Friday, 30 November 2012

Feel Good Friday - 30 November 2012

Three things that have put a big smile on my face this week:

The look on my kids' faces when our number was drawn during a school raffle...one whole kilo of delicious Danish marcipan chocolates for us to feast on with the whole family come Christmas Eve!

Guess who gets to pick first?  DS12!

After what was a very 'up-then-down-then-up-then-down' day...10 minutes in a massage chair while the kids and I were at Experimentarium (Denmark's 'hands on' science museum/playground).  If anyone has loads of dosh to spare, please buy me a massage chair for Christmas.  Thanks, ta!

Sssshhhhh....keep the noise down out there!
My friends.  Whether we are down at the sea in the morning having a skinny dip, or in town looking at this year's designer Christmas decorations, we can sort out the problems of the world over a cup of tea!

My sweetie friends V and H

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :o)

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Menu plan - Thursday 29 November 2012

Beginning to feel the Christmas excitement now - we've started some festive baking and I've been with friends to an exhibition of Danish Christmas decorations.  But I don't feel that I can really let it rip until Saturday comes (1st December)!

Delicate paper Christmas decorations by Danish designer Jette Frölich

Here's what's for dinner at Casa 'Almost-Christmas' Copenhagen this week:

*  crockpot beef in beer stew - I shared the recipe on Tuesday

*  spaghetti bolognese/pasta med kødsovs/spaghetti with meat sauce - because DS12 has just had two teeth pulled - on opposite sides of his mouth - and needs easy food! :o)

* suppe (Danish carrot, meatball and dumpling soup) with toasted ryebread

*  leftover spaghetti bolognese, jazzed up with extra veggies, sprinkled with cheese and breadcrumbs and baked in the oven, homemade carrot breadrolls on the side

*  out to a school Christmas event (the menu is chili con carne and æbleskiver Danish Christmas donuts) - no cooking or washing up for me - yay! :D

*  chicken parmesan (chick breasts dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and fried, then finished off in the oven on top of a bed of tomato sauce) with rice and salad

*  I have some cod fillets in the freezer - will probably wrap them in bacon and roast them in the oven, serve with a spinach salad and some rösti potato

DS12 has made brownies for his School Christmas Lunch...

That's it - bon appétit!

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday!

Diane :o)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Winterbathing for Dummies (Part Three - The Aftermath!)

Okay, so you did your homework (Winterbathing for Dummies – Be Prepared!) and have been for a skinny dip in the Danish sea (Winterbathing for Dummies – Taking the Plunge!).

So now what? Chances are that you found it scary - but incredibly exhilarating – and are ready for more? Great! But stripping off down at the seaside is only fun for so long. Trust me - been there – done that!

30 January 2012 - a few days before the sea turned to ice!

If you’re determined to keep going for the whole season – which for real Vikings is from November through to April - you’ll most likely want to join a club. A place to change and hang up your clothes (without them blowing off down the beach). Some clubs even have showers, toilets and saunas. But most of all, you’ll just want a place to share your love of this Danish extreme sport with other fanatics!

There is a great overview of Danish clubs, with a nifty little map, at vinterbader.com They’ve also put together a handy list of contact details for the various clubs…you can find that here. But be warned. Winterbathing has become extremely popular the last few years, and most clubs have waiting lists – some of them 6 years long! ;)

28 October 2011 - my friend V bathing in fog

Yep, you don’t have to be a crazy Dane to be a winterbather but it sure helps… See you on the bathing bridge?

Diane :)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Crockpot Beef in Beer

Here's yet another easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy crockpot recipe (last Tuesday I showed you my Crockpot Chili Con Carne).  Great for those times when life is rushing past and you want to get a handle on things and have dinner planned in advance - with no cooking required!

Take a joint of beef.  The cheaper the better.  (You can chop it into small chunks if you really want to.)  If you have time and the inclination, then brown it quickly in a really hot pan.

