Strawberry dessert

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I think one of the most common and simplest desserts in Norway during the summer is fresh strawberries with cream and sugar. So delicious, so fresh and so extremely easy! This time served with a dash of whipped cream (with a bit of vanilla added to it). Remember to rinse the strawberries properly, they do grow very close to the ground!

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Strawberry jam

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Strawberries are probably the best thing about summer and to preserve them is a way of having that wee bit of summer all year round. I have made tons of jam this year, it’s my very first time trying, but it’s so easy, it’s something I’ll be doing every year!

When making strawberry jam you have two options: you can just mix the strawberries together or you can boil them. The flavours of the two types are very different! I wrote about the easiest version here. Boiling the berries will however preserve them better, have them last longer, and will not be as runny as strawberries that have simply been whisked together. It’s still easy as pie (actually a lot easier than pie…)

Add as many strabwerries as you have to a fitting pot. Strawberries can be fresh, but you can also buy frozen berries. No need to defrost. Add to the pot and place the pot on low heat. Put a lid on and go do whatever you want for half an hour or so. Come back and take the lid off. This will send those wonderful odours travelling around the house giving you memories of summer and sunny days. The strawberries will turn into mush, a lovely pinkish-red mush. For every pound (half a kilo) of berries you have add about 3/4 of a teaspoon worth of agar. After adding the agar you let the mush boil for about two minutes (turn the heat up and make sure to stir often) before you turn the heat way down low again. Add as much sugar as you (or any other type of sweetener) but make sure you taste while adding. You’ll never know just how sweet the berries are without any added sweetener, if you don’t taste! Add the sugar and let it dissolve (it will do so almost immediately).

Leave the jam in the pot and wait until it reaches room-temperature before placing in the fridge. You can also can the jam or freeze it. And what an easy way to have home made fresh jam any time of the year! Enjoy!

Lago di Garda

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Autumn is here and the rain has set in. The little heat we had over the summer is disappearing fast and the temperature is just above two digits most of the days (actually ranging between 12 and 17 – but it’s getting cold). I like these days. I’m quite handicapped and have to spend most of my days indoors. The dark cozy evenings that I can spend snuggled up on the sofa with a huge cup of teas I welcome with open arms. And I can always dream about the paradise we visited this summer.

I’ll leave you with a few photos from the Garda lake area. Don’t let the dreary weather get you down!

Preserving berries and fruit

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I crave fruit and berries these days. I desperately crave them. And for days I wanted grapes. I found some big juicy grapes at the local supermarket and was thrilled. But the joy was short-lived. With a pregnancy comes superpowers, some are cool, some not so cool. The senses of smell and taste improve immensely! And thus as I put the first grape in my mouth, it was spit out again just as soon. The rest of the grapes were torn from Son’s hands. I could taste the pesticides and yuck that are sprayed upon these delights. The taste was foul! It felt like I was poisoning both myself and Son.

I discussed this with a colleague of mine a few days later. We are both inclined towards buying organically grown fruits and vegs, but juicy grapes and other foreigns fruit are too hard to resist. My colleague explained how she thoroughly cleans all fruit she buys. Especially if it has already travelled the globe.

I came across a tip on pinterest, and have had great success following it. The clue is to rinse all berries in a bowl of water, in which you have added just a tablespoon of regular vinegar. The vinegar helps reduce yeast and bacterias that result in mildew and rot. I tried this with the berries I bought over the summer. I also did it to the berries before making them into jam or ‘saft’. And it works! The berries stay fresher for longer. Now I have started doing the same to all the fruit and vegs I buy that I don’t boil or peal.

The vinegar does leave a hint of smell (that could be just me picking that up, Husband and Son cannot smell it), but by quickly running the fruit under cold water gets rid of that too.

Nostalgia at the funfair

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First time I was in Bibione was in 1990. It was our first time in Italy and I was only five. I remember loads from the time there. “Italia ’90” – the FIFA world cup (football, yes) was going on at the time. Italians took football crazy to a whole new level. I’ll never forget.

I remember some of the people we met. Some of them we still keep in touch with and visit every time we’re in Italy. Some were my brothers’ summer flirts, and probably people they never want to be reminded of ever again. The ice-cream, the swimming pool, the food, the heat, the beach, the sea. It was fantastic.

One other thing that clearly stands out is the funfair. I went back some time, probably in the mid nineties, and this year I returned again. And it had not changed a bit! This time I was standing in the shadow of my Son. It was fantastic! He’s younger than I was when I was there for the first time, so he didn’t care as much for the same rides that I simply loved, at age five. I was a little too handicapped to be able to try anything much, but I had my camera with me and stood cheering on the side.  I also walked around and had a look, breathing in the same smells from years gone by and noticed details from a world preserved for decades.

Simple summer salad – peach, tomato and avocado

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20120822-170036.jpgI’m a regular at Saffron and Honey and am often inspired by her mouth-watering recipes. Some time ago she had a post on green tomato and peach salad that fit perfectly with my current cravings for fruits and greens. I promised her it would go on my to-do-list, but it took me longer than expected (things are always postponed these days…). However, when I suddenly decided to make it I didn’t have my phone or computer nearby and just had to whip something together from memory. I couldn’t find green tomatoes that week, so they were red. But I did find some perfect peaches. Husband had left for work, so I only made enough for me and Son (and although he has to taste he didn’t really help me clear the platter). Here’s what I put in:

  • one peach (skin removed)
  • one tomato
  • half an avocado
  • a few basil leaves
  • olive oil and sea salt

The salad was a complete explosion on the taste bud. So fresh, sweet, delicious and full of taste that I’m telling you: You have to try this! Slice everything as thin as you can and drizzle or sprinkle the last two ingredients on top. You won’t be disappointed!

