Monday 17 December 2012

Tried and Tested: Peanut Brittle

Busy weekend cleaning, baking and cooking!
Just love it.
True to tradition, I went to "carols by candlelight" last night with 3 friends. We tried out a new church this year - it was nice, although more 'happy clappy' than the more traditional places.
Time to try something new for Christmas! In addition to my regular Rocky Road,
I made Nigella's Peanut Brittle and it is super easy and super yummy (and not too much!).
Let's just hope Our Boy gets his braces off for Christmas so he can enjoy them.
If not, they are great little gifts!
Heat up gently
200 gram caster sugar
60 ml water
150 gram golden syrup
Let it boil briskly for about 10 mins!
Be aware - this is VERY hot!!!
150 gram salted peanuts
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
25 gram soft butter
1 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Stirr well and pour the mixture onto a well greased baking paper and smooth it out.
Let it cool and break into pieces.
Make the brittle up to 1 week before eating or giving. Store in airtight bags or containers in a dry, non-humid environment.
Once opened, eat within 7 to 10 days.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Not Much Time...

for keeping up with the blog these days!
I am planning to start baking and preparing for Christmas this coming weekend and thinking of making some new things this year. No point baking too soon - it won't last till Christmas then! The gingerbread cookies and biscotti I made earlier this month (twice!) are all gone, so I think it will be better for all of us if we wait for some days with the rest
So, instead I share with you a picture I took of the mailbox by our house yesterday morning.
It is really cold here.
No, I mean it.
R-e-a-l-l-y cold.
-7 is no joke with added humidity.
But the frozen spider's webs are rather magical, I think!
But the question is
- will there ever be snow?
Perhaps better not wish for it - I couldn't bike to work then!

Sunday 9 December 2012

Tried and Tested: Cranberry and Red Onion Marmalade

I bought some really nice red onion marmalade when I went to the Country Living Christmas Fair and it 'disappeared' very quickly. A friend gave me this recipe for this very nice and seasonal accompaniment to cheese/cold meat/pate/etc. and I made some last night. Judging by how it was received in our house, I will probably have to make another batch for Christmas. 

Here is how I made it:

2 tablespoons olive oil
500 grams red onions, sliced
Juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon pickling spice
150 gram dark muscavado sugar
150 ml ruby port
120 grams dried cranberries
(the original recipe called for 450 grams fresh cranberries, but I took what I had)

Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onions for 5 mins.
Add the orange juice, spice, sugar, cranberries and port and simmer gently for 1 hr.
Cool and chill

Friday 7 December 2012

In The Run Up To Christmas...

This week and next has been and will be a bit hectic around here!
In addition to all the various work projects that need to be done before Christmas, all sorts of social events are going on!
It started peacefully with a visit from a friend from Oslo and her son earlier this week! Although they came from -15 to about 0, it has been incredibly cold here this last week! This damp wet cold really is ruthless!!! But as always it was lovely seeing them and we really enjoyed being together. It was a short visit for a very specific purpose and they went back again yesterday, but we have hopes that we might see them again in January...?
Today was the Christmas lunch with a group of Scandinavian ladies I have met during this last year and tonight I am off to the office party. This year the party will start with a quiz and we are encouraged to form teams and 'dress to impress'. Each team has to have a name and I am apparently on the team are called 'The Decorations'. I have been instructed to dress up as a Christmas Decoration....
I chose an easy way out  - I will be 'The Lights'.
Two strings of battery driven LED lights will do the trick, I think!
I hope this won't be the only way I will 'shine' tonight!

Tuesday 4 December 2012

On the Move...

We are selling our flat in Edinburgh!
the lounge
The Professor is taking up a new job in Durham (2.5 hours from us as opposed to 5 hrs like today!) in the spring and this means that we have to put the flat on the market and hopefully start looking for a new property for him!
Let's hope somebody nice is looking for a lovely place to live in Edinburgh! It has been an extremely useful and easy property to have, so I hope it will be possible to find something similiar again.
master bedroom
We have fallen in love with these old properties with high ceilings and big windows. As the flat is on the top floor it lets in a lot of light.
You can see the prospectus here 
main bathroom
2nd bedroom
Viewings on Sundays from 2 pm - 4 pm!
(The pictures are all taken by the estate agent)


Monday 3 December 2012

Never Too Old...!

