The feast continues

After a proper materialistic feast yesterday, we continue with a culinary feast today! Son  had the time of his life yesterday receiving more gifts than any two-year-old should have. I see a future of consumerism! European economy failing and falling? Apparently not in this house. I’m not telling you this to brag, I’m embarrassed, but still I’ve played a big a part as everyone else. The evening was a great success though, it seems everyone had a good time. The two-year-old smiled as much as the 82-year-old.

Today is the first day of christmas. We start with a humongous brunch which has been the same for as long as I can remember. My mother is a wizard in the kitchen and refuses to accept any helping hands while cleaning up after christmas eve dinner and making ready for the first day of christmas brunch. I’ll have a few recipes for you at a later stage.

Usually the brunch is the only big meal on the first day of christmas, but in order to gather all us kids (my three brothers and me) my parents have invited all of us, with our families, for a big turkey dinner this evening.

The day will be spent with the family. Husband and Son are sitting on the floor, busy putting together a large pirate-ship, while I’m enjoying the calm before the storm. Enjoy the holidays and have a great time! We sure do!

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God Jul!

Today is the day we celebrate Christmas in Norway. The sun ‘turned’ a few days ago so we’re a little late in celebrating the coming of longer days and more sunshine, but today we celebrate family, joy, and enjoy the time we spend with out loved ones. There’s also a touch (!) of materialism included in the celebration of Yule and some of us also attend church to get a drop of religion added into the mix.

One of the trees standing near the wee lake in the city centre is decorated with heart-shaped lights every year. This year snow covered the ground and made the place looking even more magical.

Yule eve (juleaften=yule evening) doesn’t really get serious until late in the afternoon. How you spend the day depends on the amount of responsibility you’ve been given or have taken on. For those of us not cooking, cleaning and running errands, that means sitting in front of the tv for hours watching the same shows that are sent every year at this time. I try my best to help out but find myself being ushered away only to end up doing nothing.

The evening starts with a massive dinner of ‘Pinnekjøtt’ (=stick meat. ‘pinne’ is basically a wooden stick). I’ll get back to the etymology of the word in a later post (posting about pinnekjøtt before yule is to me a no no as I only eat it once a year). The family is gathered, we’ll be 12 around the table this year: kid, spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. After dinner we have ‘riskrem’ for dessert, which is similar to appelsinris. In the big bowl of ‘riskrem’ there is an almond. The finder of the almond gets a prize (usually a pig-shaped, chocolate-covered marzipan – no logic there).

Some decorate the tree with Norwegian flag - a tradition that started after world war II.

After uncles have spent hours devouring food (an uncle is always blamed for the duration of the meal) we move to the living-room, the tree, and the presents beneath it. When we were younger we used to dance around the tree, but when most kids became teenagers the reluctancy grew, and the dancing became a thing of the past. Son will be the only person under 20 this year, which means there are many adults who’ll do their best to please him, so spontaneous dancing might occur. After all the presents have been unwrapped we eat a bit more. And the hours pass as we talk and laugh, eat and drink.

I hope all of you have a wonderful day and evening, no matter how you spend it. But no matter what your religion or ethical outlook on life – take care of those around you and appreciate their presence. God jul!

The Day Before the Big Day and Risboller

It’s the day before the big day for everyone except my wee brother: today is his birthday. He’s turns 23 today and is not very happy having his birthday the day before Christmas eve. He complained when he was younger that the reason it wasn’t cool having his birthday the day before Christmas was that his hands hurt so much after spending two entire days unwrapping presents. Anyway, a wonderful brother to you wee brother! May you crush all your opponents playing Fifa.
The day has been spent hurrying to get everything ready in order to spend the evening with the family. Today is called ‘little Christmas eve’ in Norway. In our family the tradition is to decorate the tree, with the tv on in the background. On tv is the annual christmas show on the state-owned national channel (à la BBC) playing christmas tunes  and discussing ways to cook the perfect ‘ribbe’. The pinnacle of the evening is the wee film ‘Dinner for one’ which is always shown at around nine in the evening.
A few cookies were served during the day, making sure the kids were high on sugar as well as high on life in general. Son did not go to bed voluntarily tonight!
One of the cookies served today were ‘risboller’ (ris=rice, boller=sweet rolls). These are in no way related to sweet rolls though. Think chocolate covered, puffed rice. Again a type of traditional and seasonal cookie, as good as it is simple.
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
Whisk this until it’s fluffy. Melt the other ingredients:
  • 100 grams chocolate
  • 85 grams of coconut fat
  • 3 tablespoons of coffee

And add with the sugar and egg. Then add as much puffed rice as you please, but make sure you are able to cover everything with the chocolaty goo. Place about a tablespoon full of mix in muffin cups and store somewhere cold. Enjoy 🙂

London and the christmas feeling

The Savoy was nicely decorated

I must admit the christmas feeling was not very prominent when I left for London. I was supposed to stay at home for a few days and get the house ready for christmas while also working on a wee project. Everything was postponed with the sudden trip to the English capital. While there, the majority of the hours I was awake were spent at the British Library, and except for a christmas tree (or were there two?) outside, the library didn’t show many signs of it us having entered the month of December.

St Paul's had a beautifully (and minimalistically) decorated christmas tree

I was in the city over the weekend and as the Library was closed on Sunday I had one day to explore the area. I spent seven hours on my feet, walking most of that time and, according to google, covering quite a few miles! I was in more of a touristy-mood rather than in search of the christmas feeling, but a few drops here and there at least helped fill the container of christmas joy, which is now full to the brim.

