Tuesday, June 30, 2009

corner view bergen, norway: staple foods

sorry i'm so late, but i've been a bit sick today. feeling better now, although 'food' isn't really a high priority right now...
if you ask for the most typical food here nowadays, the answer will probably - and sadly - be this:

yup, frozen pizza.
if you ask for traditional food from western norway, you might regret you asked. if you're sqeemish, don't scroll down, or you might feel a bit sick yourself.
although eating this particular dish is mainly kept for enthusiasts (and some brave tourists), smalahove is probably the one thing you'll hear mentioned most often when asking about western norwegian traditional food. it scares the shit out of foreigners and most norwegians too. smalahove, - literally 'sheeps head', is an old tradition from these parts of norway, from back when one had to be frugal to survive. formerly a poor man's food, this is today considered a delicacy.

i picked the least scary picture. just go ahead, google it, and enjoy the photos of it in various stages of being eaten. like, when there's nothing left on the plate but the scull and the teeth.
smalahove is usually eaten in the months before christmas, and yes, you eat everything. including the eyeballs. for some, eating this has become some sort of test to show how brave you are. but i think this is limited to your first try, as most people discover that it's actually just salty lambs meat and quite good. perhaps except for the eyballs. i wouldn't know, i've never tried it and i'm not particularly tempted!
(at least, i was decent enough to wait till you'd had your breakfast :) )

Saturday, June 27, 2009

bugs

alive bumble bee
can you eat the small yellow lumps of pollen that are stuck on the hind legs of a bumble bee? after it's dead?
dead bumble bee
sure you can. at least that's what my daughter did. she didn't ask beforehand, and yes, she's still alive! as a matter of fact, she shared one of them with her father. they said it tasted very sweet. she's got a thing for bumble bees. she loves to stroke and fondle them. 'so soft, mama. so soft'.
it seems she's constantly collecting small animals, and i wish i knew more to give her some advice on how to feed them and just generally keep them alive. yesterday she brought home three bumble bees in a glass jar. sure, she had punched holes in the lid, and intended to pick some flowers for them, but they seemed so 'sleepy' that i slightly panicked inside and decided they had to go or they'd die. i wish we had a lisa closet - a closet with a lisa we could bring out everytime we had questions concerning bugs!
like these worms she collected from a tree. i have no idea what they are, but they were weaving this intricate and beautiful web in their jar. they didn't turn into something else, so we decided they were 'tree worms' and let them out. probably no where near their own habitat.
oh, and the occasional getting out of our car after we've picked her up at the kindergarten experience: 'oh no! where's my worm? i put it right there beside me!'

Thursday, June 25, 2009

elderflower lemonade/syrup

care to join me for a glass of homemade elderflower lemonade? you will need an elder tree (sambucus nigra/black elder) in bloom for this (dancing mermaid in front is optional). if you don't have one, nick some off your neighbours tree. or go hunting.
this is incredible easy to make, it practically makes itself. if it looks complicated, it's only because i tend to blabber.

EDITED TO ADD: i just found out that lemonade is not commonly diluted with water, so just to make clear; this is syrup to be diluted!!

40 - 60 clusters of elderflower blossoms
3 organic lemons
2 liters of water
2 kg sugar
20-25 grams of citric acid (optional, depending on storage - see below)

- pick your blossoms in dry weather, and preferably when newly blooming. the tree continues to bring forth fresh blossoms for about a month, so there's plenty of opportunities for making another batch later if you like. - don't rinse the blossoms in water, but gently shake them to drop any bugs. the rest is strained out later on. - place the blossoms in a laaaarge pot/bowl.

three clusters in different stages of blooming
cut them just about so - cut the lemons in slim slices. keep the rind/skin on, that's why you'd want organic ones (if you can't find organic lemons, you can leave your non organic ones in a bowl of water and add 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda. this will rinse off most of the pesticides). - add the lemons and the sugar to the water and bring to a boil. - dissolve the citric acid in the mix and pour it all boiling hot over the blossoms. - leave to cool, then place in the fridge with a lid/cloth/big plate or so on top. leave it in the fridge for 3 days, stirring the mix once or twice a day.

