Boo! Or ho, ho, ho?

We’re just back from efterårsferie - a.k.a. week 42 - a.k.a. the Danish schools’ half-term autumn week and we’re gearing up for Halloween.  Pumpkins galore at the greengrocers and – see – there was even a nice witch down at our local library!  Gys eller guf?  (Trick or treat?)

But – ho, ho, ho? – its also beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Denmark.  Now, to be honest, the Danes aren’t too bemused by the idea of Christmas in October.  So the shops are  v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y  adding sparkly items to their displays and waiting for Halloween to be over so that they can finally go full throttle.  Though I was at IKEA this morning and there the aisles were heavily decked with boughs of holly plastic fir.

Danish supermarkets are already pushing classic Christmas biscuits and clementines. Guilty as charged, I bought some! :P

But, like it or not, there’s no turning back ‘cos these babies are now on sale – lying in wait in the freezer section of your supermarket, ready to make an appearance at nursery, school or your coffee table.  Æbleskiver!  Has it really been a year?!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :)

 

 

By Diane • October 22, 2014
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You know you’re (back) in Denmark when… (Copenhagen airport)

You know you’re (back) in Denmark when…

The Danish schools’ half-term break is over and my ‘wee’ ones (Dear Son, 14 and Dear Daughter, 12) are back behind their desks – hooray! The weather here last week was dreadful (not even a case of “the wrong clothing”) with long, dark days and rain, rain and more rain.  Yep, when my buddies and I were down winterbathing (i.e. skinny dipping in the Danish sea), I even kept my souwester on… ;)

Luckily we had booked a family trip to Paris and managed to escaped the rain in Copenhagen for a couple of days.  Why Paris?  Well, we’re francophiles.  DDH (Dear Danish Husband) and I speak fluent French (we both worked at the EC Court of Justice in Luxembourg) and DS14 and DD12 are both learning French at school (the choice here is French or German).  But, as usual, I digress!

We flew home on Friday afternoon and – much as I love to be away – it’s always nice to get back home.  As soon as we got to Baggage Reclaim the kids made a beeline for…

…the Lego blocks!  Too old for Lego?  Never!  Just don’t tell their friends… :P

Meanwhile DDH and I “ooohed” and “aaahed” over the delicious smells coming from the pølsevogn (sausage wagon) right next to the baggage carrousel.  Home sweet home!  Must.  Resist.

On the way out of the Arrivals Hall there’s a huge lightshow/poster that says “Welcome to the world’s happiest nation.  That calls for a Carlsberg“.  Ha!  The holy Danish trinity of Lego, hotdogs and beer! :)  Unfortunately, I was being pushed from all angles by (crazy Danes battling) baggage trolleys and couldn’t stop to snap a pic…  So you’ll have to do with this one – one of the baggage carrousels decked out by Carlsberg back in May 2012 for Euro2012.

It’s good to be back.  Hope you have a marvelous Monday!

Diane :)

 

By Diane • October 20, 2014
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I heart Danish comfort food! (Part Ten – Frederiksberggryde)

We’re now into week 42 (the Danish school’s half term holiday week) so I won’t be posting this week as I shall be ‘hygging’ with my DDH and our kids.  ♥

But I thought – hey – I had better leave you with a recipe for another Danish classic – another warming dish – just the thing for those cold and blustery autumn evenings. Especially as it’s now dark by 7.30pm – yikes!  This is Frederiksberggryde.  When we first moved to Copenhagen, we had a flat in Frederiksberg and the restaurants in the area used that name…  But in other parts of Denmark it’s known as mørbradgryde.  A one pot stew with bacon, pork and – the defining ingredient – those teeny tinned cocktail sausages.  Yep, those discount ones that you’re embarrassed to be seen buying! ;)

You’ll need:

  •  an onion
  • a piece of pork filet (svinemørbrad) – about 500g
  • bacon
  • a couple of tins of cocktail sauages (skinless if possible) cocktailpølser
  • flour (to thicken) mel
  • paprika
  • tomato purée tomatpasta
  • stock / boiling water and a stockcube (any flavour will do) bouillon
  • cream (fløde)
  • rice or potatoes or mashed potatoes (kartoffelmos) to serve
  • a bit of greenery to make it look ‘healthy’
.

Chop up the onion, bacon and pork filet into small pieces.

Fry in a bit of oil until they brown slightly and add in the cocktail sausages.

