Rye bread

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Ingredients:
300g rye flour
100g white bread flour
100g sourdough starter
1 tsp salt
300ml warm water (give or take)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Method:
Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and mix together.

Add the starter and slowly add the water and mix together to form quite a sticky dough that is more like a cake mix than a bread dough. You can add more or less water depending on how your dough feels. I find it varies slightly every time.

Add the seeds and mix well. There is no point kneading this bread.

Place the dough in a lightly greased loaf tin. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and leave for a few hours, ideally overnight. It won’t rise very much due to the low gluten content of the rye flour.

Heat your oven to its highest temperature.

Put your loaf in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes before dropping the temperature to 200 degrees Celsius if the crust is looking pale, 180 degrees Celsius if the crust is noticeably browning, and 170 degrees Celsius if it seems to be browning quickly. Cook for a further 40 mins.

Remove from the tin. The loaf should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

Leave to cool fully before cutting.

Taken from my book ‘Eat like a Viking!’ Available now on Amazon

The kidnap of Idun

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Odin, Loki and Hoenir had been travelling for some weeks. The area of mountains they were in was particularly scarce of anything to eat, so the gods were hungry.

One afternoon they happened upon a herd of Oxen.

‘Ah. Finally’ said Odin ‘I didn’t think we could go much farther without food’

So they got to work slaughtering the animal. Odin made quick work of it, and by the time he was done Loki had lit a fire.

Several hours later the meat still had not cooked. The Gods were confused.

They noticed a large eagle perched in a nearby tree staring intently at them.

‘It is I, who prevents your meat from cooking. Let me have my fill and I will release the spell that prevents its cooking’

Hoenir was angry ‘who are you, that thinks you can mess with us in this manor? Very well, as you leave us no choice, take what you must’

The eagle flew down and pulled off all the finest cuts of meat.

At this Loki flew into a rage, picked up a large branch and swung at the bird. But the eagle was so enormous it caught the branch in its talons and dragged Loki up into the sky. What Loki hadn’t realised is the bird was none other than the giant Thjazi.

By the time they were up in the clouds Loki was really not happy, he begged and pleaded with the eagle to take him back down.

‘Very well’ said Thjazi ‘but on one condition’.

‘anything’ cried Loki ‘just please put me down.’

‘OK’ said the eagle ‘Bring me Idun, and her magical fruits that keep the Gods looking so youthful.’


After some time, the Gods completed their journey back to Asgard and Loki paid a visit to Idun.

‘Idun, I have news’ called Loki ‘Beyond the walls of Asgard we found trees covered in the most wonderful fruits. You should come at once to see them, I think they may be even better than yours. It’s probably best that you bring yours along, so that we can compare them.’

And so Idun followed Loki to the woods where she was snatched up by Thjazi, the giant and flown to Thrymheim, the icy mountain region he called home.

It didn’t take long for the Gods to notice that Idun was missing. Their hair was quickly greying and their skin was becoming wrinkled.

The last person that anyone saw with Idun was Loki and it didn’t take many threats for him to come clean about where she was.

‘Trickster! You will return Idun to us safely, by nightfall’ shouted Odin ‘if you fail in this task, you will leave me no choice but to sentence you to death’.

Loki borrowed Freya’s hawk feathers and flew to Thrymheim. It happened that Thjazi was out fishing when he arrived, so he turned Idun into a nut, picked her up in his talons and flew her home.

When Thjazi returned home and noticed Idun was missing, he flew after Loki in his eagle form. Just as Loki was almost back to Asgard he turned around and spotted Thjazi right behind him.

But the other gods had noticed too. They had built a huge pile of wood around their home and, as Loki flew over it, the Gods set fire to it. Thjazi had no time to notice and flew straight into the flames and was engulfed immediately.

Idun was home safe and that was the end of the giant Thjazi.

The marriage of Njord & Skadi

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The Gods were celebrating. Idun had returned to the hall and the giant Thjazi had been slain. This called for a great feast and celebration. There was mead and meat, cake and balloons. Well…maybe not balloons, but you get the idea.


