Norwegian buffet ~ sylte

17th December 

I love baking and making cookies, I enjoy
Sytle, Norwegian cold cut of meat
cake making and playing with different desserts BUT we cannot live on sweet alone.  I felt it time to share some traditional savoury Norwegian dishes with you and today the first one up would be perfect for a Boxing Day buffet, that is when we are going to be eating our pressed herb pork roll, or as they say in one word in Norwegian: sylte 

A note on timing:
The pork needs to cook for two hours before pressing for 24 hours and then leaving in brine to soak until needed.

You will need:

pork belly without bone
whole cloves  
a press if you have one, if not a couple of loaf tins and heavy weights


1  If the piece of meat has too much fat on the outer edge, trim it down a bit.

2  Boil in water with 2 tbsp. salt in per 1 litre used.  Fast boil for five minutes, thereafter simmer for two hours.

Meat ready to boil and simmer for 2 hours

  3  Remove meat from the water and leave to cool for about 20 minutes.

Meat ready for a rub of spices

4  Rub in a generous amount of salt, pepper and ginger into the meat, these flavours are important so do not be stingy.

Salt, pepper and ginger rubbed in

5  This next bit may require two sets of hands.  Roll the meat up as tight as you possibly can into a roll shape and tie string around it.  you will need to do this a few times to hold the roll in shape.


Roll the meat as tightly as you can

Add string to secure the meat

6  Cover the rolled meat in a clean old tea towel as tightly as possible.

Cover tightly in a clean old tea towel

7  Place the meat in the press if you have one for 24 hours.  If not place the meat in a loaf tine, with a second tin pressed down on top of it and weighted down with as much weight as possible.  Remember we are trying to 'press' the meat.


Leave to press for 24 hours

8  After 24 hours remove the meat from the tea towel and it should now look very squashed.  This is good.  Place whole cloves into the skin of it to increase flavour.  

Once pressed the meat should look flattened

Push in whole cloves into the skin for added flavour

At this point the meat could be sliced and used as cold cut, or alternatively to keep it for a while in a container full of brine  (for each litre of water used add 75 g salt plus 2 bay leaves regardless of the amount of water, boil the water until the salt has dissolved, allow to cool before adding in the meat.) When ready to use, remove the meat from the brine, pat dry as use as normal.  The meat can stay in the brine for up to 14 days.  you do need to keep checking the water daily, should it turn white, then change the brine for fresh brine water.

METHOD 2  -  I will do this next time.

Instead of boiling the meat whole, the less messy option would be to rub in the spices and salt immediately and roll up the meat with string BEFORE boiling and simmering for 2 hours. 

Sytle sitting in brine ready to be eaten at the Boxing Day buffet

♥  What do you eat on Boxing Day?  

Honey coated chocolate cookies ~ bake number 6

16th December 

If you have a variety of heart cutters that is perfect,
if not, use what you have
I have had such fun trying out new
cookies this year to add to the blog for you.  Some will feature now each year in our 7 to bake for Christmas but all of them will be made again, we have really enjoyed it.  however, these have been the most fun to make, seeing the hearts swell up, ahhh, ad then covering them in chocolate and decorating with pictures evocative of my childhood has brought much pleasure.  So let's crack on...

A word about timing with these biscuits:
1)  the dough will need chilling for 24 hours
2)  the baked cookies will need storing for 1 week before covering in chocolate

They are worth the effort

Although not typically Norwegian these are found all over Denmark and are worthy, I feel of being included in the 7 cookies for Christmas.  These cookies come from the book Scandinavian Christmas by the very talented Trine Hahneman, I have a couple of her books and they are great.  Good Christmas present idea for anyone keen on Scandinavian cooking.

