Yellow & Green: Chickpea “Omelette”

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I have had this horrible aversion to eggs recently.  I think they smell like a combination of wet dogs and dirty feet.  Not to mention the fact they are chicken periods.  Well, enough of yucking your yum and I’ll get to the tasty part.

This breakfast staple was made with gram flour (made with chickpeas and available in all major grocery stores as it is a staple in Indian cooking), parsley, and onions.  We got the recipe idea from this blog.  Here are some other ideas of flavour combos to try:

Italian:  parsley, basil, and tomatoes

Mexican: Cilantro, cumin, and mango salsa

Japanese: onions, mushroom, cabbage, and soy sauce

Sweet:  nutmeg, cinnamon, peanut butter, strawberries, maple syrup

🌈Steph

 

 

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Red & Orange: Holy Bologna!

It was really difficult to find a rainbow in Bologna because as you can see from the photos, it’s a really red and orange city!  After all, it is the home of Bolognese.

Even though we spent less than 24 hours in this town, I could see the appeal of living in this Italian city surrounded by lush parks, hip eateries, and covered walkways.  It was altogether spectacular and I would recommend the city for anyone who loves food.

I really have nothing more to say about it, because again, I was only there for a few hours, but I could tell this city has lots of charm and much more to offer!

🌈 Steph

Venice and the Veneto

As we approached Venice by plane, I could see the islands spread out in the blue lagoon.  There was a fog that was just dissipating and the plane looked as if it was going to land right in the water.  After collecting our bags, we had the choice of taking a the public water bus which chugs along at walking pace, or to take a private water taxi from the docks.  Hmmm….

Now lets take a pause here for a moment.  In my traditional method of travel, I would try to save every penny possible, opting for cramming myself onto the public bus, even if it meant standing up for an hour and 20 minutes.  But new me is all about the water taxi.  New me is about setting a budget for a trip and sticking to it, not just going on a trip and trying not to spend any money, that doesn’t even make sense.

So you’ll know by now we opted for the private taxi.  Woo Hoo!watertaxi

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Whizzing away from Marco Polo Airport

On our first full day in Venice, we went to a fabulous restaurant down an alley (see photo gallery) and it’s where I discovered Prosecco was invented in Venice.  We also visited the Peggy Gugenheim museum, which was a must-see and wandered for lots of hours.

Our second day in venice we ventured to the far off island of Burano, which is a rainbow island of world famous risotto and lace.

Venice is not one of those places you can just show up and eat good food.  Some research is required as Venice is so touristy it has been compared to Disneyland.  Now, this was not my experience, but we had flagged all of the good food and bar stops to avoid eating reheated rubbish.  Other Recommendations:

The oldest paper store in Italy:

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Have a tiny glass of wine and the local tapas called cicheti.

Drink an Aperol Spritz, it was invented here.

The theme of our trip was walk, drink, eat, repeat.  The only bad part about Venice was leaving.  When can I go back?

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🌈  Steph

A rainbow a day

My friend Robyn asked to join for my Sunday cookfest where I cook some meals that can be refrigerated and prep some of the veggies for meals later in the week.  Here’s what happened this weekend when I was trapped in Muswell Hill because of bonfire night with lots of spare time on my hands.

I heard when I was little that one should try and eat a rainbow a day in fruits and vegetables.  I’ve also heard that we should be consuming 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  I’ve also heard that we have to actually eat them, not mix them up in smoothies.  I’ve also heard that it’s bad to eat raw vegetables because it’s hard on the digestion.  I’ve also heard it’s bad to eat cooked vegetables because all of the nutrients get blasted out.

In the last year I have decided that I don’t care about any of this.  All of this advice is disguised as being about health, when actually the root of it is about being skinny.  As someone who is involved in forwarding the Health At Every Size movement, I see how lots of things in our society are designed to make us feel bad about the way we look and encourage us to “take control” over what we eat through a series of books, pills, potions, and regimens.  This is not sustainable over time, as people who set unrealistic goals for themselves will fail and then hate themselves even more.

Now that I’m done with that tangent, I will say that what I’ve decided to do is become more intuitive with what I eat, savouring flavors, colors and textures, and actively ignoring any advice I hear about food.  I, like many, was relying too much on the advice of others and not enough on my own intuition.  The result is that I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering the world of vegan and sugar free cooking.

 

 

Follow the Yellow Staircase

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The famous yellow staircase is a fixture of the Southbank Centre and of the entire south waterfront in London.  Over the years, I find myself here time and time again whether it’s to see a photography exhibit, to see Andrew play, or to use their free public bathrooms.

