Getting Deported Ain’t So Bad

IMG_0012After almost 5 glorious months of living and working in Copenhagen, sadly I’ve had to pack my bags and skedaddle out of there. Life in Denmark’s big smoke was hectic, but awesome. Just when I thought I had it all sorted – a job I loved, with awesome workmates and a great collection of friends (no small task in a very introverted culture when compared to the likes of NZ), a fabulous apartment (also a marathon effort with central city housing subject to incredible competition). Unfortunately for me, the government seems to have taken a pretty tough stance on immigration in the last few years, and decided (in the words of the immigration office) I wasn’t “special” enough. After a long discussion I managed to translate the reasoning into something a little less literal. In essence, the government has decided that unless you are super highly skilled (Masters degree minimum) and being paid over 384,000kr (around NZ$84,000) per year, work permits were only being handed out to EU citizens as unemployment is so high. Sadly in a graduate job at a startup, and with a mere bachelors degrees, I fit into neither of those categories. It would have been real nice of them to mention that on the visa application form, or any official website, or when I handed in my application and asked “is this likely to be approved?”

Now this is a view I am most definitely going to miss!

Now this is a view I am most definitely going to miss!

Never mind. Communication has never been the forte of any Danish bureaucratic organisation. Or politician for that matter. I’ve decided to pin the blame squarely on NZ’s favourite Danish politician Marie Krarup, given it was (so I’m told) the disproportionately large influence of the Folkeparti (coalition governments and all that) that contributed to the tightening up of the immigration regulations (but seemingly only behind closed doors).

And so on to Plan B. Go off on an adventure, being sure to catch some sun before heading back to NZ. Plan B involved chilling out on a beach somewhere for a few weeks (maybe Greece? Maybe Spain), using the money I (not without great difficulty) got back from the enormous deposit I paid for my apartment. I still had 3 weeks before the official “fuck off out of our country” date (OK, maybe it wasn’t worded quite that bluntly, but it was close) and in those three weeks my imagination spun wildly out of control. Before I knew it, I’d launched into Plan C and embarked on an adventure with no set plans, no exact date of return home and a whole lot of excitement. Luckily for me there are plenty more letters in the alphabet before I have to resort to the plan that involves selling my body.

Whilst on the one hand, finding myself jobless and homeless on the opposite side of the globe is pretty much the definition of stress, on the other hand it is also very exciting! Fortunately my initial life backup plan, should my job in Copenhagen not work out for any reason (be it the visa, or the fact I started as an intern, or that I was working at a startup), was already in action. I’ve been studying by distance through Massey University, slowly making my way towards a Masters in Economics. So plan C involved heading somewhere I could live off my student loan living costs of NZ$172 per week, that didn’t cost to much to get there. Say hola Spain! My first stop and current destination is Granada, to visit a lovely friend of mine studying on exchange who not only offered me somewhere to sleep but has been giving me a crash course in Spanish and been a wonderful tour guide.

Whilst making my extravagant plans, I’ve also been looking for all sorts of ways to reduce my living costs and increase my income. Step one has been eliminating accommodation costs. After a great tip-off from another friend, I signed up to Workaway, which is sort-of like  Wwoofing only instead of (or as well as) working on organic farms, you can find all kinds of short term work-for-accommodation type arrangements. Given I have worked for the past 4 months in a company specialising in online advertising, I’ve managed to lock in some work opportunities that can help me build those skills and do something somewhat career relevant (as much fun as manual labour or childcare would be). First stop is a Spanish language school in Conil De Frontera who wants some help with office admin, social media, and some ideas to relaunch their website and get a bit more traffic. I think the thing I’m most excited about is that I get Spanish lessons for free. Already in just a few short days in Granada I’ve learned so much, and it has really put in to perspective just how difficult Danish was to learn. Ironically enough, I was proud to realise on my very last day in Denmark as I called up to cancel the power and internet bills, I could finally understand and navigate my way through the customer service menus. Slim chance of me finding that language useful ever again, but at least I know what buttons to press now…

