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Monthly Archives: March 2019

Little lessons: Hiking in Norway

March 22, 2019 | Leave a comment

Little lessons: Hiking in Norway

One of the most favourite thing to do amongst Norwegians is going for a hike. No, not just going for a walk, but a hike. Which essentially means going for a walk but a bit longer and you have to bring a thermos of something to drink along the way. 

There is a Norwegian saying that goes ‘Ut på tur, aldri sur!’, which literally translated means ‘Out on tour, never sour!’ You should never start your hike in a bad mood – always be positive and ready for a great experience. Sing this merry little tune in your head every time you head out for a hike, especially if you are not in the frame of mind to be out walking – and think lots of positive thoughts.

Norwegians’ love of hiking and skiing is absolutely second to none. It is an essential part of being Norwegian both to go hiking and go skiing. It is unlikely you will find many Norwegians who do not enjoy these two activities.

Weekends and holidays are spent getting out into the fresh air and heading upwards to a hill or mountain, on foot or skis. To gå på tur (‘go for a walk’) is a favourite pastime – and is done by, literally, everybody. It is absolutely part of being a Norwegian.

If it’s a weekend day and impractical for you to get out of the city, you are allowed to take your walk in parks and around where you live. These are leisurely walks, but do not include popping to the shops for a loaf of bread or cat food: the walk has to be for the purpose of the walk itself. A weekend walk is often called a Søndagstur (Sunday walk). Then everyone knows what you’re doing and with what purpose (i.e. no purpose, other than the walk itself).

When out for a weekend walk, you must always factor in a stop for coffee (drinking this from your thermos that you packed at home, because a cup of coffee in Norway will set you back a small mortgage – bring your own). You must also bring one treat – usually a chocolate bar – and, if there is any kind of snow or ice, you must also bring one fresh orange.

Why an orange? Nobody knows, but it is always: an orange. Maybe its because it is super refreshing and completely impractical to peel when your fingers are frozen (which is often the case in Norway). An orange is, nevertheless, essential.

The word Søndagstur can also be used in Norwegian to describe something that was a bit easy, as in ‘How was that ultra marathon yesterday?’ ‘Oh, it was like a Søndagstur.’

When you manage to leave the city and aim to go on a proper hike, you need more appropriate equipment. These include:

Physical maps

Because you are unlikely to have any phone reception once you leave the town as half of norway is made up of fjords, mountains and other inaccessible terrain. It’s massive, but with only very few people in it. Bring a map, Citymapper is not your friend here. You can go out on a hike and see nobody for days and days, so best to be prepared like a native or risk getting lost.

More oranges

For these longer hikes, still bring the obligatory orange, your Kvikk Lunsj chocolate bar (although other brands are allowed) and the thermos of coffee. a Matpakke (packed lunch) is also advisable.

Hiking smile

Being on a hike is the only time in Norway when you are allowed to talk to strangers. You meet someone along your merry way, you smile and say Hei. Do not stop: Just “hei’ and get a “hei” back – and then you hurry along, minding your own hiking business.

Good Shoes

The shoes for a good hike are the kind that will rip your feet to shreds for the first few trips. Eventually, they will fit you and you will love them. Until them, bring plasters. Stop moaning: It’s normal. Keep walking.

Layers

Every Norwegian knows the saying: No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Dress for the weather and don’t try to get away without layering. Do not, ever, wear jeans. Wear proper waterproofs if it’s raining. Norwegians out hiking tend to look like an advert for comfortable hiking clothes (in rather bright colours so you can warn other hikers to put their hiking smile on.

Happy hiking!

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    North: How To Live Scandinavian – Bronte Aurell
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    Manger Fiskekaker – Norwegian Fish Cakes 300g
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25th March: Day of Waffles (Våffeldagen)

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25th March: Day of Waffles (Våffeldagen)

This day is very celebrated in Scandinavia, but no places more than in Sweden where it is seen as a great excuse to have more waffles than normal! (In Norway, it is also celebrated, but to be fair, in Norway, every day is waffle day, so…. Norway will always win when it comes to waffles).  It is also celebrated in Churches, as it is Our Lady’s Day – in Swedish, this is called Vårfrudagen – and this apparently got misunderstood once upon a time – so it became Våffledagen (Waffle Day) – an easy mistake to make, but now we get to celebrate both on the same day.

Scandinavian waffles are made in a waffle iron that is heart shaped – usually 5 little hearts make up one waffle. You can buy these waffle irons online and in places such as Clas Ohlson 

If you have a different waffle iron, by all means, you can use this too but your yield and cooking time will be slightly different, so apply logic when cooking if you use different size waffle irons.

