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Saturday in Norway

I’m back again to share about my second full day in Norway. A week has passed, and looking through the photos again really makes miss Sarah. I guess I just need to go back again some time!

Saturday started with another delicious breakfast to fuel for the first hike of the day: Prestgaardssetra.

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This hike, like the first, followed along a waterfall.

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It was the perfect hiking temperature. Cool enough that we didn’t get too sweaty, but warm enough that a few layers were enough.

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I was feeling a little sore from the previous day’s hike and needed to take a break about 1/4 of the way up. I don’t look tired at all… right?

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Sarah and I had extra company on this hike. Her dog, Koda, joined the ranks. He was one curious dog, smelling anything and everything.

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Isn’t he beautiful?

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He’s friendly, too.

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This trail was wetter and more covered with pine needles and leaves than the first.

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It was exciting once we were able to begin to look over the trees.

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From the top of the mountain, we could see Sarah and Aug’s tiny little town below.

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When Sarah and I were on our first hike together, she called Aug when we were about to turn around and mentioned that we weren’t going to make it “to the book.”

PA292222Being the novice that I am, I though “the book” was hikers’ talk for the top of the mountain.

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Low and behold, at the top of every hike in their area, there is a post box that literally contains a book.

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Everyone who makes it to the end of the hike signs their name into the book.

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As you can imagine, I was quite proud to sign my name.

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I made it to the top!!!

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A beautiful morning for an invigorating hike.

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I call this photo: Two friends on top of the world.

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Even Koda was excited to take in the view.

Ok, maybe he was more excited to be cuddled.

Once we made it back down to the car, we went back to Sarah’s to freshen up for lunch.

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Sarah took me to an adorable little cafe which is next to an equally cute shop.

We both had a pasta salad which came with arugula, kidney beans, red onions, mozzarella and croutons. The dressing had a very mind curry flavor which pulled the whole thing together. PA292254

This lunch was light, fresh and delicious!

I tried to recreate this at home, but my dressing wasn’t spot on.

After lunch, we headed back to Sarah and Aug’s home. We relaxed for about an hour then changed back into our hiking boots for the second trip of the day.

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The weather was a little dreary for our hike to Innerdalen, but the conversation was great.

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We had to walk through a tiny farming community to get into Innerdalen. PA292260

On the way through, we bumped into this farmer and his flock of sheep.

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This hike was a lot easier than the first two. There were still several big hills, but most of the way incline was pretty gradual.

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I was really surprised when Sarah pointed out the glacier between the mountains above.

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Apparently Aug has noticed a dramatic change in this glacier since he first arrived in Norway. It’s heating up up north!

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The walk to Innerdalen was really beautiful. PA292278

Lots of rushing waterfalls and Autumnal colors.

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Innerdalen is a beautiful valley between huge mountains.

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As beautiful as ever!

 

 

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The lake water was crystal clear and ice cold.

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Sarah said that this little cabin community is packed with tourists during the summer, but on the day we visited, we were absolutely alone.

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While it was beautiful and serene in autumn, I can imagine Innerdalen to be a fun center for hiking activity in the summer.

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Fishing boats just waiting for the summer sun. I was so amazed that these cabins were quite literally balancing on stones.

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So peaceful and calm.

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After walking around the deserted summer camping grounds, Sarah and I went back to her place for another delicious dinner.

Following three strenuous (by my terms) hikes in 24 hours, I was so grateful to soak my weary muscles in the hot tub. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing in front of the TV before I could no longer keep my eyes open.

Saturday was such a fun day. I felt so accomplished and proud of my body for taking me on two wonderful hikes. It was a great day spent talking with Sarah about life and futures.

Never would I have imagined that my own future would hold the blessings and opportunities that it has. Praise the Lord!

Birthday in Norway

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Sunrise from my flight’s gate in Amsterdam.

After one very early flight from Cologne to Amsterdam, another flight from Amsterdam to Oslo, a four hour wait in Oslo and a five hour train ride through Norway, I finally arrived at the train station to be greeted by Sarah and her husband.

