Tuesday, 25 December 2012

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 24 December

Woop, woop – it’s here! 24 December and we are ready to say “God Jul!”

I started off the day – as I do most days – with a skinny dip in the Danish North Sea. The weather was actually very mild this morning…no wind, air temperature 3c (37f) and water temperature 1c (33f). Best of all, after last night’s snow storm and howling winds, the sun actually came out! :)



Christmas in Denmark starts around 6pm on the 24th of December with dinner.



Dinner consisted of roast duck, warm red cabbage, a fresh red cabbage and carrot slaw, caramelised potatoes, boiled potatoes, warm potato crisps and lots of yummy sovs (gravy).



(We needed a little breather before dessert so we opened some of the presents – one by one – so that everybody can see who got what from whom.) Dessert – as tradition dictates – was ris à l’amande (cold rice pudding with hot cherry sauce). DS12 (Dear Son, aged 12) and my niece were this year’s winners of the marcipan pigs!



Anyway, back to the present opening! Which, all in all, took about two hours…



After that there was finally enough space for us to join hands and dance and sing around the Christmas tree. This year we sang “Nu er det jul igen!“, “Jingle Bells” and “Højt fra træets grønne top!” Before collapsing into the sofa, digging into the konfekt, finishing off the wine and downing a cold Danish Christmas beer…

God Jul! Merry Christmas!

Diane :)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 23 December

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day this month I’ve shared Danish Christmas goodies with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… And tomorrow is the Big Day!

23 DECEMBER

Today it’s Lille Juleaften! Little Christmas Eve! We have friends coming over for our traditional Lille Juleaften dinner – which for our family consists of a side of smoked salmon, warm homemade bread, fresh veggies and salad, a selection of cheese and crackers and lots of lots and lots of konfekt (homemade sweets), biscuits and fruit. We’ll wash it down with Danish Christmas beer and white wine. And hyldeblomst saft (elderflower juice) for the kids.

Part of tonight's dinner

I’m also doing some last minute prep for The Big Day. Which means making the rice pudding for tomorrow’s ris à l’amande. According to my family, the risengrød (rice pudding) has to be made a day in advance and kept cool overnight (preferably in a cold cellar). Tomorrow we’ll add whipped cream, vanilla, sugar and serve it cold with hot cherry sauce…

First stage of ris à l'amande...

The mandelgaver (almond presents) of marcipan pigs are wrapped and ready and I’m putting them in the dining room, so we’re not running around looking for them at the last minute…

Mandelgaver

I’ve also looked out the Christmas songbooks, so we’re ready for the traditional singalong after dinner. And after we’ve sung some hymns and carols, we’ll sing and dance around our (real) Christmas tree - as is the tradition in Denmark. And then – and only then – can we open the presents!

Julens Sange!

Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow…when we open the final door!

Diane :)

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 22 December

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Join me every day in opening a new door. I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

22 DECEMBER

It’s Saturday, DDH (Dear Danish Husband) is home and there are only two sleeps to Christmas – woop, woop!

So on today’s agenda we have…Juletræet! The Christmas Tree!


Now, I’d personally be quite happy with the plastic tree that I bought when I worked at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg many moons ago. It has served me (and børnehave ‘creche’) well. It’s green – obviously. And green in the eco-friendly way. But DDH insists on The Real Thing. Despite the cost. [Ouch! Said the Canny Scot.] But, hey, it’s Christmas and he needs to have a say in things too.

So DDH went out before lunch to buy it. Here we have it. Lights put on by my DD (Dear Dad) and DB (Dear Brother) who are here from Scotland. Decorated by my DS12 (Dear Son, aged 12), DD10 (Dear Daughter, aged 10) and my DDN2 (Dear Danish Nephew, aged 2).

Little Helper...

Awwwww. Not a dry eye in the house! ;)

Two sleeps to go! Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 21 December

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Join me every day in opening a new door. I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

21 DECEMBER

Today is the last working day for offices, banks and councils. Supermarkets and shops will be open tomorrow and Sunday, but otherwise we are truly counting down to the Big Day on Monday. And that means we can officially open the Christmas snaps and have some great lunches!