Beef sizzling in the frying pan
Dump the beef into your crockpot and pour over a bottle of beer.  I used some Danish Christmas ale.

Use any beer you like...

Throw in a stock cube to 'beef' up the flavour [boom, boom!], lots of salt and pepper, put the lid on and turn the crockpot to high - or low, if you're going to leave it there all day.  I also added a roughly chopped onion and some carrots, so that I wouldn't have to cook veggies later!

The beer makes a really tasty gravy.  If you want to thicken the gravy/juices, then add a few spoonfuls of Maizena and turn the crockpot to high for about 30 minutes before serving.  We like to eat the beef with mashed potatoes (great to soak up the yummy gravy).  But rice, polenta or couscous would work well too.  And, if you're really pulling out all the stops, how about adding some dumplings to the beef, during the last 45 minutes of cooking?  Divine!

We were so hungry on Sunday that I forgot to snap a picture of the beef all plated up.  So here's the crockpot sans contents...ready for washing up!

The most difficult part of crockpot cooking?  Forcing yourself to clean the pot immediately
instead of leaving it to sit on the kitchen worktop for a whole week! ;o)

Bon appétit!

Diane :o)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Christmas Planning - Monday 26 November 2012

So how is your Christmas planning coming along?  Are you nearly there - or nearly at your wits end? ;o)  In case you didn't know...I'm following the Flylady and her Cruising Through the Holidays missions.  To ensure that I'm ready, rested and 'raring to go' come 1 December!

Last week I told you that I have finished the Xmas card envelopes: addressing them, stamps, stickers and so on.  On Friday we, at long last, received the school photos of the kids so I was able to order the actual cards - hooray!  I ordered them online and hopefully they'll be here by the end of the week.  Cross your fingers!

I've now got most of the Christmas gift shopping done.  Only the 'big' electronic things left to buy.  The kids have also made quite a few gifts.  Here's DS12 at the sewing machine, making a 'draught excluder snake' toy for his little toddler cousin...

DS12 has a 'Sewing Machine Driving Licence' from school! :D

I've also got the ingredients for making peppermint creams, coconut ice and chocolate pistachio fudge, but we won't be making those until December.

Ingredients for making yummy sweets...
This week I've got a few more goals.  To make our Family Christmas Advent Calendar - a day by day list of Xmas activities.  To put up the Christmas fairy lights in the garden.  And to make a final push of gift buying.  The first of December is approaching rapidly - time to pull out all the stops!

Hope my Dad and Brother will enjoy this year's Beer Advent Calendar! :D

Have a marvelous Monday - check back next week to see if we made it to the Finish Line!

Diane :o)

Friday, 23 November 2012

Feel Good Friday - 23 November 2012

Three things that have put a big smile on my face this week:

Watching my daughter and her rock band in action.  This week...the After School Club.  Next year...Wembley Arena? ;D

DD10 warming up in the studio, on the bass

Getting a card and emails saying that I make a difference (I teach English to Danish schoolkids).  The nicest  reward a teacher can get!


Getting myself dolled up and my glad rags on for a - much needed - night out on the town with my sweetie DDH (dear Danish husband)!  The kids will be looked after royally.  DDH and I are meeting friends for a cosy bistro dinner.  Then we're going to a totally sold out gig by Denmark's finest rock band Magtens Korridorer.  (Where our sweetie friend R just happens to be a guitarist.)  Yep, I am ready for the weekend to begin! :D


Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Menu plan - Thursday 22 November 2012

Well, I can't complain that it's freezing here in Denmark (as it usually is in November) but it's so dreich (cloudy and wet) that it feels like it's dark all day long.  Boo!  Thankfully I can make my own 'sunshine' - in the guise of reading good crime novels, seeing friends for a cup of tea, turning my stereo up to 11 and basically just enjoying the fact that I'm not yet shovelling snow three times a day...thank goodness for small mercies! ;D

Here's this week's menu at Casa Copenhagen:

