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How to cope with the darkness

November 9, 2018 | Leave a comment

Coping with the darkness

We Nordics know a thing or two about living in darkness, you know. Here’s a handy guide to how to get through it.

The darkness

The Scandinavian winter is harsh on outsiders. Think snow, ice, more snow, storms, then utter darkness… From around October until March, things are pretty bleak, even in the southern Denmark. Some may think it is tough to be all the way up in the icy north, but actually, at times, the sleet and constant grey of Copenhagen aren’t much fun either. With everything smothered in some sort of permanent dark hue, Scandinavians have had to find ways to cope. Winter is long when it lasts five months, no matter what angle you look at it.

Accept it

Step one is accepting there will be no daylight to speak of. Because even when it is not actually dark, it’s just grey and sleety. Is sleety even a word? It should be. In some place, it sleets and rains horizontally (looking at you, Gothenburg) which can be depressing. But snow itself is not so bad, because snow reflects – and it lights up the sky a bit. The real downer is the sleet and rain.

Knowing in advance it will be dark means you can prevent the winter sadness setting in. The symptoms are fatigue, lethargy, depression and not wanting to do anything, least of all to be with other people. Accept it – and make a plan to surf those winter waves instead of trying to stop them.

Huddle together 

There is always safety in numbers – so huddle up like penguins. Make plans to occupy the dark evenings with your other penguins and don’t be all alone. Make plans to do stuff – even if it’s just for an hour after work. Do Yoga, join a brass band or paint still life. Anything. We’re all in this together and it’s fine to discuss the weather for about an hour a da: it really helps.

Be outside

Plan your weekends around long walks, hikes and – if there’s no ice – maybe some good bike rides. Go for snow runs or just runs in the forest or around the lakes. Play sports. Move your body. Walk to work, even if it’s dark. Take a walk in your lunch break. Make sure you don’t stop going to the gym or your brass band practice – all of these things help release good feelings in your body and brain and will carry you through the dark times. A good, brisk walk will energise you beyond belief if you are feeling down – and it will kick winter-sadness right in the nuts. Scandinavians spend a lot of time outdoors all year round, especially in the winter. Why do you think we’re so good at skiing? *

*note: This does not apply to Danes. They are (generally) rubbish at skiing. Possibly due to a lack of 1) mountains and 2) proper snow.

Follow the sun

Make sure you get enough exposure to sunlight. Use your weekend daylight hours – don’t waste them – and make sure you take a lunch break during the week and get outside, eve for 15 minutes while its light. Don’t neglect this.

Hygge and cosy up

At home, add candles. And lots of small lamps everywhere to create that all-important atmosphere of hygge. Create your space with stuff that makes you happy. You can practise your tuba here, if you want to. Or watch re-runs of The Bridge, spend time with the family, eat hearty food and be nice to your self by going to bed early once in a while.

Eat good stuff

When feeling low it’s natural to reach for the crisps. If you are Scandinavian, you will know that crisps are only allowed on Friday evenings and sweets are for Saturdays, so try to eat well the other days of the week. As there is not much in terms of fresh local produce around, stick to the good staples and lots of smoked and pickled fish and veg. The mantra: “Carrots will help me see in the dark” might work for you on a whole different level. 

Set milestones

If the clocks changing marks the start of the winter, let Christmas be the first milestone you look towards. It’s impossible not to be drawn into the excitement of it all – the candles, the hygge, the niceness of everything. After Christmas, look towards the Lent season, full of cream cakes. Then it’s Easter and you can look forward to the last skiing of the year. And so we’re all done and it’s almost Midsummer. See? It wasn’t that bad, was it?

You only need a little light to break the darkness

The darkness becomes almost magical when the streetlights are on all the time and all the houses have lights outside and in the windows 24/7. Towns flicker in lights all day and all night. Don’t be scared of the dark, because after dark comes light. And in darkness, all light burns that much brighter and stronger. Scandinavian winter is a gentle giant that will carry you through, if you let it – and allow you to reconnect with the other penguins in your life. Embrace it – accept it – and make the best of it.

