I’m with you all in spirit(s)! Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Of course, I can’t actually be here on line (and in fact I put this post together way back last week), but I didn’t want to miss out on wishing each and every one of you a glorious St. Patrick’s Day!
I’m going to have to cheat a bit though, so instead of me prattling on when my mind’s not really on the subject, I thought I’d link back to some of my favourite previous St. Paddy’s Day posts. And I’m doing it a day early, so you’ll have time to implement the recipes if you like.

So, from the great grand-daughter of the folks from the Mountains of Mourne in the north of Ireland, I invite you to visit any or ALL of these spots:


Have a grand St. Patrick’s Day!



Friday Feast of the Week: Let ‘em eat cake!

Not my cake, but close!

Kat’s Cranberry-Orange Streusel Cake
(Tangy and sweet; it’s hard to beat!)


1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar plus 1 Tbsp. orange juice.
2 Tbsp. grated orange rind.

Streusel Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. butter or marg, melted

Stir chopped cranberries with a Tbsp. each of sugar and orange juice. Set aside.
Cream butter, sugar and egg together in a good-sized  mixing bowl.
In medium bowl, stir flour baking powder and salt together.
Add milk to butter mixture, alternately with the flour mixture.  Fold in cranberries.
Scrape into a bundt pan and smooth the top.
Blend streusel ingredients together in a small bowl and sprinkle topping mixture over top of batter.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Serve warm with coffee or tea, or ice cream on the side.

What’s on tap for this week?



It’s coming up to Christmas (as we  all know) and this year is a little different for us since we will be entertaining my husband’s parents at our house come this Friday. 

Christmas is a big thing for the Danish.  I married into a great culture of tradition that usually means a Christmas Eve feast.  We can’t be present for the actual Eve celebration, so we’re going to try and bring a bit of that to the Hyggehus.  You may wish to read more about the Danes and their “hyggelig” in my post, “Life in the Danish Hyggehus”. (That’s a photo of our house that was taken a few years back. )

I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the past, that Kev and I don’t eat meat.  We do eat fowl and fish, but nothing that comes from a four-legged creature.  The Danes love pork.  Well, you can see the dilemma in this situation, but we usually do make a compromise (I ask for forgiveness from all the true vegetarians and the porcine world at large).  We concede to one piece of pork roast to keep things copacetic for Christmas.

Of course, it’s even worse when I’m planning on cooking said pork myself.  Rather than work with a slab of pork roast, I am choosing to do a pork tenderloin in the crockpot (where I will only have to look at it very infrequently) along with some delectable vegetable dishes.

Here’s the menu:

Spicy Pork Tenderloin

Potatoes à la boulangère

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Baked Parsnips and Carrots

Followed by:

Coconut Cream Cake and coffee.



Drinks will begin with an apéritif  of either Aalborg Danish Jubiloeums Akvavit with its hint of dill and coriander to prepare the palate for the spiced pork or, Danish cherry-wine cocktail, Kirsberry over ice.

The wine for dinner will be a nice Riesling and we’ll follow up with a lovely glass of Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port.


Spicy Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin (1 lb.)

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 cup apricots (this recipe called for preserves, but I prefer to use dried and heat on the stove with a little water until they become soft.

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/8 tsp. cumin

sea salt and ground pepper

1 Tbsp. olive oil

(I have a feeling I may be ramping up the spice-factor)

Cut evenly spaced slits across the top of the pork tenderloin.  Insert pieces of garlic. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Let sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat apricots with 1/4 cup of water, lemon juice and spices. If necessary add water so the fruit does not stick to the pan. Coat the pork with the olive (use clean hands to smooth it over the entire piece. Yuck! What I do for family!) Roast the pork in a slow cooker/crockpot for 1 hour.  Spread fruit compote over the pork and roast for a further 3 hours on low until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving with the apricot sauce over top.


Potatoes à la boulangère

400 g peeled potatoes, thinly sliced

1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced

Fresh ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup (generous) vegetable or chicken stock

1/4 cup (generous) skim milk

1 tsp. butter

Layer potato and onion slices in a shallow, oven-proof dish (pepper each layer).  Mix stock and milk and pour over potatoes. Dot with butter.  Cover with foil and bake  for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

200g red cabbage (tough core removed), finely sliced

1 medium cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

1 Tbsp. wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. butter

2 Tbsp. water

fresh ground pepper, to taste.


