As you’ll have seen from my recent posts, my kids are on their summer break from school (six whole weeks, woop, woop!) and the weather in Denmark is fan-flippin-fantastic (upwards of 25 degrees and sunny most days). Which means that it’s time for me to clear off my blog desk and take a (well deserved) break! So you’ll just have to do without me for a couple of weeks… 😛
I leave you with a (terrible) joke that my DDDFIL (dearly departed Danish father-in-law) always told whenever there were radishes on the lunch table. And – as DDFIL loved radishes – that was extremely often! 🙂
What can the Danes do that the Swedes can’t do? Grow radishes in the national colours! [In case you didn’t get it…the red and white of Dannebrog, the Danish flag).]
No sooner than I had wiped the last chocolate from the corners of my mouth and hit ‘publish’ on my flødeboller blogpost (Flødeboller! What’s not to love?), than I remembered that there was even more to go round of those dainty Danish domes of delight!
What about a tongue twister? Fem flade flødeboller på et fladt flødebollefad! (Five flat flødeboller on a flat flødebolle tray.) Yep, try saying that one five times fast. With or without aforementioned flødebolle in your mouth 😉
And no self-respecting school fête or børnehavefest (nursery party) is complete without Flødebollemaskinen. The “flødebolle catapult machine”! Always a hit. But sometimes a miss (boom, boom)! You very carefully balance a flødebolle (make sure to use the cheap ones for this!) on the back of the machine…
…and throw a ball at the “clown”. If you hit him right on the nose – baboom – the flødebolle flies up and you try and catch it!
Sadly, many hundreds of yummy flødeboller are harmed each summer in the process. And end up as a big sticky mess on the playground… 😉
But – hey – onwards and upwards! Summer is well and truly here in Denmark right now and my DD12 and DS14 are eating icecream round the clock. If you’re out and about and find a good icecream shop, then go the whole hog and ask for syltetøj (jam), flødeskum (whipped cream) and a flødebolle, for a real traditional Danish treat. They’ll stick the flødebolle (okay, more like kind of squash it…) upside down on the top of your icecream cone. Difficult to eat and you may need to wash your face afterwards but, hey, it’s a unique Danish summer experience! 🙂
Okay, time to go – my cup of coffee and flødebolle await! Really, what’s not to love?
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Sankt Hans Aften. (I’ve written about it before Happy Sankt Hans!). What is it? A huge event on the Danish social calendar – the night where you go out and celebrate midsummer! 23 June – which this year is next Monday.
Bonfires are lit up and down the coast. Or, like here – last year – in our local park. Normally around 9.30pm or 10pm, when it’s still light.
Safety first! It’s also – selvfølgelig – a busy night for the Danish firefighters, who are always on hand! 🙂
But, hey, let’s backtrack a little! The evening usually starts with people gathering – perhaps with a picnic – down at the beach or in the forest. The evening officially starts with a short Sankt Hans Tale or “Bål Tale” (bonfire speech) by a local dignitary or ‘personality’. And then the singing can start. Sometimes with live music from an orchestra or band. And, if you’re very lucky, a songsheet, so you can join in the singalong! 🙂
You’ll be singing Midsommervisen. A.k.a. Vi elsker vort land. “We love our country.” Last year we also sang I Danmark er jeg født (“In Denmark I was born”) and Der er et yndigt land (“There is a lovely land”) which you might recognise as the Danish national anthem.
Want to practice? Here’s the Sankt Hans song, Midsommervise. In a classic version…
…and, here, a modern version by Shubidua.
So why the mixed feelings? Well, as the fire slowly dies out (here we are in Svendborg in 2012), it’s time to head home in the twilight. And try not to think that, from now on, the long, long, long days of summer will be getting short, short, shorter. Øv! 😉
As the Danes say, “Nød lærer nøgen kvinde at spinde”. Necessity teaches the naked woman to spin. And that’s exactly what I ended up doing on Wednesday.
