Feel Good Friday – 30 November 2012

Three things that have put a big smile on my face this week:

The look on my kids’ faces when our number was drawn during a school raffle…one whole kilo of delicious Danish marcipan chocolates for us to feast on with the whole family come Christmas Eve!

Guess who gets to pick first?  DS12!

After what was a very ‘up-then-down-then-up-then-down’ day…10 minutes in a massage chair while the kids and I were at Experimentarium (Denmark’s ‘hands on’ science museum/playground).  If anyone has loads of dosh to spare, please buy me a massage chair for Christmas.  Thanks, ta!

Sssshhhhh….keep the noise down out there!

My friends.  Whether we are down at the sea in the morning having a skinny dip, or in town looking at this year’s designer Christmas decorations, we can sort out the problems of the world over a cup of tea!

My sweetie friends V and H

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :o)

Menu plan – Thursday 29 November 2012

Beginning to feel the Christmas excitement now – we’ve started some festive baking and I’ve been with friends to an exhibition of Danish Christmas decorations.  But I don’t feel that I can really let it rip until Saturday comes (1st December)!

Delicate paper Christmas decorations by Danish designer Jette Frölich

Here’s what’s for dinner at Casa ‘Almost-Christmas’ Copenhagen this week:

*  crockpot beef in beer stew – I shared the recipeon Tuesday

*  spaghetti bolognese/pasta med kødsovs/spaghetti with meat sauce – because DS12 has just had two teeth pulled – on opposite sides of his mouth – and needs easy food! :o)

*suppe (Danish carrot, meatball and dumpling soup) with toasted ryebread

*  leftover spaghetti bolognese, jazzed up with extra veggies, sprinkled with cheese and breadcrumbs and baked in the oven, homemade carrot breadrolls on the side

*  out to a school Christmas event (the menu is chili con carne and æbleskiver Danish Christmas donuts) – no cooking or washing up for me – yay! 😀

*  chicken parmesan (chick breasts dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and fried, then finished off in the oven on top of a bed of tomato sauce) with rice and salad

*  I have some cod fillets in the freezer – will probably wrap them in bacon and roast them in the oven, serve with a spinach salad and some rösti potato

DS12 has made brownies for his School Christmas Lunch…

That’s it – bon appétit!

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday!

Diane :o)

Winterbathing for Dummies (Part Three – The Aftermath!)

Okay, so you did your homework (Winterbathing for Dummies – Be Prepared!) and have been for a
skinny dip in the Danish sea (Winterbathing for Dummies – Taking the Plunge!).

So now what? Chances are that you found it scary – but incredibly
exhilarating – and are ready for more? Great! But stripping off down at the
seaside is only fun for so long. Trust me – been there – done that!

30 January 2012 – a few days before the sea turned to

If you’re determined to keep going for the whole season – which for real Vikings
is from November through to April – you’ll most likely want to join a club. A
place to change and hang up your clothes (without them blowing off down the
beach). Some clubs even have showers, toilets and saunas. But most of all,
you’ll just want a place to share your love of this Danish extreme sport with
other fanatics!

There is a great overview of Danish clubs, with a nifty little map, at vinterbader.com They’ve
also put together a handy list of contact details for the various clubs…you can
find that here. But be warned. Winterbathing has become extremely
popular the last few years, and most clubs have waiting lists – some of them 6
years long! ;)

28 October 2011 – my friend V bathing in fog

Yep, you don’t have to be a crazy Dane to be a winterbather but it sure
helps… See you on the bathing bridge?

Diane :)

Crockpot Beef in Beer

Here’s yet another easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy crockpot recipe (last Tuesday I showed you myCrockpot Chili Con Carne).  Great for those times when life is rushing past and you want to get a handle on things and have dinner planned in advance – with no cooking required!

Take a joint of beef.  The cheaper the better.  (You can chop it into small chunks if you really want to.)  If you have time and the inclination, then brown it quickly in a really hot pan.

Beef sizzling in the frying pan

Dump the beef into your crockpot and pour over a bottle of beer.  I used some Danish Christmas ale.

Use any beer you like…

Throw in a stock cube to ‘beef’ up the flavour [boom, boom!], lots of salt and pepper, put the lid on and turn the crockpot to high – or low, if you’re going to leave it there all day.  I also added a roughly chopped onion and some carrots, so that I wouldn’t have to cook veggies later!

The beer makes a really tasty gravy.  If you want to thicken the gravy/juices, then add a few spoonfuls of Maizena and turn the crockpot to high for about 30 minutes before serving.  We like to eat the beef with mashed potatoes (great to soak up the yummy gravy).  But rice, polenta or couscous would work well too.  And, if you’re really pulling out all the stops, how about adding some dumplings to the beef, during the last 45 minutes of cooking?  Divine!

We were so hungry on Sunday that I forgot to snap a picture of the beef all plated up.  So here’s the crockpot sans contents…ready for washing up!

The most difficult part of crockpot cooking?  Forcing yourself to clean the pot immediately
instead of leaving it to sit on the kitchen worktop for a whole week! ;o)

Bon appétit!