I was so happy to see them that the exhaustion from traveling over 14 hours was instantly wiped away.

Thursday was practically over by the time we arrived back at their home, but we made the most catching up over a traditional Norwegian evening meal before calling it a night.

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Friday morning presented the opportunity to follow Sarah through her school day. We ate breakfast, she packed a lunch, then we met with her two neighbor boys to take the bus to school.

Want to know another example of what a great human being Sarah is? She learned and then taught Braille to the younger brother who has become blind. Yeah, she’s awesome like that.

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It was such a privilege to be welcomed into Sarah’s schools and get to learn about the Norwegian school system. One of the interesting differences is that the children have a short break time between each and every lesson. I imagine every child I’ve ever taught could benefit from a short break between lessons.

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I spent the first lesson of the day in Sarah’s 4-5th grade English lesson before heading across the school yard to the preschool.

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After playing in the preschool and gymnasium with the little kids, we all had a nearly identical lunch of bread or crackers with either cheese or sliced meat. Sarah got all fancy and even packed us vegetables and hard boiled eggs. Apparently, Norwegians like to eat alike.

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The school day ends early in Norway so as Sarah carried on with after school supervision, I walked back to her home, taking photos along the way.

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When I arrived Thursday night, it was too dark to see the landscape, but in the light of day, I felt absolutely dwarfed by the greatness of the surrounding mountains.

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Sarah’s school is probably about 1km away from her home. It was a bit drizzly and overcast on the walk back, but the atmosphere was peaceful and calming.

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Lucky for Sarah and Aug, they were able to find a beautiful home right beside the water.

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As if waking up every day to this amazing kitchen wasn’t enough, check out the view!PA282134

Sarah and Aug have done such a wonderful job creating a warm, cozy, welcoming home. A lovely home to accompany their lovely personalities!PA282131

Once Sarah returned from school, we appropriately dressed for my first ever “real hike.”

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What I’ve been calling hiking all my life is a walk in the park compared to the hiking Sarah does in Norway.

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See that big waterfall coming down from the mountain? That’s called Haremdalen, and it was our first hike.

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Did I mention that Sarah is 29 weeks pregnant? After working all day, this lady was hiking up mountains like a goat. As Sarah put it, she was active before she became pregnant so it has been easy to have an active pregnancy.

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We climbed through mossy trails and even had to cross the rushing waterfall at one point, but Sarah expertly guided me along.

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The trail was very steep, but she encouraged me the whole time.

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A few times along the hike, I had to ask my pregnant friend to slow down so I could take a breather.

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Sarah kindly obliged each and every time.

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As we climbed higher and higher, the view became more and more amazing.

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Before I knew it, we were able to look into the valley at the miniscule town below, and take in the massive mountains rising in every direction.

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Although the sunlight started to fade and we needed to head back down before reaching the book at the tip-top, I still feel proud to say that on my 26th birthday, I climbed a mountain with the most fit soon-to-be-mama in Norway!

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After our hike down the mountain, Sarah made a delicious traditional fish dish for my birthday dinner.

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This baked dish was so yummy, I plan on making it with Sebastian later in the week!

After dinner, we relaxed in their hot tub, watched How I Met Your Mother, then ate cake. A great way to celebrate the day of my birth!

Seize Your Life

Surprise! I know I’ve been absent from the blog a lot lately, but life has just been too great to sit in front of a computer.

Want an example of how lucky and blessed I am?

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I spent the last four days visiting my friend Sarah in Norway.

Sarah and I lived on the same floor freshman year of college, and then lived together the following summer. I have always admired her positive, encouraging, seize-the-day attitude and am so very grateful to know her.

Since I’ve lived in Germany, Sarah and her husband, Aug, have lived in Norway. We’ve been saying we need to visit each other for over three years. Recently, Sarah announced that she and her husband are expecting their first baby, so I figured I’d better get over there and see her before the baby arrives.

I am so glad I did.

The trip was a bit last minute, but that actually added to the excitement.

