Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Our last Scandi Christmas - one year to go!

The snow came this weekend, and its arrival marked one year left in Scandinavia for J and I. I can't believe we have been in Copenhagen for two years and that this is our last Christmas in the snow. It certainly has gone by very quickly.

A white Christmas will definitely be something I miss but I have to admit, I am excited to begin the 12 month countdown for our return home.

Below are some pictures of this winters first snow. If everybody could keep their fingers crossed for the snow to keep coming for the next three weeks, I would be very grateful.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

DIY Christmas Wreath


I admit I have a little bit of time on my hands being unemployed, but I can't help sharing this Christmas DIY project I did yesterday because I am very proud of it.

I just love Christmas and although I curse the cold most of the time, there is nothing like a white Christmas. I can't explain it, but it just feels right. It feels so nice being warm and cosy inside, with candles flickering, lights shining on the tree and snow falling outside. It is truly beautiful.

I also love decorating, but there has been one thing missing from my Christmas collection and that is a wreath to hand on the door. I know I could just go out and buy one, but I could never find one that I really liked, so I did a bit of Googling and got some inspiration.

And the picture above is the finish product...not bad if I say so myself.

Altogether it took about 2.5 hours to make and below are the steps to show you how I did it if you would like to give it a go yourself.


I bought a wreath from my local hobby store. Ideally, buy a styrofoam wreath but there weren't any big enough at my store. So mine is made out of hay, which I then wrapped in masking tape to make sure it was all contained and then red ribbon so it would look nice from all angles. This is also the time to glue on your hanging ribbon.

You can also see above all the baubles I used. I decided on a red and silver colour scheme but you can choose whatever your heart desires. Just make sure you have a lot of baubles in 2-3 different sizes. I used about 90 in total.


Using a hot glue gun, glue the largest baubles around the outside and inside of your wreath. To do this, cut off the loop with a pair of pliers so the top is nice and flat.


Then keep adding baubles filling in the gaps. I did another layer of larger baubles and then squeezed smaller baubles in the gaps.

Voilà!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's the most wonderful time for a beer


In Denmark the first friday of November marks a huge day of celebration. No, it is not a religious day, a memorial day, labor day or a royal's birthday, it's not even a public holiday. But it is a day the Danes anxiously await all year...

It is the day Christmas Beer is released!

The day is known as "J-day" and it is celebrated by brewery employees driving around the bars and cafes, handing out free beer to get the festive season started. And needless to say it turns into a huge night for beer lovers and those who just like to celebrate the fact that Christmas is almost here.

Although I am not a huge fan of beer, I don't mind a bottle or two of the Christmas beer. It is filled with spices and warmth unlike normal beer and you just can't help get into the spirit of Christmas (not that I really have much trouble with that).

So cheers to J Day and Christmas beer!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The taste of summer

We are firmly in the grips of Autumn here in Copenhagen. The leaves are falling at an alarming rate and the temperature is dropping even faster. Winter coats are being worn, and gloves and beanies are coming out of the closet. And if I didn't know better, I would swear it was actually winter - unfortunately I know the real cold is still to come.

But I have noticed this weird phenomenon that occurs one day every October here - we have a "summers" day. And that day was yesterday. It is unseasonably warm, the sun is out, the air is still, flesh is flashed and smiles are on every face.

Needless to say, today it is back to winter, it is gray, cloudy, windy and cold. But I will retain yesterdays summer optimism and post a great summer recipe - icy poles. If you ask me what summer tastes like in Denmark I would say like Elderflowers. It is not a flavour we get often in Australia, but it is in abundance in Denmark in the summer months, and it is such a beautiful taste.

So this recipe is mainly for my southern hemisphere followers as you are the lucky ones to be heading into warm, long, relaxing summer days. I would encourage you to try and find Elderflower cordial - when I did a collaboration with Mette from BecauseitMatters, we used her homemade Elderflower cordial, which was amazing. But if you can't find it, you can easily substituted it with any flavour of your choice.

Elderflour and lemonade icy poles

Ingredients
  • 150 g blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (= 100 gr)
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cup of water (= 3 3/4 cup)
  • Elderflower cordial to taste

Boil the water and sugar to make a syrup. Add the lemon juice and peel, followed by the Elderflower cordial.

Divide the blueberries between your molds (between 6-10) and pour the syrup over.

Freeze and enjoy!

Photography by Martin Kaufmann

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Turkish Delight

There are certain moments in your life where you can pin-point when major transitions occur. It was when J and I bought a house together that I truly felt I made the move into adulthood. But despite owning my own home, having lived away from the family home for over six years and now living in another country, I still felt as though I remained a teenager in my parent's eyes.

I am by no-means putting the blame on my parents for this one - it goes both ways. Maybe it is because I am an only child but I always feel as though I have to please them, make them proud, take their advice and do what they say. Even though I live on the other side of the world, I still feel this need to please.

