It’s on!

Christmas is on!

In the last about ten days we have been to the local school’s Christmas market, a Hungarian Santa Claus fest organized by the Danish-Hungarian Union in Aarhus, and the kindergarten’s own Christmas party.

Everything is about the upcoming holidays, and the smell of cookies being baked fills the air – how romantic 🙂 But it is true. We have been baking diligently.Danish treats like  pebbernødder and vanilla cookies, and Hungarian treats such as linzer and honey cakes. Luckily I have my children to help me, I think next year I might just give them the order: make 2 boxes of this, and 2 boxes of that, and let them do the work, while I will rest in my armchair, sipping my coffee 🙂 Seriously, they are getting pro 🙂

baking christmas treats

We also went yesterday to pick up our Christmas tree, at a small, local plantage. It was hard to find the best one, just because all of them were so nice and perfect 🙂 Once we picked the one, the owner came and cut it for us.

picking and cutting

We had to set it up right away in our living room, and decorate it. My kids did most of the work again. They are so excited about Christmas, they will do anything connected to it 🙂 I think it turned out lovely, what do you think? 🙂

tree before and after

The First of Advent

Don’t you think it’s absolutely amazing that the first Sunday of Advent was on the 1st December this year? Or is it just me who is an absolute fan of these kind of coincidences?

Also a coincidence, or just good timing from my part, that I was done with my next portion of handmade Christmas-decorations by yesterday:

Star Frames

These lovely crochet stars are the idea of Sandra from Little Golden Nook, which is a beautiful blog. I saw the stars on Pinterest, and followed Sandra’s lovely tutorial to make them. I picked a bag of curtain rings, some yarn of my choice, and some Christmas postcards, and the 10 starts were done surprisingly fast.

let's make frames

 

I really enjoyed making them. Here they are, bathing in sunshine 🙂

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Also, as you can all imagine, we have been very busy with advent preparations all weekend. Actually I have been planning it for quite a long, because the advent calender is something very important in our family. And getting 2 times 24 small, cheap, yet exciting and funny gifts for small kids is a challenge in itself… And then wrapping all of them… Even when I only had to wrap advent gifts for Cherry, I decided that the maximum amount of children in our household is going to be 2. Because there is noone on earth who can handle packing 72 (or more!) tiny little gifts every year, or is there? 🙂

For advent calender we decided to go with the tradition of my husband’s childhood. Every year his parents hung the gifts on a piece of string somewhere in the house, but without numbers on, and he and his sister got to choose one present every morning. And they loved it. So that’s how we do it too. No numbers, but random picking every morning. It has been two mornings so far, and my kids are in absolute trance 😀

Our Advent Calender

Sorry for the poor picture quality, I made the photo late in the evening on Saturday, when I was done with hanging the packages, and obviously there was no natural light at my disposal in our living room 🙂

We also got out our Christams boxes, placed a few elfes, Santas, candles here and there in the house, and made an advent wreath – well, it is just 4 candles in a box with some dried fruits and branches from our garden really, but it is nice.

nisse collage

 

So, we are ready for the Holiday Season. Is it too much to ask for a little bit of snow as well? 🙂

The season to be… crafty?

I would like to share some family joy with you all: On the 16th of November my beautiful sister-in-law gave birth to a beautiful baby boy 🙂 We obviously all got very happy and excited, and book the ferry tickets for the next Saturday to visit them. The plan was to pick up my mother-in-law on the way there, and spend the day in Copenhagen.

Then, of course, Cherry got the flu 😦 First of all my heart was breaking for her, because I don’t remember her being so sick ever in her little life. My heart was breaking, because it also meant, that there is going to be no baby-visiting for Cherry, and no baby-visiting for her Mum either (that would be me). And I don’t know which one of us was more disappointed about that, the almost 5 years old, who was sooo looking forward to see her new little cousin, or me, who knows that every baby born to family members or friends might be the last chance for me to hold a newborn again in my arms (as we are NOT having more 🙂 ).

Anyway, my husband packed up Paddington last Saturday, picked up his Mum and they sailed over to Sjælland for the visit, while Cherry and I stayed at home.

At this point Cherry was feeling well enough to be bored out of her mind, locked up in the house, but still too sick and contagious to go among other people, so we had to find some activities we can do inside. And then it occured to me: But it is almost advent! So we were going to make some advent/Christmas decorations, hurray 🙂

One thing you have to know about Cherry, that she is obsessed with pearls. She has tons of beads and pearls that she prepares lovely necklaces of, many a day, then she picks her little scissors, cuts the wires, recycles the beads, and starts it all over again 🙂 She also has a huge box of Hama Beads, and sometimes she spends hours sitting on her little chairs, making lovely shapes and figures out of the Hama Beads, then brings them over to me, so I can iron them. So making decorations of Hama Beads was an obvious choice for us 🙂 Cherry made some circles, hearts and other full shapes, and I tried to create some snowflakes.

