28 Apr

Four Things

Hemp, hemp, and more hemp

Last weekend for 4/20 The Body Shop had a cheeky sale on hemp products: 4 for $20. I discovered the Hemp Hand Protector when I went to Norway and think it is the most amazing thing ever and worth $20 on its own (especially during the winter, when my hands are chapped like crazy and I feel like I endlessly field questions about what the hell happened to my knuckles).

So I totally stoked up on 3 hand protectors and a body butter (just to switch things up a bit). I bought the stuff online and it just came in this week. Now, I should be good for at least 3 years.

Painted Nails

And speaking of hands, my girlfriends came over on Friday and we painted our nails. For the record I never paint my nails because they last all of half a day before they’re chipped and looking like crap. My friend Andrea insisted that this is because I don’t have ‘the good topcoat’.

She was right, but only to a degree. These lasted me about 36 hours (instead of the typical 12) before the paint started to chip pretty badly.

Baseball Massacre

Part of the nail chipping is likely due to playing catch and hitting some baseballs in the park with Matt and my BiL Sean last night. I love playing catch even though I am pretty terrible at both throwing and catching.

I have terrible hand-eye coordination so I’m lucky if I can hit a single baseball. It’s always a swing and a miss for me, except last night. Matt was pitching them nicely to me so I was hitting one ball after another (most of them aimed directly at his head, but I have no control over such things).

I was hitting ‘em so hard that I destroyed the baseball! (we’ll just disregard the fact that the baseball is about 20 years old and was already starting to fall apart).

Greek Frappe

Yesterday was finally Greek Frappe weather. Remember this awesome coffee drink that I exported back to me from my trip to Greece last summer? The one that tastes delicious but is ridiculously easy to make? Oh, I’ve missed it. Hello springtime!

26 Oct

Wildberry Dream Cookies

I’ve been feeling nostalgic for Norway lately.

image

I know I make it sound like I spent half my life there when really it was only a week vacation but I fell in love with Oslo and the beauty of Norway, even in the middle of winter.

The astronomical cost of everything there and long and cold winters are more than made up for by the friendly people, the beautiful scenery, and the very high quality of life.

I really do just want to run away there right now.

Oslo ParliamentNaerofjordFjordOslo

When Matt and I were staying in Geilo we stayed in an apartment there so we were able to cook our own meals. This proved to be extremely practical because the cost of food was through the roof.

One thing that we picked up on one of our many grocery store trips was, naturally, a box of cookies called Skogsbærdrøm Cookiene which roughly translates to Wild Berry Dream Cookies (according to google translate, of course).

Wildberry Dream Cookies

I really liked these cookies. They had dried fruit in them as well as white and milk chocolate. They were loaded with deliciousness.

One morning while drinking tea with cookies and watching Norwegian news I was “reading” the side of the cookie package. A lot of Norwegian words are incredibly similar to English so it didn’t take me long to decipher that the recipe on the outside of the package was a recipe for the cookies was a recipe for the cookies inside!

My first instinct was “Sweet! Jackpot!” and I immediately ripped the side of the cookie package off and tucked it into my luggage. I would be making these at home for sure.

My second instinct was “Who the hell puts a recipe for their cookies on the cookie package??”

Norwegians do. They’re good people.

I typed up the recipe in Google Translate to make sure that I got everything right. Suprisingly, my own Norwegian to English translation was pretty much on the ball. I’ve held on to the recipe since March but hadn’t made this cookies until recently when my urge to go on vacation back to Norway was strong.

They were just as good as I remembered.

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Active Pursuits in Norway
Homecooked Meals


DSCF7506

Skogsbærdrøm Cookiene

The recipe in Norwegian, for fun. Scroll Down for English.
(ca 20 store cookies)

4 dl hvetemel
1 dl havremel
150 g smor/margarin
1 1/2 dl sukker
50 ml farinsukker
1 1/2 ts bakepulver
1/2 ts salt
1/4 dl sirup
1/2 dl eplemos
1/2 dl vann
40 g torkede blåbær
40 g torkede tranebær
40 g rosiner
100 g hvit sjokolade
60 g lys sjokolade

1. Bland mel, smore, sukker, bakepolver, og salt slik at det blir som små brødsmuler. Tilsett så sirup, eplemos, vann, og rør til en deig. Bland til slutt inn bærene og sjokoladen.