Diane :o)

Christmas Planning – Monday 26 November 2012

So how is your Christmas planning coming along?  Are you nearly there – or nearly at your wits end? ;o)  In case you didn’t know…I’m following the Flylady and her Cruising Through the Holidays missions.  To ensure that I’m ready, rested and ‘raring to go’ come 1 December!

Last week I told you that I have finished the Xmas card envelopes: addressing them, stamps, stickers and so on.  On Friday we, at long last, received the school photos of the kids so I was able to order the actual cards – hooray!  I ordered them online and hopefully they’ll be here by the end of the week.  Cross your fingers!

I’ve now got most of the Christmas gift shopping done.  Only the ‘big’ electronic things left to buy.  The kids have also made quite a few gifts.  Here’s DS12 at the sewing machine, making a ‘draught excluder snake’ toy for his little toddler cousin…

DS12 has a ‘Sewing Machine Driving Licence’ from school! 😀

I’ve also got the ingredients for making peppermint creams, coconut ice and chocolate pistachio fudge, but we won’t be making those until December.

Ingredients for making yummy sweets…

This week I’ve got a few more goals.  To make our Family Christmas Advent Calendar – a day by day list of Xmas activities.  To put up the Christmas fairy lights in the garden.  And to make a final push of gift buying.  The first of December is approaching rapidly – time to pull out all the stops!

Hope my Dad and Brother will enjoy this year’s Beer Advent Calendar! 😀

Have a marvelous Monday – check back next week to see if we made it to the Finish Line!

Diane :o)

Feel Good Friday – 23 November 2012

Three things that have put a big smile on my face this week:

Watching my daughter and her rock band in action.  This week…the After School Club.  Next year…Wembley Arena? ;D

DD10 warming up in the studio, on the bass

Getting a card and emails saying that I make a difference (I teach English to Danish schoolkids).  The nicest  reward a teacher can get!

Getting myself dolled up and my glad rags on for a – much needed – night out on the town with my sweetie DDH (dear Danish husband)!  The kids will be looked after royally.  DDH and I are meeting friends for a cosy bistro dinner.  Then we’re going to a totally sold out gig by Denmark’s finest rock band Magtens Korridorer.  (Where our sweetie friend R just happens to be a guitarist.)  Yep, I am ready for the weekend to begin! 😀

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂

Menu plan – Thursday 22 November 2012

Well, I can’t complain that it’s freezing here in Denmark (as it usually is in November) but it’s so dreich (cloudy and wet) that it feels like it’s dark all day long.  Boo!  Thankfully I can make my own ‘sunshine’ – in the guise of reading good crime novels, seeing friends for a cup of tea, turning my stereo up to 11 and basically just enjoying the fact that I’m not yet shovelling snow three times a day…thank goodness for small mercies! ;D

Here’s this week’s menu at Casa Copenhagen:

*  ‘Medister’ sausage (a Danish ’round’ sausage – see how I cook it here) with potatoes, carrots and lots of lovely gravy

Medister sausage – last time I served it with red cabbage/carrot slaw

*  Quiche (a premade pastry case which I shall fill with cheddar cheese, eggs beaten with crème fraîche, herbs and top with bacon) with a mixed green salad and pickled beetroot

*  Svenskpølsegryde or Hurdy Gurdy Swedish Sausage Stew served with bulgur.  A family favourite which we overdosed on, so it was banished to the back of my memory.  Now ready for a rerun!  My recipe is right here.

*  Swedish meatballs with wholemeal pasta in a tomato/vegetable sauce

*  Stir fried lamb with rosemary and garlic, served with baked potato wedges and roasted vegetables (parsnip/beetroot/carrot)

*  Out to dinner with friends and then to a concert with Denmark’s number one rockband (a sweetie friend of mine is one of the guitarists) – Magtens Korridorer!

*  A whole chicken, done in the crockpot with salad.  And hoping that DS12 might make some fresh tagliatelle pasta for us!

That’s it for this week…  Bon appétit!

Diane :o)

Winterbathing for Dummies (Part Two – Taking the Plunge!)

Last time I gave you a rundown of what you’ll need to do before you try winterbathing ( Winterbathing for Dummies (Part One – Be Prepared!)

So, are you ready to go down to the beach and ‘take the plunge’? ;)

February 2012 – the North sea has turned into slushice!

Here’s what you need to know, before you take that first step into the cold, cold water…

  • Remember, remember, always bring a friend with you – either to join you in the water, or keep an eye on you from the water’s edge.
  • You can walk right in from the edge of the water, but it’s easier from a bathing bridge. Your aim is to get in fairly deep – up to your neck – as quickly as possible.
  • Check the water before you get in. Are there any stinging jellyfish hanging around, just waiting to strike? 

    The winterbather’s arch enemy…stinging jellyfish!

