“Hue-Gah”

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah or hoo-gah)

I’m a little slow catching onto trendy things. If it hadn’t been for David in Albuquerque, I’d still be uninformed as to the au courant meaning of “woke.” Our daughter recently explained to me that “sex positivity” was neither a nasty nor embarrassing thing to mention. And – though “hygge” was all over the U.S. news in 2017 – thanks to our son’s input, I’ve just now learned to pronounce it and appreciate it.

For those of you who share with me unawokeness, let me summarize hygge. This Danish word possibly comes from an old Norse word meaning “protected from the outside world.” The Danes, known for being some of the happiest people in the world, believe hygge to be all about emphasizing coziness and comfort.

The official website of Denmark has this to say: Hygge is often about informal time together with family or close friends. Typically, the setting is at home or another quiet location, or perhaps a picnic during the summer months. It usually involves sharing a meal and wine or beer, or hot chocolate and a bowl of candy if children are included. There is no agenda. You celebrate the small joys of life, or maybe discuss deeper topics. It is an opportunity to unwind and take things slow. 

A Hot Toddy might be perfect for your cozy evening by the fireplace – or outside in the freezing cold!

Another few recommendations for this Danish life style are that we should avoid multi-tasking, ride our bikes a lot, and wear comfortable clothing. Andy likes the bike thing; he’d also recommend fishing (see today’s Andy’s Corner). While I’m totally into comfortable clothing, I’m really, really working on the multi-tasking issue. Board games are also encouraged.

I think I’m safe to say we all need a little hygge time right now. Unfortunately, unless you have a safe and secure “pod” (and here’s a good article on forming a pod – and protecting it) to gather with around your fireplace, gatherings this holiday season may need to be outdoors. A great New Yorker article – “The Year of Hygge” from 2016 – concludes, “The hard-earned lesson of frigid Scandinavian winters is that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothes—that all you really need to get through difficult times is shelter and sustenance, kith and kin.”

Nice warm blanket, kith and kin together, snuggling close – a good example of hygge? HA!

To get into this hygge-during-a-pandemic thing I suggest that some evening soon you don some comfortable, toasty-warm clothes, invite a couple of non-pod friends or family over (of course, be sure to wear your masks except when eating and do the social distancing thing), light some outdoor-friendly candles (preferably non-scented), bring out wool throw blankets for everyone if you don’t have an outdoor heater, and serve some chicken soup. Since what gives you comfort food-wise may vary as to where you grew up, maybe you’ll want to serve our Pho, or Gumbo, or Pozole. Or try one of our two new recipes, Danish (spot-on!) Hen’s Soup or Indonesian Soto Ayam. They are oh SO good!

BUT – should you be unable to find hearty friends who are willing to share a chilly night out – you might have to resort to the Finnish concept of “kalsarikannit (pronounced cal-sar-y-cuhn-eet), defined as “the feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear with no intention of going out.” Sounds like fun to me. It’s time for that Hot Toddy! 🙂

Danish Hen’s Soup with Dumplings – Hønsekødssuppe

Danish Hen's Soup with Dumplings

You want to keep both the meatballs and dumplings very small – under 1 1/2″.  This is a very light soup – best served with a hearty salad and bread

For the soup base

  • 4 c good quality chicken broth or stock.
  • 3 large carrots, diced or sliced
  • 2 leeks or celery stalks, diced
  • a handful of chopped parsley

For the meatballs

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  •  2 T bread crumbs
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper

For the dumplings – recipe will make about 20

  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper

Soup base

In a large pan bring the broth to a boil then add the carrots and leeks; reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are just barely cooked.  Remove from the heat and let sit until ready to combine everything.

Dumplings

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the water and salt. Stir in the flour and mix until it all comes together and is smooth.

Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes, then stir in the eggs one at a time until well combined.

Fill a medium-sized pan with about 2″ of water and bring it to a boil.  Salt it liberally.

Shape the dough into small balls – about 1″ wide. You can either use a teaspoon, or you can put the dough into a solid plastic bag that you cut the corner off. 