Yesterday, I took a group of five middle school girls to see a play here.  Due to some disorganisation beyond our control and poor timing, we were actually about four hours early for the play.  At first, it seemed like this was going to be a hardship, however, the girls were immediately drawn into the various activities and stalls that the centre had to offer.  We were able to walk around the amazing food market where I ate Sri Lankan street food known as Kothu Roti, which is also yellow in colour.

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I’ve got to learn how to make this.  After the food, it was time for a little workshop on the United Nation’s Right of the Child.  I learned there are a lot of them, and they’re written in a child-friendly way on light yellow paper.

It’s good for kids to see how they have the right to be treated.  Appropriately after that workshop we went to see a play called Layla’s Room.  This is a three-person play written as a single story but is actually an amalgamation of hundreds of girls’ stories from across the UK.  The play is narrated by a young girl who was sexually harassed and assaulted in her school while she deals with her peers, the administration, and parental reactions.  The girls enjoyed it and found it to be relevant to their world.  I can’t wait to talk about it more when we get back to school.

🌈 Steph

 

Orange/Organic/Oregon

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I was so excited on Sunday that I had found a recipe for sugar-free pumpkin bread on one of my favorite cooking blogs.  I had all of the ingredients except for the pumpkin purée.  I tried every single store in Muswell Hill, but no one had pumpkin.  Some people even looked at me funny when I asked about it.  The lady at Holland and Barrett said, “We have pumpkin seeds?”

I quickly got on the phone and asked Andrew to grab a couple of cans in the US and bring them home.  He brought this organic, local pumpkin from Corvallis which made a really nice pumpkin bread.  Is it still “local” if you put it in a suitcase and bring it to London?

🌈 Steph

 

Blue: Tennis cake

 

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Believe it or not, a Tennis Cake is a thing.  It was an elaborate Victorian Cake made with a fruit cake base and a marzipan and fondant topping.  I saw this cake for the first time on the Great British Bake Off as the technical challenge:

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When I first made this cake, it was for the Australian Open, which has blue tennis courts.  In addition, although I love the GBBO, I usually hate their recipes because in order to make such elaborate things, they often sacrifice flavor.  No one wants a big mouthful of fondant icing ever, but especially on top of a fruit cake.  So I made a few adjustments.

The fruit cake recipe I used is from Christopher Kimball’s The Desert Bible. This is my old standby dessert cookbook.  Everything in there is perfect.  Now, I hate fruit cake, I think it’s super nasty.  I always think I’m going to like it and then I don’t.  I have to say, this fruitcake was amazing.  It was moist, boozy, and had this amazing sort of bread pudding texture I can’t quite describe.  I also discovered that treacle is molasses.  I’ve always wondered what that was ever since I first saw Alice in Wonderland.

The next amendment I made to the original is I decided to build the tennis court out of marzipan instead of fondant.  Although fondant would have looked smoother and been easier to work with, marzipan just tastes so good.  And I dyed it blue.

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I did make some fondant to create the yellow and green stripes on the sides and I used royal icing to make the tennis net and the lines on the court.

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Today is the men’s final of the US Open, which, you guessed it, now has a blue court as well!  If you’re feeling super motivated, you can make one in Wawrika’s honor.  Go Stan!

I’m thinking green coconut icing for Wimbledon and cocoa dusting for French Open…

P.S.  It took me three weeks to think of a post associated with blue.  If I’m going to keep this up, I need your help!  Post a comment about blue things you see in your life.

Love,

Steph

Cro “yay!” tia

I have had my sights set on spending eight glorious days on the tiny island of Vis for seven months, and it finally happened!  We have taken quite the hiatus from traveling over the last year, deciding only to go to places nearby on train and in the UK.  We were looking for a vacation that didn’t involve sightseeing or cities, plus one of us doesn’t like sitting on the beach (hint: it isn’t me) and so we went this island to have a different kind of experience.

The Food

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Of course I just assumed I was going to get food poisoning, since I got it 2 out of the last 4 times whilst traveling south of the English Channel.  So I decided to try and combat my fears and just ignore everything and eat anywhere.  Would Croatia’s hygiene standards outperform that of Greece and one particular restaurant (Bobbyland) in Malta?

The answer is yes!  From home-tinned fish to deep fried sardines to octopus cooked over five hours under a domed lid, we had some of the best eating experiences in Croatia that we’ve had traveling.  On the third night, we were picked up by van and taken to a Vineyard called Roki’s.  There they have courtyard dining in a beautiful setting.  We got there early and so the chef showed us how he had prepared out meal.  (This is not the greatest photo because the fire was so hot I could barely take a picture!)