Honey hearts
Different sized heart shaped honey cookies ready for baking

You will need:

500g honey
3 egg yolks
200ml buttermilk, [I just added table spoon of vinegar to milk and left it for 10 minutes as I could not find butter milk]
500g plain flour
100g of rye flour (or if you have to wholemeal)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp allspice

For the chocolate covering:  500g of dark chocolate, minimum of 70 % cocoa

1  Melt the honey and allow it to cool.
2  Ad the egg yolks, buttermilk and mix well.
3  In a different bowl sift both flours, baking powder,  bicarbonate of soda and spices.  Once well mixed add to the honey mixture.
4  Knead dough until smooth on a lightly floured surface.  Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours.  you can leave it for a few days if you desire.
5  Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius on the day of baking.  Roll out dough on floured surface until about 1 cm thick.  Using different sized heart shaped cutters if you have them, cut out a selection of each.  Or failing that use any cutters you have. Placing on a lined baking tray.
6  Bake for about 12 minutes.  the cookies should have swelled in size, like puffed up hearts, I loved this, made me squeal with happiness. 

Puffed up cookie hearts after baking

7  Cool on a wire rack and when cooled, place  in an air tight container for ONE WEEK!!!!  This is to allow the cookies to soften a little before being smothered in chocolate.  It is worth the wait.
Cover the hearts after a week with melted chocolate and place on either an edible decoration made out of rice paper or the old fashioned 'glansbilder' found all over Scandinavia or failing that, these hearts look fabulous left plain with chocolate. It makes them simple and elegant, I think.

Once covered in chocolate, kept air tight, these cookies can last for up to 2 weeks.

Adding melted chocolate makes the cookies look elegant

Glansbilder added for decorative purposes to the honey cookies

What are glasbilder I hear you ask or did I perhaps imagine that? As a child in Norway I spent may a happy day cutting out my glansbiler from the sheets that they came on.  I would loving keep them between pages of a scrap book and on meeting friends would sit for hours looking at theirs and begin the process of swapping.  It was a social time, it was a happy time and my memories of those days are perhaps why I love these cookies so much.

It is thought that glansbilder originated in Germany around the beginning of the 1940s, but soon many European countries were selling them.  today the hobby has died down amongst the younger generation but older people seem to be picking up the mantle.  In America, I believe they are called die cuts, in the UK scraps, maybe now you know what I am talking about.  Pictures printed and used for anything from decoupage to who knows what.  I even have an old hard case suitcase from the early 1950's that I covered with my glansbilder when I felt the time had come for me to stop swapping.  Maybe one of these days I'll pull it out of the loft and show you...

The remainder of the cookies waiting to be covered

Try the cookies, don't be put off about the time frame and
do not worry if you don't have any glasbilder, they look beautiful without them too.

♥  We have almost baked all 7 Christmas cookies   ♥

Mince pie bakeoff

15th December
Five very different mince pies

Those of you that have followed the blog
for a while will know that I a) love Christmas b) cannot make mince pies and c) enjoy keeping both old traditions alive and creating new traditions.  This year we have begun a new tradition and already everyone in our household is excited about it.

We have begun the yearly mince pie bake off!!!!

This week end we were 5, mamma is here from Norway and so on Sunday morning, we all looked for our recipes and made our lists, bought our ingredients and fought for space in the kitchen.  It was such fun.

The rules were, there were no rules, except we were not allowed to help each other or be helped. But the rules would allow for someone to actually have bought shop mince pies, but no one was prepared this year to do that, I wonder what future years will bring...

First off the mark and into the kitchen was our youngest, he went off piste and added cinnamon and orange zest to his pastry, he was competitive and said how much he loved the challenge.  This was the first time he had ever made pastry, he is 13.

Mince pies with cinnamon and orange zest pastry

Next up was mamma, whose recipe stated not to use cookie cutters and to roll her pastry out and slice them, then shape them into the tins, I thought this looked messy and was not convinced, however, they actually came out really rather well and were the most 'Mr Kipling' like of all five mince pie varieties!  This was mamma's first time at making mince pies too.

Slicing the dough for mince pies

Mamma's first ever mince pies

Mr H and our eldest baked at the same time and were in each others way, more on purpose than out of necessity I feel.  Both used good food recipes found on line, but very different versions.  Our daughter used shop bought mince meat (as did we all, only thinking to start the bake off some few hours before we began, who knows if someone makes their own another year!?!?)  but she added chopped apple, segmented Satsuma and lemon zest to give it her personal spin.  However, as there were no rules to this bake off and the fact that she is studying for mock exams, she bought her pastry!!!  Ummm.... and  Mr H insisted on having luxury bought mince meat, no one else was that flash.

