search instagram arrow-down

Join 918 other followers

Follow Andrea Hejlskov on

Support my work

You can support my general work via Patreon
and I hope you do, will.

For all of the newcomers (sheisse mamma that was a lot!) sent here by Ben Hewitt’s interview with me: WELLCOME!

This december, all through december, I´m doing a “yule calendar” meaning that each day I´ll post about christmas (which is called yule in my part of the world). See, it kind of lost its meaning to me so now I’m searching for it, high and low. I’ve been exploring the concept of the gift and I’ve tried to tie some bonds to traditions of the past, to nature and I described our annual trip to the market to gather supplies.

Christmas is called “Jul” here (“Yule” apparently for english speaking people). Traditionally yule was not ONE celebration but really a lot. A lot of feasts, a lot of parties, a lot of celebrations.

The people of the pre-Christian north (you might call them Vikings, I call them ancestors) had several traditions that are actually, and amazingly, still being practised in the Scandinavian countries today. One is the tradition of an annual oath giving (new years resolutions are the best we can do this day and age. But still) Another is the tradition of the “Yule- lunch”. Friends and family will gather one day in december and drink their brains out plus eat an abundance of food. And when I say “abundance”… you wouldn’t really believe it. At the yule lunch all roles are reversed. All hierarchies turned upside down. Exaggerated. Too much.We even have “yule lunches” at the workplace. Then you sit down and drink with your colleagues and you tell you boss exactly what you think of him. This is true. People do that. Once a year.

To the heathens the yule celebrations played an important role for the balance of the community. “Drinking yule” (as it was called) was actually kind of obligatory, there were laws about it.
And there was this toast that some still remember. “For a good year and for peace”.
You had to drink yule with your neighbours, friends, family, colleagues, everyone. I think this tradition served the role of being a valve to the people. I think people need that. I think one of the biggest problems of our times is that we don’t seem to have that anymore. Valves.

Yule as a communal “cleaning the air” and connecting exuberantly, celebrating……makes sense to me. I think that’s why I’m rambling on about drinking right now. Totally off topic. But since we’re here (in the off topic) I might as well show you a picture of my favourite mead.

Well well. I think it might be time for a yule lunch.
I guess I feel a need for that.
I guess it is a sentiment of yule. I’m feeling a sentiment of yule!


But this post is about oranges.

When I was a child I was told that in the old days children would be happy if they got an orange for christmas. There was a time when oranges were foreign, exotic and seldom to us here in the north. An orange was the essence of adventure and wealth. That´s why kids were given exactly one orange for christmas.
In my childhood we hung oranges in the windows. Nicely decorated with cloves and red ribbons. Under the christmas tree (we dance around it on christmas eve and open all of the presents after dinner) there would be loads of presents and packages. One christmas there were so many presents that we had to take rounds. Dance around the christmas once, open the gifts, dance around the christmas tree again…. and one year I got 3 dolls of the exact same kind. And we weren’t rich or anything. I think they call it ” a booming economy”.

Clearly we live outside the booming economy. I don’t believe in the booming economy. I believe each an every one of us have to lower our living standards, planet cannot sustain the booming economy. However giving up on oranges seems kind of harsh, a bit too harsh (as giving up on chocolate and coffee and spices, all of the things that can’t grow in a nordic climate) and I don’t believe in the “too harsh” or the “holier than thou”, we’re all do the best that we can, we all have or struggles so CHEERS!
For a good year and for peace!
(I guess that what I’m trying to say is that although we made a radical choice I don’t feel like everyone else is obliged to do the same. It’s not like that. We moved into the wild because we had to. We didn’t find a solution to all of the problems of the planet and I don’t think living in the wild is the right thing to do for everyone. Living like this doesn’t mean that we are puritan role models or vanguards of the future (I was called that once, it freaked me out) So cheers again! Everyone just wants to be live and be loved!)