Okay, so I wasn’t exactly sitting in my birthday suit, in the front parlour, at the wheel spinning a yarn. No, I was forced to make koldskål from scratch. To give you some background: Tuesday was one of the hottest days of the year. So when I opened the door of the dairy refrigerator at our local IRMA supermarket, the proverbial cupboard was bare. What, no koldskål?! Not even one measly carton of the addictive white stuff? “Sorry,” said the friendly IRMA man, “just can’t keep up with demand.” You will remember, dear readers, from my very first post about koldskål in 2011 that those crazy Danes are C.R.A.Z.Y. about the stuff. Yep, there is a direct correlation between high temperatures and sales of koldskål. Were we heading for koldskål shortages? As we stood there chatting about the weather, guess what I spied behind him? That dreaded (Danish) root of all evil – lakrids (liquorice)– strikes again. I mean, for heavens sake, liquorice salt?! Blech and double blech! 😛
But, as usual, I digress! I remembered something about making it yourself and – lo and behold – when I started checking out the different cartons of kærnemælk (buttermilk), there was a recipe on the back. Saved!
The recipe was: “Beat 2 pasteurised egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and the seeds from a vanilla pod (we used vanilla powder) until frothy. Carefully stir in the buttermilk. Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice if desired. Serve with cornflakes, kammerjunker (little plain biscuits) or slices of fresh strawberry.”
So that’s what we did. And – by jingo – it tastes just as good as the readymade stuff! And it’s – selvfølgelig – dang cheaper than the readymade stuff… [said the canny Scot] So we ate half of it, there and then, and poured the remains back in the kærnemælk carton, to keep it cool in the fridge for another time.
Fast forward to today, Friday. DD12 and her friend have just biked home from school and have polished off the remains. Hmm, time to get naked and start spinning! 😉
In the words of the iconic Undertones, “Here comes the summer!” In fact, Danish summer officially kicked off yesterday, Sunday 1 June. (Spring starts 1 March, summer 1 June, autumn 1 September and winter 1 December.)
How I love late spring/early summer! My absolute favourite time of year, when Denmark shows itself from its very best side… It looks, smells and sounds good! So here’s a – completely subjective – list of things that sum up summer in Denmark for me:
Have you tried koldskåltopped with little kammerjunker biscuits yet? The Danes (and my daughter…) plough their way through the stuff. Over 10 million litres a year! One of my husband’s colleagues loves this strangely addictive, sour, white stuff so much that she eats nothing else between the months of May and September…
Sankt Hans Aften (midsummer), 23 June, is truly a magical evening, That is, if Danish weather gods don’t stop play! As the light begins to fade, bonfires are lit up and down the coast. A local dignitary or personality makes a speech and then comes a singalong – which always starts with the midsummer hymn, Vi elsker vort land (“We love our country”). Not a dry eye in the house – remember your hankies!
There’s no getting past it. Homemade or shop-bought. Still or sparkling. Diluted with cold water or added to a glass of bubbly for a sparkling apéritif. Hyldeblomst (elderflower) is the quintessential Danish summer drink. Or how about going one step further – and making your own elderflower champagne? Super easy – the recipe is here.
When you’re out and about this summer, you might, if you’re lucky, see some beautiful Mums and Babies out for a swim. Knopsvanen – the mute swan – was named the national bird of Denmark after a public vote in 1986. Not really a big surprise there, as swans often feature in the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen…
Do you hear the sound of car horns, blaring music, singing and cheering outside? Yep, it’s graduation time! A truly spectacular sight when decorated trucks full of Danish high school kids pass by you on the street. And they keep driving past. All day and all night. Don’t forget to toot and wave at them 🙂
I heart smørrebrød! And after a swim in the sea or a walk along the beach nothing beats sterneskud (“a shooting star”), a classic smørrebrod of fried plaice and fresh prawns. Washed down – selvfølgelig – with a nice cold beer. Skål!
Will you have visitors over the summer? Then head downtown to Nyhavn, the “New Harbour”. It’s central, picturesque and always, always buzzing with activity. And the best part? Simply jump on one of the canal boats for a spot of sightseeing. Lean back, relax and enjoy the sounds of your friends “oohing” and “aaaahing” over how pretty Copenhagen looks from the water!
But, for me, the best part of early summer in Denmark is the smell of the air at 6am. The chirping of the birds – as annoying as that may be, on the mornings when I’m trying to have a lie in! Whizzing along on a bike instead of sitting in a stuffy car with the aircondition going at full blast. Enjoying every single minute and hour of sunshine and warmth that comes our way. Sitting out in the garden with a book after dinner. The long, long, loooooooong nights. Coming home from a party in the early hours of the morning and discovering that it’s already light – eek!