mar 31 2009

Panang Curry Paste Soup – Thai delight!

Published by under oppskrifter

Coming home  after spending two weeks in the Arctic, with temperatures down to – 22 ° C, I managed to catch some kind of cold on the flight home. My head and my throat hurts and my cough sounds like the one of a lung cancer patient. So I decided to cure myself with my current favourite food; thai! I made a mild coconut-curry-chicken soup that just took away all of the throat pains and almost completely cleared up my lungs. I didn’t take a picture, or take any measurements, but here’s how I did it (approximately) :
Panang Curry Paste Soup
First I took out 4 chicken fillets from the freezer for defrosting. I boiled up some water (about 1 liter) with 2 chickenstock cubes and let the frozen fillets sit in the hot bouillon until they just were soft enough to be cut into pieces (but not cooked through).
Then I chopped up vegetables:
  • 2 carrots, into nice carrot flower slices
  • 1 big onion into wedges
  • 1 red and 1 yellow capsicum into big bits
  • 1/4 of a small cabbage head

-> Threw all the veggies and the chicken in a big pot with 1 can of coconutmilk, 1/2 – 1 tablespoons of Panang Curry Paste (I wanted a mild flavour this time, normally I go for much more curry paste) and added enough of the chicken stock to cover the vegetables by an inch/couple of centimeters. I let it simmer until the vegetables were through and the chicken done, it could probably have been added at a later time and been even moister but I think it was good enough. I used 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and half a lime to season the soup. The next time I might add 2 cans coconut milk instead of one, I just love the flavour of  coconutmilk.

Panang Curry Paste must be one of my absolute favourite food items when it comes to fixing up dinner quickly, and the fact that it’s sooo good is a huge bonus. I buy it at the local turkish supermarket, but you could make the curry paste yourself. The list of  ingredients as it’s written on the box:

  • Dried red chili
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Lemon grass
  • Galangal
  • Cumin powder
  • Kaffir lime’s skin
  • Coriander seeds 

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mar 12 2009

Country roads…

Published by under Ukategorisert

I’m back from Svalbard, and for the first time ever since I started frequenting the high north, I didn’t feel like going home. I didn’t mind the cold, or the three quarters of an hour hike home to the student barracks after Uni (through a snowstorm, of course!), or the high living costs, it was THAT good. The lectures were even better this period than the one before Christmas, and meeting up with the guys again was sweet - living together with a bunch of completely different people from all over the world, that still share a common passion is special. We made food together, studied together and danced the Funky Chicken together when we were to tired to do anything else. I’ll miss them. I don’t think trying to describe every amazing experience I had there will do anything good, I’ll just repeat myself and get bored, so I’ll just post some pictures. Since my camera is broken I had to smooch some pictures off the others, thanks to Heather Mariash and Jonas for letting me use their photos and especially thanks to H for letting my borrow her camera on the dog sledging trip. I made Jonas’ pictures into links to his Picasa website.

Dog sledging with my friend Linn, who’s a dog sledging tour guide and a biology student.

Me, the dogs and the glacier...
- This is actually something I could imagine doing everyday, for the rest of my life. Me and Linn shared one sledge with 8 dogs, and the four tourists shared two other sledges. Linn didn’t feel too good, she had the flu, so she let me steer the sledge almost the whole trip  while she was relaxing on the sledge. Later that day I heard that a friend of mine had seen a polar bear at the other side of the valley we had been in – in the whiteout we had that day I don’t think we’d seen it before it was really close, but I guess the dogs would’ve reacted to it..exiting and a bit dissappointing, would’ve been cool to see «The King of the Arctic» again.
Linn and her   Linn and her »little girl» Froya
Big girl This big girl managed to run the whole trip just keeping up with the other dogs, but never pulling the sledge once. Smart one.
Lets go !  – Two exited boys, »Aroouuuuh, let’s go already!!» 
We're both tired - We were both tired at the end of a long day.
- I just love these dogs. They are a somewhat scary looking mix of Alaskan huskies, Greenland dog and wolf, especially when they all start barking and jumping, but they are soo cuddly and sweet and loveable. They get into horrible fights with each other, but they wouldn’t dream of hurting a human. Not the smartest dogs, but loyal and simple souls. I think I fell in love with all of them. Maybe except one big boy who ate the other dogs poop.
Bear Valley Student Cabin - The cabin; real time photo from our visit in the end of February.
Butt sliding down from the plateau

- Butt sliding down the mountain side from the cabin to the sea shore. Such a blast! Not as dangerous as it looks. Check out all that drift ice! Within the next day, almost all of it had dissappeared.