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Another amazing food experience was the Fisherman’s Festival, which happened on the second to last night of our visit.  They were selling wine for the equivalent of £1 per glass and they were giving away FREE fried anchovy sandwiches!  Here a picture of the event getting set up.

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The Car

Renting a car for one day cost the equivalent of £40.  We were able to drive all around the island and hike from the road down to some pretty amazing beaches.  The one that really stood out for me was Stiniva, voted Europe’s best beach of the year.  Basically, it is a little cove surrounded by high limestone walls and it’s tiny beach is speckled with many tourists.  There are also many people swimming to the beach from their yachts.  However, by the time we got there, it was 5pm and the beach was in the shade.  People were leaving.  By 6:30 we were the last people there and we had the beach all to ourselves!

Another touristy spot that we had to hit was The Green Cave.  We were reluctant to go to this, given that the guidebook said it was crowded, but for £20 we got a ride out to the cave and we’re glad we did:

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The pictures don’t do it justice, but that’s me swimming and the water is bluish green.

Vis Town

The best thing about Vis is where we stayed.  We were at a airBNB for seven nights and it was comfortable.  Our host, Miro cooked us a very fresh and amazing dinner one night while we chatted about many things.  We had his homemade wine from his vineyard and for dessert, Ustipci.  Ustipci are fried dough balls that we just called “Balls of Vis” when we were there because we could not read, understand, or pronounce any Croatian.  But our hosts thought that was really funny.

The Kayak

I have never been so close to real exhaustion and dehydration as I was on the day we rented kayaks.  First of all, kayaks are kind of gross.  You sit in a pool of water all day and risk getting swamp butt.  The paddles are double sided and you get splashed in the face by others kayaking around you.  They’re so heavy you need two people to lift them.  You can flip apparently, but why would you want to?  I am still 100% on the side of canoes.  I want to stay relatively dry and I like sitting up and getting lots of power from my strokes…but that’s for another time.

Kayaking in Croatia was cool!  If you look at the map below and find Komiza, we kayaked south of there, around the tip and to where it says Bili Rat.

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Bili Rat is amazing.  It was by far the best beach that I’ve been to.  It had rocks for climbing, a cave to swim to, and beautiful water.  I have no pictures from there because I was having so much fun.  Notice how there are no roads?  That allowed for us to be pretty much alone, except for a kayak guide and his 30 charges who pulled into the beach shortly after us.  You might think it was annoying, but it wasn’t.  He was very concerned about us paddling against the wind and current on the way back, to the point where he left us his outrageously long phone number to call him just in case we needed to paddle to the other town and get picked up.

I’m here to tell you that we did paddle back against the wind.  At times it was totally manageable.  We sang sea shanties and were able to paddle back at a nice pace.  Then we ran out of water.  Then it got really hot.  Then there were lots of waves.  We could see the town in view, but it was so far.  It was like paddling on a treadmill.  It also felt really urgent because of the gathering of storm clouds coming over the mountain.  At one point I started laughing hysterically for no reason.  I think I was on the brink of dehydration.

When we returned to town and told people what we had done, no one could believe it!  People were abhorred and concerned we were going to lose weight while on holiday.  I mean it was hard, but it wasn’t that bad.  Is no one on this island in shape enough to do anything?  I mean, we also rented bikes one day and everyone told us it was “not possible” to ride outside of the harbor area because it was too steep.  I’m not even kidding that Andrew biked over the mountain in like ten minutes.

Rainbow Roundup

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Drink RED wine from the region.  There are several vineyards on Vis and they’re all very different.  Get in the car and taste them out!

 

citroenRent an ORANGE car.  No one cares what kind of damage you do to these cars.  I can testify to this as Andrew rammed ours into a cement wall leaving two huge marks, which none even cared about or noticed for that matter.  They’re beat up, but they will get you from place to place.

ustipciTry the Balls of Vis!  YELLOWish fried dough balls + plus powdered sugar +Nutella=midnight snack under the stars.

Check out the GREEN Cave.  Charter a little boat or if you are a masochist, hire a kayak.  You can go swimming in the cave.  But quick!  Take pictures before too many boats come in!

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Spend time skinny dipping in the BLUE waters of the FKKs.  Croatia has so many nude beaches, you might as well drop trow and jump in!

Drive to the top of the hill and watch the PURPLE sunset.