I am so thankful I got to spend this time with my wonderful friend. I cannot wait to visit again to meet the lucky baby boy who is about to be born into this loving family.

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I’ll be back with more…

I love teaching during the colorful days of autumn.

Over the past week, the students in my class have been busy finding autumnal inspiration to include in their poetry.

We’ve spoken a lot about letting our senses speak through poetry.

We can see the lovely bold colors and the days getting darker.

We can feel the days getting cooler.

We can hear the leaves tumbling in the howling wind.

What about the taste of autumn?

How are they to understand the smell?

Don’t worry, I’ve got that one covered.

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Covered in puff pastry, that is!

Any excuse to get these kids in the kitchen, people.

During my prep lesson yesterday, I practiced baking these delicious caramel stuffed, pastry wrapped baked apples.

I photographed the steps in hopes of preparing a guide for my students, but once all was said and done, I realized this wasn’t the recipe for my class. 

I ended up going with a simpler baked apple recipe, but I still wanted to share this gem of a dish with all of you!

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The ingredients were pretty basic: puff pastry, caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon, an egg and apples.

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To prepare, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

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Create and egg wash by beating an egg and 1 Tbsp. water together.

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Slice off the top of the apple, leaving the stem intact.

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Remove the core, being sure not to go all the way through the bottom of the apple.

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Carefully get in there to get out all of the seeds.

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Peel the whole apple. I did the cutting and coring first because I didn’t want the kids working with knives on slippery apple flesh.

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See? Core removed but base intact!

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Remember that bowl of cinnamon sugar? Now’s its time to shine. Roll the apple around in the brown sugar to coat completely.

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Carefully place two caramel cubes into the hollow of the apple core. Again, be sure you don’t push too hard and pop out the bottom of the apple.

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Is your mouth watering yet?

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Next, I joined strips of puff pastry and wrapped them around my prepared apple.

By this point, I realized:

  1. Cutting, coring and peeling would be a bit too much for my kiddos.
  2. Our school kitchen wasn’t equipped with enough peelers for each student anyways.
  3. Making long snakes of puff pastry, an item which needs to be kept cool, would be difficult for my hot-handed pupils.
  4. There were simply too many steps to remember and rewrite in recipe form later in the week.

Even though I knew by this point that my students wouldn’t be making this recipe, I still wanted to finish it off.

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Create two leaves out of the puff pastry.

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Carefully place the leaves on the apple so they look like they’re coming from the stem.

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Brush the pastry with the prepared egg wash.

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Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, being sure to leave space between the pastry and foil. Place in the refrigerator to cool for half an hour before baking.

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Bake the covered apples for about 20 minutes before removing the foil and continuing to bake until the pastry is puffed up and golden, about 20 minutes longer.

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Gosh darn it, the puff pastry idea may have been out, but those leaves were too cute not to include in my students’ version!

The flaky, crumbly, sweet and gooey qualities of these baked apples were incredible! Almost like a personal-sized apple pie, I highly recommend this recipe.

So, my practice apples turned out great but weren’t going to work for my students. You may be wondering what they did during our baking lesson today.

Well, let me give you a sneak peak into our school kitchen. I’d love to share the photos of these beamingly proud kids, but can’t, so their busy little hands will have to do.

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After watching my “demonstration,” the kids cut, cored, stuffed and decorated their apples on their own.

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When he saw my fully wrapped apple the previous day, a little boy said with amazement, “Wow, Ms. Brady, that looks like a professional cook! You should go on TV!”

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Creating their own “professional cook’s” pastry leaves was a highlight of the activity for many of the kids.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be watching them on Food Network one day!

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They were all so very proud of their apples.  PA121863

Two of our baking dishes, ready for the oven!

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Sadly, my battery died before capturing the final product, but I assure you, the apples were stunning… and tasted as good as they looked!

Baked Apples with Puff Pastry Leaves

If 8 year olds can make this dish, so can you!

