Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Danish Heatwave is coming!

“Wow, have you seen the weather forecast? We’re in for a heatwave come Thursday!” That was the conversation I had with my vinterbadning (winterbathing) buddies this morning as, tugging our bathrobes tightly around us, we attempted to remove the last of the snow from the bathing bridge steps… [If you want to see what our bridge looked like a few weeks ago go read Winter bathing - who wants a slushice?]



And how high will the temperatures get? A whole six degrees (43f) – woop, woop! ;) We’ve got off fairly lightly this winter – only a very few occasions when snow has stopped the traffic. Only a fortnight when the sea froze over and we weren’t able to get into the water for our daily skinny dip. But, unfortunately, it’s been a very long grey and dull winter – and we’ve had below zero temperatures for months…boo!

But spring is definitely on its way. I know this because the first Danish heralds of forår are the tiny yellow erantis. And they’re popping up all over my garden…

Heralds of spring...erantis!
Heralds of spring...erantis!

You’ll see them everywhere. Often beside vintergækker (snowdrops). Which, incidentally, you’re soon going to need if you’re going to follow the singularly strange but sweet Danish tradition of sending a Gækkebrev or Secret Snowdrop Letter!

Vintergækker (snowdrops) and erantis
Vintergækker (snowdrops) and erantis

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Diane :)

All the kids...eat horsemeat!

Ha – the Danes and their fantastic sense of humour! If you have kids at school in Denmark, then you’re bound to have heard the “Alle børnene” jokes – a mix of dark humour and rhyming, which started back in the 1980s.

All the kids biked to school, apart from Fred - he was dead!
All the kids biked to school, apart from Fred - he was dead!

Here’s the very first one I heard – a true classic…

Alle børnene kiggede ind i vaskemaskinen, undtagen Knud – han kiggede ud!All the kids looked into the washing machine, apart from Knud – he looked out!

Yep, they’re usually quite cruel…

Alle børn sad på fryseren, undtagen Bob – han ville op!All the kids sat on the freezer, apart from Bob – he wanted out!

Sometimes bizarre…

Alle børnene hed Kasper, undtaget Jesper – han hed Flemming!All the kids were called Kasper, apart from Jesper – his name was Flemming!

Want to try making up your own ones? Here’s the formula. All the kids [did something], apart from [name] – he/she [did something unexpected]! The name and the unexpected thing should rhyme…

All the kids crossed the road, apart from Ann – she was hit by a van!
All the kids drank Cola, apart from Kent – he drank cement!
All the kids were poor, apart from Lisa – she used her Dad’s Visa!
All the kids looked nice, apart from Matt – he looked like a rat!

Did you hear about the current European meat scandal? Now, that‘s no joke! ;) But here’s one that came out of it…

Alle børnene spiste lasagne, undtagen Conny - det var hendes pony!
All the kids ate lasagne, apart from Tony – it was his pony!

Happy Tuesday! Whatever you have on your plate!

Diane :)

Bake your own Fastelavnsboller!

DS13 (dear son,aged 13) cycled home like lightning on Thursday – proffering homemade fastelavnsboller (Danish carnival buns) he had made in hjemkundskab (home economics class). [Want some background on Danish carnival? Check out my DIY Fastelavn! ]

We made another batch of fastelavnsboller together this weekend. Check out these big beauties!

Fastelavns boller - carnival buns!
Fastelavns boller - carnival buns!

We based ours on Arla’s recipe. You’ll need:

  • a 50g sachet of dry yeast
  • 100mls or 1 decilitre milk
  • 125g butter or Kærgården
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • about 375g of plain flour (hvedemel) – about 625mls or 6¼ deciltres

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Mix everything together in a large bowl. It’s easiest to use a mixer (dough hook) but you can do it by hand if you want the upper arm exercise. When it all comes together, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for about 45 mins.

Meanwhile prepare the filling:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 200mls or 2 decilitres milk
  • 1½ tablespoons of flour
  • a tablespoon of vanilla sugar

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Put everything into a little saucepan and whisk over a high heat until the mixture comes to the boil. Turn down the heat, keep whisking for about 5 minutes then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

When you’re bun dough is ready, roll it out on to a floured worktop and try and get it into a large rectangle. You are aiming to cut out around 12 squares, but don’t get too perfectionist…

DS13 rolling out the dough
DS13 rolling out the dough

Take a spoon of the filling and plop it into the middle of each square. Fold the edges of the square together, press them together gently (so the filling doesn’t squish out) and carefully turn them over, so you have a neat little bun. Leave the buns to rise on a baking sheet for another 45 mins. (Or – if you want to bake them the next day – put them in a cool place or fridge overnight.)

