Friday, 26 October 2007

The Kitchen is closed (temporarily)

D Day has finally arrived. The movers came and the kitchen was taken away. It's on it's way to Helsinki. The boss and I are however in Norway for one more week. So we've adopted a camping approach to feeding ourselves.

Faced with the long drive from Trondheim to Helsinki we always knew we had limited space in the car for things. So I've been trying to turn down every request for something to stay with us by imagining a car bursting at the seams with stuff, a 12 hour drive, little daylight and increasingly wintry conditions.

However that still leaves the question of how we shall feed overselves over the next week. The answer is simple. All those odds and ends that have found their way to the freezer because they might add something to a dish I was making have now been dusted down, invented and our lives have been turned into a week long edition of ready, steady, cook. I don't mind this at all. It does lend itself to a rice and stock based diet which bothers me not a bit. The boss is reading this and I've skimmed through a couple of times enough to be able to riff on the basic themes. So lot's of rice, vegetables, ctock (because we can't take it with us and I won't waste it) and fish.

I shall be sad to leave Norway, I have enjoyed living here enormously but I feel quite excited about setting up the Kitchen in Helsinki. My little brother is coming for Christmas and I know the idea of cooking traditional Finnish Christmas Dishes is too appealing to pass up. Oh and by the way it isn't a "winter holiday" it's Christmas. Stop being so damn politically correct!

The final brilliant part of this plan is that as we eat a lot of things that are in the Kitchen Box right now and other bits and bobs like foil and bags will be used up in the next week so there will less stuff going into that car.

Until next time. Waste nothing.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

On the road

We've been away for the last few weeks hence the quietness on the blogging front but hopefully this post will tidy up a few odds and ends and get a few recipes out there and bring everything bang up to date.

We left Norway on the 9th October for Copenhagen to see Crowded House at Amagerbro. It turned out to be an old Cinema converted to a concert venue and the size was small enough to be intimate, big enough not to be like playing squash with elephants in the back of a mini. The band were on excellent form and seemed to tear up the set list from the first song to the last and we were treated to all the classics and few belting new tunes. All round top gig.

Then we went on the UK to make wedding arrangements. We have a date - 31st May 2008. I assure you now that the Kitchen will be closed that day!

I also managed a walk in the Lakes while we were in the UK and we were treated to a mid october day so lovely I was wearing shorts!


Before we left for Copenhagen we managed to harvest some of the plum tomatoes we've been growing just for the purpose of making passata. I have to give credit where due and I used this recipe here. A by product of this process was I had a lot of lovely tomato juice left over so last night we made a quick pasta supper and the recipe is as follows:

Chop up some onion and a fresh chilli.
Heat a little oil in a pan and add onion and chilli and fry gently.
Add some bacon that is chopped up and some courgette.
Put on some water to boil for the pasta.
Add the tomato water to the frying pan and leave to simmer.
Add some salt to the pasta water and when it is at a rolling boil add pasta.
Dash of cream to the frying pan. (We added a dash of flour to thicken up the sauce and it worked really well.)
When pasta is cooked serve with some fresh basil leaves on top.

Just a few things to remember
The tomato water is pretty salty already so you're not going to need a lot of seasoning.
Add a little water to the flour before it goes into the pan.

It was a simple and tasty supper and best of all it was using left overs that might ordinarily have been thrown out. Always good to live up to the Kitchen's ideal to waste nothing.


While I was cooking that supper I was suddenly struck by the question of whether rosemary and chilli were a good combination. I'm not sure but it sounds exciting so hopefully there will be some experimenting and reporting back.


Finally it is worth mentioning that we have been very lucky this year in the Kitchen to have got hold of some fantastic home grown ingredients - garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, turnips, chill, basil and carrots to name a few. It does make a difference to your cooking when the ingredients are fresh. I'm hoping when next years growing season comes around all the things we've learnt this year about the Scandanavian growing season help us to manage the plants better so we get a bit more and I can have the challenge of making sure nothing is wasted!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Adventures out in the Kingdom

Last weekend out and about in Norway we met enough snow to convince anyone that winter had muscled autumn out of the way and settled in. Six days later and it is all change. We headed out again to the north western fjords and were treated to beautiful big blue skies and a countryside closing down after the tourist season, in other words we had it to ourselves and we were lucky with the weather.

Away from the Kitchen in my day job I have had an almost unending line of my colleagues enthusing about one place or another as special in Norway. This weekend plan was to drive from Trondheim to Innerdal and then onto the Trollstiggen road, over the water to Geirangerfjord and finally up to Ă…lesund and take the coastal express home to Trondheim.

I have to say that it surpassed my expectations and while I am ready to relocate the Kitchen to Helsinki I cannot claim that I am not sad to be leaving. However this weekend went someway to making sure that packing away the Kitchen will be done with a sense that the opportunity (however short) was taken.


The Kitchen was briefly out in the wild when we came to cook dinner on Saturday night in a self service hytte high above the town of Tafjord. We had no idea what we would meet in the hytte so I was delighted that the choice to cook a steak was rewarded with a heavy cast iron pan which cooked them beautifully. To all others in the area enjoying the solitutude I can only apologize for setting off the smoke alarm!! We also had some leeks that we cooked in butter and served on top which added a little twist on the old classic of steak and onions. I used the same cast iron pan and loved the way that some parts were crisp and others still had a bite to them. Try it.


The turnip soup worked and here is the recipe

Wash, clean and chop up the Turnips and add a few potatoes.
Cover with water, salt and boil.
Once cooked - puree. You will need the cooking water for this so make sure you save it.
Return to the pan, season and heat up gently.
Add cream.
At this stage I added something spicy to give it a little oomph. This can be as simple as pepper and as complicated as Garam Masala or Chilli flakes. Don't go mad, you don't want to obliterate the taste of the Turnip.
Cook for a few minutes.
Check seasoning and serve.

Keep cooking and don't waste anything!