Ingredients

1 tart apple

1 heaping teaspoon raisins

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 dash nutmeg and cinnamon

1/2 Tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Puff pastry

1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Cut off the top of the apple, being sure to keep the stem intact.
  3. Carefully remove the core of the apple. Take care not to cut all the way through the bottom.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the raisins, brown sugar, nutmeg and dash of cinnamon.
  5. Stuff this mixture into the hollow of the apple, again, be sure not to push the stuffing through the bottom!
  6. Top the stuffing with the butter.
  7. Place the apple in a baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  8. Replace the top of the apple.
  9. Using a sharp knife, cut two leaf shapes from the puff pastry. Add the veins of the leaves by gently pressing half-way into the pastry with the back of a knife.
  10. Next, place the leaves on the apple.
  11. Whisk together the egg and water to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the pastry with the egg wash.
  12. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving room between the foil and pastry.
  13. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes.
  14. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed and is golden brown.
  15. Cool before serving.

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I was so proud of the way these kids worked today. Even when two other teachers came into the kitchen and started making a racket, my students were so focused in apple baking mode that they didn’t even look up. I find this photo so funny!

If you’re a parent, I beg you, get in the kitchen and get to cookin’ with your kids. You will both leave the kitchen with happy hearts, full tummies and wonderful memories!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

I’m still loving my weekly organic box deliveries. Summer provided plenty of zucchini and tomatoes, but as we ease into autumn, the box has also changed to reflect the new season.

Last week, that meant carrots and pumpkin amongst other autumn fruits and vegetables.

Yesterday was cold and damp, the perfect day for a smooth, warm, comforting soup.

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Carrot and Pumpkin Soup

Adapted from Eatliverun

Ingredients:
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped

1 cup pumpkin puree (mashed roasted pumpkin)

2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 shallot, minced

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 Tablespoons olive oil

Croutons, pumpkin seeds and flax oil to garnish

Directions:

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the minced shallot and sauté until tender, about five minutes.

  • Add the ginger and sauté for another three-four minutes.
  • Add the chopped carrots, pumpkin puree, broth, coriander, garam masala and salt, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until carrots are tender.
  • Carefully transfer to a blender and puree. Serve with croutons, pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of flax oil.
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    Simple and scrumptious!

    I woke up yesterday morning to news that my Grandpa passed away. He’s been very sick and unable to care for himself, so his death comes as a blessing.

    I’m not really sad about his passing as I believe in the hope of Heaven, but I do feel very far from my family right now.

    I wish I could be there to talk to my mom and hear happy stories about her childhood; to celebrate his life with whole family.

    It may sound ridiculous, but one thing that brought comfort yesterday morning was my breakfast. The flavors in these pancakes remind me of my mom’s pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

    Although I might not have been sitting in my mom’s kitchen yesterday morning, I brought her here to join me through pumpkins and warm, comforting memories.

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    Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

    Ingredients

    • 1½ cups flour
    • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
    • ½ teaspoons salt
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 2 whole eggs beaten
    • 1 cup almond milk
    • 2 ½ Tablespoons maple syrup
    • ¼ cup melted butter
    • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
    • 150 grams roasted pumpkin (or puree)

    Method

    1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
    2. Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. The color will be a fantastic bright orange.
    3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until combined.
    4. Heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the prepared skillet. Flip when bubbles begin to rise and the bottom of the pancakes are golden brown.
    5. Serve with maple butter icing.

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    We’ll miss you, Grandpa.

    We have had such a resurgence of beautiful, summer-like weather in Germany.

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    The sun has been shining brightly for almost two weeks now, and I have been busy trying to enjoy the amazing weather while it lasts.

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    On Sunday, Sebastian and I joined several friends on a train journey to the tiny village of Mayschoss to celebrate the wine which is produced in the region.

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    The town was bustling with music and the wine was flowing.

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    We shared several bottles of local wine while relaxing under a walnut tree beside a football field.

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    Thanks to Krasi, we had freshly foraged walnuts to accompany our wine.

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    Relaxing and laughing with good friends… PA021494

    I could not have asked for a better way to spend the lovely autumn day.

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