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Norwegian Comedienne 4 March 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Life.
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Anne-Kat Hærland has been famous for being one of the funniest Norwegian comedians since before I left Norway 8 years ago. And the kick-off to her latest show (Big Bang) had me grinning from ear to ear.

She set out to show a man – in this case her comedy partner in the show, Dagfinn Lyngbø – how painful childbirth is. The results are lots of swearing on the part of Dagfinn (swearing is far more acceptable in Norway than in other cultures, and so there is lots of it on television) and quite an entertaining show.

Now, they do not by far pertain to be scientific here, so feel free to disregard the ‘evidence’ – it’s just meant to be funny.

They take Dagfinn to a Norwegian hospital early in the morning. The idea is that they will hook him up to this machine that simulates contractions, and have him experience the feeling of childbirth (without actually passing a child through his private parts). On the way to the hospital, they are talking about giving birth, and how Dagfinn’s own mother experienced it. He confesses to having no idea, so Anne-Kat suggests that he should call her.

“Mum, I am on my way to give birth.”

*silence*

After explaining the exercise, he asks his mother what childbirth was like for her.

“It (add expletive) hurts!”

So, the day is off to a good start. But the really funny part is that they brought in a test-case, a young lady who has three children. They hook her up to the machine first, and while she is lying there talking about the contractions (that feels like very light contractions (20 milliampere), now it feels like labour is starting (40 mA) and this feels like labour (60 mA)) she is clearly not 100% comfortable, but she is capable of clear, defined speech.

When poor old Dagfinn is brought in and hooked up to the same machine, he is clearly struggling with 20 mA, and hilarity ensues when it is subsequently turned up to 40 and 60 mA. The poor man is swearing and moaning, and clearly in a whole lot of discomfort. And Anne-Kat is not someone to hold back, so she is cruel enough to laugh and make fun of him the whole way through.

He does have a nice comeback, though, when Anne-Kat says at the end;

“I think you can agree that there is nothing men have to go through that is as painful as childbirth, then?”

“I think it hurts almost as much as a kick in the nuts!”

If you speak Norwegian, have a look at this article, and there is a video there you can look at as well. I have no idea what childbirth is like, but it was a funny skit anyways.

Lussekatter 17 December 2009

Posted by uggclogs in Baking, Christmas.
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Due to my travels lately, I missed a very important date leading up to Scandinavian Christmas last Sunday. I did mention it in my Nostalgic Ramblings, but I did not include the recipe for Lussekatter, or Safron Buns that go with Santa Lucia on 13 December. So here goes.

Lussekatter (Safron Buns)

Ingredients:

150 g butter
500 ml milk (full cream)
8 g of dry yeast
1 g of safron or 1/2 tsp tumeric
150 g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1300 ml plain flour

egg and raisins for decoration.

Method:
– Melt the butter and mix with milk. Make sure the mixture is about 37 C. Tip: it is the right temperature when you can’t feel anything when you dip your little finger in the liquid.
– Add yeast, and stir gently.
– Add sugar, salt and safron (or tumeric). Mix.
– Add flour in large spoonfuls, and stir to combine between spoons. Do not worry about the dough being lumpy, it will become smooth.
– When the dough is fully combined into a smooth mass, cover with a wet tea towel (to prevent drying out the dough) and leave somewhere warm to rise.
– Leave 30 minutes or until the dough is doubled in size.
– Place dough on a benchtop dusted with flour, knead well.
– Make dough into lussekatt shapes.
– Cover and leave to rise for 15 minutes.
– Brush with egg, and press raisins into the swirls.
– Bake at 225 C for 15 minutes or until done.
– Serve with hot chocolate.

Enjoy

Nostalgic Ramblings 7 December 2009

Posted by uggclogs in Baking, Christmas, Happiness, Life.
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Today is Advent, door number 7.

I say this, because when I was young, and growing up in Norway, we would all have advent calendars, and every day from 1 December until 24 December, you would get to open another door and get another lolly or little gift. This year, we were lazy and only bought a chocolate calendar. My mum used to make the calendar herself, which was a much more personal touch. Yet another thing that I wish to do for my children.

But this set me thinking. In Norway (and Scandinavia in general), there are a million and one rituals around Christmas. This would mean that by the time Christmas came around, I used to be thoroughly whipped up in a frenzy. But is also meant that I would have a real Christmas feeling, which is indescribable, you have to feel it to understand it.

It all starts when the weather is getting colder and colder. It often snows for the first time of the year in October (in the south, the north can be much earlier). Everyone hopes that there will be snow on Christmas Eve. There is nothing that contributes more to the Christmas spirit for me than pine trees heavily laden with snow. We used to have a couple of 10 metre tall trees in the garden that every year looked like they were made just for Christmas. Getty Images can show you what I mean:

Then, 4 Sundays before Christmas, you are supposed to light the first candle of advent. The Norwegians have candle holders with spaces for 4 candles, which you light in succession leading up to Christmas. Often, you say a poem or a prayer when lighting it. We never did this at home, as we are not a religious family, but we used to do it at School on the Monday after.