But last week saw an interesting change of events, J and I went on our first holiday as a couple with my mum and step-dad. We met in Istanbul, Turkey for a week long sightseeing and cultural adventure and we had an amazing time. In fact it was almost like role reversal. I was the one who did all the planning and J and I dictated what we did and where we ate and they tagged along like good little children :) During the holiday we felt like equals, adults enjoying shared experiences, and it was really nice.

We went to bazaars and spice markets, harams and hammans, mosques and palaces and everywhere in between. A highlight was our trip to Gallipoli - it was amazing and emotional at the same time, seeing where one of Australia's most infamous battles took place. The food wasn't quite as good as I expected, but I at least got my lamb fix which I have been really missing since leaving Australia in the form of five lamb kebabs in six days (not a bad effort...)

Thanks J, Mum and Philly for a great holiday - even the 16 hour ordeal for a 2.5 hour flight and lost baggage courtesy of Turkish Airlines couldn't ruin it.

L-R: Haigia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Pierre Loti and ANZAC Cove

 Lone Pine and the quiet streets of Istanbul during prayer time
 Spice markets and the Yerebatan underground cisterns
 Sulevmaniye Mosque and Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque)
Topkapi Palace Haram

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chocolate Jelly

This was a new one for me - chocolate jelly - but it is an amazing taste and textural sensation well worth a try.

Mette from Becauseitmatters and I made these as a pre-dessert petit four. They are really quick and easy, you don't even need to turn to oven on. Plus they will add a touch of surprise and awe to your next dinner party.


For 10-12 pieces petit fours:
  • 100 g white chocolate
  • 100 g full cream
  • 3 leaves of gelatine

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water.

Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Boil the cream and then pour it over the chocolate and stir until it has all melted together.

Take the gelatine out of the water and squeeze to remove excess water. Add the gelatine to the chocolate mixture and stir until melted.

Pour the chocolate into small moulds (silicone moulds work best for this). Alternatively, pour into a slice pan and then cut out shapes when set.

Place the mould in the refrigerator until the gel has set completely. This will take approximately 1-2 hours depending on the size of your moulds.

Garnish with wild strawberries. Lots of wild strawberries - as many as you can stack up on the small piece of jelly (any other fruit would also be great - particularly blueberries).

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spiced plum and blueberry jam

At the beginning of this plum extravaganza, Mette from Becauseitmatters and I fully intended to produce a full menu, entree, main and dessert using plumbs. But believe it or not, even with plums coming out our ears, we forgot to add them to the main course.

So today instead of a main dish, here is a really lovely and spicy plum and blueberry jam. This is not your traditional sweet jam, it is laced with beautiful spices that give it body and a definite edge over store bought alternatives.

Although this jam would be wonderful with sweet pancakes or scones, due to the cinnamon and star anise it has a very Christmas feel to it. As such, it would also be a great accompaniment to duck or roast turkey.


Ingredients
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, pods scraped out
  • 500 g sugar
  • 800 g plums, pitted and halved
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 300 g blueberries, both fresh and frozen can be used

Place all the ingredients except the blueberries in a pot and boil over medium heat. Once at a boil, remove the lid and let the fruit soften and the jam reduce to a thick syrup. Taste your jam to see if you have the right sweet/acid balance. Mette and I don't like really sweet jam so you may want to add a little more sugar than what we have.

Once the right consistency is reached - it takes about 20 minutes - add the blueberries. Cook for a further 5 minutes. We wanted to retain the shape of the blueberries, but if you want more of an emulsification and a smoother spread, cook for longer until the blueberries break.

Pour your finished jam into clean sterilized jam jars ready to enjoy!

P.S. Once again, these gorgeous images are by the very talented Martin Kaufmann

Monday, August 27, 2012

White chocolate and autumn berry galette with cinnamon spiced pastry


One of the things I love about cooking is that you can experiment. If you know the basics and don't go too crazy, you can come up with some unique and delicious combinations.

Mette from Becauseitmatters and I did just that when we came up with this white chocolate and autumn berry galette (or for the non-foodies, berry pie). We performed a mash-up of the best bits from two recipes and came up with this truly indulgent and extremely delicious dessert.

Sticking with our plumb theme, which this galette has plenty, we used all seasonal fruits picked from local fruit markets, two types of strawberries and sweet blueberries. But the best thing about this recipe is that you can use any fruit you want and it would be just a delicious.

White chocolate and autumn berry galette with cinnamon spiced pastry

Cinnamon short crust pastry
  • 180 g cold butter
  • 1 large teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 250 g flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 -5 tablespoons water

Rub the butter, flour and sugar together to form a fine crumble.

