mar 29 2010

I miss Sam

Published by under Ukategorisert

Tears are rolling down my cheeks as I write this. It’s Mr.T’s fault. He started looking at pictures of Sam, my first rattie love, who died from a brain tumor in June a year ago. I had to look at the pictures too of course, and before I knew it my eyes were watering up. How can a tiny animal that I knew a mere year and a half take such a big part of my heart ? The short life expectancy of pets in general and rats in particular is a part of all things that are bad in life. I wish they’d live as long as we do. But I guess their short life span helps us humans understand that we need to enjoy them as much as we can while we have them among us. Excuse me while I go kiss four furry little heads.

Sam in his bed that initially was meant to be his toilet but that was never used for anything else but sleeping : Sam being a shenanigan in the pantry:  Sam learns to sit for a treat:

RIP Sam, my first pet of my own and first rat, I’ll never forget you.

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jun 16 2009

Back to blogging…Part II

Published by under Fredrik&Gunnar

..So we decided to get new rats.  Two boys of about 4 months of age that we bought cheaply of a guy that didn’t have enough time to take care of them. They will never completely replace Sam, but having rats in the house again helps. Even though they all have their distinct and unique personalities, they have some of that common rattiness, that is so charming and adorable. I still miss Sam every day, but little Gunnar and Fredrik help to cheer me up.

Fredrik & Gunnar

Fredrik, the husky, on the left, Gunnar, the black berkshire, on the right. In the beginning they were quite timid of humans and they hated being picked up. Now they’ve become very trusting little guys, they hardly tense a muscle when I pick them up and they seem genuinely interested in hanging out with me and Tore. They even give little rattiekisses! I almost cried the first time little Gunnar started licking my chin, it reminded me so much of Sam. This pictures says a lot about rats: I’ve placed a three cardboard boxes on top of the cage for the rats to play in. Of course the thin, oblong one became a favourite (it used to contain a whisky bottle) – which they sometimes fight over, other times they both cram themselves in there, until the box is bulging on each side.

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jun 16 2009

Back to blogging, with some sad news..Part I

Published by under Sam,Ukategorisert

Sam is dead. He died very suddenly on Saturday  two weeks ago. I didn’t notice anything different with him when I kissed his little head goodbye before I went to Uni in the morning, but around 2 p.m Tore called me and said something was wrong with our dear little guy..He was shaking and twitching with violent cramps all over his body, having trouble breathing. Although Tore rushed him to the Veterinary College, T didn’t get there on time; Sam died on the busride there. It was so shocking and terribly painful to loose our little darling, I couldn’t talk about Sam without tearing up for at least a week after we lost him. Everything in the apartment reminds me of him;  without that 400 grams rat the apartment felt incredibly empty. No excited rat jumping around on my lap, trying to steal whatever I was eating, no soft whiskerkisses, no soft belly to rub, no furry head to land kisses on..Sam wasn’t an easy pet; because he was a single rat he demanded a lot of attention and company from us (which is why we would take him with us as often as possible), he had his grumpy moods were the smallest touch from us would make him squeal, but I think all of his special needs and quirky personality are part of the reasons why T and I got so attached to him…

My rats

RIP Sam :(

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feb 02 2009

Aubergine Awakening

Published by under Meg og mitt liv

Jebus, another month passed by without an update! But I won’t spend to much time apologizing, after all it’s my blog. And I have had a lot flying around my ears lately, not to mention trying to pierce my eardrum again. Yes, I’m talking about the chicks. I’ve just finished another two week batch of behaviour experiments with 12 fuzzballs, and as the batch before them; they were loud. After around 10 days of stuffing my ears with shredded pieces of paper towels, I bought some proper earplugs. Oh the relief. Did you know that chicks, not a mere 2 days old, can produce sounds up to (and I’m sure well beyond) 90 db ? 120 db is the safety limit before you’re in serious risk of hearing damage. But boy! It does hurt at 90 db too.

 

(The mealworm is UNDER the brown cardboard roof, little chick).

 

The first week at Uni after the holidays (one week before all the courses started, mind you) I attended an intensive course in lab animals ethics and management.  Although I cringed internally every time examples of painful experiment with rats came up, it was quite interesting (and Sam got more than his fair share of treats and cuddles when I came home). A couple of childhood/young adulthood daydreams of a world filled with alternatives to animal testing were sent to their realistic graves – they exist, but only in minute numbers to all the testing needed – and I’m not talking of cosmetics. I mean development and testing of drugs, vaccines, chemicals,  etc etc. I wonder what anti-animal testing people do when they’re at the dentist to pull a tooth, do they ask for anaestasia or not ? Cause if they do, they’re hypocrites.    

My own lab animal; Sam, testing rats response to beer. Result: whisker licking approval.

