Sunday 16 September 2012

The comfort of carrot muffins

And so, autumn is finally here. There's a chill in the blustery air and in the evenings, we're burning candles again. The changing season is the perfect excuse to fire up the oven and get baking. If you're looking for something different to go with your coffee this autumnal morning, then here is a recipe from Aarstiderne that won't disappoint. I'm not entirely sure whether this is a muffin or a cupcake, in truth, it can be argued both ways. But there's nothing wrong with the goodness of a muffin topped off with a dab of pretty butter cream icing and so its confused identity should not cause too much concern.

Don't also be put off by the sight of piped icing - this was just because I made these muffins for visitors and wanted to add a touch of flare. The icing is a nice light consistency and can just as easily be spread over the muffins with a butter or pallet knife.

Carrot muffins with lemon cream cheese icing
To make 12 muffins, you will need:

3 large eggs
300 ml cane sugar
200 ml coarse flour (wholewheat or spelt)
200 ml plain four
1 vanilla pod, seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
500 ml finely grated carrot (or courgette)
150 ml rape-seed oil
200 ml chopped cashew nuts

For the lemon cream cheese icing, you will need

200g natural cream cheese
100g softened butter
500 ml icing sugar
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds
1 lemon, grated zest and a little juice

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a 12-hole muffin tray or use paper muffin cases.

Whisk the eggs and cane sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. Mix all the dry ingredients together and stir them into the whisked egg mixture. Stir in the grated carrot (or courgette), oil and nuts until combined.

Pour the muffin mixture into the muffin tray and bake for about 20 minutes until they are golden and firm.

To make the icing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir them together until they have a soft creamy consistency. Add lemon juice to taste. Divide the cream and spread it over the tops of the cooled muffins with a pallet knife or you could pipe ice them, if you prefer. Garnish the icing with some grated lemon zest or a mint leaf.

(Pictures and text, Katherine Ball)

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Hurra to Denmark

At the end of the summer holiday in the International Community there is a some what mixed feeling about the return to school. Obviously mostly one of relief that our darling children will once again be in the care of others for a few hours each day. Yet also one of trepidation as the friends we waved off at the end of term may not be returning at the start of the new year as they leave to make new lives in new countries leaving us to welcome in other families just staring their own Danish adventures.

A good friend of mine held a party on the first weekend of term to celebrate Denmark, living in Denmark and all things Danish. In doing so we were all asked to bring something that would represent one of our favourite aspect’s of life here to share with the other guests. The responses were varied and ranged from favourite bakeries to beer and bicycles. It was a really fun exercise actually and made me focus on all the things that my family and I love about living here, for there are plenty.

To go alongside the Danish mood board some of us also took nibbles and of course they had a Scandinavian theme. After much deliberation I went for a cupcake, not extremely Danish no but for the topping I used a whole punnet of fresh fragrant Danish raspberries, a glorious fruit enjoying a late summer heyday. They were in my opinion delicious, a real explosion of flavour on the tongue and the color was delicately beautiful. I topped them off with some freeze dried raspberries, again from a supplier in Denmark.

With renewed vigour and excitement we begin another year here in this wonderful country. We look forward to following the seasonal changes that Aarstidrne celebrates with the food boxes, it maybe farewell to summer berries but you can be sure there are more treasures to follow.

Click here to order berries direct from Aarstiderne.

Text and photographs by Sally McWilliam

Sunday 19 August 2012

Sweet, golden and crunchy - what's not to love about corn?

I love corn on the cob. Steam it for 10 minutes and watch the butter melt, crunch the sweet corn kernels between your teeth and reach for the napkin as the juice trickles down your chin. There's lots to love about corn but one of the things I like most is watching my children devouring it. We ventured up to North Jutland this summer - really far north - all the way to Grenen, north of Skagen, at one point. It's stunning up there: the water, the light, the sand dunes, the wind - its other wordly and its easy to see why artists flock there.

We were still in North Jutland at the end of the summer break as the maize harvesting began. The golden yellow cobs were a regular feature on the dinner table and my children just couldn't get enough. Their sweet taste is hard to resist but the high sugar content does actually make corn a great energy food. It is also rich in vitamins A, B and C.

