Monday, December 04, 2006

A very Danish weekend

We returned last night from a visit to Kev’s family in Victoria. I’m still full from the traditional Danish X’mas luncheon that Kev’s folks put out on Saturday. Talk about an all-day feast! They even had traditional Danish firewater, Aquavit, for toasting.

Throughout the afternoon, a persistent woodpecker joined us by feasting on the outside of the house, literally. All the family hunters took turns trying to take it down with a pellet gun. In the end it was Humans: 0 ; Woodpecker: 7.

The luncheon started with traditional pickled herring and a fusion version of that, a curried pickled herring. I know, that sounded kinda scary to me at first but it was actually quite nice but I prefer my herring naked and pickled. It was followed with chicken and asparagus in puffed pastry and an endless assortment of open-faced sandwiches. They went out of their way to use locally grown fixings for this luncheon, including local cheeses and meats from Cowichan Bay. Thanks for the great 100 mile holiday spread!

This is actually a photo of the leftovers that Kev had later that evening since I completely forgot to take photos of the sandwiches during the lunch. These aren't as fancied up as the ones we got at lunch. Don't ask me how Kev managed to eat more. That boy has a black hole for a stomach.

Of course, there was dessert:

The cake is DH mom’s version of a Danish layer cake. It is filled with a yummy custard and red currant jam. This cake is the one that Kev keeps bugging me to make. He’s gotten the odd notion that just because I know how to make Danish meatballs, red cabbage and gravy that I’m genetically programmed with all Danish recipes in my veins. I told him he’d better tuck in an extra piece since that would probably have to do him until next year’s X’mas luncheon. I just don’t have it in me to be making elaborate layered cakes anymore, as much as I love eating them.

I brought a cherry Danish pastry. Along with homemade almond paste, I used the last of my local sour cherries, local butter and locally milled organic flour in it. It’s a yeasted pastry dough and not hard to make as long as you have a good, sturdy mixer. The feasting lasted for from noon until dark. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think the Danish were a lost tribe of Chinese ;)

On our way down to Victoria, we made a detour to Cowichan Bay for a pitstop at True Grains Bakery and Hilary’s cheese shop. Saturday was the first day of Hilary’s new cheese shop. It’s conveniently right next door to the bakery. They now have their own storefront with a huge dining room area complete with a gorgeous view of the bay and a wood fire stove that you can snuggle by as you enjoy a freshly made sandwich or a hot bowl of soup! I picked up a wedge of St. Denis cheese, a ‘high mountain cheese’ as the label says. Hilary says it’s much like a Swiss cheese. Can’t wait to dig into that.

At True Grains bakery, I picked up another stash of freshly milled flour. DH and I just stood there at the counter drooling for a few minutes, overwhelmed by all the yummy selection. Along with the flour, we picked up a pretzel and some pastries to tide us over until lunch ;) I don’t know what they do to their pretzels but they’re my favorite.

They’re now selling their holiday baked goodies. We sampled a yummy and rich stollen and a lovely, dense figgy Christmas cake. The cake is wheat-free and made of spelt flour. It was a dark, gorgeous fruity cake and I half expected Tiny Tim to come hobbling in to wish everyone a ‘Merry Christmas.’

Sunday was a mellow day that began with a gorgeous sunrise and pancakes with blueberry sauce. It was a lazy, chilled out day for us to meander back home. Before leaving Victoria, we visited Kev’s uncle and cousin where we were gifted with treasures from land and sea!

DH’s uncle bestowed us with a huge stash of moose, from pepperoni to roasts to more of those awesome sausages. DH’s cousin also gifted us with salmon, halibut and prawns that he caught in local waters over the summer. Kev and I drove back home with our frozen gifts, feeling like we had hit the jackpot. Thanks guys!

Though I was still digesting the big feast, I was hankering for some of that moose sausage. I did a quick sausage and cabbage dinner. The sausage I simply browned in a pan and then moved to a roasting pan in a 350F oven to finish off cooking. I also had a local apples baking in there cooking at the same time. The cabbage, local of course, I shredded and cooked down in the leftover moose juice and a glug of olive oil. I tossed in a cup of white wine, about ½ tsp of freshly grated nutmeg, pinch of organic cane sugar threw that into the oven as well. While the rest of dinner was cooking, I made a batch of tortillas. Nothing more than a couple cups of Red Fife wheat flour from True Grains bakery, a glug of olive oil, generous pinch of salt and enough water to pull it all together.

I rolled and baked the tortillas on dry skillets on top of the stove. It was just an elaborate ploy to warm me up. I do love homemade tortillas. They’re tender but still have a bit of chew. They’re also inexpensive to make. Most importantly, Kev thinks I’m a genius because I can make them ;)

Dinner was just a perfect rustic meal. The cabbage served as a nice base for the unami-bursting moose sausages. I could only do half a sausage and small pile of cabbage but I enjoyed each and every savory mouthful. There’s something so comforting about a good, crusty sausage. I love that moment of biting in, the skin snapping and the juices spilling out all over your chin. Good thing I had a tortilla to mop up my face with.

Kev put away a couple of servings and was a happy kid for the rest of the night.

Our dining room light is on the fritz (again) and the room itself isn’t heated so we’ve been dining in the living room. I’m not a huge fan of watching TV while eating dinner but it’s impossible to convince Kev to exist in the same room as a TV and not have it on. So we ate our dinner while watching the ‘Mythbusters’ marathon. At least it wasn’t another bleeping ‘Friends’ rerun.

I now regret not picking up some of that Christmas cake from True Grain bakery. Kev’s also making pouty puppy dog faces and whimpering for me to make a stollen. I think I may have some baking experiments to do. I’ve challenged myself to do my holiday baking with as much locally grown products as possible. I challenge you all to continue utilizing locally grown products throughout the holiday season.

Happy Eating!


No comments: