Folkehøjskole Feast

We Americans knew that being away from home wouldn’t be easy this Thanksgiving season. So, some of us decided to bring a little taste of home here to the Folkehøjskole by cooking a Thanksgiving feast for all the Danes. A full menu of traditional foods was brainstormed and presented to the main chief of the school. Everything was planned out perfectly and we were ready for the big meal.

The morning of the big day (we celebrated a day early since we don’t have class Wednesday) we found out some exciting yet daunting news. Jonas, the main chief who had planned to help us, wife had just gone into labor. After feeling excited for him, we suddenly felt a little overwhelmed as we realized that we would have to start all of our planning from scratch. Luckily we had some great guidance from the rest of the kitchen staff.

However, all of the cooking was up to us. Usually the first Thanksgiving meal you cook for people can be pretty daunting. So imagine the pressure we felt for cooking our first Thanksgiving meal for around 100 Danes and teachers.

Image

Michelle, Grace, Alana, Aleah, and I began the process of figuring out how to make this dinner happen. We planned for turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, 4 pumpkin pies, 4 pecan pies, 6 green bean casseroles, 6 pineapple casseroles, cornbread, gravy, brussels sprouts, and stuffing. Luckily we had some help from Pete’s mom later on in the afternoon.

Image

Image

While rushing to get this all done in a time span of 6 hours, we ran into a few obstacles along the way. First, all of our ingredients were in Danish. Second, we needed to convert cups and Fahrenheit from our American (Paula Dean) recipes into grams and Celsius. Can’t remember the last time I did so much math. Not to mention multiplying our recipes for enough to feed 100 was a task in itself.

Image

;

Image

Image

Image

Image

As for ingredients, we usually had to improvise. For our pumpkin pies, Michelle and I were given a fresh pumpkin instead of pumpkin from a can. That was an interesting task to conquer. Also, we had to used polenta mix instead of cornbread mix. (But it was good!) Also for the pineapple casserole, we didn’t have any Ritz crackers so we made do with sweet dessert ones. It still tasted just as delicious! In order to make the dinner successful, it called for some last minute doctoring and guesstimating when it came to the recipes. Our moms would be so proud!

Image

Image

Image

While we were finishing up in the kitchen, others were decorating the eating area with a hygge Thanksgiving feel. Once all the food was out, it tied together perfectly! While the Danes waited for their food, we led an “arts and craft” project. Everyone made hand turkeys and wrote what they were thankful for. Then, all of us Americans presented the food and gave a little background on the meaning of Thanksgiving. It turned out to be a very educational, fun, and most importantly yummy experience.

Image

I was very proud with the popularity of Michelle and mine’s pineapple casserole from not only the Danes but also my northern friends who had never heard of the southern dish. Even the director of the school stood up and announced that he never thought pineapple and cheese would be good together, but he loved it!

Image

I can speak for everyone when saying that it was so great to be able to give many of our European friends their first ever Thanksgiving meal. It will definitely be a night I will never forget. I am so lucky for my life here in Denmark, and I’m thankful for it every day!

Advertisements

Cozy Christmas Sweaters

Image

Big European city, the beach, Tuscany… and now Albecpeta was off to the mountains. The Alps of Interlaken, Switzerland to be exact. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Since we arrived at night, when we woke up in the morning we were pleasantly surprised by the breathtaking views of the mountains from our hostel room window. Our room included a bunk bed and queen size bed…, which was used for more group cuddles, and relaxation sessions while watching funny videos and movies. Now that’s what I call a vacation.

Image

Image

Image

The cozy small town of Interlaken was absolutely adorable. Just strolling through the clear crisp air while checking out the scenery, markets and small shops was so much fun. We were so lucky with the weather too. Pete was like a giddy schoolboy with excitement from all the nature. During our exploration of the town and surrounding neighborhoods, Alana and I decided to buy matching oversized Swiss Christmas sweaters.

Image

Image

In the spirit of our new purchase, we girls dressed in Christmas sweaters and Pete in flannel for our night out for traditional Swiss cheese fondue. Talk about an expensive dinner, but totally worth it. We even went all out and splurged for some chocolate fondue for dessert. Hey…you’re only in Switzerland once! (Actually I hope that’s not the case.)

Image

Our next day in Interlaken was our “extreme activity day”. We started off with some home cooked eggs, and a breakfast overlooking the nice views from our hostel balcony. Pete left the pack for some guy time on a snowboarding trip, and we girls headed to the top of the mountain in a van of hilarious Swiss men to go paragliding!

