Friday, November 30

Happy Birthday Elly!!!

Our little girl turns 3 today!!!

She has brought so much joy to our lives! Truly an amazing little dog! All 8 pounds of her!

So sweet:

Tuesday, November 27

Chili Verde in Chilly Norway.

Well, it's dark and cold here in Norway, so what is native Texan to do? Yep, more chili. Sometimes tomatoes are just a bit too much, so I decided to make a GREEN chili. Now what usually happens to me is that I will CRAVE the things that I have NO HOPE of finding here in Norway.

For example, about 1 year ago I went through a phase where I was addicted to Carnitas and I needed tomatillos to make said Carnitas.

HA! Good luck with that one. Let me tell ya, there aint no Fiesta supermarket here in Oslo!!

So, I finally convinced the owner of the Turkish market, where I buy all of my fruits and vegetables, to order a case of tomatillos from Spania! I told him that they would sell well and if they didn't, I would buy the case.

I NEVER should have offered to buy the case. The case came, but buyers didn't. That little special import cost me about 294 kroner per KILO, which translates roughly to ABOUT 30 dollars for 2.4 pounds! Let's not discuss how much I had to pay, but lets just say I made some expensive green salsa and it froze beautifully! Thus began my love affair with green salsa and all things made with it.

I am CONSTANTLY begging the owner to order some La Costena brand canned and bottled goods. Great product that ranges from chipoltes in adobe sauce to salsas verde and ranchero. THREE years, I have been begging, and thus far have gotten can after can of nacho jalepenos.

Well, I was in there doing my shopping about a month ago and I turned the corner, or rather, shimmied sideways through the tight aisle, and my world went into slow motion. There before me was an entire 2 shelves FULL of La Costena products! Yes, by some miracle of GOD, the little Turkish store on the corner started carrying the La Costena brand!!

I wasn't sure if I was hallucinating or not, it was like an oasis in a desert. Would the jar of tomatillo salsa be there if I reached out for it?? In that moment, I truly felt like crying! I was filled with such joy over a jar of salsa verde!!! I snapped up 4 bottles then and there and did one of those run/walk things all the way home, eager to make my salsa safe, lest someone try to steal it off me.

So, anyway. Chili Verde. Here is what you need to make it:
1 jar of salsa verde
2 cups of broth (I used homemade turkey)
jalepeno (however spicy you want it)
1 onion
some garlic, cumin and salt
chicken or pork (I used turkey cause I have TONS left over)
1 can of white beans
1 can of white corn
Basically this stuff:

Throw it all into a stock pot and bring it to a boil! The longer it cooks, the better it tastes, but it can be done in 30 minutes if you need it to be!

Look at all those pretty green things! See the bottle of salsa verde? AKA Tomatillo Nectar??

And to make it HEARTY and to raise the fiber level, which helps regulate blood sugar levels, I added a half cup of quick Barley:

That will also thicken it up a bit and help it stick to your bones!!

That's it! You're done! Ladle it into bowls, garnish with guacamole, cheese, sourcream and cilantro, and you are good to go:

That's good stuff kids.

Monday, November 26

One year ago today.

My father died.

and I can't tell you how much I miss him.

I would love to be able to talk to him.

To hear his voice.

I would love to be able to walk with him.

To hold his hand.

I miss my father.

Sunday, November 25

Gobble, Gobble.

Well, I wasn't going to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. It's not a holiday here in Norway, (of course), and it just seemed a bit pointless. I was ok with that, until Thanksgiving day actually, and then, as is typical of me, I got ants in my pants to celebrate Thanksgiving. It suddenly seemed horribly wrong not to. So, I sent my hubby on a search for a turkey and started planning my menu. I decided to go easy, so nothing too elaborate. I have TONS of pictures of many different dishes and stuff I made, but I just decided to post my two favorite things from this year.
First, I made a REAL pumpkin pie. And by real, I mean REAL:

Isn't that orange color unbelievable?? So, I boiled said pumpkin and mashed it up like so:

And ond hour later, I had this little beauty:

I couldn't believe how orange it was! It was so delicious as well!
The pumpkin pie was actually somewhat healthy as well. Cut out all white sugar, used 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of Splenda. Delish.

My next favorite was to die for. I could have had JUST these and been perfectly content:

I let those suckers rise THREE times! Made them with spelt flour. They were so good. Piping hot from the oven, with some organic butter...oh my:

So, that is that. My two favorite things from Thanksgiving this year. Now we have about 2 kilos of turkey meat and I made about 2 gallons of broth out of the poor little turkey carcass.

It was a quiet evening, only 4 of us, but it was important to me. When you are so far from home, you sometimes get a feeling of losing touch with who you are, you forget the little magical things that define you in relation to your homeland.

All I know is that thousands of miles away, that turkey, the dressing, the greenbean casserole, the gravy and the dinner rolls, those pumpkin and pecan pies, made me feel, at least for one night, that my kitchen, could be any kitchen in America. And for that, I am thankful.

Thursday, November 22

I bet YOU never got one of these in the mail before!!

