Saturday, October 21, 2006

A short introduction to my grandmothers recipebook

Mark, lod - and kilos - confused?

My grandmother Jenny was born in 1890 and died in 1949. She did, in her recipebook, use both the metric system as well as older measurements not in use today. In order to get her recipes right, I would have to find the correct amount of flour, sugar and butter to use in her recipes.

Thanks to the internet, this is an easy task. I've made an introduction to a few older Norwegian measurements and I've tried to convert these into metric and imperial units.

1 mark / merker (pl), old german weight dating back to 13th century = 233,8 grs or around 1/2 lb

1 lod = 15,556 grs or around 1/2 oz

1 pot = 0,956 ltrs or approx. 2 pts

She also used some unexpected ingredients.

Hjortetakksalt or hornsalt. The name means salt made from a venisons horn. This rising agent was originally extracted from these horns. As ingredient, it is still available in Norway but may be sustituted by baking soda. Whether you need the more or less baking soda, compared to Hjortetakksalt, is difficult to say.

Eggepulver. We may think that living on a farm that she would use only natural ingredients. The fact that my grandmother used eggpowder, surprised me. It might have been a new fashionable ingredient of the time, or an even older ingredients made to be stored for a longer time than fresh eggs - or maybe both? I have not seen eggpowder anywhere, and the question is, how many eggs to to use to replace the given amount of eggpowder.

She made her cakes in large quantities. Some of them were like biscuits, made to store in boxes, handy when neighbours and relations came to visit. But she also made fresh pastry in large amounts in order to feed a family of six and a maid. In order to try to make her recipes I will have to try to reduce the amounts of the different ingredients to get the correct result. This is both cooking as alchemy as well as chemistry. Interesting.

Here are a few recipes

Thebrød (Teabread)

Teabread is a recipe still in use in Norway, and it exists in many different varieties. The modern recipes describes that they are shaped into sticks, then baked in an oven on 180C (350F) until light yellow, then take them out, cut into thinner slices and dry them in the oven on a lower temperature. The fact that my grandmother describes that her cakes are shaped the same way, may confirm that her recipe is another variety of what is made today.

This recipe is ideal you have ended up with some sour milk, as this is the liquid you use in this recipe.

First my grandmothers original recipe:

Af 2 kg Hvedemel gjøres en meldam paa bordet i denne hældes en liter sur melk, 2 lod jortasalt, 1 mark farin, 1 mark smør, 1 pakke æggpulver, dette arbeides til en fast deig og sætter af paa pladen i lange stænger

Mix 2 kilos / 4,1 lbs of fine flour with 1 liter / 2,1 pts sour milk, then add 2 lod (30 grs /1 oz) Hjortetakksalt, 1 mark (233 grs / 1/2 lb) butter, 1 mark (233 grs /1/2 lb) caster sugar, one package of eggpowder, this is worked into a firm dough, and is put on the baking tray as long sticks.

To try this recipe I think you'll end up with a fenomenal amount of cakes, so to divide the amounts by two or four would be a good idea.

Here in Norway we get sour milk as a dairy product. If you cannot get a similar product where you live, wait until you have some sour milk left and try to make some. I do not know whether you get the same result with plain milk, but it is worth a try.

I would believe that Hjortetakksalt may be substituted with baking soda, but the quantity of this to the other ingredient may be a problem.

Then it is the eggpowder. We just have to try.......


This is a mystery recipe. As it is referred to in plural form, suggests that it is a kind of a cookie (småkake). She does not describe the way to make or shape the dough, so, we just have to try to figure out this in the baking process. That also means the heat of the oven.

These are made in a smaller quantity. That may mean that they made them for the occation, and that they would not be easy to store for a longer period. But thank God, she use real eggs!!

1/2 mark farin, 1/2 mark smør, 1 kg mel, 1 spiseske Hjortetaksalt, 1 pot sur melk, 3 æg, lidt mandeldraaber

1/2 mark (115 grs / 4 oz) caster sugar, 1/2 mark (115 gr/4 oz) butter, 1 kilo / 2 lbs flour, 1 teaspoon Hjortetaksalt, 1 pot (0,95 ltr / 2 pts) sour milk, 3 eggs, and some almon extract

This will be interesting - I have to go shopping........

Friday, October 20, 2006

Berlin - eine Reise wert!

I visited Berlin in mid July. Until now, I have really not been very tempted to visit the German capital. Do not ask me why? May be I have lived with the misconception that it still lived in the past. What ever reason, I could not have been more wrong! Berlin was wonderful, surprising, avant-garde, stalinist, ultra modern, ethnic, and very, very hot!

I travelled with some friends. Norwegian Air Shuttle, roundtrip from Oslo - around €180 incl tax brought us to Berlin Schönefeld, the old East German airport. Surprisingly small, but well connected to the extensive public tranportation service. 45 minutes from the country side to our destination. Alcatraz Hostel situated by the Eberswalder Strasse subway station in the Prenzlauer Berg area.