In terms of upping the income, in my short time working for Admazely, I quickly discovered my favourite part of the job was writing the company blog. No surprises, given the amount of content on this here blog that I’ve churned out as a hobby. I had been thinking for a while that it would be great to turn writing in to a full time gig, and getting the boot from Copenhagen has certainly thrown me out of the nest fairly quickly. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find there are a number of opportunities out there. From friends with connections, to Elance, an online market place for freelancers of all types to Copify, the site that has thus far been the most lucrative. Whilst many sites (like Elance) require you to bid against the masses for a shot at a somewhat vaguely described job, once you’ve been accepted on Copify it is a first-in-best-served situation, which gives a level of certainty I am much more keen on. While a lot of the jobs are small and low paid, there a quite a few of them, and its not a bad deal if you land one writing a press release or something with a larger word count.

So for anyone else wanting to go adventuring on the cheap, I can definitely recommend a make-your-own-exchange with Massey distance learning, working for free accommodation  and seeing if you have some skills to sell online. And for all those viewing from home, unless I end up on plan D, or E, or F, I’m aiming to be back on the mothership in September.

Well I can think of worse places to study...

Well I can think of worse places to study…

159. End of Semester 1 in Denmark

Well, I finally made it! Semester over. From start to finish, it worked out a whole lot longer than a semester back in NZ. While the teaching period was shorter (some classes only 8 weeks) the exam period was the clincher. It seems every department is operating on their own terms, and my exams were spread out over 5 weeks, starting 2 weeks after my last class. On the one hand it was the most stress free exam period I have ever had, being over such a long period (I see why Danes all look so young). On the other hand it was mind numblingly boring and I would have much preferred get them all out of the way in 2 weeks (as I am used to) and having a longer summer. Oh well, its all done now!

The Danish style, as I wrote about at the beginning of semester, is really different to what I’m used to in NZ, which is very much based on a traditional British model of academia. This was definitely the first semester (excluding law papers in NZ) where I have actually read every textbook cover to cover, as for the most part, rather than lecturers just summing up the material in the textbook and telling you what you need to know, in Denmark anything in your textbook is examinable, and classes (mostly) are more discussion of the content and solving cases using the theories you have just learned, rather than simply reciting the key points to you. So there is a definite need to keep up with readings throughout the semester if you are going to get anywhere. The other thing I really like is that problems in class and the exams themselves were case based, using realistic examples. So much was the focus on how the real world works, that some of my lecturers were external businessmen, and two of my exams were presentations rather than a written test.

The part I didn’t like, however, was that solving the cases tended to be more about doing what the lecturer wanted/citing the right theories for the course than the best answer to the problem. But if you knew what they were looking for it wasn’t too hard to get a good grade. The trouble came when the lecturer wasn’t at all clear on what they were looking for.

All in all I really enjoyed my semester, and found my courses a lot more interesting than other business papers I have taken. I’m unsure if that is because of the more realistic/practical way of teaching or because papers always get more interesting as you progress through your degree, though.

Finally, the absolute best part of it was meeting all of the wonderful people I did this semseter. It was like being in first year again, with loads of others in a similar situation and being completely surrounded by new faces and I loved it. I made so many great friends from all over europe, and luckily most of the Danish ones and a few two-semester exchange students will still be there next semester. For the rest who have now left, it is really sad to see so many great friends go, but I hope to see them all again, and luckily, for those in Europe I’ll be able to visit them this summer!

I learned about so many great cultures, and met loads of likeminded people having the time of their lives on exchange, some of which I travelled with too. I am so glad I’m doing a second semester in Aarhus because it was just the most amazing time, and I definifely am not ready to say goodbye yet, so I imagine it must have been really hard for those who have had to go. It is also really strange that a bunch of my friends are disappearing, to be replaced with a new group of exchange students. I am definitely looking forward to meeting the new ones (there will be another kiwi from Otago Uni which is exciting, I can finally use my full vocabulary of slang to someone who will understand it), though there is definitely no replacing the friends I made this semester!