Never too old for an advent calendar!
Although Our Boy is 16, he insists on having one and I must admit I love making one for him. I think I am almost as excited as he is when he opens it over breakfast in the mornings. Nothing really expensive in it, but little bits and bobs that he could use or enjoy.
 I am really fond of the calendar I made years ago for him.
This is what memories and tradtions are made of!
This weekend I managed to get some of the preparations for Christmas done. The advent candles were lit yesterday, some of the gifts are bought and wrapped (don't think I have ever been this early...!) and I made gingerbread men. I used the ready made dough from Ikea and it was absolutely fine!
A small tip - when I went to find the advent calendar in our Christmas decoration box, I also found 4 purple candles and some left over Christmas napkins from last year. I always pack away any leftover seasonal candles and napkins and they come in handy now at the beginning of the season. Particularly the purple candles which are hard to find around here (I found them online last year). Purple is the traditional colour for advent and I like to stick to this tradtion, if I can. Although this year I also have put together a white one.
Can't have too many candles in the dark evenings, if you ask me!

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Not Wanted...

I have for the longest time felt my conscience tugging and been thinking that I should do my bit and start giving blood.
A TV-campaign last spring(!) prompted me to register, but I never got around to making an appointment to actually go and do it.
Until last Friday.
I proudly went for my appointment and filled in various forms and had a small interview with a very friendly nurse whilst drinking lots of water. All was fine, and I was escorted into a long rectangular room where the other good donors were sitting in chairs hooked up and donating. I made myself comfortable in the chair that tilted backwards and was feeling very smug and good about myself as I offered my arm to the nurse. 
She rolled up my sleeve on my right arm and started feeling around for a vein.
"Hmmm....", she said.
"I think I sometimes can be a little tricky. They tend to use the veins by my wrist", I offered.
She smiled back and said "I can't use those by the wrist, I need to check your left arm".
She did and again the "Hmmm..." came.
"I will go and ask my colleague to have a feel", she said.
I felt the entire room was looking at me, the only one not hooked up.
The same "Hmmm..." came after the colleague had felt my right arm. She then proceeded like her colleague to check my left arm. "I can't feel anything at all in the left arm", she said. "The right one is very faint and it rolls away. I don't think we can use you," she concluded. Now the entire room was staring at me (at least I think they did).
Me - the unusable one!
I hadn't even been stabbed once! 
She explained that instead of them starting to stab me randomly in the hope of finding it and thereby scarring the veins I was better off saving my veins in case I ever really needed access to them... Which was nice of her and makes sense, I guess.
But I still felt the rejection burning...
I scrambled out of the comfy chair and did the walk of shame out of the room. In the waiting area, The Professor had fallen asleep waiting for me. A thought struck me - perhaps I can just roll him in and get him hooked up ...! Imagine his surprise...
Well, of course I didn't and we couldn't as you have to register and sign up in advance. But I will work on getting him registered as he might be the only one in the family that can donate. Our Boy seems to have inherited the same type of deep embedded rolling veins that I have. They probably won't want him either.
But it is the thought that counts, isn't it?

Monday 26 November 2012

Pinterest Inspiration - Table Decoration

The Ladies Who Dine came to my house for lunch yesterday, Sunday. It was kind of a start-of-the-season-gathering/birthday-celebration and just a general-together event.
We chose to meet on Sunday lunch as it is already increasingly hard to find a suitable Friday or Saturday that everybody can make. Besides, Sunday lunch is a great British tradtion!
The above IPhone-pictures (I really need to get my good camera more out - I have becom lazy!) are from the table and I was pleased with my simple silver/acorns/candle decoration on a slate tiered cake stand. Inspiration from Pinterest (you can find me there)! Very simple and just using what you already have but put together in a new way. And for some extra sparkle I added a smal battery-operated garland of fairy lights along the table.
As usual, I was worried it wouldn't be enough food (ok... I admit that after various canapees and a starter with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon followed by the main consisting of 2 mustand-and-honeyglazed hams and a roasted chicken along with a 'mountain' of roasted potatoes, mashed swede, brussels sprouts, fried mushrooms and a tomato and onion salsa and my friends dessert of apple strudle with whipped cream followed by coffee and mints and biscotti was too much for 6 ladies), but it looks like there are enought leftovers for me and The Boy for the rest of the week...

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Another Year ...