The poem goes along these lines:

4th Sunday before Christmas:
We light one candle tonight for happiness. It shines for itself and those of us who are here.

3rd Sunday before Christmas:
We light two candles tonight, for hope and happiness. It shines for itself and those of us who are here.

2nd Sunday before Christmas:
We light three candles tonight, for longing, hope and happiness. It shines for itself and those of us who are here.

Last Sunday before Christmas:
We light four candles tonight, for longing, hope, happiness and peace. It shines for itself and those of us who are here.

Then, the advent calendar starts on 1 December. There is the one you have at home, and there often is one at school. And then there is the one which is shown on television – a 24 part series for children that runs through until Christmas Eve. My favourite used to be Jul i Skomakergata, which was shown every couple of years.

At my house, we also had Sinterklaas on 5 December.

Then, there is Santa Lucia on 13 December. This is to commemorate Lucia, an Italian saint. Traditionally, you were supposed to have finished all your Christmas preparations by this date, as superstition dictated that bad spirits would lurk in the shadows on this date and punish those who hadn’t. On Lucia (which is the Latin word for light), you were supposed to light every corner of your house with candles to prevent the spirits from finding a place to hide. Now, we eat Lussekatter (Safran buns, come back on 13 December for a recipe) and there are processions of children dressed in white with candles that come around to hand them out. For some reason they also wear strands of tinsel around their waists, the boys wear pointy hats, and Lucia herself has been transformed from an Italian (with black hair and dark features) to a Scandinavian beauty, with long blond hair, blue eyes and a crown with candles on her head.

You are ‘supposed’ to bake 7 different types of biscuits for Christmas, which means lots of different, awesome baked goods, including gingerbread, and many other delicious and completely unhealthy foods and treats.

People decorate their houses, and many families place their advent candles near the window, so others can enjoy it.

In my family, we decorated the tree on ‘Little Christmas Eve”, which is 23 December, however, for the tree to acclimatise, we would buy it during the week leading up to Christmas, and place it in a cooler room first. This caused less of the needles to drop after erecting it, and it would spread the smell of pine throughout the house.The tree was of course placed near a window, so your neighbours could enjoy it with you.

Imagine walking through the streets, it is so cold that your breath freezes in your nose, and you can see it escaping your mouth. Beneath your feet, you hear the snow crunch, as you hurry home in the semi darkness. Each house you pass has candles in the windows, and the squares of light from the windowpane lights the snow outside. That is Christmas to me.

Christmas to me smells like pine trees, baked goods, oranges and cloves.

And there is nothing more magical than if you remembered to put the low-heat outdoor candles on a tree in the garden before a layer of snow would cover them. When you light the candles under the snow… Oh wow, it is Christmas.

It is Advent! 1 December 2009

Posted by uggclogs in Baking, Christmas, Happiness.
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I love Christmas. And I love baking. I love filling my house with the smells of pine tree, spices, oranges and mouthwatering recepies. I like to decorate the house with candles and ribbons and shiny things.

I will not be at home this year, so a lot of the baking that I normally like to do will not fit into my schedule. So instead I will blog about it! At least I will still feel like it is Christmas, even when there will be no snow, no dark nights with frost descending over valleys of houses with candles in the windows. No last minute Christmas shopping in the freezing cold streets of Oslo.

But by God, there will be Pepperkaker.

And to celebrate the start of December, here is my essential recepy for the month: Really easy Pepperkaker (translated from Norwegian for the inaugural cooking class tonight)

Enjoy!

Pepperkaker

Ingredients:
150 g butter
100 ml syrup or molasses
200 ml sugar
100 ml cream
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
450 g plain flour
Icing sugar and lemon juice for decorating.

Method:

1. Place the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan. Heat until all the sugar is disolved. Cool.

2. When cooled down a little, add the cream. Combine.

3. Add the flour, spices and baking powder, and stir until a smooth mixture.

4. Cover the mixture and place in the fridge overnight. This is important to let the spices infuse the dough, and for the butter to harden.

5. Sprinkle some flour on the benchtop and a rolling pin. Roll out some of the dough to about 2-3 mm thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Try to be economical, as you don’t want to have to roll out the dough too often, due to the extra flour being added every time you do. Note: if you wish to hang the cookies in the Christmas tree, cut out a hole before baking that you can thread a ribbon through.

6. Place the cookies on baking paper on a baking tray. Bake at 175 degrees celcius for 10 minutes.

7. Cool.

8. Decorate with icing sugar.