Put the little dumplings into the boiling water and let them cook for 5 minutes, keeping the water just at the boiling point.  No need to turn the dumplings.  Remove from the water and cool on paper towels.

Meatballs

Mix all the ingredients (you can actually do this in the food processor, if you’re careful not to overmix, but I do it with my – clean – hands).

Using your hands, shape into small balls – about 1″ across.  Dipping your hands in cold water before shaping the meatballs will help prevent them sticking to your hands.

Put the meatballs into boiling water. Let them simmer for about 5 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove and cool on paper towels.

Serving

When you’re about ready to serve, add the meatballs to the broth and bring the broth up to a simmer.  Simmer the mixture for a few minutes. Then add the dumplings and simmer for another minute or so.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

Soto Ayam – Indonesian Chicken Soup

Soto Ayam - Indonesian Chicken Soup

Note: this is not a quick and easy recipe, but when it’s chilly outside and you’re stuck inside, it’s a fun kitchen project with delicious “hygge” results.  Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

  • about 3 lbs chicken (use a whole one, cut up, or parts you like; I tend to prefer thighs, necks, wings, for broth.
  • 2 stalks fresh lemon grass, bruised with the handle of a heavy knife 
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)
  • 1 tsp Diamond kosher salt, more to taste (I used about 1 T for the 2 qts. water)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 T coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 shallots, peeled and halved (shallots vary a lot in size; I used about 12 oz of shallots)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp finely minced fresh turmeric, or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 T finely minced ginger
  • 3 T peanut oil
  • 4 oz glass noodles or thin dried rice noodles, called vermicelli, bihun or bun
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • 2 T chopped celery leaves, mint, Thai basil or cilantro leaves
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced and fried in vegetable oil until brown (Epicurious says these are optional, but I think they’re essential; you can buy them in cans and avoid frying them yourself).
  • Bean sprouts for serving (optional – but not really 🙂
  • Hard-boiled eggs, halved, for serving (optional)
  • Quartered limes and chili paste (such as sambal) for serving
  • Cooked white rice (optional).

Place chicken in a medium pot with lemon grass, lime leaves (if using), salt and 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes, skimming as needed to make a clear broth. Remove chicken pieces from broth and set aside. Remove and discard lemon grass and lime leaves; reserve stock in pot. When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and shred meat into bite-size pieces. (Note: I like to make the broth far enough ahead of time that I can chill the broth and skim off the fat).

Combine peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a spice grinder. Pulse until ground. Add halved shallots, garlic, turmeric and ginger and pulse to a thick paste. (Add a little water if needed.)

Heat peanut oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. When very hot, add spice paste and cook – over medium heat – stirring until paste is cooked and beginning to separate from the oil, about 5 minutes.

Add cooked spice paste and chicken meat to stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Turn off heat under soup and stir in lime juice. Taste for salt.

To serve, divide noodles in large soup bowls. Ladle chicken pieces and soup on top, add an egg half and bean sprouts to each bowl, and sprinkle with celery leaves or herbs, and fried shallots. Pass lime slices and sambal at the table.

Eat from soup bowl, or serve a scoop of rice on a side plate, sprinkled with more shallots, and put a mouthful of noodles and chicken on rice. Combine on a spoon, dab with sambal, and eat.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

4 Comments

  1. Carolyn Hall says:

    This week’s Andy’s Corner makes me think of Buck’s dad and his fishing trips and weekends at a hunting lodge. I know there was much camaraderie! (Buck’s mom and her friends considered themselves “duck widows.”) By extension, it also makes me think of my own parents. No outdoor activities at all except golf, golf, and more
    golf. Same generation. Such different lifestyles.

    Like

    • theRaggedys says:

      My dad had no social life apart from our family. It was an entire new world for me to experience. About as close as I get to these type of hunting lodge experiences is when we stop for coffee on our cycling rides — unfortunately, no Salty Dogs on these stops.

      Like

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