Big Danish Test Part 1: check.

Last week, I took the first part of my big Danish test.  Ever since, people have asked me how it went, and I’m never quite sure what to say.  It was a writing and reading-comprehension test, and I guess it went fine, but I can’t really say until I get the results (next week).  There were a lot of questions during the reading-comprehension part that I just wasn’t sure about, which is a little nerve-wracking, considering that was the part of the test that I was least worried about.  And the subjects for the written part were good, and write-about-able, so I’m hoping for the best.

Now I’ve started a new class specifically for preparing for the spoken part of the test (mine’s on June 17th) and am getting continually more nervous for that one, as I expected.  I’m practicing my weird Danish vowels, something I haven’t really focused on before, and again, just hoping to pull a good topic that I feel comfortable talking about (for example, education, as opposed to something like politics).  But we’re practicing a lot in class, which also gives us a good opportunity to use the phrases we’ve been stowing away for when we have no idea how to answer a question (like: “That’s a very broad question…” “I’ve never given that a thought, but I could imagine that…” etc.).  After all, it is a language test, not a test on how much we know about the given topics, so as long as we sound coherent, and fluent, that’s the most important thing.

I’m really excited for the big test to be over.  We get our oral results as soon as we’re finished with the exam, so at that point, I’ll know my whole score, and whether or not it’s good enough to qualify me for the next class, or if I’ll have to retake the test again in November.  I’ll feel better once I know that, and can start making a plan (or rather, hopefully not making a plan).  However, when I’m done with the test, I’ll have no more Danish classes, which are basically the only real thing I have going on in my life.  I’ll then have a good six to nine weeks to essentially “do nothing” although I’ll really be getting ready for (and freaking out about) the baby.

In other baby news, oh my goodness is it strong.  I got kicked in the belly yesterday so hard that it felt like someone snapped a really thick rubberband against the inside of my belly.  I gasped and clutched at my stomach, which really freaked Andreas out, and the spot’s still really tender.  I’ve also relapsed back into the first trimester exhaustion that I had in the wintertime, only now, I don’t get to sleep until 10 or 11 every day, and instead have to be up at seven, and it feels like torture.  Even today, when I got to sleep in until 9, I felt ready for a nap three or four hours later.  I’d sort of forgotten what all this was like and left it in the haze that was those first three months, but boy am I remembering.

However, I’m being ambitious tonight, and am going to try a new recipe (chickpea curry!) and even make some basic chocolate mousse (just chocolate and water) to eat with some strawberries I bought yesterday.  I was going to make strawberry shortcakes, but Andreas has been struggling with allergies lately (milk and sugar) and even though strawberry shortcakes are actually a pretty allergy-light dessert, I’d still feel guilty.  Luckily, I remembered the mousse from when I made it when we lived in Sweden, and I’m excited to try it  again!  Of course, there’s a bit of sugar in it, as there is in the sliced strawberries, but…you’ve gotta live a little.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide if I have time for a nap before I embark on kitchen adventures, since Andreas is going to badminton after work today and won’t be home until later…

PS-I realize that alllllll of my posts lately have been dry and pictureless, and that’s because I…haven’t been taking pictures.  But I’m trying to get better at taking some, and thinking about doing photo-a-day June, as well, to maybe get me started up again.

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A New Favorite

My husband and I have lots of favorite things (each other capturing the number one spot), but we have a new favorite thing.

Pita bread.

Not just any pita bread, though.  Homemade pita bread.  It started a couple weeks ago, when I was determined to find a few new, healthy dinners to add to our rotation, especially dinners that don’t contain allergies for Andreas (dairy and sugar).  I decided to do pita bread, hummus, and cucumber/tomato salad, and while it was really good the first time, with store-bought pita, I knew I wanted to try homemade, and my sister sent me the recipe that she uses.  I’m not sure where she got it from, but I am sure that I have to share it here.  Even the first time I made them, they puffed up beautifully, were perfectly soft, fluffy, and chewy, and we’ve been excited about them ever since.

Pita Bread (makes 8)

1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 C whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 Tbs salt
1 Tbs olive oil

In a large bowl, mix yeast with warm water until dissolved.  Add wheat flour, then 1/2 cup unbleached flour.  Stir for about a minute in one direction (this activates the gluten in the flour).  Let the sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to two hours.  Add the salt and the olive oil.  Mix well.  Add the remaining unbleached flour, about a half a cup at a time, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until smooth (dough should be tacky, but not sticky).  Return the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled (about an hour to an hour and a half).  Punch down and divide into 8, shaping each piece into a ball before rolling out into an 8-inch circle.

Cover the rolled-out pitas, but don’t stack them.  Place in a hot, dry frying pan for 30 seconds, flip, cook for one minute, flip, and cook one minute more (pitas should be all puffed up when you take them out of the pan).  Cool on a rack for a few minutes, then wrap pitas in a kitchen towel to keep them soft.

