Monday, 25 March 2013

Danish Breakfast - Right to your (snowy) doorstep!

Have you seen what kind of weather we’ve been having in Denmark this past week? Snow and freezing temperatures. Not exactly springlike. And what did we wake up to on Wednesday morning – my daughter’s 11th birthday – yet more snow!

The tradition here is to wake up the Birthday Girl/Boy in bed, whilst singing a Danish birthday song and waving flags. Followed by a champion’s breakfast of rundstykker [remember to cut them in half before you put them on the table! Roll Up, Roll Up!], weinerbrød (Danish pastries) and kakaomælk (chocolate milk).

Now this year I’ve discovered something brilliant…having breakfast delivered right to your (snowy) doorstep! :D You create a profile at (Greater Copenhagen and some other parts of the country are covered), place your order before 10pm and, for a modest sum – kr. 25 – it will be delivered to your door the next morning!

Our order arrived at 6.25am…

All ready for the Birthday Girl to tuck in to before she trudged off to school in the snow…

Certainly beats getting your boots wet and standing in long queues at the bakers…

Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

Gækkebreve - Secret Snowdrop Letters!

My kids are now on Easter break – which, this year, is threatening to turn into a very, very long break for some. Local government and the teachers’ union are at loggerheads and, if things aren’t resolved by Easter Monday, Danish schools will be operating a ‘lock out’: teachers will be turned away and will not receive pay. And what does that mean for the pupils? Well, some schools will tell the kids to stay at home, whilst others will try to arrange supervision by non-union staff…

But, as usual, I digress! We are – selvfølgelig – in the run up to Easter so I’m bringing out my old post on how to make gækkebreve - a purely Danish tradition! Yep, little kids all over Denmark have been sitting at home (or nursery, school, museum or the local library) cutting holes in paper and drawing lots of dots…all in the hope of getting a chocolate Easter egg! :)

Want to have a go at making a gækkebrev (secret snowdrop letter)? Then grab those scissors and lets get started…

You’ll need:

  • white and coloured paper
  • glue or a gluestick
  • a pair of scissors
  • a snowdrop

Choose a coloured piece of paper for your paper ‘doily’. Fold it in half, then in half again. Draw a rough shape and cut out. If you’ve never done this kind of thing before, keep it simple! The Danes are world-famous for their intricate papercutting. Hans Christian Andersen (you know, the one who wrote all those fairytales) was also an expert at papercutting. I’ve only lived here for 15 years, so I’m still learning…

Open up up the paper and you should have something that looks like this.

Stick it on to a plain white piece of paper. I used a gluestick. And it’s fine if it isn’t perfectly stuck down all over – it just gives it an even better 3d effect ;)

Then you write a little poem on it.

Henne bag ved havens hæk, fandt jeg denne vintergæk.

Hej, min hvide lille ven, nu er turen din igen.

Du skal gå til min ven, hviske så kan kan forstå,

han må gætte prikke små, for et påskeæg at få!

But if your family and friends aren’t Danish, you’ll probably want one in English, right? Try this one for size:

Snowdrop, snowdrop, snowdrop fine,

Omen true of hope divine,

From the heart of winter bring

Thy delightful hope of spring.

Guess my name I humbly beg.

Your reward: An Easter-Egg.

Let these puzzling dots proclaim

Every letter in my name

As you can see, you don’t sign your name. You draw a large dot for every letter of your name. If the person who receives the letter guesses who it comes from, you have to give them an Easter egg. But if they can’t guess, they have to give you an Easter egg. So disguise your handwriting and be creative! I put in three dots for M.U.M.! ;)

The final touch is to pick a snowdrop from your garden – um, if you can actually find one underneath all the snow we had last week - or draw one if need be, add it to the letter and send to a friend. And keep your fingers crossed that they don’t guess who it’s from…

God Påske! Happy ……!

Diane :)

Friday, 15 March 2013

It's TV Frioday!

Yay, it’s Friday – the best day of the week – the start of the weekend! And if you’re staying in tonight in Denmark, you’ll – selvfølgelig – be watching telly!

It all starts at 7pm with Disney Sjov (‘Disney Fun’) – a mix of new and old Disney cartoons. It’s become a real tradition – they’ve been showing it forever on DR1 (the main public channel). The Danes grow up with it and, yes - guilty as charged – we have even based our mealtimes around it… ;) It’s a hyggelig (cosy) moment when the adults break out the red wine and the kids get their weekly ration of slik (sweets). How about some skum? [See my You are what you eat?]

Yummy 'skum'!
Yummy 'skum'!

Then hot on the heels of Disney Sjov comes Danish X-Factor. No introduction needed there, surely? Truth be told, it’s been a pretty boring season so far. No-one we have really loved, or loved to hate. But there are the occasional moments of brilliance, like last week’s performance by Amanda. She did a fantastic version of “Hollow Talk”, a song by the Danish band Choir of Young Believers. Sounds familiar? It was the theme tune from the tv series The Bridge / Broen / Bron.

Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

Friday, 8 March 2013

Fancy a Danish tart?

I can’t believe I’ve shared the delights of the Danish culinary heritage with you - stegt flæsk (fried belly pork), agurkesalat (cucumber salad), skibberlabskovs (Skipper Stew) to name but a few – without ever mentioning tarteletter!   One of the stalwarts at any self-respecting Dansk Frokost (Danish celebratory lunch).  The next big lunch on the calendar being all those Easter get-togethers at the end of the month.   So let’s get a move on!