There are hundred of different waffle recipes. Literally. This one is from Bronte’s book Fika & Hygge and comes via her Mother-in-Law Eva who makes these when they are all together in the cottage in the North of Sweden, skiing over the winter months. It is a simple recipe – containing no sugar or egg – and you get wonderfully crispy waffles. Be warned, though, the waffles need to be eaten straight out of the waffle iron or they go soggy.

One recipe makes around 7-8 waffles. We usually double the recipe. Or triple. Can you ever have too many waffles?

Basic Frasvåfflor recipe

150g melted butter
300g plain flour
250ml whole milk
250ml water
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Method
Mix ingredients together to form a smooth batter. Turn your waffle iron on and make your waffles. Depending on your waffle iron you may need to brush the waffle iron with a bit of butter (but most these days are completely non stick). Bake until brown and crispy.

Enjoy straight out of the waffle iron with your chose toppings. We think the very best is a good dollop of cloudberry jam and some vanilla whipped cream or ice cream. Actually, any kind of jam will do.

Female person making fresh waffles with a waffle maker towards black on white

    ScandiKitchen Wild Cloudberry Jam 200g
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    ScandiKitchen Wild Lingonberry Jam 200g
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    Waffles – Sour Cream & Jam Bundle
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    Torsleff Vaniljesukker – Vanilla Sugar 100g
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    Ekströms Frasvåfflor – Waffle Mix 210g
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    Toro Vafler – Waffle Mix 246g
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Little lessons: Scandinavian Easter

March 15, 2019 | Leave a comment

Little lessons: Scandinavian Easter

After the long, dark nights of winter, Easter and the arrival of spring are truly celebrated in Scandinavia. Whether spent in the south welcoming the return of the spring flowers or spent escaping to the mountains in the North, getting in a few last runs on the slopes, Easter is a time of renewal for Scandinavians, celebrated with good food and good company (and perhaps the odd shot of aquavit or two). Peek into the history of the Viking north and you’ll find plenty of magic things that add to the richness of Scandinavian Easter celebrations.

Here’s our quick guide:

The lingo

Easter in Scandinavia is called

  • Påsk (Sweden)
  • Påske (Denmark, Norway)
  • Pääsiäinen (Finland)

An Easter egg is known as a Påskägg / påskeæg / påskeegg – and is gifted on Easter morning.

Easter in Scandinavia means the last of the skiing.

Well, except for in Denmark, where there are no mountains. Everywhere else, people head for the last of the snow somewhere high up.

More than anything, it’s a sign that finally, the long dark nights are ending.

The hut (Hytte)

Most Norwegians will head for a wooden hut somewhere, as remote as possible and as far away from people they don’t know as they can get. If it has an outdoor toilet and no running water, even better.

 

It’s still all about Vikings

Our forefathers celebrated something called Ostara, the spring Goddess, around spring Equinox 20-21 March. Freya and Thor were often celebrated, too. This was all about gathering and giving of eggs.

Photo: Absolutely nothing to do with real vikings, but in the absence of Viking photography….

Swedish and Finnish kids go trick’or’treating at Easter.

Well, there are no tricks, only treats as kids dress up as Easter witches and go door to door, asking for sweets. These Easter witches are called Påskkärring in Sweden.

In Finland, the mini witches sing the rhyme: Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle! (I wave a twig for a fresh and healthy year ahead; a twig for you, a treat for me!) and offer fresh willow twigs in exchange for sweets.

Easter celebrations in Sweden are also rooted in the old Christian witch-hunt times. The celebrations last from Maundy Thursday until Easter Monday. In the olden days it was thought that on Maundy Thursday, all the Witches would fly off on their broomsticks to the Blue Mountains in Germany to have a weekend of fun and dancing with Satan.

Let’s light a fire

In many western Finnish villages, bonfires are still lit to drive away evil spirits on the evening of Easter Saturday.

Norwegians become obsessed with dark crime

For some reason, Norwegians read crime novels at Easter. Sales of these more than triple as everyone buys the latest who-dunnit to bring to the wooden hut. These books are known as Påskekrimmen.

This is such an important thing the milk producers even put little who-dunnits on milk cartons so that people can solve crimes over their cornflakes.

If you spot a Norwegian out and about at Easter, his backpack will contain 2 crime novels, an orange and a Kvikklunsj chocolate. But unlikely you will see any, they are all hiding away from people.