 

Sam, a true beerrat 

 

Bah! My month long absence from writing in English is really noticable, I feel like I’m slightly retarded, fighting with every sentence. I hope I get back on track soon. On Wednesday I have to make a talk on a paper about food neophobia and food conservatism in chicken in my Behaviour 2 course. In english. In front of a room full of foreign master- and phD students, that do not possess the Norwegian students apprehension to asking questions. Oh, there will be questions asked and discussions galore. And nothing helps preparing for a talk in english more than a tad of blogging, right ? 

Here’s some proper blogging for ya’;  in the beginning of December last year (2008!) I turned vegetarian. For the whole length of a week. How did Tore go down with the lack of animal protein you might ask? The answer is that he didn’t; he was on Svalbard doing labworks, while I had my friend Mona visiting me, who – surprise! is a vegetarian. Now, I don’t think I could become a proper vegetarian, vegan nonetheless, but I must say I was positively surprised by the whole experience. Not once did I feel abnormally hungry or unsatisfied by the food we were eating. It actually felt quite good. And I discovered a new favourite dish, which I can’t wait to introduce to Tore, just to see what he has to say when I tell him it’s made from eggplants. Now, Mona isn’t much of a cook, at least that was her words. Eager as I am to try new recipes, I took on the «chore» of cooking for us the whole week. Let me present a small week menu of a vegetarian-wannabe:

Monday: veggie pizza with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, capsicum, garlic, black olives, pesto and cheese. Yum! To my norwegian readers; First Price Margarita frozen pizzas, 12 kr each, serve as an excellent alternative to ready-made pizza bottoms. So cheap and so thin-and-crispy-almost-authentic-Italian.   

Tuesday: One of my take-what-you-got Indian stews with lots of red curry paste and coconut milk. On impulse I added sweet potatoes in cubes and red lentils, and it was goood! 

Wednesday: Leftovers from Tuesday + some brown rice. Even yummier today after a night in the fridge.

Thursday: Aubergine/eggplant lasagna with salad on the side. 

Friday: Leftovers

The Thursday night dish really deserves some closer description. It was absolutely delicious, and although time consuming, very worth it. I cannot, although I want to, claim it to be very healthy, but who cares, it’s vegetarian, and that got to be worth some health points, if not karma points (not that I believe in Karma). 

 

Eggplant lasagna

The recipe in short terms: You take an aubergine, slice it, sprinkle with salt, let sit 30 minutes, rinse off salt. Coat with flour, then dip in egg, then crust with breadcrumbs. Fry, slowly, on low heat, until the flesh is soft and the crust is crusty. Layer as follows: Tomato sauce, aubergine, egg-ricotta(cottage cheese on students budget)-parmesan mix, repeat. Top off with tomato sauce and some kind of melting cheese, mozarella if you can afford it. Bake in oven until the cheese melts and the egg-ricotta/cottage cheese mix settles, enjoy!  You can find the original recipe here,   on the great danish foodblog Newyorkerbyheart.

A closer peek at the preparations: 

 

Eggplant lasagna

Oh, I see I added spinach in between, I forgot about that. I always wilt down spinach with some oil, minced garlic and a nutmeg drizzle whenever I use fresh spinach. And if you don’t feel like making this for dinner I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I Promise to post the extensive recipe Soon, capital P, capital S.

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okt 28 2008

The best salmon dish ever! + some other food-related triumphs

Published by under Meg og mitt liv

I’ve discovered a thrilling new, incredibly tasty recipe for salmon baked in the oven on a bed of baby spinach and leek. I will not take all the credits for this, since I was inspired by a dish Gillian McKeith made during one of her programmes, I think it was «You are what you eat». I watched the show one day, got totally inspired, and made this dish the following day – it turned out perfectly, was super-tasty and very satisfying. I prepared the salmon pretty much the same way as Gillian does in this recipe but I didn’t sauté the leeks before I added them to the pan, nor did I brush the salmon during the cooking prosess. I used fairly small (cheap!) fillets of salmon that cooked so quick that I didn’t have to do anything with them during their time in the oven. They came out perfectly cooked, juicy and flavourful, not dry at all.

The best salmon dish ever

The ginger and garlic gave the fish a remarkable fresh and delicious taste, and I’ll definitely pair those together in another fish dish. I wanted some starch in addition to the vegetables, so I cooked up some  diced sweet potato together with one regular potato, mashed them up with some butter and seasoned the mash with salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic and fresh ginger. Do you see a pattern? Indeed, the mash complemented the fish very well. 

Sweet potato purée..the best mash I've hadSweet potato purée..I adore thee!

On an impulse I drizzled a new spice mix over the lot (from the brand Santa Maria ; Wasabi and Sesame), which worked out very nice!  The next time I will even try to put some real wasabi onto the fish during the baking..mmmmhh!