Put all ingredients in a heavy-bottom, lidded pan.  Season to taste with pepper.  Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Stir well and replace the lid.  Reduce hat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice.  When tender, serve.

Can be cooked in the oven for the same length of time (at 325 degrees).


Baked Parsnips and Carrots

2 parsnips

4 carrots

1 Tbsp. butter

salt and fresh ground pepper

pinch of cumin

1 Tbsp. water

Peel parsnips and carrot. Cut in half cross-wise, then cut length-wise into strips.  Place in baking dish and dot with butter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cumin. Add water.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Can also be done in a covered dish in the microwave on High Power for 12 –15 minutes (or until tender).


Coconut Cream Cake

1 organic white cake mix

1/2 tsp. coconut extract

1 can coconut cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk

flaked coconut for garnish

In either a 13 x 9 or 2 round pans, bake cake.  Allow to cool.  Pierce top all over with a fork.  Blend cream, condensed milk and coconut extract. Pour over cake.  Sprinkle with flaked coconut.  Let stand overnight.  Refrigerate for a while before serving the next day. 

I intend to shake a few green and red sprinkles over top to give it a real Christmassy look.  The white cake with the coconut looks very much like snow.


What are you serving for your Christmas celebration?

(Recipes came from either my head (combining some internet recipes) or these two books: The Pocket fat, carbohydrate & fiber counter by Carol Bateman and Anne Lindsay’s, The Lighthearted Cookbook.)

Beware of freaks bearing gifts.

As a little girl I loved the rush of a party – the lead up to a festive day with girly dresses and balloons and loot bags and cake and gifts all packaged up with lovely bows and pretty paper. Sometimes it was so pretty that I hated to tear it off, but I still did, of course.
The fun of a party didn’t dwindle as I got a bit older. In fact, as a young girl I loved to host parties and my parents, especially my father, loved to get right in there and make them the best parties on the block.
I remember a Halloween party when I was about 14. My father somehow acquired a big metal basin and we all took turns bobbing for apples. It was so much fun to get wet when you stuck your head in that tub of water and then to have mom waiting with a fresh towel to dry your head was heavenly. Everybody had a great time. I can remember a few Halloween costumes that mom helped me put together. I think on this occasion I wore one of her bright printed skirts and a peasant blouse, lots of beaded necklaces and bangles and a scarf tied on my head to make me a gypsy-lady. It was glamourous and funny all at once.
When I had my first boyfriend in Grade 12, I decided that I wanted to have a Christmas party. My parents were cool with that as usual and so I set out to invite a group of my friends. I attended a Catholic all-girl school from Grade 9 until 11, before switching to the local public high school for Grade 12 and 13, so my selection for the Christmas party was rather an odd bunch of kids from my different classes who didn’t really know each other well. I had friends who were geeks, friends who were artsy and friends who were popular and sporty. I even had friends who spent a good deal of time in the smoking area at the back of the school (even though I myself was not a smoker). My boyfriend and his best friend (who happened to be my best friend’s boyfriend – are you still with me?)both came from neighbouring high schools and of course they were invited too.
What I remember of this particular party was that everybody had a really good time– the music was fun – a mix of new wave and progressive rock, and the snack food was good – chips and onion dip made from sour cream and onion soup mix, cheesies and pop from the Pop Shoppe, a fun store where every variety of soda pop imaginable was available and came in small, stubby bottles.
The other interesting thing I recall is that 3 couples emerged from that eclectic group. The mix of types ended up like being an episode of The Dating Game and a few people went home very happy having made a love connection with somebody new. My boyfriend gave me a sweet, heart necklace with rhinestones and I had a very good Christmas that year.
Since that party went so well, when I entered my first year of university, I decided to throw another party for the new friends I met. My boyfriend from the Christmas party was old news and I was free and single. I was into dancing at the Blind Duck Pub on campus and the latest album was Human League’s, Dare. It was around St. Patrick’s Day so I planned a party for that occasion. I remember still, exactly what I wore: moss-green woollen shorts, a green long sleeved, scoop-neck top with gold-glitter stripes and mustard-coloured wool tights. I know! Did I think I was a leprechaun, or what? Actually, I looked pretty trendy and my short, light-brown hair was a bit spiky, my ear-rings were dangly and my shoes were pointy (again – could be taken for one of the wee folk, I know).

