Saturday, 31 December 2011


It is really hard to realise that 2011 is over.
Sounds rather like repeating a cliche to say "where did the time go", but honestly - where DID it go?
To sum it up in few words - 2011 was good, bad, happy and sad.
Here is a glimpse of some of the things we got up to in 2011:
I had almost forgotten it is a year since we did up Our Boy's room in January! This is a BEFORE picture... :-) A glimpse of the more finished product can be found here.
In February Our Boy and I went up to see the Professor in Edinburgh. I really like this town. Just never have enough time up there!
In March we celebrated Persian New Year.
Back in April there was 'that wedding' and we went with good friends to Bath.
A real treat!
In May I attended a photo class. It was great fun, but I haven't found time for another one. Perhaps that should go on the list of things I want to do in 2012?!
In June my lovely warm and caring mother passed away. Even if she had been seriously ill for over 7 years, it was a blow to us all. I still have conversations with her in my mind and often catch myself thinking I should remember to tell her 'this and that' next time we speak...
But life does go on and in the middle of July Our Boy went on a great walking trip along the West Highland Walkway in Scotland.
And July was the month that changed a lot in Norway. We are all affected in one way of another after the horrible events on 22 July in Oslo and Utoya.
This year's family holiday in August went to Juan-les-Pins in the South of France. A lovely relaxing time!
My in-laws arrived in September and we spent two lovely months with them, taking them on the weekends to our favourite places.
In October Our Boy and I mixed business and pleasure in London. Should do that again soon...
Our Boy treaded the boards in the theatre play Boy Solider in November. Despite the rehearsals taking a lot of time, I think he enjoyed this experience!
December has been a month filled with cooking, baking and preparing for Christmas. A bit strange it is almost over, I do enjoy it so.
But next year we will do it ALLLL again!


So, what may 2012 bring... ??
a lot of things are on the horizon and hopefully mainly positive and uplifting things.
Perhaps on the national scale the Olympics in London will be the most memorable and one that brings some glimpse of hope for the future for a country and world in recession?!
Or is that asking too much...?

A new year and new plans (I do love 'plans').
On my very personal and private list I would add
Try to exercise more (that is compulsory on such a list)
Find more quiet time
Read more
Explore more
Travel more
Spend more time with family and friends
Laugh more ...
In any case - I wish you all a very
Happy, Prosperous, Energetic and Inspirational New Year!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Not Too Bad After All...

It isn't too bad beeing stuck in bed with a cold even though it is Christmas...

I am not really doing anything else than I had already planned...
Like reading, watching films and sleeping...


The Professor thinks I am in competition with The Cat to see who can sleep more...

Trust me, The Cat is winning!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Tried and Tested: Roasted Potatoes

In time for New Year Eve's dinner I thought I would share with you how we make traditional Roasted Potatoes. These are among the British culinary traditions we have adopted for our Christmas meal. The perfect roast potatoes are lovely and crisp on the outside whilst fluffy and soft on the inside. I normally use either Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes - both types are excellent for roasting.

Peel the potatoes and take care to ensure that larger potatoes are cut so that they are all approximately equal in size. You don't want too large potatoes as you want as much surface as possible to soak up the fat. Parboil for approx 10 mins

Discard the water and let the steam evaporate. Add 4-5 generous tablespoons of semolina to the potatoes and shake the pan with the potatoes so that they get a good coating. This will help soak up the fat and crisp up the potatoes.

Pre-heat 4-5 generous tablespoons of fat (I use goose fat) in the pan you will be roasting the potatoes in on high heat (250 degrees)

Add the potatoes to the melted/heated fat. I find it is easier to take the pan with the fat out of the oven first as the fat will be very hot - so hot that the potatoes sizzle in the pan when you add them. Turn down the heat of the oven to about 180 degrees and leave them in for about 1 hr or until done. You may wish to turn them around a couple of times to ensure the they get browned equally on all sides.
Add some nice salt to season them before serving.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

We have enjoyed a quiet and peaceful Christmas.

