of weeks ago I made a little quiz for a friend's daughter's confirmation party.  A buzz went around the room when I handed out the quiz sheets and the pens and pencils.  Because at the top I had typed "Star Prize: Dinner for Two"!  (You can bet they were excited to see who was going to win that...)

The quiz went down well, everyone laughed in the right places and at the end I asked everyone to swap their quiz sheet with a neighbour (to avoid cheating, bien sûr) so we could tally up the scores.  I presented the winner - a 15 year old boy - with the "Star Prize" and he eagerly unwrapped it to find this...


...2 paper plates, 2 plastic forks, 2 serviettes,
an Ikea candle and candleholder
and a tin of 'Forloren Skilpadde'
(a very peculiar Danish 'stew' of veal, fish dumplings and sherry)
A rather wonderful "Dinner for Two", don't you think?!

Hope you have a terrific Tuesday! :)

Monday, 6 June 2011

Down the Garden Path (Week Six)

If you saw my post last Monday, you'll know that I was hoping for a more productive week's gardening.  And what a week it's been!  DH helped me to tidy out the garden shed and we took two whole carloads of junk to the dump.  Faded and torn parasols.  Bits of timber from projects from 8 years ago.  Punctured footballs and tennisballs.  Inflatables that didn't inflate....  Broken lanterns.  You know the stuff I mean.  (And, yes, folks, it really does get easier to fling clutter, the longer you do things the Flylady way!)

I also did the usual 'SHE' (side-tracked home executive) thing and went completely gung-ho on weeding the garden path.  (As well as any other unsuspecting paved areas that had a green tinge that happened to catch my eye...)

Anyway, I did at least use my Flylady timer and only allowed myself to do 15 minutes worth at a time.  When the timer went off, I moved to a different area/had a glass of water (it was dang hot this week)/unfurled my back and tried to stand upright ;D

Step One: remove any huge green bits by hand


Step Two: attack the cracks in the paving with a sharp implement


Step Three: sweep the area as soon as the timer goes off


Step Four: admire your handiwork (and don't worry about the little bits of green that are left behind - it's progress we want, not perfection)


And I had a lightbulb moment...  If I get the kids to sweep the paths on a regular basis (because there's always some dust/earth/grass cuttings/flower petals etc) then surely there's less chance of new things being able to grow between the cracks...   :)

I started using Flylady techniques in the garden about 2 years ago.  After all, what works for the house works for the garden, or school or the office, right?  And I can see that the paved areas I worked on last year haven't been near so bad this year.  So, who knows, maybe five years down the line we'll be - gasp - weed-free?!  To be honest, I'm just pleased that I no longer have that awful overwhelmed feeling when I look out the window...  Cheers, Flylady!

Hope you have a marvelous Monday! :)

PS: The kids and I had a great weekend under canvas!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Happy Campers!

One of the great things about being an adult is getting to decide things. Like buying a tent.  Not because you're actually planning to go camping.  [Perish the thought - said the Champagne Socialist who just loves a swanky hotel.]  But because you remember the joys of sleeping in your backgarden as a kid.  And now - thirty years or so later - you can do the same thing.  Without having to ask Mum and Dad for permission! ;D

Here's our new tent, which arrived half an hour ago... We've upgraded from the 2-man ('bit of a squash for me and the two bairns') Outwell Jersey S tent (that's the orange tent which you can just spy in the background) to the 3-man ('room to swing a small cat') Outwell Fusion 300.


Like our previous Jersey tent, the Fusion is one of those 'pop up' models which meant that DS11 and DD8 had it out of the cardboard box, out of its carrybag...


...and erected, tent pegs secured, within? Two teeny minutes!


All we need now are our sleeping bags and mats. And we're ready for a night (kind of) underneath the stars :)

Our Flylady stainless steel water bottles are already in there -
good work DD9!

Have a fabulous Friday and wonderful weekend! :) 

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 2 June 2011

Hello from sunny Copenhagen - which is closed today due to the Kristi Himmel Fart (Ascension) holiday.  We're just taking it easy...doing some gardening and firing up the barbecue.  The clouds keep on making an entrance but right now - as I type - it's blue skies, baby! :D

I dusted off the flag and put it back on the playhouse flagpole today
- another job crossed off the list! :)
Here's this week's menu:


*  Salade nicoise - lettuce, green beans, new potatoes, cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives and croutons

*  Pork chops, overnight salad and - once again - new potatoes - yum!


*  Steaks with béarnaise sauce, tomato salad, rösti potatoes

*  Homemade wholemeal lasagne, veggie sticks (I made two huge batches of lasagne a couple of weeks ago and froze one)

DS11 and his scout friends tucking into lasagne - they polished off the lot ;D
*  Beef patties with shallots, creamy balsamic sauce (just add a lot of cream and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the frying pan once the shallots and beef patties are cooked), edamame beans and oven chips

*  Oven-ready chicken pastry parcels with green salad and perhaps some rice

*  'Leftover night' - pasta with any veggies that need used up, will add some lardons/bacon to jazz it up

Bon appétit!

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! :)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Killer (Danish) Cucumber Salad

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



With all the hoo-ha about ‘killer cucumbers’, I thought now was the perfect time to share this killer Danish side dish – agurkesalat! ;)

It’s a very delicate looking dish but has a sharp, tangy taste and is really good served with frikadeller (Danish pork patties), stegt kylling (roast chicken), flæskesteg (roast pork joint) or – my personal favourite - stegt flæsk (strips of roast belly pork) – yum! And it only takes 5 minutes to prepare…

You’ll need:

  • a small cucumber
  • 1dl, 100mls or 1/2 a cup of cold water
  • 1dl, 100mls or 1/2 a cup of white vinegar (don’t use red or balsamic here)
  • about 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • salt and pepper (purists use white pepper but it’s not something I keep in my kitchen)

.

Slice the cucumber as finely as you can. I use my mandolin…watch those fingers!


Put the cucumber slices in a dish. (Now is a really good time to use one of those glass bowls you got as a wedding present…)


Mix up the marinade – water, vinegar, sugar, a dash of salt and a good grind of pepper.


Mix well until the sugar starts to dissolve.


Pour over the cucumber slices and leave to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving (either in the fridge or on the kitchen counter – it’s your choice). The cucumber slices should still have a bit of crunch to them. If you want a slightly softer salad, you can let it sit overnight in the fridge.


Though it’s definitely not traditional, I sometimes add a wee dash of chili flakes just before serving…not so much for a ‘kick’ but just to make it look pretty.


And before you can say rødgrød med fløde, we’re done!

Bon appétit or velbekomme, as they say around these parts. Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)