This is my husband’s annual blogpost, enjoy! Mimi x
My grandfather was an austere man who earned his PhD in economics in Germany, dragged my German grandmother kicking and screaming back to Iceland and started a family. Later he served as Iceland’s ambassador to the Soviet Union and finally retired back in Reykjavík where he presided over a very formal household. He wore a suit every day and enjoyed a three-course lunch prepared by my grandmother. In the evenings he swapped the suit jacket for a cardigan but kept the tie and had a more relaxed supper in his office, assortments of breads and condiments, usually washed down with a cocktail. He was always served first, when he spoke others listened. As a child I had lunch with my grandparents three times a week and before I could sit down to face my grandfather, my grandmother made me wash my face and hands and combed my hair. When I had friends with me she did the same to them. One of them had golden, wavy hair, he was my grandmother’s favorite. Now he is bald. Such is life. In the evenings, when they were having their supper in the “office” my grandmother liked to talk. She really loved to talk. But when my grandfather had enough he simply said, “Lottí mín, that’s enough”. She didn’t mind, by all accounts they had a very good marriage, based not on equality but mutual respect for each other and each other’s domains. My grandfather never questioned my grandmothers running of the house, the first time he entered the kitchen was when my grandmother was in hospital. That’s the same day he found out washing dirty plates works better with hot water than cold. He was an economist not a physicist.
This is the world my father grew up in and after law school, after finding a girl to marry he too took his seat at the head of the table. My mother, having finished university herself had other ideas. My father kept his seat but the privileges were gone. As a modern man he accepted that, if somewhat reluctantly. At Christmas he’d sit down and open a bottle of red wine (probably Chateauneuf du Pape – strangely the only red wine I heard anyone speak of in Iceland in my youth) only to be called back into the kitchen to help with the ptarmigan sauce. He usually returned slightly pissed off, but he understood. The days of his father were gone. My parents both worked hard and often my father came home with a hopeful look on his face and inquired what was for dinner. “Nothing” was sometimes the answer, if my mother had a big lunch at work. I would be the smug kid sitting behind her, scoffing down sausages and Heinz spaghetti with tomato sauce she had prepared just for me.
I understood then and I understand even better now my father’s frustration at the changing of the ways. His childhood hadn’t prepared him for it, nobody had taught him how to be anything than the head of his future household. I’d say he coped more or less pretty well. More or less. As for me I’ve never had any excuses to treat women as anything other than equals and I haven’t, at least not in any meaningful way. Jerk as I may be that’s one area where I got it right. I thank my parents for that, both of them.
In my early twenties I had the theatre experience of my life. Two plays by Anton Chekhov, one after the other in a double feature extravaganza. I went alone, can’t remember why. The room was small and the stage split the audience in two, stretched across the room. The cast sat on stage the entire evening, dressed in white linens, sipping tea and complaining, I loved it. This was at the Reykjavík city theatre, an uncharming, modern (not anymore) building connected to a shopping mall. At the interval I had a meal by myself at Hard Rock Café in the mall. It felt all wrong, I wanted to be in white linens, complaining, not sipping a chocolate milk shake with a burger. I had always loved dinner parties, always loved restaurants. That was the evening that made me understand how much I love the table.
My grandfather ruled the table. My mother’s quest for independence and equal rights made us take a break from it, briefly. Perhaps that was necessary. Now we are back at the table but this time there is no boss.
Every night we come together as a family and have a big meal. The food is always great, the atmosphere often. It’s where we talk to our children, plan the days ahead. Where I try, not always successfully to teach them some manners (Gaia, when you learn to read and see this I want you to know that I am talking about you!).
My wife is an astonishing cook. That’s why she cooks and I clean. But that was last years topic.
Last year Mimi asked me to cook for the blog. This year I offered. I figured she could use a hand. We had no plans, it would probably be Italian since that’s what I always cook. I chose two dishes that I love, one from my favorite restaurant in Iceland, one from last year when Mimi was in the clinic with Audrey and I was feeding the family. I don’t bake. I like to say that I prefer savory things but lack of talent comes into it too. On my own I would resort to cheeses, some biscotti with sweet wine. But my wife came to the rescue with a “smashing” (she talks like that) walnut cake, aimed straight at my heart.
I used to work in advertising. I know how to stage things. I got tired of it. Casting a girl for a cornflakes ad, finding her a husband, getting them kids. Shooting them having a “moment” when everybody just wants to get paid and go home.
I love to improvise, working without a script. The food is on the table, the “cast” is there, unpaid and badly behaved. Something will always catch my attention, an onion, a puppy, a nicely lit room. This time my lens turned towards my wife and girls, they were just too adorable, especially when they were ignoring my commands. I think the images speak for themselves.
Mothers and daughters.
My favorite restaurant in Iceland was called La Primavera. Outside Italy and possibly New York, the best Italian food I’ve ever had. I went there a lot. A lot. The owner/chef, Leifur Kolbeinsson has moved on and opened a new restaurant in Reykjavík concert hall where he still cooks amazing food. These balls are from the La Primavera cookbook that I used to own. I hadn’t made them in a while and called Leifur this week to brush up on the recipe. He says hi! (As I was making them Mimi insisted I use more spinach than I intended, otherwise they would be too “bready”. She was right, made this way they are delicious.)