Key words for these days are traditions, good food, plenty of time, sleep, walks, films and books.
There is something so comforting and nice about the predictable traditions.

This year it has been rather warm here - about +13 degrees, so a big change from last year.

Another thing we all noticed different this year was the lack of people in the shops before Christmas. Ok, I admit it was a bit MAD in the food store on the 23rd when I unfortunately had to pop out to get something I had forgotten..., but generally I would say it is a worrying sign for the economy when you see that the shops are just not selling. I guess it might mean that the sales starting today Boxing Day and in January will be huge in order for the retailers to get hold of some more money.

And still, our town does not seem to be hard hit by the economy - we all feel like we live in a bubble compared to reports from other parts of the country.

Food for thought for the year ahead...

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Lucky Me!

A couple of days ago these lovely pot holders arrived in the mail!
Lady Luck (or was it Santa...?) was with me when I won them in Åshild's advent calendar giveaway on her blog "Bestemors Hage" (Grandmother's Garden) .

I love hearts!
These will forever be part of my Christmas kitchen.
I think they are too nice to be used, but will look lovely hanging next to the oven

I always enjoy reading her blog. She has lots of handy tips for traditional Norwegian cooking and is a very creative lady! I recommend that you check out her blog.

Tusen, tusen, tusen takk!!!


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tried and Tested: Berlinerkranser OR What Do You Do...

when you wake up at 5 am on the darkest day of the year and can't sleep...?
You bake! Well, at least I do.

Isn't it typical that when I had the day off and could have slept muuuuch longer, I was 'bright eyed and bushy tailed' at 5 am...!!!

So, this year's 'Berlinerkranser' are now safely in the tin (at least those that have not been given away or eaten by the men in my house...)

I used a traditional recipe (makes about 75):

Mash the yoke of 2 hard boiled eggs with
2 raw egg yokes
Add 125 gram sugar and mix well
Add 300 grams flour
and 250 gram soft butter
(alternative times)
and mix all well

Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Roll out pencil thick lengths (10 cm) and fold into a wreath or just simply as I have done above.
Give them a wash with the egg whites and drizzle some sugar over

Bake in the oven on 175-180 degrees for 10 mins.
Beware - keep an eye on them so they don't burn.

Let them cool on the tray before moving them.

I think I will be going to bed early tonight...

Monday, 19 December 2011

Carols by Candlelight and Weekend Activities

True to tradition, some of the Ladies Who Dine attended the annual Carols by Candlelight last night.
The church was packed, it was suitably cold and frosty outside (no snow yet!) and the atmosphere with the church only lit by candles gave us all the right Christmas feeling.

The rest of the weekend has been spent cleaning and preparing.
Not that I think you necessarily HAVE to clean extra for Christmas, but as I was home during the day this weekend I noticed when the sun was shining the state of windows and simply could not ignore them.
Besides, new curtains for the living room 'demanded' clean windows...


While I was at it I noticed that the kitchen cabinet doors could do with a clean,
and some of the cabinets could benefit from a tidy up,
the living room needed decluttering in preparation for the Christmas decorations coming up next week,
and that the wooden floor in the living room could do with an extra polish,
and so on...!

Think I will make myself busy outside the house during the day the rest of the week
- you don't notice so much what needs doing in the dusk...!

Oh, and best of luck to my friend who is moving house these days!
I must say - they are a brave family moving a week before Christmas!


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Jamie Oliver - Christmas Lunch Treat

Every year my boss takes his closest colleagues out for Christmas lunch to show his appreciation for our work.

This year he took us to Jamie Oliver's restaurant.
I have been there before and very much looked forward to going again.
In preparation for this event I had only had a banana for breakfast so I was literally starving...
We all shared various lovely antipasti for starters
Then I had a lovely seabass for mains
Cheese board for dessert
Plus Jamie's gorgeous unusual mince pies made with filo pastry.
I am generally not a fan of mince pies, but these I wanna try to make myself!

