Read on, even if you did put clean undies on this morning: This is important.
Every year, during November, we collect money at ScandiKitchen café to buy a whole load of underpants. You see, as the nights get longer and colder, the homeless on the streets of London have an even tougher time than normal. While people are good at donating coats and scarves, trousers and jumpers, nobody ever donates underpants and socks. For good reasons too, mind you, but that doesn’t make the need for these items any less. We all need clean pants and socks. While we may smile and joke about the need for underpants, the fact remains: if you’re down and out, trying your hardest just to get through the night, feeling warm and comfortable all the way through suddenly means that much more.
Helle is a lovely Danish lady, living in West London. Every autumn she changes her name to The Pants Lady and starts asking people to send her socks and underpants. She does this tirelessly for months. The main shelter she works with is the The Shelter Project Hounslow for men (a registered charity – but excess pants and socks are distributed throughout other shelters in the capital, too).
Here’s a message from Helle:
‘This will be the 5th season of The Shelter Project Hounslow (TSPH). We always receive plenty of 2nd hand clothing but never – for good reason – any underpants or socks. And homeless men need that too, so a few years ago I started collecting via friends, on Facebook, via Scandinavian Kitchen (where staff gave up their tip jar to collect pounds for pants). I wasn’t quite sure how men I don’t know would react to a crazy lady handing them pants and socks at the shelter though… These are proud, clever men from a range of backgrounds and cultures who for various reasons have ended up on the street. And here I was – with my bulging bags of smalls – a change of pants, while they try to change their lives.
The men would arrive at the shelter for the night and once settled in and warmed up, I’d drag one or 2 aside and hand them pants. Discreetly, quietly… Fast forward a couple of winter shelter weeks: The guys would arrive, sometimes with a new homeless guest in tow. Once the new guest was settled in, they’d drag him over to me saying: “You’ve got to meet PantsLady – she’ll sort you out.” And so literally hundreds of pairs of pants were handed out over 4 months. Each time, I’d often have to explain that there was no charge for pants. They were free, new, clean and donated by strangers. It’s “only pants and socks” – it’s never going to change anyone’s life, but it broke an often down cast atmosphere of hopelessness, loneliness and homelessness for these guys. It made a difference and it’ll make a difference again this year. It’s only pants and socks, but everyone deserves a clean pair.’
We’ll be collecting for underpants at the café throughout November. We call it ‘A pound for pants’ because we can get a pair of pants for a quid (in some shops). Pop your change in the box by the till – the staff give up their tips for these weeks and we (ScandiKitchen) match pound for pound what is put into the box.
You can also mail or delivery your (new, wrapped) underpants to us and we’ll make sure they get to the Shelter (post pants to ScandiKitchen Underpants Appeal, 61 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7PP). If you have any questions for Helle the Pants Lady, you can contact her on this email: PantsLady@virginmedia.com
Scandinavia might be more famous for our love of aquavit and coffee than any other drinks – but there as everywhere, fancy tipples and drinks are gaining popularity. Craft breweries and small distilleries have been popping up over the last few years, and a relative newcomer in the space is Ragnarok – a gin distiller from Sweden.
The gin comes in a beautiful frosted glass bottle and is made from Swedish winter barley. So although gin is not thought of as a Scandi product, this one actually is.
We like to emphasise the Scandinavian-ness of it by pairing it with other typical Scandi flavours – the resulting drinks are delicious, refreshing and a nice change from your usual G & T.
Here are two of our favourites;
Elderflower Gin Fizz
1 part Ragnarok Gin
1 part Elderflower cordial
3 parts soda water
Squeeze of lime
Lime to garnish
In a glass of your choice – we like a short tumbler for this (but your favourite milk glass will also do the trick, just make sure it is clean) pour in the gin and elderflower cordial. Add 2-3 ice cubes. Add lime juice (from 1/4 lime or to taste) and top up with soda water. Stir until combined and garnish with more lime.
A Scandi twist on the classic Tom Collins.
1 part Ragnarok gin
1 part lingonberry cordial (we like Tillmans as it is not so sweet)
1 tsp sugar or sugar syrup
Squeeze of lemon
In a glass of your choice – we like a hi-ball or similar for this – pour in the gin and lingonberry cordial, plus sugar or sugar syrup if using. Stir until combined. Add ice cubes (if it is hot outside, to fill the glass). Squeeze in about a tablespoonful of lemon juice (or to taste) and top up with soda water. Stir again, garnish with fresh or frozen lingonberries if you have them.
For more recipes – visit Ragnarok here – our lingonberry collins is based on theirs, we simple tweaked it a little to suit our tastebuds, we urge you to do the same.