*  'Medister' sausage (a Danish 'round' sausage - see how I cook it here) with potatoes, carrots and lots of lovely gravy

Medister sausage - last time I served it with red cabbage/carrot slaw


*  Quiche (a premade pastry case which I shall fill with cheddar cheese, eggs beaten with crème fraîche, herbs and top with bacon) with a mixed green salad and pickled beetroot

*  Svenskpølsegryde or Hurdy Gurdy Swedish Sausage Stew served with bulgur.  A family favourite which we overdosed on, so it was banished to the back of my memory.  Now ready for a rerun!  My recipe is right here.



*  Swedish meatballs with wholemeal pasta in a tomato/vegetable sauce

*  Stir fried lamb with rosemary and garlic, served with baked potato wedges and roasted vegetables (parsnip/beetroot/carrot)

*  Out to dinner with friends and then to a concert with Denmark's number one rockband (a sweetie friend of mine is one of the guitarists) - Magtens Korridorer!


*  A whole chicken, done in the crockpot with salad.  And hoping that DS12 might make some fresh tagliatelle pasta for us!

That's it for this week...  Bon appétit!

Diane :o)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Winterbathing for Dummies (Part Two - Taking the Plunge!)


Last time I gave you a rundown of what you’ll need to do before you try winterbathing ( Winterbathing for Dummies (Part One – Be Prepared!)
So, are you ready to go down to the beach and ‘take the plunge’? ;)
February 2012 - the North sea has turned into slushice!

Here’s what you need to know, before you take that first step into the cold, cold water…
  • Remember, remember, always bring a friend with you – either to join you in the water, or keep an eye on you from the water’s edge.
  • You can walk right in from the edge of the water, but it’s easier from a bathing bridge. Your aim is to get in fairly deep – up to your neck – as quickly as possible.
  • Check the water before you get in. Are there any stinging jellyfish hanging around, just waiting to strike? 
    The winterbather's arch enemy...stinging jellyfish!

  • Remove your bathrobe (on windy days, you’ll need to physically tie it to the bathing bridge…) and remove your shoes last (your feet get colder faster than your body).
  • Be resolute.   Walk right in – don’t stop!  Say to yourself that you are going to take 2, 4 or 6 swimstrokes in the water.  Don’t allow yourself to think “Yikes, I’m freezing”.  It really is a question of mind over matter! 
  • Do not hop in – it’s dangerous (very hard on the heart, especially at low temperatures).
  • There is no need to put your head underneath the water if you don’t want to.  I never put my head under (unless it’s the summer).  Keeping your hair dry will keep your head warm!  (I wear a little wooly hat when it’s very blustery/ice cold.)
  • If you begin to feel heavy/very relaxed, get out of the water immediately.  It’s a sign that your heart/body are working overload.  What will happen next is that your body will shut down any ‘unnecessary’ functions like hearing/sight etc.  Not a nice feeling.
  • When you come up, quickly dry yourself off and get your bathrobe back on pronto (we don’t want to frighten any passers-by!)
  • You’ll notice that parts of your body (usually it’s fingers and toes) will have turned brighted red or orange.  Quite normal – don’t panic.  Your normal colour should return in a couple of minutes. 
    Cold fingers!
Tillykke!  Congratulations!  Yep, you did it.  And should be left feeling a) enormously proud of yourself  b) very warm, considering the fact that you are standing on a deserted, cold, blustery beach… :)
Join me next time for Winterbathing for Dummies – The Aftermath!
 Diane

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Crockpot Chili con Carne

My sweetie friend H had a birthday recently and I gave her a crockpot - so this post, a starter recipe, is for her!