148. Bartending in Danish

In return for my free ticket to Northside Festival I volunteered for a few hours on one of the bars. A few less than normal, as I had helped design/set up one of them. I had worked at the bar at Studenterhus Aarhus (the student bar) a number of times and didn’t think anything of it. What I didn’t realise was that at Studenterhus it is a lot easier as the clientele knows most of the bartenders are exchange students. No-one expects the bartenders to be speaking English at a festival though! It was a real test of my Danish knowledge, particularly when people started asking specific questions like how many litres the jugs of beer are, but by the end of the weekend I felt my Danish had improved significantly! There were only a few hiccups, like right at the beginning when someone asked for what I heard as ‘a can of beer’. As it turned out ‘can’ is how to pronounce ‘kane’ which is actually a jug. Only minor confusion!

The bar was right in front of the main stage too, so I still saw all the acts that were on whilst I was working. Finally, the highlight was surprisingly enough late on Sunday night when the weekend was nearly over and I really wanted to go to bed. There were a whole bunch of opened boxes of shots (they come pre-packaged in test tubes) that needed to be sold, so eventually we were selling 15 for 100Kr (around $20). No host responsibility rules on how many can be sold in one go in Denmark it seems. Some lovely young gentlemen who were in a relatively sober state when they approached the bar found this deal so exciting that by the time they left (after multiple rounds of 15 shots) they thought I was the best bartender in the world for giving them so many and were serenading me with “Call Me Maybe.” Great entertainment.

118. Top Denmark Expat Blog, According to Internations.Org

It seems I’m not the only one that finds my jokes funny, and a nifty little website called stumbled across my blog and thought it was a bit of alright. I suspect it actually has more to do with not that many people blogging about moving to Denmark… Anyhow, looks like pretty good promo for their site as I checked it out and it is actually pretty cool. A good place to start it you are moving to a new country and feeling a little lost/lonely. I’m lucky, having been introduced to Denmark via a University exchange programme, but I can see how it could be really hard for someone who isn’t in a group of 150 odd exchange students with events and lectures on Danish culture organised for them.

If you are interested in checking out the site, and reading the interview they got me to do, have a gander here.

100. 100 Blog Posts

Here it is, daily update number 100! 100 days since I set myself this challenge, which was only about 12 days before I set off on my big European adventure of travels, education and fun times. The original challenge was to try something new every single day and write about it. The plan was to shift my thinking to saying yes to as many opportunities as possible, to never have an excuse to say “I’m bored,” to get out of my comfort zone and most importantly to have fun!

I thought it would be hard to ensure I was doing something new every day, but the real challenge has been in keeping up with everything. I’d say travel probably helps in this respect (it certainly was harder before I left when I was working every day) but now the difficulty is that I am so far behind! Most days since I left there have been so many things I’ve had to cut things out, been able to write a week’s worth of posts in advance and I’m still almost a month behind in all the things I could write about. So as for new things, not a problem at all! Writing every day has been a challenge though, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year or so, you can’t plan anything. Some days are unpredictably busy, and some days I have had zero motivation to sit in front of my computer screen and come up with anything remotely entertaining. But on the whole I think I’ve done OK, and I’ve managed to catch up every time I have fallen behind.

It seems that a couple of other people think my posts have been a bit of a laugh and have nominated me for a ‘Versatile Blogger Award.’ I’m new to all this blogging business, so when I first heard of it I didn’t really know what it was. It seemed like the wordpress version of a chain letter – you have to then nominate 15 blogs that you read as well. And apparently everyone nominated is automatically a winner. So its like the preschool version of an awards ceremony, which is nice. Seeing as I’m new to all this, and all the cool kids seem to be doing it, I’ll do the blogging version of running off to The Warehouse to get myself a Tamagotchi. And maybe some Chatter-rings.

So thanks to Zeta from American Hermit Crab in Denmark and Sunny from Cynicalboy for the nominations, I’m very flattered!

So according to the rules, here’s the blogs that I think are a bit of alright:

1. Learning to Dansk – one of my classmates from Canada, he posts about his travels in amazing detail (i.e. fantastic for travel advice), and I love reading his take on things we’ve both done, like our recent adventure to Stockholm

2. Thoughtsandrainstorms – I’ve loved this blog from the beginning, Holly is one of the most amazing writers and when she is famous I’ll be telling everyone I can that I know her!