Santa Marias new Wasabi Sesame spice mix

The finished master piece (I’m getting a hang at arranging my food, don’t you think? (Just say yes, please)) :

The best salmon dish ever

I seriously had to retain myself from gobbling it all up before I took the picture..actually, just looking at the pictures now makes me crave this exact dish. Jeez, me and my cravings.

The best salmon dish ever <- Heaven on a fork

Time to talk about the other triumphs. First, I’ve made sun…uh, oven dried tomatoes! My local vegetable marked had these glorious red cherry tomatoes and I just couldn’t leave them there in the shop, so I adopted them, took them home and roasted them! Slice in half, drizzle with sea salt, fresh pepper and olive oil, in the oven at 100 degrees celcius, about 4 hours, done. Mini-photo series below (click on the pics to make them bigger):

Wonderful cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes, ready for roasting
Oven dried tomatoes <- Look at that glorious, ruby red colour! Just beautiful! I planned to use them in some pasta dish, but I have to hurry, since I’ve already snacked up half the jar…yum!
So, are you curious about my third triumph ? A few nights ago I ate something I’ve never had before, but which I’ve been wanting to try out ever since I read about it in Andy’s great blog (you have to scroll down the page a bit) - ARTICHOKES! Artichokeartichokeartichoke. I heart artichoke. Just a week ago I knew nothing, now I know that I love their subtle flavour, that they are fun to eat, and that artichokes actually are flowers of the thistle family! How often do you eat a flower for dinner? If you’re somewhat like me, you have no idea how to prepare and eat an artichoke; this site  explains it all wonderfully.
My first artichoke!
I made a dip of good balsamic vingar and some mayonaise, which was absolutely terrific, but regular softened butter was very nice too. I can’t quite get over how much fun I had eating this thing with Tore (and Sam, nibbling away like crazy), it must be my inner child that loves the idea of eating a big flower. Just look here, it IS a flower!
Image:Artichokeflower.jpg
Lastly, I want to share a norwegian twist on pancakes with you guys. In Norway, we normally eat pancakes at dinnertime, not for breakfast. They are made without baking powder, just milk, flour, sugar, salt and eggs, and the batter is generally thinner than the american version. To make it even crazier, many norwegians like to have soup with their pancakes. I have to admit, I hadn’t tried this until I met Tore, but I really like it, since pancakes on their own are too sweet on my palate, I like something salty for dinner. Pancakes are one of those dishes that I just can’t bother to make, since they’re time consuming and Tore is more than willing to make them. Instead, I made the soup; a quick soup of little, green peas, fresh from the freezer, I think they’re called petit pois. When Tore visited the Netherlands a long time ago, he had pancakes with cheese on them, and ever since we’ve had cheese on our pancakes too. With sugar and lemonjuice. And my addition today; poppy seeds. Sound crazy, right? But verr d’lish, you should try it.
Pancakes and green pea soup 

Pancakes and green pea soup
Oh, I forgot, we added some bacon to the batter too! Yuuumm….You eat them like this; put sugar, a lemon squize, some poppy seeds and grated parmesan cheese (or any other, sharp cheese) along the center of the pancake, roll it up, and cut into pieces with the help of a fork and a spoon. Yes, a spoon, knives are prohibited. Take one bite of pancake, follow up with a spoonful of pea soup. Mmh-mmh-mmmmhhh!!! I’ll post the recipe when I get around to it or if you send me an mail and ask, right away.
Although this blog is turning more and more into a food blog, I just have to add some pictures of my beloved little chunk of hairy loveliness; my pet rat Sam. Here he is snoozing away on my fake fur blanket, on the couch. Isn’t that little nose just adorable? He didn’t even flinch when I kissed his little head, the sleepy little man.
The sweetest nose there is
And one more (look at that little hand under his cheek! So cute!) :
The sweetest nose there is
All together now: «Aaaaaaawwwwwwhhh!!!»

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okt 15 2008

Picture marathon

Published by under Meg og mitt liv

Although I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a while, I have been cooking. I just haven’t had the spunk to write about it. But now as the two exams are behind me, I finally have some mental energy to spare. I don’t want to bore you with a super-long essay about what I’ve done since the last post (except for passing my exams with flying colours,no need to mention), so I’ll just give you the photo-evidence. 

First, I’ve gotten a taste..eh, bad choice of words, I’ve gotten an insight of how the work with my master thesis is going to be. Two weeks ago I helped some under-graduates out with their project that is a mini-version of my master. I helped them out with training the chicken. – The one – day old, yellow, fluffy baby-chicken. Sooo cute! I just had to kiss them on their downy little heads, completely forgetting about the possibility of salmonella, which luckily is quite rare in Norway (and I didn’t get sick, so no harm’s done). 