Spinach & gorgonzola balls
(for 8 balls)
750 g/ 1 & 2/3 pounds frozen spinach (about 1 pack)
2 small slices of stale bread
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 teaspoons gorgonzola cheese
Parmesan cheese, grated/to serve
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
For the butter sage sauce
A large handful of sage leaves
80 g unsalted butter
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Steam the spinach until soft and drain. Squeeze out the excess water (very important otherwise the balls will be watery), and chop as finely as possible. Place 2 small slices of stale bread in the food processor and pulse until you get fine breadcrumbs. In a large bowl (or you can mix everything in the food processor, just pulse lightly) combine spinach, breadcrumbs, milk, nutmeg, flour, salt & pepper and mix until well blended. Roll out approximately 8 walnut-sized balls. While shaping the balls, insert a small teaspoon of gorgonzola inside and reshape.
Heat a large saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the spinach balls for 8 minutes and drain.
While the spinach balls are cooking, prepare the sage butter sauce.
In a large pan, melt the butter on a medium heat. When the butter starts to sizzle, wat until it turns light golden brown, then lower the heat and add the sage leaves. Season with salt & pepper, and shake the pan for about 30 seconds.
Drizzle the sage butter sauce on top of the spinach ball. Grate parmesan on top before serving.
Last May, when Mimi was in the clinic with Audrey I felt compelled to keep up her cooking and tried my best to ease the pain of “mommy” not being there. These quails were a hit and I’ve made a version of them a few times since. I love sage and I love quails and the original recipe came from my googling around the internet finding a way to cook them together.
Quails with white wine & herbs
8 slices pancetta
4 cloves of garlic, halved
8 sage leaves
A few sprigs of rosemary
240 ml/ 1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Season the quails inside and out. Stuff the quails with pancetta/sage/half garlic clove/sage leaves. Season with salt & pepper.
In a large dutch-iron pot, melt the butter & olive oil on a medium heat. Brown the quails on all sides until golden. Add the sprigs of rosemary, pour the wine and reduce to 3/4. Cover the pan, lower the heat and continue to cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the quails are cooked through and tender.
Gâteau aux noix/ Walnut cake
150 g/ 1 cup walnuts, chopped finely + at least 5 walnuts halves for decorating the cake (you’ll need a dash of icing sugar & honey)
3 tablespoons dark rum
80 g/ 1/3 cup unsalted butter
130 g/ 2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
40 g/ 1/3 cup plain flour, sifted
30 g/ 1/4 cup cornstarch (maïzana)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of fine salt
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F
Chop walnuts finely – you can also place walnuts in a food processor and pulse until you get coarse crumbs. In a large bowl, combine sugar, walnuts, and mix well. Add the butter, honey, eggs and rum. Add a pinch of salt and vanilla extract.
In another bowl, combine sifted flour, cornstarch and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Mix well.
Fold in dry ingredients into walnut mixture. Line your baking mould with butter and pour the batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes (you can test-knife and check – if it comes out clean it’s ready). Sprinkle a dash of icing/confectioner’s sugar in a frying pan and sauté the walnuts on a medium to low heat for a few seconds until slightly golden. Spread with a little honey and place on cake (see photos).
Serve with whipped cream (optional).
155 thoughts on “Mothers & Daughters”
Oh that post was just a delight to read. You have a lovely way with words. Thank you!
My pleasure, O
I thoroughly enjoyed this post.
You are all blessed to have each other.
Treasure every moment!
We are, and we do, thanks for writing, Oddur
Hmmm, so sweet. Bless you all!
Photography is exquisite! lovely memories. thanks for sharing
Reading this was an engrossing experience; I feel I know so much about so many generations of people I’ve never met thanks to these lovely, simple, kind words and images. Fantastic blog, really enjoy it xxx
the spinach gorgonzola balls will be something I’ll try and I’d say you’re definitely still styling- and doing such a nice job.
Sometimes making something look good or bad takes the same amount of time, O
Ah, “the head of the household” was big in my Italian-American family growing up…some how my mother was a 1950’s housewife and a 1970’s nurse. When I asked her how she did it her reply was, “I drank a lot of coffee.”
Thank goodness times have changed. Always a pleasure to hear from the dad and thank you for your recipes… and always, always lovely pictures.
I bet you had a lot of red sauce and meatballs (one of my favorite foods), which I had very little of growing up, and thank you, O
What a beautiful read and such exquisite photography of your divine women. !
They are divine aren’t they, even the ones with four legs, O
Thank you, Oddur, for sharing your family history. If I may ask, is that a Nobel Prize resting on the table in three of your photographs?? To whom does it belong? Perhaps there is a future story there……….? Regardless, I always look forward to the next post. Cheers!
Thank you for this! I love so much to think about family structure and how it has evolved over the
Years. Talking about it and sharing with our children seems to me so valuable. I enjoy how you and Mimi seem to be shifting the paradigm in your own lives and as it comes across to us as readers it has a positive effect and is inspiring…i attribute it to the fact that it all originates from love. Of course some people have a hard time dealing with that and will criticize…so be it. May they too find love that inspires them to shift a paradigm!