See you on the other side.

How NOT to Hygge

October 25, 2018 | Leave a comment

How NOT to hygge

Note: Post written by Bronte Aurell. She also writes books about food. Her website is here.

It has been two years of listening to people not from Scandinavia tell us what Hygge is – and what it is not.

This time of year, the media once again start to try and sell us new blankets / underpants / fluffy socks – and we just always feel the slight urge to set the record straight. It just doesn’t quite feel… right.

Bear with us while we get a few things Hygge off our chest, okay?

1. Hygge means ‘To appreciate the moment you are in while you are in it’. That’s it, really.

2. It’s pronounced Who-Guh. It never, ever rhymes with Jiggy.

Just for the record, none of these are right: Don’t learn from this. Also, definitely don’t learn from this.

This is the correct way to say it: Learn from this.

3. The word is not just Danish; it comes from Norwegian too. Swedes will understand what you mean if you say it, but they use ‘mysigt’. In Norway, they also use Koselig.

4. Hygge has NEVER been marketed in Scandinavia. We don’t have hygge candles, hygge underpants, hygge blankets. It’s a word; a feeling. Part of our culture and being. Never has anyone tried to make it a thing-to-buy.

5. A Dane will use the word Hygge maybe 10-20 times in one day. He might say ‘The office feels hyggeligt this morning’ or ‘Shall we go back and have a hyggelig dinner later’?

6. Nobody Scandinavian ever purchased a pair of socks with the intention of going home to hygge snuggling up next to a nice designer lamp.

Also, just for the record: We use scented candles in the bathroom. Not often in other rooms 💩

7. Hygge is not a winter thing. It has NO season. It’s all year round. You can hygge in a tent, on a boat, on a plane, in a church, in a hut, in your kitchen, in your bed… Alone or together. Hygge is all about being in the moment.

8. Uhygge means scary. Literally, it means un-hygge. This works in both Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. A horror movie is u-hyggelig. Scary, horror and terrifying is un-hygge.

9. Food helps hygge come alive. Especially chocolate and wine. It’s very rare people evoke real hygge with a low calorie salad. Celery is uhyggeligt.

10. You can hygge with someone or alone. The room can be hygge-ligt. The room can never be hygge, only hyggeligt. Hygge is a verb. You can’t use it when describing a room. You can go home TO hygge – you can’t go home and BE hygge. 

11.The purest state of hygge is called raw hygge. Råhygge. It’s when hygge is so pure you almost can’t take it – pure, raw hygge. No, you can’t make a candle out of it; leave it alone.

Photo: Dog experiencing råhygge. We think, anyway. He looks like it.

12. Scandinavians find it most peculiar when people try to make hygge into something it’s not. Most, we find it odd that people are chasing something that can only be found when you stop running.

13. You don’t need to spend ANY money to hygge. It’s free. Just switch off your phone, sit down with people you quite like. Share some food or snacks, talk, breathe and forget about time. Done.

The pub is actually a good place to start. Just saying.

Use the word with love and togetherness – because thats what it’s all about.

We hope this was a little bit helpful.

Have a hyggelig day x

Ps – while we don’t sell smelly candles or hygge socks, we do stock the UK’s biggest selection of Scandinavian foods – and we deliver all over the UK and rest of the EU.