Making shop bought mince meat more personal by adding lemon zest,
Satsuma's and chopped apple

Stiff competition for the mince pie bake off

The man himself who had the idea for the mince pie bake off

I knew from bitter experience that I am no good at making mince pies and therefore felt that I would come last in the bake off, so I could afford to be adventurous and I too went off piste and followed Jo Wheatley eccles based mince pies, they do not look like mince pies at all!  I had a bit of trouble half way through the recipe, so had to wing it a bit, but they looked ok.

My unusual take on mince pies!

The house smelt amazing all afternoon and we were all transported on Christmas mode, even those who do not usually feel the spirit until Christmas Eve.  It was such a great family thing to do together.  Stiff competition never hurt a family, did it?!?!!?

All five mince pie varieties

We took the testing and tasting seriously, everyone having to produce 6 mince pies to the testing table and they were marked for taste and appearance.  The person who made the mince pies could not judge their own.  It was incredible the variety of taste and texture and we all agreed we did not like the mincemeat that contained the brandy but that we all loved the version which had added fruit to it.  Think next year several of us may now make our own mince meat for the bake off!  The shop bought pastry was ok actually and one persons pastry was a bit too thick and hard.  The pastry with cinnamon, was a tad too subtle and could have had more but we all liked the take of changing the pastry.  Mine were liked except the mince meat that I used was also changed by adding a sweet paste to it as per the recipe and we really found that far too sweet.    There was no overall winner as two of the mince pies scored the same score, those of our eldest daughter and mine.  But it has fired us all up for fighting for the winning bake off title next year...  loving this new tradition.

The youngest contestant, perhaps some
presentation skills are needed, but the pastry was great

Thought these looked good, but the pastry was a bit hard

Shop bought pastry, but the best mince meat

Luxury mincemeat, but we didn't rate that, good pastry

Voted best pastry but did not like the sweet mince meat

♥  Happy Monday everyone! 

Attic 24 inspired Scandinavian cosy CAL

14th December

Hurrah! All 90 colour stripes are complete. I am elated. Now for the border. Lucy over at Attic 24 has given us sneak peaks this week on various social media sites to her completed blanket, border and all and I must say it looks divine. Looking forward to cracking on with that.

I am really pleased with how my version has turned out and it suits the room I intended it for perfectly. I am chuffed.

So without further ado. Here are the photos and the last 15 colour stripes:

Spare bedroom beginning it's makeover The blanket fits in well

The Scandinavian influenced cosy CAL in situ

The last 15 colours are:

Rows 149 & 150  White
Rows 151 & 152  Cream
Rows 153 & 154  Silver
Rows 155 & 156  Parchment
Rows 157 & 158  Stone
Rows 159 & 160  Cream
Rows 161 & 162  Stone
Rows 163 & 164  Silver
Rows 165 & 166  White
Rows 167 & 168  Parchment
Rows 169 & 170  Cream
Rows 171 & 172  Silver
Rows 173 & 174  Stone
Rows 175 & 176  Cream
Rows 177 & 178  White
Rows 179 & 180  Stone

Do not forget that today is also the third Sunday in Advent. Christmas is ever drawing nearer, I am excited but a little on edge as I still have presents to buy, cookies to make and to complete my two December challenges. That if posting on the blog every day leading up to Christmas and taking a home crafted photo a day!  Wish me luck, I'm half way there...

Week 2 in December looked a lot like this!

Third Sunday in Advent

♥  Happy Sunday everyone

Santa Lucia Cookie baking 5

13th December 

In Scandinavia today candles will be lit and placed on the head of a young girl, there will be processions and singing and sharing of cookies and cake. Usually such cookies or cake will have a vital ingredient that of saffron, so today's bake must also have this ingredient.  Follow the link to last years post to see the history of  Santa Lucia and to hear a clip of the traditional songs sung today all over Scandinavia.  Last year's post

Enjoy these cookies, they are made in a slightly different and unusual way...