The corn season here in Denmark is short and so enjoy them whilst you can! Right now, Aarstiderne has a MajsPosen (corn bag) with 8 cobs, which costs 69 DKK. Click here to order. The corn can be kept for 1-2 days at room temperature or up to 8 days in the fridge. Enjoy!

(Katherine Ball)

Monday 6 August 2012

Late summer fruits

The children and I spent a happy couple of hours at the weekend making jam. Being near to the end of the strawberry season now is the time to collect up the last of the home grown varieties and preserve them ready to be enjoyed as the weather draws in and the days get shorter. We had done just so and needing a meditative activity for three boisterous chaps I set them the task of preparing the strawberries,  cleaning and chopping them into small pieces.

Meanwhile, not one to miss out on a hour or two at the stove I patiently immersed myself in the job of de-stalking a kilo of red currants, it was all going well until my task seemed more appealing to the toddler and he made his way over to help. Thankfully although he was immeasurably helpful for a minute or so it didn't take long for him to prefer the sweet taste of the strawberries and between the four of us we were soon ready to begin in the kitchen.

The strawberry jam was a simple recipe, a quarter of the weight mashed in the pan and bought to a simmer for five minutes before adding the juice of one lemon, the rest of the strawberries and half their weight in sugar with added pectin. The eldest stirred the mixture until the sugar had dissolved before we carefully bought the pan to a low boil for 20 minutes.

The red currants went into a second pan with the addition of two red chilli's, a five centimeter length of grated ginger, grated orange rind and the juice of three oranges. The obligatory sugar went in next and again we bought the mixture to a simmer whilst the sugar dissolved before leaving it on a rolling boil for twenty minutes.

We had prepared our jars and they were freshly sterilized by the time the two jams were ready for potting. A job for Mummy this time due to the molten heat of the sugary fruit. We always leave a little jam to cool in a cup so eager are we to try our creations and today was no different. The kitchen clean we sat down to a very homemade lunch of bread, ham and chili jam with salad and a 'dessert' of bread butter and strawberry jam.... mmmmm

Written and photographed by Sally McWilliam

Sunday 29 July 2012

Pack the perfect picnic

Well, many of us are now returning from our holidays and, at least here in Copenhagen, the weather is changing. But what beautiful sunshine it was while it lasted and we definitely made the most of it with daily trips to the beach and the picnic blanket now wears the tell tale signs of our al fresco dining. Even if the longer summer days are behind us, this is Denmark and so on any day the weather can turn again and it's never too late to pack up the blanket and head outside again for a few hours of unexpected late summer sun.

If you have exhausted your picnic recipes and are looking for a little inspiration, here are a couple we have translated from the Aarstiderne collection. I remember reading once that when planning a picnic you only need one main dish but the more side dishes, the better. Here we have chosen a delicious light spinach tart, a coleslaw, bean salad and a couscous salad. Add your favourite potato salad too and don't forget to pack a refreshing drink - Aarstiderne's recipe for lemonade couldn't be easier.

Enjoy! And here's hoping the sun obliges and makes an appearance...

Spinach tart

Seive the flour into a bowl and rub the diced butter into the flour until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the water and press it flat and wrap it in clingfilm.
Leave the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to bind then roll the dough out and lay it in a tart dish. Cover the dough with foil and place a handful of rice or dried peas on top so that the dough doesn't rise during baking. Then bake the tart in the oven at  200° C until it is golden.

Steam the spinach until it collapses (about 2 mins). Sauté the finely chopped shallot with the cubed bacon in a pan. Add the spinach and add nutmeg to taste.

Whisk the eggs and the cream together, fold in the spinach mixture and add it all to the prebaked tart. Bake the tart in the oven at 160° C until the egg mixture sets (about 30 minutes)

You will need:

100 g bacon
200 g flour
125 g butter
3 eggs
150ml whipping cream 38 %
500 g spinach
1-2 tbsp. water
fresh grated nutmeg
1 shallot

Cabbage Coleslaw

Finely chop the cabbage. Peel the carrots and grate them with a large grater. Combine the yoghurt, cumin and mayonnaise and season to taste. Mix the cabbage and carrots with the dressing.