2. Rull deigen forsiktig i en lang rull, ca 5-7 cm i diameter. Legg deigen i kjoleskapet i ca 30 min. Skjær deigen i skiver (ca 1 cm tykke) og legg skivene på en plate med bakepapir.

3. Forvarm ovnen til 400F senk så temperaturen til 350F og stek cookiene i 10-15 min – midt i ovnen. Avkjoles på rist.


DSCF7504

Skogsbærdrøm Cookiene – Wild Berry Dream Cookies

(makes 20 large cookies)

These cookies are very sweet, slightly crispy, and loaded with chocolate and dried fruit. The recipe is a bit funny because the volume measurements are metric (and not even standard) but with a few tweaks you can figure it out.

400 ml flour
100 ml oatmeal
150 g butter
150 ml sugar
50 ml brown sugar
1- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 ml light corn syrup
50 ml apple sauce
50 ml of water
40 g dried blueberries (~1/2 c)
40 g dried cranberries (~1/2 c)
40 g raisins (~1/2 c)
100 g white chocolate (~1/2 c)
60 g milk chocolate (~1/4 c)

1. Combine flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until you get small crumbs. Pour into a separate bowl and add the syrup, apple sauce, water. Stir to form a dough. Mix in the berries and chocolate at the end.

2. Roll the dough gently into a log, about 5-7 cm in diameter. Put the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 min. Cut dough into slices (about 1 cm thick) and place the slices on a plate with baking paper.

3. Preheat oven to 400F, then lower the temperature to 350F and bake cookies for 10-15minutes – in the middle of the oven. Cool on wire rack.


This recipe is part of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.

12 weeks of christmas graphic

Prior Posts:

Week 4: Speculaas: Dutch Spice Cookies
Week 3: Poppy Seed Filling
Week 2: Cinnamon Bun Cookies
Week 1: Soft & Pillowy Coconut Frosted Cookies

27 Apr

Trying to Plan Meals

I set out a meal plan for myself yesterday and promised I’d check back and let you know if I stuck to it.

Breakfast: Poached Egg on Ciabatta Toast with Dijon mustard and mixed greens. Check.


Morning Lunch: Strawberry Banana Soy Milk Smoothie. Check.

Afternoon Lunch: Leftover Cabbage and Barley Soup. Check.

Snack: Dates and Almonds. Check.
Dinner: West African Spinach with Groundnuts. Check. (Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t taste as good as it looks)

Dessert: Sliver of Coconut Cake. Definitely! I ate it while watching Top Chef Canada with Matt.

Besides the dishes that I had planned out, I also ate 6 Hershey’s Kisses from my Easter Candy stash and another piece of homemade ciabatta with Gudbrandsdalost (the delicious brown cheese I brought back from Norway)

Ballparking the coconut cake at around 250 calories my intake for the day was:

1825 cal: 39% fat/48% carbs/13% protein

I like the idea of planning my meals a day in advance instead of counting my calories after the day is done. It gives me a good indication of how much I’m going to be eating rather than how much I already ate. I’ve had occasions where I’ve tallied up my calories at the end of the day and thought “WHAT?!?! I ate THAT much?!” No Bueno.

Now I’m toying with the idea of planning out my next day’s meals daily but it’s a big commitment and it doesn’t leave wiggle room in case my cravings change.  So maybe I will plan my meals out in advance and then decide my snacks the next day. Thoughts? Do you plan your meals in advance? How does it work out for you?

Bikini Fitness:

I headed to the Downtown Yoga Studio last night for an awesome Asthanga Yoga class. It was a really powerful class and I was sweating like crazy. I wore my vibrams and they were the talk of the class. I’m glad I wore them since I was sweating so much I would have otherwise just slipped right off my mat.

The serenity that came with the practice was very quickly overshadowed by the parking ticket I found on my car window. I better blogger would, at this point, post a picture of their windshield with the ticket and maybe a ‘selfie’ of them with a posed angry face.  But I was actually angry and had no time for such nonsense so I did the more rational thing: sped home (in the hopes of not getting a speeding ticket on top of the parking ticket), yelled about it to Matt, and then randomly started dusting my filthy (read: not so filthy) bedroom furniture. I’m still pissed about that ticket.

I cooled down a bit in time for an impromptu 5K nature walk with my friend Tina. Okay, so it wasn’t really a nature walk—just a walk along the nearby wooded trails—but we did see a deer and a bat, so that counts for something right?

