Merry (belated) Christmas, everyone! (And to those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, happy winter! And to those of you in the southern hemisphere, happy December! And to those of who aren't currently in December for whatever reason, happy whatever!) I hope everyone's having a great holiday.
I thought I would manage to sneak in this post just before December 26, but I totally failed. And I didn't just fail by an hour, like the timestamp says, but by seven hours because I'm currently in Norway, visiting Kåre in Bergen. Hell, I didn't even start writing this on December 25. :( But, if you do the math, you'll see that I stayed up until 7 a.m. to finish this post. Because I care! Yeah! YEAAAAHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhuuuh.
I know I've been sort of dead this whole month. Not that dead; the other dead where I'm not actually dead. I don't have any good reasons—just the same old dangerous combination of working inefficiently/wasting time/unintentionally killing brain cells/under and oversleeping I never escape. (I highly suggest not staying up until 7 a.m.)
- Norwegian Christmas Eve dinner.
I haven't edited all my photos yet, but here's the spread from Christmas Eve dinner at the Sandvik home. Kåre's mom made the traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner of pinnekjøtt (cured lamb ribs), mashed swedes (aka rutabagas), boiled potatoes, and sauerkraut. If this sounds familiar, it's because she made the same meal for us when I visited back in February, just this time she made a lot more of it since her daughter Anne-Kristen's family—husband David, daughter Haley, son Kristian, and mother-in-law Margaret—is also visiting from England for the holidays. (Last night for Christmas dinner, Anne-Kristin and David prepared an awesome British meal. I will blog about it...eventually.)
- Kåre's parents, Aslaug and Arne, ready to toast.
I can't remember the last time I attended a big family meal for Christmas. The food was hearty and delicious—worth burping potent, gamey pinnekjøtt fumes all night—and the company radiated friendliness and fun. Aside from the lack of snow (but Bergen's got gobs, just gobs of rain), there were joyful Christmas feelings all around.
- Weegie tree!
One of the best things about this Christmas is that it was probably the first one I've ever celebrated as an adult with small kids—or just one kid, Kristian, who's eight years old. Christmas is immeasurably more fun (or, if I had to measure, at least 500 times more fun) when the dinner table features an impatient kid teetering at the edge of his seat while using the concentrated power of pure Christmas excitement generated by his eyeballs to burn a hole into the pile of presents under the Christmas tree. Since it's Norwegian tradition to open gifts after Christmas Eve dinner, you can bet Kristian bolted from the table once given the ok. But he didn't tear into his gifts right away; he helped pass the others out and then opened his gifts with the rest of us. (I don't think I was that polite when I was his age.) We couldn't compare to his expression of Christmas-derived joy, of course. Kids are the best at that.
Another fun part about having Kristian around is that despite being tied to his Nintendo DS like it was a vital appendage, he eagerly showed me how to play Pokémon and he let me play a few rounds of Mario Kart. Oh, Mario Kart, it has been too long. (I grew up playing video games with my brother, but since the end of high school when we stopped living under the same roof I've played video games almost never.)
- Christmas trash bag, not a stylish dress.
And for a random photo, here's Kåre's dad holding up the special wrapping paper trash bag Norwegian waste management company BIR sends out before Christmas. (As for why you can't just throw out wrapping paper with regular trash, Kåre explained the "how to throw out trash" rules to me...that I forgot. But it made sense when he first told me.) We filled that baby up easily.
- Gift wrap carnage.
I gave out Serious Eats books and homemade chocolate chip cookies for gifts—both quite well received [insert sigh of relief]. I was worried about the cookies, made from Ad Hoc's recipe (my favorite for chocolate chip cookies), because I made them in Kåre's apartment and had to convert the US measurements to European-friendly weights (he doesn't have measuring cups or spoons). I found a few different weights for different ingredients, but in the end they came out just right.
Sooo, if anyone else is ever in my situation where you're only equipped with a scale and need to bake these cookies in an oven that only knows Celsius, here's the recipe. (I've mildly altered the steps to the recipe based on having made them a bunch of times, and I left the original ounce measurements as is.)
- Posted on Instagram from my iPhone, hence the crap quality. The cookies were about as dark in real life as they look here though, due to the molasses sugar.
Ad Hoc's Chocolate Chip Cookies, Now with More Grams
- makes 30 to 38 cookies -
- 300 grams AP flour
- 4 grams baking soda
- 6 grams kosher salt
- 5 ounces 55% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces
- 5 ounces 70 to 72% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 238 grams dark brown sugar, preferably molasses sugar
- 150 grams granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 175°C. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
- Whisk ﬂour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next, and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the dry ingredients (I do this in two parts to prevent flour flying everywhere) and mix on low speed to combine.
- Mix in chocolate with a large spoon or spatula until evenly incorporated. The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks (I've totally kept them frozen longer and they tasted fine). Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers. (The directions say to defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking, but I've baked em straight from the freezer and they came out fine. Might have to bake them a bit longer, though.)
- Using about 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape the dough into balls. Arrange 8 cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between them, because the dough will spread. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating the pans halfway through baking.
- Cool the cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to the racks to cool completely. Repeat to bake the remaining cookies. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)