Monday, April 28

New Kids on the Block

Wouldn't it be AWESOME if this was an entry about these guys:

Anyone else remember 'Hangin' Tough'?? Look at them!! Those 5 guys were responsible for breaking the hearts of thousands of girls (and I am sure some boys) worldwide!! That group of hotties right there sold more than 80 MILLION records world wide.

Shocking isn't it?


Alas, the new kids to which I refer are none other than these beauties:




Last time I posted a gardening update all I had was tomatoes and bell peppers, or at least that is what I thought it was, as I had neglected to label them! About a week later, something else started coming up. I could tell by the developing leaves that I had tomatoes and bell peppers and the next thing to come up was either the jalepenos or the tomatillos. Another week passed and I still had nothing in 5 of the spaces. So, I decided to take drastic measures. I dug up the seeds to see what they were.


Of course! What are tomatillos even doing in Norway in the first place?? So, I took the remaining tomatillo seeds that I had, and I planted them. Maybe the dark laundry room wasn't ideal for the little south of the border green tomatoes?
They now all live in a south facing window sill and get lots of sunlight. They drink a lot of water and just this week 2 tiny tomatillo plants emerged from the soil!!

I am cautiously optimistic.

So, here is the whole gang as of 8pm Norway time:

I have about 25 tomato plants, about 15 bell pepper plants, 10 jalepeno plants and 2 tomatillo plants, with about 4 others i can see trying to break through. I have to transplant the tomatoes and bell peppers soon to 'big boy' pots for them to live in and grow until they are transferred yet again to their outdoor pots sometime in late May.

Also in my menagerie, there are 3 pots of basil, and outside I have 4 pots of baby leaf spinach, 3 pots of ruccola and 2 pots of chives. The chives are not growing, but the spinach and ruccola are starting to sprout.

Next week I am planting peas, beans, carrots and lettuce!!!

I am a planting FOOL!!!!

This always happens with me.

It's what they call 'getting carried away'.

But I can't help it. I LOVE the fact that I am nurturing something and growing things! The fact that I may get to EAT something from these very laundry room plants, hasn't even sunk in yet! When that day happens, I will be bouncing off the walls, high as a kite, footloose and fancy free!! And any other cliche sayings you can think of!!!

So, that is the update on my very first Norwegian garden!!

Grow little ones, grow!!!!!!

Monday, April 21

What's up, Chicken butt?

FINALLY!!! Spring has sprung in Norway!!!

Moving to and living in Norway has been, overall, an amazing experience, but adjusting to the seasons has been HELL. I come from a little place called Texas. In Texas we have, what I consider to be normal, 24 hour cycles. 12 hours of night and 12 hours of day, with the hours varying by a FEW depending on the month. I remember growing up, the rule was 'Be home by dark', and we LOVED summer cause that meant, at its peak, we could stretch out the daylight til at least 8pm! Oh, the shenanigans we got into in that extra hour of daylight!!

Well, fast forward about 15 years. I met a lovely Norwegian, got engaged to said Norwegian, and eventually married said Norwegian. And somewhere in the whirlwind, I ended up living in Norway. I moved here in January. Came straight from our honeymoon in Cabo. Straight from SUNNY Cabo. And it was DARK. Unnaturally dark. It was very confusing. The sun would set at around, oh say, 3:00, IN THE AFTERNOON! Then it would weakly make its debut the next morning around 9.30 or 10:00.

Summer was an altogether different beast. It just didn't get dark. I found it absolutely fascinating. To go into a bar at 10:00pm and come out at 2:00am and it was sunny!?! There is a period where it gets like this navy blue color between about 12.30 and 1.30 am, but never completely dark!

So, as you can imagine, this wreaked havoc on my little Texan biorhythms. But winter was the worst. After months of winter and dark, you CRAVE sunshine. I went to the doctor last week for my blood work results and I was actually vitamin D DEFICIENT!!!! And he actually said to me, "Well, soon the sun will come back and that should even out!" WHAT!!!!!!???

Well, it was like a small miracle last Friday, suddenly the clouds were gone! The sky was blue, the birds were singing, the sun was shining!!

Zippety Do Da!

Time to grill! A few years ago, I saw something called 'Beer Butt Chicken'. At first I thought it was a Jeff Foxworthy bit, but it was actually a legitimate way to cook a whole chicken. Out of a mixture of curiosity and skepticism, I decided to try it and it quickly became my favorite way to make chicken! It is delicious!

