The garden we left behind …

Slowly but surely we are beginning to see the early signs of spring in spite of -7ºC most of today – apparently it is going to stay quite cold for most of this week. There are bare patches around the trees on the slopes facing south and here and there the road down to the mail box shows gravel. Our thoughts are turning towards planning the garden on the farm and to the amount of work which we are facing in order to get it anything like the one we left behind. The area around the farm is huge compared to the little one we had before and the soil here needs a lot of attention. It is mostly very dense clay, with very little drainage, so it’s seems we must buy some compost soil and make raised beds.

The garden we left behind was lovely after years of good care, and we are really hoping that we will be able to create a similar atmosphere here. Can you see how intimate it was?

SONY DSCAnd how the plants seemed to thrive and be so happy?

SONY DSCWe really enjoyed this little garden with its many nooks and crannies.

SONY DSC

In early spring the forget-me-nots blossomed wherever its seeds had landed the previous year.

SONY DSC Later in the year we could pick chives and black currants.

SONY DSC

I can’t remember what these are called, but I did take some with me when we moved.

SONY DSCApart from these we didn’t take any plants with us as we were scared to contaminate this area with the dreadful brown slugs which are everywhere in Oslo. We managed to keep them at bay in our garden, but one or two did manage to get in now and then and their eggs are impossible to find.

Here on the farm we are hoping to have a kitchen garden and some fruit trees, but it will definitely be some time before we can harvest! I really enjoy making jams and jellies, especially when I know there hasn’t been any pesticides around.

And … there is nothing better than to go out into the garden and pick lots of fresh vegetables for a delicious lunch or dinner and to know the we have grown them ourselves!

To post or not to post …

My life has been like a roller coaster the last two weeks. Too much to think about, too many decisions to make, too many things and people needing attention. Time and inclination to blog has therefore been rather scarce. However, I can’t leave you hanging too long, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite pictures from some time back. The pictures were all taken an autumn day, when the first cold nights had started to cover the small pools of highland water with thin crusts of ice. I only had a point and shoot at that time, but I still think the pictures came out all right. What do you think?

The ice adds a lovely sheen to the water and creates beautiful cracked mirror images of the trees and bushes.

The silvery branches hang low over the water and create lovely patterns.

The iron ore in the rocks add a warm glow.

As does the heather and the moss.

The low autumn sun paints with light and shadow and the ice glistens with highlights.

The untouched cellar

For decades the cellar at the farm has remained untouched. Dust and decay has accumulated and most who enter would probably only see all the dirt and dust and stuff which needs to be cleared out.

I, on the other hand, found it fascinating from an artistic point of view and spent an hour down there yesterday looking for and trying to capture the essence of the place. I did not move a thing. Everything is exactly as I found it. I also only used the available light, which there was very little of, and therefore had to use a tripod. A bounce card would probably have cast a little more light on some of the darker elements, but as I didn’t have one on hand, I had to do without.

The brown bottles you see here are the milk bottles which were used in Norway several decades ago. I can still remember the foil caps and the feeling of pressing down on the centre of them to get the caps to loosen.

The walls of the cellar are about a meter thick and built of big chunks of rock. It’s not hard to imagine the hard physical labour which has gone into building this house.

In the cellar there is a cupboard. Can you see that the woodworms have been at work? Behind the door more treasure is uncovered; old jam jars – still with some contents, and  empty ones waiting to be cleaned and perhaps used again. Can you see the cobwebs?

Last fall I bought some blackberry plants, which are resting here waiting to be planted out in spring.

An old pump is making a splash of color –

On top of another cupboard is yet another still life –

On my way out the door I stopped to reflect on all the hard work that had gone into making this cellar, but not only that; this place has stored all the crops that have been grown on this farm; potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, and other vegetables as well as all kinds of berries, both those grown on the farm and picked in the nearby forest. Hours, and hours, and hours of hard work. The people who lived here were very self sufficient – I hope we can do this place justice! Thank you fate for giving us this opportunity to grow and learn and respect those who came before us.

And if after this, you think we are mad to take on a project like this – you may be right, but the house is very solid and it just needs a little care and attention and then I’m sure both we and the farm will be happy.

Our Christmas and a recipe for “krumkaker”

 

Carolines art work!.jpg
Unfortunately it has been ages since I’ve been able to post. As for most of us, pre
-Christmas life has been very busy, but now we are settled in at our mountain cottage – ready to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Breads and cakes have been baked, shopping has been done, presents are P1020300.jpgwrapped, the tree is installed in the sitting room with lights on – waiting to be decorated this evening, whilst enjoying a mug of Christmas “gløgg”. The cured ham is slow cooking at 85ºC and the smells are beginning to waft through the cottage.

Christmas at this cottage is lovely. I really want to show you what it is like, so here are some pictures from last year

 

Christmas Eve morning we always serve a Christmas wreath with raisins and nuts. I set the dough the night before, roll it out in the morning and serve it freshly baked with hot chocolate.

SONY DSC

The birds sit outside the window, feeding and watching us.
SONY DSC

A month or so before Christmas I bake my version of  English Christmas cake, with all kinds nuts and dried fruits. The cakes are marinated with brandy and make lovely presents.

 

Red tulips and small branches from the fir trees outside add to the Christmas spirit.

 

SONY DSC

 

Hopefully the snow that came down last weekend will remain. At the moment the weather has turned milder, so it really is touch and go.

 

Traditionally in our house we always serve “krumkaker” with cloudberries and whipped cream for dessert. These are very thin cakes rolled into cones made from a thin batter which is baked in a special appliance. You also need a cone shaped wooden form to roll the cake around. I doubt many of my foreign readers will indulge in one of these, but it may interest you any how to see what the appliance looks like. The challenge is to get the cakes thin enough, but with my very own adapted recipe I usually am successful. The cakes should be golden brown and slightly lacy at the edges.

I have included my recipe below and with these pictures and the recipe
I wish you all a lovely and peaceful Christmas and everything you hope for in 2012!

Krumkaker

SONY DSC

 

  • 125 g melted butter
  • 125 g sugar
  • 125 g strong flour
  • 125 g Maisena flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 ml cold water
  • 50 ml brandy (Or any other alcohol you may have at hand. This year I had forgotten the brandy at home, so I used Pims instead. It didn’t seem to make a difference.)

Whip sugar and eggs until the mixture is foamy and light. Add the flours and blend well. Add in water and brandy. Let the mixture stand for at least 1 hour. Pour one table spoon or so into the hot krumkake appliance for about a minute, depending on the heat setting. The cakes should be light brown. Quickly roll them up into a cone with the cone shaper. Place on a rack to cool.

These are lovely served with cloudberries, other berries or ice cream. Merry Christmas!

 

A very last reminder of summer

A quick peek in the garden last week made me run into the house to get my camera. The weather here has been quite cold the past week. We had woken up to frost several mornings in a row. And yet, and yet, a few small reminders of summer were still hanging on. Today, as I post this, they are gone.

The green grocer still supplies raspberries, blue berries and both white, red and black currants. But they certainly aren’t grown locally at this time of the year. Seeing the sweet peas and the berries in the store made me long for a summer favorite recipe, as a last fling before winter seriously hits.

So on Saturday I served this Chocolate Panna Cotta with a topping of fresh raspberries.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 gelatin leaves
  • 250 ml cream
  • 40 gr caster sugar
  • 100 gr quality dark chocolate
  • 0.5 tsp powdered espresso coffee (optional)
  • raspberries for topping
  • powdered sugar

METHOD:
Cut gelatin leaves into smaller pieces, place in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Place cream, sugar and chocolate into a saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring continuously until sugar has dissolved and chocolate has melted. You may need to whisk a little.  Remove from heat.  Squeeze the water out of the gelatin and add it to the hot mixture. Whisk until gelatin is dissolved.  Pour into moulds or serving dishes/glasses.  Let cool in the fridge at least 4 hours until set.

Top with raspberries and a snow of powdered sugar.

Serves four if you have a good amount of raspberries. Serves two if serving the panna cotta by itself.

Note:  The recipe can easily be doubled. Use 0,5 gelatin leaves for each 100 ml.