December 15, 2014

The best Christmas Beer of 2014 - Part I

Juleøl, or Christmas beer, is an important part of the Norwegian holiday season. The selection is vast, and the beer is varied, so it is a daunting task to know which brand to turn to. This is where science comes in. Lene and I decided to conduct a study in order to identify the best Christmas Beers of 2014.

Your welcome.

October 25, 2014

pumpkins and pale ale.

It's been bit of a rough week. I won't go into details, because the Internet doesn't need to be cluttered with more drama.

Let's just say that I am happy it's Friday.

I decided to unwind with cooking, music, and booze. While Vincent built our new filing cabinet (which is another slice of heaven all in itself--no one tells you how much paperwork goes into an immigrant life!).

Tonight's menu: Stuffed pumpkin and me and Lene's new Belgian Pale Ale.

Feeling better already.

September 23, 2014

Topp7. Trondheim.

Norwegians have a different idea of what "to go for a walk" means. I remember the first day I arrived here--the first day. On the way from the airport, Ellen asked me, "Hey Lindsay. You wanna go for a walk this afternoon?" I said, "Sure, why not."

Three hours later, I got home.

Welcome to Norway.

On another trip last year, me, Alex, and Anna were like 10 miles into the forest and I saw more than one family with very small children trodding along to some distant hytta to have a coffee and a cinnamon bun. I mean, some of these kids were in strollers. What the … ?

Welcome to Norway.

As some you know, I desperately need a Norwegian passport. Mostly because I hate paperwork. Yes, America, you are dumb in so so many ways. But I digress. So, I've been trying to do everything really Norwegian lately, hoping it'll speed things along. Brown cheese? Check? Cross-country skiing to a hytta? Check. Brewing beer? Check. Home-made lapper and knekkerbrød? Check. Knitting? Half-check.

Then I found out there's a race/ hike every year here in Trondheim that goes all over Bymarka, the very huge forest next to city. 30 kilometers, 18.65 miles. So Norwegian.

Easy-peasy (that's a Norwegian expression you know).

Some friends of ours, Ane and Audun, had never done the route before either. Were we in? Why, yes, yes we were. Let's do it.

The fateful day occurred yesterday. And I must repeat, it was a fateful day.

We all had taken the hike very seriously and went out and partied the night before. I personally got home at like 1:30 in the morning--with just enough beer in me to feel it the next morning. Carb-loading you know. It's what the professionals do.

We met at a crisp 10 a.m. I needed time to dilute some of the beer. The sky was ominous and it was windy, and cold. Hm. We embarked in good spirits. Rain, wind, or snow. We would do this. Because we were awesome and it must be done.

Needless to say, the trip took a good nine hours. There was cold. There was rain. There was wind. There was sun. There was clouds. It was like a smorgasbord of weather.

Welcome to Norway.

I was particularly pleased with all the rain gear we had just bought. Already got our money's worth.

The 7 Tops:

1. Våttekammen: oh wait, Vincent didn't take the picture right. Ahem.

2. Geitfjellet
3. Tikneppen (we made our own trail up this one)
4. Gråkallen
5. Storheia. (It poured rain on the way up this one. Welcome to Norway).
6. Henrikåsen

7. Lille Gråkallen
While my knee and the other parts of my legs are taking revenge on me today, the trip was all-in-all just fantastic.

Ane, Audun, and Vincent were great trekking comrades--and they even graciously dealt with my whining and complaining (let's just say, they are WAY more in shape than I will ever be).

Come visit. We can go for a walk!

August 16, 2014

oh. holy. beer.

Oh holy "Sydenturs are for Sissies" American IPA to be exact. A month or so ago, a good friend of mine and her brother involved me in a day of home brewing. Making beer at home, you say? Why, what a fantastic idea!

Especially considering that alcohol in Norway is taxed to high heaven and thus makes drinking it everyday less enjoyable…which is a sin, really. Shame on you Norway.

With that said however, if perhaps circumstances were not so dire we wouldn't have really taken the idea of home brewing to the next level-- i.e., actually doing it. (But of course, maybe we would have…after all, we do have quite a lot of the "for the love of beer" spirit. And we both like making things from scratch.)