Bake in a preheated oven at 225c (450f) for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them to get too dark. Remove from the oven and cool before topping them with some icing or a dusting of icing sugar. Though if you want to top them with pålægschokolade (piece of thin breakfast chocolate), do it while they’re still hot!

When you’re ready to eat the fastelavnsboller, cut them horizontally and put in a (very l-a-r-g-e) dollop of whipped cream…

My fave combo...choc and cream!
My fave combo...choc and cream!

Velbekomme!

Diane :)

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Week Six? Week Sex!

It’s week six. Now, before I get started on today’s topic, let me just tell you that week numbers are something you have to learn to live with in Denmark. I find it utterly confusing when someone asks me what I’m doing in week 13. I mean, is that March, April? Help! Can’t they just say the week that starts 25 March? If, like me, you are unable to remember more than weeks 7 and 42 (those are the only two week numbers I need to know – the weeks the kids’ school is closed for winter and autumn break), then you can try ugenr.dk (‘week number’). Type in the date or the week number and this dinky website will do the conversion for you.

But I digress!

We are currently in week six. The Danish for six is seks. Yes, yes. It sounds like sex. And which week do schools in Denmark teach sex education? Yep, you guessed it – those crazy Danes thought it would be a great laugh to have Sex in…Week Seks! Teaching material is available for 4th to 10th grades, but the aim is to open it up for all students, right from kindergarten class. Want to know more? Ugesex.dk

Fastelavnsboller - carnival buns
Fastelavnsboller - carnival buns

I – meanwhile – would like to leave you with a joke…

Hvorfor må man ikke kigge ind af bagerens vinduer? Why aren’t you allowed to look into bakers’ windows?
Fordi der ligger snegle og boller! Because there are are snails having sex!

(The literal translation is “…because there are cinammon rolls and buns”. Snegle is a snail but also the word for a cinnamon roll. And bolle is the word for a baker’s bun, but also the slang verb ‘to have sex’.)

Enjoy Week SexSix!

Diane :)

Friday, 1 February 2013

It's (Danish) fashion, daaaarling!

Copenhagen Fashion Week - the largest fashion event in the north – is well underway. Though, to be honest, if it weren’t for the intensive media coverage, Herr and Fru Danmark (and myself) would be completely unawares ;)

These are a few of my favourite things...
These are a few of my favourite things...

So, no, I’m not a dedicated follower of fashion. But, hey, I do like to shop! And I ♥ all the Danish and Swedish brands. If you happen to be in downtown Copenhagen, here’s a rundown of the stores that are worth a second glance:

HIGH STREET - these brands are a treasure trove of affordable, full-on-fashion items. And great basics. And just because they’re cheap doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality… I’m still wearing items from Vero Moda and H&M which have been in my wardrobe for over a decade!


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MID-PRICE – here you’ll find great design at reasonable prices. The most bang for your buck.

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DESIGNER – quality garments, classic style, wardrobe classics. We are, selvfølgelig, talking big bucks. But you can pick up bargains when prices are slashed at sale time – usually by 50%, sometimes more. Which is usually post-Christmas/January and end of June/July.

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And if all of that sounds just too much like hard work, then I can thoroughly recommend Denmark’s oldest department store Magasin. Where they have most of the above-mentioned brands under one convenient roof. And a free Personal Shopper service to boot!

Happy shopping, fashionistas!

Diane :)

Great Dane-ish Expressions (Part Seven)

My Danish friend V and I were running in the park the other morning and – as usual – we had to watch our step as there were lots of dogs of various shapes and sizes running loose (it’s one of the only parks in our area where they’re allowed off-leash). I said, in Danish, “This is just like being in the Olympics and running the 100m hurdles!”

Now, in Danish hurdles are called hækkeløb - literally “hedge running”. No doubt from the days when hurdles were actually made of little green hedges? How very quaint!

A morning run in the sun, complete with hedges...
A morning run in the sun, complete with hedges...

But let’s say you want to describe something as being a hurdle or obstacle? Well, that would be en forhindring. So an obstacle course, or army assault course, is en forhindringsbane.

And just how cold was it when we ran? Well, it was -5c (23f) with a windchill of about -11c (12f). So I’d describe it as dæleme koldt. Blinking cold. Blooming cold. Though, if you pardon my French, others might describe it as…

  • pissekoldt (‘piss’ cold) - ruddy cold
  • skidekoldt (‘sh*t’ cold) - bloody cold
  • fandeme koldt (‘devilishly’ cold) - fu****g cold



Thank goodness the big thaw has started and temperatures are finally on the up! ;)

Diane :)