The Arctic light 
This is the beautiful pinkish-pastel blue light that makes the landscape look like one big aquarelle in February/March, just before the return of the sun.
Sunset over Bear Valley 
- Beautiful sunset that accompanied us home from the cabin trip. Well, the sun hadn’t come up above the horizon yet at this point, but it was nearly daylight for several hours per day. Nice change from the darkness in November. At March 8 the whole population of Longyearbyen celebrated the return of the sun, when the first sunrays are supposed to appear above the mountains. The kids had dressed up and sang the Sun Song, the mayor and others held speeches, and the sky was of course covered by a heavy cloud layer.  To minimize the dissappointment for the little ones («I didn’t sing well enough to make the sun come out!») somebody fired a flare gun on top of a nearby mountaintop, the Trollstein/Troll Stone. Then they whipped out the sunbuns (wheat buns filled with vanilla custard and topped with sugar icing) and everybody were happy. Well, except me, I didn’t get one. I’ll learn how to make them and then I’ll eat all of them myself.
Speaking of food, coming home from after spending two weeks in the Arctic, with temperatures down to – 22 ° C, I managed to catch some kind of cold on the flight home. My head and my throat hurts and my cough sounds like the one of a lung cancer patient. So I decided to cure myself with my current favourite food; thai! I made a mild coconut-curry-chicken soup that just took away all of the throat pains and almost completely cleared up my lungs. I didn’t take a picture, or take any measurements, but here’s how I did it (approximately) :
Panang Curry Paste Soup
First I took out 4 chicken fillets from the freezer for defrosting. I boiled up some water (about 1 liter) with 2 chickenstock cubes and let the frozen fillets sit in the hot bouillon until they just were soft enough to be cut into pieces (but not cooked through).
Then I chopped up vegetables:
  • 2 carrots, into nice carrot flower slices
  • 1 big onion into wedges
  • 1 red and 1 yellow capsicum into big bits
  • 1/4 of a small cabbage head

-> Threw all the veggies and the chicken in a big pot with 1 can of coconutmilk, 1/2 – 1 tablespoons of Panang Curry Paste (I wanted a mild flavour this time, normally I go for much more curry paste) and added enough of the chicken stock to cover the vegetables by an inch/couple of centimeters. I let it simmer until the vegetables were through and the chicken done, it could probably have been added at a later time and been even moister but I think it was good enough. I used 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and half a lime to season the soup. The next time I might add 2 cans coconut milk instead of one, I just love the flavour of  coconutmilk.

Panang Curry Paste must be one of my absolute favourite food items when it comes to fixing up dinner quickly, and the fact that it’s sooo good is a huge bonus. I buy it at the local turkish supermarket, but you could make the curry paste yourself. The list of  ingredients as it’s written on the box:

  • Dried red chili
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Lemon grass
  • Galangal
  • Cumin powder
  • Kaffir lime’s skin
  • Coriander seeds 

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mar 04 2009

Quickie

Published by under Meg og mitt liv

I’m on Svalbard and well! No time for long recaps though, so here comes a short one:

- I am on Svalbard, for the second half of the Arctic Winter Ecology course. It’s awesome.

- We’ve looked at completely dehydrated, nearly frozen collembola (springtails, tiny arctic invertebrates that jump) come back to life after spending 4 months in a freezer.

Onichiurus arcticus

Onychiurus arcticus

- We’ve learnt how to age and sex-determine Svalbard ptarmigans (Lagopus mutus hyperboreus) from their wing feathers, and looked at their crop contents to see what kind of plants they prefer to eat.

Fluffy, fat birds with hairy feet

Fluffy, fat birds with hairy feet

- They prefer Bistorta viviparum bulbils (Harerug / the Alpine Bistort), which is also heavily foraged by students while on field excursions (they’re yummy, who would think that viviparous propagation modules would be so tasty).

Bistorta vivipara, the edible bulbils are the brown lumps on the stalk.

Bistorta vivipara, the edible bulbils are the brown lumps on the stalk.

- Nybyen (the barracks outside Longyearbyen were the students are supposed to stay while on Svalbard) is full, so now we’re living in Mary Anns Polarrigg Guesthouse downtown. 5 min walk to Unis vs. 35 min….wonderful.

 

- …Especially since it’s been windy, very windy, I’m talking «grabbing hold of small people almost  blowing them out on to the tundra»-windy. I’m talking shaking the house windy, I’m talking the kind of windy were you suddenly can’t move forwards because the wind is stronger than you, grabbing hold of you, trying to move you the opposite way from where you want  to go. I love it.

- We (the students + three others) spent the weekend at the studentcabin in Bjørndalen (Bear Valley). 

The studentcabin in Bjørndalen/Bjorndalen, Svalbard

The studentcabin in Bjørndalen/Bjorndalen, Svalbard

 The cabin took amazingly two meagre hours to heat up, opposed to the five hours we spent huddling in the sofa the last time,  and we were all hyper and happy over such a luxury (not freezing). We ate good food, drank good wine, played card games, tried to play the horribly untuned guitar and went «butt-sliding» down the mountainside the next day. On our way home on Sunday a beautiful orange-red-pink sunset over turquise ice sheets accompanied our retreat along the Adventfjord. I kicked myself a dozen times for not having fixed my camera yet, commanding everybody with cameras to take lots of pictures, secretely planning to go on a picture raid with my USB-stick later on.