- strain the mix through a loosely woven (and clean!) cloth. - put it on clean, cold bottles/jars/what have you, and store in a cool place.

you can put the syrup in the freezer to make it last longer. if you know it won't be stored for long, you can leave out the citric acid. on the opposite, you can rinse the bottles with atamon water (a preservative based on benzoic acid) before you fill them with the syrup, to make them last longer.

to drink - and this is essential: mix about 1 part syrup and 8 parts water in a glass. of course, this will depend on your preferences. if you like it sweet, use more syrup and less water. this can just as easily be made into tea, by adding hot instead of cold water.

enjoy!

EDITED TO ADD: well whaddayaknow, i learned something new from this post. i found out that most people outside of (northern?) europe don't drink saft (norwegian term). i thought 'lemonade/limonade' was the common name for saft, but of course it's not. when i looked up 'elder' at wikipedia, i found this: "The French and Central Europeans (Austrians, Croatians), but particularly the Swiss (the foremost experts of Sambucus cultivation and culinary applications) are known for their elderflower syrup, most commonly made from an extract of elderflower blossoms, which can be added into pancake (Palatschinken) mix instead of blueberries. Most Balkan countries (Serbia, Romania, Macedonia) will use a similar method to make a syrup which is diluted with water and used as a drink."

the 'syrup diluted with water' is what we call saft (which actually means 'juice', but is not to be mistaken for juice as in orange, grape or cranberry juice), and is probably the most common drink among kids here. it's usually made of berries and fruit, which requires a somewhat different procedure than the one described here.

oh, and of course - the photos in this post are completely unnecessary. but what fun would that be?

midsummer boy

thirteen years ago...this midsummer eve*, that little buddha baby turned into a teenager.

something sticky in his hair, new shoes, a brand new t-shirt from his tae kwon do club, and a 4 hour old ipod.

thirteen.
i'm not gonna say 'how did that happen?', because i was there, all along. and i remember him; every bit of him. i remember him better than i do his sister, even if she's a lot younger. he was, after all, my first.
i might remember him, but i don't remember me from all those years. all i know is that i've changed a lot, and that i'm not exactly sure how. but i know it's for the better, and i know it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the gift of motherhood this boy bestowed upon me.

it's an interesting age. all the clich├ęs are true. they go from child to teenager and back again in a split second, oh about 20 times a day. it really is a roller coaster ride, just as much for us as for him. it's like; 'who is he now?'. yeah. a bit like that. a bit like working with someone with multiple personalities. and work it is, but then it's all play again. whoa!
we went for a hike around a lake today, and after using his ipod for 30 minutes or so (feeling so very cool and teenage like in the middle of the forest), he declared it 'needed to rest'. he had found this tree instead. big boy, maybe, but not bigger than that. thank goodness.

*due to the church's attempt of christianizing the pagan people and their customs, midsummer celebrations take place on the 23rd instead of the 21st here in scandinavia. it is called saint hans - hans being a short form of johannes (john). (btw, in the netherlands it's called saint jan - be sure to check out daans great midsummer celebration here!). it is actually the 24th that is saint johns day, but it's an old scandinavian pagan tradition to start a celebration the night before it occurs. this is also the case for all the other christianized holidays.
moving the midsummer celebration a couple of days and varnishing it with a christian name didn't really do much, though - st hans is still a celebration of fertility and the sweetness of summer; the bonfires are still lit everywhere, and young people still take to the woods in the night.
saint john; the saint of barbeques, bonfires and a'maying. i wonder what he would have thought of that.
PS - i will post the recipe and a step by step instruction to making elderflower lemonade tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

