If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em

I’ve returned home from Iceland with an even stronger commitment to shrink my carbon footprint as well as our household’s overall consumption in general. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the most stunning environments this globe has to offer and I was impressed by how the folks of Iceland are such amazing caretakers of their environment. I’ve decided the least I can do is take a few steps, albeit some will probably be uncomfortable steps, in my neck of the woods to lessen my impact on the world.

Last summer when we first moved into Brake Manor – which we jokingly named our little downtown brick cottage on a half acre of land – I had to work hard to learn which plants in the yard were weeds and which were keepers. During my research I learned that a good portion of the weeds we are plagued with are edible and considered highly nutritious. We run a no-nasty-chemicals household so I felt safe taste-testing the different kinds of weeds in the yard, to the chagrin of some of my surprisingly conformist friends.

Today, after working our arses off in the yard, I realized our fridge was pretty empty and found myself wishing I had planted a garden I could go pull from. That’s when I remembered the edible weeds in the yard and decided to try to use what we have before going to the store to buy food. So, I managed to prepare a lunch for my hubby and myself made up of about 70% yard goodies (not from a planted garden, mind you, but just wild weeds that had sprung up in the yard while we were out of the country). We dined on grape hyacinth bulbs flavored with lime, poppy seeds and chive; and on purslane greens with a tahini, Sriracha and balsamic dressing. It was all quite delicious, though I don’t know if I’ll ever go through the preparation process of cleaning and boiling the hyacinth bulbs ever again since they weren’t nearly as tasty as the prep was long.

To compliment our yard grub we each enjoyed a thick buttered slice of rosemary bread from a local bakery and a small glass of Saison microbrew from Loveland Aleworks. I love when I can make a simple weekend meal feel like we’ve been to a fancy fine-dining restaurant. After lunch we gluttonously gobbled up power naps in the shade of the patio for dessert. It felt satisfying to be a little more self-sufficient than normal (and for it to actually taste yummy too!).

Cheers!

Grape Hyacinth bulbs. Boiled to remove bitterness and seasoned with lime, poppy seeds and chives for a fresh dish

Grape Hyacinth bulbs. Boiled to remove bitterness and seasoned with lime, chives from the yard and poppy seeds. Zesty!

Purslane is a succulent-type weed that grows prolifically in our yard. It's high in Omega 3 fatty acid, has six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It’s also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus. The flavor is a subtle sweet and salty citrus.

Purslane is a succulent-type weed that grows prolifically in our yard. It’s high in Omega 3 fatty acid, has six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It’s also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus. The flavor is a pleasant salty-citrus.

I used Sesame oil, Tahini, Sriracha hot sauce and a fig balsamic for the Purslane sauce. It was scrumptious!

I used stirfry oil, Tahini, Sriracha hot sauce and a fig balsamic for the Purslane sauce. It was scrumptious!

I was in such a hurry to taste my creation that I didn't even check to see if my photos were in proper focus. haha, oops.

I was in such a hurry to taste my creation that I didn’t even check to see if my photos were in proper focus. ooops… and I call myself a photographer?! Tsk, tsk. 😉 (PS – the roses are from the yard too. I love it!)

 

 

Reykjavik: Relaxation & a Goodbye Party

May 29

I’m thoroughly enjoying this week of pretending I live in Reykjavik. It’s been so relaxing and has given my mind a break from always being on the move. There are less photos being taken some days but grand memories being made none the less. I suppose I would be comfortable saying 4 weeks of nonstop photos has earned me a week off?

We were enjoying a relaxing holiday morning at the house; I was writing and letting my pesky blister heal, Sigrun was feeling even more ill so she was resting and watching Dr Who while Andy went for a walk. Down the street the Hallgrimskirkja church bells started going off at 10:30am and just kept gonging. We thought maybe there was a wedding or something but they didn’t stop. We discussed it for a bit until Sigrun said “Wait, today is a Christian holiday. That’s why we have the day off of work.” and we both laughed that we never made the very obvious connection. I later read that the holiday is called Ascension Day.

Sigrun did a little house cleaning and I needed a break from writing so I headed to the Hagkaup market to buy ingredients for the quiche I was planning to make for Joanna’s going-away party that evening. After I got back from the store Andy fried up some Welsh cakes for the party and they were so delicious! I will certainly be adding these to my baking repertoire from here on out.

We relaxed the afternoon away until Sigrun had to go to her gymnastics meet. I started making the quiche and for some reason I was so nervous it wouldn’t taste good but, really, I suppose you can’t go wrong with eggs and cheesey goodness. It was fun cooking in a new kitchen and figuring out how to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, and cups to deciliters. The only thing I messed up on was adding too much salt, but it was still quite tasty!

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When Sigrun returned from gymnastics we walked over to Joanna and Stuart’s flat a few blocks away. I was introduced to one of their friends named Freddie who is from Denmark and currently employed as a bartender while working on her thesis on TEDx and the spreading of innovative ideas. Everyone I’ve met here is so fascinating!