Thor was on his 11th horn of mead when the doors to the hall burst open, and in stormed a giantess, armed to the teeth with as many weapons as she could carry. It was Skadi, come to seek revenge for the death of her father, Thjazi.


Thor was up and ready, mjolnir in hand. But Loki stood between them.
‘Skadi. Beautiful, young Skadi. Come, have a drink with us. Join the party’ said Loki.


‘Why would I do that?’ Asked Skadi ‘You killed my father’

‘Yes, that was a..er, misunderstanding. We have a gift….GIFTS for you though’

‘Gifts? For me? No one ever gives Skadi gifts.


Odin stepped forward, holding out his hands, open palmed, revealing Thjazi’s eyes. He cast them into the sky, where they became two stars, forever shining in the night sky. ‘Your father will forever be looking down, and watching over you.’


Next up several attempts were made by a number of the gods to make Skadi laugh, but she looked much less than impressed. That was until Loki grabbed a rope, tied one end to a goat and the other end to his, erm… manhood. What followed was one of the most painful games of tug of war that anyone has ever witnessed. Loki screamed and howled as he pulled and pulled until finally, he landed in Skadi’s lap.
Skadi snorted, then sniggered, before falling onto the floor in fits of laughter.


‘Right’ said Odin. ‘One last gift. You can marry one God, of your choosing’.


‘I choose Baldur then’ said Skadi


‘Not so fast, Skadi. I wasn’t finished. A God of your choosing – but you must pick by his feet alone’.


This will be easy thought Skadi, I can easily choose Baldur and his beautiful feet. ‘Fine’ she said.

The Gods all hid behind a curtain, with just their feet visible along the bottom.


One set of legs stood out from the rest. Beautiful, manly, muscular legs. ‘It’s him, my beautiful Baldur’ cried Skadi.


But it wasn’t. It was the sea god Njord.


‘You tricked me!’ cried Skadi


‘Be wise with yours words Skadi. You wouldn’t want your marriage to get off on the wrong FOOT’ laughed Loki.
And so it was that Skadi the giantess married Njord, god of the sea.

They lived for a while at Skadi’s home in the mountains. A place named Thrymhelm. But Njord could not stand the long, cold, dark nights. Most of all he loathed the sounds of the wolves howling in the night. And besides he missed his home beside the sea.


And so they moved to Noatun, Njords home beside the sea. But Skadi hated the cries of the seas birds, the warm, sunny weather and longed for her home in the mountains.


Eventually they agreed to disagree and went their separate ways.

The first story

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This is a story of fire, and ice. I’ve embellished it a bit, but that’s my right.

Before the world is here, before grass, or sand, or cool waves, there is only fire, and ice, and the gap.

When the fire meets the ice in the middle of the gap, great rivers grow, roofed with frost, and deep in the folds of the frost, the giant Ymir sleeps. He is the first of his kind, and the best. The first cow comes to lick him free, and then he uses the sweat, and the hair, and the dead skin from his armpits, to create his own offspring, and they become the race of giants.

But the first cow keeps on licking. She licks at the frost until she finds somebody else, the god Buri, the first of his kind and the best. Buri makes his own offspring with his wife, and for a while the race of gods and the race of giants live in peace.

One of Buri’s grandsons, the one they call Odin, sees Ymir, and lifts his spear to aim it at the giant’s heart.

“This will be a good game,” he thinks, throwing it, piercing the giant through.
Odin’s brother Villi sees this game.

“This looks fun,” he thinks, and hooks a noose around the giant’s neck, choking out his last breath.

Odin’s brother Ve sees this game.

“This looks fun,” he thinks, as he hacks at the giant’s throat with his knife and lets him bleed.

