Wednesday 31 August 2011

Just When You Think You Have Seen It All...

We met this rather noble looking cat on our holiday in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. 
He was sitting calmly outside an artist's studio... 

Now, I have heard of struggling artists, 
but this begging cat (see the begging bowl with coins in front of him where it was written: 'Pour Manger') takes the concept in a different direction


Judging by the excellent condition of his fur and his splendid collar I don't think he was exactly 'struggling'...
Perhaps he wasn't even the artist!


Tuesday 30 August 2011

Getting Ready

A new school year starts this coming Monday and I spent a good part of today with Our Boy running from shop to shop to kit him out for school. This year is the last year he has to wear the compulsory school uniform and in my naivety I thought perhaps his old school uniform would last another year. However, somehow the blazer and trousers from just 8 weeks ago have mysteriously 'shrunk' in the closet. It was really comical watching him put them on this morning as it looked like they belonged to somebody else! 
There was just no way he could use them any more. 
Amazing how much teenage boys can grow in a summer...

So, like hundreds of other parents (read: mothers) we actually got a new blazer, school trousers and sweaters plus new pens despite finding out that the shop that always carries the uniform has stopped doing it and referred us to their website. Hello! Buying clothes for growing kids involves trying on various sizes! Shopping online only works when you have tried and KNOW for sure which size you need. 

I was not amused and will let the school know as they never informed us about this change! At least not as far as I remember (hmmm... could there be an email I have missed...?).

Pens are always a challenge for Our Boy as he is left handed and most pens will smear as he writes. He has found one type that doesn't and fortunately they were in stock. 

Another tick off the list!

Talking of being left handed: I once read that it is NOT hereditary. 
I wonder about that since we have three generations of left handed men: 
my father-in-law, 
The Professor and 
Our Boy. 
And it is not hereditary...?

The day was a battle, 
hence the illustration (yep, from Monaco) above.


PS: Just to clarify - nobody got hurt in the 'battle' today and I am still on speaking terms with all the shop assistants...


Monday 29 August 2011

Bank Holiday and Recipe Request

The last Monday of August is the traditional last bank holiday of the year. 
Often considered a nice way to round off the summer? 
The weather has not been too great here, a bit on the chilly and windy side. 
But it doesn't matter! 

Our Spanish friends are approaching the end of their annual visit and I met up with them for a lovely Spanish lunch in their camper van followed by a walk in the blustery weather. You might recall our meeting last year. This time they invited me to see the camping site and their lovely camper van. I was so impressed! Camping sure has changed since I was a kid...!

As we agreed todays meeting late last night I didn't have time to prepare anything elaborate to bring with me, so I quickly made some Norwegian 'lefser' and brought as a dessert. Sounds grander than it is, these are semi-ready packs I brought back from Norway this summer - Our Boy loooooves them. 
So, there was little for me to do, except moisten them and add butter, sugar and cinnamon on them. 
They were a great success!

I still have some packs of 'lefse' left, but I really should learn to make them myself as they go quickly in this house! I remember my mother's cousin used to make for Christmas (my mother would make another cake - 'krumkaker' - and then they would swap) and how she used to elaborate on how much work they were... 

Hmmm... does anybody have a good recipe for 'lefser' they are willing to share?

Sunday 28 August 2011

Recommended Reading: Hundred Years

I often pick books by Norwegian authors when I am home in Norway, 
and while on holidays I read Herbjorg Wassmo's book 'Hundred Years' which came out in 2009.

I enjoy Herbjorg's historical novels and in particular this grand and epic book about several generations of women in her family from 1842 to 1942 when she herself was born. 
In short, the book is about 4 generations of women, their lives, the men they wanted, the men the got and their children. 

Although, I feel some parts of the story was not necessary I enjoyed the family saga parts and felt the more autobiographical parts could have been left out as they left some unanswered questions.

I felt I could relate well to the stories and the lives of these women as my maternal family comes from this area and even further north.
It was at times as if I could 'hear' my own female ancestors talking about the hardship of their lives. A hard life in many ways because of the nature and climate, but also with lots of warmth and sense of community.

It is a grand novel I highly recommend.

Saturday 27 August 2011

A Different Life...

French delicacies...

We are back from two lovely weeks in the South of France. It was 'just what the doctor ordered' - warm and relaxing with lots of time for each other. With a family divided over two homes we all enjoyed being with each other, eating the most amazing food, talking, laughing, discussing, and being silent.

We stayed in a very nice and comfortable, albeit small flat between Juan-Les-Pins and Antibes. 
I love this area although with my typically Scandinavian fair and freckly complexion I can't spend too much time on the beach (my two men don't 'suffer' from the same 'condition'). So, in between lazy days on the beach we did a fair bit of travelling along the coast. We knew from last years experience that the train system is excellent and very affordable, so we had decided to do without a hire car. 

Street view in Monaco. Such lovely decor on the houses!
Our first day trip went to Monaco. 