Write your name with dots

The rhyme goes: I write my name with dots, careful they don’t sting you (Mit navn det star med prikker, pas på de ikke stikker”.

The Danish tradition of writing teaser letters (gækkebreve) is a wonderful one, an old tradition since early 1800’s. Cut out a pretty pattern in paper, write a rhyme and add your name in dots and enclose a snowdrop flower from your garden (the symbol of Easter in Denmark). If the receiver guesses who it is from, you have to buy them an Easter Egg – and vice versa. Magically, no grandparents ever guess who their letters are from, and thus a great source for getting LOADS of sweets.

The perfect Easter egg

Scandinavian Easter Egg traditions are people buying an empty cardboard shell and filling it with their favourite sweets, rather than just a huge chocolate egg. We like a mix of everything – sweet, sour, salty, liquorice, chocolate, marshmallow, and perhaps and extra Kvikk Lunsj, Kexchoklad or marzipan eggs for good measure.

Fancy a bit of whipping?

You’ll see many places with decorated twigs – feathers and other types of decorations, depending on area. This is a Påskris – Easter Twigs – to signify Christ’s suffering – originally used to lash out at people as a tease – and in some areas, get people out of bed on Good Friday morning. Nowadays, used mainly as decorations.

Make your own: Get some twigs, decorate with feathers. Whip your flatmate and tell him it’s tradition.

The Smörgåsbord

We never turn down an opportunity for good smörgåsbord. Essentially, the same as at any other high season, although with more fish and egg. This is the time to add new salmon to the spread, a few extra fish dishes and of course, egg in different shapes and sizes. We also recommend adding Jansson’s Temptation and pair it with some new lamb – it works so very well.

Goodbye, lovely buns

Easter is the absolute last time you will see Semlor buns anywhere in Sweden. Most of these lovely luscious Lent buns are already gone at this time of the year, but for those still clinging on, Easter marks the final hurrah, signalising the end of the season. No more semlor until next year. Nope, none anywhere – all gone.

We stock Easter goodies from all over Scandinavia – both online and in our café deli. Pop by and see us – we will be open all over Easter except Easter Monday when we will be busy hunting for eggs and whipping each other with twigs and reading crime fiction. That’s how we roll.

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    Freia Kvikklunsj – Chocolate Covered Wafer 47g
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Little lessons: Friends of Norway

March 8, 2019 | Leave a comment

Little lessons: Friends of Norway

There is this thing in Norway called Norgesvenner – literally Norway Friends.

What this means is basically, someone famous who isn’t actually Norwegian, but who really, really loves Norway. Okay, they don’t have to proclaim their love of brown cheese and wooly national costumes, but they have to – in some way – declare a bit of extra love, only reserved for Norway.

In order to become a Friend of Norway and end up on the list of Norgesvenner you must first visit the country several times. Like, on a music tour or too many holidays in order for them to just be normal holidays. The fact that Bruce Springsteen has now done 76 word tours means he’s been quite a few times, so he’s in the Hall of Friends. It is also likely that you will have given some sort of indication that you’d even like to live in Norway one day once you’ve finished being a World wide superstar. A slight indication of this is fine, such as “I could really live here one day” sort of thing. We will interpret this as a desire to up sticks and move to a nice house in Bergen, if only things would work out that way.

This unofficial, but very prestigious title, is often bestowed upon to foreign politicians, artists, writers, singers, actors and other famous people who visit often or who may have a personal connection to the country. Once the title has been given to you, it is very hard to shake it – and Norway will forever be the place to welcome you as the star you are, even when Hollywood has long forgotten about you.

Examples of lifelong Norgesvenner include – but are not limited to – Lynda Evans from Dynasty, Leroy from Fame, Roald Dahl (he was Norwegian, you know), Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Tyler and the pop group A1. The Queen of Denmark is now also a Norgesvenn, as is 50Cent and Steven van Zandt (after he filmed Lillehammer). Recently, also Prodigy became Norgesvenner.

There is not actual rule book about how one can become a Friend of Norway, but it does start with a deep love for Norway as a country. All people from abroad who love Norway are sort of Norgesvenner, too, but this in their own sort of way.

Ps is it just us but does that guy second from the left on the Smokie picture look like a young Justin Trudeau? No, we can’t un-see it either.

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    Tine Norvegia – Mild Cheese 500g
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    Tine Gudbrandsdalen Brunost – Brown Cheese 250g
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    Freia Kvikklunsj – Chocolate Covered Wafer 47g
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    Mills Kaviar – Smoked Cod Roe Paste 185g
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