But the giant does not stop bleeding. He bleeds and bleeds until everything, the fire, the ice, and the gap, are all filled, until the first gods and the first giants and the first cow are all drowning, drowning and sinking in the sticky red tide, save for those few who can hide in the hollow of an old tree. Odin, Villi, and Ve, work quickly, turning Ymir’s cold bones to rock, shaping his dead flesh into new land, trapping the briny flood so it becomes the ocean. They take his skull, and shake it; his brains become the clouds. The blue in his eyes becomes the blue of the sky, and the gods rule over this world and call it their own. The race of giants are pushed out to the edges of this place, out to the dark corners, where they become the wild things- avalanches, floods, forest fires and plagues- ancient and terrible.

Odin goes for a walk, admiring the grass, and the sand, and the cool waves, using some of the giant’s eyebrows to add a few finishing touches to hedges and trees, when he sees two pieces of driftwood on a beach.
‘This will be a good game,’ he thinks. He calls over his brother Lothar. “Lothar,” he says, “do these bits of wood look like people to you?”

Lothar looks down at them. “No. They look like bits of wood. But you always were rather strange.”

“Are you sure? Look again, will you?”

So Lothar, losing patience, picks up the pieces of driftwood and blows on them both. With his breath he gives them skin instead of bark, and the forms of a man and a woman. He tosses them back on the sand. “There,” he says, “now they look like people.”

Odin calls his brother Hoenir over. “Hoenir! Look what Lothar has done. I bet you couldn’t turn wood into people.”

Hoenir shrugs.  “They’re not people, they just look like people. Any idiot with a chisel can make wood look like people.” He picks them up, and blows on them, and with his breath he gives them spirits – joy, laughter, and peace. He shrugs again, satisfied, and places them back on the sand.

Odin smirks. “That’s good,” he says, “but perhaps a little dull.” Before the others can stop him he picks up the pieces of driftwood and coughs, hacking, wheezing into their mouths, filling them with rage, madness, poetry, while the gods look on in horror.

Odin holds up a finger.

“Wait.”

He breathes on them again. With his breath he gives them breath of their own. With his breath he gives them speech. With his breath he gives them stories.

They become Ask and Embla, and they are the first of their kind, and the best.
The gods give Sunna the sun in a chariot to pull across the sky, so that the new race of men might know what time it is. The gods give Mani the moon in a chariot to pull across the sky, so that the new race of men might know what day it is.

But out in the edges of the world, in a dark corner called the Ironwood, where the bark on the trees is rust, and the soil on the ground is soot, a giantess sits brooding.  She takes her two sons, and turns them into wolves, and they are the first of their kind and the best.
She raises up her son Hati, and says “Run. Run after the moon until you catch him, run until you swallow him, so that all the months of men shall be ended.”

She raises up her son Skoll and says “Run. Run after the sun until you catch her, run until you swallow her, so that all the days of men shall be ended.”

But it’s taking  them a little longer to catch up than they expected; they are still there, the chasing wolves, running over the land shaped from Ymirs’ corpse,  through the sky shaped from his skull, until they reach and devour their prey, until the world is gone and nothing is left but fire, and ice, and the gap.

Save, of course, for those that hide, in the hollow of an old tree…

Pinnekjot (stick-meat)

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Ingredients:

  • 250g salt
  • Goat, lamb or pork ribs
  • Water
  • Birch sticks (bark removed)

Method:

To preserve;

Place the ribs in a large container and work the salt into the meat, making sure every part is covered.

Leave to rest somewhere cold or in the fridge for 24 hours per Kg. Turning every 12 hours.

Brush the excess salt off and hang in a cool & dry location. Dry for 4-6 weeks.

To cook;

Separate the ribs lengthwise and place to soak in cold water overnight.

In a large pan or cauldron build a grid with the birch sticks by criss-crossing the sticks in the bottom.

Add water to the pan, to just about cover the sticks. Place the ribs on top of the grid and pop a lid on the pan. Leave the meat to steam for 2-3 hours on a low heat. Be sure to add water occasionally to make sure it does not go dry. When the meat falls off the bone, it is done.

If you choose you can put the meat on a grill for about 15-20 minutes to crisp prior to serving.