Image

Image

Image

My paragliding instructor was awesome. Basically, they strap you in… and then you both run and jump off a mountain. Once you jump, you catch the wind and soar high through the Alps like a bird. It’s an unreal feeling, and not to mention absolutely breathtaking. Towards the end my instructor even did some cool flips and tricks with me to add to the excitement.

Image

Image

After a long day… Aleah, Alana and I turned up the jazz music and cooked a delicious meal of homemade cheese sauce and Gnocchi with some veggies in our hostel kitchen. Aleah even taught me a trick for chopping garlic! I knew I could count on my Italian roommate for something.

Image

After a great time in Interlaken, it was time to head back to our one true love: Copenhagen. After a ten-day trip we were all ready to return to our comfortable life back with the Danes and the rest of our amazing friends in Hillerød.

Image

Image

I had such a great time traveling with Albecpeta. I can’t believe how close we all have become after this short semester abroad. I feel like I’ve known them forever! It still hasn’t quite hit me that we only have around three weeks left together. I’ve been so lucky to have met them here in Denmark…they’ve made my study abroad experience one I’ll never forget. Not quite sure what life back at home is going to be like without us all together. Guess we will have to keep up with the tradition and travel around the US together next! (Ok…Max you’re invited too)

A Foodie’s Dream

Image

Finally making it to Italy can be described in one simple amazing word: food.

Image

Image

Before I can tell you about our amazing time in Florence, our scary experience with our overnight train from France to Italy must not be forgotten. First, when we found out we had a 5 hour layover in a random town in Italy, we were annoyed but figured it wouldn’t be too bad. We planned to lounge out in the waiting room and prepared by buying plenty of snacks. Boy, were we in for a rude awakening. Since we arrived at the station around 11, the waiting room was closed. All that was left was the entrance hallway, accompanied by cold marble floors and half opened doors…, which willingly let all of the cold air in. Not to mention all of our new homeless friends lying among us on top of cardboard box beds (which we later became pretty jealous of). Lets just say we were all in survival mode, and took turns drifting off against our suitcases while waiting for the train. Hey, at least it made us stronger travelers in the end!

Image

Image

Image

Finally getting to Florence was like a a dream (maybe just because we were extremely exhausted). We stayed in Aleah’s friend’s adorable apartment right across from the Duomo – the main beautiful church in Florence. Once getting settled we didn’t waste any time and began to stuff our faces with pizza and gelato.

Image

Image

Image

That night I was lucky enough to have dinner with one of my best friends from home, Emmie. It was so nice to be able to see a familiar face! She was nice enough to take Alana, Pete, and I out for a night on the town…. which ended up being a night that we would never forget. We all had a blast together and I’m so glad Emmie, Alana, and Pete hit it off. I miss her already!

Image

In true Albecpeta fashion, we decided to join the “Taste of Florence” food tour during our stay. Although it was a little bit of a splurge, our taste buds thanked us later. Not only did we taste amazing pastries, aged cheeses, meats, wines, melt in your mouth chocolates, handmade gelato, and aged balsamic vinegar…but we also learned so much information behind what makes food from Tuscany so amazing.

Image

Image

Some main takeaways from our food tour:

  • you should always fry with sparkling water for a lighter and crispier golden taste
  • grottino sardo cheese from sheep’s milk is delicious
  • ricotta cheese can always be a last minute dessert when mixed with jam or nutella
  • olive oil should be used for cooking (extra virgin olive oil for dipping)
  • salami with venal seeds and pepper grains is yummy
  • less fatty salami means lighter flavor
  • salamoia olives, salt, rosemary, sage, and garlic are great for sautéing meat
  • sweet soft ricotta cheese with lemon taste like cheesecake
  • gnash means chocolate infused with flavors (basil and baileys were my favorite)
  • cooking with white balsamic vinaigrette is better than cooking with white wine
  • the iron in foods like steak numbs your taste buds, so strong red wine clears your palate and helps keep that flavor of steak for every bite!
  • good gelato melts and is stored low, meaning you should avoid the tall pretty gelato displays with huge piles of non-melted colorful gelato

Image

The fresh fried polenta with a warm cream like cheese on top was one of my favorites. We also tried wild boar, which was pretty good. Can’t say the same for trying cow stomach. Supposedly tripe is a delicacy in Italy, and Aleah and I were the only adventurous ones to try it. The flavor was ok, but the soft gooey texture was too much for me to handle. Aleah liked it though…

Image

One of my favorite tastings was trying the same pecorino sheep milk cheese from various ages. The longer it ages the darker the cheese gets. The three day cheese was soft, while the 3 month cheese (my favorite) started to form skin, making it a little dryer and saltier. Since it’s milder, it creates a great balance with sweet flavors. The 6-month cheese was soft and strong in flavor, and the 1 year old cheese was almost too strong to handle. The “zingy” flavor was due to the fact that it was made with raw, pasteurized milk.

