Clean, Quiet Construction Sites? In Oslo, Yes

In 2019, Oslo adopted a new “zero emission” policy to curb the pollution traditionally belched out by big construction machinery at the city’s many work sites. Electric excavators, saws and other plug-in equipment is now on the job, alongside traditional machinery designed to use diesel but now refitted with batteries. Fossil-fueled equipment is allowed only when a low-emission alternative is not available. The initiative has inspired manufacturers to develop new designs, ensuring that an increasing variety of electric-based construction vehicles will be available in the future. 

Previously, construction equipment created 30% of Oslo’s traffic emissions. Officials say the new initiative saves 35,000 liters of diesel fuel and reduces green house gasses by 99% per construction site. Because Norway generates nearly all its electricity from hydropower, even the electricity used to power the equipment comes from a ‘green’ source. The electric trucks and other equipment are much quieter than their diesel counterparts, reducing noise pollution and increasing the quality of life for anyone living or working near by.

Currently, four kindergartens and two sports arenas are being built as “zero emission” work sites. Not all projects in Oslo must follow the new policy: the guidelines for private or state-owned sites are much less stringent, and only one in five construction projects is city owned. However, city leaders believe controlling emissions at those sites is an important step toward keeping their city, and the world, green. 

Norway to Introduce New Passports

On October 19, 2020, Norway issued its first new passports to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, and the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Monica Mæland. The decision to create a new version of the passport was mainly to increase its security elements, making it more difficult to forge. The new passport features aspects of Norway’s natural scenery as a pleasant background on the pages, but it also doubles as a security feature; when placed under UV lighting, the Norwegian landscape background will switch from day to night. 

This clever feature came to fruition through a design competition for the new Norwegian passport. Neue Design Studio won for its emphasis on Norwegian identity, functionality, and preservation of traditions. One of their main intentions was to convey the variances in Norway’s climate and landscape—elements that have shaped the people and country. Neue’s senior designer Benjamin Stenmarck adds “The design had to create a sense of belonging and connection across age, gender and regions in Norway.” What better way to do this than through Norwegian nature.

Queen of Norway?

When Princess Märtha Louise of Norway was born in 1971, women were barred from ascending the throne of Norway. Her brother, Crown Prince Haakon, was born 2 years later and would eventually become next in line to the throne.

Eventually, in 1990, the law was changed so that women could become queen. But it only applies to those born after the law was put into place.

The Princess recently shared that she was given the option to change the law. “When I was 15, the Prime Minister at the time was a woman, and she suddenly came up with the idea that [the law] was wrong. I remember she came home to us, with granddad [King Olav V], and we had a discussion about whether we should change the whole system and I should be queen.”

“They said, ‘What do you want, Märtha?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m 15, I don’t know about these things,'” she added. Ultimately, the laws remained unchanged for a few years, but it started the discussion about updating the rules.

Now, Norway is set to have a female monarch in the future. Crown Prince Haakon’s first-born child is Princess Ingrid Alexandra, and is second in line to the throne.

7 Nordic-Inspired Ways to Celebrate Spring

As late winter gives way to Spring, here are some Nordic-inspired ideas to celebrate the change of seasons.  

  1. Be inspired by natural beauty and savor the stillness of each morning by photographing the sunrise over several days or weeks. 
  2. Pick your favorite Norwegian cookie or bread and fill your home with the inviting scent. Then surprise a friend by sharing your homemade treat.   
  3. Every spring brings changes to our lives. Take time to handwrite a letter to an old friend you haven’t seen in months or years and ask “what’s new?” 
  4. Enjoy a walk in the warming weather. Look for budding trees and new growth on shrubs and bushes. Have some early spring flowers like snow drops or daffodils started to pop up? 
  5. Is there a cultural skill you want to explore this year? Consider a skill you’re curious about but have never tried. Even better, share the fun of learning by inviting a friend or family member to join your exploration. 
  6. Fill a bird feeder and your bird bath, if temperatures permit. Keep a birding guide handy to identify returning migratory birds. When will the first robin of the season arrive? 
  7. It’s been said that when you plant kindness you gather joy. As you go about each day, live your Nordic values with simple acts of kindness to others and add joyful moments to your life!

Recipe: Fish Cakes with Brown Gravy

By Atle Larsen, Group Brand Manager, Hamilton Beach

For as long as I can remember, fish and seafood have been an important part of my diet. Growing up near the ocean in Norway, I have fond memories of going down to the harbor, pumping rainwater out of the boat, and setting out to sea with my grandfather Emil to either set or pull fishing nets.

Peering over the side of the boat while my grandfather pulled the nets, I would watch in anticipation of what we might catch.  If I could see white (the belly of the fish), I knew we would go home with dinner.  Back at my grandparents’ house, one of us would clean and prepare the fish for dinner and the freezer.

On occasion, we would bring back cod, which meant I could look forward to my then-favorite dinner: boiled cod with boiled potatoes and carrots along with melted butter and parsley. The more abundant pollock and haddock was either served pan fried or made into fiskekaker (fish cakes).

Fiskekaker presented a great opportunity to add some spices and flavors to the typically bland Norwegian diet. My grandmother would prepare fiskekaker just like the recipe described below. After browning, they were added to a saucepan full of brown sauce and were often served with boiled potatoes. Potatoes are a staple in my home region and were served every night in my home except when we had spaghetti bolognese. From the age of seven, it was my responsibility to peel the potatoes for dinner. I have always enjoyed the flavorful taste of fiskekaker and it brings back special memories of fishing as a child with my grandfather.

Fiskekaker med Brun Saus / Fish Cakes with Brown Gravy

Ingredients

3 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced in quarters length-wise

6 large rainbow carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 lbs. boneless skinless white fish fillets (haddock, cod, etc.)

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. potato starch

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

2/3 cup whole milk

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

2/3 cup all purpose flour, divided

6 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

3 cups beef stock, divided

2 Tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet (or substitute)

salt and pepper


Instructions

Put the potatoes and carrots in a medium pot and cover with cold, salted water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Place large chunks of fish and salt in work bowl of food processor and, using S-blade, pulse until coarsely chopped. Add potato starch and nutmeg and pulse to combine. Slowly add the milk, pulsing just until combined, and then the chives. Form the fish cakes into 12 round patties. Put 1/3 cup flour on a plate and dip patties to coat.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry on both sides until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Cook onions in remaining oil while fish cakes are draining. When the onions are soft and translucent, remove them from the pan and set aside.

Add 1 cup stock and scrape the pan until all the browned bits have become loose. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes to allow stock to reduce.

Add remaining 1/3 cup flour and whisk to combine until there are no visible lumps. Cook another 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until the gravy thickens and becomes smooth. Gradually add the Kitchen Bouquet and the rest of the stock to the pan and whisk until smooth, cooking another 4-5 minutes, or until the gravy is slightly thicker but not quite at desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the onion, potatoes and carrots to the pan and stir into the gravy. Add the fish cakes to the pan and let simmer in brown gravy for 2-3 minutes, or until gravy has reached desired consistency. Serve fish cakes in the gravy with the vegetables.