Best and thanks!
Nobel, sadly no – that would be something. Once can always hope though, although I don’t see myself getting one, perhaps one of the girls. It is however an interesting object, one that I picked up at a “Brocante” recently. It came from the estate of a gardener who seems to have had this made of himself. His name was Jean Heraud and now he lives with us. Thanks for your comment, Oddur
It is refreshing to see a family not just look like a family, but actually act like one. Our family loved the post. Many thanks. 🙂
I’m glad, O
It’s important to hear the man’s point of view and to know the back story to measure your lovely lives against. Thank you!
Bravo! Love to hear of an extraordinary family that Oddur comes from. Keep the annual posts coming.
Hi again, Do you submerge the spinach balls? I would like they would bust apart in the boiling water?
I promise to be back next year … and they do stick together. It’s a good tip to throw in one first and see how it fares, but you should be fine, O
No they dont.. I made the most waterless balls and they dont stick in water no matter how hard you try. I had to re-make them in the pan.
Hi Carmen, Hmm, I will make them again for Lunch today and see what happens … it should be fine, I’ll keep you posted, thanks for commenting, Oddur
That’s lovely Oddur! Robert also cooks and is a wonderful cook…owing to many years the bachelor…but he’d rather not, as, after a long day working, usually a good evening of rest is the best. But there are times he loves to cook and, I must confess, those evening are lovely for me. 😀 My own grandfather was a little like yours. He was a general in the Austrian army, a lord and diplomat. He was formal to the max. But I don’t think he ever cooked a day in his life…except for making mayonnaise. Grandmother used to say he had the only patience in the family for that and he would sit quietly and stir the oil and lemon juice into the egg yolks drop by drop for hours.
I love the idea of an Austrian, mayonnaise making general, now that’s a character, thanks, Oddur
This is wonderful….to learn of the life of others….but also because it brings up memories of our own lives….the lessons, loves..and losses.
The harmony of the home comes through!
good stuff. all of it. and, interestingly, just this afternoon at my “Eat, Drink and Be Merry!” class (I am an attendee) where the topic was to be, Food & Art, I brought the combined efforts of you both in the form of your cookbook. Food & Art, exactement!
I’m not sure about the art part but thanks anyway, O
Oh my ! You melted my heart with these wonderful words & photos in spite of the bitter cold weather we’re enduring here. You brought up so many warm family memories for me, I laughed out loud at the same time tears welled up in my eyes. I clicked away to be sure I put plenty of your photos on my Pinterest boards – everyone needs to see your beautiful girls, those funny dogs, your old tables & your food. I happen to be one who loves to cook so it’s easy for me to fall in love with Manger. But I can’t claim exclusive rights at all because you don’t have to love cooking to relate to the welcoming goodness of what you share here – a love of home, family, life. A good friend I admire has zero interest in cooking but when I showed her one of my favorite photo spreads from A Kitchen in France, pages 124 & 125, she instantly loved and related to what she saw. And while the plates of food on the right-hand page are stunning my friend pointed to the black & white photo on the left page. With Mimi cutting on her board & her little girl looking on, my friend said, “That’s what it’s all about – it’s the life around the food that makes this so meaningful”. Thanks so much for this terrific post & the recipes. I happen to love quail but the spinach balls are new to me. I’m going to be sure Mimi schedules some time for me to pick your brain over camera techniques during the cooking workshop. Love your photos !
Hi Linny, You are welcome to pick my brain, go for it! I had to look up pages 124 & 5, they are taken from one of the first blogposts that I was really happy with so I’m glad they ended up in the book. Thanks, O
Mimi, your blog is so uplifting. That’s what I love about it. To be honest, I’m not a great cook (I’m working on it!). I often come to your blog for the storytelling with beautiful images and sincere words. Please don’t change a single thing!
As for the previous post, I couldn’t comment but I want to write it here. Cookbooks are great, so inspiring especially at times I have no idea what to cook 🙂 But I think it’s hard to find criterias to compare two cookbooks (except the success of their recipes). I love your book because it reminds me the French countryside, especially where I had the chance to spend time together with a big family who loves spending hours in the kitchen and on the table eating and talking about ‘food’ 🙂 Your book brings me those moments back. The images are wonderful.
Other cookbooks I have, I love them too, but I can’t compare with one another. Each of them is a different experience for me. Maybe I can conpare two recipes of the same meal and say “ah I think I prefer this one”, like two couscous recipes or something…I know that it’s a lot of hard work to prepare a cookbook and maintain a blog with this much content. I admire your work.
Thank you for the great story Oddur. I like how you play with the light in these photos. I’d love to visit Reykjavik one day with my husband (who suddenly becomes a gourmet when we travel :)) and try Leifur Kolbeinsson’s restaurant.
It is wonderful to read your thoughts and stories of his family and youth. I am glad you share your wife’s love of food and cooking and it is evident in your beautiful photography.