Hama Snowflakes

 

At the end we hung them up on some branches, collected from the garden, together with some old Christmas cards we had. I am also thinking about making some more, and including them in the postcards we are going to send out this year, as they are so tiny and light.

Hamas and Cards

Later, while she was resting on the sofa, watching some cartoons, I cuddled up next her warm, little body, and crocheted some cute little starts of different sizes. I found this lovely tutorial (on Pinterest, where else) :).

Crochet Starts

Twinkle-twinkle 🙂

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Risalamande

Monday was St. Martin’s day. Another holiday that people usually don’t remember the origins of, but are still looking forward to it, because it means some special, big eating, right… 🙂

In Hungary it means eating goose, but in Denmark it is duck. Since roasted duck is also very usual as a Christmas dish, with potatoes, caramel-potatoes, red cabbage and gravy, it is not unusal for Danes, to celebrate Sankt Mortens Dag (as they call it) with an early Christmas feast. As it happens, that is what we exactly did this year 🙂

I made the complete Danish Christmas menu, and to make it whole, I also prepared the special dessert that goes with it: Risalamande.

Risalamande with cherry sauce

Risalamande is basically chilled rice-porridge, blanded with chopped almonds, vanilla and whipped cream, served with sweet Cherry sauce. Usually on Christmas evening the hostess hides a whole almond piece in the middle of the pudding, she asks a few other people to stir it well, so there could be no cheating (at least that’s what my mother-in-law does), and then she serves it to the family. The one who finds the whole almond in his/her dish, is the winner of a special almond gift 🙂 It’s a little bit like the coin in the British Christmas-pudding, I guess.

Making Risalamande is not very difficult, however it takes its time, especially because of all the cooling.

Here is how it goes:

Risalamande:

  • 3dl water
  • 2,5 dl porridge rice (small and round)
  • 1 liter milk
  • 100 g chopped almonds
  • 2 vanilla sticks
  • 4 sp sugar
  • 2,5 dl cream for whipping
  • cherry sauce or other berry sauce for serving

First you will make rice-porridge: Take a heavy-based saucepan, put water and rice in it and boil them together. Once it is boiling, cook it for an additional 2 mts while stirring it constantly. Add the milk and cook it at a low temperature, still stirring, for another 10 mts. Cover it and cook for half an hour more, stir it once in a while. Once it is done, let it cool in the fridge. It is best, if it can rest for a whole day.

preparing risalamande

Bland the cold porridge, the vanilla seeds of the two sticks, sugar and the chopped almonds together. Whip the cream until you get a light foam, and then carefully fold it into the porridge. Set the risalamande in the fridge for another 2 hours before serving.

For serving take some lovely cherry or berry sauce. In Denmark you can buy hundreds of different types of little cartons of cherry sauce from November until January, in any shop.

Enjoy 🙂

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The Nutcracker

The best Christmas gift I got this year was without doubt a real magical experience from my Mum: She bought tickets (for herself and me) for the ballet performance of The Nutcracker, in the Opera House of Budapest.

This ballet is something she and me wanted to watch basically for ages. But it is very popular (not very surprising) and therefore tickets are extremely hard to get. I remember a few years ago standing in line at the ticket office on the very first day they started to sell tickets to the show, and after hours of waiting I got to know that they were already sold out… This year my Mum used all her connections and somehow got us two tickets, yay! You might wonder why not more, but the male members of our family are not very enthusiastic about opera and ballet…

So one Sunday morning (it was a day-time show, with lot of families coming with their children) we put on our nice dresses and arrived to the beautiful building of the Opera in bright sunshine 🙂

opera from outside

 

The building is not only beautiful from the outside, but also from the inside. That is why it’s always full of tourists, making photos all over the place. I always feel so proud when see all these people from all over the World wanting to come and see this remarkable place and the amazing shows!

opera inside

 

The Nutcracker itself was fantastic! Lovely costumes, beautiful set and amazing dancers! And don’t forget the music… It was the most magical thing that happened to me this Christmas, even a week later I am completely under the influence of the show, pictures coming back together with the feeling of amusement, and now I want to be a ballet dancer when I grow up… oh, wait… damn 🙂

A Little Lookback To The Holiday Season

We are very lucky this Christmas, because we can enjoy the hospitality of my parents for quite a long time. We only go back to Denmark next Friday!