3. Stuckinthegroove – another friend from Uni, this blog is primarily a music blog with some travel and life in the mix, and she has a brilliant way of describing her favourite music. Even better if you read it just after listening to one of the albums she writes about.

4. Orangette – a great food blog my friend introduced me to with amazing food and cute stories about her life.

5. Foodimentary – Fascinating food facts every day. For example, April 21st was world chocolate covered cashew nut day.

6. The Ranting Chef – yup, another food blog. I love cooking, and eating, and people who also love cooking and eating! And this is a great blog.

So the next rule is to write 7 things people don’t know about you. I already post far too much about myself (I’m awfully stalkable online) so here’s some things maybe not everyone knows (I really had to think hard to come up with 7):

1. I have an irrational fear of birds

2. I still have no idea what I’m going to do with my life once I graduate… possibly why I’m taking my time…

3. Nigella Lawson is my idol

4. The more I travel overseas, the more I fall in love with New Zealand. Its an awesome country in every possible way. But I’m still loving travelling.

5. I frequently joke about how my life goal is to become a trophy wife, and I find it really funny when people believe me.

6. I think I might be a workaholic. I’m currently studying full time, working as an au pair and doing an internship at a fitness company. Oh and writing and travelling and things. I prefer to think I never have an excuse to say my life isn’t interesting and a whole lot of fun.

7. I have trouble saying no to things, especially opportunities that come my way, so I don’t know why I thought my challenge to try new things would be hard!

So there we go. Officially on that bandwagon. I hope you check out the aforementioned blogs if you enjoy reading.

And thanks again Sunny and Zeta 🙂

95. Danish Birthday Cake

At a fellow exchange students’ wee birthday celebration not so long ago, we felt it was time to sample yet another delicious Danish Pastry tradition: the birthday ‘cake.’ It seems (or at least, the idea the bakeries are selling us), that tradition is to have a big huge decorated pastry as opposed to a cake. And a mighty fine tradition it was. A thin pastry with layers of almond paste, iced and decorated with a cute message made of marzipan. Delicious. My love for true, European marzipan is ever growing. I just don’t know how they get away with selling that sickly sweet, white, not even almond-y tasting, soya bean substitute in other parts of the world. It’s a total injustice.

94. Learn what ‘India Pale Ale’ really means

One of Aarhus University’s student bars, (aptly named ‘Baren’) also happens to be the bar with the biggest range of specialty beers in town, housing at least 200 of them. I recently participated in a focus group where we were given a free beer voucher as a reward. Not being much of a beer drinker I felt I should take the opportunity to sample something new and different. Which resulted in me interrogating the poor unsuspecting beer drinking to find out what she recommended. She asked if I had ever tried an ‘IPA’ beer. My blank look must have said it all, and she then produced a bottle of ‘Mikkell’s IPA.’ She was obviously keen on the idea of maximising the value of my voucher, as apparently it is one of the more expensive of the 200 beers on the menu. Good bartender.

When I saw the label I realised that what was meant by ‘IPA’ was India Pale Ale and couldn’t help but laugh – a common phrase plastered across one of our more common, cheap, shitty beers which redeems itself only by its great advertising. I’m talking about Tui if any kiwi’s are reading this and are still confused.

One of the other focus group volunteers at the table with us was also a bartender at ‘Baren’ (and one must be well versed in near useless beer facts to work there, apparently) and proceeded to tell me all about what India Pale Ale really means – something I had never even thought about, despite seeing it so many times. As it turned out, when the English first went to India, they couldn’t handle the awful beer there, so imported their own, but had to come up with an entirely new brewing technique, laden with preservatives, in order to ship the beer all the way to India and have it survive the journey. Again, I’m not so big on beer, so I sort-of forgot the next part but I think it was more hops making it pale in colour or something. So there’s some beer trivia for you.