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We sat down for a dinner of quiche, a delicious veggie pizza that Stuart made, the Welsh cakes Andy made and some Pimm’s that Emily and Keir, the lovely couch-surfers from the UK I’d just met, had left behind. If you’ve never tried Pimm’s, I highly recommend giving it a go. I’m told it’s a wildly popular summer drink in the UK and if the sun is shining then out comes the Pimm’s!

We laughed and dined our way through the evening. My favorite moment of the entire evening was when Stuart noticed I’d used dill in the crust of the quiche and told us all what he thought that dill was comparable to a crying strong-man. Because, he explained, spices are supposed to pack a punch and give a distinct flavor but when you taste dill it’s this wimpy whisper of a flavor. We had a good laugh about that brilliant description.

Since Joanna and Stuart will be living apart for the next several months they’ve decided to make an extremely creative website to connect their two worlds. They will be posting songs, images, poems, etc. from their respective corners of the world and lining them up together each day finding way s to connect the two together. I think it’s fantastic! They asked if I’d take a photo for the website banner so we walked down the street to a uniquely painted joining of two buildings to use as our background.

Back at the flat we moved on from Pimm’s to Vodka-Cokes and then we sampled some Brennivin. Brennivin is an unsweetened Icelandic liquor made of potato mash and flavored with caraway, cumin and angelica. It tastes mildly of licorice and pumpernickel bread. I liked it a lot but probably couldn’t drink it often.

We talked the evening away until Sigrun and Andy headed back home since they had to work in the morning and poor, sweet Sigrun was still feeling so ill. I stayed a bit longer to chat until I had enjoyed far too much drink and figured I better head back before I was unable to.

I said my goodbyes to Joanna and wished her well since I may not see her again before she moves back to New Zealand on Saturday, was given some clothes-hangers to take to Sigrun, thanked the three for a lovely evening and off I went.

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My home-away-from-home neighborhood ❤

I walked home in the midnight sun. The night was the warmest one yet (summer is nearly here!), with my little quiche dish in one hand, an armload of colorful clothes-hangers in the other and a giant grin on my face. Halfway back to Sigrun’s I stopped and sat on a stone wall for a minute to soak in the moment. There were still a few quiet birds murmuring in the trees though it was midnight, and I could hear the sounds of traffic and a few laughing voices from an open window nearby. A lanky orange cat with a big blue collar walked atop the mossy stone fence and stopped next to me. I gave him a nice pat and told him to remember this moment. “No one else will experience this exact moment beyond you and me,” I told him, “We are very lucky to be in Iceland, and in this beautiful weather, and to be happy and healthy and safe.” He rattled a purr in answer.

By the time I got back to my bed I was even more intoxicated. Be it from the alcohol, the incredible circumstance of this past month of my life, or a perfect combination of both; I was punch drunk either way, and fell asleep with a big dopey grin on my face.

. . .

Quiche a’La Lanna

Iceland_20140529_Reykjavik-8_WEBThe Crust-

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup iced water

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 scant tablespoon tears of a strong man (dill)

Blend flour, dill and salt in mixing bowl; combine oil and icewater together and whisk until cloudy; combine flour and oil mixtures (knead it only enough to form a clump, no more, to keep crust flakey); press into pie dish and set aside.

The Filling-

4-5 eggs

~3/4 milk (more milk, less eggs for a fluffier quiche; more eggs less milk for a more substantial quiche)

2 tablespoons butter

1 small to medium red bell pepper [I love to do a mix of red, yellow and orange peppers in the quiche to make it pretty then eat the remainder of the peppers with a creamy dip while I bake the quiche… but it’s not necessary ;)]

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1-2 cups of any other shredded cheeses you like. More mozza, cheddar, feta, gouda or any herb cheese are tasty choices

3 whole green onions

Salt and black pepper to taste

Dice the white portion (about 2-3″ worth) of the green onions and dice the peppers into small uniform chunks, sauté together in 1 tbs butter. Chop the remainder of the green onions. Blend eggs, milk, shredded cheeses, green onion, salt, black pepper in a bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 375f/190c. Once the sautéed peppers are finished, let cool for 5 minutes and combine into egg mixture. When ready to bake, pour egg mixture into crust and use a fork to squish the edge of the crust down to hug the egg. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Let it cool 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Will Work for Food… If it’s from Next Door

Jennie Edwards, one of the owners of Next Door restaurant, dropped me a line looking for some new food and bar photos and I of course jumped at the chance. I highly enjoyed shooting their VIP grand opening night back in February and have been itching to get back over there for more photos.

Not only is the food absolutely DTF [to. die. for!] the building is gorgeous, the decor is awesome [the neat metalwork is all done by local artist Matt Kaufman], and the entire staff is super friendly and patient with me while I unsuccessfully try not to block their paths to their tables while I shoot.

I’m headed back this Friday to capture one of their typical packed-house evenings. Come on over and say hi, then belly up to the bar and grab yourself a local brew or a potent Black Walnut Martini to help shake off the long week. I may have to join you when I’m finished!

If this bar doesn’t make you want a tasty beverage then I don’t know what will