When I buy oranges though I make sure to buy organic oranges from fair trade suppliers.
Not that we can afford to buy everything organically but these items that travel far and that aren’t natural occurring… they SHOULD be expensive. We SHOULD pay extra for that. But then again… this is just my opinion.

When we buy oranges we use all of it (sometimes). We eat the flesh and save the peel.
This is how you make candied orange peel. You can make candied everything. As I was making these oranges I also made candied ginger (because when we went to the market we brought home lots and lots of ginger) It’s a real good way to conserve and it’s a real nice treat (candied ginger covered with dark chocolate!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and then !!!!!!!)



You take the orange



And you peel it



You cut the peelings into slices. Remove as much of the white stuff as you can



Place in a pot and cover them with cold water, bring to a boil and then change the water. Repeat the process. Do this 2 or 3 times. It removes some of the bitterness of the peels (if you make candied ginger just boil the ginger straight away, no need to change the water)




In another bowl whisk together one and a half cup of sugar and 3/4 cups of water



As you can see I don’t take measurements to seriously but you totally should (but it will be ok if you don’t)
(I’m thinking that now that I’m doing recipes again I should invest some day in some proper measurement tools and a better camera but until then…)

Whisk it, whisk it.


Put the liquid in another pot. Bring it to a boil.


Add the orange peels.



Let it simmer for around AN HOUR. Adjust the temperature (move around the pot on your wood stove) to control the simmer. Don’t stir it too much. After an hour more or less it will begin to look like this.Covered in thick syrup.


Which is when you remove the orange peels from the pot and spread them out to dry. They will be really sticky and hot so watch out that you don’t burn your fingers!

Then, when they’re colder you can roll them around in some sugar, and this might be a good time to call for the boy, he loves this job. Obviously.


I think they look so pretty. They taste like natural (bitter) english wine gum. I chop the candied orange peel up and use it in all sorts of cakes or as (natural food) decoration. I even use it in stews and hot winter soups.

And they store forever in your pantry. Meaning that in the summer, when it’s not orange season for us northerners, you can still enjoy a little slice of candied orange peel. I recommend!

And see? Everything goes around and around and around and around, summer and winter, connected, warm places and cold places, connected, past and present, everything, connected. Like you and me now. I repeat: for a good year and for peace!

18 comments on “The gift of oranges

  1. BeeHappee says:

    Do many people get fired the day after Yule? 🙂
    Great recipe, thanks, and best part is that you do not use measurement tools (or good camera), who needs them.


    1. Ha! Yeah. And there’s a statistical thing called “yule lunch babies” (9 months later 😉


      1. BeeHappee says:

        Good thing we do not have yule lunch in the U.S. as I would get fired pretty much from every aspect of life. 🙂 My 3 yr old says: you are fired! When he gets mad at me.. yes babies, we have blackout babies, right at this time of year ice storms break power lines, no electricity for a couple of days and lots of babies. 🙂 oh mead, love it, my favorite Lithuanian drink, very medicinal I would say. I love you crazy scandinavians, even though sun is precious there and things can get gloomy. Remembering some Swedish movie I watched years back about some really gloomy Swedish guy that was like a dark commedy, cannot remember the name now… do you know what I am talking about?


  2. amygm says:

    This is just lovely. Thank you Ben Hewitt and for the world wide web, or I never would have met you, dear Andrea. I have a bag of oranges and some sugar and a boy, so I might take an afternoon and make enough of these to last us awhile. I love candied ginger, too. Yummm.


  3. Tres Jolie says:

    Yes! For a good year and peace!


    1. Tres Jolie says:

      BTW I have just found out that my friend DH from Facebook (actually from high school) is now reading you and he quoted you on his FB page because I recommended that he read your writing and he did. Wow, that never happened (that I know of) so I, too, say cheers for WWW!


