Mix and Bake Cake

Okay, we’re just coming into the month of June which means that we’re well and truly back in the season of school trips, end of term parties and summer picnics 🙂

Here’s a really simple ‘mix and bake’ cake that I’ve been making for years.  So simple that DD9 can make it all on her own – though I generally get left with the washing up while she licks the bowl…  It’s a plain ‘tray bake’ kind of cake which doesn’t need any icing – which means even less work for the cook!  The dried coconut makes it lovely and sweet and moist.  You can, if you wish, jazz it up by adding chocolate chips or e.g. cranberries – that way, people won’t notice that you keep bringing the same cake to parties! ;D

You’ll need: 

  • 800 ml dried coconut (use a jug to measure)
  • 150 ml plain flour (use a jug to measure)
  • 400 ml sugar (use a jug to measure) – you can use less if you wish
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla powder
  • 250g butter or margarine (one tub)
  • 4 eggs
  • OPTIONAL: about 100g (4oz) cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips, chopped apricot, chopped nuts 

Put everything into a bowl.  (I take the butter or margarine out of the fridge about 1 hour before I’m going to use it – that way you can mix it straight in.  If you’re running short of time, go ahead and melt it.)  Mix well to make sure that everything is moist.  That’s it! 😀  Remember to mix in any optional extras like chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into a baking tray (I always line mine with baking paper for easy removal and wash-up) – size approx. 30×40 cm – and spread it out evenly.  Pop into the oven for about 30 minutes at 200c (400f).

Check after 30 minutes.  If it isn’t golden brown and springy, give it another 5 or 10 minutes.  Let it cool in tray and then slice into squares.

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the finished cake…DD9 took it to school before I could snap one!  Luckily, there were two pieces left.  One of which I ate (mmm!) and the other tiny piece is Daddys! ;D

Bon appétit!

Have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂

Down the Garden Path (Week Five)

It’s been a very wet week.  Which means that I’ve had a fantastic excuse to be terribly lazy in the garden and have done almost no’wt apart from ‘lawnmothering’ (mowing the lawn) since last week!

Seedlings still need to be put into bigger pots or into the ground.  But we’ll no doubt get round to it soon because Danish schools are on holiday Thursday and Friday due to Kristi Himmelfart (Christ’s Heaven Flight) or Ascension, as it’s boringly called in English… ;D  So we’ve got a looooong weekend ahead!

The garden is really blooming now.  Here are my ‘loo-brush’ flowers – these purple ones are about 50 centimetres tall…

and the mini pink ‘loo-brushes’ which are about 10-15 centimetres tall.

Peonies (we have a large bed of them) are just beginning to pop open…huge red pom-poms!

I have to say that one of my favourite summer flowers are sweet peas.  I discovered that you can buy perennial ones (i.e. you plant the seeds and they keep coming back) which is absolutely magic.  The only drawback is that they don’t have any scent…  But, until I get more organised, I’m quite happy to watch these ones come up year after year.  Just be careful where you plant them though…  I planted a few seeds next to a wall at random, thinking I could move them later.  No joy – those roots were not moving!  So be careful where you put them…

The cherry tree (which we planted when DS11 was just a babe in arms) is now covered in cherries and we’re hoping for a good crop if those pesky birds don’t get there first…  Last year we came back from holiday to find that they had polished the whole lot off.

Here’s hoping for a more productive week…  At least we’re now in for a dry spell and the sun is going to be shining, so maybe I should go make some hay? ;D

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂

Just the two of us

DH is out tonight and DD9 is at a sleepover.  Which means that DS11 and I have the house to ourselves.  And what does that mean?  Sushi for dinner! (We’re the only two in the family that like it, so it’s a very rare treat.)

I’d planned to post a photo of our delicious takeaway but – alas – got so carried away that we polished off the whole lot before I realised…oops!  (And very yummy it was too.  Burp.)

Time to light some candles, get the fire going on this damp and dreary Copenhagen summer night and pop a DVD in the player.  Hot Fuzz, Dr Who and several Harry Potters…  Hmm, what shall we start with?  Decisions, decisions! 🙂

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! 🙂

Menu plan – Thursday 26 May 2011

Happy ‘Little Friday’! Weather is sunny (at least for the next 10 minutes), I was out ‘lawnmothering’ earlier and there’s no other way to put it off…it’s time to sit down and menu plan – eek!