- I’ve reached a new level of general cold – hardiness and «don’t give a poop»-attitude regarding temperatures. The part of the guesthouse were our rooms are is separated from the kitchen and the livingroom, meaning one has to venture OUTSIDE to get from the one place to the other. I can not be hassled with meaningless items like proper pants, boots and jackets when I only have to move 10 meters, and I think I peaked the «Svalbards most nonchalant dressers»-record when I ran through a complete white-out (wind, snow, no visibility) wearing slippers, thights, a cotton dress and a hoodie. Okay, maybe nonchalant is not completely deserved, after all I squealed like a piglet as I went along, and had to stand in front of the fireplace half an hour in order to seize shaking when I got inside, but it still counts!

- I’ve ridden a beltwagon for the second time in my life, with a madman behind the wheel taking us over every bump on the tundra he could find at 50 km/h.

 

I sat in the front wagon with three of my professors having a somewhat «grown up conversation» but I still couldn’t stop myself from squealing whenever the Madman drove over a particularly steep bump/depression. So much for trying to make an intelligent impression on people.

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nov 27 2008

Arctic Winter Ecology Course, bit by bit

Published by under Meg og mitt liv

Part One: Moraine Cave Spelunking

Definition of ’spelunking’ here.

There are so many things that I want to tell you about from the short two weeks on Svalbard, but I have a final exam on Tuesday, so I have to restrain myself in the blogging department. One of the first things we did after settling in in Nybyen (studenthousings) was to climb/crawl/squeeze through a moraine cave which took us 3 hours. It was me, Tore, Jago, Heather, Phillip and Matteo. None of us knew the whole way through the cave, or had any cave climbing experience, but we borrowed crampons from the student equipment storage and went out to the Longyear glacier with fresh courage. Well, that’s an exaggeration on my part. I’ve never felt comfortable with thight spaces, but I felt that I had to do it (now I’m very happy I did).

- Here’s a picture of me, forgetting about my mild claustrophobia, just enjoying the spectacular site of the insides of a moraine cave (a tunnel through the deposited mounds of earth, gravel and stones (up to the size of boulders) at the foot of a glacier, dug out by the glacier melt water).

 There were passages in the cave that were so thight that you had to lie your head down sideways to get through, with stones sticking up from the frozen ground as well as hangin down, frozen to the ceiling..let’s just say; I bumped my head more than once. But after the horrible passages that I would crawl/squeeze through as quick as possible just to get them over with, we came to this huge cathedral-like open rooms, glittering like diamonds from all the ice crystals that covered all of the walls and the ceiling.

In another room there were thousands of thin ice icicles hanging from the ceiling, almost touching the ground; on the picture to the left you can see Heather sliding on her back in order not to break any of them.

Pure, pure water, frozen to form the most perfect ice crystals; hexagonals. Actually, the same day we had a lecture about snow; it was fun to look for the «trumpet crystals», «sugar snow» and the hexagonals.

Even though the 3 hour journey was an adventure, it was quite a relief when we finally came to the opening and Jago had managed to dig us a way out. In the thight spaces I would sometimes have to wait for the people in front of me to get a bit a head to avoid getting kicked..well, in the head, with their crampons. While I was lying there; feeling stuck, stones poking from both sides and nothing but darkness around me besides my crappy head light; my mind would wander to the tons of stone and rock above me, only held together by a thin film of frozen water. That’s when I discovered that I really am nuts about cooking. Thinking of what I would make for dinner if I survived was the thing that managed to diverge my thoughts away from the frozen death trap I was in. And Hooray, I didn’t get a single panic attack in there, at least not one that I couldn’t stop by taking a few breaths as deeply as the floor and ceiling would allow me to.

Now I HAVE TO get back to studying. I want to warn you readers that despite my tale of the dreadful crawl got an urge for moraine cave spelunking; it IS dangerous. Talk to someone who knows what they’re doing before you go ahead. In some of the big rooms we were in, there were patches of exposed rock in the ceiling; which means that stones must’ve fallen down recently; ice crystals hadn’t formed on the bare spaces yet. Lastly, I must credit Phillip for these pictures; my big bulky camera wouldn’t have made it through the cave with me. You can find some more of his pictures here:

Phillips Picasa Folder – Arctic Winter Ecology Course

Oh, and one last thing (disregard this if you know Svalbard winter conditions) : We had SNOW ! And lots of it! We had to dig ourselves in and out of the cave. Big, fluffy snowflakes, oh, how I adore thee!

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