The well-equipped home cook’s story

An interview with blogger Olav Birkeland

Olav Birkeland

Christy Olsen Field
Taste of Norway Editor

I’ve been an avid reader of food blogs for the last 10 years, which fuels my curiosity to try new recipes, ingredients, and techniques in baking and cooking.

With social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram, it is easier than ever to connect with people all over the world who share a love of good food and recipes.

I recently discovered Hobbykokken.no, a Norwegian blog created by Olav Birkeland in 2006. Birkeland is a well-known food writer and recipe developer in Norway. He’s written food columns for Dagbladet, Matmagsinet NORD, Bergens Tidende, and Stavanger Aftenblad.

Birkeland has also written three cookbooks, including Den velutstyrte mannen (The Well-Equipped Man), which he co-authored with Jørgen O. Grann. It was nominated for Best Cookbook in 2014.

Birkeland’s approach to cooking as a home cook is to use technique based on science with thorough instructions. He encourages his readers to experiment with techniques and innovative equipment, such as pressure cookers or sous vide.

I reached out to Birkeland last month for an interview to learn more about his work as a food blogger in Norway. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Olav Birkeland

Photo courtesy of Olav Birkeland

Christy Olsen Field: When did you get into food blogging and why?

Olav Birkeland: I started blogging in 2006. It was because a friend of mine was asking me for recipes and I kept forgetting them. A computer was always nearby, and since this blog thing had just started to get noticed in Norway, I found it to be a good choice. The first couple of years I think it was only my friend and some members of my family who read it.

COF: What are your favorite dishes to make for everyday cooking? Special occasions?

OB: I enjoy food from all over the world. In everyday cooking I make whatever food takes 30 minutes or less. For special occasions, I enjoy cooking a whole roasted duck or some project that takes a lot of time.

COF: What is the most popular recipe on your blog?

OB: It is the “Juleribbe med sprø svor,” which means Christmas Short Ribs with crispy crackling. (You can find the link at hobbykokken.no/2014/12/20/juleribbe-med-spro-svor.)

COF:  What is the most popular typisk norsk recipe on your site?

OB: That would be the Christmas Ribs, pinnekjøtt, or maybe my waffle recipes.

COF: What other food writing have you done?

OB: I have written weekly food columns for several of Norway’s largest newspapers and I am currently writing my third cookbook.

COF: Can you tell me about some food/drink trends that you see in Norway right now?

OB: I think that Scandinavians in general have gotten more and more proud about their food heritage. In the last decade or so, we have seen Nordic cuisine restaurants popping up all over the place. There are many people who should get credit for this, but René Redzepi and his restaurant NOMA in Copenhagen is considered the flagship of this movement.

COF: Anything else you want our readers of The Norwegian American to know?

OB: I really like that fact that so many Norwegian Americans appreciate and are proud of their heritage. They are always welcome back to Norway to enjoy the food, the beautiful scenery, and the somewhat shy and introverted but always friendly people.

Visit Hobbykokken online (all posts are in Norwegian) at Hobbykokken.no, at facebook.com/hobbykokken, on Twitter at @hobbykokken, and on Instagram at @hobbykokken.

Christy Olsen Field became the Taste of Norway Editor in April 2019. An enthusiastic home cook and baker, she lives north of Seattle with her husband and two young sons. She is a grantwriter for small nonprofits in the Seattle area. Write to her at food@na-weekly.com.

This article originally appeared in the July 26, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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