Another year older, yes...
It was my birthday this weekend and after starting with lunch out with friends on Sunday, I treated myself to a day off on Monday!
My gift to myself was to do whatever I really fancied doing...:
It started with Our Boy waking me singing 'Happy Birthday' while bringing gifts and serving tea in bed
The day progressed with
baking a cake (this is my most downloaded recipe)
listening to a lot of music
hemming some material I had bought a year ago I and making it into a new table cloth
having coffee and cake with a friend that popped by
starting knitting on a small project (which should be done in a day or so)
reading a book
having a lovely dinner with Our Boy
receiving lots and lots of phone calls and emails

Next weekend The Professor is coming home
We are invited to a Thanksgiving party on Saturday - the turkey is ready at 2 pm...
On Sunday the house is being 'invaded' by friends coming for lunch
No, age doesn't matter, there is plenty of time to plan celebrating the BIG year, next year...!

Thursday 15 November 2012

Tried and Tested: Chocolate Fondant

Talk about mid week temptation!
On an ordinary Wednesday I surprised Our Boy with Fru Tunheim's recipe for chocolate fondant.
It won't be the last time...
All in all it took less than 25 mins from start to finish! 
You can either make them the traditional way with flour and sugar or there is the alternative to make them low carb. I did kind of a mixed version using ground almonds and sugar. I also want to mention that I got 5 fondants out of 3/4 of the recipe below so the recipe is generous.
To make 6 generous fondants

125 gram butter
150 gram dark chocolate
125 gram sugar OR 75-100 gram Sukrin/Splenda
85 g flour OR ground almonds
4 eggs
Melt the butter and chocolate and add the sugar/sweetener.
Mix well.
Add the flour or ground almonds and whisk with a hand held mixer.
Add one egg at the time.
Pour in to well greased ramekins.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 11 mins at 200 degrees.
They were lovely and had exactly the right consistency of lovely gooeyness when we cut into them

Monday 12 November 2012

Country Living Fair 2012

Yesterday I went with my two Welsh friends to the Country Living Magazine's Christmas Fair 2012, in Islington, London. I didn't bring my main camera, so you will have to do with the IPhone pictures.
The fair is an annual event, although this was my very first time.
It was almost a bit overwhelming, to be frank, but well worth going!
So much creativity and inspiration!
I didn't buy very much (ok, a few things...), but  I enjoyed even walking around making notes on creative suggestions. Got to love the "Notes" function on the IPhone...
I simply loved the fair and I think it will become an annual event for me!

Friday 9 November 2012

Grumpy Country Bumpkin...?

Just loooove this area of London...
Our Boy and I went to the Norwegian embassy in London yesterday to renew his passport which is due to run out in January. The consulate services and passport office got new locations (still same building) three weeks ago and it is all very smart! Must also say the people there are lovely and very helpful. It was quick and efficient and the new passport will be mailed us when it is ready. Good news is also that the new passport will now be valid for 10 years. No more going to the embassy with him every 3 years...!
We also found some time for shopping for the young man.
 But I feel a need to vent:
I am rather annoyed with certain shops. Particularly those where you are met at the door by a bunch of scantily clad overly-excited-super-informal-and-way-too-familiar-for-my-liking young male shop attendants (and some young ladies) dancing away to deafening music (it is IMPOSSIBLE to talk inside the shop), dressed in OPEN SHIRTS and flip flops (hello! it is NOVEMBER!!! - OK, I KNOW it is part of the 'uniform') in premises so dark that you have to feel your way around the room...coming up to within an inch of your personal space and asking whether they can
"Help you guys with anything?".
It didn't help my mood as we were leaving we were surrounded by chorus of
"So nice seeing you guys"
"Thank you guys for shopping with us."
"Hope you guys have a nice day".
"Hope to see you guys again real soon"
coming from 10-15 attendants whose job clearly is just to smooch (and annoy) the customers!
Nah, it made me really grumpy!
This is not the way NORMAL people behave on this island.
I know the brand is not British, but this kind of behaviour really doesn't work here!
It just seems sooooo fake!
I grant that the quality of the clothes are good (the jeans Our Boy bought last year still look brand new!), but
I do not want more-than-half-my-age-over-the-top-eager-shop-attendants try to make me feel hip and young...
I do not want to be called 'you guys'.
I do not want people to pretend they care about me when I perfectly well know they couldn't care less, except for what is in my wallet!
And I HATE loud music in shops!
I just leave then - I can't think!
Don't worry.
I swallowed my annoyance and didn't embarrass my teenage son who did get what he came for.
And on Sunday I am off to London again!
But that will be a different trip!