Merci Beaucoup x
Great post! I very much enjoyed it; it actually made my evening 🙂
Thank you so much for such an honest and insightful account of your lovely family and some more great recipes and photos. I get so excited when I see notification of a new post from your blog appear in my inbox, it makes my day.
And enjoy it I did! We have here, on Jervis Bay Australia, the saying ‘sly dog’ which is a compliment reserved for when someone has produced a meal or dish way beyond expectations. We have ‘sly dog pie’ which is a wonderful concoction of game birds, rabbit, prosciutto rolls encased in a liver based sauce then wonderfully rich pastry. When a dear friend’s wife produced it one night when he was too ill to cook the promised pie, the name was changed from ‘Smiling Assassin Pie’ (another story) to ‘Sly Dog Pie’. Now I suggest there’s ‘Sly Dog Spinach and Gorgonzola Balls’, and ‘Sly Dog Quails in White Wine and Herbs’.
Keep at the table manners – here, sadly, many families eat in front of the TV and communicate via text and ffacebook, that two very valuable skills are sliding away.
I enjoyed the post immensely. Thank you. Sly Dogs Rule!
Thank you Sly dog! O
I feel like I’m obligated to chime in with the other comments, even though I have nothing unique to say. jI love family and history and time and how it revolves and changes around the dinner table — bref, basically everything involved in this pot — so it was a real treat to read. Loved the anecdote about your friend with wavy blond hair who was a favorite of your grandmother’s. How funny life works! And how lucky you and Mimi were to find each other.
… and how lucky I am to still have my hair … grey as it may be getting, thanks Amy, O
Oddur, what you’ve written is divine, candid, revealing, well written! You’ve satisfied some of my curiosity about your gorgeous wife and children! I’m smitten with what both of you bring to us! Such talent in both cases! Cynthia
Bonjour Oddur! What a beautiful post! I love the story about how the generations have changed and your images are so beautiful! I’ll have to try the recipes soon! xo, Dana
Thank you for your beautiful tribute to family past present and the hope for the future. Your support to your beautiful wife is a wonderful thing to see. Thank you! There are not enough men in this world like you and my man! Mimi and I are are very fortunate. Continue to “feed” those you love
I really love this post. This was hilarious! I could not stop laughing. Especially the part of your mother having had a big lunch at work and cooking nothing… I do that too sometimes. Oh! My… this was good…
I don’t usually do this but here it is: 🙂 O
bonjour mimi quel dommage que vous ne traduisiez pas votre blog en francais je ne peut jamais vous lire et je vais abandonner votre blogg et je le regrette vivement a quand la parution de votre livre en francais ici nous sommes en france vous parlez francais je ne comprends pas et suis vraiment desolee parce que je vous apprecie beaucoup votre blog et vos recettes sont un enchantement; merci de tenir compte de vos fans qui ne parlent pas anglais tres amicalement dany
Dany, vous pouvez tout simplement copier et coller le texte dans google translate… quand il traduit de l’anglais il est très efficace. Je pense que Mimi écrit en anglais pour tenir compte de tous ses fans, dans tout le monde! Et traduire chacque fois en un autre langage est fatiguant. Essayez à utiliser google translate, ça marche! Bonne journée! 🙂
Google Translate marche très bien et j’imagine que ça prend beaucoup de temps d’écrire en deux langues. En tout les cas, je pense que ça vaut la peine de retourner sur le blog rien que pour regarder les photos et la jolie Mimi!
merci aussi a marija j ai suivi les conseils de dulcistella et c est bon je suis ravie ce blog est un enchantement j espere la parution prochaine du livre de Mimi et je la suit aussi sur cuisineplus bonne soiree et encore merci pour votre aide
bonsoir dulcistella merci pour votre gentillesse je ne suis pas une pro de l ordi et je ne savais pas comment faire pour lire ;maintenant je vais pouvoir profiter de ce magnifique blog bonne soiree et encore merci
I really enjoyed your blog. You are such an interesting family. Thank you for sharing delicious recipes and great memories.
Oddur, this post was really heart felt. I love your dedication to Mothers and Daughters. You have an honest way of writing that is very inspiring. I was transported in time and could imagine the story of your family like a movie. Thanks for sharing. You and Mimi make a great couple. God bless your whole family and keep the good work coming. Love your photography by the way. It really speaks to me.
Cheers from Canada
Mimi, you should let Oddur cook for the blog at least twice a year!!!
Oh she would let me, O
che piacere ritrovare le meravigliose foto di Oddur e le fantastiche ricette che mi danno tanta inspirazzione. Sono una vera fan. Complimenti per la vostra famigliola. Baci Nannina
Precious words, I can just picture your beautiful family.
Thanks for sharing.
P.S. If you and your family will ever come to Rome, Italy you are my guests.
I send love to you all.
We plan to come to Rome … a lot! O
What a smashing piece of storytelling! 😉 I really felt transported. Your grandfather sounds formidable. i wonder if it’s a thing, retired diplomats clinging on to their neck ties, my father was the same. Gaia sounds such a character! Hmmm, I like the sound of those spinach balls. Of course your photos are sublime.
