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.

No responses yet

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.

No responses yet

nov 26 2008

I’m back!

Published by under Meg og mitt liv

- And I’m alive! Despite freezing temperatures (ranging from -5 to -25 degrees Celcius), ALMOST encountering a polar bear, crawling through a moraine cave for 3 hours and partying with the locals in Longyearbyen (probably the most dangerous of the cases mentioned above). I’m still very tired from getting my internal clock all messed up from seeing nothing but darkness two weeks straight, but I’ll try to upload some pictures tomorrow.

In the meantime; something completely different: MORE LLAMAS! This time a very nice flash song:

Flash – The Llama Song

No responses yet

okt 20 2008

Ramen noodle frenzy

Published by under Meg og mitt liv

Tore and I have had an almost weeklong simultanous ramen noodle hang-up. We bought about 1 million different kinds of ramen noodles the last time we were shopping in one of the chinese grocery shops downtown Oslo, and suddenly we both couldn’t go through a day without eating at least one pack of crazy flavoured noodles. They were all sooo fascinating, and if not incredible tasty, it was very satisfying to slurp hot broth after spending a day in the rainy autumn weather. The craziest ramen I tried must be the kimchi-flavoured ones I had yesterday – the broth was pink! And the flavour..indescribable. Kinda like salty, slightly synthetic strawberry-beef broth. But not bad, not bad at all!

Ramen noodles with Kimchi flavour
Luckily we came off the ramen wagon today, and I made a spicy carrot soup to compensate for the unhealthy week long noodle-overdose. To give us something to chew on I made a side of pizza rolls from store-bought freshpizza dough – we were both so hungry that we just couldn’t wait for a home made dough to rise. They were so delicious! I filled them with tomato paste, chopped olives, garlic, sundried tomatoes, strips of lowfat ham, dried oregano, basil and marjoram, cheese and basil pesto.. Neither of us were really excited about the taste of the carrot soup, but with the help of the rolls we finished it off, which means we ate about 8 carrots for dinner! That must count for something !
Spicy carrot soup w/pizza buns
The beautiful yellow and red maple leafs from the last weeks of bright beautiful autumn weather have turned to a blackish-brown glistening..mass, covering nearly all the sidewalks on my route to University. With poor street lightning, rain and heavy winds, riding a bike was quite an adventure today. I like that it takes less time to bike than to go by bus and the tube, and especially that it doesn’t harm the environment, but boy, do I have to do some serious self-convincing to get on that bike every morning..Oh well, I’m done whining now. Biking through the rainy darkness makes me appreciate the dry warm inside so much more. I’ve even begun to think about cookies to bake in December! But I will not mention any of them yet, as it’s ONLY OCTOBER, a fact that the supermarkets seem to disregard completely, since they’ve already put the christmas chocolate and – marzipan on the shelves…
I’ve bought the plane tickets for Svalbard, made all the arrangements that need to be done and I can hardly wait to get up there! The course is going to be really hectic (they call it an intensive course, after all) but I’ll make sure to make time to visit some of these guys :
Visiting the dogpen IMG_2327 - Copy
Me and a 5 week old husky puppy + Fram and Tundra (from left); a 3 year old male husky, and a 7 month old husky-greenland dog mix female.
I love dogs, and the sled dogs that I met on Svalbard, Spitzbergen are some of the most amazing dogs I’ve ever met. They live outside in the cold all year round, pull more than their own weight through often deep snow, they compete which each other for food, being chained to small huts when not running – but still so incredible friendly! I helped a friend to feed them last winter and all of the dogs waited politely until I had placed the food bowl on the ground before they tried to inhale their food (at least that’s what it looked like). Huge shaggy greenland dogs that look like teddy bears, sleek beautiful huskys, all super-happy to meet you, jumping up whilst trying to give you puppy kisses, shaking their entire body in anticipation, howling of excitement, ready to run..my kind of dogs.

No responses yet