28 Mar

Pasta Geiloglia

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Active Pursuits in Norway

While Matt and I were in Norway we tried to eat out as little as possible because of the astronomical prices of the restaurant food. We only ate out for two dinners and one lunch; the rest of the time we stuffed our faces with the included breakfast at the hotel or we cooked our own food.

In Geilo we had an apartment which ended up being better than I had expected. Matt was feeling pretty sick during the trip so he was able to sleep late in the mornings while I relaxed in the living room watching British television shows and eating skyr. FYI, the shows Customs UK and Dating in the Dark had me hooked!

The apartment had a fridge, stove, and oven which was exactly what we needed to cook up a delicious breakfast and dinner.

Pasta Geiloglia

I made this inexpensive pasta dish on our second night in Geilo and Matt loved it so much that he requested it again on our third night.

It was a really comforting and filling meal. The kind you eat out of a bowl, curled up on the couch with your legs crossed under a blanket after a long day of skiing 🙂

Pasta Geiloglia

Cost: 260NOK ~ $45 CAD for 4 people (or 2 people for 2 nights).

Pasta Geilo Norway

Ingredients:

225g (1/2 box) rotini
3 T Norwegian butter (okay, so it’s doesn’t have to be Norwegian, but it’s really that much better)
1 large onion, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
8 large white mushrooms, sliced
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 c. pitted and chopped black olives
2 T pasta seasoning (I don’t know what this was exactly…some mix or oregano and basil perhaps?)
1 t salt

Directions:

Bring 3L of water to a boil. Once it boils, salt it heavily and then add the pasta cooking until it’s to your preferred level of al dente-ness (that’s a noun now, in case you didn’t get the memo)

While the water is boiling, heat a sautee pan over medium high heat and add 2T butter. Heat the butter until it just begins to turn brown.

Add the onions and pepper and cook until they start to soften. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and olives and cook until the mushrooms just begin to brown. Stir in the salt and pasta seasoning.

Drain the pasta reserving about a tablespoon of the starchy pasta water. Add the other 1T of butter to the pasta and stir in the sauteed vegetables.

Pasta Geilo NorwayPasta Geilo Norway

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Active Pursuits in Norway

28 Mar

Pasta Geiloglia

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Active Pursuits in Norway

While Matt and I were in Norway we tried to eat out as little as possible because of the astronomical prices of the restaurant food. We only ate out for two dinners and one lunch; the rest of the time we stuffed our faces with the included breakfast at the hotel or we cooked our own food.

In Geilo we had an apartment which ended up being better than I had expected. Matt was feeling pretty sick during the trip so he was able to sleep late in the mornings while I relaxed in the living room watching British television shows and eating skyr. FYI, the shows Customs UK and Dating in the Dark had me hooked!

The apartment had a fridge, stove, and oven which was exactly what we needed to cook up a delicious breakfast and dinner.

Pasta Geiloglia

I made this inexpensive pasta dish on our second night in Geilo and Matt loved it so much that he requested it again on our third night.

It was a really comforting and filling meal. The kind you eat out of a bowl, curled up on the couch with your legs crossed under a blanket after a long day of skiing 🙂

Pasta Geiloglia

Cost: 260NOK ~ $45 CAD for 4 people (or 2 people for 2 nights).

Pasta Geilo Norway

Ingredients:

225g (1/2 box) rotini
3 T Norwegian butter (okay, so it’s doesn’t have to be Norwegian, but it’s really that much better)
1 large onion, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
8 large white mushrooms, sliced
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 c. pitted and chopped black olives
2 T pasta seasoning (I don’t know what this was exactly…some mix or oregano and basil perhaps?)
1 t salt

Directions:

Bring 3L of water to a boil. Once it boils, salt it heavily and then add the pasta cooking until it’s to your preferred level of al dente-ness (that’s a noun now, in case you didn’t get the memo)

While the water is boiling, heat a sautee pan over medium high heat and add 2T butter. Heat the butter until it just begins to turn brown.

Add the onions and pepper and cook until they start to soften. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and olives and cook until the mushrooms just begin to brown. Stir in the salt and pasta seasoning.

Drain the pasta reserving about a tablespoon of the starchy pasta water. Add the other 1T of butter to the pasta and stir in the sauteed vegetables.