Lawn is looking lovely but I’m not going to

show you the weeds in the flower beds ;D

*   Krebinetter (Danish pork patties) with jasmine rice made in (beloved) ricecooker, green salad

*  Lamb steaks baked in the oven with green beans/garlic/honey and leftover jasmine rice

DD8 slathering mustard and brown sugar on to the lamb steaks

*   “Fish n’ chips” – salmon steaks (I add a ‘crust’ of breadcrumbs/seasoning/herbs) and oven chips

*   Takeaway sushi for DS11 and I on the night that DD8 and DH are out – yippeeeeee! 😀

*   Confit de canard (duck confit – from a tin all the way from La France) with baby potatoes and a salad of red cabbage/carrot (see Tuesday’s post about red cabbage/being all grown up)

DS11’s favourite food is sushi but confit de canard comes high on the list too 🙂

Chicken, sweet potato and coconut curry (from BBC Good Food website) – which I’ll make in my crockpot.  We recently made our own naan bread (another BBC recipe) – which was a huge success – so will no doubt make some to go with the curry…

*   Leftover night this week will probably be a frittata (there are lots of eggs to use up) with veggies from the fridge that have seen better days…

That’s it – bon appétit!

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! 🙂

When Blue Monday isn’t New Order

* * * This post appeared earlier today on www.denmark.dk – the official website of Denmark.

The direct link is

http://blogs.denmark.dk/diane/2011/05/25/when-blue-monday-isnt-new-order/ * * *

My husband came home from work on Monday and said “…half of Copenhagen was in town today”. Elementary, my dear Watson, because it was “Blue Monday”!

If you hear “Blue Monday”, you think of the New Order song. Not in Denmark.   Blå Mandag or “Blue Monday” is a Monday in May or June when hoardes of 14 year olds have fun with their friends, show off their new gear, drink a cider or a beer (or two, or three) and get to spend some of the (wads and wads of) money that is burning a hole in the pocket of their skinny jeans.   And Danish schools officially give them the day off to do it…   And why is that? Because they’ve just been “konfirmeret“. Confirmed as members of the Danish church!

In seventh grade they’re invited to “gå til præst“ (‘go to the priest’) which basically means going to a series of meetings at the church.   Not only to learn about the Bible and the rituals of the Danish church but also to discuss life’s ‘big questions’, faith, life and death.   And – hey – don’t worry if you discover that you don’t actually believe in God.   You can still be confirmed – because the ceremony is a confirmation of the christening ceremony, with God saying “yes” to you.   Not the other way around! ;D

The meetings run over the course of several months and culminate in a grand church ceremony – the girls and boys traditionally dressed in white – in April, May and June.   (With churches often performing two confirmation services in one day – sometimes with standing room only at the back!) It’s a milestone for Danish kids and their families.   You’ll often hear confirmation being referred to as a rite of passage, when “the child takes his place amongst the ranks of the grown ups”.   After the ceremony, and a good half-hour of photo-taking both inside and outside the church, there’s a lunch at home or in a restaurant for family and close friends.   And during lunch the kids finally get to the highlight. Opening the gifts!

The kids I know told me that this year’s gift from Mum and Dad is a laptop computer, the latest smart phone or a flat screen tv.   Thirty years ago, when my husband was confirmed, it was jewellry, a watch or a new bike.   (And those Gyldendal red dictionaries were clearly all the rage too, because we seem to have an entire shelf of the things.)

But right at the very top of the kids’ wish list is money.   Cheques or cool cash, please. And grannies and grandads, aunties and uncles are apparently quite happy to give cash instead of a specific gift.   And very generous they are too.  According to a survey by the bank Nordea, this year Danish kids will receive on average gifts worth a whopping 17,000 kroner (US $3,200 or GB £1,980).   With a third of the money being spent immediately…   Is it any wonder they can’t wait for “Blue Monday”? ;D

Have a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂

I’m all grown up

Occasionally I get an a-ha moment and realise that I’m all grown up.  Like when the doorbell rings (for the second time this month) and one of DS11’s schoolmates or a friend’s daughter is standing there, asking to borrow baking powder.  And I have it.  In fact, I have three pots of it!  (Hoarder, much?)  Or arriving at a party on time – nails painted, gift wrapped and card ready.  Gone are the days of writing the card – in that tell-tale squiggly writing – in the car on the way.  Or when I look around the garden and think, ‘This is all mine!’ (Though, on the other hand, the responsibility of looking after it is all mine too – see yesterday’s post on the subject of never-ending garden upkeep).