You will need:

2 tbsp natural yoghurt 10%
1 cabbage
100 g carrots
salt and pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp mayonnaise

Bean and avocado salad

You will need:

1 avocado
olive oil and lemon dressing garlic
2  spring onions
1 green chilli
300 g cooked kidney beans
2 tomatoes

Pour any water off the beans. Chop the tomato and the spring
onions. Peel the avocado, remove the stone and dice it. Finely
chop the chilli. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and add the
dressing then let the salad sit for 15 mins before serving.

Couscous with pepper and asparagus

Pour 500 ml boiling water over the couscous and let it sit for 15 mins until the water is soaked up. Add the olive oil and vinegar and stir them through the couscous.

Slice the peppers into strips and cut the courgette into half lengthways and then slice them up. Break the bottoms off the asparagus.

Warm a grill pan with a little olive oil in it and them grill the peppers and the courgette for 2-3 mins and the asparagus for 1-2 mins. Finely chop the shallots and mix all the vegetables with the couscous. Add the chopped nuts.

You will need:

1 red and 1 yellow pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 courgette
almonds or pinenuts
1 tbsp vinegar
sea salt
250 g couscous
100 g asparagus
1-2 shallots
Dijon mustard


Peel 2 of the lemons with a thin peeler and place the peelings in the blender. Peel the remaining lemons and remove the white pith from all of them.

Add the peeled lemon flesh to the peelings already in the blender and blend to a smooth puree. Add the water and sugar to taste. Pour the lemonade out into a jug and cool before serving with lots of ice. 

You will need:

6 lemons
1L water
sugar to taste

Saturday 21 July 2012

The Snack Pack and a big box of help/health...


As the final weeks of the school year drew near, one of the highlights of stopping for the summer, for me anyway, was the end of the packed lunch box. The responsibility to rustle up healthy, sustaining, robust meals that small children open gratefully at lunchtime can become a little tiring and by June I was ready for a change of culinary pace.
Of course having three small children around all day does not mean food production is slowed, quite the opposite in fact. There are the standard breakfast, lunch and dinner needs but there's something about being at home that makes my boys hungry and snack requests come through thick and fast. Unfortunately food shopping with them in tow is never a relaxing affair, far too many requests for sweeties and other sugar packed items and for me something to be avoided if at all possible. Which is why on the first Monday of the holiday I anxiously awaited the boxes of help that would be arriving fresh from Aarstiderne.
The box

Alongside the meal box that provides the ingredients for three meals each week (more on that another time). We also receive a large box of fruits and vegetables ready and waiting to be turned into delicious meals and snacks. Included in the box are plenty of apples, bananas, red peppers and carrots all of which are rather essential snacks for my children. Then there are the ‘fun’ addition’s in the form of plums, peaches and sometimes strawberries, I have to get to these first as they are prone to disappearing quicker than I can say “go out and play in the garden”. 
Berry and banana smoothie

Sa far we have turned bananas into smoothies of all varieties, mashed them into pancakes eaten with maple syrup, made banana bread for a picnic and frozen them whole on sticks to be coated with dark chocolate and chopped nuts.
Carrots are eaten by the dozen, held in warm pudgy fingers as they play in the grass, a perfect fast food.
The apple slicer and I are firm friends and between us can rustle up a bowl bursting with apples as well as carrots, cucumber and red pepper in scant minutes all to be swiped through peanut butter and tahini as a wholesome and filling stop gap or alongside a serving or two of protein for supper.
The possibilities are endless and actually quite fun seeing as the little ones love helping to cook, the food is always colourful, tasty and generally gratefully received. The box lasts us a good five days by which time the weekend is upon us and Friday night sweeties are the luxury they are meant to be, their blow softened in my mind by the healthiness that preceded. Roll on Monday, lets see what you will bring.

Written and photographed by Sally McWilliam.

We order  Den Grønne FrugtKasse 10 kg  for a family of five.

