That time of year…

sandals on shelfSo, there’s my trusty Teva sandals, sitting on a shelf.  Retired for the year. Because this week, I took to wearing shoes, for the first time in four months. It’s that time of year, you see.  Not cold, nothing like that, not yet – but just so that wearing sandals while biking to work in the morning is not really good.   And when it rains, *sigh* – cold and wet. Continue reading

Pebernødder – a recipe

I posted the other day about our Christmas tradition of making pabernødder, but I failed to post the recipe I use. You’ve complained, and rightly so. So, without further ado …

PebernødderYou need

  • 250g butter
  • 2 1/4 dl sugar
  • 1 tbsp treacle (or syrup)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp clove
  • black pepper to taste
  • 375g flour

(EDIT (2016): You may find the result too heavy with real butter.  In Denmark we can buy margarine made for baking.  I find I like the result better using that, especially margarine of the brand “Oma”).

Whip sugar and butter thoroughly. Beat egg into mix (if you’re doubling up the recipe, beat one egg into mix at a time). Add baking soda, spices, flour. Put dough in fridge for a bit – it’s easier to work with when below room temperature. Take a small portion of dough, roll gently to form a bar, 1-2 cm thick. Cut into even pieces, again 1-2 cm. Distribute pieces evenly on pan. Do not worry about shape, they melt while baking and get a roundish shape. Bake for about 15 mins at 150 degC, on a high shelf in the oven. The cookies must darken to light brown. Take from oven and remove from pan to cool; they are a bit soft when taken from the oven, but turn crispy as they cool. Now repeat with as many pans as you have dough for.

I use three times the amount above for the portion show in the previous blog entry.

Of course, being traditional cookies, there’s about as many recipes as there are Danes. My mum had another but mostly bought pebernødder so I have little experience with hers. My mother in law use one that result in pebernødder that are smaller, lighter, and much harder. The one I use my wife picked up during university days from our friend Søren, who had it from his mother. It right away became the house favourite; by now we’ve been using it for 20+ year. Tip-of-the-hat to Søren’s mother.

Winter in Copenhagen – bikes!

Copenhagen is a bike city. More than 1 in 3 commute to work or school by bike. It’s nice, it’s fun, it’s healthy – and we do it in the winter too.

Part of this movie is from my daily commute, and pretty much what the commute is like now, except we have more snow on the ground. It’s not bad, though – note how the bike lanes are cleared of snow and salted, just like the car lanes. Cold? Well, my grandpa told me “there’s no bad weather, only inappropriate clothes” – and you can get so much better gear today. In that respect winter biking has changed a lot in the past 20 years.

The only bad part is when there’s fresh snow, or worse snow pressed into an ice sheet by cars. It can get really slippery, and bikes are not stable. A few days ago I took the car to pick up a few things, and on my way home a bike skidded and crashed to the ground just in front of me as I was entering an intersection. Luckily I was preparing a right turn and was going really slow on the slippery road, so I could stop easily. But that was one scary moment for all involved – I was literally shaking after it happened. The guy on the bike was clearly going to fast and changing lanes. No good. Be careful out there.

Advent Calendar

For me, Christmas is a time of traditions; food, cakes, decorations, things we do – lots of traditions small and not-so-small. I always liked these traditions, and I find that I enjoy passing them on to my kid. There’something about having the same decoration up, or throwing the same party, or making the same cookies, year after year, that feels good. And it’s fun to see how early kids start to recognize this and enjoy it – even (or maybe in particular?) in a household where few things are “by the book”.

One of the traditions that kicks off the season is the advent calendar. They can be really simple – a piece of decorated cardboard with cut-outs you can open and find a picture ore similar each day, or they can be really elaborate. with wrapped presents, one for each of the days 1-24 December.

This year, ours look like this:

Advendt calendar

As a kid, I had an advent calendar with presents. Small things – a couple of pens, a few Legos, etc – but the excitement from waking up each day and rushing to see what was there was more about the warm feeling of a present each day than what was actually there. I get the same with my kid, even if our presents are more elaborate than what I had then. The advent calendar has grown to be an important item in her Christmas.

Happily, it’s fun to make, and it’s fun to have the little ceremony of opening presens each morning. In not-so-many-years it will be of no interest to her anymore, so I’m going to enjoy as much as I can while I have the chance. Not that the advent calendars ever goes away entirely if I can help it; I one for my wife, too, but with a present for each of the four Sundays of Advent.