If you are a keen crafter you might have already heard of Hester van Overbeek who is always coming up with fresh ideas how to make ones houses and outdoor spaces prettier and comfier. She shares them on her website and occasionally publishes brilliant books. Well, her latest interest is concrete. (Yes, I do mean that hard boring grey stuff that could be described as cold and industrial.)
Making Concrete Pots, Bowls and Platters is already the third Hester’s book. I was very fond of her Furniture Hacks (you can find its review here) and I must admit I’m already looking forward to trying out some of the suggested concrete casting and molding crafts.
As you might have already noticed I’ll have 35 stylish and simple projects to choose from. I think that’s plenty. I guess it will be hard to decide what to start with though – should I create something for my home or for the garden? I’d better show you what I liked the most first.
I fell in love with these concrete pots. I think they are mega cute.
Regular readers must have already noticed my love for Polaroid photographs. I like their subtle colours that can very quickly somehow transform normal bright images so that they are turned into old memories. I’d say that Polaroid effect gives the minus twenty years feel; anything it touches becomes oldfashioned and reminds me of my childhood. And everything was better back then…
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We’ve just had a wonderfully sunny weekend. The weather was so nice that I didn’t mind walking several kilometers along the coast! It was cold, but also very exciting, as everything reminded me of summer that will sooner or later visit our shores.
Here are a few of the perfect moments; they were so good that they could have easily happened in my childhood.
The most important question these days is – why didn’t we have so much snow for Christmas? It’s so pretty over here! Unbelievably pretty, yet cold. It has snowed for two days solid and now everything is covered in heaps of fluffy stuff – it seems winter has finally decided to show its real face…
Our garden is under a thick white blanket. The snow is so thick that I’m worried some of the branches might break. The dog has lost all of his toys (we should find them in spring) and is scared of the new shapes that have emerged over the weekend. As the landscape has changed so drastically I’m trying to look after our wildlife a bit more. Imagine if you were a tiny bird, where would you look for seeds or crumbs?
The good news is… we have a new bird feeder (bigger and cozier). And I have a personal bird feeding partner.
I know this is crazy, but my bird feeding partner is one of our cats – Moses. He’s a big green eyed boy. I find him extremely attractive, but I’m sure the birds would think he’s a monster. Now going back to the title that I chose for this post – “Catching” Birds, I think I need to tell you that the cat doesn’t catch birds. He just walks round the house with me and then returns to his warm cellar. I’m the bird catcher.
The catching process is painless and remote. I do this looking out of our kitchen window…
At the moment our garden guests are mostly tits and sparrows, but I hope to “catch” someone more exotic soon. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Any ideas what the words fika and hygge mean? I’ll give you a clue: one word has something to do with coziness in winter and the other one – something with extremely tasty breaks. Yet as I’m not a specialist in Scandinavian languages or culture I will tell you more about these two words while we browse a lovely new book – ScandiKitchen: Fika and Hygge by Bronte Aurell.
As you can already see this is a cookbook. And the best thing about it is… It’s full of wonderful desserts! By the way, keep reading if you’d love to have a go at making a special Banana Cake which isn’t “like all the others”; at the end of this post you will find its recipe. But first of all lets find out more about Scandikitchen and its owners.
Scandikitchen is actually a cafe and a grocery shop in London’s West End. It was “born out of pure homesickness and a need to find a space where people could meet for a fika – a cup of coffee and a bite of something sweet to eat”. The owners Bronte and Jonas Aurell come from Denmark and Sweden, so their shop is full off food that can only be found in these countries and their cafe menu lists traditional Scandinavian buns, cakes and little pastries. It’s a wonderful place where “anyone can feel a sense of hygge, a state of content coziness with friends where nothing else seems to matter”.
Sadly I haven’t been to Scandikitchen, but it is one of the places I’d love to go to when I’m in London next. Meanwhile I’m really glad I have their book. Short dark winter days are perfect for drinking hot coffee and sneaking in desserts (I’ll worry about the extra kilos later…). Thinking about it, in the next few days I might bake Real Cinnamon Buns and Danish Pastry Kringle… hmm… Blondie with Lavender and Lemon sounds good as well! No need to be jealous, I can guarantee you’d also find what to make as this book offers plenty of lovely recipes for cookies and biscuits, traybakes, little fancy cakes, celebration cakes and even breads.
You might not be a keen baker, but I’d still recommend this book, especially if you’d like to know more about Scandinavian culture. Reading it you will find out what English word Danish hygge might be related to and that there actually are a few different kinds of fika, also you’ll be introduced to the most important Scandinavian winter celebrations – Sankta Lucia and jul (Christmas), oh, and seven kinds of biscuits and even a cookbook that you would find in every Swedish household.
And here’s the promised recipe for That Banana Cake. I’m sure you’ll love it! (SERVES 8–10)
You will need:
3 ripe bananas
1 teaspoon lemon juice
125 g butter, softened
300 g caster sugar
200 g plain flour or cake flour
50 g cornflour
1/2 teaspoon salt
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar OR extract OR use the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
250 g Greek yogurt, OR natural yogurt OR 250ml filmjölk
125 g butter, softened
125 g cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar OR extract OR use the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lime
300 g icing sugar, sifted
chopped pecan nuts, to decorate
a 23-cm springform round cake pan, greased and lined with baking parchment
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
Blend the bananas with the lemon juice in a food processor to a purée and set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer (or using a hand-held electric whisk) until very smooth, light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition.
Sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then fold into the batter. Add the banana purée, bit by bit, and fold in. Then gently fold in the yogurt or soured milk until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for around 50–55 minutes or until golden brown and springy to the touch. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. The baking time with this cake varies depending on the size of the bananas that have gone in, so keep checking.
Turn out the cake and leave to cool on a wire rack. It must be completely cool before adding the topping, so ideally make it several hours in advance.
For the icing, whisk together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, lime juice and icing sugar for several minutes until very smooth and creamy. If it becomes too soft then chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before use.
Spread the icing generously onto the cooled cake and decorate with a small handful of chopped pecan nuts.
Let me know how quickly this cake disappeared in your house!
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Taken from ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge by Brontë Aurell, published by Ryland Peters & Small. Photography by Peter Cassidy © Ryland Peters & Small.