Saffron cookies ~ makes about 50

You will need:

100g softened butter
175g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of saffron
3 medium sized eggs
350g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100g dark chocolate chips
Sprinkling of granulated sugar

1. Mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla and saffron.  Cream until light and fluffy.
2.  Beat in eggs one at a time and mix in some flour at the same time, this avoids e mixture separating and curdling.  Once all eggs are added mix in the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
3.  Stir in the chocolate Chios.
4.  Divide dough into three equal parts and roll each one out into a log shape, with a diameter of approximately 5cm. Wrap each log separately in cling film and leave to chill for 30 mins in the fridge.    

Divide the mixture into three, roll out and chill in the fridge

5.  Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
6.  Place logs on lined baking tray and scatter with the granulated sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.
7.  Take the tray out of the oven, the rolls should have swelled quite a bit.

After initial baking the dough will swell

8.  Turn oven temperature down to 100 degrees.
9.  Allow logs to cooling the tray for about 10-15 minutes. Then place on a chopped board and slice each one so the biscuits are about 2cm wide.

Once cooled, the rolls can be sliced

10. Place biscuits back on a lined tray and bake for a further 50 minutes, turning them over half way so they bake evenly on each side.

Saffron cookies ready for second baking

11. To check if they are ready. Try one by breaking it in half once it has cooled. It should be crispy and crunchy not unlike Italian biscotti.
12. Cool on wire racks and store in an air tight container   They should last for a couple of weeks.

These cookies are especially fantastic taken with a hot drink, be it tea, coffee, hot chocolate or mulled wine.  They really are delectable and would make a great gift too!
 ❤️ Have a wonderful weekend ❤️

Christmas tree crochet

12 December

For years we have had wonderful cork knitted nisse sitting on our window sills at Christmas, but I always felt something was missing.  I didn't really know what and I wasn't even sure if something was missing.  It wasn't until this year when setting the cork nisse out, I realised they needed to be in their own environment.  I tell you December nights do strange things to me, what on earth do I mean by corks needing their own environment?  Well let me show you...

Fun champagne cork nisse...

Knitted nisse with champagne cork bodies

Nisse now in their own environment...

Knitted nisse & crocheted trees

                                                                                               ... do you not agree this is more fun?

I wanted to keep the cork theme and had a practice using the champagne corks as a base, but I came across two problems 1) I had realised that I had not been drinking enough champagne this year, something I am now determined to change in 2015 and so therefore did not have many corks 2) the bulbous part to the champagne cork made for a bumpy tree.  Back to hitting the wine bottle and there has been no problem doing that this year, so I had an abundance of such corks to use as the base.

Very quickly the conical top is formed of the tree
Crochet cork Christmas tree

Row 1:  Magic circle then ch 1and 4 sc into the ring. 
Row 2:  2 sc into next stitch, 1 sc in next stitch, repeat - 6 stitches
Row3:   sc all the way round - 6 stitches
Row 4:  2 sc into next stitch 1 sc in next 2 stitches, repeat - 8 stitches
Row 5:  sc all the way round - 8 stitches
Row 6:  2 sc into next stitch 1 sc in next 3 stitches, repeat - 10 stitches
Row 7:  sc all the way round - 10 stitches
Row 8:  2 sc into next stitch 1 sc in next 4 stitches, repeat - 12 stitches
Row 9:  sc all the way round- 12 stitches

  Continue this way so that all even rows you begin with 2 sc in the first stitch and then you sc 1 more stitch than the previous even round.
  All odd rows should be sc all the way round and should be the same number of stitches as the previous row.

Keep checking the size of your tree compared to your wine cork and crochet as many rows as necessary.  This will vary depending on the yarn you use and the size of hook.  I used a 4mm and dk yarn.  I crocheted 23 rows with a total of 26 stitches.

Decoration & adornment:
Go to town and bling up the tree for Christmas or alternatively leave it plain and simple and natural looking. 

When I  used chunky yarn and a much larger hook the tree was obviously too large for a  cork to stabilise it, so I used an up turned shot glass, it works well.  What is great about not stuffing the trees is that they will fold flat for minimal storage space when not in use,  an issue in my home!

You do not need to cover the cork, in fact I stopped just short of covering the cork as I wanted some of it exposed to look like a tree trunk.  The larger tree covers the glass for obvious reasons.

Cork left to be visual to resemble a tree trunk

Plain and simple is sometimes best

I was able to make the smaller tree in about 15 minutes without any adornment or decoration.  They really are quick  and quirky to make.  They could soon be multiplying in our house...
watch this space...