Today is show and tell on the beautiful diabetic. And I promise you it is WEIRD.

So, my darling viking called me and said 'Honey, you got a sussy in the mail!'.

(For those of you who aren't familiar with a 'sussy', it's a little surprise, something given for no particular reason or event, just a little gift to say 'I am thinking of you'. I've not heard the term outside of Texas, and only twice outside my own family. I digress.)

And anytime one comes in the mail, it is especially exciting! So, I was totally curious and told him 'open it! open it!!!' He said 'OK' and then I just heard silence...and then I heard 'ummmm'.

Of course I am full of child like anticipation on the other end of the phone line and said 'WHAT IS IT? WHO'S IT FROM??' And he said......

'It's your old defibrallator!'

REALLY? Seriously?? I couldn't believe it! Who sends a used defib in the mail??? For those of you who don't know, I have Long QT Syndrome and I had an operation in May to replace my old defibrallator, it kept turning off, which TOTALLY defeats the purpose, so it was retired and got sent to America for testing and diagnostics. I suppose some kind hearted individual must have decided I would like it for a keep sake. So, if you have never seen one before, here it what it looks like:

From the side, it's as wide as a Zippo lighter:

And, it can fit in the palm of my hand:

The more I thought about it, the more I just can't believe that this is my actual device that lived inside me for 5 years! I mean, why would you send something like that in the mail??? Is it even legal? Used medical equipment? Can I sell it on Ebay? These are NOT cheap!!
It came with a note in Norwegian that bascially said: 'Dear Kathryn, we thought you might want a souvenier! Your friends at St. Jude'.

Again, REALLY??

In conclusion, I think it MUST be an advertising piece or something, like a paper weight. So, that's my show and tell.

Cool, huh?


At the fishmarket in Bergen, Norway:

Tuesday, November 20

Little, bitty chicken pot pies, y'all!

Well, I have been quite the little cooker this week. Ever since I discovered that dang tastespotting website, I have become a woman obsessed!

I think it's good though, as it's allowing me to reconnect with my long dormant creative side. Cooking is one thing, but cooking and taking pictures of what you THAT is art.

So, today, I saw a picture of pot pie and I was taken back in time about 2 decades. I remember those frozen Swanson pot pies. Crust on the bottom and on the top. Oh, I LOVED those things! And like last nights chili, I just HAD to have chicken pot pie, or I might DIE. I knew without a doubt that I would NOT be finding any frozen pot pies here in Norway, so if my life depended on pot pie, I was going to have to create it myself. I also was in a pinch as far as the dough was concerned. This pot pie craving was unplanned, so no pie crust had been prepared. I had a faint recollection of seeing Sara Lee croissant dough nestled between the fishcakes and pickled herring at the grocery store (I know, don't ask), so I hopped off the subway headed to the store. And sure enough, there it was. A can of Sara Lee croissants! You have to laugh at the randomness of that. So, I had my crust. It wasn't ideal, but it would do. I actually boiled a chicken carcass just yesterday, so I had a really rich chicken broth just begging to be used. Chopped up some shitaki mushrooms, carrots, celery, shallots and a potato and sauteed them in a bit of olive oil and a few spritzes of butter flavored cooking spray. Added a couple tablespoons of spelt flour and then added the chicken broth and a cup of milk and some chicken. It got really thick and bubbly. I Seasoned it with salt, pepper and tarragon.
Meanwhile, I got a muffin tin and lined 6 muffin holes (what are those called???) with the croissant dough. Filled them up with the aforementioned mixture and topped them with the extra bits of dough. Threw them in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or so and was greeted by these little beauties:
This is what it looked like in the bowl:

Another craving satisfied!!!

For all of you watching your waistlines or bloodsugar, this is actually a pretty healthy recipe! The croissant dough has 6 grams of fat per triangle, and the rest of the filling is decidedly low fat! Good protein and full of veggies!

I think I put Swanson to shame!

I do believe I am content.

Monday, November 19

Sometimes a girl just has to have her Chili.

And today was one of those days. It was cold. It was DARK.

And I am talking about the kind of dark you don't get in Texas. This is the kind of dark where the sun is officially SETTING at 2.30 in the afternoon and it's totally black by the time you walk to the subway at 4.17pm.

This time of year I tend to be more homesick than usual. When I am homesick, I self soothe by cooking. Today I had one of those ridiculous cravings for chili. The kind of craving that says 'if I don't have chili, I might DIE'.

I am totally into the photo blogging thing lately. We got a new Canon 300D and have fun playing with it. I was inspired by my new favorite website: If you are a foodie, you MUST see that site. Complete and utter food PORN. Anyway, I got ants in my pants to start taking pictures of my food, or for my husband to start taking pictures of the food as I was making it. I feel like it is fulfilling a creative need I have. So anyway...Introducing the Chili:
First, you gotta have the right spices. I use chili powder, crushed chilis, cumin, sea salt, celery salt, cayenne pepper and oregano-

Then I chopped up some onion, green bell pepper, 2 small tomatoes, 2 chilis (I couldn't find jalepenos...I sad) and got some tomato paste and some kidney beans ready. Now, many Texans will tell you that no decent, self respecting Texan would EVER add beans to chili, but I like them, so I do:

Here is the stuff in the pot:

Adding the tomato paste mixed with two cups of beef bouillon:

Stirring it all, and I don't have a picture of this, but I bought a really STRONG bottle of stout and added it as well. A good strong beer can add such an amazing level of depth to chili. And this one did not disappoint!