What a treat!
No need for dinner tonight...


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Tried and Tested: Burned Almonds

Another of our culinary Christmas traditions are burned almonds.
They also make a nice tasty edible gift.

I never forget the first year I made them:
I had prepared 1/2 kg one evening and went to bed only to wake up the next morning and the entire jar was empty...
The Professor had been working late and found a taste snack on the counter...

1 kilo almonds (keep the peel on)
375 gram sugar
3 deciltre water
1-2 teaspoons of cinnnamon (optional)
3 tablespoons of butter

Toast the almonds in the oven on 200 degrees for about 10 mins.

Bring the water, sugar and cinnamon to the boil and add the almonds once all the sugars has dissolved.
Stirr carefully till all the almonds are coated. You might find that the almonds turn grey with the sugar, but just keep stirring till the sugar melts and caramelises again. Be sure to mind the temperature so you don't burn the sugar.
Once the sugar has caramelised around the almonds take it off the heat and add the butter (it helps to part the almonds from eachother)
 Pour the almonds onto baking parchment and divinde them up
- be careful it is VERY hot!
Once cooled, store them in a nice airtight box
(you might have to and hide them if they are to last till Christmas!)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Tried and Tested: Norwegian Sylterull (Pork Roll)

picture borrowed from
To me, Christmas is in particular about culinary traditions. 
We all eat food and prepare elaborate dishes with spices that we NEVER eat the rest of the year. Recipes and traditions handed down through the generations. But THAT is all part of what makes Christmas special, at least to me.
Being in a foreign land with other traditions means that you either adopt new traditions,
make some new ones yourself or try to adapt the old ones.

Our Christmas is celebrated in rather traditionally Norwegian style.
Being married to somebody without childhood Christmas traditions means I get it all MY way!
Actually, that is the ONLY way he knows how to celebrate Christmas.
No need for compromise here - I rule!
A couple of weeks ago I made traditional Norwegian sylterull or Norwegian pork roll (I think sylte sounds nicer than the English name...). Sylte is traditional lunchmeat normally only made and eaten at Christmas. I have seen many bloggers using different techniques and recipes, but the description below became my way. I first made it out of a 2 kg slice of pork belly, but as I didn't hide it in the freezer quick enough, I had to make another one this weekend which is now safely in the freezer. Sylte is originally  made of the meat in the pig's head, but THAT is such a sloppy and messy business, so I made it the easy way (besides, I had no pig's head handy):
This is what you need:
1.8 kg pork belly (no bones) with the rind
4 tblsp. salt to 3 liters of water (you might need more water)
Mix in a bowl:
2 tblsp salt
2 teasp pepper
2 teasp clove (nellik)
2 teasp ginger (ingefær)
2 teasp all-spice (allehånde)
3 teasp gelatin powder
Open the slab of pork belly with the rind side down and slice it into two or three slices that hang together so you end up with one long piece of meat. Ensure the rind side is at one end of this piece.
Smear the spice mixture all over the meat and
start rolling the slab together ensuring the rind side is the last bit on the outside enclosing the roll.
Wrap it in a tea towel and fasten well using a good cotton string so it makes a nice tight roll.

Put the roll in boiling water and let it simmer for 1.5-2 hrs.
Let it rest out of the water for about 20 mins before you
Take it out and let it cool for 20 mins
before putting it under pressure (about 6 kg) until it is cold.
If you don't have a special press for this purpose you can balance some books on top of a tray on the sylte.

Some store it in brine, but I prefer to pop it in the freezer.
Serve thinly sliced on bread with a good mustard, pickles or pickled beetroots.
The smell of those lovely spices, the meat and the condiments
- now THAT is Christmas!

to me

Friday, 9 December 2011

Secret Santa!

