Fill ‘er up!

Do you turn on the oven without thinking? I mean, would you heat up your oven to cook a single dish? I admit that I do sometimes. Eek! Let’s not dwell too much on the energy we’re wasting and, more importantly, what it’s costing… ;D

One of the best memories from my childhood was baking with my Mum on Sunday afternoons 🙂

Mum would get out the Be-Ro book (one you got free with coupons from bags of flour) and we’d find a recipe that ‘matched’ the oven temerature of whatever roast she already had in there. Back then, there was no way she’d turn on the oven without planning what was going in and making sure both shelves were filled 🙂

I try and keep this in mind when menuplanning. Tonight DD8 prepared chicken…

Brussels sprouts. Which, incidentally, she thought were so much fun to prepare? Just wait til she eats them! ;D

And crashed hot potatoes

No room to spare… Yay!

Bon appétit, fill up those ovens and have a fabulous Friday! 🙂


Those Crazy Danes or Dianes?

Before we got our swanky new kitchen (you do remember our kitchen remodel at the end of last year, don’t you…all three months of it?) – at which point my entire collection of kitsch fridge magnets were henceforth banished to a sedate, lonely life on the door of the ancient extra fridge in the basement – I used to have this on permanent display in the kitchen…

It was given to me by my good friend P. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he discovered it in a little shop in, if my memory serves me right, the US of A. Must have been Ye Old Curiosity Shoppe? Goodness knows what American fridge magnet makers have against the Danes – or Danish spouses to be exact? 😉 Anyway, P felt, naturally, that it was his duty to buy it for me.

And I was happy to display it. It certainly gave me a good ‘tee-hee’ everytime I spotted it 🙂

Until one fine day when my Mum and Dad from Scotland were visiting us. Mum misread it as ‘Pray for me, I’m married to Diane’… Thanks, Mum.

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂


Like Mother Like Daughter

DD7 turns 8 tomorrow. I know it’s the most clichĂŠd thing to say but…really, where does the time go? What happened to my little baby?

Here’s a picture of her,

taken at Danish nursery when she was about 5 years old.

Sometimes DD7 drives me nuts. (Though, thankfully, we left the screaming stage a couple of years ago.) A lot of the time I just don’t understand her. But most of the time I love her! đŸ˜‰ The other day, as I was leafing through old family photos, I found the following pics. The proverbial apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree… Does that mean that there’s a chance she’s going to – help ma’ boab – turn out like me? Time will tell. Watch this space!

Me in my school uniform at around 5 years old.

And here’s my Mum, around the same age.

We obviously have a penchant for white hair bows in our family.

Hope you have a fantastically fun-filled Friday! 🙂


Mum’s Minestrone

There’s been a lot of talk amongst my twisters (Twitter sisters) about soups recently. Not really a surprise with the ‘postcard’ winter weather we’ve been having from London to Copenhagen to Iowa.

Here’s one of my own favourite family soups, my Mum’s minestrone. She always makes it in her pressure cooker – I always make it in my crockpot. I don’t know where she got the recipe, but it has niente to do with Italy… But mamma mia, it’s good! 😉

You’ll need:

  • an onion (a good soup always starts with an onion)
  • butter or oil for frying (if not using crockpot)
  • one or two cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped (if you like garlic)
  • couple of leeks, couple of carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 pint or ½ litre of stock (I use chicken stockcubes)
  • tin of tomatoes
  • one tablespoon of sugar
  • teaspoon of dried herbs (oregano, thyme or basil – use what you have)
  • small handful of rice
  • two handfuls of pasta, or spaghetti broken into wee bits
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • bacon in small pieces (see note below)

There are two methods…

You can put the whole ‘shebang’ in the crockpot and let it cook on high for 4 hours or low for 5+ hours.

Or you can do it on the stove. Fry the onion in a bit of oil or butter. Add the garlic, leeks and carrots and soften. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes, sugar, herbs, rice, pasta and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

I always add bacon to mine. Either cut up into small bits and thrown in with everything else, so it gives flavour to the soup but is still soft. Or I fry it (in the oven for about 15 minutes at 200c/400f) until it’s really crispy and ready to crumble on the top.

Bon appétit and happy snowy Saturday! 🙂


Watch this Wednesday

I watched a great film yesterday. Just my sense of humour. A very dark British comedy set in Wales about two competing undertakers. One, the hero is played by Alfred Molina, the other is played by Christopher Walken, wearing a fantastic bouffant wig. A must see. Also stars Brenda Blethyn, Miriam Margoyles, Lee Evans and lots of other good British actors.