Join us for en evening of chat, tasters and hygge

October 23, 2018 | Leave a comment

Cafe Hygge: Join Live & Bronte for an evening of festive treats 30th October 2018

Join us for an evening of mingling and festive tastings. This happens on 30th October 2018 at our cafe in central London. the event is free, but you must sing up before so we can manage the numbers.
Live Sørdal, the café manager at ScandiKitchen and Bronte Aurell, owner and author, will be around all evening to chit chat and serve up lots of lovely tasters of Scandi products (including Christmas products). There will be glögg for everyone – including tasting of the annual Blossa glögg with Limoncello flavour.
Bronte is around to help with recipe questions, Scandi food questions and questions about all things Scandi Christmas. We will of course have all her books, too (including the new ScandiKitchen Christmas Book).
Tastings:
  • Scandinavian cheeses
  • Liquorice
  • Mulled wine
  • Jams and pickles
  • Chocolate
On top of this, there is a 10% discount on any retail purchases on the night (excludes alcohol)
There will be wine and beer to purchase on the night.
Be warned, festive music will be played.
This event is free, but we ask that you sign up so we know how many people are coming (do please also let us know if you’re not going to make it).

See you there,

Live & Bronte x

ScandiKitchen’s Guide to Hygge

July 5, 2016 | 1 Comment

Our guide to Hygge

Hej.

So, you’re looking for some hygge in your life? We hear you. Here’s ScandiKitchen’s useful guide to what is all about – and how to get some.

What is Hygge?

Many will start the answer with: ‘Well, there is no actual translation, it’s a state of mind, man”. This is sort of true. However, the lack of translation is because the word means that feeling of being entirely content in the moment, with friends of family, and actually appreciating the moment while you’re doing it, not afterwards. There is no big secret to it and while we appreciate the entire world is currently raving about finding hygge, well…. Basically, you’re already doing it, but now it has a name.

Remember that time you had your best friends over, you had some wine and you chatted and laughed for hours? That was hygge.

summerhygge

How do I pronounce it?

Hygge is pronounced whoguh.

No, it does not rhyme with jiggy and anyone who tells you that deserves to be forced to spend a week in Holstebro. Nor is it hooooo-gah. No. Just who-guh.

[ˈhyɡ̊ə] – click here for a bit of help

How do I use the word ‘hygge’?

Hygge is a verb. You can ‘hygge’ with friends and family, even on your own. Something can be ‘hyggeligt’ which means it is has the potential to help you ‘hygge’. A corner of a room can look ‘hyggeligt’, but you need to be in it to ‘hygge’.

Why do I need to understand ‘hygge’?

Not only because the rest of the world is talking about it, but because it is just a nice thing to remind you to stop, breathe and appreciate the moment that you are in. While you are actually in it.

hug

Is it a Danish thing?

Sort of. The Danes claim it as their own. But really, it’s a Norwegian word. Danes started using it in the 1900’s. The original word has roots from old Norse – and the the word has even evolved into other words, such as hug.

Most Danes will deny this, of course, seeing as it is now such a huge part of what makes a Dane really Danish – and an essential part of our lives. So, when you look at the cultural significance, it’s a very Danish word.

What does it really mean? I still don’t quite get it?

It’s an elevated state of cosiness. It is not cosy, because an object is cosy – like the cosy chair or the cosy table setting. Hygge, however, is not an object – It is what happens in that cosy room.

candles

Why all the candles?

Scandinavians love candles. Why do you think the candle section in Ikea is the size of a small warehouse? Winter is dreadfully dark – the candle light makes it bearable and cosy. It is often that hygge is associated with candle because it is an easy way to illustrate the comforting feelings – and that the hygge is happening.

So, I always need candles?

No. You can hygge in the daylight too – but certain things speed up the hygge feelings:

  • Candles
  • A bowl of snacks and sweets on the table
  • People around you that you like
  • Woolly socks
  • Comfy jumpers
  • Fireplace
  • Blankets knitted by great aunt Hilda in 1937.
  • Happy faces
  • Jazz (sometimes)

FACT: The presence of food, sweets, cakes and crisps is the easiest way to speed up the feeling of ‘hygge’.

Example: You sit down in front of the telly with your besties to watch a good movie. It’s nice. Add a bowl of dillchips, some Marabou chocolate and a packet of Gott & Blandat and suddenly, it’s ‘hygge’.