 

Chicken behaviour experiment
At the end of the week-long experiment they’d become so imprintet on us that they came running over, trying to jump into our hands when we were handling them. No wonder, being picked up meant getting yummy worms, so who can blame them. 
On the nigh before my animal behaviour mid-term I was so sick of studying that I followed the old advise to not study the day before an exam (I normally do). Instead I spent 3 hours to cook a pig’s knuckle! I’ve always wanted to try this smoky, super tender (not to mention super-fatty) meat, and tonight I felt like disregarding any counter-arguments like «It takes too long time», «It’s unhealthy», «Bla bla bla». I’m glad I endured the three hour cookin time with the mouthwatering smell almost driving me mad of hunger: It was sooo delicious, cheap and very satisfying. And the cooking made me  relaxed; like I’ve never been the day before an exam, with the result that I did great on the test (I think).
Porks knuckle, sauerkraut and potatoes
As an extra bonus it gave me the opportunity to make pig’s knuckle sandwich the next day. If you’ve read Terry Pratchetts books you’ll understand why pig’s knuckle sandwich has a special attraction to me. 
With the exams behind me and Tore back home from his weekend-trip to the small town where he comes from, I was in the mood for some experimenting. Inspired by Rachael Ray , who makes all kinds of delicious hamburgers (wihout stealing any recipe of her), I made my own chicken burgers with home-made coleslaw and spicy oven fries. I used ciabatta-buns instead of standard hamburger-rolls, since I’m not a too big a fan of those store-bought, über-sweet, fiber-less air-buns. 
Chicken burger, coleslaw and oven chips
They were juicy, tasty and way more filling than any big hamburger chain-meal..
The next meal I bothered to capture on film digital camera was a standard tomato soup. To rid myself of the excessive amounts of vegetables in my fridge I added celery, potatoes, onions and red peppers to the tomatoes in the soup, blended it, and mellowed the taste a tad with a spoonful of low-fat creme fraiche. Yum ! I love tomatoes, I have a craving for them on a regular basis. I read somewhere that craving tomatoes means that you have an iron-deficiency, but maybe it just means that I really love tomatoes (I do). I like this picure, despite it’s blurriness, since it shows off one of the beautiful cutlery Tore inherited from his late grand-parents. I think it’s silver, and we use it everyday. I think it’s nice to use pretty things instead of stowing them away at a «safe place». 
Chunky tomato soup
Over to something not food related. The other day Tore and I took Sam with us outside to enjoy the autumn sun, that doesn’t really warm you up, but makes the beautiful fall colours glow. We let Sam explore the branch of a small tree, but he was so nervous that the only thing he cared about was to jump over to safety, in other words his mum and dad. As long he could sit on the inside of our sweaters his curious little whiskery nose was constantly moving, drawing in the fresh air. 
Tree rat Sam  Sam in the park  Tree rat Sam


Phew! I have many recipes left to post and I still got some pictures that I want to comment on here, but that got to wait. I know a furry little guy that needs some TLC, and I’m not talking about Tore :p


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okt 04 2008

Exam blues and chubby pet

Published by under Sam

After a week of tedious studying for my exams next monday and tuesday, my attention span is coming to a stand-still. Tha fact that my nose feels like it’s stuffed with a giant wad of cotton, numbing almost all my tastebuds, doesn’t help much either. So after a long day of studying yesterday, I spontanously decided to go to a party – a cheese and wine gathering at my friends N, K and B’s apartment. Ten minutes after returning home from University I just grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge, stuffed Sam in his travelling cage and went. I’m so happy that I did, I really needed a couple of hours of fun and relaxation. I took Sam with me since he’d been alone all day – Tore is visiting some friends in the town where he grew up (and giving me peace to study). I thought the little guy (Sam, that is) would be anxious and nervous with so many strangers around, loud music, etc., but I was totally wrong! He wasn’t afraid at all,he was quite relaxed and made a lot of new friends. He just climbed around from shoulder to shoulder, sniffing peoples hair and trying to steal food. At the end of the evening he snuggled up against my friend L’s chest and fell asleep. I almost felt jealous!  Oh well, I should be happy to have such a social little guy who handles being the centre of attention without any problems. I guess he would’ve been welcomed differently in another crowd than at this party – they were all biology students, and I think only one person felt a bit nervous with Sam around (which I of course respected and kept Sam away from him).

Before Tore went to down south, he and I tought Sam to sit in a very cute manner, with his hind legs pointing forwards. It didn’t take much time, but a lot of treats; he refused to stay seated after he’d finished his «bribe». He looks so amazingly cute and adorable, and the fact that he’s gotten a bit on the chubby side just adds to the cuteness. He looks a lot fatter than he is, it’s just the seating position that makes him look fat…:D

Sam learns to sit

«Nom. nom, dry bread!» – Funny opportunistic Sam refused to eat dry bread after he discovered that we were eating bread with butter on.

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