Crockpot loaded with chili ingredients and ready to go!
You'll need:

  • 500g of beef cut into chunks (the cheaper the better - don't use steak!)
  • a tin of tomatoes or a jar of tomato sauce (I like to add a spoonful of sugar, to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • an onion, roughly chopped (if you happen to have one)
  • a carrot, roughly chopped (if you happen to have one)
  • a stock cube (beef, chicken...whatever you have on hand)
  • a good shake of chili flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • a little water or red wine
  • a can of kidney beans


Dump everything into the crockpot except the kidney beans.  Now, listen up.  You do not need to brown the meat.  If you want to brown the meat, go ahead.  But it is not necessary!  [she typed...Queen of Shortcuts]

Cover the whole shebang with a little water.  Or a swig or two of leftover red wine, if you happen to have any.  But remember, no kidney beans just yet.  Pop the lid on, fire her up ('low' - if you will be away all day, 'high' if you only have the afternoon) and go off and do something else.

Add the kidney beans about 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are going to eat (turn the crockpot up to high, to give it a good bubble).

Add the kidney beans at the end of the cooking time.

Serve the chili in large bowls.  We didn't bother with rice or bread but topped it with tortilla chips, guacamole, crème fraîche, grated cheddar cheese and sliced red pepper.  Yum!


Bon appétit!

Diane :o)


 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Christmas Planning - Monday 19 November 2012

Hi and welcome back to Christmas Planning!  I'm following the (fan-flipping-tastic) Flylady and her Cruising Through the Holidays missions.  Why?  By jingo, to ensure that I'm going to be ready, rested and 'raring to go' come 1 December!


One bag ready for the charity shop!

I set myself a mission last week to declutte my Xmas linens and decorations.  Thirty minutes later I had a whole bag of rubbish - things that had lost their Christmas sparkle or we're broken (like a hairband with reindeer antlers, one of which had snapped in half!).  I even took a deep breath and threw away some of the kids' homemade decorations.  Don't worry - I've still got plenty left!  ;o)  During the declutter session I also found lots of containers that we can use for our homemade gifts.  Yay, no need to buy any more - money saved!

I also ended up with a large pile of decorations, tablecloths and serviettes that we can use in our SwedishSummerhouseByTheSea.  And last, but not least, there were two large bags for charity.  DS12 and I delivered them to the charity shop on Saturday morning and - before we could even get out the door - the ladies were "oohing" and "aaahing" over our 'treasures' and started decorating the shop!  A great 'feel good' moment...


Our local charity shop...now complete with inflatable plastic Xmas trees and Santas!
The envelopes for the Christmas cards are addressed (have been doing 5 a day - Flylady orders!) and DD10 is going to put the stamps/charity stamps on them this week.  I still haven't ordered the photo Christmas cards yet...not because I haven't had time but because we're still waiting for the school photographer to send us the latest snaps of the kids...  Aaaargh!   ;D

I forgot to mention last week that one of the key points in Christmas Planning (and generally in the Flylady system) is to pace yourself.  And be nice to yourself.  So, whenever you get overwhelmed or don't know which job to start next, you have to take a break.  With "a cup of something warm and wonderful".   Fifteen minutes later and we are ready for action! :D


Time for a cuppa!
And what do I need to concentrate on this week?  Gifts!   Buying.  And helping the kids to make them.  Oh well, at least all the gifts we already have are wrapped and tagged.  Go us!Check back next Monday when we are into the final run!

Diane :)




Friday, 16 November 2012

Feel Good Friday - 16 November 2012

Three things that have put a big smile on my face this week.

I love Clinton and Tracy from the American version of 'What Not to Wear'.  And laughed out loud when Clinton said, "Crocs are the first sign of the Apocolypse!"  Now I'm laughing because I actually caved in and bought a pair.  Not for wearing on the street (perish the thought!).  But for wandering over the frozen sand when I winterbathe in the mornings.  Please cross your fingers for me and hope, by jingo, that there will be no witnesses! ;D

Never say never...

That the kids and I - for better or worse - are very much alike.  In more ways than we realise!

From top: my glasses, DS12's glasses, DD10øs glasses

The wee bench in front of our SwedishSummerhouseByTheSea.  A great place to sit and watch the waves rolling in.  My greatest pleasure?  Being beside (or in!) the sea...
 