Example 2: You invite friends over. You enjoy a glass of wine, you light some candles. Add a bowl of sweets or crisps to the table, and ‘hygge’ happens instantly.

fireplace

Can I bring my smart phone?

No, one unique thing is there is no time in the sphere of hygge. No phones allowed, it breaks the hygge.

What do we talk about?

No politics, nothing controversial – and for heaven’s sake, just be yourself. You can’t hygge if you’re pretending to be someone else. Relax.

There’s no bragging in Hygge, and there’s no bigging anything up. Just being as we all are, right now, in this bubble, sheltered from the outside world of materialism and competition. Just stay in the bubble and feel content.

Hygge’ as a compliment

Hyggeligt’ is a big compliment to someone who created it. If you’ve been at someone’s house for dinner and you tell the host it was ‘hyggeligt’, you are paying them a big compliment, possibly one of the biggest you can.

cottage

Does ‘hygge’ have seasons?

Sort of. While you can ‘hygge’ all year around, it is particularly easy to illustrate ‘hygge’ when it is darker outside, so winter usually gets most hygge points in the media. But we do it all year round – admittedly, it often hides in dusk and end of the day – when we naturally slow down.

The high season for ‘hygge’ is Christmas. Think cottage in the snow. Mulled wine. Lots of ginger biscuits. However, the media loves to add hygge to all the seasons so you will find front covers of the food magazines talking about weekend-hygge, Easter-hygge, summer-hygge and more.

Will a Swede understand it if I tell him we need to ‘hygge’?

It’s not a Swedish word. But he’ll probably get the meaning – in Sweden, a similar word is ‘Mysigt’. Same with a Norwegian, who will use the word koselig.

simpsonsbed

Can you ‘hygge’ alone?

Sort of. Maybe in bed on a Sunday morning, feeling warm and cosy. With the papers. TV on.

Can you, ehm, ‘hygge’, in a romantic way?

Yes. Candle light and Marvin Gaye. It’s universal ‘hygge’. A bowl of crisps totally optional in these situations. Whatever floats your boat, really.

Why are there no real translatable words to hygge?

Because we like to think it was only ever meant to be felt, not explained.

Join us. Feel it.

tenthygge

Glögg party – how to do it the Scandinavian way

December 4, 2014 | Leave a comment

It’s December, it’s the weekend – this can only mean one thing: Glögg party.

We Scandinavians do love any excuse to pop over to each other’s house and have a tipple and some homemade cake or biscuit. Those dark December days are just perfect for this: Spend time with lovely people, letting them know you care – and serve delicious mulled wine to give everybody rosy cheeks before they head back into the cold air.

If you are in Scandinavian, you may attend 2 or even 3 of these parties in a weekend, because everybody hosts Glogg parties. You will find that the ‘Glögg’ mulled wine tends to be served in smaller cups in Scandinavia, mainly because we would otherwise be hammered by the time we reach Auntie Agneta’s house and we would, inevitably, end up making a comment about her slightly weird collection of garden gnomes. However, if you are outside Scandiland, you will probably just attend one or two a weekend, so feel free to go for it. Jut be warned: Glögg mulled wine will make your nose red like Rudolf and your ears will feel very warm. Basically, you turn into Elf if you overdo it. You’ve been warned.

Here’s how to host your own Scandinavian Glögg party this Christmas

Set the scene.

Think lots of candles, simple decorations… Hearts, spruce. No tinsel, just nice, stylish cosy Christmas decorations. Maybe a tree – but if you are going to do a tree, make it a real one. Scandinavians don’t ‘do’ fake trees. It’s better to have no tree than a fake tree. Did we mention candles? We did? Get some more. We over-do candles. Have you never seen the candle section in Ikea? Made for us and our candle obsession. If in doubt, buy some more.