342 kr per box delivered to your door.
Fruit smoothie and banana pancake remnants!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Quintessentially Danish

Summer may not yet have appeared in its most desirable form, but certain staples of Danish summer never fail to appear regardless of the rain that seems to be plaguing Europe these days.

As followers of all things Aarstiderne will have realised by now, one of the company's goals is to strengthen the power of local growers everywhere and in Denmark in particular. Supporting local growers not only helps their economies but also shows them that we appreciate the hard work, care and thought that they put into their products on a daily basis. As in most things in life, a show of appreciation results in motivation to do better, to constantly improve, which in turn results in even better produce for all. A perfect win win if ever there was one.

If you decide to brave the elements this summer and drive out into the Danish countryside you will most certainly pass by small roadside stalls where local growers big and small - usually small - offer their freshly picked and harvested fruits and vegetables - a fun sight evoking simpler times. But what makes this a uniquely Danish experience are the small money boxes which can take the form of anything from shoe- and cigar boxes to proper money boxes set out right there with the produce and next to signs kindly asking that you place the 15 or 20 kr in the box. And the truly marvelous part..... the stands.....they are unmanned. The grower simply trusts that the buyer will put the correct amount in the box. A system based on trust, now there's a novel idea.

On Fyn (Funen), where I like to spend my summer, these stands are everywhere. I do miss my Aarstiderne boxes, but I try to make up for them by buying my strawberries, potatoes, asparagus, onions, cherries, raspberries at these fun - often homemade - stands. I just have to make sure I always have plenty of change in my pocket as I suspect it will be a while before the stands offer a credit card option.

(Isabella Mousavizadeh Smith)

Saturday 7 July 2012

A meeting of minds - Aarstiderne's pop-up shop

It's a match made in heaven. If you care about what you eat then you probably care about how it looks when you put it on the dinner table. On Wednesday mornings when I unload my Aarstiderne meal box, I always pause to soak up the aesthetic pleasure of seeing bunches of carrots, punnets of red tomatoes, jars of pesto and passata and purple green heads of lettuce vying for space on the shelves of my fridge. It always looks so colourful! And when a meal has been prepared, beautiful presentation only adds to the enjoyment of the experience.

Whether it is a herb planter, the strainer used to wash vegetables or a carafe for serving a fresh juice, good food and good design go hand in hand. It is therefore no surprise to have discovered the Aarstiderne pop-up shop in the design emporium, Normann, at their  Østerbro flagship store. For the month of July only, you can snap up your organic store cupboard favourites in the city and browse for stylish tableware and kitchen essentials at the same time.

And so, bottles of Aarstiderne's passata, sparkling apple drinks and cook books share shelf space with Normann herb stands, rubber washing up bowls and strainers and beautiful glass carafes.

It's wonderful to have you in the neighbourhood, Aarstiderne!!

Visit the Aarstiderne pop-up shop at Normann, 70 Østerbrogade, 2100 Copenhagen. Call 35 55 44 59 or visit for more details.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Going away? Don't forget to take your box ...

This old Aarstiderne box was found in a customer's garden shed when she moved into her new house.
 Thanks to Heather Davidson-Meyn at H2Ophotography for the photo.

If you're going away this summer, don't forget that at any time you can put your Aarstiderne box subscription on hold.

Did you know that its also possible to take your box with you on holiday? Aarstiderne will deliver to your holiday address in Denmark over the summer but don't forget to check the delivery day at your holiday destination though, as it might be different to the one you're used to at home.

To arrange to have your box delivered to you on holiday, here's what you have to do :

1.  Go to and log into your account.

2.  Click on 'Ferieoversigt' on the right hand side.

3.  Select your holiday start and finish dates. Both dates are inclusive.

4.  If you would like to take delivery at your holiday address, choose option 'ja' under 'Tilføj ferieadresse' then enter your holiday address in Denmark. Be aware that the delivery day may be different at your holiday address.

5.  Click on 'Opret ferie'.

6.  You will then receive an email confirming that your holiday has been registered and your box subscription re-directed.

What could be easier than that?! Have a wonderful summer....