The tartlet:   Buy a pack of ready-made tarteletter (puff pastry cases) – they’re available from any Danish supermarket (and some petrol stations).   There are cheap (thin and small) and expensive (large and thick) varieties – I always go for the expensive ones because I ♥ my puff pastry to be ‘on the fat side’.   Remove them from their packaging and place them ‘bottoms up’ on a baking tray. You heat them in an oven at 200c/400f for about 5 minutes.  Keep an eye on them – no burnt offerings, please.

Tarteletter - pastry cases and filling
Tarteletter - pastry cases and filling

The hot filling:  You can go two ways.   Make the filling yourself (my preferred version) by making a basic white sauce and adding small pieces of asparagus, shreds of cooked chicken, peas and carrots – whatever takes your fancy.  Or you can buy filling in a tin – open the can, pour into a saucepan and heat through.   By no means a gastronomical masterpiece, but good in a pinch. You can always top with lots of parsley, to hide that it’s shop-bought ;)

Get them while they're hot!
Get them while they're hot!

The finished article: serve hot on a tray and allow your guests to help themselves. (On a side note: You can even buy special tartelet tongs in the shops here – just the right shape for lifting them up. The perfect gift for the man or woman who has everything?)   Enjoy with a nice cold beer…


Velbekomme!  Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Bendtner's Boo Boo(s)

The Danish football player, Nicklas Bendtner, is all over the news/tv/radio/facebook/twitter. Again. For all the wrong reasons. Again, again! Okay, so in the past he might have shown the occasional flash of brilliance on grønsværen (the pitch) but these days he’s best known for his playboy lifestyle, bad-boy antics and high profile girlfriends. Plus a rather large ego to boot! ;) Which may be your typical profile of a footballer in the UK – but here in Denmark (with the Law of Jante peering out from behind every bush) it’s a definite ‘no no’.

The kids and I watching the national team at Parken
The kids and I watching the national team at Parken

In the past he’s been fined for speeding. Vandalizing cars. Attended his girlfriend’s celebrity birthday party the very weekend that, surprise surprise, he was unable to play football due to an injury. Kicked a hotel guest in the shoulder. Shown his underpants – emblazened with a betting company logo – in direct contravention of UEFA rules, during a national match. And – my own personal favourite – he had difficulties paying with his credit card in a pizzeria and apparently demanded to get them free with those immortal words, “Don’t you know who I am? I could buy this whole place!” But the owner wasn’t having any of it, stood firm and refused. An episode which spawned the following joke:

  • Banke, banke på!
  • Hvem der?
  • Bendnter.
  • Bendtner hvem?
  • Nicklas Bendtner! Ved du ikke hvem jeg er?!

  • Knock, knock!
  • Who’s there?
  • Bendtner!
  • Bendtner who?
  • Nicklas Bendtner! Don’t you know who I am?!

And what has Bendtner, the silly klaphat (clapping hat = Danish slang for a complete idiot), gone and done now? Well, on Saturday night he was caught drink driving in Copenhagen. Down a one-way street. With an expired licence. Not just a little over the limit. Three times over the limit. (A few drinks more would have meant a prison sentence.) He’s in court today and will no doubt lose his driving licence for three years. And is looking at a very hefty fine. How much? Well, in Denmark it’s usually the blood alcohol percentage multiplied by the amount of your net monthly salary… But his lawyer is – selvfølgelig – ready to fight that. Meanwhile he’s been thrown out of Denmark’s official squad for 6 months and told to consider his future.

Everyone is asking, “Will he ever grow up?” Um, he’s 25 – maybe it’s already too late?

Have a terrific Tuesday – and let’s drive carefully out there! ;)


What did you just call me?

The Danes are a pretty reserved bunch – they don’t raise their voices in public or wave their hands about when they’re speaking. A very well-mannered bunch. The exception to the rule being certain gymnasieelever (high school kids) who love to binge drink, fight amongst themselves and smash hotels – whether they are on winter break in Prague, the Czech Republic or summer hols in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria… ;)

But, as usual, I digress! Have you ever thrown a party/had guests over to dinner? Bam! Before you can open your eyes the next morning or take your first swig of coffee, text messages and mails will be ticking in saying “Tak for sidst!”

So although the Danes don’t gush in public, they’re quite happy gushing via emails and on social media platforms from the relative safety of their tablets/telephones/computers. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in my time - committees at børnehave (nursery) and teaching English at school – here’s a little taster of the kind of messages I’ve received…

  • Mange tak for indsatsen!” (Thanks for your hard work!)
  • Godt initiativ!” (What a great initiative!)
  • Du er fantastisk!” (You’re fantastic!)
  • Du er en gave!” (You’re a gift!)
  • Du er en skat!” (You’re a dear!)
  • Du er som altid et hit!” (You’re always a hit!)

I’ve also been called things that I had to go look up in the dictionary! ;) Or have my husband explain Like when someone told me ”Du er en knag!” Which I thought had something to do with a hook… (But, hooray, hooray, I was getting en knag mixed up with en knage.) Anyway, hubby said it was a real compliment. According to Politikens Store Nye Nu Dansk dictionary, en knag is “a person you appreciate because they are helpful, energetic or skilful”. Ha! Do we have an equivalent in English? Hmm, I can only come up with a “jolly good fellow”!

And on that positive note, I wish you all – my merry readers – a god weekend. And - if it’s anything like it was down at the beach this morning (air temp -1c/30f , water temp 0c/30f) - i solens tegn (in the sign of the sun)!

Lovely morning for a swim!
Lovely morning for a swim!

Diane :)