December 2012 Recipe Roundup

I’m still super far behind in blogging, but I’m going to make my year end post anyway.  I’ll catch up with everything else eventually. 

This post also includes the top visited recipes of the year.  Thank you all for the visits and indulging my hobby.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. 

Most Cooked Recipes
Tetrazzini - 4 Mom’s Chicken - 4 Horseradish Cream Sauce - 3 Molten Chocolate Cakes - 3 Risotto with Currants, Pine Nuts, and Feta Cheese - 3 Grilled Marinated Leg of Lamb - 3

Neat New Recipes
Best Beef Stew

Most Popular Recipes in 2012
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken with Crispy Skin Pan-Seared Cod with Herb Butter Sauce Slow-Roasted Eye Round Roast Beef Egg Pesto Pasta Crunchy Potato Wedges Pan Seared Salmon with Crème Fraîche Marinated Eye Round Steak Marinated London Broil Slow Cooker Lemon and Dill Salmon with Spinach Slow Cooker Honey Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Dijon Pattypan Squash Fritters Smothered Yellow Squash and Zucchini with Chicken, Pasta, and Basil Pasta with Sausage, Basil and Sundried Tomatoes Super-Crusty Grilled Steaks Beef Stroganoff Hamburger Dinner in a Skillet Amatriciana Pasta Bread Machine Sweet Potato Bread (2-Pound Loaf) Chocolate Chai Decadence Cake Bread Machine Olive Oil Bread Crispy Polenta Triangles with Herbed Goat Cheese Sautéed Chicken with Pesto-Mushroom Cream Sauce Slow Cooker BBQ Shredded Beef Sandwiches Best Potluck Macaroni and Cheese Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin Teriyaki Flank Steak with Green Onions Herbed Roast Beef

October/November 2012 Recipe Roundup

Oh my gosh, did I really forget to do this at the end of October?!  Argh.  I blame Hurricane Sandy.  There has been some change in my top most cooked (recipes – Mom’s Chicken has finally been knocked off the top.  Clearly I need to cook it soon so it can reclaim its rightful place!  As you can see from the recipe counts, I’ve been cooking so many new (recipes recently that my old recipe counts haven’t really been increasing!  (I decided to only post the list of (recipes that had a count greater than two.) 

I was surprised to find that I did get a few (recipes posted in October and some of them were fantastic enough that I want to highlight them here.  

Most Cooked Recipes
Tetrazzini - 5
Mom’s Chicken - 4
Molten Chocolate Cakes - 3 Grilled Marinated Leg of Lamb - 3
Less than Salad – 3
Horseradish Cream Sauce – 3

Neat New Recipes
Chicken and Brie Sandwich with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Croque Madame
Greek Cherry Tomato Salad
Grill-Roasted Beef Short Ribs with Mustard Glaze
Kofta Balls with Indian Tomato Sauce
Oslo-Style Kebabs and Kebab Sauces
Slow Cooker Basil Parmesan Chicken Pasta

August/September 2012 Recipe Roundup

As you probably have already figured out, my life has been a bit hectic for the past two months.  I didn’t realize how hectic it had been until I went to gather information for the September Recipe Roundup and found that I’d never done one for August!  Oops.  Thankfully I’ve only got two more events left in my schedule and then I’m done with this random travel for the foreseeable future. 

The most cooked recipe list only has 8 (recipes this time, because every other recipe has only been made a maximum of two times in the last 52 weeks.  Heh. 

Most Cooked Recipes
Mom’s Chicken – 5
Tetrazzini – 5
Bread – 4 (I want to make this again, but I keep forgetting to buy beer.  I found a method of cooking it in the slow cooker that I want to try out!)
Horseradish Cream Sauce – 3
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing – 3
Less than Salad – 3
Chicken Sancoche – 3
Greek Chicken Salad – 3

Neat New Recipes
Cod with Lemon Caper Cream Sauce
Maple Bacon Cookies
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Tangy Barbecue Sauce

July 2012 Recipe Roundup

There’s a little bit of change in the most cooked recipe list, and I actually did post some (recipes in the last month.  A few of them even deserve highlighting!  It has been nice to start to get back on track with both cooking and posting. 

Most Cooked Recipes
Mom’s Chicken - 6
Less than Salad - 5
Tetrazzini - 5
Bread - 4
Hamburger Helper - 3
Aioli - 3
Sweet Potato Fries (I can’t wait for sweet potatoes at the market.) - 3
Horseradish Cream Sauce - 3
Amatriciana - 3
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing - 3

Neat New Recipes
Chard Gratin
Fish Tacos
Lemon Simple Syrup
Zucchini Fritters with Ginger Soy Dip

June 2012 Recipe Roundup

I didn’t actually post a single recipe in June, but I have been cooking!  There won’t be much change in the most cooked recipe list, and I don’t have any neat new (recipes to highlight either.  I’ll share neat June (recipes in the July roundup post. 