(Katherine Ball)

Friday 22 June 2012

Sankt Hans: Something for the Weekend

It has felt like pretty much the longest day of the year today, the first of the children’s summer holiday. We are all tired and ready for the long weeks ahead, lazy days in each others company exploring Denmark and it’s surrounding neighbours. The morning began as usual with an early dash to pick up and then deposit children at a fantastic art program, swiftly followed by the first trip of the day to the airport. Added to this were the jobs that come when leaving children in the care of their grandparents for the weekend plus the collection of a tuxedo and the now utterly covered in paint children.

Exhausting yes, but only the beginning because I now write this post at 12:10 in my hotel room in Stockholm where I arrived two hours ago at the end of the very long day. Of course it isn’t actually the longest day of the year because that honour belongs to tomorrow and ‘Midsummer’s eve’. We are in Stockholm, in part for a Midsummer party of which I have heard much but have am yet to experience. I’ve seen videos but I believe it needs to be lived rather than watched and so there we go on our boat into the unknown at eight o'clock in the morning.
Were we not to be away then we would most certainly be joining the party at Aarstiderne, down at Krogerup farm. You of course are welcome to join the fun as everyone shares food, drink and dancing with the Abba Dancing Queen band. It promises to be a blast and I am quite sad to miss it, that might be because I am always sad to miss the delicious food but I don't think so. It will be a really 'cozy' evening with your Danish neighbours with the bonus of fabulously tasty food and drinks.

As I  now wrap up one very long day in preparation of tomorrow I look forward to embracing another Scandinavian tradition. I hope you have a wonderful evening wherever you may be and we'd love to see some pictures of your celebrations here at Soil to Stove.

Entrance is free
Beer is from 25kr
Drinks from 60kr
Food is weighed by plate 1/2 kilo costs 55kr 

S McWilliam

Sunday 17 June 2012

Roast pork with a midsummer twist

For the Vikings, midsummer was a time for visiting healing wells and building bonfires to ward off evil spirits. Medieval doctors would mark the occasion by gathering the herbs needed for the forthcoming year of healing. Nowadays Sankt Hans (St John's) is celebrated with bonfires and picnics on the beach, songs and speeches. This year Aarstiderne is throwing a party that promises to be up there with the best of them so if you don't yet have plans for celebrating the midsummer on 23 June, then mark it in your diary.

There'll be a bonfire (of course!!), a sumptuous feast on the grill, home brewed beer music from the ABBA tribute band, Dancing Queen. Say no more, its going to be mega midsummer mania at Krogerup. Its free to come along, just bring money to buy drinks etc. The fun kicks off when the bar opens at 4 pm. For more details, click here

If, however, you already have plans to gather your friends together but are still looking for something to cook that has the ritual comfort of a winter roast but is lighter and sits well with a summer salad, Aarstiderne's recipe for rib roast with a grain salad and summer vegetables, is the answer.

This recipe is simple to cook and has a lovely blend of textures and flavours. The crackling crisps up nicely and the grain salad keeps things fresh and light with the earthy tastes of spelt and parsley. Here is a translation of the recipe that we tried this week...

Rib roast  (ribbenssteg) with grain, corn and summer vegetable

You will need:

Approx 1 kg rib roast (ribbenssteg)
Lemon zest and juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
250 g cherry tomatoes
4 tbsp oil
300 g whole grains (such as spelt, kamut or wheat kernels)
500 g vegetables (onion, carrots and celery)
Thyme sprigs, lemon zest and bay leaves
200 ml white wine
2 corn cobs
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
green beans
chopped parsley
4 carrots
half garlic

Preheat the oven to 165ºC. Pour 500 ml boiling water into a roasting pan and place the meat in with the rind in the water. Place the roasting pan in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Meanwhile slice the onions, carrots and celery into large pieces and brown them in a little oil. Add the garlic and the wine. Let the wine cook off and then put the mixture into an oven proof dish.

Take the roast out of the oven and rub it with coarse salt. Place the lemon peel, the bay leaves and the thyme sprigs in the crackling and then place the meat on top of the vegetable mixture in the ovenproof dish and roast it for 1-1.5 hours. Raise the temperature to 225ºC for the last 5 to 10 minutes if the crackling has not crisped. When it is finished cooking, let the meat rest for 20 minutes.