Monday 5 November 2012

Bonfire Night!

Guy Fawkes - borrowed from the web
Fireworks have been going off all throughout the weekend although Bonfire Night is actually tonight on 5 November. The Cat is not too pleased about that, but he tends to stay indoors when it gets chilly and he doesn't seem to mind the fireworks when he feels safe inside.
Bonfire Night is also called Guy Fawkes' Night. For over 400 years bonfires have burned on November 5th to mark the failed gunpowder plot - a plot that relates back to the conflict between catholics and protestants. In 1605, thirteen men planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Among them was Guy Fawkes.
Some of the 13... borrowed from the web
After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion.  Unfortunately, James was not and 13 young men, decided that violent action was the answer by blowing up the Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. However, as they realised that also innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack some of the plotters had second thoughts and an anonymous letter was sent to warn a friend to stay away from the Parliament that day. But the warning letter reached the King, and the King's forces stopped the conspirators. Guy Fawkes was in the cellar with the barrels of gunpowder when the cellar was stormed so he was caught and executed. So, the questions many ask are - was he framed and would the plot have worked as the gunpowder apparently was old...
On the 5th, agitated Londoners who knew little more than that their King had been saved, lit bonfires in thanksgiving, a tradition to this day!
You can ask whether it is anti-Catholic to celebrate this event, but I agree with those that say that it is important to remember the history and the fact that the celebration is a commemoration of the thwarting of an act of mass murder. Also, I feel it is safe to say that the passage of the centuries has eradicated any sense of anti-Catholicism associated with the celebration.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Tried and Tested: Fruity Biscotti

Lovely treat with a nice cup of tea or coffee on a windy and rainy Sunday...
I got inspired to make biscotti after last Saturday's adventure to the pop-up restaurant and was recommended this recipe by the chef. It is from BBC's Good Food website but since this blog also serves to keep my own favourite recipes, I have shamelessly copied it here. They are super easy to make and an instant hit in our house. BBC Good Food calls them "Fruity Christmas Biscotti", but I don't think these should be limited to Christmas (besides - it is too soon to start baking for Christmas, isn't it?) :
To make about 72 biscotti you need:
350g plain flour , plus extra for rolling
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice (a British spice blend of cinnamon/clove/ginger/coriander/nutmeg)
250g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
coarsely grated zest 1orange
85g raisins
85g dried cherries
50g blanched almonds
50g shelled pistachios
This is how you do it:
Heat oven to 180C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
Put the flour, baking powder, spice and sugar in a large bowl, then mix well.
Stir in the eggs and zest until the mixture starts forming clumps, then bring the dough together with your hands - it will seem dry at first but keep kneading until no floury patches remain.
Add the fruit and nuts, then work them in until evenly distributed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 pieces. With lightly floured hands, roll each piece into a sausage about 30cm long.
Place 2 on each tray, well spaced apart.
Bake for 25-30 mins until the dough has risen and spread and feels firm. It should still look pale. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack for a few mins until cool enough to handle, then turn down the oven to 140C.
Using a bread knife, cut into slices about 1cm thick on the diagonal, then lay the slices flat on the baking sheets.
TIP: The biscuits can be cooled and frozen flat on the sheet at this point, then bagged and frozen for up to 2 months (so perhaps it isn't too early to start preparing some of the baking for Christmas...?).
Bake for another 15 mins (20 mins if from frozen), turn over, then bake again for another 15 mins until dry and golden.
 Tip onto a wire rack to cool completely, then store in an airtight tin for up to one month, or pack into boxes or cellophane bags if giving as gifts straightaway.

This was my contribution to Sota Saker's November challenge

Thursday 1 November 2012

This Got My Attention...!

Not always easy to get the attention of passengers - particularly if you fly often, but this was an inventive way

Monday 29 October 2012

First Time in a Pop-Up Restaurant

picture borrowed from the web as I forgot my camera!

I had heard of pop-up restaurants and curiously signed up for a new one that was opening not far from my house last Saturday.
What is a pop-up restaurant, you ask? Well, they are an alternative to traditional dining out as they tend to be in people's private homes where you can sign up for a meal cooked and served by the hosts. Another name for it is a "Supper Club" or "Underground Restaurant". They have historically been a way for aspiring professionals to experiment and gain exposure, but they originally come from the idea of prohibition speakeasies or Cuban paladares. So, actually not a new phenomenon!