Most Cooked Recipes
Mom’s Chicken – 6
Less than Salad – 5
Tetrazzini – 5
Pasta with Sausage, Basil, and Sundried Tomatoes – 4
Bread – 4
Sweet Potato Fries – 3
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing – 3
Aioli – 3
Chicken Sancoche – 3
Greek Chicken Salad – 3

The Norway Diaries - Part Two

This post recounts May 22nd to the 24th.

May 22 Ålesund, Geiranger, Molde
Every evening on the ship, around dinnertime, we were able to pick up an itinerary for the following day.  This was a very nifty service as it would list all of our stops for that day, the sights we would pass, and anything else interesting that was happening.  

We woke up early on our first day for a brief walkabout in Ålesund.  We were only in port for about 45 minutes, so we had time to walk to the closest Narvesen, look for thimbles there, and walk back to the ship.  We did this in quite a few stops since Lance’s mom collects thimbles and it was nice to stretch our legs on land.  


Then we stopped in the dining room for breakfast.  All of our breakfasts were free seating buffets, and we tended to get mostly the same sorts of foods each morning with one or two variations.  


My plates are always the ones with salmon.  


Lance usually opted for sliced meats.  Hard and soft boiled eggs were offered most days and they came with a stack of those little egg cups.  Too cute.  

After breakfast we found the internet lounge and spent a bit of time there connecting with the rest of the world and our various apps.  Some of the newer ships might have wifi throughout, but our ship only had wifi in one lounge at the fore of the ship.  We stopped by once a day usually, to check in with the world at large.  

During the summer months, the Hurtigruten ships are able to go down the Geiranger fjordGeiranger is also the name of the town at the end of the fjord.  The trip from Ålesund to Geiranger took about four hours and we spent most of that time on deck.  I took a ton of pictures.


It’s a gorgeous fjord and the weather was beautiful.  We really lucked out!  


After reaching Geiranger we had lunch.  I had some vegetarian option, potatoes, and a reindeer burger.  


Lance had fish, potatoes, and veggies.  


He also had a slice of this chocolate mousse cake.  


And I think I had this pudding thing – I’m not sure exactly what it was, just that it was tasty.  


I also took a few pictures of our cabin, so you can see how teeny it was!  Don’t let the curtain fool you - there was no window there.


I’m not entirely sure what we did between lunch and dinner.  I have a feeling we took naps.  All that fresh air made us sleepy.  Dinner had fixed seating and our seats were at the end of a table for six.  The other four seats were occupied by two Norwegian couples who seemed to know each other and be traveling together.  Dinner started out with a roll.  


It was a three course meal and our first course was “clipfish bolinhos with ruccola salad.”  (The ship’s crew was kind enough to post a menu daily so that we would know what we were getting.)  This was basically a little fishcake on top of a salad.  


Our second course was “free range chicken with barley risotto.”  I’m not entirely sure it actually was barley, since it seemed an awful lot like rice to me.  There were also lentils and some nice sauce.  The chicken seemed like it had curry seasoning.  Weird flavor combination, but not bad at all.  


Our third course was “panacotta made with Norwegian thick cream.”  The panna cotta had some sort of berry compote on top with whipped cream and a strawberry.  It was delicious.  For our first served meal on the ship, we were quite satisfied.  Prior to our trip Lance read a number of reviews on the experience and it seemed like the number one complaint was about food.   We didn’t have any problems with our meals at all.  


After dinner we spent time back on deck and waved to Ålesund on the way by before stopping briefly at Molde.  There was a marching band waiting for us at port and we enjoyed listening to them play after picking up a thimble for Lance’s mom!  Our stop there was only 30 minutes and then it was back to the ship for the night.  

You can view all the pictures from the day here.  

May 23 Trondheim


We woke up early on the 23rd and had a quick breakfast on ship.  I had salmon, cucumbers, and wasa.  


Lance had eggs, bacon, and bread.  Then we got off in port at Trondheim for our first excursion!  One of the things I was super excited about getting to see was the cathedral (Nidaros) at Trondheim, so we purchased the excursion for that when we booked our voyage.  


Sadly, we weren’t able to take pictures inside the cathedral, but I took quite a few outside.  It was absolutely gorgeous and had at least two organs inside.  Of course, these organs are the “best in Norway.”  

The excursion buses were split up by language which was convenient.  Most of the other people on the boat were German, so German was always offered as a language option, but we also had access to Norwegian, French, and English.  I think we ended up with every language combination at one point or another.  The tour guides at any given location were also split into language groups, so all of our tours were in English.  


From Nidaros, we took the bus to the Ringve Museum.  I had no idea what to expect since we really just signed up in order to see Nidaros, but I think the Ringve was almost better.  It’s a museum dedicated to the preservation of musical instruments and mostly has keyboard instruments.  Each room is dedicated to a musical period (such as Baroque) and our tour guide played a bit of a piece from the period in each room.  It was fascinating to see the evolution of the piano up close and personal, and to get to hear it as well!  We weren’t able to take pictures inside, so you should go and see it for yourself.  