Image

We also tried traditional Italian aged balsamic vinegar that was 25 years old, aka older than us. A 14-year-old bottle of balsamic can cost up to 70 euro. The older it gets, the sweeter and thicker the balsamic vinegar becomes. It was amazing!

So, is your mouth watering yet?

Image

Wouldn’t be a complete blog post about Florence without mentioning the beautiful American couple we met on our tour, Bill and Patty. They met and fell in love in Florence, and were revisiting the magical city for their 30th wedding anniversary. It was so much fun sharing our food tour with them, and we all felt so lucky to get to know them. They told us that we were a good substitute for them since they missed their sons back at home. When we said our goodbyes, Patty told us how important it was for us to travel in order to understand, experience, and be excepting of all different cultures. They even surprised us with a gift of Euros for us to buy a bottle of wine on them for dinner. They were too sweet, and I hope they enjoyed the rest of their time in Florence. Cheers to Bill and Patty!

Sun and Scooters

Image

Image

Image

After roughing it through our first overnight train to the south of France, Albecpeta got to experience something we haven’t seen in Copenhagen for ages: the sun. With current Copenhagen sunsets around 3:55 after a nice cold day, I had forgotten what it felt like to be warmed by the sun, and boy had I missed it. Seeing the Mediterranean for the first time was just as beautiful as I had imagined it. The smell of the salty beach air reminded me just how much I loved the ocean.

Image

Image

Some parts of Nice looked so similar to what I always pictured Greece to look like. The shore was filled with green sea glass. It was absolutely beautiful. After a day of wondering around the pebble beaches, ocean boulevards, and outdoor markets, we ventured to the top of Castle Hill to get better views of the town. At the top, we enjoyed the sunny day with some ice cream and a visit to the playground.

Image

Image

We definitely got in tune with the “beach mentality”, and enjoyed relaxing at our awesome hostel, which included the cutest balcony. A few naps, as well as group cuddles on all of our beds pushed together to watch movies, took place here.

Image

Albecpeta decided to treat ourselves with a nice dinner. After being told we couldn’t do our usual of splitting two expensive plates four ways, we decided to cheers to anxiety and order up. Good thing we did, the food was delicious. I especially liked how well mannered Pete agreed to order the lobster pasta in hopes that he would spontaneously start liking seafood. It didn’t work out so well for him, but at least it was a cute gesture. Thanks to Aleah, I got to learn how to crack open a lobster all on my own! In true Albecpeta fashion, we decided to spend our funds for the day on food rather than partying. Hey, you have to make scarifies somewhere.

Image

Image

We soaked up the sun during our last day in Nice with a picnic on the beach. What followed was something that will probably scare me for the rest of my life. While my Yankee friends (besides Alana…who is crazy) gallivanted in the cold waves of the November Mediterranean water, I decided to play “camera woman” in order to avoid that situation all together. However, after Pete decided to spontaneously throw me in for everyone’s amusement, I felt the shock of some of the coldest water I’ve ever felt. I had to hold on to everyone just for warmth. Even though they said this was pretty normal water to them, I’m used to scorching hot Myrtle Beach water…. and I still think they are crazy (southern beaches rule).

Image

Image

We ended our trip to Nice with some extreme sports along the coast. We started off with rollerblades, which are a lot more difficult on a busy road versus skating around at the Jellybeans skate rink. I don’t think I had touched a pair of rollerblades since 5th grade. However, with Pete’s help from past hockey experience, we all survived. I was pretty proud of my technique, and in true friend fashion I even cushioned a fall for Alana after crossing the street. After we were done with rollerblading, Pete got a skateboard, Alana got a long board, and I decided to show off my middle school scooter skills. Let me just say…I was pretty impressive.

Image

Image

After a great few days, I have to admit that Nice was probably one of my favorite stops. I hope I can go back someday.

The City of Lights

Image

They say that when good Americans die they go to Paris.

-Oscar Wilde

It’s true; the sparkling city lights help Paris come alive at night. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always had a fascination about visiting Paris. With Paris being the home to my favorite movie, Moulin Rouge, and musical, Phantom of the Opera, it only made sense. Carrie’s obsession with Paris on Sex and the City even helped fuel my desire to visit the famous city. This is why I knew Paris was a must stop on my last and final trip around Europe with my favorites in Albecpeta.