The dough can then be assembled easily with water. Beware you do not use too much (add it one tablespoon at a time) otherwise you run the risk of the dough being too sticky and impossible to roll out.

Let dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to rolling.

Filling
Start by chopping the chocolate coarsely and then blend it little by little with almond flour. Once combined, stir in the two eggs to form a thick paste. 

Fruit
  • About 1/2 liters of mixed fruit, eg plums into quarters, strawberries in half and blueberries
  • 80 grams good homemade raspberry jam

Assembling the galette

Roll out the dough into a circle, approximately 26 cm in diameter. The easiest way to do this is between two pieces of wax paper. This helps with the upcoming challenge of moving the base onto the baking tray and also avoids having the pastry stick to your rolling pin.

Spread the jam over the bottom, leaving a boarder of about 5 cm. Add chocolate / almond paste on top.


Now put LOTS of fruit on top. During baking, the fruit juices causes the fruit to collapse reducing its volume, so don't be shy when piling it on. 
   

Finally press the free 5 cm dough gently on the fruit.

These gorgeous images are by the very talented Martin Kaufmann

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 - 30 minutes.

The most delicious galette on the planet is now ready to serve. A good (homemade) vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or vanilla yogurt makes it even better.

Enjoy - we certainly did!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Plum, prosciutto and goats cheese salad

I love food... everything about it. I love cooking it, eating it, reading about it, talking about it and playing with it. So when I recently met Danish food blogger Mette from Becauseitmatters.dk I was really excited to work with her on some seasonal recipes and food styling. Mette's blog is in Danish, but I would really recommend checking it out and translating some of the delicious recipes. All of the amazing photos are taken by her partner, photographer Martin Kaufmann who was also on hand during our cooking session.

We spent all Sunday in the kitchen cooking up a storm using plums as our inspiration because they are in abundance right now. Although Wife and Baggage to Follow is not a food blog, I couldn't resist sharing our creations. I will be uploading them as a series, starting with entree...and yes it is a savory entree using plums.

Image by Martin Kaufmann: www.martinkaufmann.dk

Ingredients for 4 people
  • 1 small baguette
  • 8 plums
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • 100 g goat cheese broken into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • Small lettuce leaves or endive
  • 1 small beetroot thinly sliced
  • 2 radishes thinly sliced
  • Little edible flowers: we used small geraniums and horned violets

Start by cutting the bread into very thin slices and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Place on a baking tray and bake until the bread is golden and crispy.

Halve or quarter plums (depending on size) removing the stone. Cut thin strips of prosciutto and wrap around plum halves.

Slice the radishes and beetroot thinly using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler.

Stir oil and vinegar together and season with a little salt and pepper.

Arrange all the elements beautifully on a plate and drizzle over the dressing and garnish with flowers.

Other ingredients that would work well with this salad are figs, instead of plums, and if you don't like goats cheese, feta would be a great alternative.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How to look like a Dane

This very amusing blog post from Copenhannah has been making the rounds on Facebook over the last couple of days among the Danish expats.

I couldn't resist re-blogging it for those back home and elsewhere to enjoy.

How to: Look like a Dane - @ http://copenhannah.tumblr.com/

So you want to look like a Dane? I don’t blame you. Danes are hot, so I’m going to tell you how to look just like them. I’ve taken The Meaning of Style for the last four months taught by a stylish Dane who I quote “feels uncomfortable” if he wears the same pair of shoes more than once in a month. Thus, I am qualified. Listen, learn, look Danish.

Step 1: Take your head and dip it in a bucket of peroxide.
Go ahead, throw caution to the wind. If you accidentally dye your eyebrows, it’s a plus! You can’t look like a Dane unless your scalp burns from too much bleach. All Danes are blonde, by birth or by bottle, it doesn’t matter.

This guy’s got it!

Step 2: If you are a girl, you must only wear your newly dyed hair in one of two ways. Lazy or lazier.
Lazy- Put your hair on the top of your head in the highest bun possible. You want people to stop on the street and ask, “Is it even gravitationally possible for her bun to be that high?” The key to this bun is to never look in the mirror after doing it. If there is bumps or chunks falling out, no sweat. You want to look like you spent all your time dying your hair and none of your time doing your hair.

I Googled “danish bun” and this wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but correct and delicious nonetheless.

The perfect height, the perfect messiness and even in black and white, the perfect bottle blonde. Bun Master!

Lazier- Do absolutely nothing with your hair. Wake up and go. At the most, part it down the middle. Your hair will look the right amount of messy and the right amount of awesome. Danes have truly magic hair.

This Dane woke up three minutes ago.

What I look like in the morning. Rough. Or should I say, meow. LOLZ ;) :D :) (remember if you are dressing like a Dane, you must also use emoticons like a Dane)

Now, hair for the men. If you want to look like a Danish man, you need to ignore everything I just said about the girls. You must make your hair look as if you spend a minimum of five hours doing it. Hair product is your best friend. Your hairstyle MUST convince onlookers that you skipped school in order to properly gel. The more unnatural swoops, swirls and spikes, the better.