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🌈  Steph

 

 

Holm Sweet Holm

Well done, Scandanavia…Again!  All of our best travel experiences have been to Scandanavia and this is the best one yet!  The island of Bornholm is a small island in the Baltic sea, about 1.5 hours by ferry from Sweden and Germany.  So it’s really in the middle there.  There’s something so special about these island communities that are not easily accessed (think Vancouver Island).  Just far enough to have its own identity and just large enough to have a culture and flourishing community, Bornholm is full of wonderful people, sweeping vistas, white sandy beaches, dense forests, and plenty of smoked meats and fish to go around.  What’s even better is that it’s probably not on your list of places to go, which means a more affordable and non-touristy vacation for us.  In fact, when we were waiting out a rainstorm at a hot dog kiosk this guy said, “Are you American?!  I think we had Americans here before…How did you even find this place?” Yes, it was awesome.

Bornholm in rainbow order:

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Red bikes.  We rented bikes for the entire week and spent every day biking for hours and hours.  We pedaled through rolling hills overlooking the sea, through old growth forests with hidden deer, along the coast, past windmills and round churches, and through quaint towns.  Even though we were barely able to walk every night, there was something really satisfying about knowing we had spent the whole day getting around without a car.  Plus, coasting down those hills at sunset was breath taking!

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Orange fire.  We rented a small cabin in the forest at Balka Beach from an AirB&B host.  Each morning I was the first to wake up and I would go out on the porch and sit in the sun with my tea journaling.  White/pied wagtails and a willow warbler visited me every morning.  Don’t be deceived by the pictures though:  it was cold!  At night we had roaring fires, so hot we needed to open the windows!  Andrew and Scott played chess by the fire and it was super Hygge.

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Yellow rocks.  One of the days we went to Svaneke, a little harbor town with beautiful coastline that you can walk along.  After a nice meal at the Rogeri, we climbed on the rocks, basked in the sun, and dreamed of opening a commune on this island!

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Green hillsides.  The whole island of Bornholm was lush and green, providing rolling green hillsides.  When you’re on a bike, it seems like everything is uphill, but with the surrounding scenery, it was magical!  The best day on bikes was this day (pictured here).  We rode for hours through an ancient forest to the center of the island where there is a farmhouse.  There is a restaurant where you can order, you guessed it, smoked meats.  While we were eating, the owner came out to talk to us and explained his process of meat smoking.  What an amazing place, you can read about it here.

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Blue sea.  This was not at all what I was expecting.  I thought the Baltic Sea  would look grey and foreboding.  However, it looks clear, blue, and tropical.  The beaches have white sand.  In fact, if you have an hour glass, chances are the sand inside of it comes from Bornholm.  It’s so soft and clean.  We biked to Dueodde beach (we just went with “dude” beach) and found a sand dune to lie in to protect us from the wind.

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Purple skies.  One of the coolest places to watch birds was along the bike path leading into town from our cabin.  There were always at least three cormorants drying their wings on the rocks offshore.  We always happened to be biking by near twilight when the sky was purply and the water was calm, reflecting the light.  I know, it doesn’t look purple in this picture.

In case you’re not convinced yet, click on the gallery below to see more pictures of our amazing trip.  Note:  if the photos seem better quality to you this time it’s because there were all taken by Scott Hardingham.  Andrew and I need to get a better camera!

Rainbow Grocery Run

I’ve been wanting to talk about grocery stores in London for a long time, because it’s something that has actually been quite a shift since moving here.  Where is the cornmeal to make cornbread?  Why do all vegetables come wrapped in styrofoam and plastic?  Why do all of the farmer’s markets have the same ten vendors?

When it comes down to it, nothing beats Portland grocery stores and farmer’s markets with free shopping carts, the option of paper bags, and the amazing quality of fruits and vegetables.  But after much searching, we have found an adequate substitute while living here:  Swiss Cottage Grocers on Finchley Road.  I successfully went to the store this morning and bought al of these fruits and vegetables without any plastic wrap, or any wrapping at all, plus all of my teas, nuts, canned goods, and grains for the week.  Each week we go stock up and only spend around 30 pounds.  Also, there is never anyone else in the store, except the friendly woman who works there.  All of the produce comes from New Covent Garden, which is where all of the produce for the city comes from.

I always get sad on Sundays when I see people walking down the street with about 20 plastic bags from Waitrose or Sainsbury’s.  So if you’re looking for an alternative to the big chains and you’re tired of filling up your garbage with excess plastic wrap when you come home from the store each week, then check out Swiss Cottage Grocers! You can read more about the owner here.