Saturday was the first time this particular Pop-Up Restaurant was launched and we were 5 guests in total (they can cater for max 6 guests). We were greeted with a glass of bubbly and lovely canapes
Cherry tomatoes with mozzarella & basil,
Crostini with pea, mint and cannelloni beans,
Savoury cracker with colton basett and homemade apple and date chutney
while we got aquainted with our fellow diners. What a small world - in addition to discovering that one of the couples now live in the house sold by friends of mine who moved to New Zealand a few years ago, the two men - who did not know eachother from before - had both worked for the same company about 20 years ago!

We were then invited to join the table and were treated to an amazing menue and such a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Here is what we ate:
Pear, Walnut & Ginger Salad with Smoked Duck
Beef with Squash, Sweetcorn & Chilli, served in a small pumpkin accompanied by Courgette Muffins and Southern Cornbread and Sour Cream
Mint Sorbet
Fig , Hazlenut & Fennel Shortbread with a Fig and Dark Chocolate Profiterole
Coffee & Biscotti
 The food was truly amazing - really fine dining. I couldn't fault it in any way! It was generous portions and delicately presented.
A real treat!
Wine was not included in the offer and we had been encouraged to bring our own wine. At the end of the evening we were invited to write our comments in a small visitors book and leave as a donation of what we thought the meal was worth so the chef would (at least) cover the expenses.

It was a really unique experience with an intimate feel.
It was a very different experience to traditional dining out - much more fun, more innovative, very unusual and a great way to get to know some new people!
I had a really good time and was very happy as I walked home with my little bag of complimentary biscotti!
It sure won't be the last time I try something like this!

Friday 26 October 2012

Festival of Ideas

Last night I went after work with a couple of friends to one of the talks at the Univsity's annual Festival of Ideas . You can sign up for some of the talks, but many of them are drop-in sessions. 
This talk focused on how linguists and regular people use analytical tricks to unlock the secrets of language: focusing on identifying a speaker's gender, race, region and age. 
Very interesting!
Even after all these years here I marvel over the privilege it is to have such offers on our doorstep.
Next week is half term here and there is a wealth of activities and talks - also for children!

Thursday 25 October 2012

Tried and Tested: "Form" or Mac & Cheese with Fish

Food is so often connected to memories.
We loved 'form' (don't know where the name came from) when we were children. It was a staple dish when we came to visit my grandfather in Oslo's house.
 It is actually a form of mac&cheese with extra filling.
This is my version, this time with fish (this will easily feed 5-6 people):
Warm up (a bit warmer than luke warm) 5 dl of milk with half an onion and 5-6 peppercorns and set it aside to infuse while you
Boil 500 grams of macaroni till almost soft enough to eat.
Drain the macaroni and put it to the side while you
Make a cheese sauce with
70 grams of butter and 3-4 tablespoons of flour and the warmed milk (discard the onion and the peppercorns before adding to the sauce).
Add 200 grams of grated cheese to the sauce along with
2 teaspoons of English mustard
A good dash of Worcester sauce,
2 teaspoons of lemon juice and
a good pinch of salt
Add the cheese sauce to the boiled macaroni and coat the pasta well
Add 350 grams of chunks of uncooked fish to the macaroni mix. I normally use a variety pack containing salmon, haddock and smoked Alaskan pollock.
Pour it all into a greased heatproof oven dish and cover the top with breadcrumbs. You can also crush some garlic into the breadcrumbs, if you like for some extra flavour.
Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes on 200 degrees.
Serve with a salad
Such a simple comfort food on an autumnal day!

Tuesday 23 October 2012

SWEDISH Shop - I am ALMOST in Heaven!

I have mentioned before how the world is getting smaller
- you can ALMOST get anything anywhere!
This was again proved when I discovered that my grocery delivery company Ocado now have a Swedish Shop!
So, no need to go to Ikea to indulge my cravings for kaviar, sild, Wasa knekkebrød, leverpostei, falukorv, fiskeboller(!), various cheeses AND grønnsåpe! They even have various forms of old familiar sweets and crips... - even Twist (although I am pretty sure that is originally Norwegian ...!). Actually, I am not too fond of Swedish chocolates and sweets - sweeter than Norwegian treats, I think, but beggars can't be choosers!
No sign of a Norwegian shop, but as I grew up 10 minutes from the Swedish border,
I am almost in heaven!

