When I was young we used to go to Norway for the summer holidays every other year. My brother and I would go with our mother for about six weeks and my father would join us for two or three weeks. We’d stay mainly with my grandparents in Oslo but would also visit my aunt and cousins in Kristiansand on the south coast and my uncle and cousins in Stavanger on the west coast.
Norway was, and still is, an idyllic place to be on holiday if you love being outdoors and don’t like hot, sweaty crowded beaches or crowds full stop. It is relatively unspoilt with some of the world’s most stunning landscapes. Not that I’m biased or anything. Many Norwegians have a holiday home, or “summer house”, either in the mountains, by the sea or on one of the thousands of tiny islands dotted along the coastline, where they spend a lot of time during June and July when the days are long and it barely gets dark at night. We would spend our days fishing, messing about in boats, or clambering over rocks looking for shrimps and crab. Even in Oslo, the capital city, peaceful lakes and forests are but a short tram ride away. As a child growing up in Oslo my mother used to ski to school. During the long, cold winters it was the easiest way to get around.
So often one’s memories of childhood holidays are evoked by the food one ate and this is very true of our Norwegian stays. There were the shrimps bought straight from the boat as it arrived back at the harbour in the early morning; the freshest ever mackerel, gutted, filleted and painstakinglingly de-boned by my grandmother or aunt and fried in butter until the skin was golden and crisp; juice made from homegrown blackcurrants, raspberries and redcurrants; the most divine homemade strawberry jam, more runny and less sweet than any you’d buy in a shop and all the better for it; tiny home-baked bread rolls which accompanied every picnic we went on, and there were a lot of picnics. And then there were the waffles which would be served every time we were invited to friends or relatives for tea or coffee. At least, that’s how I remember it!
I suspect there isn’t a Norwegian household without a waffle iron. I remember my mother buying her electric one in Norway because you couldn’t get them here at the time, but the other day in my local shop, Kitchens, I noticed several on display so times have obviously changed. You will see from my photos that my waffle iron, which my mother gave me years ago, is no longer pristine, but it works well.
As a Bank Holiday treat I made waffles for breakfast this week and I thought you might like the recipe. Cardamom is the key ingredient I think but it’s a small amount and the flavour is subtle; strangely enough, I don’t remember noticing cardamom in the waffles I ate as a child.
- 3 eggs
- 110g caster sugar
- 250ml whipping or double cream
- 500ml milk
- 1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 400g plain flour
- Beat the eggs and sugar together.
- Sieve the flour with the baking powder and cardamom
- Using an electric hand whisk or mixer, add the flour mixture and milk/cream to the egg alternately to make a thick batter
- Ladle into the waffle iron and cook
- Serve with jam and/or butter or clotted cream, but they are also delicious plain