Time to throw in a tablespoon of flour (this will thicken the ‘sauce’), a tablespoon of tomato purée and a couple of teaspoons of paprika, plenty of salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir, so everything gets coated.

Add in your stock (just enough to cover) – you’ll probably need about half a litre.

Then comes the best part…the cream!  Add as much as you like! :)  This is comfort food, folks, not paleo/nordic/raw…

Looking good!  Let it cook through on a medium heat for about 5 minutes (or until the pork pieces are cooked through).

Serve hot and add a little fresh herbs (chopped chives or lots of parsley) if you want to make it look less stodgy.  (And lots of vegetables or a salad on the side, if you absolutely must.)  We ate ours with rice the other night.  But Frederiksberggryde also goes down well with boiled or mashed potatoes – yum!

Have a super Sunday and an awesome autumn break!

Diane :)

 

By Diane • October 12, 2014
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Spunk?! Well, it doesn’t mean vacuum cleaner…

Today’s post will make you think I have a childish sense of humour (if you’re British), or that I have an indepth knowledge of Danish sweets (rest of the world).  Here goes!  Have you seen Danish spunk?

It comes in small, cellophane wrapped packets.  Available as wine gums or [blech!] salty liquorice flavour.  You will remember that liquorice is my arch enemy! ;)  Lakrids.  The (Danish) root of all evil.

Now, to me, spunk is something other than wine gums [yes, yes, childish sense of humour]. But moving swiftly on…what does spunk mean to the Danes?  Well, spunk is a word invented by Pippi Longstocking – the Swedish girl with the red-stick-up-in-the-air-braided-hair who can lift a horse, has a pet monkey, etc.  One day she makes up a brand new word and, when her friends Tommy and Annika ask her what it means, she says “If only I knew!  But it doesn’t mean vacuum cleaner!” :P  So off they go into town, asking the baker, ironmonger, doctor and even two genteel old ladies if they have a spunk or have seen a spunk…  In 1971 Galle & Jessen (Danish sweetie makers) needed a name for their new sweet, found inspiration in the old Pippi Longstocking book, and – lo and behold – Spunk sweets were born!  If you want to read the book for yourself, it’s “Pippi Langstrømpe i Sydhavet” (Pippi in the South Seas).

But, hey, if you open up the Spunk packets and take a closer look, there’s more.  Road safety instruction!

I love this one.  “Nr. 27 Er du sikker på, at du kan ses, er du mere sikker.”  (Number 27: If you’re certain that you can be seen, then you’ll certainly be seen.)

But back to the childish humour.  And a pub located behind Copenhagen’s central station.  “A pint of your best, please, landlord!”

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :)

By Diane • October 8, 2014
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You know you’re in Denmark when… (Where’s my change?)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

Picture the scene.  You’re in a Danish shop and want to buy an item which is marked at 29,95 Danish crowns.  So you dig into your purse or wallet and hand over 30 crowns to the shopkeeper.  Who duly takes your money, gives you your purchase and bids you a ‘good day’.  And leaves you thinking, “Hey, matey!  Where’s my change?!” :P

Yep, been there done that.  When I first came to Denmark, I thought all the shopkeepers were trying to diddle me…  DDH (Dear Danish Husband) had to explain to me that Danish prices were – let us say – ‘ficticious’ prices.  (As opposed to astronomical…like the price of Danish duvets – You know you’re in Denmark when… (Beds. Again.)  You see, the largest Danish coin is 20 Kroner and the smallest is 50 øre (about 5 UK pence or 8 American cents).  There is no longer a coin with a value of 5 øre, even if prices are marked that way.  So, if you’re paying with cash, the shopkeeper always rounds the price up.  9,95 becomes 10.  19,95 becomes 20.  29,95 becomes 30.

However, if you pay with a card – electronically – your bank account will be charged exactly 29,95, and not 30… Perhaps that’s the reason everybody in Denmark uses Dankort (a bank card: can be both debit and credit) when paying?  Even for teeny tiny amounts like 20 Kroner (about £2.20 or $3).  Yep, the shopkeeper won’t blink an eye.  And you won’t feel shortchanged.

Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane :)

 

By Diane • October 6, 2014
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Autumn reds, yellows and…blues!