Here is what you need:

First, a basic rub. I use dark brown sugar, sea salt, paprika, cajun seasonings, rosemary and a bit of oregano and dry mustard:

You can be creative with your rub! Just tailor it to your tastes! Next, take a whole chicken, slap some olive oil on it and rub your rub generously all over the bird:

Take a half liter beer can and drink or pour out half of it. Put about 2 tablespoons of the rub inside the can:

Now here comes the fun part, even though it does seem slightly violating to the innocent chicken. Take the chicken and proceed to impale it on the beer can:

The two legs and the can act like a tripod to hold it up. Place the bird and the beer in an ovenproof dish. This will catch all of the drippings and beer can sputterings and prevent a royal mess on your grill. Set the chicken on the grill:

Shut the cover and let it cook for about an hour or until a meat thermometer says it is done (between 75 and 80 celcius). About 45 minutes into it, put whatever else you are serving with the meal on the grill:

When the bird is finished, it will have crisp skin and the inside will be so juicy! I have also had the legs just FALL off towards the end of grilling. That is how tender it can become!

It's a bit tricky to remove it from the grill, much less taking it off of the beer can, so I tend to just cut the meat straight from the bird propped on the can:

Beer Butt Chicken. Truly a sign that the sun has returned to the land of the North.

Friday, April 18

The Perfect Party Cake That Almost Was...

Well, apparantly there is something on this great big world wide web called 'The Daring Bakers'. They have monthly challenges and they BAKE some amazing stuff. I stumbled upon it quite innocently. I was reading Jen's blog, as as per usual, she had made something AMAZING. It was this Perfect Party Cake. Of course, as per usual, her creation was GORGEOUS and PERFECT. It was my father in laws birthday and I thought to myself, 'huh, I can make that cake for him'.

Famous last words.

Now, I consider myself a pretty good cook. I can throw things together with the best of them, but I am the first to admit I am a pretty half assed baker. Cooking is creativity, but baking, baking is CHEMISTRY. And cakes?? Pretty, perfect party cakes?? Well, those are pure CALCULUS. At least for me. I am messy and don't have the patience for perfection. Plus, you have to get those pesky measurements right and pans lined with parchment paper and so on and so forth.

I could have stuck with my tried and true chocolate cake that I am quite famous for, but Jen's cake was so amazing and pretty, that I found myself inspired.

So, join me as I make HALF of a perfect party cake! I am just putting the pictures that I liked up, they may or may not be helpful, so if you want stuff like the recipe and useful step by steps, you are going to have to refer back to Jen's blog!

One thing I loved about this cake was the lemon! I love lemon and I love lemon zest:

In this recipe, you had to mix the sugar with the zest, I used fructose:

So, I followed the directions perfectly, and I think my cake pans were a WEE bit wider than they should have been, but when I took them out of the oven, they were FLAT as pancakes! My hopes for a 4 layer cake were quickly dashed, but luckily, I have been blessed with a quick thinking mind and I decided right then and there to cut them in half and make 4 layers of HALF of a Perfect Party Cake:

Jen says that maybe the egg whites caused the cakes to collapse, and speaking of egg whites, on to the frosting. This frosting was some weird merangue number. I have never made a buttercream frosting that had egg whites in it, but I gave it go.

nice peaks:

I had to add an entire box of icing sugar to get a good spreadable consistency:

And lots more fresh lemon juice:

Then came the task of putting it all together. Here is where I got a bit nervous. The cake consists of 4 layers of raspberry jam, lemon butter cream frosting and lemon cake. So, I got to stacking my 4 halves.

First, homemade raspberry jam:

The recipe called for SEEDLESS raspberry jam.

Ummm, really?? NO.

I just used good old wholesome regular jam. Cake, frosting, jam. Cake, frosting, jam. Cake, frosting, jam. Cake, frosting:

Then I covered it with the rest of the frosting:

Topped the sucker with fresh raspberries:

And enjoyed every bite:

Sunday, April 13

Well Hello there, little ones!!!

So, one week into the science fair project going on in my laundry room, here are the initial results:

I have SPROUTS!!!!

Now, in all my planting excitement, I forgot to label the suckers, and we have a few issues going on. The main one being that only HALF of the seeds have chosen to come forth into this world.

Here is little greenhouse number 1:

As you can see, whatever it is I planted in the front is popping up quite nicely!! Whatever is in the back is being a bit shy. I got NOTHIN'!!

But greenhouse number 1 has got quite the lead on greenhouse number 2:

Now, that is just sad. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was at LEAST that they TRY!!!! C'MON guys!!!!

I can't imagine what I was thinking in NOT labeling what was what when I planted the seeds a week ago! If any of them survive, it will be interesting to see who was made of stronger stuff! Will it be the red tomatoes? The yellow ones? The bell peppers? The jalepenos? or the out of place in Norway Tomatillos?? What is your guess??

So, now not only do we have a little science fair project happening, we also have a mystery on our hands.

Grow, little ones, GROW!!!!

Sunday, April 6

How lovely is the silence of growing things.

I'm not sure where it all began, but somewhere along the line I really fell in love with the whole idea of growing THINGS.