Last night I had another ‘grown up’ moment. When I was standing slicing carrots and red cabbage to be eaten raw in a salad.  (Strangely enough, also for the second time this month.)  Me!  The girl who never ate her vegetables as a child.  (Go ahead, ask Mum).  Who never cooked red cabbage til she moved to Denmark in 1998.  And who certainly never used it raw – in a salad – to be eaten by the family on a bog standard Monday night – until May 2011.  And here’s the rub…it was blinking lovely!

…Whatever next?!

Have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂

Postscript: by complete co-incidence, I just found another post I wrote about me feeling like a grown up Just an old fashioned girl from May 2010.  Perhaps May is the month of contemplation?!

Down the Garden Path (Week Four)

Back from a wonderful long weekend in Sweden (Friday was a holiday in Denmark due to Big Prayer Day) and back to a garden where I swear everything had shot up two feet in the two days that we were away…eek! ;D

Anyway, I got out and ‘lawnmothered’ (cut the grass) as soon as I had unpacked our suitcase and put the first load of washing in the machine – yep, old Flylady habits die hard! 😀

In my last garden update, I was planning to weed the stone borders around the house. Here’s what I came up with…

So the stone borders are now looking much better – well, at least for a day or two.  I shall keep a beady eye on them.  And my beloved gas weed-burner close at hand.

I always find that, when I travel, I come back home full of new ideas for cooking etc.  This time I came back with a couple of new loungers for the garden!  They had this type of chair at our holiday cottage by the lake in Sweden, and the kids decided that we just had to have similar ones for the garden.  DH and I fully agreed.  So now we just have to fight over who gets to sit in them…and as I do all the gardening, that surely means me first?  ;D

Next on my list?  Doing something about the zillions of dandelions in the lawn.  And weeding the garden paths…

And what am I looking forward to?  The rhododendron are almost ready to burst into bloom!

And my favourite time of day? Early morning or early evening when the lilac scent assaults you! 🙂

I’m off out to have a lie down on my new lounger.  Check back next week for another update on the green front.

Hope you have a marvelous Monday! 🙂

Menu plan – Thursday 19 May 2011

If you saw yesterday’s post Big Buns for Big Prayer Day, you’ll know that it’s a public holiday tomorrow and therefore a long weekend – hooray! 😀  So we’ve got our fingers crossed for good weather and will be taking things nice and easy…

‘The prom’ – at the bottom of our road.

The huts out on the water to the left are for ‘winter bathers’,

there’s also a beach, a fort, a moat, cannons and a tiny campsite!

Here’s the menu for the week:

*  big, meaty sausages with honey/chili/ketchup sauce, flash-fried savoy cabbage and mashed potatoes

*  homemade lasagne with green salad

I’ve made two large batches – one to eat, one to freeze

suppe – Danish meatball, dumpling and carrot soup (as a treat for DD9 when she gets back from school camp)

*  lamb steaks – which have been on the menu plan (but are still in the freezer) for weeks! ;D

*  homemade beef burgers on wholewheat buns, veggie sticks and a handful of crips on the side

DD9 tucking into some freshly made naan bread/flatbread – easy peasy to make and yummy!

*  chef’s surprise = wholewheat pasta with whatever veggies and meat I find lurking at the back of the fridge ;D

That’s it – no post tomorrow from me due to the holiday.  Have a lovely Little Friday and a wonderful weekend! 🙂

Bah humbug – blinking Blogger!

Just a quick update to let you know that “blogger” went wonky on Friday morning.  Apparently most blogs are back up to date but I’m sulking because

a) my menu plan which I posted on Thursday morning has now completely disappeared from the face of the earth

b) the post which I had written for Friday disappeared from the draft section.

Boo hoo!

Oh well, onwards and upwards.  Normal service will be resumed immediately….starting with my traditional Wednesday post about “those crazy Danes”…

Have a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