Snaps - anno 2007 - skål!

So what do we traditionally eat at a full-blown Danish Christmas lunch? Lots of things! We always start with sild (herring). My favourite is the plain, pickled herring. Topped with homemade æggesalat (egg mayo).

Sild

Then we would usually move on to prawns. And then change the ‘fishy’ plates for new clean plates before serving up some hot, homemade leverpostej (liverpâté) with mushrooms and bacon.

Leverpostej

Then it’s usually on to my homemade rullepølse (rolled, pressed pork).

Rullepølse

And then another of my personal favourites…tarteletter. Warm pastry tart cases filled with creamy chicken and asparagus.

Tarteletter

How about some sylte? Potted head cheese. I like to eat mine with a bit of mustard and lots of mini gherkins…

Sylte - potted head cheese!

You might also see flæskesteg (roast pork) on the table. And some really old smelly danablu blue cheese (which you can douse with alcohol or honey). We’ll also be having medister (a round sausage) and fiskefileter fried fish fillets. After all that lovely grub, there isn’t dessert at the end of a Danish lunch. Just cups of strong coffee and a plate of konfekt (homemade sweets) and other goodies…

Konfekt and other goodies!

Velbekomme! And skål! And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 20 December

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Join me every day in opening a new door. I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

20 DECEMBER

Today we’re back at the craft table, so get your scissors and glue out!

We’re making kræmmerhus (cones). Very easy to do. And you can use them in lots of ways… Make a large version, fill it with a gift to give to a friend. Hang them in your hallway. Or, as we usually do, hang them on the Christmas tree – remember to fill them with walnuts, pebernødder, a clementine or some sweets. Buy you may have to refill them…’cos pesky little nisser (elves) have a habit of empyting them when you aren’t looking! ;)



Take a piece of carton or thick paper. Wallpaper works really well for this. Take a plate, draw a circle on the ‘wrong side’ of your paper, then cut out.



Cut out a long rectangle of paper – this is going to be the ‘handle’. If you have a glue gun, this is the time to get it out. Otherwise use glue or a glue stick. Fold the circle in on itself to form a cone. Stick down the edges.



Take the ’handle’ and stick it on. Leave the kræmmerhus to dry.



Decorate your cones with doillies, bits of pipe cleaner, glansbilledere (scraps), feathers, beads, ribbon. Just let your imagination run riot. We’ve just started working on these ones…more glue and bling bling coming up!



We’ll soon be ready to decorate our Christmas tree. Are you? Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 19 December

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Join me every day in opening a new door. I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

19 DECEMBER

Okay, so you’ve bought all your Christmas presents? Wrapped and ready to put underneath the tree? And what about the marcipan pig. Did you remember that?!

Shop-bought marcipan pigs

If you’re hosting Danish Christmas dinner on the evening of 24 December and are serving the obligatory ris a l’amande for dessert, then you’re going to need the obligatory marcipan pig for the obligatory Mandelgave or ‘almond present’.

Ris a l’amande, despite the French name, is a very Danish dessert. It’s a heavy, cold rice pudding, ‘lightened’ (ha!) with whipped cream and specked with chopped, blanched almonds. And served with a jug of hot cherry sauce. Yum!

According to tradition (which dates back a century or two) a whole blanched almond is ‘hidden’ in the dessert. The dessert is served to the whole table and whoever finds the whole almond in their portion is ‘the Winner’. The mandelgave (almond present) is usually a small, marcipan pig (marcipangris) but can also be a small bottle of snaps, a book, a game, you name it. And if you have small kids, I’d suggest sneaking a whole almond into each and every little child’s bowl if you want to ensure ‘peace on earth’ on Christmas Eve… ;)

In my DDH’s (Dear Danish Husband’s) family, they go a step further and try to hide the fact that they have found the whole almond until the very end of the meal. By hiding it in their mouth, in a pocket, under the tablecloth etc. Just to keep everyone guessing.