After walking along the Thames from The Savoy and up to Millennium Bridge and Saint Paul’s, I came across a man who sold roasted almonds. Roasted almonds is something I only eat during the christmas holidays, needless to say I was glad to see the man. Unfortunately though, substituting breakfast and lunch with a handful of sugar-coated almonds was not my best move, but I did find a small shop a little later where I found some fruit to accompany the lousy attempt of raising and evening the level of my blood-sugar.

Nuts in front of St Paul

London’s greatest contribution to the christmas feeling was bestowed upon me the next day. After a long day at the library I had dinner at a small pub next to the hotel I stayed at. After spending the previous days getting used to being on my own in public places, I now sat back and relaxed. I had christmas decorations hanging above me, a good book in my hand (Orwell’s 1984) and the Pogues playing in the background. No one conveys the christmas feeling any better than a drunk, swearing Irishman!

Advent snow

The first snowfall in the city happened while I was in a different city. A few centimetres of snow fell while I was in London and was already gone by the time I came home a day later. I thus missed it… But the weather gods understood my frustration and have now gently bestowed upon us a few centimetres of snow. The snow appeared from dark skies that have been looming over our house for hours and came falling down before it was too late collect photographic evidence!


Kokoskuler – chocolate balls

Growing up I had a friend from whom I was inseparable. We spent (almost) every day of many years together until we eventually grew apart. During our first years as teens, and also as tweens, we had a regular shop we used to go to whenever we had a few kroners. The shop didn’t really have a good selection of candy, but they had these coco and chocolate balls (how I prefer the Norwegian word ‘kuler’ instead of balls for these as ‘kuler’ does not invoke associations to male genitalia).

I found the recipe in a christmas magazine at my mother-in-law’s a few years ago, and have made it my mission to make these every christmas thereafter. This year though, I have a confession to make: Son made these almost all by himself (yes, they’re that easy!) I helped measure and to crack the egg, but the mixing was all his work! Here is the recipe:

  • 1 dl of sugar
  • 2 dl of rolled oats
  • 1,5 dl of grated coconut
  • 2 tablespoons of cacao powder
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 egg (my mixture was a little dry, so I added a second egg)

Mix everything together until you’re left with a dough-like texture. Leave it in the fridge for a while (mine was only left for a few hours). Then roll out small ‘kuler’ and cover them in grated coconut. Delicious!

Yule-calendars and chocolate figures

The countdown for christmas is very big in Norway. The ‘yule-calendar’ which counts down the 24 days of December until Christmas Eve is the most prized possession of many a child (also among the older ‘children’). I made one each for Son and Husband a few years ago and have spent some time finding presents for them every year after. This year though I have been lazy. Husband took over much of the calendar business for Son’s calendar, and Husband himself has spent most of the advent-time on a rig some nautical miles west from here, which meant he wouldn’t be home to open his calendar.

The last day of November I counted quite a few comments from mothers (strangely it seems it’s the mothers who are in charge of the calendar-business) who were done, almost done, or panicking completely, over the 24 small gifts. I was among those who, instead of thinking about the calendar, jumped on a plane to London and pretended to have forgotten completely what date it was (I had helped out quite a lot with Son’s calendar though, I didn’t leave it all for Husband). While I was (last-minute) packing I was on the phone with Husband (he and Son had gone away for a few days so that I could finish working on a wee project of mine). He asked me to have a look in his wardrobe. In his wardrobe I found a white, wooden plank with the numbers from 1-24 painted on them and 24 small, metal hooks.

I was very surprised, to say the least, that he would give me this, but, mean as I am, thought maybe he meant this for Son, but to give it to me so that I had something bigger to give Son as a calendar for next year. Husband and Son returned home a few days before me. I came home very late a few days later and upon entering our bedroom that night, I found the calendar hanging on the wall. The wooden plank now had 24 gifts hanging from the hooks. Needless to say, I was moved to tears! And honestly it’s not at all because of the gifts, it’s solely the fact that he has spent so much time planning this calendar, keeping it secret, and surprising me with it without giving me any hints at all about it beforehand.

As the days have passed now it has become obvious that he has really spent a lot of time on the gifts and remembered everything I have looked at and wished for for the past months. Coming home from Liverpool he brought home a bottle of Magners Pear (Magners is my only weak spot when it comes to alcohol – or when it comes to any drink except tea) which is impossible to get hold of in Norway. And I also found this eco-cup (eco my ass, but it is cute and it’s a travel-mug perfect for tea, as it’s porcelain rather than metal or plastic). The gifts are very well planned! And, he has wrapped them in mathching gift-wrap-paper that was designed by the my brother and the company he used to work for; so the calendar was as aesthetically pleasing as well.

I had planned to write a post about chocolate figures that Son and I made here the other day, in a mould made to create 24 chocolate-figures to be used in a yule-calendar. The tradition with yule-calendars and the gifts that go in them, which used to be chocolate figures, was supposed to be the main subject of this post. But I just had to brag a bit. What else can I do with a husband like that? After being through a bit of a rough patch for a while, Husband and I are finally back where we should be, and more in love than ever. We are both going that extra mile in all situations to make the other smile, laugh, or be happy, and life is just wonderful! Pink clouds with silver linings! Obviously, my husband has for the past weeks done a much better job than me!