It also means, that my time at the computer is limited. Not that I am that sad about this fact, but it explains the rarity of my posts nowadays 🙂 But now I have some time to write a little bit about our Holidays.

christmas piggy

This year was special, because we celebrated Christmas twice! First we held a little Christmas with my in-laws in Denmark. Cherry helped decorating the tree, she is getting very good at that, this was her second tree for the season 🙂 After that we danced around the Christmas tree, according to Danish traditions. Danes always put a flag garland on their trees, and my mother-in-law made not only a Danish garland, but also a Brittish and a Hungarian one, to please her children-in-law 🙂

danish tree

We ate roasted pork with caramell-potatoes, red cabbage and gravy, yumm 🙂 My husband’s Mum also made a portion of rice-pudding with cherry-sauce, so however we were visiting 3 days before the actual Christmas, it really felt like the real one!

danish yummies

 

Santa came and visited us, leaving very nice and huge gifts behind for the kids, including a Cars pushing car for Paddington, and a pony princess castle for Cherry 🙂

After crazy packing and dropping our puppy off at a dog pension, we flew to Hungary on the 23rd. Due to the lovely snow-storms across Europe, we had to wait 3 hours before our plane could finally set off. It was very stressful, a lot of people trying to get home for Christmas, delayed and cancelled flights, restless children… but finally we got to Budapest.

The Hungarian Christmas tradtitions are quite different from the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon traditions. We follow the German line, like in so many other things. Santa doesn’t come to us at Christmas. No. Saint Nicholas visits the Hungarian children on his name day, 6th December. He leaves some chocolate, fruits, small gifts in their polished boots, and some dry branches, if the kids were naughty. Christmas belongs to Jesus Christ. Baby Jesus, and his helpers, the angels leave a fully decorated Christmas tree in the children’s home, and obviously gifts as well 🙂 So on the 24th we heard the magic bells ringing from the living room, went in while singing, and found all the gifts under the tree.

hungarian christmas

We also had the traditional Christmas food, which is fish soup and fried fish on the 24th, and stuffed sour cabbage on the 25th (at least in my family this is the tradition).

hungarian yummies

 

 

And New Year’s Eve? We spent it nice and quiet, just the kids, my parents, my brother, his girlfriend, my husband and me. Playing board games, staying up late, drinking champagne.

champagne

 

What about your Holidays? What are your traditions, how did you spend these few days?

Merry Christmas

After some cozy celebrations in Denmark at my in-laws, and an adventurous trip to Hungary, I wish all of You and Your Loved Ones a very-very Happy Christmas from my childhood home!

Thank you for stopping by, your likes, your follows, your nice comments, they mean a lot to me!

And now: get off of internet, and spend the time with your family instead! 😀

God Jul! Boldog Karácsonyt! 🙂

God Jul

Cookies in Boxes, last volume for this year :)

Due to circumstances I had no power over (like my own bowel movements for a short period of time…), I did not manage to make as many cookies as I wanted to. Well, no problem because the missing ones can be still made next year 🙂 But we did manage to make a portion of each Danish delicacies that are sooooo connected with Christmas.

The first one is called Pebbernødder, meaning “peppernuts”, and has absolutely nothing to do with either pepper or nuts, its just a nice, spicy ginger bread style cookie, which has a shape of a nut. The other one is not really a cookie, rather layered marzipan, but nonetheless very yummy.

Pebbernødder:

pebbernoedder

These cookies simply cannot be left out for a real Danish Christmas. If you don’t bake them, you buy them in big bags, and munch them during the wonderful month of December. My husband insisted on that we should make them ourselves this year, because it is so fun to bake with kids (and it is!). So I called my mother-in-law, and asked for her recipe. When it comes Danish recipes, she is the first one I turn to, not a cooking book 🙂 Later she sent me this recipe:

  • 1 kg flour
  • 400 g margarine
  • 500 g sugar
  • 2 sp light syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 dl milk
  • 3 tsp hartshorn salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • bit of ground lemon peel

pb dough

I only used half amount of everything, and still got plenty of cookies in the end. You just mix everything together, then roll thin cylinders out of the dough, and cut small pieces of it. Perfect job for little girls with at least 4-5 beaded necklaces on 🙂

pb cutting

Lay them on a baking tray covered with baking paper, and bake them on 200 Celsius for about 20-25 mts, until they get nice and brown.

