Paper 3D stars

There are many crafts that are done at this time of the year in Scandinavia, for instance folding 3D stars out of paper. Once you get the hang of it, they’re super easy to do and make a fun craft to do with friends over coffee or glögg after dinner. If you go for the glögg the stars might be a little lop-sided! 🙂

You can make them with pre-cut and measured paper kits, or you can make your own strips. A good ratio for measuring them is 1:30. Be as accurate as possible when you cut the paper or you might find it quite difficult to get the strips to push easily through the slots between the folds.

Here’s a link to a really good 3D paper star folding tutorial complete with pictures:

Here’s a picture of some we made IMG_1810

Have fun! Make many and festoon your tree with them!


Lucia video for Svenska Institutet, Stockholm

Svenska Institutet in Stockholm (Swedish Institute) supports & promotes Swedish language in universities around the world, among other things. They contacted the Swedish lecturer at UBC, Lena Karlström, about a short YouTube video they intend to make about Lucia celebrations around the world, asking her if we’d be interested in submitting a short video of our Lucia. Naturally we were!

This is the video we submitted which includes footage and photographs of UBC’s campus. It’s different than the one we posted earlier, and is less than 3 minutes long.

Enjoy the video!

Scandinavian Christmas Recipes: Karjalan Piirakka with Egg Butter

Karjalan Piirakka

Karjalan Piirakka

Some things that are common or plentiful in one part of the world can become a rare treat in another. Such is the case with Karjalan Piirakka (Karelian Pie), a common pastry in Finland.

This delicious little “boat” with its simple rice filling and salty egg butter is usually served as a side dish, common in Finland and made commercially and sold widely. Here, Karjalan Piirakka is usually made for special occasions and often thought of as a special Christmas recipe by many of our Finnish SNCA of UBC members. One of our members prefers the dough on the crispy side – it’s a nice contrast to the soft rice filling – although she says that the commercially baked variety has a softer dough. She makes them small, drizzles them with egg butter and serves them as appetizers. Yum! has what appears to be a good version of this recipe. It has only 3 reviews, but all of them are favourable.

Below is another recipe adapted from Maria Killam. Click on the link to see a lot of good pictures of how to make the little boats.

Feel free to post a comment about this recipe! Did you make it? Any tips? We’d love to hear from you.

Hyvää Joulua!

Karjalan Piirakka

Recipe for Crust

2 cups (course) rye flour

3/4 cup whole wheat or spelt flour

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

Combine flour and salt and then add water, stir until it looks like the above mixture. Let it sit for a few hours. Grind your own flour if you can because it’s better when it’s grainy and course.

Recipe for Rice Porridge

2 cups uncooked short grain brown rice

1 litre of whole milk

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter


Cover brown rice with water, bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Add milk while stirring to make sure the milk doesn’t burn and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add salt and butter. If the whole mixture is too thick add more milk. Cool before making the rice boats.

Making the “Boats”

Preheat oven to 375°F

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

Take some dough and shape into a roll about two inches thick. Then cut about a one inch piece to make each individual crust.

Pat it out first using lots of flour (dough is very sticky)

Use a rolling pin adding flour each time you turn it to make it into an oval shape.

Spread a thin, even layer of rice porridge leaving an inch in the perimeter.

Fold over in the center and pinch along to each end.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Make sure they are brown, crispy and well done before you pull them out of the oven.

Final step, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a pot and melt 1/2 cup butter in it. Remove from heat. Dip each individual piirakka into the butter mixture immediately upon taking out of the oven.

Serve at room temperature with egg butter (below), or drizzle honey on it and top with a slice of cheese.

Egg Butter

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 pinch fresh ground white pepper (optional)
1 pinch ground ginger (optional)

In a small bowl, cream the butter. Stir in the eggs.
Season with the white pepper and ground ginger, if desired.
Cool the pastries and serve with the egg butter at room temperature.

Lucia in Uppsala Domkykan – Dec. 13, 2012 –

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at FridayDec 14-12.24.12

Lena, the Swedish language lecturer at UBC, posted this video on Facebook of the Lucia celebration in Uppsala this year. This is what Lucia is all about – a beautiful, gentle celebration of light in the darkness of winter. After watching our earlier post “Lucia for Dummies” and now this, you will be totally prepared for your winter visit to Sweden next year!

“Glad Lucia” means Happy Lucia. Wishing you and yours the warm, gentle, bright light of Lucia shines within you today and always.

Scandinavian Christmas Recipes: Jansson’s Frestelse

Foto: Martin Löf

Foto: Martin Löf

Complete your Julbord this year with a steaming dish of Jansson’s Frestelse with its inviting aromas at the table. Truly a comfort food, the addition of Swedish “anchovies” gives this potato casserole-like dish a mild salty-sweet fish flavour.

A word on “anchovies”: Don’t mistake “anchovies” for the usual variety we’re accustomed to, the little Italian fish which is very oily and strong tasting. “Anchovies” in this case is, according to, ‘spiced-cured sprat fillets’. Here in Greater Vancouver, Jolly Foods in North Vancouver carries them. We’ve tried making this dish with regular pickled herring (sill) when we’ve been unable to find Swedish anchovies. It works in a pinch but it’s just not the same. We even made it with Italian anchovies. Once. ‘Nuff said about that.

A word on cutting the potatoes: Julienne the potatos. There are a couple of ways to do this, you can cut it by hand, and if you’re not sure how, here’s a good tutorial from Mahalodotcom. Or you could use a mandoline slicer with the julienne attachment. It’s fast and easy to use.

And now, without further ado, from the cookbook The Cooking of Scandinavia:


To serve 4 to 6

7 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into strips 2 inches long and 1/4 inch thick
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 to 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (4 cups)
16 flat anchovy fillets, drained
White pepper
2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4-inch bits
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the potato strips in cold water to keep from discoloring. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet; when the foam subsides, add the onions and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are soft but not brown.

With a pastry brush or paper towel, spread a 1 1/2- to 2-quart soufflé dish or baking dish with the remaining half tablespoon of butter. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with paper towels. Arrange a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the dish and then alternate layers of onions and anchovies, ending with potatoes. Sprinkle each layer with a little white pepper. Scatter bread crumbs over the top layer of potatoes and dot the casserole with the 2 tablespoons of butter cut into bits. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and cream until it barely simmers, then pour over the potatoes. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the top of a sharp knife and the liquid is nearly absorbed.

Scandinavian Christmas Recipes: Glögg

Fiona from the club has posted a strong glögg recipe on her blog which we’re sharing here. Her recipe says to prepare the glögg a week in advance, but if you’re out of time and have to do it the same day you serve it, it’s okay, don’t worry… It will still be delicious! Enjoy!


Loosely translated from Det svenska köket by Schildt-Landgren… want some alcohol with your alcohol?? Hope you thought to prepare this ahead of time… it takes a week.


150 ml unflavoured spirits (eg Absolut vodka) [about 2/3 cup]
6 cinnamon sticks
30 whole cloves
2 pieces dried ginger
1 dried bitter orange peel
2 tbsp cardamom seeds
2 bottles red wine
4 dl sugar [about 1 3/4 cup]

Almonds and raisins for serving.

Put vodka and all spices in a container, such as a glass bottle. Let sit at room temperature for 1 week.

Warm up a little of the wine and let sugar dissolve in it. Strain out and discard spices from vodka and mix with all the wine.

Serve warm (but do not boil!!) with raisins and almonds.