Image

As we landed into Paris Thursday night, we could see the Eiffel tower gleaming in the distance. It’s easy to say this was definitely a great start to the trip. We were a little nervous about running into some stereotypical snobby people while in Paris, but everyone was beautifully friendly. During our long trek of dragging our luggage to our hostel from the train station, we ran into many friendly faces helping us while “lost in Paris”. We finally met one older gentleman who pointed us into the right direction. He had lived in the area all his life, and explained to us some history about Paris. Boulevards always have trees, and since Paris wasn’t bombed during WWII, he feels like living in Paris is like living in a beautiful antique museum. With a friend from Alabama, he appreciated and poked fun at my southern roots. He also shared his excitement about Obama winning the election, which was a common theme when running into locals around the city. Maybe that’s why everyone was so nice to us Americans?

Image

Our new friend suggested a great restaurant recommendation called the Chartier, which is located in a beautiful historic building. He had been eating there for 20 years and promised it would be a great reasonable French meal. He was right! We dined on wine, steak, and cheese for around ten Euros a person during our last night in Paris. Luckily we missed the line wrapping around the outside of the restaurant waiting to be sat.

With our hostel being a five minute walk from the Moulin Rouge, I knew I was in the right place. The four of us in Albecpeta celebrated our first night with an adorable picnic consisting of wine, cheese, and grapes on our hostel floor.

Image

Image

Our days were filled with visiting the Latin Quarter, Notre Dam, famous book stores, the opera house, strolling along the Sine river, exploring Montmartre, and other must do touristy things. My favorite moments were really embracing the Parisian atmosphere and relaxing at outside cafes with coffee and creeps. Nothing like some Albecpeta bonding while cafe hopping (and eating) in Paris! Thanks to Alana’s French speaking techniques traveling throughout the city was like a breeze.

Image

One of my favorite moments of the trip was Alana and Pete’s adorable attempt to plan a “surprise date” for Pete and I. Aren’t I so lucky to have such great friends? Though pretty obvious the whole time (Hey Pete, your on Facebook right? cue winky face), the thought was pretty spectacular. I guess it’s just something you have to do in the most romantic city in the world, right? Once we parted ways, Pete took me to this delicious hidden restaurant by the Royal Gardens. We shared wine that was agreed upon by both of us to be some of the best wine we’ve ever had…. Chevalier de Malle Graves Bordeaux 2008 if you need any wine suggestions. At the end of the night Pete decided to surprise Alana with flowers for helping him out with all of the planning. Major brownie points.

Image

Image

We ended off the romantic night with the rest of Albecpeta by visiting the Eiffel tower. I always thought it would be cool, but I had no idea how breathtaking it would actually be. First off, it’s HUGE. Secondly, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad we got to see it at night, and every hour it even sparkles. Alana and I screamed like little girls the first time we saw it. All of us ventured to the very top to see the city from high above. I even got to fit in with Alana’s flowers with a few last minute roses from Pete at the tower. Some might say it’s because I’m a jealous brat, I just call myself lucky 🙂

Image

Another amazing thing I did in Paris was visiting the apartment my Dad’s grandmother lived in during her travel from Russia to Baltimore. My Aunt Becky also lived there, which was the person I was named after. It was really touching to be able to see that part of my family’s history. I really wish my parents were there to share it with me!

Image

Image

Although Paris was just the beginning to an amazing week of adventures, we made some great memories that I’ll never forget. My time in Paris exceeded all of my expectations!

The Rubins are Taking Over Copenhagen

Image

Image

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be graced by the presence of my amazing parents, Melba and Steve. I wasn’t surprised that their coolness helped them become a big hit amongst my friends here in Denmark. We started off their visit right with a trip to Nørrebro microbrewery (kudos for the suggestion Tara). It was great to be able to openly enjoy a beer with them thanks to the rules of wonderful Denmark.

ImageImage

Afterwards Alana, Pete, and some Elon visitors Beth and Julia crashed my parent’s hotel (with their permission of-course) for a delightful pre-game before heading out to the city. With Melba’s generous bar-tending skills, we all had a great time. So much of a good time that we later wished we stayed to hang out with the rents more instead of venturing to the bars. Either way, afterwards Melba and Steve were nice enough to let us all crash on their floor in the middle of the night. How college of them! I’m so proud.