In other news, I didn’t really like this particular beer so much, despite it being so expensive and highly recommended…

61. Fall In Love

My weekend in Stockholm was quickly extended, but even with a few extra unplanned days I didn’t want to leave! Stockholm was just amazing, and I had no idea just how hard I would fall for its beauty, excitement, seamless transitions between old and new, eclectic artwork, quirky bars, fashion, cosy cafes, amazing food… the list goes on.

As I wondered through the streets in the often vastly different areas, every single corner I turned revealed a new and different view, a beautiful building (be it old or new), a crazy scultpture or an exceptionally well designed cafe. The city had such an unbelievable amount of character, of all different types. From the Old Town, with every inch of land covered by medieval masterpieces, to the tree-lined streets of Ostermalm, to trendy Sodermalm or the super clean and slick streets of Normalm, with beautiful architecture from all ages.

Perhaps it was the fact that there are over 100 museums in Stockholm, or that even the subway system is famous for being full of modern art. Perhaps the fact I arrived with no expectations or pre-conceived notions of what the city would be like. Or better still, that an absolutely lovely friend of mine, a Stockholm local also studying on exchange in Aarhus, wrote out an amazing itinerary of things to do and all her favourite places. Armed with a list of all of Stockholm’s hidden gems – from best views to cafes, bars and restaurants, this was no watered down touristy adventure. It really felt like a taste of what living in Stockholm was really like, and I must say I loved it!

There’s no way I can do the trip justice in just one post, so stay tuned for posts about my adventures, and an epic photo album.

57. A Classic Kiwi Meal

Those of us exchange students who are staying miles out of town at Skjoldhoj Kollegiet have started the International Food Series, where we each cook a typical meal from home. When my turn rolled around, or more accurately, when I was feeling a little homesick and felt like making some comfort food, I offered to cook for the team. The next dilemma, however, was deciding on what exactly constitutes a classic kiwi meal. The problem, you see, is that New Zealand is a young and very multicultural country and as far as food goes, we just eat everyone else’s food!

I asked for some suggestions on facebook of what would be considered a classic kiwi meal. My sister helpfully suggested a delicious New Zealand Lasagne or a Traditional Kiwi Stir Fry. The irony of these classic kiwi foreign meals was not at all lost on me. After a good chuckle I settled on roast lamb with kumara and potatoes. Whilst the meat-and-two-veg combination is pretty classic as far as New Zealand cuisine goes, I do feel it is more of an English innovation. However, the ingredients are what makes it truly kiwi.

I have been asked many times as I meet foreigners whether it really is true that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand. I like to point out that the ratio of sheep to humans is roughly 4:1 and pause a little to laugh at their faces while they imagine we each own 4 pet sheep, before pre-emptively (and ever so patronisingly) correcting them that they reside on farms and not in our living rooms. There’s actually this slightly sheepish (no pun intended. Actually it was totally intentional. Who ever says no pun intended and actually means it?!) look people give me as they lie through their teeth and say “Oh… I knew that…”

Thus lamb is a very traditional New Zealand meat to oven roast. In fact oven roasting a whole meal, I have been told by a Swede, is in fact a very New Zealand thing to do. As for the two veg, Kumara (or sweet potato if translated) is definitely a truly kiwi vegetable although both in New Zealand and elswhere, it is quite expensive. Perfect to water it down with some potatoes.

As for dessert, there is nothing more traditional and kiwi than a Pavlova. And don’t you dear let those plagiarising Australian’s tell you otherwise. Officially, it is still being disputed, but everyone knows the Pavlova is ours. With a deceitfully Russian sounding name, the Pavolva is a dessert invented in New Zealand in the 1920s, named after Anna Pavolva, a Russian Ballet Dancer who was touring New Zealand at the time. A pavlova is a large, white meringue cake, with the name no doubt influenced by the beautiful white tutu of a ballet dancer in that era.

