Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Iceland

We went to Iceland in 2017, for the week that spanned February and March. It was gorgeous and fabulous and we got very luck with the weather - we followed a huge snow storm by a few days, so got to see some snowy landscapes but saw no snow or rain while we were there. And fantastic luck with the northern lights, seeing them 4 of the nights and honestly choosing to sleep after that rather than continuing to look.
I get asked sometimes for recommendations, and here are my thoughts. The scope of our trip was pretty small due to the short length and season, so there are going to be other far more comprehensive resources for you. =)
Hotel Ranga was a fantastic place to stay. Nice accommodations, surrounded by open space and a creek, several hot tubs, etc., but the two most unique parts are the astronomy center and the fancy restaurant. According to this article by the BBC, they built the astronomy center so that guests who missed out on the northern lights could still get a sky show. While we were there astronomers were guiding the telescopes and showing us the planets and milky way, while also cursing the brightness of the northern lights because you couldn't see the stars as well. If you don't have time to spend the night there (or if they are full) you may want to still go there for dinner. You'll need a reservation, but the food is very high end and fabulous, so it's worth it. And you can likely go to the astronomy center while you are there (presuming it's dark).
Hotel Ranga was where we launched our south island adventures, which we took with a fabulous company called Midgard Adventure.  We took two trips with them, both private (one on purpose and one by accident as no one else had signed up for the group trip). Our favorite by far was the hike up to Thorsmork starting by the Volcano Huts. The view as we ascended was amazing, there were few people, and this was a location we could not have gotten to on our own as some impressive driving through rivers occurred to get us in an out of the location. We got to see arctic foxes, and ate packed lunches midway through the descent of the peak. The other day we drove down to see the black beach, waterfalls, stopped at a cute restaurant for food, and such. The guide was interesting and knowledgeable and told us great stories, but it somewhat felt like we could have made the drive ourselves. The hike up toward the highlands was much more special.
A word about northern lights tours. We selected the SUV as opposed to the bus tour thinking it would be fewer people and more secluded, which was wrong. The SUV we were in with 6-8 people joined a caravan of 20 other SUVs so we were watching the northern lights with more than a hundred other people. This meant a long, cold wait in line for them to take your picture with their tripod/camera set up lights in the background. Not terrible, but also not what I had imagined.
In Reykjavik we enjoyed stopping a the Mikeller brewery bar - a tiny bar on the third floor. The restaurant on the floor below it was very good - AND - was playing the Cure and some great old mellow alternative 90's music that set a great mood and made me happy.
A word about Golden Circle tours. We were on a small bus tour (maybe 25 people) that was intended to hit 5 or 6 spots, and we LOST 3 tourists at the first stop which cost us an hour of waiting/looking for them and meant we had fewer stops and less time along the way. I had selected a version of the tour that had us stopping at an Icelandic farm, which was nice to see some cows, eat ice cream, etc. but the tours that involved sitting in hot springs or other things may have been a better choice. I don't know if doing an SUV tour with fewer people would be safer (lower odds of losing tourists if you have fewer people?) but maybe all you can do is listen to the instructions of the tour guides closely, and help others from your bus who you see maybe going the wrong way? As we were there in winter we did not consider driving the circle ourselves - weather was too uncertain. That big snow storm a few days before we got there resulted in all tours being cancelled for a few days, so it seems like we made the right call.
Anyways, we loved our trip and hope you do too! Our photos were good, but this guy we met at the Volcano Huts has even better pics. https://www.instagram.com/r3dmax/




Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sort of healthy dip

Made from leftover ingredients:

  • 3/4 to 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1-2 cups chopped roasted cauliflower
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 1-2 cups steamed spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
I chopped the cauliflower into little bits and mixed everything together. Place in an oven proof pan and cooked for 10-20 minutes to melt things together. Serve with tortilla chips. 

This is not super creamy, but it's yummy and relatively healthy. 

Cheers! 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Redux

Been cooking the same olds: sweet potato and kale hash, beet burgers, oatmeal souffle, etc. Also just swapped out the carrots, beets, and arugula... and put the tomato starts and summer seeds in. The snow peas were given a reprieve because they are still blooming.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Also

Started fermenting today. The sauerkraut should be fine but I didn't put enough head space in the beet stuff so that's going to bubble over and make a pretty purple mess. But the struggle is real, and it's worth it.

Arugula plus

Third #arugulachallenge meal was arugula salad with cranberries, goat cheese, and almonds. Made a dressing with garlic in balsamic and olive oil. Super yummy! And separately, I had this fubar while trying to get an egg from the pack.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Abundance of arugula

The rainy weather has been kind to the arugula, so it's time for me to join the pup in eating it (she likes kale and greenery more that I would ever have expected...). Which had me searching for arugula recipes, and I landed on  this yummy one. Of course it's modified, I super thinly sliced some yellow onion since I was lacking in chives and omitted the rosemary. And we don't typically have bread, so this was loaded onto some naan leftovers. Yummy. More different arugula experiments tomorrow hopefully.
Sauté onion and arugula in butter. Add 2 eggs and scramale them in. Salt and pepper to taste, serve on toast.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Arugula night two

Grand plans to adapt a Swiss chard savory pancake recipe went kaput after I didn't go to the store to get milk. I switched gears to sweet potato pancakes,  then diverted again to my old favorite sweet potato hash with kale, with arugula instead. Added a little yellow onion, and overcooked the accompanying fried egg, but still good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Winter veggies and volunteers

This is before and after I pulled out all the volunteer seedlings. I left the arugula, beets, and carrots (later found some tatsoy). And pulled the tomatoes, cucumbers, and grass that had sprouted illegally. (Plus a week passed between pics.)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Winter tomatoes

Two of the tomato plants are going strong, but I have to bring the fruit inside early because some critters are having a feast. I should probably take the whole thing down in a few weeks (I also said this a few months ago...).