I’m sure we played a lot of different music, but the anthem for the night was definitely “Don’t You Want Me?” off the Human League album. The front of our basement was the social area – with the reupholstered couches and ancient coffee table set. There was a lime-sherbet punch on the bar and we had meatballs and rice pilaf on Chinet plates because this was adult party-time now. Even so, there were still the obligatory chips and dip and dishes of cheese-sticks and pretzels too.
The back of the basement had been decked out with Christmas lights and our old wooden toy box that my dad had made was the music centre with the Dual turntable and speakers. We just took turns playing deejay. This is why, instead of changing the record, we ended up listening to the entire Human League album and then flipping it over again. No one seemed to mind – everybody took a turn on the cold, cement dance floor. I think the only alcohol was in the punch, but everyone enjoyed that and we all had a lot of fun.
When I turned 21, my parents decided to throw a surprise party for me. This can’t have been easy, since my friends came from all different backgrounds, just like in high school. They enlisted the help of my newest friend, Debbie, and pulled together a group of very interesting university buddies. I don’t remember that much about the circumstances – how they got me there, who brought me, who was there. It’s 27 years ago and only one thing stands out in my mind about that party. It eclipsed everything else.
utmlib Click for source (my campus library at Erindale College, Mississauga)
I had a (shall we say)male acquaintance in my circle of English-Literature student friends. We were not what I would call close. We went for coffee in a group with other people, we studied in the library with other people, we hung out – occasionally and chatted on the way to class – or in class, but we were NOT romantically involved. We were friends.
At my 21st surprise birthday party, I sat in a chair in the family room downstairs in front of all my (sadly, now-forgotten) friends and opened up each one of their presents. I imagine they gave me the usual thing you give your school-pal – a book, an album of music, maybe a fun tee-shirt or hat, a gift certificate; you know the sort of stuff.
Okay, so I reached for this flat, square, wrapped box. My “friend” was sitting alongside me literally on the edge of his seat, anxiously anticipating as first, I read his card (which as I recall was innocuous enough) and then tore off the lovely paper and opened the box. I thought it was chocolates. Yum!
Fortunately, some people were chattering and not paying attention, because what I was about to discover was not what I would ever have expected. Certainly, it was nothing I would want to pass around.
I opened the box to find some pastel-coloured tissue paper. I slid my hand under the paper and felt something soft to the touch. Slowly, I peeled back a floral seal and opened the two folds of paper to reveal a pair of lavender silk panties! Oh my Gawd! Like a shot I rammed the lid back on the box and held my arms down on top of it. No one seemed any the wiser until, the gift-giver said loudly, “What’s in the box, Kathleen?” I looked daggers at him, but to no avail. Now people were curious and I had no choice but to reveal the contents of the box to the assembled attendees.
I opened the box and lifted out the lingerie. They WERE lovely. As someone whose idea of luxury in the underwear department means black rather than white cotton, or even better—eco-friendly bamboo, I have to admit they were gorgeous!
My best friend, Debbie gasped. A few jaws dropped. I laughed it off and made some wisecrack about how he must have had me confused with somebody else. I quickly used my best diversionary tactic: Who wants some chocolate cake?
choc_cake2 Click for source
Thank heavens it worked. There was a mad rush up the stairs and I shoved the box with the intimate item under the upholstered chair.
Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t give the gift back. To this day, they are still the nicest panties I’ve ever owned.
So, if I didn’t say so at the time, thanks, Buddy!

Kathleen Mortensen©2009

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Photo from Flickr

Due to laziness on my behalf ( and a certain Movie meme), Part 4 of The Soul Mate will be delayed until Monday (which is really when it should be posted.)

If you want to have some fun tomorrow…stop in at Nick’s Bytes for a HUGE celebration of his 1000th post. Yup – that’s ONE THOUSAND!!!!!

(I’ve only got like, 816 to go!)

Enjoy! (I’m pretty sure they’ll be cake!)