Taken from my book ‘Eat like a Viking!’ Available now on Amazon

Egg pasta

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  • Ingredients:
    • 2 eggs
    • 200g bread flour
    • A handful of blanched, chopped nettles or spinach (optional)

    Method:
    Stick the flour into a bowl with the nettles (if adding) and add the eggs. Mix together, by hand, to form a dough. You may need to add a splash of water, but be careful not to make the dough too wet.

    Lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, before rolling out thinly with a rolling pin and cutting into thin strips.

    Cook the pasta in boiling, lightly salted water for 3-5 minutes.

    Great served drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

    Planked trout

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  • Ingredients:
    • Water
    • A 2-3 cm thick plank of oak or other ‘food safe’ wood
    • 1 whole trout (or any other fish)
    • Salt
    • Nails or wooden pegs
    • Optional Parsley, bay or other herbs

    Method:
    Soak the plank for 3 to 4 hours, or ideally overnight in water. You could substitute the water for beer or wine.

    Prepare the fish by gutting, and removing the head, tail, and spine. Leaving the fish ina ‘butterfly’. Clean the fish and season the flesh with a little salt and any extra herbs. Fold in half, place onto the oak plank, nailing or pegging to hold it in place. If pegging you’ll need to drill some suitable holes into the plank.

    Place the plank near to a fire and leave to slowly cook for about an hour, rotating the plank by 180 degrees half way through. Ensure the fish is cooked through before serving.

    Taken from my book ‘Eat like a Viking!’ Available now on Amazon

    Salt dough lamb

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  • Ingredients:
    • 600g Flour
    • 300g salt
    • Water
    • 1/2 a Leg of lamb
    • Rosemary or juniper berries

    Method:
    Mix together the flour and salt and slowly add water, bringing it together to form a stiff dough.

    Roll out the dough thin enough that it will encase the leg of lamb.

    Make slits in the lamb with a sharp knife and stuff a little rosemary or juniper berries into the flesh.

    Wrap the leg in the salt dough and cook for 2 hours (rare) up to 3 hours (well done) over hot coals, turning occasionally. Depending on conditions, this may need extra cooking time.

    Remove the now burnt and blackened salt dough before serving.

    Taken from my book ‘Eat like a Viking!’ Available on Amazon

    Braggot

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    Take a look at my older post on the basics of homebrewing if you are new to the subject here

  • Ingredients:
    • 30g hops
    • 1362g honey
    • 500g amber malt extract
    • 12 pints water
    • 1 teaspoon Wine yeast

    Method:
    Put the hops into a large pan and cover with 6 pints of water, boil for 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile put your honey and malt extract into a large, sterilised bucket or fermentation bin. Strain the hop water through a muslin cloth into the fermentation bin.

    Stir well to dissolve all the honey and malt extract. Pour in 6 pints of cold water and stir.

    Check your gravity, it should be around 1060. If not you can adjust up or down by adding more honey or water, as necessary. This should give you a braggot around 7.8%.

    Add your yeast and leave to ferment for 2 to 3 weeks.

    Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.

    Sterilise your bottles.
    Add a ½ teaspoon of honey to each bottle and siphon the beer into the bottles. Cap the bottles (or use swing tops) and place somewhere warm for 2 days before moving to somewhere cool.The braggot should be ready to drink in 2 weeks, 3 is better.

    Taken from my book ‘Eat like a Viking!’ Available on Amazon now

    Smoked mackerel butter

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  • Ingredients:
    • Smoked mackerel fillets (skin and bones removed)
    • Unsalted butter (about half the same volume as fish)
    • A mix of salad leaves, such as garlic-mustard, wild garlic, rocket, watercress (finely chopped)

    Method:
    Flake the fish into a bowl

    Add the fresh butter and work together into a paste, until smooth. Add more butter if too stiff.

    Add the salad leaves and mix well.

    Serve on warm fresh bread, flat breads, crisp breads or oat cakes

    Taken from my book ‘Eat like a Viking!’ Available now on Amazon