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Menu plan - Thursday 15 November 2012

My, my, where does the time go?  Seems like it was just yesterday that I was cleaning out the fridge and making a menu plan...  (Not helped by the fact that it is dark here by 4pm and I just want to lay down tools for the day and curl up in front of the fire!)

DS12 and DD10 need their bike lights on both morning and afternoon

But - even though I really don't enjoy doing it - menu planning does save my sanity - so here's what's on the menu this week at Casa Copenhagen:

*  pork sausages with pasta in a creamy sauce with onion and sweetcorn

*  our version of Mexican enchiladas - tortillas filled with spicy minced beef, topped with tomato sauce and cheddar cheese and baked in the oven.  Will sprinkle over chopped cucumber and grated carrot just before serving for extra colour and veggies.

*  Thai chicken (chicken with red curry, coconut milk, sugarsnap peas) served with rice made in my (beloved) ricecooker and bread made in my (also beloved) bread machine! :)

*  chili con carne made in the crockpot, served with leftover rice, tortilla chips, grated cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream and thin slices of fresh red pepper.  Yum!

Just dump the ingredients in, switch on and go!

 

*  out to a yearly school dinner event in DS12's class.  The kids cook the food, set the tables and work behind the bar while the parents...um, supervise and drink a glass of wine!  Then all the families sit down and enjoy a great dinner - always a cosy evening  :o)



*  I am out to a friend's birthday party ('girls' only) - hooray!  So DH and the kids are fending for themselves.  Pizza and salad, no doubt?

*  Leftover night (if there are any leftovers), otherwise it will be something easy like 'breakfast for dinner' or pasta and Swedish meatballs with salad.

That's it - bon appétit!

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday!

Diane :o)






 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Winterbathing for Dummies (Part One - Be Prepared!)

When I first came to Copenhagen in 1998, I heard myths of crazy Danes who would bathe all year round in the sea. Then I spied them myself. Crossing the road. In their bathrobes. All along the coastal road - Strandvejen - from Hellerup (just north of Copenhagen) to Helsingør. Yes, I thought they were Completely Nuts.

Surreal to be bathing and hear fog horns out at sea!

Fast forward to a warm summer morning in June 2011. My friend and I were down at the beach for a run. We spotted several ’winterbathers’ and said to each other, “Well, that’s something we will never do!” Yep, you guessed it, half an hour later, there we were, in the sea. Butt naked. Ha! Never say ‘never’! ;)

We’ve been winterbathing ever since – seventeen months, woo hoo! Five days a week. (And six or seven if we can…) Yes, we are Thoroughly Addicted.

Are you interested in trying out this ‘extreme sport’? Read on and get my tips!

Watch out for icicles on the bathing bridge :)

BE PREPARED!

  • Find an old pair of shoes that you can use to walk across the – sometimes frozen – sand. Flipflops are only suitable for the summer.
  • Invest in a really good bathrobe. You need one which is long and warm. Preferably with large pockets (in which you can put your bathing shoes, so they don’t fly away when it’s blowing a gale).
  • When it’s really, really cold and the windchill is minus10 degrees, bring a little hat. Yes, it looks strange to be bathing naked with a little woollen hat on the top of your head but, believe me, you will be glad of it!
  • You’ll need a bag large enough to hold the following: a small towel (useful for drying off your feet, or as a ‘muff’ around your freezing hands and fingers), a thermos flask of coffee or tea and a mug (enjoy a nice hot cuppa after your swim), a few biscuits/piece of fruit/energy bar (winterbathing really fires up your metabolism).
  • Make sure you are well rested and nice and cosy before you bathe. Going into cold water when you are tired and chilly isn’t fun.



And most important of all…

  • Never bathe alone – always, always, always take a friend with you. Safety first! They’ll be bathing too? Hooray, the more the merrier! They don’t want to swim? Hooray – you have ‘a butler’ to hold your bathing robe!