This particular meal wasn’t my first lamb roast, but by gosh, I must say it was one of my best! The pavolva, on the other hand, was my first ever attempt at the dessert, and I made the fatal error of disobeying the strict cooking instructions of a somewhat difficult dessert. I didn’t make the most common of pavolva mistakes: opening the oven door while it was cooking; but instead I decided that using normal sugar would be fine. There are very clear instructions on every pavlova recipe to use castor sugar, but I couldn’t find it anywhere in Aarhus. I read somewhere that you should grind up normal sugar to create caster sugar rather than substitute a heavier kind, but I didn’t have anything suitable for the task in my ill-equipped student kitchen. I decided to take a chance, and while the dessert wasn’t a failure, it was a little more dense than usual. I also think the oven was a touch too hot, but it did taste pretty good! In true student form, I couldn’t bear to waste the egg yolks, so I also made some lemon curd to go on top, which tasted so much better than the traditional sliced kiwifruit/strawberries. Especially as fruit is like a whole different food group here, compared to the good stuff we have in New Zealand.

The roast lamb was delicious, though it was subject to one of the larger of my shopping miscommunication failures. I went to Bazaar Vest, the middle eastern market, which I had seen had a few large butchers, and had heard one of them has been voted the best one in Aarhus, not to mention one of the cheapest (Fun fact: the Danish word for butcher is ‘Slagter.’ How delightful). Unfortunately, in both Denmark and the Middle East, it seems a Lamb Roast to feed a large family in the way we make them back home is not something repeated here. Furthermore, I have bought meat from a butcher maybe twice in my life and had no idea what to even call the cut I was after, let alone in Danish. Usually, there would be a good size piece of boneless lamb already cut and packaged on the supermarket shelf. At the butcher I went to, my options where a giant leg, a tiny steak or mince. The butcher asked me in Danish if I would like any help. I replied in English that I would like some lamb, but did they have anything smaller than the legs. After some stilted conversation where the poor guy switched to English, his third language at the very least, he said ‘OK I’ll cut it for you.’ Here was I thinking I had been quite clear that the leg was too large and I wanted about half of the size. I was amazed to see the guy very proudly come back with the leg in small chunks. It was pretty reasonably priced, and I strongly doubted the poor guy would be happy with selling the other half of the small chunks of lamb leg. So I politely thanked him and took the whole leg cut in to small pieces. He’d been so nice and helpful after-all, and I could always freeze them and save the rest for other occasions. And on the bright side it would cook faster!

So I used the following method, inspired by Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and most importantly the amazing chef that is my mother.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Cut potatoes, onions, kumara in to bit sized chunks. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with fresh rosemary and a teaspoon of salt. Place in a roasting dish (I had to go buy those disposable foil ones) with some whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic, toss around to evenly distribute the oil, salt and rosemary and place on the bottom shelf of the oven. Place lamb, either a large cut or smaller cuts in a roasting dish. Poke a 1cm squared hole in the meat with a small knife and put a sprig of rosemary and a quarter or half of a peeled clove of garlic in the hole. Poke similar holes about an inch apart all over the lamb and repeat. Or if you accidentally have smaller pieces, 1-2 holes in each piece. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven, in the tray above the vegetables. Cook the lamb for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on how well cooked you like your meat and how much/what size it is. Usually, if the juices run clear when you poke a hole in the meat and push down on it with your knife it will be well cooked. With red meat, a little bit undercooked will be fine.As for the vegetables, after about 25minutes, turn the vegetables over to ensure they cook evenly.

Take the lamb out (it will continue to cook a little as it slowly cools) and turn the oven up to 250 degrees. After a further 10 minutes turn the vegetables again. Continue to cook (and turn) until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside. Take the vegetables out and allow to cool. They should be ready between 15 minutes and 30 minutes after the meat is done, depending on how fast your oven heats up. This part requires a little bit of attention to ensure they cook well. You may want to add a touch more oil when you check them (even while the meat is cooking) if they look to be drying out.
Rosemary is my absolute favourite herb, and in my opinion, you just can’t get enough of it so feel free to through a hellova lot of it on to both your vegetables and your meat. If you don’t have fresh rosemary, dried is just as good as fresh, or if you prefer a mixed herbs/tuscan herbs/herbs de provence style combination (however your supermarket is selling a mix with a rosemary/oregano/thyme base combination) it will be almost as good.

