Darkest Day

darkestday

The darkest day of the year is known as winter solstice. It is when the northpole is tilting the furthest away from the sun. It usually occurs between the 21st-23rd of December – this year it happened on the 21st at 1:04PM. The above picture was taken as close to this time as humanly possible! I was all ready for a beautiful blue light picture moment. What I got was a blizzard! As you can see (or maybe can’t see) I was standing on the jetty waiting for the shot when a blizzard came in at me from the sea. The wind was blowing so hard you can’t see the snowflakes – it was snowing sideways.

The blizzard blew away after an hour (Murphy’s law). We were in the city by then and the fresh snow made everything glisten again. The city Christmas tree was still shining brightly in the middle of the market square, and the whaler statue was still catching his sea creature. The cathedral on the mainland was still like an iceberg and the mountains all around were still hugging us through to the other side of winter.

darkestday2
darkestday3

Forgeiners always hear about the first winter – the ‘darkness’ winter. The days become darker, the sun fades away under the horizon, and the snow makes its first appearence before Christmas. But Norway also has a second winter – the light winter. This is when the days become lighter, the sun comes back to us, and where the snow fall competes with itself every year. The northern hemisphere would normally call this time Spring, but in Norway Spring is covered by the icing sugar of nature and is the time to enjoy outdoor snow activities.

Moonlit Jetty

moonlitjetty

At full-moon the blue light almost looks electric.  Our favourite jetty really knows how to surprise us for Christmas – especially with this ‘elfs-eye-view’.  The best part is that is seems the jetty light has been left broken just so we can come back time and time again to capture moments of majestic blue.

Norwegian Elf: Nisse

Fjøsnisse

The Barn Elf (Fjøsnissen) is a creature from Scandinavian folklore. He was often described as a short man, “no bigger than a horse’s head”, wearing grey clothes, knickerbockers and a red hat similar to what Norwegian farmers would wear.

As the name suggests, the Fjøsnisse lived in the barn. Of course, he was so shy that he was hardly ever seen, but he was a good little helper on the farm as long as the farmers treated him well. Especially at Christmas he would expect to get a large bowl of porridge and homebrewed beer, in return for looking after the livestock. Often the farmers would also leave the leftovers from Christmas dinner on the table so the Nisse could help himself. But if farmers failed to keep him fed and happy, the Nisse would do mischief or harm to both animals and people.

One story tells that the Nisse, upon finding that the farmer had failed to put a speck of butter in his porridge, got angry and killed the farm’s best milking cow. Later he found out that the farmer had simply put the butter in the bottom of the bowl and the porridge on top. Regretting his mischief, the Nisse then went and stole the milking cow from the neighbour’s farm to replace the one he killed!

Fjøsnissen was thought to have supernatural powers. His red hat was grey on the inside, and if he wore it inside out he would become so grey that he turned invisible. The Nisse was also the one responsible when anything strange or unexplainable happened on the farm. In folklore and literature he has been described as the guardian saint of the farm. Even today it is a custom to leave a bowl of porridge and a jug of beer in the barn for the Fjøsnisse.

Today, Norway also has the tradition of the Julenisse, which is a combined tradition of the fjøsnisse and the American Santa Claus. The Julenisse looks a lot like the Barn Elf with grey woollen clothes, knickerbockers and the signature red hat. He visits the home on Christmas Eve with presents and the greeting “are there any good children here?”. Often he demands the children sing to him before they get their presents, and so everyone sings “På Låven Sitter Nissen” (In the Barn Sits the Elf).

Today, a new Nisse-tradition has arisen with the “Blue Nisse”, who wear blue woolen hats insted of the traditional red. These mountain-dwelling elves were made popular through the children’s TV-series “Jul i Blåfjell” (Christmas in Blue Mountain).

The show became a huge success when it first aired in 1999 and created a fad for children, even up in their teens, to wear the pointy blue elf hats featured in the show.

Norwegian Waffle Recipes

waffle-closeup

Waffles are a Norwegian tradition.  Not a week goes by in a Norwegian home without a waffle being eaten.  Unlike the Belgium waffles, Norwegian waffles are large, soft and fluffy and fit pefectly folded in your hand.  Soured milk is a usual ingredient however, it can be replaced by fresh milk.  Cardamum, a common spice used in Norway, is not typically used in basic recipes but can add extra flavour.  The toppings are simple but yummy: slices of Norwegian brown cheese, a spread of sour cream and jam or just a sprinkling of sugar.  Below are some of the more common Norwegian waffle reipes:

Everyday Waffles

500 ml plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
100 ml sugar
500 ml milk
2 eggs
50 ml melted butter
drops of vanilla essence for flavour

Method
Make a smooth batter with the flour, baking powder, sugar and milk. Beat in the eggs and butter (and vanilla). Let the batter set for 30 minutes before cooking in a waffle maker.

Sour Cream Waffles

500 ml sour cream (full cream)
4 eggs
250 ml plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
150 ml water

Method
Make a smooth batter with all the ingredients. Set for 15 minutes before cooking in a waffle maker.

Sour Cream Waffles without eggs

600 ml sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
220 g plain flour
200 ml water

Method
Make a smooth batter with all the ingredients. Set for 10 minutes before cooking in a waffle maker.

Waffles with Oatflakes

Oat flakes contain healthy unsaturated fats and gives a great taste.

300 ml rolled oats
200 ml plain flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cardamum or vanilla sugar
600 ml milk (fresh or soured)
2 eggs
4 tablespoons liquid margarin or oil

Method
Mix dry ingredisnts. Add milk and stir until smooth. Beat eggs and mix in the batter with margarin/oil. Set for 15 minutes before cooking in a waffle maker.

Brown Cheese Waffles

These waffles don’t need brown cheese on top – it’s baked in!

2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
400 ml soured milk
200 ml plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamum
100 ml grated brown cheese
25 g butter for cooking

Method
Blend everything to a smooth batter and cook in a waffle maker.

Potato Waffles

500g boiled potatoes, cooled
250 g plain flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
500 ml milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Method
Mash the potatoes and mix in flour and baking powder. Melt butter and add to the mix. Beat egg and milk, add to batter and mix until smooth. Add salt and sugar. Grease the waffle maker and cook until golden brown.

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