pb done

Once they are done, it is very important to perform a quality check on the cookies! Little boys are very suitable to do so 🙂

 

Marzipan Slices:

marzipan slices

Or, my little brother’s favourite treats 🙂 You can also buy them in any shop around Christmas, in many different qualities. But it is much more fun (and sometimes even more expensive…) to make your own ones 🙂

You will need some raw marzipan, some nougat bar, and food colouring of your choice.

pure marzipan

I went with green and red marzipan, and of course the raw colour and nougat as well 🙂 Now all we have to do, is to make thin slices of everything, then layer them nicely. I found cheese cutter to work best for slicing nougat, and a very sharp knife, to slice the cold (out of the fridge) marzipan.

layered marcipan

Once I layered them, I decided to put them back into the fridge again, before cutting them up, because it is much more easier to work with cold marzipan.

In the meantime, I made some figures out of the left-over marzipan: An elegant, pink, plumpy, Icelandic type of pony for my daughter (yes, it is a pony, stop laughing!), and a cool sport car for my car-maniac son. If you, at this point, would like to form comments like “Geez, I understand why she is not a professional marzipan figure manufacturer”, then I have to tell you, that luckily my kids are very sophisticated, and recognize art at once when they see it, and knew instantly what the two figures were 🙂 However, Paddington refused to eat or even touch his marzipan car…

marzipan figures

Anyway, look at these divine marzipan slices…

divine slices

This year I decided to make small packages of Christmas goodies for family members as a gift, so I made a few scone shaped paper bags, and packed them with pebbernødder and the marzipan slices. I hope they will be received with joy 🙂

wrapping the goodies

 

 

The downwards spiral just before Christmas

There are so many things I wanted to write about lately

Like the huge big snow that fell about two weeks ago, and how nice it was to go out in the garden, all of us, and build a snowman. Then another one in front of our front door, hanging our “welcome” sign on it. But then came a certain puppy, who beheaded the first snowman, and ate its carrot nose… then came a terrible windstorm later that evening, and simply blew away the second snowman…

snowmen

 

Then I wanted to do so much, as preparation for Christmas. More cookies, more baking, more handmade Christmas presents for the loved ones…

But of course, our yearly, regular, pre-Christmas sickness had to knock on our door.

Paddington started it. He was suspiciously silent one afternoon, and didn’t even want to eat. That was when I knew for certain, that he was about to get sick. Yep, by the evening he had fever. Luckily these kind of viruses go as quickly as they come, and after 2 days Paddington was healthy and fresh again. But for that 2 days the only thing he could bear was to cuddle with Mummy. I don’t mind cuddling with my babies, it’s the best thing ever, but it also means, that cuddling is prioritized higher than any other plans I made, and also, once Paddington got fresh, I got sick…

Actually I don’t even remember, when was the last time I was so sick. I couldn’t get out of bed for two days, and when I did, I spent the time on the toilet. I didn’t eat, and even fainted once. Paddington’s everyday cold got mixed up with some indigestion from my part, it was no fun, you can believe me. I lost a few kilos in a very short time, and our home, which was left to the care of my husband for these two days, looked like a mess. The kitchen resembled of something that had been savaged by wild animals, and not a single spoon or plate was washed or even moved from the spot it had been used… The children ate frozen french fries my husband baked in the oven, and the other day he ordered pizza for dinner. Man, a mother just simply cannot allow herself to be sick!

The only thing that could lift my spirit a little bit, was the story my mother told me once. My Mum is a high school teacher, and a few years ago a student walked up to her, saying that he has diarrhea… My Mum sent him down to the school secretary, in the hope that she might be able to give the poor fellow some medicine against it (school nurses only have a few hours per week in each school there). Well, the good secretary  was looking and looking for a medicine she could give the student, but couldn’t find any. So by saying: “That is the only thing I could find, use it somehow!”, she handed over a tampax to the slightly shocked boy… I leave it up to your imagination what the good secretary could have been thinking, all I would like to add, is that the boy didn’t use the tampax because he “had no idea what to do with it…” as he later told my Mum. But since then every time someone in our family suffers from diarrhea, I always think about the tampax, and I have to laugh 🙂 (which is not a very good thing, when I am the one suffering from indigestion…)

