Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

I apologize for not updating the blog in a while, but as you can guess, I've been very busy!
But being that yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I'm in love with Thanksgiving food, I decided to attempt to cook some! Now this may seem like a scary thought to some- Heidi working in the kitchen all day with knives and hot surfaces- but I can assure you that very little harm was done.
I told my host family that I would make my favorite dishes, which included green bean casserole, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and of course the turkey! So I started out by emailing my grandma to get as many tips as possible on how to actually make this all! (I also spent many days researching recipes and watching a few YouTube videos.) The trickiest part of this whole ordeal, was not going to be actually making them, but finding all of the ingredients! Denmark doesn't believe in canned food, only fresh food, so I had to find substitutes for a lot of the recipes. Since they don't have canned pumpkin for the pie, I decided to go with butternut squash pie instead (it tastes basically the same). I figured it will probably all taste much more delicious being completely homemade from scratch, but it would also mean more work for me to do. So I asked a few of my friends from school if they wanted to help make an American Thanksgiving meal and then we could all eat together! They were completely thrilled, to say the least. So I wrote down the recipes for all of my dishes, and I showed it to Susanne, and we went shopping! We only had a few problems while shopping; we didn't know what nutmeg in Danish was, so we couldn't buy any, and we couldn't find a turkey... kind of an important part of Thanksgiving. We went to several different grocery stores before we finally found a full turkey, and there were only 3 of them. We took the biggest :) When we got home with all of our groceries, Søren knew what nutmeg in Danish was (muskat) and it turns out they had some at home, so we got lucky!
Wednesday night I made the pie and it smelled sooo delicious! I had to leave a little note out for Søren and Niels, reminding them that they were not allowed to eat it until Thursday night. The next day I came home from school around noon and began cooking. We only have one tiny oven, so I baked the casseroles first, and then put the turkey in the oven. This was the tricky part. We didn't have big enough roasting pan, or one with a lid really, so we ended up putting it in a cooking bag and then just setting it on the oven tray. I wasn't really sure if this would work out, (to be honest I wasn't sure if any of it would turn out..) but we didn't have any other option really. Then around 3 o'clock, Anne Katrine, Frederikke, and Cecilie came over to help me out, but at this point there wasn't much for us to do so we sat around and chatted (in Danish) and played guitar and sang Christmas songs! Tonight we have our school's birthday party, where all of the students, parents, and teachers come the the gymnasium and eat together, and then there's a dance party afterwards. Apparently this is as close to prom as it gets here, but only the 3rd graders (seniors) are supposed to dress up really nicely. Anyways, each class is suppose to decorate their table according to the theme, which was the four elements of life, and the four of us were in charge of candle holders. So we took some carrots, potatoes, and parsnip and cut out little holes to make the cutest candle holders ever! Then we got back to our Thanksgiving food, and we made the cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. This is where my casualty occurred. As I was peeling potatoes, I accidentally peeled off the tip of my finger... oops. Luckily, both my parents are vets so they have a lot of first aid-like items at home! So no worries, my finger is okay :) We finished making the rest of the dinner and then all seven of us sat down to table FULL of delicious looking food. I couldn't believe how well everything turned out! The turkey wasn't dry, the stuffing wasn't too soggy, and nothing was burnt. It was a miracle! I never would have guessed that I could make such a meal, but I guess Denmark has done me well! We prayed before eating, (something they had probably never done before) and then dug in! They loved it. They told me that they had never tasted anything like it before; they had had mashed potatoes before, but they usually just eat boiled potatoes, and they have turkey, but it's pretty rare to eat. I think the most different for them was the butternut squash pie. It has that smooth texture and they just found that to be the weirdest thing ever. We had some leftover pie, so Susanne said I should just bring it to school for everyone to taste. I brought it to lunch and shared it with 4 guys from my class (everyone else was setting up for the party) and they devoured it. Søren and his friends were a little upset I didn't save any for them, so I might be making another soon! I'm also making another corn casserole to bring to the school birthday party dinner tonight.