My friends had arrived a day earlier. The fact that they had booked a hostel made me slightly worried. Being 45 years of age, I have not lived in a hostel for 25 years. My recollections from my hostel-life are large dormitories and overcrowded bathroom-facilities. Another fact that made me worried was that they had only paid €200 for four - for four nights (!). I'd gladly pay the same sum for a double room for one night.

To be quite frank - my fears were totally unfounded. The two first nights we stayed in a spacious flat on the upper floor, and it was was great, but being at the top, made us aware that the heat in summer rise to the top of any building. Not very pleasant with daytime temperatures close to 35C (90F) and lows of 20C (70F) - and no airconditioning! The last two nights we stayed in two double room one of the lower floors. That was a cooler experience. I highly recommend the Alcatraz if you want to get a budget room, but do try to get one of double rooms with shared bathroom. They had been renovated and were close to ordinary hotel standard.

Eating and drinking in Berlin is ridiculously inexpensive, by Scandinavian standards. In the Prenzlauer Berg, there are great number of nice restaurants and bars, and as there were no breakfast served at the hostel, we looked around in the neigbourhood and found a great breakfast buffet at a very low price.

A very good food memory is from the Happy Duck in Fuggerstrasse 20 in the Schöneberg area. For those of you on a low budget - this is the place, much food at a low cost. They serve great chinese food in abundance. We tried one of their menus, consisting of various fish, poultry, and meat dishes. We were totally stuffed and a little drunk as we left, and the cost was around €10 a person, including drinks. We particularly fell in love with the bars and bistros of another area - Kreutzberg, with its old houses and it hip, alternative crowd.

On our last warm summer-evening we ended up in a restaurant on Potzdamer platz. We ate an entree, a main course (I chose a wienerschnitzel the size of Wannsee), dessert and wine paying around €25 each.

If you would like to take a walk on the wild side, visit das Bezekammer. A hole-in-the-wall gay bar hidden under the railway bridge enterring Alexanderplatz railwaystation. This is a place where you can, if you manage to squeeze in, listen to German music from the last four decades. The clientel is very far off the chic crowd of Kurfürstendamm or Schönberg, but das Bezekammer is dead charming. I would love to enter this charming little bar during winter for a cold draught beer. But I'm sorry - they have no draught beer. only bottles.

If you visit during summer you can go to the beach. The Wannsee beach was the playground of the West-Berlin islanders during the cold war. They have a regular beach, and - if you want to explore your exhibtionist sides, a nudist beach. The water was very warm (close to 28C), and due to the bioproduction, looked a little dirty. This should not concern the health-conscentious swimmer, though. Large informations boards ensured us all that the water was as safe as the water out of our own tap.

And if you travel in Berlin in July (and I mean whether you are straight or gay) - go and watch the Christopher Street Parade, a sparkling, glitzy gay parade from Kurfürstendamm or beyond to Tiergarten. It is great fun and this year 400 000 of us ended up on a gigantic street party.

What could be better.

So - Berlin ist eine Reise Wert!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Saturday dinner - Meat Roulade with Roasted Peppers and Taleggio Cheese

This is a recipe that can be varied in a great number of ways. Basically it is a meat roulade, and the filling can consist of different ingredients. I have also filled it with pesto, sundried tomatoes and mozarella.

2 lbs / 1 kilo of ground beaf
5 oz / 150 grs of bacon, in cubes or slices
1 small onion, chopped
3 oz / 100 grs stale bread soaked in some milk
Salt (take care as bacon may be salty - but I used one teaspoon)
crushed garlic (as much as you want - optional)
herbs, I used fresh lovage, rosemary, thyme, chives, parsley and mint
3 eggs, beaten

4 tbsp sweet chili
One glas roasted red peppers
6,5 oz / 200 grs Taleggio cheese

We start with the messy part!

Take the ground beef, bacon, onion, bread, in a bowl and add the eggs. Use fingers and mix ingredients thoroughly. Then add herbs and salt and mix well.

Take half the mix, place on a greased sheat of cling film. Press it to a flat rectangle, not too thin. Place sweet chili on the bottom in a thick stripe in the middle, then peppers and Tallegio on top.

Take the edge of the cling film and roll it carefully towards the middle, and over the filling. Squeeze roulade carefully and close it over the filling. Then lift up and place in a baking tray. For Gods sake - remove all the cling film!

Then take the second batch of meat and repeat procedure.

Take six large tomatoes, make a cross on the top and squeeze to open. Then add a good nob of butter and some herbs. Place in tray with meat roulade.

Roast in the middle of a hot oven (200C) for 1 hour. Serve with salad and roast potatoes.