Well for whatever reason, we did it. We made beer at home. TWENTY liters of a glorious American India Pale Ale. I've invited this dear friend--her name is Lene--to give us a run down of what went down that day. Get your Google Translate ready people!
Bakke Brygg American IPA (batch #1)
Det første brygget til L&L er ferdig tappa på flasker, og skal snart drikkes. Det eneste som mangler er et par veker med modning på flaske, og nokre etiketter som kan klistres på flaskene. I mellomtiden skal det blogges.

Brygget vårt er ein Bakke Brygg American IPA. Vi fekk kornet malt på Bakke Brygg, som er ein butikk i Trondheim som har spesialisert seg på hjemmebrygging.

På sjølve bryggedagen så fekk vi god ekspert hjelp av en erfaren hjemmebrygger, også kjent som lillebroren til L. Første steg i prosessen er å varme opp vatnet til 70 grader. Deretter festes meskeposen rundt gryta, og ein heller i kornet. Etter at kornet har mesket seg i ein time, så tar ein og løfter ut meskeposen og skyller gjennom med varmt vatn.

Sjefsbrygger Lindsay og bryggereksperten tar ut meskeposen
Meskeposen skylles med varmt vatn
Det neste steget er å få blandinga på kok og ta i humla litt etter litt. TS å er det berre å få kjølt av brygget, før ein tilsetter gjæren. Sidan det var litt ferieavvikling, så ble brygget stående og gjære i tre veker.

Neste steg i prosessen var vasking og tapping av flasker. Dette gikk unna på ein kveld. I tillegg så kunne ein nå estimere alkoholprosenten vår. Etter litt finberegninger fann ein ut at den ligg på 5.6 %. Det vart litt smaking på ølet også, og resultatet var overraskende bra. Vi gleder oss til to veker er omme og vi kan opne flaskene og smake på godsakene.

Fulle flasker som berre venter på å bli opna
So easy, right? Those sweet babies "rested" for a few weeks--and last Monday they were screaming to be opened and drank (well, at least a few were…don't get crazy people). 

Sydenturs Are For Sissies American Pale Ale, Batch #1, July 2014 by Lene and Lindsay.
They are so good. Come over and try one before they are all gone!


July 21, 2014

musk oxen. gentle vegetarians.

During our recent road trip around some of Norway, we passed through an area where a small population of musk oxen live! MUSK OXEN!
Now, I'm not sure if y'all know it, but I am relatively anxious around large animals. 
In New Zealand, for example, we went horseback riding. And I had to be switched to the really passive, "boring" horse, because my first horse could sense my fear. Then when we rode camels in the outback, I was sore for days because I was squeezing the poor guy/gal so hard with my legs. Then in Thailand a while back, I was so scared on our elephant ride, that I didn't let any part of my body touch the elephant because I didn't want him to sense my fear…like the horse in New Zealand did. You get the pattern. 

Yet, despite this I decided a musk ox safari was a good idea.

And it was AWESOME. And tiring. But mostly AWESOME.

Musk oxen are ginormous. And they have really long hair. And they are vegetarians! Also, there are not so many left in Europe, even though there are heaps in Canada apparently. Our guide has studied these gentle giants for many years (I think), and assured us they were perfectly safe….if we stayed more than 200 meters away from them and didn't surprise them. Fair enough. Who likes surprises!?

Somewhat uncharacteristically though, Norway is having a crazy hot summer. Today it's near 30 (that's mid-eighties for you Americans)! Very understandably then, the musk oxen were trying to find some respite from this heat--remember, they have really long hair that is super insulating. So, it is perhaps unsurprising that we found them finally…on top of a mountain.

Eh. If we wanted to see them, that is where we had to go our guide said. So, we proceeded to hike 2 1/2 hours up the mountain. I was getting quite nervous as we approached, because I could just imagine us spooking one or all of them--giving them no choice but to head bash us off the side of the mountain.

However, our guide stayed true to his word. We stayed quite a distance away from them. I could tell that the musk oxen could see us, but that they just couldn't be bothered with us. It was too hot. They were taking a nap on the cool breezy mountain top.

See the one all alone on the far left in the photo? He is the leader, and I guess he wanted some me-time.

Here's a close up (with my not-so super zoom lens):

Musk oxen are my new heroes.