Normally, in my household anyway, it would be served with some green veges (either steamed or oven roasted) on the side. Delicious and a great way to make it a more balanced meal. However, when catering for the masses on a student budget, the lamb, kumara and potatoes went down a treat.

I also made some mint sauce to go with. Not the traditional wierd jelly you can buy, but a home made version which was amazing. Never buying again! Do be warned though, it may make you want to drink mohitos. To make it, get two large handfuls of fresh mint and sprinkle with about a teaspoon of sugar. Chop it up as small as you can and then place in a small bowl. Juice a lemon or lime over the mint and stir vigorously until it is all mushy and sauce like. If you have a mortor and pestle it would probably achieve the desired effect far more efficiently. Other variations would suggest using white wine vineagar, but if you don’t already have it is a bit more of an investment than a lemon or lime. If it is too tangy add more sugar to taste. Don’t make it too early – it was delicious fresh!

I made some gravy too but it was a bit of a failure. Luckily it was superfluous with the mint sauce. Best I figure out where I went wrong before posting any recipes!

For the Pavlova and lemon curd, I used the following recipes:

Beat 4 egg whites with an electric mixer until they form soft white peaks. Gradually add one cup of caster sugar whilst contnuing to beat (alternatively if you can’t find any and have a very clean coffee grinder you can grind it into caster sugar, or if that is too difficult normal sugar will still make a pavlova). Add one teaspoon of lemon juice or vineagar and two teaspoons of sifted cornflour and beat for at least 10 minutes until it is glossy. Pile the meringue on to a baking tray lined with tin foil or baking paper, shaping it in a cake shape as much as possible, and leaving a bit of a dip in the centre. Bake at 130 degrees for about one and a half hours, until the outside is crispy and a sort of off-white/cream colour. Finally, whatever you do, don’t open the door until you are ready to take it out of the oven.

Put one teaspoon of cornflour, a quarter of a cup of sugar and three quarters of a cup of milk in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring it to the boil, then pour a small amount in to a bowl with the two egg yolks and stir. Add this egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and stir constantly for a further minute. Remove from the head and add two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of lemon rind. Allow to cool.

When the pavlova was ready I poured the lemon curd over it and added whipped cream on top. Delicious!

50. Celebrate murdering kittens

Before you judge me as a terrible person – I had no idea!

The week before last were a host of different events, all on different days, related to a holiday called Festelavn. While Wikipedia tells me it is meant to be the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday, there was a Saturday night party at my college, a Tuesday night party at the Student bar on the main campus, another party at one of the other college and a Friday night party at the School of Business, among many others. In fact, I’m not even 100% sure I got those dates all correct, there were that many.

Originally we were told that Festelavn was Denmark’s Halloween, and the first few Danes I asked about it seemed to have no idea what they were actually celebrating/dressing up for. Wikipedia describes it as ‘Carnival in Denmark’ and the Friday night party was Mardi Gras themed (complete with beads being handed out). Was it Mardi Gras? Was it Halloween? Was it something else altogether? I didn’t know. But costume parties are always fun, why not give it a go!

Apparently the meaning has been murky since Denmark defected from Catholicism and became a Protestant nation. Anyhow, I found myself at the Tuesday night celebration and part way through the night we were all moved in to another room where we played a ‘game’ were a small barrel full of lollies was hung from the roof and everyone took turns at whacking the barrel once each until it burst and the lollies came out – much like a pinada. Some strategic placement in the line and clever aim and I managed to pull off the winning strike, but the victory was bittersweet when I learned what the barrel was all about.

Apparently back in the day they would put a black kitten in the barrel and beat it until the kitten was no longer alive. Sick. Supposedly warding off evil, whilst conveniently forgetting they were being evil themselves or something.

Last time I participate in any kind of celebration without a Wikipedia search at the very least!

I didn’t take my camera unfortunately, but as a consolotion prize here is a rather hilarious sad-cat-with-first-world-problems meme.