I liked it a lot read a bit about you. I enjoyed your story reminds me of my own for that matter. When I visited my grandparents were eaten with the cook, the children were not welcome at the table. Luckily the time is changed!
I am very appreciative of your work. I love your photos, I wish I had the same talent as you. Your photos are always very kind and true. I am sure that Mimi and your daughters are very beautiful but they are under your objective more.
I’d like to taste these little balls of “La Primavera” Merci pour toute cette beauté qui tu nous offre à travers de tes photos. 🙂
Thank you for this post, the recipes and this story, and for all your pictures that make your wife’s work so wonderful.
Thanks for sharing these intimate family moments… I will ask you some family portraits once you are in Paris!
This story is so personal, yet somehow typical…thank you for the honest way of telling it!
I also think you should write/cook for the blog more than once a year!
Greetings from Bulgaria!
That well done continuity between food and cooking Mimi you have prepared. Thanks for making us spend a nice time enjoying these interwoven stories and great food (love the leather apron you use for cooking), I have to try salvia associated with spinach, had tried in sauces with meat or fish but not with other vegetables. As always, your photos make you dream, your frames and treatment they give to light are wonderful. Thank you very much and many hugs to you all from Barcelona.
I like a good leather apron, this one will improve with age, it’s Mimi’s by the way!
Your family is absolutely adorable. I love the pictures of the food, furniture and still lives you created and the recipes sound enticing. I am german myself and my father was very strict but he didn’t know better. Born in 1920 growing up between two wars and with 19 he was sent to Poland. Six years of war and his youth was gone. Getting married after the war and having three girls and a wife to look after was not easy. Food was always an issue. We didn’t go hungry but I didn’t like to eat for different reasons. We never wasted any food, because of the hungry times my parents experienced. I got interested in cooking in my teens and today I love to eat, cook and take pictures of the food. Before his death in 2008 I did a kind of interview with him because I knew this was my last chance to get to know him better before it was too late. That’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I made my peace with him and it’s something to share with my sons and my new grandchild as well.
What a delightful post, wonderful to meet you Oddur, thank you for the amazing beautiful photos, you make everything so perfect. I salut you.
Beautiful family, the greatest joy in life.
Mimi, love love your house, beautiful antique furniture, I love the mirror piece with the painting on top.
Declious recipes. Thank you so much.
Best wishes xoxo
As I read Oddur’s description of his grandfather I kept checking back in my mind that this was an icelander he was describing, and came to realize that I must have such a romanticized version of scandinavians and icelanders. I would never have thought that this kind of thing, which I view as so iberian, so portuguese, spanish or even italian, could have taken place in an icelandic household. And that is absurd, makes me a bit of a silly person who thinks she knows about certain countries or cultures and knows nothing. It reminds me of my father in law, as he sits at the head of the table and is served first. It is something that irks me a little, and then suddenly I realize I am that person as well, I am not the patriarch but the matriarch, as in my household I am the one who sits herself in the place of honour and serves herself first…
Oddur I truly enjoyed your post,thanks for Sharing Mimi… can’t wait to make theses spinach balls…you are both lucky to have each other…Lovely photos as always…kind regards
Superbe contribution. J’aime tellement lire vos souvenirs et vos passions mutuels qui s’entremêlent autour de la table.
Belle journée à vous, famille Thorisson
P.S. : J’ai hâte de tester la recette du gâteau aux noix
I am always stunned at how great both of you are at storytelling! It’s funny because sometimes I talk about snippets of my grandparents’ life and think ‘isn’t this boring’? But you are proof that if you can tell a good story everything turns into gold.
Thanks for sharing this great post (as always!)
Now I can see why you take such lovely pictures of your family and food. You are no longer working with those who just want to get done and paid. You are working with your lovely family. Thank you for sharing.
Loving what you do is everything! O
how lovely and pleased I am to hear that a man cleans up after the woman cooks! and the two of you seem to blend very well together – giving such wonderful support in all ways of sharing a life, family and dreams together 🙂
I loved hearing the story about your Grandfather’s appreciation for food and how your Father had to learn a different way with his modern wife. You certainly found the right wife for your amazing family and your own love for food.
Will be making that walnut cake next week!
This reading made my day , You and Mimi make a great couple , blessings .
est-ce qu’il faut battre avec le batteur électrique ou tout simplement mélanger avec une fourchette ou cuillère ( ma question concerne le gâteau)?
Merci d’avance de votre réponse!
Hi Mimi and Oddur! It is such a pleasure to read your blog. I love the way the photos tell the story of the life in Medoc. It captured so well! Mimi, your blog is inspiring. Keep writing! Wish you and your family bless with happiness 🙂
Hello Oddur and Mimi. Mothers and daughters… just beautiful. Such pretty girls… Such a classy family. My father only cooked when he was a batchelor and my mother, who ruled the kitchen, greatly enjoyed complaining. I’m glad my little family isn’t so, my boyfriend is definitely the better cook and gets crabby if I take over the kitchen too much! So nice to read this, I hope you all have a lovely week. PS your house really suits you!