Boil the grains with the garlic and bay leaves for about 30 minutes, add 2 tbsp salt and let them soak for 5 minutes before draining. Cook the corn cobs in salted water for about 10 minutes then cool them slightly before cutting the kernels off with a sharp knife. Peel and slice the carrots and 'top and tail' the beans then steam them in 2 cups of salted boiling water for 2 minutes.

Halve or chop the tomatoes and add these to the warm grains. Mix the lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and oil to make a dressing. Stir the dressing and chopped parsley through the grain salad.

Serve the roast sliced with the salad and vegetables.

(Katherine Ball)

Sunday 10 June 2012

'An office out in the open fields'

Here's what some of the team at Krogerup have to say about working for Aarstiderne (and why a salamander sighting is a good thing!):


Jacob Dietz

 Role: HR manager
Best expression you've come across? "WYSIWYG - What you see, is what you get. Today it is the fundamental principle of communication at Aarstiderne and it makes it a whole lot easier."
Favourite vegetable? "Lemon - with lobster and mayo and sunshine!"

Thomas Nielsen
Role: Pathfinder and leader of Haver til Maver
What is Haver til Maver? "It is Aarstiderne's school service where every year we have 15,000 children visit the farm and grow their own garden, experience nature and make food. Many adults come too as they are also fascinated by horticulture."
Why are you here on the farm? "Because here there is the freedom to have a great idea, bring people on board and see the idea come to life."
Favourite animal? "Salamanders. When there are salamanders living in our wetlands, its a sign that nature is doing well."

Peter Laxdal

Role: Pathfinder at Haver til Maver
What's fun about teaching children? "Its fun to feel the thrill when children are outdoors or cooking over an open fire. There's just excitement and joy across the board."
Do you grow your own vegetables? "I grow herbs and berries on my plot in Værløse"
What do you want to be when you grow up? "Even more of a farmer!"

Vibeke Ankjær Axværd

Role: Customer service
Favourite fruit? "I prefer sour fruits: lemon, oranges, cherries and strawberries"
Why Aarstiderne? "I raved about the place for ages and I wanted to work in a modern company. I expected that I would work in a place where 'what they said' and 'what they did' were not far apart. Aarstiderne is that place."

Mette Andersen

Role: Team leader communication and marketing
Favourite vegetable: "Artichoke, because it looks so utterly beautiful and tastes fantastic."
Why Aarstiderne? "It was not meant to be that I should have any other job, the farm was amazing and it has become what it is.."

Charlie Thyboe
Role: Customer service
What do you contribute most to Aarstiderne? "I bring a good working culture, by being nice to customers and a good colleague".
Why Aarstiderne? "The location, the colleagues and because I have a job that gives me energy and makes me happy when I go home to my family".

Thomas Hess Nielsen

Role: Meals manager with responsibility for Aarstidernes kitchen, events and products. 
Favourite task? "I like putting together what is going in the boxes each week and influencing what lands on Denmark's dining tables"
Why Aarstiderne? "Here I can combine my skills as a facilitator and as a chef and I like beautiful vegetables."

Jesper Rendtorff 

Role: Project manager with responsibility for corporate entertainment
Favourite vegetable? "Tomato. Tomato salad is the food of kings!"
Strangest experience at Aarstiderne? "Having a party with 120 people and the well running out of water! Luckily it was a party for engineers and so we quickly got water again!"

Lone Kaalby 
Role: Customer service
Why Aarstiderne? ”It makes sense to work in a company that is growing, where the product is sustainable and that is linked to my passions for fine ingredients and a healthy lifestyle. Yes and I also love to eat and at Aarstiderne there are great lunches!"
…and the farm? "I enjoy the surroundings every day – really Morten Korch…."
Family's favourite vegetable? ”Most of them and carrots - we get through those in a big way"

Lone Hvid 

Role: Responsible for farm sales at Krogerup Avlsgaard
What is it like to work at Aarstiderne? "It is a great pleasure to have an office out in the open fields”
Are you going to be a farmer when you grow up: ”I don't know whether I'll ever grow up - but I would like to keep on working with organic produce."

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