Pasta Geilo NorwayPasta Geilo Norway

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Active Pursuits in Norway

28 Mar

Norway: Activities

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Homecooked Meals

Maybe you’re sick of reading about my trip to Norway yet, but I’m not yet sick of talking about it! Just one more recap and then I’m back to regularly scheduled (or irregularly scheduled as the case may be) blogging.

When I go on vacation I like to DO things. I like sightseeing, going to museums, and getting some exercise. If I wanted to sit around and relax I can do that at home. I’m on vacation to explore!

Matt had a terrible cold while we were away so we tried to take it easy but we were able to get a lot of activities in during our trip. We spent 2 days in Geilo a small tourist town in central Norway in the mountain region of Hallingdal. It’s a big time ski town with A LOT of snow and I learned that the ski season goes straight through to the end of May. That is one looong winter.

I was hoping to be able to do some ice climbing while we were in Geilo but it wasn’t cold enough for the ice conditions to be safe. Apparently a couple of weeks ago someone drowned while ice climbing with a tourist group so no one was taking any chances.

We did however get to go dog sledding(!) and a quintessential Norwegian activity — cross country skiing.

Dog sledding was pretty sweet. It was a 16 km loop through a gorgeous part of Hallingdal. Each sled had a driver and a passenger and was led by a team of 6 dogs (huskies, mostly). The dogs were so excited to get out on the trail and I was excited to see 40 adorable dogs wagging their tails and jumping up for a little attention. They were definitely a friendly bunch.

Dogsledding

Dogsledding

These dogs can go fast. There was a break on the sled to keep their speed in check, but for the most part you just stand and steer while the dogs do all the work. It really is as easy as it looks.

Huskies

Dogsledding

Dogsledding

The other activity that we did in Geilo was cross country skiing. Norwegians are serious about this sport the same way Canadians are serious about hockey and there were a lot of people out on the trails on a Wednesday afternoon.

XC Ski

XC Ski

I’ve done alpine skiing before but never cross country. It’s a really easy sport to learn but definitely tough to master (I’m not sure I got the technique down yet). It was really tiring too! I fell in love with it and I think I’ll try to do it next winter somewhere around here. (At Point Pelee perhaps?)

XC Ski

Cross country skiing is a mix of both lower and upper body work so my legs and back were quite sore the next day. Geilo has groomed trails for skiing which have grooves to place your skis in. This made the strides a little easier at first but by the end of the day we were able to ski over an ungroomed lake with no problem.

XC Ski

I stuck with the “diagonal stride”  method for most of the trail except when going uphill. That was tough. I learned that the best method was to spread my skis into a V and sort of walk up the hill that way.

I wanted to try the skating technique that Olympic skier make look so easy. It’s not. It’s really really tough. Maybe next time I go I’ll take a lesson so I can learn that technique.

Skate Technique

(source)

p.s. Congrats to the Canadian Men’s XC Sprint Team of Harvey and Kershaw who inched ahead of the Norwegian team to win the gold at the Nordic world skiing championships. Apparently it was a major upset — one that most Canadians probably knew nothing about!

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Homecooked Meals

28 Mar

Norway: Activities

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Homecooked Meals

Maybe you’re sick of reading about my trip to Norway yet, but I’m not yet sick of talking about it! Just one more recap and then I’m back to regularly scheduled (or irregularly scheduled as the case may be) blogging.

When I go on vacation I like to DO things. I like sightseeing, going to museums, and getting some exercise. If I wanted to sit around and relax I can do that at home. I’m on vacation to explore!

Matt had a terrible cold while we were away so we tried to take it easy but we were able to get a lot of activities in during our trip. We spent 2 days in Geilo a small tourist town in central Norway in the mountain region of Hallingdal. It’s a big time ski town with A LOT of snow and I learned that the ski season goes straight through to the end of May. That is one looong winter.

I was hoping to be able to do some ice climbing while we were in Geilo but it wasn’t cold enough for the ice conditions to be safe. Apparently a couple of weeks ago someone drowned while ice climbing with a tourist group so no one was taking any chances.

We did however get to go dog sledding(!) and a quintessential Norwegian activity — cross country skiing.