Music

Think less Wham, more ABBA. Michael Buble becomes an honorary Scandi at this time a year before we put him back in the cupboard on the 28th December. Use spotify and search ‘Scandinavian Christmas’ and you should be fine. Expect a few cringe additions. Blame Spotify.

Drink

Offer your guests ‘Glögg’ mulled wine. Glögg is not the same as British mulled wine. We will claim it is infinitely better (it is) – and this is because we use cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, dried Seville orange and cloves.

You can get the spices you need at our shop – or you can buy ready-made good stuff online. Swedes swear by all Glögg from Blossa. The red top is 10%, standard and works for all. The orange top is 15% and gives you a even redder nose.  The see-through ‘Rum’ and ‘Cognac’ Blossas are 21% and you drink these in bigger glasses, in your arm chair front of the log fire. The purple bottle ‘14’ is the annual exciting new flavour – this year, it is Lavender (it’s nice, but nicer drunk a bit colder than normal Glögg).

For the kids and non alcohol drinkers, try the Glögg concentrate. We also do a Saturnus glögg at 2.2%.

To serve you glögg, heat it up so it is warm (not boiling, or the alcohol will evaporate) – and serve in little mugs of thick glasses. Add almonds and raisins.

Food

If you are doing a Danish Gløgg party, you need to make or get your hand on some Æbleskiver. These are little doughballs, made from a pancake like batter. Serve warm with jam and icing sugar.

Biscuit wise, Danes favour ‘Brunkager’ (as do Norwegians) – and Pebernødder. Both are variations of ginger biscuits.

Swedes will expect you to serve Saffron buns. Delicious yellow wheat buns. We sell them at the café but you should have a go at making some at home – they are not hard to make and they taste amazing when just fresh out of the oven.

Pepparkakor’ are the Swedish chosen biscuits – we sell them in the shop. There are many different brands, but Anna’s is the one we stock and prefer. At Christmas, they are heart shaped.

Want to make your own ginger biscuits? Get the dough and simply shape and bake. Easy peasy.

Other foods

Want to fill up the fika table? Add other buns and biscuits. Swedes like to make ‘knäck’ toffee and the Danes love to make little marzipan and nougat petit fours. You can also make ‘Chockladbollar’ or ‘Romkugler’ no-bake treats. Find the recipe on our blog.

Savoury

If you want to add a bit of a savoury element, maybe serve cheeses and crispbread. In particular, get hold of some really nice blue cheese and serve this with ginger biscuits: It’s a really, really nice combination.

Lastly, these events are usually in the afternoons, not evenings. After lunch, usually lasting a few hours, no more. Just so you can fit in 2-3 in the same day if you need to.

Happy Advent

x

 

 

 

 

 

Time for Blossa Glögg Mulled wine

November 18, 2014 | Leave a comment

Every year, Swedish mulled wine makers Blossa come up with a new an exciting flavour. This year’s annual Blossa 2014 glögg is Lavender and comes in a beautiful light purple bottle.

We’ve also now got stock of all the usual ‘Glögg’ mulled wines from Blossa, so do pop by and stock up both in the cafe store and online as well.

To serve Blossa Glogg mulled wine, simply heat gently and serve up in little mugs – with almonds and raisins either in or on the side.

The difference between the Blossa mulled wines:

The red one: Standard Blossa amazingness. 10% alcohol. This is the most popular one.

Green label: Light mulled wine at 2,2% alcohol – but same great taste

Orange label – strong mulled wine, 15% alcohol.

Clear bottles – flavoured with either Cognac or Rum, these are a lot stronger and you do not need very much of it – but a log fire and a cottage in the snow helps to bring out the full ambiance.

Shop for our full range of Glögg online or in our shop in London

Please note that all orders placed after 12th of December have missed the pre-Christmas deadline and will therefore not be shipped until January.
Our café & shop in central London is open until 23rd of December and will continue to get stock daily. Happy holidays! Dismiss

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