The funny thing (if you excuse the pun) about this British comedy is that it’s so darn hard to get hold of. I caught it by accident on telly a couple of years ago and thought it would make a great gift for my Mum (there is a love story attached and lots of 1930s music and dancing). Thought I could pick it up easily on Amazon or e-bay. Not so! And yet it gets rave reviews. To cut a long story short, I managed to find a copy of it – at an amazingly reasonable price – here in sunny Denmark. It arrived yesterday and I watched it before wrapping it up because Mum will be taking it home with her after Christmas! đŸ™‚ Though I’ve just decided I need to order a copy for my Flylady ‘pamper’ basket because I’m still smiling just thinking about the Star Trek funeral…

Before I totallly forget, maybe I should tell you the title? “Plots with a View” Also goes by the name of “Undertaking Betty”. Or in Danish “Lig med Succes“. So there you go.

Happy Wednesday! 🙂


Copenhagen Kitchen – week 6

Today’s post is a bit of a cheat because there is no news as such on the kitchen remodel – aside from the fact that things are going swimmingly and the painter is now hard at work – because we have ‘escaped’ to Edinburgh for a few days! 🙂 It’s the school’s autumn week and we have taken the chance to go and visit my Mum and Dad in Scotland – hurray! Got here this morning and it has been a delight to wash up dishes in a normal sink… [insert a very long sigh]

DH couldn’t take time off but is making sure things go as planned back at the ranch. And, if all goes well, when we return to Copenhagen on Friday, we may even have doors and windows – yeehaw!

Promise there’ll be a proper update (and more photos…) on the kitchen next Monday. Until then, I’m putting my feet up and enjoying Mum’s cooking! 😉


These are a few of my favourite things (Cookbooks)

Decided to make Friday a day for sharing a few of my favourite things.

And – as regular readers of this blog are already aware – my mind is full of our kitchen remodel at the moment – so today’s post is going to be about cookbooks 😉

I’ve got a shelf full of them in the posh bookcases in our living room, another shelf of them in my office and (when I still had a proper kitchen) had a shelf full of them in a cupboard. Did as the Flylady suggested and decluttered when I was emptying the kitchen and gave away a large box to the local charity shop. I’m sure there’ll be someone who is just itching to add “Lady Claire Macdonald & ASDA – How to cook vegetables” to their collection…

Here are the two books which have followed me from Scotland to Luxembourg to Denmark (6 moves) and which I still use on a regular basis:

  • “Home Recipes with Be-Ro flour”, one of those little baking books that you get free buy sending in coupons from flour bags. Mum and I always used this one on Sunday afternoons when we baked Rhubarb Crumble, Eve’s Pudding and Pineapple Upside-down Pudding – not to mention Flapjacks and Scones! Dad and my big brother were out in the garden and Sunday night was bonfire night. Memories! 🙂
  • “The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook” This was the first ‘big girl’ cookbook I ever bought, my version is from 1992. I left Scotland (where I was living with Mum and Dad) to move to work in the tiny country of Luxembourg (hidden deep in the heart of Europe) when I was 21. I needed a good, basic book that could help me feed myself. And also the (literally) hundreds of dinner guests that I would entertain in those 10 years in the Grand Duchy. Mum has been a subscriber to Good Housekeeping magazine since I was a wee girl. And still brings me over the latest issue when she comes to visit 😉

Here is the big blue book that is my guiding light on all (culinary) things Danish:

  • “Gyldendals store kogebog”, very similar to Good Housekeeping book, but no pictures whatsoever.

Two modern cookbooks that I keep coming back to:

  • “Nigella Express” I actually have 7 Nigella Lawson books and love to read them ALL. I read them before bed, like I read novels. This is a good basic ‘working mums’ book with easy ideas and fantastic pictures.
  • “Ainsley Harriott’s Complete Gourmet Express (both Gourmet Express and Gourmet Express 2 in one volume)” I can’t stand watching Ainsley Harriott on the television but he does have great, simple recipes. First thing I made from this book was Red Onion Relish – always gets rave reviews.

And two books I bought recently and which have pride of place on my nightstand:

  • “Katie Bishop’s Slow Cooking, Easy Slow Cooker Recipes” For once, a slow cooker recipe book that is fairly modern recipe-wise. Have just bought the ingredients to make Sticky Orange and Sesame Chicken Drumsticks and Thai Chicken Curry. Will let you know!
  • “Helen Corbitt’s Cookbook (1957)” Bought this second-hand through http://amazon.co.uk/ . Discovered Helen Corbitt (famous American female chef who worked at Neiman Marcus) because of a recipe on the back of a notelet I’ve had since I was a child. See my blogpost “Note(lets) from a Small Island” for the (amazing!) Apple Cake recipe). Now I’ve got a whole book of her stuff – yipee! – and the DKs and I are making her “Chocolate Marshmallow Pie” tomorrow. Watch out for that blogpost…

That’s all folks – bon appĂŠtit! 🙂


Raaaaspberries!