transitions

no corner view this week! although i LOVED the challenge of photographing music (but had absolutely no idea how to do it - i'm looking forward to see how everybody else did it!). but this week has been filled to the brim with celebrations, spending time with family and good friends, and eating delicious food.
mu little big girl went through the kindergarten gate for the last time. ceremonially, this time. they were handed over the walking stick they had been carving, the feltet bag they had been making, and a carving knife. in august, she will be a second grader, and have proper classes in the school building. chairs, desks, blackboard, teacher. she's sooo eager.
and i? i see another chapter closing. ambivalent, no doubt, but mostly eager, like her. curious; what kind of student will she be? will it be a good group of children? how will her books look like? what subject will be her favourite?
so - bye bye to the rose garden kindergarten. hello school, where big brother goes.
and that's another transition. he's becoming an eighth grader, which means transition to secondary school/junior high school.
oh my.
the questions i have for that transition are a whole other story; will he start smoking? will he continue doing sports? will he choose a christian confirmation or a humanist one? how much will it cost (big question!)? will he have girlfriends, boyfriends or both? will he engage in politics or car theft? who will he become during those three years?
it's dead exciting and a lot of fun to watch your kids grow, become, finding their shape and form and - hopefully - their place in this world.
but is sure is scary as well.

thank you for your comments about my soap making! i will give it another go very soon, and hopefully be able to show some nice soap pics :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

special treat

my lovely daughter made me a gift a little while ago.

you guessed it. earrings!
i tried to explain to her why i wouldn't put them on right away.
she gentle explained back to me that i needn't worry about it being painful, as she had made her friend a pair the day before in kindergarten - out of two used nails she had found on the ground. and it worked just fine.
right.
maybe i ought to have called that girl's mother?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

the little things

i was so happy yesterday when i managed to harvest a loadfull of elderflowers from the garden just in time before the rain came. now i have a big bowl of elder/lemonade ripening in the fridge. it'll be done in a few days time, we can't wait, it smells heavenly!
i finally got my hands on the crocheting yarn that i plan to knit another kitchen towel out of. on needles size 2,5 (according to my measurer, that size doesn't exist in the u.s. but it's between u.s. sizes 1 and 2). let's just see how that goes.
the flowers me and my girl picked on our way home from the shoe shop just down the road. the kids both needed new shoes, and we all needed this lovely bouquet. it's the little things, you know.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

corner view bergen, norway: street fashion

street fashion? street, uhm, fashion?
i knew immediately that i couldn't do this one. for one, i can't seem to keep interested in other peoples clothing long enough to think of getting a picture. the other reason is, well...
let me put it this way:
when i had my son about 13 years ago, i was so happy that by the time he would be a teenager and start caring about looks, the trend of boys showing half (or more) their butt would be long gone.
wrong.
can you believe it? it's still here! they can't even walk straight, in fear of loosing their pants. luckily, that's what my son discovered when he wanted to 'look cool' too. what i see, as a massage therapist, is future clients with lumbar back pain.
there hasn't been a good looking fashion trend for young people for, i don't know, as long as i can remember. so i just try to ignore the street fashion altogether.
but a post can't be imageless, so here's some shots we took on our trip into town on constitution day.


the woman

the man

the hat
my son insisted on buying this cheap fake leather cowboy hat. naturally, it was i who ended up wearing it. grinning like a horse.

(i don't know what happened to my previous post, but the text disappeared. it was so frustrating that i didn't bother to write it up again)

perhaps some real street fashion at:
jane, ladybug-zen, ian, bonnie, esti, sophie, cele, modsquad,caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, a day that is dessert, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch, c.t., jeannette, outi, schanett, ritva, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise, cabrizette, bohemia girl, dianna, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari, jgy, skymring, elizabeth, audrey, allison, lise, cate, mon, victoria, crescent moon, erin, otli, amy, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa, britta, virgina, april, b, kyndale samantha, karen, kristina, dorit, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, mcgillicutty, desiree, di, travelingmama, aimee, sunnymama, amanda, ali, jenell, guusje, britta, juanita, pamela, inna, daan, myrtille, cris, ibb, susi, jodi, lily, gillian,
jeanette, athena, pienduzz, latisha, clairette, satsuki

Sunday, June 14, 2009

the things we used to do on grass

my son's summer graduation from taekwondo school was celebrated with a spontaneous trip to the botanical garden in town, and some delicious thai take away. my husband and i hadn't been there for many many years, and were reminded of the very much alive feeling you get at parks - from people really using the space, taking the grass floor into possession. it was good. very very good.

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