Yesterday we arranged Secret Santa at work for the first time ever!
We had a lovely little lunch gathering where everybody brought in something special from their country to eat and we all got a Secret Santa gift.

I brought Norwegian pork roll (sylterull - made for the first time ever) served with mustard on crackers, and gingerbread crackers with blue cheese, plus a bottle of Gløgg (bought at Ikea!).
You don't know what Secret Santa is?
Well, every on puts their name in a jar. You have to pick a name (not your own, of course) and buy a present for that person for a maximum amount (we chose £5) - all done in secret. You then wrap the gift and it is opened to much sillyness and fun.

Great fun with little effort and I think people had been rather inventive with the limited budget!

Tonight is the Christmas party for the school (theme is Casino!) and Monday we have a Christmas dinner for our group.

What do you get up to at work before Christmas?

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Oooooh! So Tempting...

You know how you see on TV all these auctions for antique furniture?
I love those shows!

Despite having lived here for maaaany years I was not aware of any local auction houses.
Well, my colleague changed all that when she introduced me to a local auction house. The great thing is that they have their catalogue online and you can go an browse the items live for a week before the auction. For some items you can bid online, for others you can leave a bid if you can't be there in person on the day.

The auction takes place today and last night we went over to have a look at things as she was looking for a particular item. The item she had seen online didn't turn out so nice 'in real life', but she found some other nice items she put in a bid on.
So exciting! 

I decided not to put in any bids, but rather take some time looking and learning.
According to The (minimalist) Professor, I would need a larger house as well to accommodate any more furniture...

Imagine if this top hat (and leather box) could talk...
I would love to attend an auction, but WORK gets in the way... At least I can see online what the various items went for and learn from that!

... or the tales these three friends could tell!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Tried and Tested: Marvellously More-ish Creamy Mushroom Soup!

A few weeks ago my Danish friend (who is an amazing cook!) invited me for supper with 4 other ladies.
A real fun evening with lots of laughter, intens chatting, amazing food and plenty of drink.
It was so nice getting to know some new lovely people!
For starters we had this amazingly tasty mushroom soup and the hostess has kindly shared the recipe. She got it from "McCartney’s Meatfree Monday" (serves 4)

75g butter
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
500g field mushrooms, (she used Portobello and brown button)
1l vegetable stock
1 tbls plain flour

Soy sauce
Thick cream

Heat 50g of the butter,
sauté onion until soft;
add garlic,
cook for 1 minute more,
add mushrooms (sliced),
add stock,
bring to boil,
season and cover to simmer for 10-15 mins,
remove from heat.

In separate pan heat remaining butter, stir in flour, cook for 2 mins, remove and add to soup in a liquidiser, mix.  Return to the pan, bring to boil, add soy sauce to taste, salt/pepper and stir in  dollop or 2 of cream.

It was sooo jummy - I couldn't hold back...
I had TWO bowls of soup

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Tried and Tested: Chocolate Caramels

The Christmas baking has started!

My good 'old' friend back 'home' asked me a question about a recipe for caramels that I had given her maaaany years ago. I couldn't remember the recipe nor how I made them, but she sent it to me and I amended it a bit and thought I would put it on the blog so I won't forget it again.


The taste brought back memories and turned out really nice!
They are a bit on the chewy side, but not so bad that you have to worry about your fillings.
An idea for an edible gift...?
They are really so easy to make.

Melt in a pan:

25 gram of butter
2.5 decilitre of sugar

3 decilitre of cream (I used double cream)
1.5 decilitre of golden syrup
50 grams of cooking chocolate (omit if you don't want chocolate caramels)
Finely chopped or grated almonds (optional)

Let the mixture cook for about 1 hr on low heat, stirring occasionally.
I put some greaseproof paper in a square tin and poured the cooked mixture in to let it cool.
I found using a pizza wheel was the easiest way to cut it up once the caramel had cooled down.

Our Boy and my trusted tester next door agreed
- naughty, but very nice!