Now if the title of today’s blogpost is familiar to you, then come on in… we’re going to be bosom buddies! Even if my ‘fronts’ aren’t too full… 😉

I’ve been watching the film “Thoroughly Modern Millie” since I was a child. Watched it on the telly with my Mum (also a fan), taped it off the TV when video machines came along and watched it with my best friend from school, Gillian. Gillian and I started school on the same day, and are still in touch 37 years later. And still talk about the film 🙂

Mum and Dad managed to track down an official copy of the film on VHS because they were worried that my homemade copy would wear out… Years later http://amazon.co.uk/ was born and I managed to find – halleluja – not only a DVD but a CD of the original music. I still get goosebumps when I watch the opening credits…you can see it here on youtube!

DH passed the boyfriend ‘test’ when even he had to give in to it’s charms. (And he’s almost as word perfect as I am.) And he even – bless him – went along with calling our DD a variant of the name Millie! 🙂

Thought I was the only world with this addiction. And like Mrs Meers says, it’s “Sad to be all alone in the world…” Until I discovered to my delight that a whole bunch of flybabies on twitter can ‘do the ‘Tapioca’ too.

Add http://blogtalkradio.com/ to that mix, and the idea for a “Global Viewing of the film Thoroughly Modern Millie” was born….

We set up a show on BlogTalk. Start time was 6pm in Denmark, 5pm in the UK, 2pm in New York… Switched on our DVDs simultaneously around the globe and chatted while we watched – it was ‘terrif’! We had 40 live Millie fans on the day from England, South Africa, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Denmark and both sides of the USA. And of course, being the creative SHE that I am, I had to turn our dining room into the dining room of the Priscilla Hotel…not forgetting, of course, the ‘Soy Sauce’!

And to finish it all off we had something ‘sweet’. Pavlova with…raaaaspberries!


Fail me never…

A have a small, red folder of recipes that I collected as a child. Cuttings from magazines (all cakes and biscuits!!), recipes from Home Economics classes at school and – the ones I now find most intriguing – recipes my Mum wrote down on the back of envelopes or notepaper from the office, or was given by friends and neighbours. One of them is called “Fail Me Never Gingerbread”.

Today I’d like to share with you my recipe for “Fail Me Never Bread Machine Bread”.

I love my breadmachine. Bought it over 15 years ago when I worked in Luxembourg – it cost a fortune then and the same model is still expensive now. It can’t do anything fancy, like bake cakes or make jam but, year after year it’s been the ‘Best in Test’ in the Good Housekeeping Magazine). It’s a Panasonic.

Now, making bread in a breadmachine is easy. Just throw in the ingredients, hit the button and off you go. Which is what I normally do. However, today I tried a new recipe which @MaritzaSylvia sent a link to on http://www.twitter.com/ Sounded good, a wholemeal bread, but with cinammon. (And the Danes LOVE cinammon, so was sure to be a winner with the DKs.)

Only problem was, breadmachines come in different sizes and European ones are generally not as big as the ones Over There. (Another blogpost coming soon on European vs. USA cola sizes at Macdonalds. Has been a topic of conversation with DS9 for weeks.)

So I took the recipe and ‘eyeballed’ the amounts. Bad idea. Bread came out very heavy – with a big crater in the top. Tasted okay but looked terrible!

So here is my own, basic “Fail Me Never Bread Machine Bread” recipe which I’ve been using for the last decade:

½ teaspoon dried yeast

300 grammes flour (use at least one third white)

1 tablespoon white sugar/brown sugar or honey

2 tablespoons butter or any type of oil

1 teaspoon salt (or a little more if using sea salt, which I love)

220 mls water or milk (or apple juice if you like your bread crusty)

Makes a great, basic bread that the DKs love. We could happily eat our way through this as soon as it comes out the machine, smothered with ‘KĂŚrgĂĽrden’ (easy to spread Danish butter).

Now, to this basic recipe you can add what you want to ring the changes: handful of raisins or cranberries, cinammon, dried herbs, nuts, chopped fresh rosemary, some grated parmesan, chopped olives, chili flakes…

Just make sure, before you get too carried away, to check the flour capacity of your machine (take a look at the little book of recipes that comes with it) and stick to that amount.

OK – bed and book are calling. Night!