We really enjoy living in this house! O
I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts, trying your recipes and always find myself mesmerized by the photography. So very curious about your shooting methods. Would you share some photographic style notes with regard to lighting, styling, etc.?
I would but it’s a bit hard in writing. I use existing light, the styling is very effortless and hurried but perhaps planned in the way that these are all our objects that we have chosen so you could say the styling happens over time. Just throw it on the table and look through the lens, don’t be fearful of extremes, too light, too dark, even out of focus it can all be good. O
Thank you so much for this beautifully written, beautifully photographed blog. It’s one of my must-reads!
Well done Oddur!
Mimi, your girls are always dressed so beautifully. Where do you buy their lovely dresses and ballet flats?
Love your post Oddur – How times have changed, my table is the heart of our home too, the house is looking fantastic, keep taking those photo’s !!!
Wonderful story. You have a beautiful family, one many dream of. Also, the lighting in your home is perfection. I’d love to request a monthly post rather than annual.
Monthly is pushing it, but thank you, I’ll be back one day. The lighting here is lovely but so, probably, is the light in your house, you just have to find it and find a way to use it. O
love to hear how the families have changed + such a sweet story. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com
“Oddur’s Observations”: new sidebar feature.
Your words are as vivid as your photographs. Such a wonderful essay!
I’ve loved your story of your Grandfather and Grandmother. You painted a fine picture of them that I can see all the way to here. I also can see your Mother and Father and you as a little boy. Now it’s your own family and you’re creating marvellous memories for them that they will maybe even write about one day. It will be all good. They’ll talk about the time Dad cooked a feast of Spinach and Gorgonzola balls, quails and Walnut Cake. They’ll pour over the recipes and read them carefully …….taking special note of Mum’s suggestion for more spinach in the balls. Mostly they’ll remember the magic that family food has brought to their lives . Great read Oddur. Cheers Anita
I think they’ll mostly remember their father saying that if they didn’t finish the Spinach balls there would be no dessert! O
We all say the same things Mimi!!! I can’t resist even now with my boys (I should say men!!) , even though they are 28 and 26!!! xx Anita
My best table memories are at my grandparent’s house as well. Though there was never a head of the table, yet my grandmother is definitively the head of the kitchen. Every Sunday we gathered for lunch after church, and we continue to do so a couple Sundays a month.
I enjoyed reading about your family, as I always do. This is a great essay on the family dinner table.
Silly Medley: Lifestyle and Travel
Excellent post! I love coming here for the stories, the beautiful pictures and the wonderful food! It’s a lovely little respite in the day when your posts come up in my reading list!
Oddur, I thoroughly enjoyed your writing and thank you for sharing a little part of your family’s story. I’m definitely going to have to try those Spinach & Gorgonzola Balls, they look delicious.
Such a beautiful way with words you have! I loved reading it, and it really brightened up my gloomy and rainy day. Love your angles and the spontaneity of your photographs. Love this blog and the character it has.
Beautiful photos and wonderful ruminations about life and change and food. I’m a new fan and look forward to more. Thank you!
What a lovely husband you are! My hubby is also a good cook, but he needs an audience and an army of helpers ; )The menu looks delicious, thank you.
Like so many others I found your blog when I purchased your book. I just caught up with your last two blog posts and felt the urge to leave a comment.
It seems I am drawn more and more to cookbooks not only for the food but also discovering a sense of place where that food is from. It’s like a mini vacation to Medoc France. Thank you for the wonderful recipes and photo snap shots of your life. Beautifully shared!
I can’t even begin to describe the memories this post brought me of my own family and my own childhood. Similar, down to the Chateauneuf du Pape that was served at my grandparent’s table. There was a story behind it my grandfather would tell that now I cannot remember, unfortunately. My grandfather served as the U.S. ambassador to Iceland (in the early 1960’s) and then as ambassador to Finland for 5 years. I never went to Iceland but did go to Finland to visit them at the embassy when I was two years old. The time my grandparents spent in both of those countries (as well as the years they lived in France and Czechoslovakia when my grandfather was a diplomat) influenced their lives, and thus mine, greatly. As with you, it was my generation that broke through a lot of the formal traditions of the past that you speak of. I was the first child of my generation to eat at the dining room table instead of in the kitchen. (only because I was conveniently well-behaved when I was very young.) “Children should be seen and not heard” had always been the theory. I have nothing but love and respect for my grandparents and miss them very much, as they are now gone. I love the photos of your family and environment, as well as Mimi’s beautiful food. It sets your blog apart from the rest. Thanks for spurring the memories of days long gone and the amazing food at my grandparent’s table.
You’re most welcome! O
I enjoyed this so much, Oddur. It’s always fun to hear about families and I love how you’ve described your experience growing up at the table. One thing that always comes through in your writing and photos is your appreciation of Mimi and your family and your way of life. Thank you for that.
Simply delightful! Oddur, your photography is one of the things I love most about your wife’s blog. Thank you!
Smashing it is! The house smells like heaven!
aww I love this post Oddur, well I always say Mimi I love yours pictures, your fmily and all these lovely you and Mimi always show here!
I love how Mimi is natural and warm!