Thursday 18 October 2012

Yoga - My Obsession...

nope... not me - borrowed from the web
I have now been taking weekly yoga classes for almost 3 years. It has become a real passion and a necessity for my general well being. I started to notice the benefits of the yoga practises after a few months and I am still thrilled every time I squat/bend/stretch and feel that I am more flexible and stronger than I used to be. Sitting on bent knees or squatting was something I could never do as the knees would hurt too much. That is no longer a problem. I rarely suffer from any types of back aches (I have had a bad back for many years) and I just love the feeling you get after a yoga class. I can go tired into a class, yawning and just wanting to curl up and go to sleep, but after the class I am calm, awake and refreshed. No wonder yoga means 'to join' body and mind!
And I know that I will sleep deeply that night waking up refreshed the next day. The breathing practise is great for focusing the mind and you feel how good it is for the body to take deep concentrated breaths as we all tend to shallow breathe too much.
I highly recommend yoga to anybody - no matter what size or age you are. In yoga you don't compete with anybody else - we are all differently made and just because you can't do a posture perfectly doesn't mean there is something 'wrong' with you. Perhaps your body just can't do that particular posture. A friend once lent me a DVD where this fact of different physical limitations was illustrated very clearly - simply because we are not all built the same way! But that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy yoga and benefit from it! Yoga is not about pushing through pain. If you feel pain, you are not doing it right.
This fall I have also signed up for some lunch time classes on Thursdays. I have to admit, I am not that good doing the practises on my own although I am getting better and I actively use the breathing practises in my day. So, Thursdays I rush from the office to get my one hour of yoga before I go back relaxed and ready to take on the rest of the day.
Tuesday evenings and Thursday lunchtime is
Do you make sure you get some YOU TIME during the week?

Monday 15 October 2012

Weekend Summary and Welcome to the World!

doesn't happen often that we can't finish off a SHARED dessert...!
And we are back to Monday after an eventful weekend...!
After dropping Our Boy off at a party, the Professor and I kicked off the weekend with a visit to the restaurant in the hotel The Cross Keys in Saffron Walden on Friday evening. Lovely place (Elizabethan building going back 850 years!) with great atmosphere, amazing food and also the possibility of spending the night as they offer 6 rooms. Really worth a visit (check out the link)! Obviously a very popular place as it was packed and we were just lucky to get a table.
On Saturday Our Boy went to his weekend job stacking shelves in a nearby supermarket. His shift is  every Saturday evening from 5 pm till 11 pm. Fortunately, most of his social life happens on Fridays and his still manages to have a proper lie-in on both Saturday and Sunday and to finish off home-work, so win-win!
I also managed to go through my wardrobe this weekend and had a much needed clean-up and packed away the summer clothes. 5 big bags of old clothes are going to the recycling bins! There was so much I had not worn for years and it became clear that I would never wear them again as I seem to have shrunk (nice bonus ☺).
It feels good to free up the space particularly when thinking of possibly refurbishing the bedroom this fall. No need to keep things that just take up space and is never in use!

The weekend was rounded off with a good dose of Downton Abbey. I won't spoil it for those who have not seen this episode, but I will just say my eyes were still puffy this morning from all the crying last night...
 But the biggest and brightest news of the weekend was that our new little friend was born in Zurich on Friday.
So sweet and so very, very welcome!

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Victim of Gender Stereotyping...

borrowed from the Internet
A letter arrived yesterday inviting my husband to come and see the new Honda CR-V coming out shortly. Ok, they used the wrong title calling him 'Mr.' while the correct title should be 'Professor' (VERY important these things around here...) and also misspelling our surname, but we are very used to that so I don't get upset about that anymore.
We are not looking for a new car, but the invitation came from the local Honda dealer/garage I had recently taken the car for its annual service to. We used to take the car for service to the garage were we bought it, but this garage is about 45 minutes away from our house. I therefore thought it was much more efficient use of time to use the local Honda dealer's garage instead. The service was efficient and good, so we are good for another year.
However, the key fact relating to the letter is that I had booked and taken the car to the service. My husband was not involved in this arrangement at all...
But HE is the one that gets the invitation to come and view the new car (in the hope that they can tempt him to buy a new car, obviously)...
Now, that is assuming that the decision for a new car lies with a person they have not met nor do they know if he exists... And completely ignoring ME - their actual customer! And I watch Top Gear and everything (Ok, generally forced to when The Professor and Our Boy takes control over the remote...)
I would say I am a victim of gender stereotyping here!
And besides, how would they know whether he could choose the right colour or not...