Norwegian Christmas Crochet

11th December 

Crocheted nisse
Back at the end of October I began thinking about the blog and the posts that I wanted to put 'out there' during December. I quickly realised that lots of my traditional customs and that which we do in our home was eagerly and enthusiastically  thrown out into the web ether last December. Not wanting to regurgitate the same old, it dawned on me that I may actually have to give the Christmas month some serious thought during early Autumn.
My go to craft of the last couple of years has been crochet and it was here I began tinkering with Christmas patterns. I am not a designer nor am I a pattern writer but I wanted to make something that was all mine.  It's hard. Very hard. And I cannot say with hand on heart that I have truly managed it. I goggled, I searched, I flicked through magazines and books and I pondered. In the end I returned to our family favourite knitted nisse (see post here )  as my inspiration for a Selma designed crochet pattern:  I crocheted hanging nisse for our home.

Perfect, nisse in the holly bush

These nisse get everywhere, outside to greet visitors

Crocheted Nisse

Basic nisse without finishing touches
For those that do not know, nisse are quite naughty and so I wanted them to not look 'perfect' but to have a little cheekiness to them, I hope that has been achieved.

To make the basic crocheted nisse:

With red yarn, we are beginning at the bottom of the nisse

Row 1:   Magic circle and ch 2, then 6dc into the ring and ss to join

Row 2:  ch 2 and  dc into same stitch.  2dc in each stitch, ss to join - 12 stitches total

Row 3:  ch 2 and dc into same stitch.  1 dc in each stitch and ss to join 

Row 4 & 5: same as row 3

Row 6:  ch 2 and then 1 dc into each of the next 4 stitches.
On last stitch switch to flesh colour yarn and introducing it on the last pull through this final dc stitch. 
Continue with flesh colour and 1 dc into the next 5 stitches. 
On the last dc change colour back to red on the final pull through.  1 dc in red for the next 4 stitches ss to join

Below are just sample crochet swatches not the nisse, to show how to change colour

Begin dc as normal, pulling through loop
for the first time

On the second pull through of the dc stitch,
switch to new colour

Pull through the new colour  ready to
begin using it on the next stitch

Each nisse has its own character and look,
I love that, but they basically all look like this!

Row 7:  Change colour to white ch 2. 1 dc in each stitch, trap in the loose threads whilst crocheting

STUFF the nisse at this stage before we begin crocheting.  I have stuffed some so they are more bulbous in shape and others are much slimmer, just to add to the variety of appearance.

Row 8:  Change back to red.  ch 2, then I dc in next 2 stitches .  dc3tog  1 dc in the next 3 stitches   dc3tog   1dc in the next 2 stitches  ss to join

Row 9:  ch 2  dc3tog   1dc in next 2 stitches  dc3tog  1 dc in 2 stitches  ss to join

Row 10:  ch 2  dc in each stitch ss to join - should be 6 dc

Row 11:  ch 2 3dctog   1 dc in next 2 stitches ss to join

To create the hanging loop just chain double the length of the hang that you desire and sew in the end at the top of the nisse.  Again on mine I have varied the length of each of them to add interest.

A chained hanging loop

Finishing touches.

Eyes:  these can be embroidered on, or in my case I sewed on two beads.

The eyes have it?!?

Beard:  Using white yarn and a needle with double thread, all around the flesh face parts sew lots of white loops to form a beard, see photo

To keep the beard loops the same size, I loop them around my finger

Hat pom pom: Here I used a variety of different ideas, I used the same lop method as  for the beard, some were left with no pom pom and other just lots of white strands.  I am still to actually make one with a real pom pom, but I will, I promise!

To pom pom or not to pom pom, that is the question
Once I was in the flow of making these, I changed each one slightly and depending on my mood, I may have added a second flesh colour face row, made the hat section longer, added in extra stitches around the mid riff etc. just to create variety and give the little chaps individuality.  A couple were not even given beards, puberty had obviously not kicked in on them yet. 
Play and have some fun!  I did.

Nisse and holly work well together

A pubescent nisse!

Crocheted nisse (Santas) and Christmas trees, the tree post will be tomorrow

♥  Hope the week is treating you well