More secret Eastman recipes

Do you remember the home cooking bit. Well let me remind you. Corned Beef and Chowd'a. Well you got my cousin Anne Eastman McDonnells chowd'a recipe yesterday. Here you got two other, not so secret recipes. For my Norwegian readers, corned beef is not easy to find here, so you may substitute the beef with something else. But I do not think it gives the same result. The Fish pie, however, you can make - and you can get Ritz crackers everywhere.

Corned Beef

A piece of corned beef. It comes in grey and red. The red is Jewish, the grey is Irish.

Rinse well and put into a slow cooker early in the morning. Add about a cup of water, a decent splash of balsamic vinegar, a handful of bay leaves and half a handful of whole peppercorns. Leave alone on low for about twelve hours.

Take out the corned beef. Throw the juice away....flushing it down the
toilet works fine. After all, a lot of peculiar stuff goes down toilets.

Serve with boiled potatos and carrots. Horseradish mayonnaise is also good with this. Mayo plus a bit of really good horseradish, some sugar, salt and pepper.


Fish pie

For this you need Ritz crackers. Do they have them world-wide?

Crush half a large box of these crackers. Use fingers. It is fun. Or
you could get technical and put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.

Melt about a pound of butter gently. Add four or five tablespoons
of Worchestershire Sauce, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. Add to
crumbs. They should be moist but not awfully greasy.

Mix in pieces of thawed fish, cooked lobster, peeled shrimp. No oily fish. No salt or pepper either as the crackers have their own flavor.

Bake until fish is done and it smells really good.

Serve with salad. This is not a thing for a boiled potato as an accompaniment, but my father was from Tvedestrand and he wanted a boiled potato with everything including pasta!

Monday, October 16, 2006

My grandmothers and my mothers recipe books

My grandmother Jenny Johnsen (1890-1949) left us a small recipe book. Only 11 pages in an old accounting protocol, mostly recipes of norwegian "småkaker" (i.e. cookies and pastries), sponge-cakes, pies and different varieties of bread.

I will try to make my gradmothers pastry this weekend. However, I need to decode her recipes, as she only listed the ingredients but she did not describe the baking process in any detail. Another striking thing about her recipes is the large quantities she prepared, often using 10 eggs and 10 lsbs / 5 kgs flour. Her recipes is a contrast to the small households today. This represents cooking on a medium sized Norwegian farm, and they often produced food in industrial quantities.

Here are some recipes I'll try
- Sukkerbrød (Sugar Loaf)
- Frugtpaier (Fruit pies)
- Thebrød (Tea bread)
- Kløver (clover)
- 7 øres æblefyldte kager (7 øre cakes filled with apples)

My mother, Solveig Johnsen (1921-2000), left a much larger recipe book. It contains both handwritten recipes, but also clips from magazines as far back as the 1950s. She was a passionate collector, and there are some very striking dishes.

What do you say about Malta Pudding à la Blue Mediterranian, or Aunt Marens Apple Cake (Good! - as she says), another "good" cake is Erikas Rice cake. These are definetely recipes to try, and in contrast to my grandmother, my mother described the process fairly well, so it will be much easier to reconstruct.

I'm not much of a baker - but who knows, maybe my grandmother or my mother will inspire me to enter into a new field. When trying their recipes, I'll consult my sister, Liv Jenny Ørnes (who is a much better at baking, than I). I will share any culinary success as well as disasters with you here at Enjoy Food & Travel. And there will be photografic material from the scene of crime.

To be continued.........

Eastman (secret) fish chowder

This is my dear Cousin Ann Eastman McDonnells recipe, in her own words. I've put the "secret" in brackets, as now it is not secret anymore. Enjoy!

Take a piece of salt pork about the size of a playing card. Remove rind and
cut into the smallest pieces possible without going nuts.

Take two large onions and do the same. Peel and chop.

At low heat, cook the pork until it is clear, but not crisp. Add onions and
cook until clear but not burned, then add a cup of water for each person.

Take a large potato for each person, peel and chop into relatively fine but
not tiny pieces. An extra potato for the pot will not hurt. Boil at low heat until the potatoes are really soft.

Tast for saltiness. If too salty, add a bit of water. If not salty enough,
add some Kosher sea salt.

Add any type of white fish, lobster, shrimp...any type of seafood that is not
oily. Be generous with this. Frozen is ok. don't thaw it, it will just take
longer to boil.

Wait only until the mixture comes to a boil. Take off the stove.
Add one can of evaporated milk and a big hunk of butter and some pepper. If
no evaporated milk is available, use cream with a little milk in it.
It is important not to boil the chowder after you add the milk as the stuff
will curdle.

This is better if made with fish stock (boiled bones and skin, strained then
throw away everything but the liquid. This freezes well). I put in some fresh parsley when I have it.

Serve with crumbled crackers on top or fresh bread.

Some people are offended by the salt pork floating in the soup. I am not as I love the stuff. If you can't get salt pork, use bacon, but it gives the soup a smoky taste. Some people like their chowder thick, in this case you will have to make a roux and add it, but Eastman chowder is more like soup than