Image

Image

Image

The next few days were filled with showing my parents around Copenhagen, “my town”. It was really fun to be able to share everything I’ve been doing in my new home here in Denmark. Besides just the touristy things, I have to say that I really enjoyed how spoiled I was in the food department. I finally could afford some sushi and dessert from the food market for once! It was a nice break from just free samples. Pete and I also had fun showing them around Christiana, a hippie commune in the middle of Copenhagen. We even tried out Christiana’s vegetarian and organic restaurant, which was a great local restaurant with delicious food and a warm cozy atmosphere!

Image

My parents were really fortunate that Tivoli, Copenhagen’s vintage amusement park, was open for Halloween. The light display was absolutely breathtaking! I’m sure that those out there who know my dad would assume that Steve was going crazy with the camera.

Image

Showing my parents around Hillerød, the small town I live in outside of Copenhagen, was probably the best part of the trip. They loved the local castle and small town feel. My mom even said she enjoyed it more than Copenhagen! We had a lot of fun strolling around the pedestrian street, touring the castle, and sharing ice cream while enjoying the views over the lake on a beautiful fall day. My parents were so lucky with the weather! I’m glad they could enjoy sunny Denmark during their stay.   

Image

Image

Image

Melba and Steve had a great time hanging out at the Folkehøjskole where I live. They were a big hit amongst both my American and European friends. (Maybe the free white Russians at dinner had something to do with it?) My parents were really impressed with my living situation, the quality of food during our group dinners, and just the general family atmosphere. Even though they miss me back at home, I could tell they were glad that I had made such great friends, as well as a comfortable second home here in Denmark. Favorite memory of that night would have to be my parents playing beer pong with everyone. Alana and Steve were the beer pong champs! To my surprise, they were actually really good! Better than me…but that’s not saying too much.

Image

Image

My parents confirmed the fact that I have successfully turned into an honorary Dane, while especially commenting on my new European attire and biking skills. We all joked about how it was easy to pick my mom out of the busy crowds of dark dressed Danes with her bright green North Face rain jacket. You can take the girl out of America, but you can’t quite take the American out of my mom!

Image

Image

Image

We had a great last night together with dinner at my visiting family’s house. Mikala cooked us a delicious traditional Danish meal. My mom kept commenting on how it reminded her of something called “fat back” that she used to eat as a kid. Oh, you gotta love Melba. I was glad my dad got some shots of me with Kayla and Silas, so I can finally show off how cute they are to everyone! I love how more at home I feel at their house after each and every visit. Just this week Mikala made me Mexican food because she knew how much I loved it! It was too incredibly sweet, and really really delicious. Silas and Kayla enjoyed it too!

Image

After an eventful visit, my parents and I unfortunately said our goodbyes. It was hard to part ways after such a fun week since we had all really missed each other. I won’t see them again until I return mid-December, so I’ll have to spend some more weeks missing them. I feel so fortunate that I was able to have my parents visit while I was abroad! I love them so much and their trip to Copenhagen was just a friendly reminder of how lucky I am to have such loving (and totally awesome and fun) parents. Big shout out to Melba and Steve, Denmark misses you!

Folkehøjskole Family

Although exploring Europe is amazing, nothing beats coming home to my very own Folkehøjskole family. Theme parties, group dinners, and cozy homework sessions by the fire are just a few of the many things that make me feel like the Grundtvigs Folkehøjskole is my second home.

Image

Image

Before our last travel break we had a “Harry Potter Weekend”. It all started off with taking personality tests to see which house the sorting hat would place us in. Once we all developed into our true Harry Potter selves (I was in Gryffindor…aka the best house), the fun wizardly activities began. Saturday was filled with Quidditch competitions in the gym, and at night the dinning hall was decked out in Hogwarts attire. Even the teachers from the Folkehøjskole dressed the part during our candlelight feast.

Image

Our “International Food Feast” was another favorite of mine. Even though the majority of the students at the school are Danish, there are a few from different parts of the world…including Poland, Iceland, and even Japan. To celebrate all of the various cultures in the “Grundtvig Melting Pot”, each group of students presented a type of food from their culture, as well as a fun game or activity. We started off with Sushi as an appetizer, which were followed by Polish potato dumplings. With much enjoyment from the DIS students, our main course was the traditional American BBQ ribs and cornbread. Lets just say we were stuffed. For the USA activity there was a competition to see which table could fill out the 50 states first. I was pretty impressed by how many states all the Danes knew. After a digestion break with some Polish dancing lessons, we ended the night over delicious traditional Icelandic cake.

Currently we are starting to plan out a Thanksgiving feast for all of the Danes! I can’t wait to give them a taste of some more American culture.

Image

Warning about living in a Folkehøjskole: never leave your room unlocked. It might get TPed!