October 11th, 2018
October 3rd, 2018
Norway. The place where my maternal Grandmother’s family originated. I wish I knew more about them, but experiencing the country was part of the reason that we were in Scandinavia. Of the four Scandinavian countries, Norway is the one with the most amazing heights. Within the fjords, mountains jut above the landscape like jagged behemoths. The fog, forests and rivers put one in mind of wood nymphs, sirens, trolls and hobbits straight out of The Lord of the Rings.
We were fortunate to be a part of a small Firebird Tour group for part of our vacation. It was well worth experiencing. All of our transportations (cars, trains, planes and boats) were taken care of. Our hotel accommodations were excellent.
We stayed at the Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway. All of the Nobel Prize recipients stay here before the awards ceremony. Next to the hotel is the Freia shop selling delicious Norwegian chocolates.
We all met in the lobby after our two days there to take a train to the fjords region and Bergen, Norway.
Since prehistoric times, Norwegians had covered their homes with sod roofs. The sod covered layers of birch bark and acted as insulation, as well as being able to absorb rain water. The vegetation growing on the roofs was also attractive to goats. I can picture a humble hobbit warm and snug in his home with a goat chomping away on his roof. For a region with countless fjords and waterfalls, Norway is known for its pristine water. Even the tap water is crisp and clean. Norway exports a very expensive bottled water called Voss that is popular with many Hollywood celebrities.
Apples have been a crop in Norway and the other Scandinavian countries for thousands of years. They have been discovered on Viking ships which had been buried in clay. The clay preserved the ships and allowed us to learn much about the Viking way of life. Apples are harvested in the Fall as they are in our country. This a version of a popular, simple apple cake with Norwegian roots.
NORWEGIAN APPLE CAKE
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 large apple
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Grease and flour a 9-inch tart pan (with removeable bottom) and set aside.
- In a small bowl combine the flour and baking powder and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk, cream the melted butter and sugar until light and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg.
- Add the vanilla extract.
- Add half the flour mixture and all of the milk.
- Mix thoroughly and then add the remaining flour. Combine until no streaks of flour remain.
- Spread batter in the prepared cake pan.
- Core and cut the apple in half. Cut each half in to ⅛” slices and arrange on top of the cake batter in a decorative pattern.
- Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and turbinado sugar.
- Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and cake is thoroughly cooked by testing with a toothpick.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
June 27th, 2018
Hygge. However you pronounce it (Hooga, Hhyooguh, or Heurgh), what is important is what it feels like. It is all about feelings of intimacy, cosiness of the soul and taking pleasure in the moment. It is the Danish way to live well. The Scandinavian inhabitants have been designated the happiest people in the world. The word Hygge expresses all that makes life happy. The above scene captures the elements of hygge well; the warmth of throws, the texture and comfort of pillows, flowers, candles and the close intimacy of a welcoming table. Keep in mind, this was just at a humble cafe on a quiet street. Imagine what it would be like in a Scandinavian home.
All over Copenhagen beauty abounds. In spite of long dark winters, people manage to fill the warmer months with flowers and a buoyant attitude. Bicycle lanes line every major and minor street and riders are given priority. There are more bicycles in Copenhagen than cars. We saw people of all ages two-wheeling their way through town.
We shared a riverfront lunch table with two lovely young ladies from Ann Arbor, Michigan, our home state. They had just arrived from Iceland sans luggage and were in a funk about it. It pleased me so much that after a pleasant time with them, they thanked us for lightening their mood and we exchanged phone numbers. We kept track of them in their travels.
We reconnected in Oslo, Norway and had dinner with them. They never did find their luggage until the end of the trip but managed to have fun with less “baggage” anyway. A friendship was forged. “The art of hygge is the art of expanding your comfort zone to include other people”. From “The Little Book of Hygge; The Danish Way to Live Well”.
Even our hotel in Copenhagen, The Admiral, was cozy with wood posts and beams and soft bed linens. Hygge even has a dictionary of sorts. Hyggerbukser means “That one pair of pants you would never wear in public but are so comfortable that they are likely to be, secretly, your favorites.” Hyggerkrog means “The nook of a kitchen or living room where one can sit and have a hyggerlig time. But my favorite is Hyggesnak; “Chit-chat or cosy conversation that doesn’t touch on controversial issues.” Seems appropriate to our times. There will be more of our trip in future posts which includes Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia.