In the meantime, Cherry got conjunctivitis (and eye-drops against it)… She has an unfortunate tendency to get it. I will never forget the time I was very pregnant with Paddington, and Cherry got sick with conjunctivitis. I had to wipe her beautiful eyes with chamomile tea all the time, because of the yellow mess coming out of them, and she got huge blue marks under the eyes, once the medicine started to work against the bacteria. And then, one night, my water broke. After consulting with the midwife several time during the night, at 6 o’ clock in the morning we decided, it was time for me to go to the hospital. My husband and I went into Cherry’s room, to wake her up, and drop her off at our friends, who promised to take care of her while I am in labor. We walked up to her bed, my husband gently touched her back, she woke up, and instantly started to cry out of terror, her eyes were stuck, she couldn’t open them, she was kneeling in the bed, reaching out blindly with both arms to grab on to her Daddy. We washed her eyes with chamomile tea and gave her the drops, and she was taken good care of at our friends’ place, but I was still crying, feeling so sorry for her, when we entered the delivery room. It was a terrible feeling to know that I left her behind so sick, and I was giving birth to her little brother thinking of this. Poor little baby girl, she looked like someone has punched her in both eyes on all the first pictures taken together with Paddington…

By the time I got better and could crawl out of bed to somehow clean up at least the kitchen, my husband got sick. “It is my turn now” he said (or rather coughed), and covered himself with a blanket, up to his nose. He had a nice few days of some influenza-like sickness. Great.

Needless to say, I kind of gave up on all our cookie dreams, I managed to buy gifts for everyone (much faster than making, I’m afraid), got the dog vaccinated, and now trying to get everything ready for the big Christmas journey. Thursday evening we are leaving for Grenaa, to spent a “Little Christmas” with my husband’s parents, and on the 23rd we are flying to Hungary, to spend the real holidays with mine. I think I’d better go and start another load in the washing machine.

Hope you are all healthy!

 

Cookies in Boxes Vol.2 – Linzer

Oh, the Linzer…

Linzer

Anyone, who has ever heard about the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is not gonna be surprised by the fact that Austria and Hungary share a lot of traditions and recipes. Especially when it comes to cakes, cookies, tortes, and all the heavenly results of the development of confectionery. One of these shared heavenly gems is the Linzer torte. It is very popular as a cake, but also as cookies, made according to the same recipe, and they cannot be absent from the Christmas dessert table. It is almost obvious that I also had to make them this year to fill up at least one of my empty cookie boxes…

I guess every family has their own recipe for it. So do we 🙂 This recipe is old, very old, and my Mum always makes it for Christmas, following the sharp, decent handwriting of her grandmother. I copied this recipe to my own cookbook, and brought it to Denmark.

My Greatgranny is very special to me. I was named after her (she hated her given name all her life – until I was born and given the same name), and we were lucky enough to spend the first two years of my life together, in the same home. When my Mum went to university, she left home and moved in with my Greatgranny. It was not easy to get your own flat at the time my parents were young, so when my Mum and Dad got married, they simply lived together with Greatgranny and looked after each other. Unfortunately I don’t remember much of the time spent together with Greatgranny. But I have heard the stories all my life, and she must have been a great person! She lives through us, and her legendary cooking and baking.

That’s us, about 30 years ago 🙂

greatgranny

 

And this is her recipe for Linzer:

  • 600 g flour
  • 300 g margarine
  • 150 g icing sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • grated peel of half a lemon
  • 3 egg yolks
  • milk
  • jam of your choice

Making linzer dough is not rocket science, really 🙂 You just put all the ingredients (except the jam) in a bowl, and work them together thoroughly. You only need to add a little bit of milk, so you get a light dough. It really depends on the quality of the flour you use, but it is really only a little bit of milk. Less than a dl, I would say…

Because we are only 2 adults and 2 children, I only used 400 grams of flour and equivalent ingredients, but I heard that Greatgranny used to bake linzer of 1,2 kgs of flour for the whole family…

linzer dough

 

Once the dough is done, roll it out very thin with a rolling pin, and cut different shapes out of it. Perfect task for small baby hands 🙂 Since later we are going to fill the cookies up with jam, it is important that you cut the same amount of full and holey shapes that will go together.

shapes

 

Preheat your oven to 200 Celsius, and bake the cookies for no longer than 10-12 minutes! They don’t need to get brown and too crispy, you want them nice and soft.

Once they are done and cold, take the jam of your choice (we traditionally use apricot jam, but any other will do as well), and whip it until it gets hard.

Now you can fill your cookies: Put a spoonful of jam on the middle of the full cookies, then gently put a holey cookie on the top.

baking and filling

 

You can sprinkle them with some icing sugar, so they don’t just taste, but also look yummie 🙂

yummie linzers

 

That’s it. Wasn’t too difficult, was it? Enjoy!