I noticed that.
A big hug to you and all the femily from Chile,
I live in the countryside too:)
Dear Oddur & Mimi,
First of all – and I’m sure you get this all the time 🙂 – thank you for the beautiful, inspiring blog. Not only is it about food, but it’s also about family and appreciating the simple things in life. Also, a chicken is roasting in my oven as per one of your recipes as I write this…
My question is a bit obvious but I think it’s very important haha! Could you please tell me the best way to store garlic, peeled and unpeeled? It’s a constant struggled for me because everyone has different tricks and not all of them work, but I’m wondering if you have a way that you’ve found most effective.
I make a version of the vegetable dish, patties, but I love the idea of rolling them into balls instead of patties. I will give it a shot. Happy nesting.
Oddur, you write so well! Enjoyed the story of your family so much; i am your parents generation and I “get” your description of chenged expectations. Your descriptions are full of grace and your photographs are as well. I almost wrote “paintings” instead of “photographs” . Some of them are breathtakingly beautiful. You and Mimi are so generous to share part of your life together with strangers. Thank you.
Hello. For thé walnut cake – If living in France what do you suggest in place of baking powder – which doesnt seem to exist ?
I make the cake – tastes amazing but didnt seem to rise. I used a Pink packet of “levure chimique” in place of the baking powder. Merci for your response. Angela
Bonsoir Angela, I also use the levure chimique from Alsa – works very well. Perhaps you should chop the walnuts finer? Don’t hesitate to pass them through the food processor, I do that too. Enjoy! Mimi x
Beautifully written post and beautiful photos! So inspiring…The girls are so precious!xx
I loved this and my first comment did not take!!!!!!YOU are a VERY lucky MAN ODDUR and I know MIMI has a GEM in YOU!
What a beautiful, thoughtful post. So wonderfully written and crafted. Thank you! x
Bonjour Oddur (& Mimi), Another ex advertising Art Director/Creative Director type here. Know what you mean…I’ll art direct anything and everything given half the chance : ) Life through a lens, with a strapline, eh!
Your images are always stunning and compliment Mimi’s glorious recipes magnificently (Mimi’s book is mouthwateringly spectacular, natch) . Love the slice of life shots especially as it really puts the food into context. What a great family you are!! All the best to you all from sunny London.
Thank you! O
Sencillamente delocioso. Rosa
Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Lovely post, you are both such gifted writers. But, and I mean this in a curious and non-judgemental way, why is Mimi never photographed with Mia? Always the younger three,never the older one. It really stands out in this post about mothers and daughters
Thank you! I do agree that it stands out a little bit but it could not be helped. Mia was in Spain for the Holidays and only returned after we had shot this post. We felt, in light of the title, that she should be included so I shot her separately. She is seen here with her favorite dog, Plum, who sleeps by her bed every night. She hasn’t appeared as much as the younger kids simply because she’s isn’t around as much and for a while she was shy about it. But I think she’s getting more interested and so you might be seeing more of her in the future 🙂 Oddur
Oddur, what a wonderful team you and Mimi make! First, may I say your photography is magnificent. Secondly, I loved your post. Both my parents and grandparents have been gone a VERY long time but I cherish the meals we shared and the discussions we had as a family. Enjoy the weeks ahead as your journey continues and new doors open.
Hello, love your book! Just wondering how you stay so thin? Do you actually eat bread with every meal? (As in your stunning photographs). Do you eat three meals a day. Just curious. And would appreciate any thoughts you could share.
Hi Pamela, I’ll answer this (I’m Oddur),
We do serve bread with almost every meal but come to think of it Mimi doesn’t have a lot of it usually, mainly to scoop up the sauce etc. She does however often have bread for breakfast. Three big meals it is, not that much snacking for us but the kids have their teatime after school. I think my wife eats as well as you possibly can, well balanced, nutritious, good portions but not enormous, some excesses but not too many. All the good stuff … and some of the bad (that’s soo good). O
Mimi, this is again, as always a beautiful post. Your photographs are inspiring and your life continually makes me want to escape a busy london life to something more peaceful! My own blog has become somewhat of an escape and of course now a big passion!
Oddur: How MEAN of you to mention your most meaningful Chekhov double feature and to NOT tell us what plays! I am a Chekhov freak and am seriously curious. In case you’ve missed it – VANYA ON 42nd STREET must be seen. With Julianne Moore and Wallace Shawn. All the other actors are fabulous, too. Have you read any of his short stories? So wonderful. I like your story about men having to adjust their expectations. And the color of your spinach/gorgonzola dumplings is otherworldly wonderful. Now do tell – WHICH PLAYS PLEASE?!
