about

Hi.. my name is Karen Elisabeth Lesney (Lysanyuk).

You see, I was trained in architecture - and love it. Though it is only recently that I have been feeling better, since late 2008 I have not been able to work and shy of going stir crazy from complete lack of creativity I needed a little mental outlet.  And thus, when limited moments were pain free I found myself thinking about how much cooking has also been a huge influence in my life. Our mother was of a generation of women back in Denmark who was not allowed to attend college. Well, let's just say it was rather frowned upon and left solely, to the men as an open route. And though she was an immensely talented and creative woman, she only attended cooking and sewing school.
Both of my passions actually originated from a childhood spent in Denmark. If I wasn't playing with ‘legos’ and building things, I could be found hanging out in the kitchen with a generation of women who brought to the table amazing traditional Danish dishes. Food and drink make  people social and Danes are a prime example of this wonderful virtue of closeness and sharing. Perhaps, it goes back to days that were cold and gathering around the table near a fire made for moments of trust and cheer. This is the environment I grew up in Denmark and followed me to the States. 
here i am in denmark (near barritskov in jylland)...
wearing my 'ikea' colored dress with my little sister lisa and our mother ulla in the middle.


If there was an ad in the personal section of the newspaper, it would read, “someone seeking happiness in both cooking and design.”

Being out of the creative architectural loop can be frustrating for anyone dealing with chronic pain. What you have before you in this mini-blog are the results of my daily mental moments of clarity that have allowed me tiny escapes from pain. From one obsession to another, this is my place to share thoughts and recipes about the fine art of TOPLESS BREAD.


'Lunch', a plate of open sandwiches painted by the Danish artist Niels Strøbek in 1966.   
Photo: Skive Kunstmuseum.
Why?
Now you must wonder...why call this blog by such a name?
 
Well, it originated some years back when friends would ask why I would eat my sandwiches without the top piece of bread. My silly response was to say that I preferred to eat my sandwiches topless the way I like to sunbathe...which, I don’t. But, it is always fun to respond with the unexpected. Having catered a couple of events over the years, I eventually started to think about writing a book  called "The Art of Topless Bread" on open face sandwiches for myself and friends - something just to share. Everyone had loved my sandwich creations known as 'Smørrebrød' to the Danes and I thought why not re-introduce these delicate and yes, sometimes rustic versions known as 'open-faced sandwiches' to the rest of the world. Nordic cuisine was finally making a comeback and the health benefits of the various toppings on healthy whole grain bread were perfect for a 'growing' population. I simply wanted to show how the daily mundane task of sandwich making could become both a healthy gastronomic art form and fun for the whole family. As you can see it has been more blog than book. I still would like to complete that book along with one called Danish Christmas Cookbook. But, for now I have directed that current limited energy toward introducing people to open face sandwiches and the idea of 'smørrebrød'.

Traditional definition of 'Smørrebrød':
Danish, from smør butter + brød bread = buttered bread

Modern definition of 'Topless Bread':
My personal reinterpretation of Smørrebrød which I call 'Topless Bread'. This concept is derived from the same Scandinavian sun-worshiping concept of sunbathing topless where the top is removed to reveal it's contents and the bottom remains.
 
These delicious creations follow four easy steps:Bread (brød) + Butter (smør) = TOPLESS BREAD...+ Topping (pålæg) + Decoration (pynt)

As my injury heals and allows me a slow return to design and architecture, I will remain one who enjoys sharing my passion for Nordic cuisine. This experience of blogging has been a great one. It has brought me closer to my heritage and alas, kept me up to date by following my Danish cousin/chef Claus Meyer through his career. His has been a great inspiration to me from following his opening of the world renown restaurant NOMA in Copenhagen to the called RADIO to his current new The Standard...his energy never ceases to amaze me. Then, again...this is the same man who as a child exhibited a great passion in the kitchen, too.

At my fingertips are two blogs, which are each dedicated to a part of my Danish heritage. There is this one and the other one that is dedicated to the modern appreciation of Danish akvavit and other libations called Water From the Vine, which you can find under this blog's menu of 'drinks'.

Thus, welcome to the gastronomic delights of my blog TOPLESS BREAD on Danish Open Face Sandwiches, ‘Smørrebrød’ and other kitchen musings…where ‘going topless’ is not an option.

Now, let's discover the fine art of topless bread together!

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