The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

The Little Book of Hygge cover

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking was all the rage last year. The concept of Hygge was everywhere with shop owners using it to promote anything remotely ‘hygge’ ish that was for sale. Hygge seems to be pronounced hooga and it is of course a Danish word meaning a sense of cosiness/the absence of annoyance and taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. The Danes have apparently been proclaimed to be one of the happiest nations in the world and the author believes that hygge has a lot to do with it.

But surely hygge is just what everybody strives for. It consists of everything that would make you feel contented – warm woollen socks, coffee, tea, good chocolate, books, good design, atmospheric lighting, log fires, scarves, cosy jumpers (pullovers), lovely food, cushions, blankets, candles, mobile phones switched off and whatever else takes your fancy. I suspect that that list would be more than acceptable to most people. It’s human nature to want to be comfy, nothing particularly Danish or unusual about that.

What does make all the difference I’m sure is that Denmark is a high tax society, however as health/welfare care, and education is free and housing is affordable it means that the really important things in life aren’t a worry for Danes. This is a sensible way to run a society as in the long run, despite paying high taxes they end up being better off than they would be if they had to pay out to get health insurance in a private marketplace or if they were engulfed by massive student debts for most of their lives as happens in some other countries. There’s wide support for the welfare state in Denmark as the people realise that it contributes to their well-being. The only people who are against socialism are surely the people who are rich on the backs of poorer people! It seems so to me anyway.

The country is very flat and cycling is very popular as is getting out into the countryside or to summer lodges. There are lots of references to the bad weather, and as we always say – There’s no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothes. The author says I love summer in Denmark. It’s my favourite day of the year. In that respect it seems very Scottish as do the other Scandinavian countries I think.

This is a lovely wee book, nicely illustrated with pretty photographs, some good looking recipes and is entertaining, but I read it in about an hour despite there being 285 pages so I’m glad that I just borrowed it from the library.

It turns out that hygge is actually a Norwegian word, something which I don’t think the author was too happy about confessing. Denmark and Norway were one country until 1814. I think there’s a sort of England/Scotland rivalry going on there.

Foodie Friday – Roasted Garlic Soup

Roasted Garlic Soup

I always thought that garlic soup would sort of blow your head off flavour wise, but of course roasting the garlic makes it much milder and this soup that I made for the first time recently will become a favourite I think. I suspect it would be a good cure for a cold too!


2 large garlic heads
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups onion
1 cup carrots
1 large potato
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup dry white wine
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh-ground pepper
¼ cup cream


Roast the garlic: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 180 C/ gas mark 4. Using a serrated knife, cut the top off each garlic head so that the tip of each clove is exposed. Place the garlic heads on a large piece of aluminium foil and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bay leaves and fold the foil to form a parcel. Place the parcel in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Cool slightly. In a small bowl, squeeze the garlic head until all of the roasted flesh is released. Discard outer husks and bay leaves.

To make the soup: In a large heavy-duty saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil and butter, add onions, and cook over medium heat until translucent–about 4 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the potato, chicken stock, white wine, roasted garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring the soup to the boil. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook for 35 minutes.

To finish the soup: Using a blender, purée the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the cream. Heat until warmed. Do not boil. Enjoy.

I think this soup comes under the category of hygge. It’s a winter warmer comfort.

Brexit, dudefood and hygge

Did you hear that the three newest words to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary are:

Brexit – unsurprisingly, and I’m sick to death of the horrible word.

dudefood – apparently food that men like, I’ve never heard the word but it makes me think of a very hot vindaloo curry, what I think of as macho man food.

and …

hygge – pronounced hue-ga. I had heard of that word before, in fact a few weeks ago there was an article in the Guardian about hygge – you can read it here. It’s the Danish art of living cosily. But obviously the word has links with the English word hug. Apparently there are lots of books due to be published on the subject of hygge and I noticed that the word has reached far-flung Aberfeldy as a shop selling woolly hats and socks and such had the word hygge on a card in their window.

I don’t think there’s an equivalent word in English or Scots although I often think of the Scottish phrase ‘coorie doon’ around this time of the year, obviously it means burrowing down, getting nice and comfy on a cold dark night. The idea is similar.

For me coorie-ing doon also includes getting ready for winter. If I had an open fireplace or a wood burning stove I’d no doubt be making sure I had a huge stockpile of wood. In fact I really fancy having a stove just so I would have a good excuse to wood gather.

As it is I make do with buying in emergency tins of soup, just in case we have an awful winter and there are no fresh veggies in the supermarkets. Well it has happened before!

Whatever the season I always have an old shortbread tin full of a selection of chocolate, but it’s particularly important in winter. I wouldn’t get through the cold snaps without chocolate to keep me going.

I have a nice collection of tartan rugs in the living room, essential for coorying into. The adult equivalent of a baby’s comfort blanket.

For me winter means knitting season, my needles are poised for action and I’ll be plundering my wool stockpile soon. I’m flicking through knitting patterns at the moment.

Any night now I’ll be swivelling the top of one of my tables around, doubling the size of the table top, making it just perfect for a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Winter is jigsaw season and the first one I do will be of a vintage travel poster – anyone been to Eastbourne?!

I can never understand these people who keep their curtains open in the evening, even when there’s snow on the ground and a howling wind. On cold dark nights I love to get the curtains closed as soon as it begins to get dark, shut the night out, get the kettle on and listen out for the biscuits shouting – eat me!

What about you – what’s your idea of winter comfort or hygge?