  • Remove your bathrobe (on windy days, you’ll need to physically tie it to the bathing bridge…) and remove your shoes last (your feet get colder faster than your body).
  • Be resolute.   Walk right in – don’t stop!  Say to yourself that you are going to take 2, 4 or 6 swimstrokes in the water.  Don’t allow yourself to think “Yikes, I’m freezing”.  It really is a question of mind over matter! 
  • Do not hop in – it’s dangerous (very hard on the heart, especially at low temperatures).
  • There is no need to put your head underneath the water if you don’t want to.  I never put my head under (unless it’s the summer).  Keeping your hair dry will keep your head warm!  (I wear a little wooly hat when it’s very blustery/ice cold.)
  • If you begin to feel heavy/very relaxed, get out of the water immediately.  It’s a sign that your heart/body are working overload.  What will happen next is that your body will shut down any ‘unnecessary’ functions like hearing/sight etc.  Not a nice feeling.
  • When you come up, quickly dry yourself off and get your bathrobe back on pronto (we don’t want to frighten any passers-by!)
  • You’ll notice that parts of your body (usually it’s fingers and toes) will have turned brighted red or orange.  Quite normal – don’t panic.  Your normal colour should return in a couple of minutes. 

    Cold fingers!

Tillykke!  Congratulations!  Yep, you did it.  And should be left feeling a) enormously proud of yourself  b) very warm, considering the fact that you are standing on a deserted, cold, blustery beach… :)

Join me next time for Winterbathing for Dummies – The Aftermath!


Crockpot Chili con Carne

My sweetie friend H had a birthday recently and I gave her a crockpot – so this post, a starter recipe, is for her!

Crockpot loaded with chili ingredients and ready to go!

You’ll need:

  • 500g of beef cut into chunks (the cheaper the better – don’t use steak!)
  • a tin of tomatoes or a jar of tomato sauce (I like to add a spoonful of sugar, to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • an onion, roughly chopped (if you happen to have one)
  • a carrot, roughly chopped (if you happen to have one)
  • a stock cube (beef, chicken…whatever you have on hand)
  • a good shake of chili flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • a little water or red wine
  • a can of kidney beans

Dump everything into the crockpot except the kidney beans.  Now, listen up.  You do not need to brown the meat.  If you want to brown the meat, go ahead.  But it is not necessary!  [she typed…Queen of Shortcuts]

Cover the whole shebang with a little water.  Or a swig or two of leftover red wine, if you happen to have any.  But remember, no kidney beans just yet.  Pop the lid on, fire her up (‘low’ – if you will be away all day, ‘high’ if you only have the afternoon) and go off and do something else.

Add the kidney beans about 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are going to eat (turn the crockpot up to high, to give it a good bubble).

Add the kidney beans at the end of the cooking time.

Serve the chili in large bowls.  We didn’t bother with rice or bread but topped it with tortilla chips, guacamole, crème fraîche, grated cheddar cheese and sliced red pepper.  Yum!

Bon appétit!

Diane :o)


Christmas Planning – Monday 19 November 2012

Hi and welcome back to Christmas Planning!  I’m following the (fan-flipping-tastic) Flylady and her Cruising Through the Holidays missions.  Why?  By jingo, to ensure that I’m going to be ready, rested and ‘raring to go’ come 1 December!

One bag ready for the charity shop!

I set myself a mission last week to declutte my Xmas linens and decorations.  Thirty minutes later I had a whole bag of rubbish – things that had lost their Christmas sparkle or we’re broken (like a hairband with reindeer antlers, one of which had snapped in half!).  I even took a deep breath and threw away some of the kids’ homemade decorations.  Don’t worry – I’ve still got plenty left!  ;o)  During the declutter session I also found lots of containers that we can use for our homemade gifts.  Yay, no need to buy any more – money saved!

I also ended up with a large pile of decorations, tablecloths and serviettes that we can use in our SwedishSummerhouseByTheSea.  And last, but not least, there were two large bags for charity.  DS12 and I delivered them to the charity shop on Saturday morning and – before we could even get out the door – the ladies were “oohing” and “aaahing” over our ‘treasures’ and started decorating the shop!  A great ‘feel good’ moment…

Our local charity shop…now complete with inflatable plastic Xmas trees and Santas!

The envelopes for the Christmas cards are addressed (have been doing 5 a day –Flyladyorders!) and DD10 is going to put the stamps/charity stamps on them this week.  I still haven’t ordered the photo Christmas cards yet…not because I haven’t had time but because we’re still waiting for the school photographer to send us the latest snaps of the kids…  Aaaargh!   ;D

I forgot to mention last week that one of the key points in Christmas Planning (and generally in the Flylady system) is to pace yourself.  And be nice to yourself.  So, whenever you get overwhelmed or don’t know which job to start next, you have to take a break.  With “a cup of something warm and wonderful”.   Fifteen minutes later and we are ready for action! 😀

Time for a cuppa!

And what do I need to concentrate on this week?  Gifts!   Buying.  And helping the kids to make them.  Oh well, at least all the gifts we already have are wrapped and tagged.  Go us!Check back next Monday when we are into the final run!

Diane 🙂