The plays were Platonov (an early lesser known work), before the break and Uncle Vanya after the break. So there you have it! And yes I have seen Vanya on 42nd street and I love it too! Talking about the short stories, The lady with the dog is a favorite. O
And now you’re married to the lady with, is it 14? dogs! Yes I know the play PLATONOV. I’m so happy to hear you’re a VANYA ON 42nd STREET fan! I love the stories IONITCH, THE BLACK MONK, THREE YEARS, NEIGHBORS, HOUSE WITH THE MEZZANINE, A BORING STORY, AN ANONYMOUS STORY, THE DUEL, ABOUT LOVE, – oh heck, I just adore Chekhov. He’s an especially loved writer for me because I was an English major at college, but I discovered him all on my own, without any paper assigning professor intervening. It was really hard going for me at first – for months, I kept trying to *get* him, but didn’t really understand his point of view. Persistence paid off – finally the light went on. That was years ago – and I’ve been reading and enjoying him ever since. I own all of Constance Garnett’s translations of the stories. If you are interested, give his letters a look. Absolutely fabulous. Sorry for the gushing – Chekhov makes me weak :o).
I love that this came on the eve of International Women’s Day, 8 March and such an important year- Beijing +20!
Mimi, thanks for allowing us to have this annual treat on your amazing blog!
That’s one inspiring post, Oddur! The words just flow as beautiful as your photography.
It’s sentimental and yet humorous. I laughed so hard at the comment you addressed to Gaia. You are blessed with a beautiful family (including the four-legged members)!
The writing and photography is beautiful. As a woman from India brought up in a very egalitarian family I couldn’t understand how men could be unbending about traditional roles etc. But the way you wrote about your father never having the opportunity to learn otherwise in his childhood was eye-opening. Thank you.
P.S Would it be possible to provide a link to your previous post from last year?
Hi there.. What a great read.
As much as I loved reading this post, I cannot get that walnut cake out of my mind. I would like to try making it in my own kitchen. If I may ask, how big is the baking mold that you used? Or should I say, how many cups?
Thank you for sharing such great recipes and wonderful writing.
Such a beautiful, but funny story. I can definitely relate to your husband, I don’t bake either for lacking of talent and patience. I only cook.
I should definitely ask my husband to make that Walnut Cake 🙂
Thank you for this post! Would you ever consider ghost writing a post for one of your dogs….?
Well I am actually working on a book about dogs so …
Just delightful. I would love to hear more stories from the perspective of your husband. He is a blessed man.
lovely post!!! your pictures are lovely, and you definitely have a way with words!
Mimi and Oddur,
I have been enjoying Oddur’s single photographs of your delightful food and family scenes since discovering your cookbook, blog, and facebook page. Recently I have been studying the delightful relationships of the various single images that have been grouped together on many of the pages and am enjoying them very much. Oddur’s crafted blog is a warm and engaging read. His words support healthy and meaningful aspects of relationships concerning family and friends and they are just as captivating as his photographs and your recipes!
All Best, Gates
Are you sure you cooked the spinach balls in water at the end? Mine completely disintegrated and turned in to water spinach mush- no balls remained! I salvaged the spinach and served it with the sage butter- which made the dish. What went wrong?!?!
I am absolutely sure, but as I’ve said answering another comment it can be a good idea to “test the waters” with one ball first and see if it holds. I always do and even if little particles float off, somehow the rest sticks so I’ve never had the unpleasant experience. The balls have to be quite firm and the mixture of bread, flour and milk should hold them together. Good luck, Oddur
Awww what a great read that was, Oddur! You’re just as gifted at writing as you are with your camera ^_^ Your grandfather sounds exactly how our elders are in Korean culture. Now it’s not so extreme but you can definitely see those characteristics sneaking their way in the table! Haha.
Thank you for sharing not only your stories but your food, Oddur. It was fascinating to hear about your upbringing in Iceland.
I was so curious to see what the green balls were 🙂 They sound delicious, I hope to make them soon.
It’s so inspiring! And tasty… I’m in love!
Dear Mimi and kind Mr Oddur!
Capeau! Once again a wonderful family and a wonderful team. I must confess: I did discover Oddur before discovering this blog ( and even posted his recipe from Mr Porter)… but together you are so much stronger and beautiful!
All the very best,
Hi, okay, so the spinach balls looked amazing and I tried my hand at making them tonight. I did as the recipe asked, yet as soon as I put the spinach balls into the boiling water to cook, they completely fell a part! Help! What did I do wrong? Not enough bread crumbs? Am I missing something? I can’t wait to try these again…to hopefully succeed! 🙂 Thank you!
Gorgeous pictures! I love the look of that walnut cake – I might just have to try that one. Thanks for sharing these!
It’s great to hear that your family’s ways changed from generation to generation. In today’s world, each household needs to pick their own roles and responsibilities that work best for them. Mr. Enchumbao, for instance, does all the cooking and ironing, while I do the dishwasher and laundry duties, because that’s what we are each best at. Cheers to progressive times!
Happy Birthday to you, Mimi ~ Thank you for the beauty that you share, in all the various definitions of the word.
Mimi I was reading through all the comments and I saw Pamela’s post that it’s your birthday! Happy Birthday… What she said is so true. Beauty truly surrounds you. I wish you a wonderful year ahead and thank you for sharing your life and family with your readers.
Wonderful photos of food and people!
I love your blog. I love this piece by your husband.
Mimi and family – I adore your beautiful blog and check in regularly. My heart is aching for France after those terrible attacks. I hope you and your loved ones are safe and that your hearts are healing.