Monday 8 October 2012

Tried and Tested: Eshkeneh - Persian Onion Soup

My mother-in-law has taught me most of the Iranian dishes I make, but this one I taught her!
I found the recipe of this favourite dish of ours in a book given to me many years ago by dear friends in Chicago. The book, "New Food of Life" by Najmieh Batmanglij is an excellent book if you are looking for an introduction to Persian cuisine. She has written many cook books, but I keep coming back to this one.
Eshkeneh or Persian Onion Soup is simple and easy and very tasty and perfect on a cold days!
 Here is my take on it:
4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 cup fresh or 3 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (Norwegian: bukkehornkløver)
3 eggs
2 tablespoons flour,
1 teaspoon turmeric (Norwegian: gurkemeie)
3-4 peeled potatoes
1.5litre water
2 dried lime or 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onions and the garlic in a large pot with some oil on medium heat until golden brown - dont' burn them!
Add flour, turmeric and some salt and pepper and stir and cook for a minute or two.
Then add the fenugreek and saute for a few minutes, stir well to mix all the ingredients.
Add 1.5l of water, salt and pepper to taste.
Add the peeled and chopped potatoes.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 50 minutes on medium-low heat.
Break the eggs into a small bowl, stir well and add to the soup and blend well.
Adjust the seasoning before serving (Tip: Add a spoon of sugar if it is too sour).
Serve hot with warm bread and plain yogurt.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Making More Bling!

Time for autumnal activities!
Last week I attended a new class at The Beaderie.
Friendly and lovely Sally taught us how to make the embellished right-angle woven bracelet.
The classes are small - max 4 people so we get plenty of assistance if needed. Since this is my second class I felt it was quick to get my head around it.
Not a bad way of spending a couple of hours on a blustery autumnal mid week evening!

Tuesday 2 October 2012

A Lovely Song...

I have found a new potential favourite song/singer
Melody Gardot - Baby I'm a Fool

Monday 1 October 2012

A New Era...

This weekend we had a farewell party for our boss who retired as director for our research group. It was a nice event where we had invited everybody we have worked with these 11 years this group has excisted. Not everybody could come, some are now as far afield as New Zealand, Australia or China, but we ended up with a good selection of people from the various years and projects. It was fun and almost a bit nostalgic seeing them all again!
The evening went very fast and as usual, I ended up feeling I did not get a chance to speak with all... Well, perhaps some other time, I hope!
So, while we wait for our new director to join us in the spring you could be mistaken for thinking those of us still here would be like the mice in the Norwegian saying:
Når katten er ute, så danser musene på bordet...
(When the cat is out, the mice dance on the table)
Surely not!
It is just a picture I used for illustrating this 'cheeky' post...
Also, 1 October today...!
Incredibly how dark it was this morning!
It was still pitch black when I woke at 6.30am. I had to turn the lights on before I got out of bed..
That was a first this fall...
PS: we have a board to answer to... just in case anybody got worried!

Saturday 29 September 2012


This way of busking out of a waste bin is a sure way to get attention...
It has been over a week since I gave any sign here on the blog...
No other excuse than a lot of work going on at the moment.
Should be getting a bit better after next week, I hope
In the meantime, I leave you with some pictures snapped throughout the week taken with my IPhone.
I simply had to try this cake at the cafe/bakery Fitzbillies - it is called Norwegian Crisp - another version of Palmiers actually (made of puff pastry) and not particularly Norwegian as far as I could tell...
A snap shot taken last weekend when The Professor and I walked around the Folly at Wimpole. Just love that place!
On the return from the Folly
The weekend will be busy with more workand a retirement party for a colleague, but I hope the weather will hold and I can clock in another walk at wonderful Wimpole. Might even take a proper camera this time...!
Enjoy your weekend!!

Thursday 20 September 2012

Sunday Evening Bliss

Season 3 of Downton Abbey started last Sunday.
And they did not disappoint!
Below is a trailer with some glimpses of what is in store: