Lapskaus with Salty Pork

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Lapskaus is a Norwegian vegetable-based soup.  Home-grown starchy Norwegian potatoes are what make this dish ‘creamy’ as they disintegrate, naturally thickening the soup.  No flour is needed.  There are many different types of lapskaus, each region seems to have its own traditional version, but the most common every-day lapskaus is made with winter vegetables and salty pork off the bone.

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The salty pork is warmed in water for about two hours to cook it and draw some of the salt out.  This process softens it and loosens it up off the bone.  After that the skin can be stripped off easily and the meat can be carved off.

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The pork pieces are added to a pot of diced winter vegetables.  Anything goes but swede, carrots, potatoes are the base and the other usual additions are celery, leek, bay leaf and pepper.  We add anything else we have laying around in the fridge – pumpkin, sweet potato, onion, and this time broccoli and peas.  The pot is filled with water to about half way up the ingredients.  (Some Norwegians use the cooking water from the pork.)

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Let the pot simmer until the starchy vegetables have disintegrated and thickens the soup.  It takes about an hour.  Add in more water if you need to.  If you want the soup thicker, remove the lid near the end of cooking.  The soup is traditionally served with flatbread.

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Read more about different types of lapskaus.

Our own Pumpkin and Apple lapskaus!

Mørketidsboller – A Norwegian Sweet Bun to Celebrate the Start of the Dark Season!

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I have been threatening to do this for years!  It’s about time that a boller is invented to embrace the dark season.  Today was the first time this season that the sun couldn’t make it over the horizon at midday.  The dark season has officially started!

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We have boller everywhere: for the return for the sun, solboller; and the solskinnsboller, the sunshine bun; the midnight sun boller, midnattsolboller; boller for skole, skolebrød; the Bergensboller named after the city Bergen; skillingsboller, or ‘penny bun’, better known as the Cinnamon bun in English; everyday boller – plain, raisins or chocolate; gas station boller normally featuring one of the commercial chocolate bars such as smørbukk (caramel covered in chocolate); Lussekatter, borrowed from the Swedes to celebrate Lucia Day; kanelknuter, or cinnamon nuts, which is a cinnamon dough rolled long and twisted into a round weave; fastelavensboller with cream and powdered sugar for Lent; and then the local’s have invented their own family versions, like Victoria’s, Birgit’s, Emma’s and Jørgen’s.

There is already a ‘dark season boller’ called mørketidsboller, however, it is actually not a bolle, it is a custard filled donut with chocolate icing on top that the shops have made to push sales.  Ours is home-made with real boller dough!

So today, to celebrate the first day of the dark season in Alta, we have made our own ‘mørketidsboller’.  We used a regular skillingsboller recipe and then added raisins, Nugatti (the Norwegian version of Nutella), topped with white icing.  It is very sweet so if you’d like something with a little less buzz then I suggest a scattering of 86% chocolate shavings instead.  In Norway there is also a pre-mix you can buy of sugar, butter and cinnamon, or a chocolate combination.

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Mørketidsboller Recipe

(boller recipe from the skillingsboller)

125 g butter
5oo mls milk
50 g dry yeast
125 g caster sugar
800-900 g sifted white flour

Filling:
Nugatti (or Nutella) or shaved 86% chocolate
Raisins

Topping:
1/2 cup icing sugar
Water
Vanilla essence

Method:

Melt the butter and cool a little.  Put in the milk to warm.  Mix together sugar and flour.  Add in yeast and pour in milk-butter liquid.  Mix with an electric bread beater for 5 minutes.  Put plastic over the bowl and let the dough rise for 40 minutes.

On a lightly floured bench, knead the dough a little.  Roll the dough out to 40cmx40cm.  Scrape a very thin layer of Nugatti all the way to the edges.  Or sprinkle the chocolate shavings.  Sprinkle on the raisins.  Roll the dough up into a log (the Nugatti on the inside).  Slice int0 20 even scrolls.  Lay flat on a baking tray with paper.  (You will likely need two trays.)  Let rise for another 45 minutes.
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Pre-heat oven to 220°C.  Put buns in the lower middle for 10-12 minutes.

Allow to cool.  Mix icing sugar in a small bowl with a few drops of water and a few drops of vanilla essence.  Add a little bit of water at a time if needed to get a ‘drizzle’ texture in the sugar.  Drizzle the icing mixture with a spoon around the spiral.

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This is a very sweet bun and the bread should be fluffy.  Usually the skillingsboller bread turns out a little dryer, hence the icing is a common feature, and the outside forms a light crust, but we’ve found with the Nugatti, the crust stays moist as the chocolate spills out on top and underneath adding moisture and a caramelizing effect from the sugar.  They are really yummy, very strong with the Nugatti – not so much with the 86% shaved chocolate.

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Because this bolle is made with a skillingsbolle dough it is designed to dry out.  Each day it will get a little dryer so you’d want to eat them within three days.  Why did you use a dry bolle dough?  Well, after the first day the boller become perfect to reheat with custard and be used as a quick chocolate Bread and Butter pudding!  Made on Friday for a weekend snack and perfect for Sunday dessert.

The Design of Norway – Marius

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The Marius design is a unique Norwegian pattern that has been adopted as the design of Norway.  In Norway’s knitting tradition, Norwegian patterns are highly regarded, and the Marius has become the most famous.

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The beginnings of the pattern are somewhat controversial.  There have been several claims to its ownership.  One claim is that the pattern of the Marius sweater was inspired by the Setesdal pattern, which features four diamonds instead of one big one, and as such it is supposed that the sweater was originally designed by Unn Søiland in 1953.

Setedal’s pattern:
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However, Bitten Eriksen, the mother of Stein and Marius Eriksen, has also claimed that she was the creator of the first knitted Marius sweater, but it was first called Cortina II.  Eriksen’s family maintains that the sweater was first knitted by Bitten for her husband Marius.  The pattern was then developed before it was given as a sweater to her son Marius when he came home from World War II.  In 1960, Bitten began selling the sweater at her store in Oslo, calling it the Marius sweater after her husband.

Cortina II pattern:
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The Marius sweater (and most other Norwegian designed sweaters) are copyrighted.  Private persons are allowed to make the sweaters for their own use but no products with the Marius design are allowed to be sold without explicite agreement by the now owner of the design, Lillum AS.

In 2002, Unn Søiland Dale was awarded the King’s Medal of Merit for being a lifelong pioneer of knitwork and for her efforts in making Norwegian woolen and textile design international.

The way that you know you are getting a true Maruis design is by the classic symbol on the label.

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Nowadays the Marius pattern is not only for sweaters but everything else.  (The Marius Inspiration book even thinks woolen Marius G-strings are a good idea.)  Since the 50s, the design’s popularity has been a roller coaster.  A couple of years ago the Marius pattern was not as trendy, but in 2014, Marius is everywhere!  Even in my little northern city, Alta:

Marius cupcake molds – too sweet:

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Marius lunch box:

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The traditional Marius colour theme is red, white and blue, same as the Norwegian flag.  However, a solid blue or white background is the custom.

Tea towels, mittens and even synthetic wash cloths:

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Sheets, cushions and candles:

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Black is a popular background, though not traditional.

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Crockery:

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Flasks:

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Glasses case:

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Cake spatulas:

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There is one other famous design especially for mittens… for another post ;).

Norway is a pain in the neck – literally!

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It was exciting coming to a place where I could finally wear big overcoats, snuggly scarves and arty beanies.  I never had a need for them back in Australia.  The Norwegian winter style was classic, romantic and down right fun to wear.  I learned several new ways to wear scarves – it’s all in the tying – and tried out many beanie designs.  You’d be amazed at the beanie range – slouched, pom pomed, folded or unfolded edged, twisted inside out, tubed, bowl cut, knitted, cotton, wool… I was in beanie heaven.  And the jackets!  My favourite is tight, to the hip, with a faux fur lined hoodie to keep the snow off my face (a Russia influenced style).  But alas, fashion is pain.

After a couple of years of wearing the heavy, bulky and restricting cold weather dressings I started to get ‘winter neck pain’.  Having all the extra wool and thick material tied around my neck prevented me from turning my head or moving my shoulders.  I suddenly knew how the Harold Finch character felt from Person of Interest,(well, the actor), with having to look both ways to across the road, turning my whole body, like I had a neck brace.  After taking the outside clothes off, my neck and shoulder muscles felt strained, stiff and creaky.  I just thought it was me, that my Australian body wasn’t used to having so many clothes piled around my neck like Norwegians.

It was only this season (after ten of them) that I casually mentioned my ‘Christmas Crick’ problem to Moose when I found out he gets it too.  And then I asked around, and every Norwegian I’ve spoken to has the same problem.  Well…  so it was not just little old me then.

Neck pain seems to be a regular winter issue for Norwegians and I’m wondering why there isn’t a national health campaign to educate people of keeping their neck safe and healthy.  Neck pain also seems to be exasperated by sleep problems.  The Norwegian Hunt Study concluded that:

“Sleep problems are associated with an increased risk of chronic pain in the low back and neck/shoulders.”

In the Arctic we live in insomnia central.  Even Norwegians can’t escape their bio-clocks being tampered with by the darkness.  With insomnia and neck problems to boot, no wonder Norwegians can seem a little icy in the cold public street – an international reputation that should be debunked now considering.

I haven’t heard of any local remedies for neck pain, (yet!  I’m expecting a blue berry tea paste or something to spread on the skin – blue berries are good for everything here), but the Hunt study clearly stated that:

“Regular exercise and maintenance of normal body weight may reduce the adverse effect of mild sleep problems on risk of chronic pain”.

Solve the sleep problems and you can help solve the neck problems.  But Norwegians do know that regular outdoor exercise, even on the coldest days, especially during the blue light (midday twilight – Alta has no sun over Christmas), helps the body dramatically cope over winter.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has a fact sheet giving stats on neck pain in Norway.  Women apparently report more neck pain, and have to take more sick days off from work because of it – no wonder, with all the scarf material hanging around their necks for six months of the year.  However, this point is not considered as one of the causes, which are: heredity, workload, pain sensitivity, psychological factors and side effects of surgery.  Maybe the researches need to consider cultural issues of wearing clothes as well as the regular medical and environment issues.  But they too mention that physical activity is the best prevention against chronic neck pain.

So, this Christmas I will be taking measures into my own hands, now that I am aware of the problem, with regular neck and shoulder stretches and exercises (and massages from Moose if I’m lucky) to make the dark season a little easier on the body, at least.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24293504

http://www.fhi.no/eway/default.aspx?pid=240&trg=MainContent_6894&Main_6664=6894:0:25,7583:1:0:0:::0:0&MainContent_6894=6706:0:25,7590:1:0:0:::0:0

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