1st December = bathing naked + a Santa hat!

Join me next time for tips on what to do when you actually get to the beach…

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Christmas Planning - Monday 12 November 2012

Welcome back to a round-up of Christmas Planning!  What I've been doing - aided and abetted by the lovely Flylady and her Cruising Through the Holidays missions - to ensure that I'm going to be ready, rested and raring to go come 1 December!

I'm about halfway through gift buying and have set up a little 'gift wrapping station' on a table in the basement.  And every time I begin to say to myself "Oh, I can wrap that later when I have more time/more energy", I swiftly kick my self in the behind, sit down and wrap the ru**y thing...  Do. It.  Now!  ;D


We spent the weekend at our SwedishSummerhouseByTheSea and when I was at the supermarket I found some food goodies to give away (not pictured...they will be a surprise for the recipients!) and to keep in store for baking with the kids.  Readymade pepparkaksdeg 'gingerbread dough' and DIY gingerbread house kits.  Should be fun in December!


I'm making a concerted effort to be more consistent with the Flylady's Flightplan (daily cleaning missions).  Thanks to following the system for the past six years, the house is generally in okay shape, so most only actually take 5 minutes in the morning once I send the kids off on their bikes to school.  But this week I've also chosen to declutter our Christmas linens and the three boxes of Christmas ornaments, decorations, candles, etc.  A few things will go to our SwedishSummerhouseByTheSea and the rest will go to the charity shop...  :o)


Check back again next week to see how I get on!  Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane :o)

Friday, 9 November 2012

Feel Good Friday - 9 November 2012

Three things that have put a big smile on my face this week:

Switching off my telephone and going to bed before 10 o'clock in my nice clean, cosy bedroom (thank you, Flylady!) and reading a chapter or two of Martin Beck (a series of Swedish crime novels that I'm reading in Danish) before I turn off the lights.  Not just once, but three nights this week - bliss!



Not only a smile but a tear in my eye from this one...  My sweetie friend Heidi (a fellow flybabe) wrote a lovely post about me - was a fantastic thing to wake up to on a dreary, dark Wednesday morning!
Jack The Story So Far
 
Getting a great deal on confit de canard (duck confit).  It's what we eat for Christmas dinner - which in Denmark we celebrate on the evening of 24 December - and we will be having it for dinner tomorrow night.  Much yumminess!  And a saving of 70 Danish crowns (ca. US$12 or £7.50) per tin.  Said the canny Scot! ;D
 
 
Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend!
 
Diane :o)
 
 
 


 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Danish mathematic symbols - go figure(s)!

Have you ever done maths with your kids?   Well, I’m pretty good at maths – even though I say it myself ;)  So when DS12 (dear son, aged 12) started kindergarten class at school (at the age of 6, as you do in Denmark), I thought it was going to be easy peasy lemon squeezy.   Ha!  No!  Not only do the Danes have three extra letters in the alphabet.   (Which, by the way, are a constant source of amusement to us non-Danes…)   But they also use different mathematic symbols.

Plus and minus are straightforward.   Just the usual + and -

But how do you write 4 times 5?   I would write it 4 x 5

Wrong! In Danish it’s 4.5  Yep, a little dot.


Multiplying Danish style

How about dividing?   Like 20 divided by 5?   Well, I would write 20 ÷ 5

Wrong again! In Danish you write 20:5   Yep, a colon.


Dividing - Danish style

But, hang on a minute, I know that I’ve seen the divide sign ÷ on bits of paper around the school. Doesn’t it mean divide?   Nope.   The Danes use it to mean ‘minus. So ‘÷ madpakke‘ means that the kids don’t need to take a packed lunch to school that day.   If there’s a list on the door of the classroom with a party invitation and a list of the kids’ names, you either make a tick ✓to say you are going or write ÷ to say that you can’t.

Go figure(s)!

Diane :)