  4. ncfarmchick says:

    My Norwegian Great Aunts talk about their Yule lunches (they have since retired.) One of them is a doctorate-level research librarian and it always made me giggle to think of a bunch of librarians getting drunk and slamming each other, swinging from the book shelves and all that. (Not that librarians aren’t regular people but, you know.) I do know one thing, they celebrate everything with champagne and I mean, everything! Once, when they picked me up from the airport, we hadn’t been in the car more than 5 minutes before the bottle opener came out. They don’t take things too seriously and that must be one reason they seem to enjoy life so much more than a lot of people I know. I have some orange peels waiting for this exact treatment right now. Thank you for the inspiration!


    1. BeeHappee says:

      🙂 NC, did I tell you, did I tell you, I love your comments. 🙂 Agree with the one you posted on Ben’s about despair, very accurate points. Thank you.


      1. ncfarmchick says:

        Ditto, Bee! Keep the good thoughts coming. I enjoy them and those of so many others very much.


  5. KC says:

    I just found your blog through Ben’s blog. I really like your honest and I look forward to reading your backlog of posts.

    We stopped celebrating Christmas 4 years ago and began to celebrate the winter solstice instead. It’s been a total mindset change and we like it. Celebrate in very low key way now.


  6. I never knew so many celebrated the solstice like we do. I thought we were pretty alone in doing that. Only goes to show… that none of us are as alone as we think 🙂


    1. ncfarmchick says:

      For years, I thought the same. That we were the only people who celebrated the Solstice. People look at you like you have three heads when you mention it. But, it also happens to be my husband’s birthday. You can imagine with the onslaught of consumerism that Christmas has become, that his special day just never really was..well…special when he was growing up. So, I have always tried to make a celebration out of it and it has ended up being one of the most special times of the year for us. We are Christian and do celebrate Christmas (in terms of it being the birth of Christ, not the Santa gift orgy version) but we have found that celebrating Solstice and a Christian Christmas and St.Nicholas Day (the 6th) makes the season so meaningful for us. For anyone who is interested, I recently found a wonderful book called “The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas” by John Matthews. It gives a very in-depth education in the history of year-end celebrations since time began and has tons of wonderful artwork within. Truly fascinating to see how similar traditions have been throughout time and across cultures. There IS something universal to the human experience and these traditions show we are more alike than different. Peace!


      1. This is so wonderful. I think this is important to do: to reclaim the meaning of christmas. You have done so… I’m in the process. Thank you so much for sharing links and thoughts, I love to hear many perspectives 🙂


  7. Bee, no, I don’t think I know that movie BUT there IS such a thing called The Scandinavian Pain. We take pride in that one 😉
    (also we’re funny. Honestly. Dead funny)


    1. BeeHappee says:

      Yes, you are funny. You do have to have a sense of humor after all to live in that land of ice and no sun. 🙂 My husband (50% Norwegian) says Vikings ran to America to escape their women. I am not so sure if women chased them out or the frozen land. 🙂
      Scandinavian Pain makes sense. When I think about Edvard Munch, yes, makes sense, very visible.
      And, oh, yes, thanks about the orange story. Funny, because just a couple weeks ago I was arguing with my husband about it. I was explaining to him how we only had oranges for Christmas as a special treat. He said: those bastards soviets, you could not even have oranges. I explained that although yes Soviets restricted a lot, we just did not have oranges because they do not grow there, and he argued with me still about the soviets. Your story proves the point though, that you guys did not have oranges and did not have soviets. 🙂


  8. S says:

    Andrea, jeg har læst din bog, og den er helt fantastisk. Så ærlig og inspirerende. Følger med på din blog, og håber på en ny bog en dag 🙂 Næste gang du skal ud “på markedspladsen” synes jeg du skal komme til Bornholm og give et foredrag – vi er mange herovre der ville elske det!


    1. Åh, tak skal du have! Jeg vil vildt gerne til Bornholm! (nogle gange går mine læsere ind og spørger på bibliotekerne om de vil hyre mig til foredrag og nogle gange hjælper det… just sayin´;-)
      Men mest af alt bare TAK


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s