Thank you Saffron and Honey for your inspiration!

Board games and wee children

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20120822-165951.jpgEarlier this week a local newspaper had an article on the benefits of playing board games with children – and there are quite a lot of them! I imagine many parents took their time to sit down with their children to play board games that afternoon. For me it was good to get a reminder of what I can do with Son that doesn’t require too much on my part (growing a baby and a bump is something parts of my body disagrees with to some extent and has made me rather handicapped). We had actually bought a board game for Son earlier that week, thinking that he now would be old enough to get the point of some of the simpler games. This is the ‘ladder game’, or what is probably ‘snakes and ladders’ in the English speaking world. Son loves it and has had no hard time grasping the concept of the simple game – I guess we’ve underestimated him a bit. But I haven’t tried beating him yet, and that includes a wee bit of cheating on my side…

Plukkfisk – simple and easy fish dinner

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Plukkfisk is a dish I have grown up with. It is a dinner that would make gourmet chefs cringe, sigh, or shake their heads in disappointed frustration. It’s quite bland, it’s easy, it doesn’t look like much on the plate, and it’s wonderful, healthy, not at all time-consuming, and the perfect weekday dinner. Kids tend to love it and it’s an easy way to get them to eat fish, and loads of it!

What you need is:

  • One potato pr person
  • One carrot pr person
  • A quarter of a cauliflower pr person
  • One small filet of salted cod pr person
  • Half a spring onion or some chive
  • salt, pepper and a knob of butter

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Rinse and peel the potatoes, dice them and add to a pot, cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. While these boil, rinse and peel the carrots. After 5 minutes of boiling add these to the potatoes. When you can pierce the potatoes with a knife, and the potato doesn’t follow the knife out of the pot, you rinse the cauliflower and add to the water. Leave it to simmer under a lid while you get the fish ready. When the cauliflower is tender (only takes a few minutes) add the fish and turn of the heat. When the fish flakes it is done. Pour out the water and mash everything with a potato masher. Add the onions or chives, finely cut, and the knob of butter (if it looks very dry you can also add a small splash of milk or soft cheese). Season to taste and enjoy!

Strawberry and mango jam

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A bird told me (or I came across it somewhere on the great interwebz) that strawberry and mango compliment one another quite well. It was during my first experiments with jam production this summer that I decided to try them together. It’s so easy, and sooo good, that you really should consider doing the same. 20120816-210629.jpg

Rinse the strawberries and add them to a pot. Slice and dice the mango, see how here, and add to the same pot. Put a lid on and low heat to slowly warm the fruit and berries. Slowly bring the pot to a boil and watch how the strawberries and mango become one. The mango is so sweet that there’s no need to add sugar, but if the berries are a little sour, or the mango not quite ripe, add a bit, but make sure to taste! Add a squeeze of lemon for preservative reasons. After the jam has boiled for a wee bit (if it has boiled, it is done, but mine is usually left to itself for some minutes because I’m busy doing something else) then mash it gently with a potato masher. 20120816-210644.jpgThe jam is just divine. It’s sweet (with no added sugar) it’s not runny (much like plum jam) and it tastes of summer and long summer nights. Enjoy!

Solbær- og ripssaft – Black and red currant drink

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My parents have several bushes of black and red currants and I was so excited to get my hands on them this year. I was very disappointed. From in all 10 bushes (or thereabout) we ended up with only half a litre of black currants and half a litre of red. I was first set on making jam. With those small amounts I figured jam would last longer and could thus be enjoyed far into next year, if used sparsely. But then I came across a blogger who talked about the benefits of black currant ‘saft’ during colds or flus during the winter. I wouldn’t get many drops of ‘saft’, but what I got will be worth it’s weight in gold when winter sets in. I thus decided on ‘saft’. 20120816-210736.jpg

Here is what you need: I had about 650grams of berries and simply halfed the amount, added a comma and litre instead of kilos for the measurement, resulting in (650/2=325) 3,25 dl of water. Divide the weight of the fruit by 3 to find how much sugar you need (650/3= approximately 200grams of sugar).

For one kilo of berries you then need:

  •  half a litre of water (1000gr/2=500) 5 dl
  • about 330 grams of sugar (1000/3=333)

20120816-210748.jpgAdd the berries and water to a pot and let it boil for about ten minutes. Add a muslin cloth to a pasta drainer (or similar) put this over a bowl and sieve the ‘saft’ through the cloth. Tie the corners of the cloth together, and hang it over the bowl and remove the pasta drainer. Hang it for about an hour or until it is so cold that you can squeeze what remains of the juice out of the cloth. 

Put the juice back into a pot and add the sugar. Heat it until the sugar has dissolver and leave to cool under a lid. Add to boxes (for freezing) or sterilised jars or bottles (for storage).

When the winter comes with its viruses and colds you will now have some proper c-vitamin shockers to aid your immune system. Drink it hot or cold and enjoy! 🙂