Although it seems that Albert and Charlene had 'forgotten' to invite us to the wedding earlier this summer, we are not ones to hold grudges, 
so we dropped in while we were in the neighbourhood anyway. 


All three of us have been to Monaco before, but never together. I was there 22 years ago and it was different than I remembered. It was much more crowded and every inch of the small place has been built up. It is lovely there, but I prefer many other places on the Riviera to Monaco. 
Too flashy and too crowded for me. 

In the square outside the palace next to the souvenir shops I saw the sign for an antique shop with the owner's surname being unmistakably Norwegian... 

Norwegians get around!

I still have some more days off, but various projects at home are now on the cards!
Yes, the holiday sure shows a different life...

Friday 12 August 2011

Tried and Tested: Swedish Jam Tarts

Blogs are just so great for inspiration!

Wilhelmine suggested these quick and easy jam tarts a few days ago, a recipe she had found in a Swedish magazine (her tarts look nicer, actually).

I have often thought we take it for granted the similarities between the Scandinavian languages. Without going into language history, it is safe to say that most Scandinavians more or less understand all three languages without too much effort (in my view - Norwegians tend to be best at understanding the other two...;-). Admittedly, there are the odd words here and there that is completely different, but that is just charming, I think. And even if there are some cultural differences between Norway, Sweden and Denmark, I think it is safe to say we still feel very much 'related' - like cousins!

Anyway, I am digressing wildly!!!


Here is the recipe in English (you can check out Wilhelmine's blog for the Norwegian translation):

Be warned - these tartlets are very moore-ish!

I made only half the portion and they all 'disappeared' in an evening!

200 gram soft butter
100 gram sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar
270 gram flour

Whip the butter and sugars light and airy.
Add the flour and knead well.
Pour the thick batter onto the table and form to two long sausages.
Divide them into 3 cm pieces which you roll into balls
Each ball goes into a cup cake form and press a hole in the middle.
Add the jam of your choice to the hole.

Bake in the oven on 200 degrees for about 15 mins
- mind they don't burn

Thursday 11 August 2011

Not Just a Pretty Face...

I just have to say it -

I am seriously proud of myself!
I feel like the world of technology might have missed out on a 'genius'...

It wasn't so easy to see how it all fitted together when they are all in loose pieces!
Among all the things I brought over from Norway last week was my mother's kitchen machine.
I have long been honkering for a new KitchenAid machine from Kenwood, but this Bosch Profi 45 is great and it used to be Mamma's.
I have many good memories of her using and caring for it.

In the confusion of packing and going through boxes, we never found a manual for the machine.
Well, that could be a problem since NOT being a man, I actually read manuals...  
However, I thought it would be fine since I have used this machine many times in Mamma's house,
so how hard could it be?

All WAS fine until I realised I had a number of pieces I had never used before and just didn't understand how they fitted on the machine...
My first thought was that they belonged to another machine we no longer had.
But the color matched too perfectly so I realised that they must belong.
Hmmm.... perhaps I was missing a piece for the machine?
No, I didn't think so...

Then lightning struck - check the internet!

And lo and behold, yes! There were pictures of this old machine there!
And from them I could see that all the pieces I had belonged to this machine.
The challenge was even greater as I now KNEW they would fit somehow!

Another picture emerged on my internet search and I realised to my delight how the blender and various grating/chopping implements that can be attached to the machine.

I like it even more.

Even if it isn't the Kenwood KitchenAid Apple Red machine...


Tuesday 9 August 2011

Tried and Tested: Dulce de Leche

I have seen several blogs praising Dulce de Leche or as the French call it Confiture de lait  
and decided to try it out myself.

There are many recipes out there, but Sockertussen gave a simple and good suggestion and I followed her tips by simply

boiling an unopened tin of condensed milk in water for 3 hours
(ensure the tin is properly covered by the water) 

If you boil it for shorter, it becomes more runny.
Check out Sockertussen's blog for a visual illustration of the various cooking times.


This Argentinian delicacy can be used in making ice cream or added to other baked goods.
Think I will try adding it to my brownies mix next time I make them...

Dulce de Leche reminded me of the Norwegian spread 'Prim'.
But we don't get that here, so good to know how to make it myself.


Monday 8 August 2011

Slowly does it..

I am back home in England again after an intense break in Norway. 
It was good to be 'home', seeing friends and family and familiar places, 
even if things were changed in many ways.

Apart from a lot of practical things to attend to, 
I managed to squeeze in a nice evening with an 'old' friend of mine and we went to one of the television recordings of the annual sing-alongs in the old fortress in my home town.

It was great fun particularly since they had some old timers performing like Carola, Ingrid Bjornov, Bjarne Brondbo and Blue (from England!). It made it easier for me who has lived outside the country so long and don't really feel familiar with the 'new' artists...


This was the last performance this summer, 
but I hope to catch another sing-along like this next year. 

Here is a clip from Blue's performance (the only one I found on YouTube)