Overall, it was a very very successful Thanksgiving in Denmark!
I switch host families on Sunday, and I can't believe how fast 4 months has gone by! It's going to be a little weird switching, but I think it will be all be just fine! I'm very lucky to have such amazing host families :)
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that we have SNOW! I'm so excited, but the Danes are all very worried because they normally don't get snow until after Christmas, so this is very unusual. It's perfect winter weather weather for me right now, about 30 degrees Farenheit, but it's freezing cold for everyone else. I got to bike in the snow yesterday, and it's a bit difficult because sometimes your tires slide on the snow and slip on the ice, and today during our mid-class break, a few of us went outside and had a mini snowball fight.
You can check out pictures from Thanksgiving HERE!
All for now!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Hyggelig (pronounced hoo-guh-lee) is a Danish word that I absolutely love. It has no direct English translation, but it basically means being comfortable, happy, cozy, and content all at once. Hyggelig is staying up all night with a classroom full of exchange students all speaking different languages. Hyggelig is relaxing at the summer house playing cards with your family while your little sister braids your hair. Hyggelig is sitting in the aisle of a crowded train with the rest of your classmates, playing guitar and singing songs. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing in the past week!
I’ve been on 3 different trips around Denmark since last Friday, with less than 12 hours in between the first and second, and only about 30 minutes in between the second and third trip. My first adventure was to Holbæk for the Rotary Halloween party. It was a pretty casual Get Together put on by ex-exchange students from Denmark, and of course it was a blast (as all Rotary events are). We danced, sang, took millions of pictures, carved pumpkins (which most of them had never done before), and ate Danish food! This was the last Get Together for the “Oldies” so it was pretty emotional at the end as we were all saying goodbye.
For my next journey I went to Copenhagen for 3 days with the music half of my class. The International half of my class went to Germany for those days to stay with host families there, but since I don’t know any German at all, they thought it was best that I went with the music class instead. I completely agreed. We stayed in a hotel right in downtown Copenhagen with rooms that had three triple bunk beds in them so we slept 9 to a room. Very hyggelig :) Our schedule for the 3 days consisted of a Danish musical, a ballet, tour of the Opera House, and a Beatles dance/musical performance (probably my favorite). We also had time to walk around and shop in Copenhagen which is always very fun! On our way home, our train from Odense back to Ringe was canceled, so we had to wait about 40 minutes for the next train. While we were waiting, the other half of our class showed up at the train station too! They has just returned from Germany with some German exchange students that would now be staying with them for a few days, so we all got to take the train home together! We all sat together and in the aisles and had a wonderful 20 minute train ride home :)
My last trip of the week was to Fjellerup which is on what is called the “nose” of Denmark on Jylland. I went to the summer house here with my second host family and a two other families. I had met my second host mom and dad before, but this was my first time meeting Lise, my 13 year old sister, and Stig, my 10 year old brother. I absolutely love them! They are so full of energy and always making jokes and playing games; there is never a dull moment, and I love it! We played card games, made pancakes, went on walks along the beach and through the fields (so gorgeous!), visited a beautiful Glass Museum in Ebeltoft, shopped in Randers, and spoke Danish the entire time. Stig and Lise don’t think they’re very good at English (they’r mother thinks otherwise) so we only spoke Danish, which was really good for me! There were times when they would all start talking too fast for me to understand, or they would say a word that I had never heard of before, but for the most part I could understand them. But I’m back home with my first host family now, and speaking as much Danish as I can. I switch host families on November 28, so I think I’ll be staying put until then.
It’s kind of crazy to think that 101 days ago (yesterday was my 100th day in Denmark by the way- time needs to slow down) I didn’t know anything about this language or this culture, and now I’m speaking it and understanding it and living in it! Sometimes when I say something in Danish, I stop and think ‘Was I just talking in English? That sounded too natural to be Danish..’ It’s a weird feeling, but a good one at the same time!
Well I’m going out to dinner with the family now! Henrik is home on break from school for a while, and Niels passed some sort of veterinarian inspection today, so it’s a special occasion :)
All the best,