I’ve had a case of the blues this week – or ‘blahs’, as I like to call them.  Nothing really the matter.  Just that autumn is my least favourite season and wet/grey/dark skies don’t agree with me ;)  Plus it can be freezing (4c, 39f) in the morning when we bike down for a swim, so it’s on with the woolly scarves, gloves and winter coat…

But can be positively mild and mediterranean in the afternoons.

For Pete’s sake, it was was 18c (64f) when I put out the garden refuse last night at 9.30pm!  Ugh, can’t the weather make up it’s mind?

Anyway, a bit of exercise is a good way to banish the blahs, so twice this week I’ve popped on my running shoes and hotfooted it over to the park as soon as it got light (about 7.30am).  Really should have remembered a plastic bag, though, because there were plenty of rich pickings from the chestnut trees.  (And – lucky for me – not a priest’s penis in sight! That smell? Must be the priest!  Phew! :P ) 

Oh, and if the building in the background of that photo looks familiar, you’d be right. That would be Bernstorff Palace, which you’ll know as the residence of Birgitte Nyborg, Denmark’s first female Prime Minister in the tv series “Borgen” .

No secret service men or Borgen characters in sight this week.  I had the park and the chestnut trees all to myself.  And came home with a (slightly) lighter head and (very) bulging pockets…

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

By Diane • October 3, 2014
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X marks the spot!

On Friday my DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14) went to a birthday party/sleepover at a classmate’s house.  All the boys from his class – that would be twelve of them – were invited, as is the general rule here for birthdays.  You invite the entire class (boys plus girls).  Or all the boys.  Or all the girls.  No picking and choosing individuals, no leaving people out.  Which is a great idea!  But can be quite the logistical conundrum with around 25 kids in a class…  So often two or three kids will hold a joint party – holding it in the biggest home – and the parents split the costs. Hats off to those brave Danish parents in DS14′s class who open their hearts and their home and invite all sixteen (count ‘em!) girls for an overnighter! :P

But I digress!

DS14 packed the gift for the Birthday Boy (a ‘goodie basket’ he made himself containing sweets, soda and crisps).  Oh, yes, forgot to mention that there’s also a general rule of how much to spend on birthday presents – absolutely essential with those 25 birthdays a year.  Or make that 50, or more, if you have two or three kids.  Eek!  We, the parents, decide the amount at the beginning of term and it’s currently DKR 30-50 per gift (UK £3.10-5.25, US $5-8.50).

But back to Friday and DS14 who was champing at the bit, ready with the gift, his sleeping bag/mattress and toothbrush (ha ha, as if he was actually intending to use it!). So off we tootled in the car.

We checked the address before we left (DS14 hadn’t been to this particular house before, as it’s a completely new class), got to the street and slowed down, peering out the car window for the right house number.  But – hey ho – there was no need to worry…  Because X marks the spot!

Yep, when you see the Danish flag stuck in the ground, you know a party is never far away :)

Just don’t confuse the large party flags (above) with those itty, bitty, cocktail-stick-size ones (below).   Those teeny red and white pennants are – as I hope you will remember – a warning to pedestrians of upcoming dog poop!  (Join the protest…stick a (Danish) flag in it!)

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :)

By Diane • October 1, 2014
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Read all about it! No more tomato, tomahto…

Several moons back, I told you that I have a tiny niggle about Danish libraries.  Now, to be honest, it was really only an incy wincy niggle – because, oh my word, how I love our Danish libraries!  You see, I thought it was reallyconfusing to have English language books split up into two different sections (British English or American English).  So you would often have to look in both sections before you could find the book you were looking for…    Danish Libraries (Part Three) – You say tomato, I say tomahto…

Anyway.  I was perusing the (beautiful) shelves of our local library on Thursday and it suddenly hit me…

Bam!  They’ve now put the whole lot together! “English and American” :)

Much better!  And a lot easier to browse…

And who did I need to thank for this marvelous – and no doubt very time consuming – reshuffle?  A librarian called Maria. “Tak, Maria!” :D

On the other hand, I’m really pleased that they’ve still retained a sub-section of English and American novels…  My favourite genre, Crime!

There are shelves and shelves of English crime novels and it’s nice to be able peruse at leisure and find new authors to try.  Though I’m definitely the cosy crime type (like “Death under the Dryer” by Simon Brett, “August Heat” by Andrea Camilleri and “Bellfield Hall” by Anna Dean).  None of the heavy stuff, thank you very much.  Let’s keep it (u)hyggelig!

Have a marvelous (marvellous…) Monday!

Diane :)

 

By Diane • September 29, 2014
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Six sizzling sausages…

I’ll never forget my first visit to Denmark.  November 1992, I was working in Luxembourg at the time and my Danish friend, Lena, invited a group of us to go visit her parents in Lemvig (Jutland) for a long weekend.  So five girls jumped into a little car and off we drove…

As soon as we crossed the German border, Lena told us that we had to stop at the very first motorway services.  Not because we had to get petrol, but because she desperately needed a fix.  A “pølse” – a Danish hot dog.

So we duly stopped.  And we were duly hooked.  Can you believe we stopped at six different “pølsevogne” (sausage wagons) that weekend?!

 Twice on Friday, twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday… ;)

Now you may think that we only ate ‘fast food’ that dark, cold weekend in November. But no.  Lena’s parents were over-the-top-hospitable. And sweetie Mrs Jensen had prepared all of Lone’s favourite meals!  So we also tucked in to lunches of fantastic smørrebrød, dinner the first night was Forloren Hare (recipe is here – I heart Danish Comfort Food, Part Two), and the next a classic Danish Christmas dinner of roast duck followed by ris à l’amande…

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in one weekend.  And my love for Danish food was born.  (By the way, Lena’s Mum even prepared “leverpostejsmadder” (liver pâté open sandwhiches) – complete with “rødbeder” (beetroot) on the top – as a snack for our return drive to Luxembourg.  A godsend because we – selvfølgelig – got caught up in 5 hours of “stau” in Deutschland.)

And those hotdogs?  Well, I still occasionally have one (usually at the airport, when we come back from a long trip).  But these days my favourite fastfood of choice (as you may have seen in Wednesday’s post) from our local pølsepusher is a roast pork sandwich – “en flæskestegssandwich”.  DDH drinks a Jolly cola with his, I prefer a Cocio (cold chocolate milk).  Just a regular Cocio, not a F**king Kakao, thanks!  But heavy on the pork crackling, please!

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend – whatever’s on your plate!

Diane :)

 

By Diane • September 26, 2014
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What did you learn at school today? Hacking, Mindfulness or Bridge?

What did you learn at school today?  If you ask any 14 to 16 year old round these parts today, you might be surprised at their answer…

Today is the start of their 10 week long elective course.  They chose the subject themself.  From a catalogue that would make your mouth water…  How about “Masterbaker”, “Pastrychef”, “Cooking for Lads” or “Food from when Granny was a Kid”.  Or perhaps you’re the creative type?  “Songwriting”, “Animation” or “Architecture and Design”.  There is even “Hacker School”!  Useful if you want to go and work with the CIA or MI5, perhaps? 8) There are plenty sports to choose from, like “American Football” and “Basketball”.  Or perhaps you prefer the great outdoors and want to try “Parkour”, “Geocaching” or “Birdwatching”?  “Training for a Triathlon”?  “Learn to Sail”? Maybe “Mindfulness” or “Psychology” are more your cup of tea?  Yep, anything and everything is possible.  Even “Bridge for Beginners”…um, hold on, isn’t that only played in Agatha Christie novels?!

The top favourites (where they had to add extra classes) are “Baking and Pastry”, “Masterbaker”, “English, for those who want more”, “Spanish”, “Photography”, “Futsal” (a type of indoor football) and “Psychology”.  So what did my DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14) choose?  Chess.  He’s hoping to learn enough to finally beat his Dad! ;)  My DDH (Dear Danish Husband) was a chess champ (and Bent Larsen fan) when he was just a nipper…

And the most surprising thing of the lot?  The kids are mixed up regardless of age and the elective classes are not necessarily taught at your own school.  So most kids will be out cycling, on their own, to a different school in the local area.  Which could be anything from 1 to 7 kilometres.   Isn’t that great?  A real change of scene and air! :P

My DS14 will have a bike ride of about 15 minutes.  Which just happens to pass by our favourite pølsevogn (sausage stand).  Hmmm, maybe I can meet my son for lunch next Wednesday? :)  

Diane :)

By Diane • September 24, 2014
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Diane's Daily Denmark

Diane

Daily Denmark...living with those crazy Danes! Never serious, always informative. A Scot who fell in love with a Dane while working in Luxembourg. Permanently settled in Copenhagen and Mum to two little Vikings. I ♥ Denmark!