 Nick Carter circa 1995 is a good starting point. You can’t go all out Dane the first day. You probably don’t even have that much gel in stock.

Oh yes. That height ain’t natural.

Now that you have your hair all big and rock hard to the touch, you can do one of two things: leave it the way it is or buzz the sides. The gelled hair MUST be gelled back in a very gentlemen like swoop, a very large swoop. Then you must take an electric razor and buzz short everything else on your head that is not considered part of the swoop. I searched and searched the internet and no pictures could do this ‘I can tell what country you come from even if I was only allowed to see you from the eyes up” hairstyle any justice. This Danish man is half-assing the hairstyle. Imagine more hair on top and much less hair on the sides.

And you call yourself a Dane?

Step 3: Put down the bag of chips that is currently in your hands as you are reading my blog in bed. Danes have Viking blood, for gosh sakes, and thus are naturally tall and ripped. You’ll need all the help you can get to fit into Danish skinny jeans.

But, if you ever do come to Denmark, disregard this rule and eat these chips. Imagine the best qualities of all your favorite chips combined in to one chip.

Step 4: Go to your closet, put everything that is not black into a bag and burn it. 
If you truly want to look like a Dane, you can never wear color again. Ever. When people look in your closet, you want them to be confused. Are you really a (insert profession here) or are you really, in fact, a ninja?

Is that a ninja? Nah, it’s just a Dane.

Step 5: This is definitely the hardest rule of all. 
You can never look like you are coming or going from the gym again. In layman’s terms: stop looking like a slob. There is not even a word for slob in Danish because it would never be used. No more ratty grey sweatpants. No more oversized gym clothes with stains in the armpits. And worst of all, no more UGG boots. (I didn’t just look at my outfit now and describe it or anything…) If you want to look like a Dane AND you want to go to the gym to get that hot Danish bod, your gym clothes better look nicer than a non-Dane’s every day clothes. Top of the line matching Nike or Hummel only, please.

Just a Dane (who did not follow step number one ) rocking out in head to toe Hummel.

Step 6: Now that you know the color scheme and the no sweat pants rule, what do you actually wear? 
Girls first. The goal is to make your legs look as long and skinny as possible. On the top wear a bulky sweater or a structured jacket and on the bottom wear tight black skinny jeans. Your legs will look like little matchsticks.

Boys next. Your goal is to look like Waldo from Where’s Waldo but instead of red, everything needs to be black. You need tight pants (your girlfriend’s skinny jeans will work), a striped shirt, hipster thick rimmed-glasses (whether you need a prescription or not) and a beanie for when you run of out gel.

I have to admit that I heard this Waldo thing from someone else, but it was such a perfect description that I couldn’t pass it up. Waldo is just missing a little five-o’clock shadow on his face and his trusty bike.

Step 7: SCARF. 
For boys and girls both, do not dare leave your house without a large and in charge scarf. Start wearing your scarf mid-August. Stop wearing your scarf mid-June. Go to scarf withdrawal therapy in July.

A little on the small side and not black, but overall pretty Danish.

Step 8: Shoe time
As a Dane, you have three options of footwear. Three and only three.

Black Converse or Black Nike Frees or Black Wedge Booties (If you are male and want to wear the wedges, Denmark is about as liberal as it gets…so go for it)

Step 9: I’m bending the rules a bit. 
You are allowed to wear one colored item and that item must be your backpack. Your Fjällräven backpack, to be exact. Go into a store and ask if they have Fjällräven. You’ll pronounce some word that is nowhere near correct and three Danes behind the counter will laugh for five minutes while they keep asking you to repeat the word just so they can hear it pronounced incorrectly over and over again. Not that it has ever happened to me, but just to be safe, maybe you should just order it online?

The more obnoxious the color the better because this is the only color you may see all day in Copenhagen.

Step 10: This is it guys, the last step to looking like a true Dane. 
Wipe that smile off your face and put on an ice cold stare. If you are a Dane, you need to look unapproachable and intimidating. Avoid eye contact at all times, whether in the train or on the street. And NEVER say hi or nod at anybody that walks by, as we do in Minnesota.

The look

Step 10 b: Once you have mastered the “Ice Queen” look, prepare to completely wipe it off your face once someone starts talking to you. Danes may not look approachable, but if you get the nerve to ask for directions or to just start a conversation, they are the freaking best. Danes are the nicest, funniest and happiest people I have ever met. (For real. Denmark is ranked the Happiest country in the world right now. The US is 26th.) So wear that death stare, but you better be all love underneath you if want to truly look (and act) like a Dane.