Dog sledding was pretty sweet. It was a 16 km loop through a gorgeous part of Hallingdal. Each sled had a driver and a passenger and was led by a team of 6 dogs (huskies, mostly). The dogs were so excited to get out on the trail and I was excited to see 40 adorable dogs wagging their tails and jumping up for a little attention. They were definitely a friendly bunch.

Dogsledding

Dogsledding

These dogs can go fast. There was a break on the sled to keep their speed in check, but for the most part you just stand and steer while the dogs do all the work. It really is as easy as it looks.

Huskies

Dogsledding

Dogsledding

The other activity that we did in Geilo was cross country skiing. Norwegians are serious about this sport the same way Canadians are serious about hockey and there were a lot of people out on the trails on a Wednesday afternoon.

XC Ski

XC Ski

I’ve done alpine skiing before but never cross country. It’s a really easy sport to learn but definitely tough to master (I’m not sure I got the technique down yet). It was really tiring too! I fell in love with it and I think I’ll try to do it next winter somewhere around here. (At Point Pelee perhaps?)

XC Ski

Cross country skiing is a mix of both lower and upper body work so my legs and back were quite sore the next day. Geilo has groomed trails for skiing which have grooves to place your skis in. This made the strides a little easier at first but by the end of the day we were able to ski over an ungroomed lake with no problem.

XC Ski

I stuck with the “diagonal stride”  method for most of the trail except when going uphill. That was tough. I learned that the best method was to spread my skis into a V and sort of walk up the hill that way.

I wanted to try the skating technique that Olympic skier make look so easy. It’s not. It’s really really tough. Maybe next time I go I’ll take a lesson so I can learn that technique.

Skate Technique

(source)

p.s. Congrats to the Canadian Men’s XC Sprint Team of Harvey and Kershaw who inched ahead of the Norwegian team to win the gold at the Nordic world skiing championships. Apparently it was a major upset — one that most Canadians probably knew nothing about!

(source)

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Homecooked Meals

23 Mar

Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Active Pursuits in Norway
Homecooked Meals

Everyone’s been asking me the million dollar question: “Why Norway?”

True, seeing Scandinavia has been on my bucket list since Joan Lunden, Charlie Gibson, and Spencer Christian went there back in ‘97. . .

The Good Old Days of GMA

. . . but the true reason is that I caught wind of a great deal on the flight through Scandinavian Air and the next day I found myself with two tickets to the hinterlands. So, I guess “why Norway?” is more like a $900 question.

Our flight landed early Sunday morning in Oslo. I had read that cab fares into the city from the airport were obscene ($100+) so we took the Airport Express Train (Flytoget) into Oslo Sentralstasjon. With trains departing every 10 minutes to and from the airport, it was convenient, but wasn’t much cheaper—the 20minute train ride cost 180NOK ~ $32 CAD. Yikes!

With a little planning you can take the NSB train for ~ $20 CAD per ticket but the trip times aren’t as regular as flytoget.

Oslo Sentralstasjon

Matt and I took the NSB train to get around from Oslo to Voss to Geilo and back again. Since I had planned our itinerary well in advance I was able to buy train tickets early and score some really good rates (~$35 CAD per ticket for each train ride! ) which made getting around the country cheap and easy. If you’re travelling with friends for a long trek, tote along a bottle of aquavit. Evidently, drinking shots on the train is welcomed. Skål!

Voss Norway Rail Station

Geilo Norway Rail Station

My favourite part of the trip was probably the Norway in a Nutshell round trip bus/boat/rail tour that Matt and I did of the fjords. We took a bus from Voss to the Nærøyfjord and a boat through the fjords to Flåm where we took the scenic Flåmsbana railway from sea level to 800 metres in elevation at Myrdal.

There was a lot of hype about this Flåmsbana railway and its beautiful scenery. If you do the NIAN tour in the opposite direction (which is more popular) then the railway might be more exciting, but after a boat tour through the breathtaking fjords, the Flåmsbana didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Flamsbana

This tour was by far the highlight of my trip. I thought the whole scenery was just absolutely stunning! I was totally blown away by how beautiful the landscape was—the sea cutting into ice and snow covered mountains which were dotted with colourful wooden homes of the isolated farming villages. It’s one of those things that you just have to see.

Naerofjord

Fjord Voss

Sondefjord

Naerofjord

Related Norway Posts:

Norway in March
Norway Travel: The Food
Exploring Norway by Train, Boat, and Bus
Active Pursuits in Norway
Homecooked Meals