There are countless ways to eat Chili. I prefer a chunkier chili, and my favorite way to eat it is spooning it into homemade flour tortillas! So, as the chili simmers for about an hour, I made some tortillas. It sounds harder than it is actually! Here is the recipe I have been using for a few years now:
2 cups of Spelt flour (you can use regular, I just prefer spelt over wheat)
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
2 to3 teaspoons of olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup of warm water.
Mix all the dry ingredients, add the olive oil and stir with a fork and slowly add the water. Stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Put some flour on your hands and pick up the ball and kneed it for a few minutes until it is nice and soft. Throw it back in the bowl and cover it with a towel and let it rest for up to 20 minutes.

Use this time to go and stir the chili or something. Then put your cast iron skillet on the stovetop to start heating up.

When your 20 minutes are up, divide the dough into 8 balls. Then grab that old rolling pin that you never thought you would EVER use and start rolling:

I'm lucky cause I have oak counter tops, so it feels very bakery like. My tortillas are rarely perfect circles, and unless you have perfection issues, it is no problem at all. When it's flat, throw it on the skillet:
When it starts to get little bubbles, flip it.

Keep them warm, stacked on top of each other in a kitchen towel:

Ready to eat? Spoon the chili into a bowel. Garnish with whatever garnishes you like. I use cheddar, a little sour cream, green onion, red onion and Louisiana Hot Sauce (I should say Texas Pete, but honestly, Lousiana is just better).

I always get a sense of accomplishment after I have created something that reminds me of home. I get a goofy grin as the familiar smells fill my apartment in this little corner of Norway, and suddenly I don't feel so far from home.

Saturday, November 17

Not to mention carnitas and enchiladas!

I am always trying to find ways to 'healthify' Tex Mex. Trying to cut down on the fat and, when possible, create lower GI versions.
I LOVE carnitas! The authentic version is laden with fat, my version...hardly any. Basically, take your favorite cut of pork, put it in a pot, add onions, cilantro, tomatillos, garlic and chicken broth, and BOIL the crap out of it for about 2 to 3 hours! Let it cool and skim the fat off the top. Then I heat it back up and take it out, remove any bones and shred it with two forks. Put it in a casserole dish, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and then bake it for an hour or so until the top gets crispy!

Looks like this when it's done:

Serve it in corn tortillas with chopped onion, cilantro and a lime wedge. I could LITERALLY live on this! So good.

I also LOVE enchiladas. You can make them pretty healthy as long as you use lean ground beef and only a LITTLE cheese. I love me some cheese enchiladas, but alas, I will NOT use Fat Free cheese, plus I cannot get it in Norway anyway. So I stick with beef. This is my 94 percent lean with cumin, chili powder and sea salt:

Cook it:

Then I make a homemade enchilada sauce, but that is another post. Dip corn tortillas in it, add my beef, some chopped onion and a TINY bit of cheddar on top:

So, that was my Tex Mex adventure this week!!! So much fun and so good! I combined it with some Mexican rice I made using brown rice and some pinto beans I made with a ham hock earlier in the week.

Hard to believe that you could have tex mex that is gentle on the blood sugar and easy on the waist line.

It can be done my friends. By God, it can be done.

Tex-Mex in Norway? Yes, at my house.

I am from Texas. I live in Norway. There is no such thing as GOOD Tex Mex here. So sad. So, I have been forced to learn how to prepare it! I won't complain. My Norwegian friends LOVE it and swear we should open a restaurant, or at the least do a cooking show! Neither of which is going to happen this week, so until then, I will just show you what I made last night for our Tex Mex fiesta.

I LOVE fresh pico di gallo! And it is so simple to make. This is all you need:

Tomatos, limes, cilantro, jalenpeno, onion and garlic. Chop it all up, squeeze some limes into it, add some're done!

Then of course guacamole:

Just peel them, mash them, add some of the pico you just made, and suddenly you have appetizers:

So easy, so good.
A little bit of Texas in Norway.

Wednesday, November 14

My, my...How time flies!

Really? Has it been since January? I have no excuses. This year has been kind of empty for me. My dad dying took a lot out of me. A lot. I wouldn’t say it stole my joy, but it took a significant portion of what I had been allotted. I miss him. Everyday. I have this picture and it just makes me SMILE:

That, my friends, is what JOY looks like. How awesome is that photo? My dad looks so happy with that fish! I have it posted on my wall here at work, and it just makes me smile!
Life IS good. It is so important to remember that, especially when circumstances try and convince us otherwise.