I apologize for being gone for so long. It has been a busy summer. Time has slipped by too quickly. But I am back and looking forward to hearing from all of you.
June 15th, 2018
Our 4th of July celebration is set in stone. It is a family event with three generations, water sports, fireworks and lots of food and drink. I always have a container of chocolate chip cookies for the kids. My Granddaughter requested two separate containers this year; one for the three girls and one for the three boys because in past years the boys have snuck too many cookies. The girls will probably hide their cookies.
We will be grilling most meals with chicken, hamburgers, ribs and a smoked pork butt among the offerings. But I do try to get creative with some of the side dishes. This year I experimented with this Orange, Tomato and Broccoli Salad with an Orange Vinaigrette. It is a winner.
Whatever your plans for the holiday, you can’t go wrong with this colorful salad. Happy Independence Day.
ORANGE, TOMATO, BROCCOLI, AND SWEET ONION SALAD WITH ORANGE VINAIGRETTE
2 cups ¾-inch pieces broccoli florets
3 large oranges
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup diced sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui)
¼ cup sliced fresh basil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1½ tbsp red wine vinegar
1½ tsp grated orange peel
Preparation: Steam broccoli until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Place broccoli in large bowl. Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Holding oranges over small bowl to catch juice, cut between membranes to release segments. Cut each orange segment crosswise into 3 pieces. Add orange pieces, tomatoes, onion, and fresh basil to bowl with broccoli. Add oil, vinegar, and orange peel to bowl with collected orange juice; whisk to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour vinaigrette over broccoli mixture and toss to coat. Bon Appétit, 2002.
June 6th, 2018
Following other bloggers brings rewards. This Raspberry Jam Shortbread Tart is a delicious reward. Originally posted by The Café Sucre Farina, I saw it on Pinterest and knew I had to try it. It was just as satisfying as I expected. The crumbly shortbread crust is enhanced with almond flour. Almond flour adds such a wonderful flavor profile to a shortbread tart.
It is also important to use a good quality raspberry jam for the filling. I used this one. Thank you Chris for this great recipe. Now, with the leftover bag of almond flour I am going to make some Financiers.
RASPBERRY JAM SHORTBREAD TART
- 8 ounces butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup almond flour
- ¾ cup raspberry jam
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat until creamy. Add vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Add the all-purpose and almond flours and mix on low speed, just until flour is incorporated and large crumbles start to form.
Spray a 10-inch tart pan with baking spray or grease well and press one half of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and freeze while bottom crust is baking, (no longer than 15 minutes).
Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is just beginning to firm and turn pale golden brown at the edges.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the tart to cool for 10 minutes, then spread the raspberry jam/preserves evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edge without jam. (see notes above for a pretty presentation tip)
Remove the remaining dough from freezer, and with your fingers, sprinkle it in big crumbles over the jam to form a topping.
Return the pan to the oven and continue baking until topping is firm, crisp and lightly golden in color, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, then dust lightly with powdered sugar, if desired.
Use a sharp knife to cut into small wedges. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen custard, if desired.
This is my 4th of July quiche recipe. Our annual family celebration will take place at the lake. Since we will have 16 people staying at the cottage, I love to search out recipes that are easy and will feed a crowd. I plan to make two of these deep dish quiches. In place of a crust the filling includes Bisquick, which gives it more of a biscuit consistency.
We are hoping that the lake will be back to normal by then. After two weeks of rain, the effects of Alberto, and the flooding, the lake became clogged with debris of all kinds including large tree branches. The town has been amazing in the clean-up efforts. Thanks to Esther for this photo.
The sausage, cheddar and green onions are a tasty start to this dish, but you could substitute many other ingredients. Mine took longer to set in the middle than the 45 minutes specified. You could also try this in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with a shorter baking time. We are looking forward to the 4th of July celebration.
1 16-0z. pkg. of Pork Sausage, cooked and drained (Can do ahead of time)
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups half-and-half or milk
1 cup all-purpose baking mix (Bisquick)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sausage in lightly greased 2-quart round casserole dish. Top with onions and cheese.
Beat eggs, half-and-half and baking mix with wire whisk until well blended. Pour over cheese and sausage.
Bake for 45 minutes to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges and serve.