Even though this pita is amazing with hummus and cucumber-tomato salad, we had a lot of bell peppers to use the other day, so I decided to make fajitas using those and our Quorn filets (another one of our favorite things).  We now have another easy, super delicious dinner, and though the picture isn’t great, the meal was.

Burger Day

During our fasting month, Andreas developed an intense craving for burgers.  So we decided one Friday to have Burger Day.  We would make burger buns, get burger toppings, and make french fries, and it would be glorious!  Ever since that day, we’ve had Burger Day a few more times, and always looked forward to it for days in advance.  One reason why it was so so amazing?  The buns.

We surfed foodgawker for the perfect burger bun recipe, and Andreas chose this one.

This is the perfect burger bun recipe.  I thought “egg wash?  Putting a pan of water in the oven? That sounds scary!” but it wasn’t.  Not only was it not scary, it was also magic.  These are practically magical buns.  Sometimes, it just feels good to cook something that turns out looking so perfect that you can feel for a bit like a fancy schmancy professional baker.  These are that thing.

The recipe says that each rising could take 1-2 hours, until doubled.  I made the mistake the first couple times baking them to let them rise a bit long, more towards the 2 hour mark, thinking to myself “bread can’t rise too much, right?”, and they turned out a bit large and flat, so–a word of warning, don’t do that.

These were wonderful for our burgers

but also amazing the next day for breakfast with Nutella.  Seriously.  It tasted like a donut.  I’m not even kidding.

Don’t mind that big old plastic bag on the table.  I’ll get better at picture-taking.  I promise.

Spring Overload

It’s spring.  It is sooooo spring.

Today is the first day that I really feel it.  It is bright, it is sunny, and people are walking around “in their shirtsleeves” (I wish people still used this phrase).  Although I spent the morning accidentally locked into the apartment, I love that we have a sunny balcony.  I love that my neighbors play string instruments on their sunny balcony.  I love that every door was open, letting in the beautiful music, and the delightful spring air.  I love spring.

I also like caramels!  I’ve been wanting to make them for a while, but it was one of those sort-of-intimidating can-I-really-do-it projects.  However, with my new resolution to tackle that exact sort of project, into caramel, I dove!

I didn’t have a candy thermometer, so I decided to try the “cold water” method (and by “decided” I mean, I’d already started boiling the caramel when I realized I didn’t have a candy thermometer).  It ended up going really well, although the caramel is a bit softer than I was aiming for, I’m pretty proud of how it turned out.  I used the basic caramel recipe here.

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I put some roughly chopped cashews on top, but next time I think I’ll put MORE cashews on top!  I put some in these cute little candy cups I bought a while ago, and covered them in dark chocolate

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Some of them, I rolled into “logs” and set out to cover in chocolate, but I realized they looked too much like turds when I did that, so I decided to just drizzle them and wrap them in parchment paper, heh.

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All-in-all it was a good experiment.  I’ve been wanting to get some more experience making candies, because I think sometimes they make better gifts than baked goods do (and they’re easier to give).

Caramels and spring…how can I not be happy?

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2012

Tonight I officially became a Dane!

Well, maybe not, but I DID get to watch the competition to find the Danish representative for this year’s Eurovision contest, which apparently almost qualifies me to be a Dane. I liked the singer who won, but not the song (it sounded a bit country-western, and that’s something I can’t ever get over, having been forcefully exposed to 15 hours of it every week on the bus ride to and from school for 13 years).  Overall, it was a good show, and now I can’t wait for actual Eurovision!!!

I also watched the Denmark vs. Macedonia handball game which was THRILLING to say the least, and I can’t even share the thrill on Facebook, considering that most of my friends don’t know what handball is, and the ones that do were in the room watching with me.  I don’t get excited about sports in general (I went to college in Green Bay and the only reason I wanted the Packers to win the Super Bowl was so that my entire city wouldn’t be grumpy the next day), but I get excited about soccer, volleyball, and now—handball!  Honestly, when I was a kid, I thought that handball was the same as baseball except that you hit the ball with your hands instead…the real game makes a lot more sense.

I know I have a long way to go before I am even slightly Danish, but I’ve got basically the rest of my life (yippee!)  One goal that I hope to accomplish a lot sooner is to become a better blogger, with pictures and everything!  At the moment, I’m trying to solve the case of the Missing 4GB SD Card, and until it’s cracked, I can’t promise much, but I’ll do my best.

I’ve been doing some experimental baking and cooking (we made Indian food with naan tonight which was great, though we accidentally bought the tomatoes with basil instead of plain) with my husband and sister-in-law, and I should be a lot more diligent about photographing our cooking adventures.

There’s not much else for now.  I’m still doing my darndest to learn new Danish words every day, and I find myself using Danish phrases as well (“nååååååååårh, ja” is a particularly common one).

It’s late, so we’re going to hygge os i sengen og sover snart.  I realize that I don’t actually *do* much here, but I’m considering going to school with my husband on Monday to collect some more writing fodder.  We’ll see what happens.  Meanwhile, I have to try to work on my poetry and knitting while Andreas studies and “use my time wisely” as my elementary school teachers always said.

Vi ses!