I remember once in the early 90's, my cousin DJ and I and our friend Joel, decided it would be a good idea to completely till up the HUGE backyard of my uncle and aunts house and re-seed the grass as well as plant a HUGE garden. And by huge I mean something like 20 feet by 20 feet. On the appointed day, we worked so hard from the CRACK of dawn. It was truly back breaking work. We all trooped up to Home Depot at some point and walked into the HUGE space where they had rows and rows of every imaginable vegetable. We picked tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash and I am sure some other stuff, not to mention basil, cilantro, dill and other herbs. We took it all home, transferred them out of their little pots and plopped them into the ground, fertilized it, watered it and collapsed into bed.

The memories are a bit fuzzy now, but a few hours later I woke up to a roaring sound and what appeared to be strobe lights in my bedroom. I was very confused and disoriented, and while I was trying to figure out how someone had set up a RAVE in my bedroom without me knowing while I slept, the door FLEW open and I saw DJ and he was SCREAMING (although it looked like he was mouthing the words) 'WHAT'S GOING ON??'. I had slept with the windows open and suddenly the door that DJ had just flung open, SLAMMED with such force in his face. It was suddenly VERY clear what was going on.


I flew out of the bed and the suction of the door was so strong, it took everything in me to open it. DJ was still hysterical in the hallway and at this point my aunt and uncle were also in the hallway and then there was another crash. We didn't stick around to investigate, we all hustled downstairs and proceeded to get stuck trying to go 4 at a time down the stair well to the basement. If we weren't so terrified, it would have been hilarious.

As quickly as it had begun, it was quiet again. We sat huddled in the basement for the next 4 hours as night became day, and when we were certain no more tornadoes were coming to suck us up, we ventured outside. We were walking down the street and it looked like a bomb had gone off. Huge pine trees laying across the road, smashed cars and broken windows. We were lucky. Suddenly DJ and I remembered our precious garden!!

In all of the DRAMA, we had forgotten it, but we quickly hightailed it back to our house and ran into the back yard.

It was a miracle my friends.

It was as if God Himself, had placed His very own hand over our little patch of vulnerable vegetables. Apart from a few stray limbs and branches, our hard work was still in tact.

I cannot tell you how relieved we were.

However our gratitude was quickly forgotten about a month into this whole gardening process. Noone had told us we had to weed the sucker. Water it. Prune little vegetable limbs. Check for blight and bugs and other plant illnesses. Sheesh. It was like having a KID, but like 25 of them. So, it was like having a daycare center! Each little plant had to be looked after.

Somehow we persevered. Alot of things died in the tornado garden of 1998, but against all odds we had a healthy little crop of tomatoes and peppers.

And what can only be credited to 'tornado magic', we had a MUTANT basil plant that had actually turned into a basil TREE. It was GIGANTIC. I promise you have NEVER seen anything like it! We had Basil coming out of our ears!!

Yes. Good times.

So, since then, I have never undertook anything quite so grand. There was alot to live up to. How could I ever top the tornado garden???

Space is at a premium here in Norway. I have never had any space to plant a garden. But, we bought a new apartment with a balcony this past year and I decided that THIS would be the year that I planted my very first married persons garden!

I don't think I need to tell you that there is no Home Depot here in Norway. We do have a few respectable gardening centers and we decided TODAY was the day that we would go and pick out our little garden babies.

Now, there are not rows and rows of little seeded vegetable plants at my local gardening center, but they DO have FURRY chickens:

They ARE furry!!!

So, here in Norway, we start our gardens from seeds. Actual little seeds, which I must admit, has me totally intimidated. I can handle transferring a juevenile plant from it's little container and putting it into the ground to flourish into adulthood, however, this is a completely different animal!

Here, I am suddenly responsible for the actual GERMINATION process! It's like a retro highschool biology project, but instead of fruit flies it's tiny little seeds.

So, we went to the aforementioned gardening center and we stood with all of the other Norwegians, who, by the way, KNEW they had to get the seeds planted, at the latest, THIS weekend. We didn't know that. We just got lucky. I felt like a gardening fraud. But we managed to pick the following seeds for our little garden:

If you can't read the tiny print and if you dont read Norwegian, we bought yellow tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, jalepenos, tomatillos (which I was SHOCKED to even SEE in Norway!), basil, spinach and chives!

So, I had to buy some mini greenhouses and you have to fill them almost to the top and put your seeds in:

Look how TINY they are!!

Then you have to cover them with a light top layer of soil and water them:

Then you put their little lids on and put them in a dark, warm place for 7 to 10 days and wait for the science magic to begin! We put them in the laundry room:

So, I have to be a bit honest here. It feels kind of like a 3rd grade science fair project, except there are no 3rd graders in this house.

But, I admit it, I am REALLY excited! I mean, if I can actually GROW something, from a SEED, I will be so PROUD!!!!!

So, dear friends, we are in this together.

Do you think the laundry room science fair project stands a chance?? And if so, will the tomatoes taste like fabric softener?

So many things to look forward to!