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The Danes claim it as their own. But really, it’s a Norwegian word. Danes started using it in the 1900’s, but truthfully, it isn’t Danish at all. Most Danes will deny this, of course, seeing as it is now such a huge part of what makes a Dane really Danish. In fact, let’s just say it is as Danish as Danish can be.
What does it mean?
It’s an elevated state of cosiness. Often with dimmed light (although not always – you can still hygge in the park or garden on a sunny day). Think people close to you, woolly socks, fire place, candlelight. Happy feelings, warm feelings. Nothing else matters.
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’.
Truth: The presence of 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.
‘Hygge’ is 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.
HUG: 1560s, hugge “to embrace, clasp with the arms,” of unknown origin; perhaps from Old Norse hugga “to comfort,” from hugr “courage, mood,” from Proto-Germanic *hugjan, related to Old English hycgan “to think, consider,” Gothic hugs “mind, soul, thought,” and the proper name Hugh. Others have noted the similarity in some senses to German hegen “to foster, cherish,” originally “to enclose with a hedge.” Related: Hugged; hugging.
Well, it’s a possibility that there is a Scandinavian link there. In terms of meaning, there is certainly some overlap. You know that feeling you get after someone gives you a great big bear hug? That feeling, in candle light, with a bag of crisps and some chocolate and some good friends. Let’s decide that this is the link, shall we?
Does ‘hygge’ have seasons?
Sort of. While you can ‘hygge’ all year around, it is particularly easy to ‘hygge’ when it is darker outside. We do darkness quite well in Scandinavia – and we love candles. So it makes it easier to get to that ‘hygge’ feeling.
The high season for ‘hygge’ is Christmas. Think cottage in the snow. Mulled wine. Cosy, cosy, cosy.
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 (it’s called ‘Kos’ in Norway).
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 optional in these situations.
Why are there no real translatable words to hygge?
We like to think it was only ever meant to be felt, not explained.
October 4th is official day of the Cinnamon Bun in Sweden. Here at ScandiKitchen, every day is bun day, but this week, we’re celebrating even more than usual.
We’ve put together some fact about the humble cinnamon bun so you can go entertain your mates down the pub with your expert bun fun knowledge.
The cinnamon bun is actually thought to originate from Sweden in the 1920’s, but didn’t really gain popularity until the fifties. The Annual Cinnamon Bun Day started in 1999.
Many nations have similar buns. Most Nordic buns are spiced with a bit of ground cardamom, which sets them apart from other cinnamon buns on this lovely planet of ours.
A real Scandinavian cinnamon bun doesn’t have any icing on top. Just nibbed sugar, also known as pearl sugar.
The biggest cinnamon bun ever was baked in on Feb 10, 2006, weighing in at 111.8kg. Wayne and Anita Warren, owners of The House of Bread in Mill Creek, Washington received their certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest cinnamon roll ever made.
It is a proven fact that it is impossible to resist a freshly baked cinnamon bun. You just can’t.
The biggest buns in Sweden are called Hagabullar.
The average Swede eats 316 cinnamon buns a year (The average Torben at ScandiKitchen eats more than that)
Sweden imports 375 tonnes of cinnamon every year.
Some people love them so much that make them in to earrings – which really looks rather suspect….
Or wear them as costumes
Or even as hair pieces…
Or sing about cinnamon buns…
And books have been written about them….
Get yourself a bun cushion…
The @ sign in Swedish is sometimes referred to as ‘kanelbulle’. So, iloveherring – kanelbulle – scandikitchen.co.uk.
Cinnamon bun in Swedish is Kanelbulle, in Norway, its Skillingsbolle. In Danish, Kanelsnegl and in Finnish, Korvapuusti – literally meaning Slapped Ear.
Some people make horrible things, such as Bacon Cinnamon Rolls. Actual bacon baked into it. We do not like those people. Some people also make Cinnamon Roll Burgers. This is a criminal offence in Sweden. Maybe. Okay, it’s not, but it should be.
There are two kinds of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon, also known as “true cinnamon” (cinnamon verum) is very expensive. Therefore, most foods in the USA and Western Europe, including sticky buns, breads and other products use the cheaper Cassia cinnamon (dried Cassia bark).
Cinnamon contains Coumarin, which is not great for the body and can damage the liver. You should only eat 0.1 milligram per day. Danish food police tested a lot of bakeries a few years back and found we were all being overdosed by cinnamon. Don’t fear, though, if you use the good quality cinnamon, the levels of coumarin are very low. So, don’t skimp on your cinnamon quality and you’ll be fine to add a few extra spoonful to your filling.
Enjoy Bun Day on the 4th October – we want to see your buns, so don’t forget to send us a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post the best ones on facebook and instagram. Prizes for the best looking buns.