Sometimes we make the pigs ourselves out of marcipan. Just google “marcipangris” for images, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration. Otherwise you can take the easy way out – and get your little piggies from the supermarket.

Two little marcipan piggies...

Øf, øf! Oink, oink!

Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 18 December

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Join me every day in opening a new door. I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

18 DECEMBER

When I gave you the recipe for pebernødder biscuits (you can find it here), I told you that you could play a game with them… Mus! Or “Mouse!”

Homemade pebernødder = toys!

First of all, line up some pebernødder in a row. Yikes – our homemade ones went fast! Good job that I have some shop-bought ones in the larder! ;)

The tin is almost empty!

Okay, so you line up some pebernødder in a row.

Five pebernødder in a row...

The first player decides which pebernød is going to be the mus or “mouse”. Keep it a secret from your opponent!

This one is the "Mus!"

Player 2 starts eating pebernødder. One at a time. Slowly.

First pebernød eaten...

But if they pick up the one you earmarked, you shout out ”Mus!” and they have to stop eating. And that’s the end of their turn – ha!

"Muuuuuuuuuuuuuus!"

Then you put more pebernødder on the table, Player 2 decides which one is “Mus” and it’s Player 1′s turn to start eating. And you keep taking turns until a) you run out of pebernødder or b) you get sick of eating pebernødder… If you don’t feel you can trust each other (hmmm, siblings?), then you can cross off your ‘Mus‘ on a piece of paper before your start, so you have proof!

No cheating allowed!

Now be careful not to go overboard on the pebernødder or you won’t be able to eat your dinner! ;) And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

Monday, 17 December 2012

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 17 December

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Join me every day in opening a new door. I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

17 DECEMBER

Only one week until the Big Day – can we can fit everything in?! Today it’s gløgg! A nice cup of mulled wine to keep us warm and cosy…

Ready to glug, glug, glug our gløgg, gløgg, gløgg

Every family has their own favourite gløgg recipe or brand they like to buy. Just do your own thing and don’t listen to the purists. I warm (and keep warm) our gløgg in my crockpot but a large saucepan on a low heat will do the job just as well. Don’t boil it or you’ll lose the alcohol! But make sure to add a large bowlful (or packet) of sliced almonds and raisins to your red wine concotion. For me, it’s the act of fishing for the ‘bits’ at the bottom that turns it into a true gløgg experience.

Almonds and raisins

It’s a tradition in our family that we drink gløgg on Lille Juleaften (Little Christmas Eve - 23 December) along with our homemade æbleskiver. Mums! [as the Danes say for ‘Yummy!’)

Skål! And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 16 December

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Join me every day in opening a new door. I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

16 DECEMBER

Christmas in Copenhagen just wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to…Tivoli!

The Tivoli Gardens

The sun was just setting when we arrived at 3.30pm…

The Nimb Hotel

We headed towards the centre of the gardens…

Giant Nutcracker

And bought icecream (!) and hot chai. No rides for us today because a) the queues were massive, b) we’ve been on them all tons of times before (we have yearly membership cards) and c) we only had a short time to spare. So we just wandered around lazily and enjoyed looking at all the stalls. Didn’t buy anything, of course. All very overpriced! [typed the canny Scot]

Inside the "Russian" Xmas market

How about a romantic boat trip?

Starboard is which way?

It was an exceedingly mild 4 degrees (39f) today but the Tivoli lake is still frozen - so the ducks were skating! ;)

Chilly ducks

One of my favourite places are the paths around the pirate ship…

Lake is still partly frozen

But at Christmas I just love looking at all the glitzy baubles…

Bling, bling!

Hmmm. Not quite so keen on the live reindeer…

Rudolph…what happened to your nose?

Tivoli was jumping with Danes and foreigners. Busy, busy, busy. But still magical! :)



Goodbye Tivoli – see you in the spring!

Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)