Once back on the ship we had lunch.  This was Lance’s plate, I think that’s a reindeer steak along with potatoes, veggies, and fish.  


I had more salmon!  The lentil salad here was really great but the other thing is a fish casserole that was pretty suboptimal.  


We both had yummy chocolate mousse.  


After lunch we spent time back on deck and took many pictures like this.  Then we took another nap!  Vacations are hard work!  


Our second dinner on the ship started with bread again.  


The first course was “cauliflower soup with shreads of cured ham” and I thought it was quite delicious.  Very nicely flavored.  


The second course was “baked fillet of trout with root vegetables.”This was tasty but I was too chicken to try the mussel.  The fish and sauce was delicious, though.  Sort of like a lemony cream sauce.  


The third course was “chocolate fondant with pear sorbet.”  The red berries are red currants.  I’ve googled “chocolate fondant” and the only thing that comes up is the stuff you coat cakes with, so I think this was translated badly.  It was like a molten chocolate cake only pretty small and not so molten.  The pear sorbet reminded me of green apple Jolly Ranchers.  Both were delicious.

After dinner we spent some more time on deck before getting off in Rørvik.  We picked up a thimble, I fell and hurt myself, and then we got back on the ship and spent the rest of the evening in the cabin since I was in pain.  Oops.  

You can view all the pictures from the day here.  

May 24 Bodø, Lofoten


We decided to sleep in this day and skip breakfast.  We hung out in the internet lounge until the dining hall was open for lunch and we ate a quick meal before getting off the ship in Bodø.  Lance had pasta with sauce.  


I had a fish cake, some broccoli casserole, and more cucumbers with feta.  Yum.  


We wandered around Bodø a bit since it was a two and a half hour stop.  We picked up a wrist brace and wandered through the town center and shopping mall.  We had initially planned to get our second meal of the day in Bodø, but we weren’t hungry.  We ended up getting sandwiches from the ship’s café a bit later.  (We were having a late dinner, so we had to space our meals out differently this day.)  


We spent some time on deck after lunch before disembarking in Stamsund for our second pre-booked excursion – The Viking Feast.  


This was another excursion where we had no idea what to expect and were pleasantly surprised.  The bus ride to the Lofotr Viking Museum was about 45 minutes and our guide told us about the sites we passed as well as the history of Lofoten and the history of Vikings in the area.  It was fascinating and we learned quite a bit!  


Once at the Viking Museum we were greeted by the chief and his family.  


Our meal consisted of lamb, barley, parsnips, carrots, sour cream, lingonberry jam, and bread.  I ate about half of this before I was too full to eat any more!


And mead…


It was quite a lot of fun and we had enjoyable entertainment from the chief and his family.  We even did a quick circle dance at the end!  


Then it was back on the bus to Svolvær where we met up with the ship again.  More gorgeous scenery on the way – Lance was especially impressed by the mountains!  

Once back on the ship we camped out in the glass house on the aft deck.  I think there’s a picture of that later.  Sadly, it started to rain so I wasn’t able to get any pictures, but this was the first bad weather we had the entire trip.  We were on deck until shortly after midnight in order to see Trollfjorden.  Imagine a very narrow fjord that requires the ship to make numerous 90- and 180-degree turns.  It was fairly scary to me and made me wonder what on earth the captain was thinking.  There were times I thought we were going to run into the sides of the cliffs.  We didn’t… but we did get cups of delicious, hot vegetable soup to warm us up.  

Then we zonked out in the cabin.  I noted in my journal that “time sure is strange here.”  Even at midnight it was still light enough outside to see easily.  

You can view all the pictures from the day here.  

Begin with The Norway Diaries - Part One Continue with The Norway Diaries - Part Three

The Norway Diaries - Part Three

This post recounts May 25th to the 27th.

May 25 Tromsø


This is probably the point where I have completely lost all time sense.  It’s funny how vacations will do that to a person!  Lance had his usual breakfast. 


And I had mine. 

King Neptune

Then we met King Neptune up on deck.  We opted out of the “arctic baptism” since getting ice cold water down our backs was unappealing! 


We did get off the ship for a brief walk at Finnsnes before lunch.  Lance had fish in various forms and potato patties. 


I also had fish and potatoes in various forms as well as cucumbers and feta.  We ate next to a very proper London couple and talked about cheese.  This was the first time since being on the ship that I’d gotten to talk with anyone other than Lance and it was quite nice! 


I also had a slice of cake.  It was sort of like a carrot cake but more almondy. 


We made port in Tromsø around 2:30pm and the weather was pretty gross, cold, and wet.  But we figured out the city bus system and took a ride over to the Arctic Cathedral a.k.a., Tromsdalen Church, Tromsdalen Kirke, or Ishavskatedralen.  It’s not actually a cathedral, just a very gorgeous church. 


Along with Nidaros in Trondheim, it was the place I was most excited to see. 


It’s pretty tiny inside but has a gorgeous stained glass mosaic on one end. 


And this stunning organ on the other end.  The organist was there and playing, which was lovely! 


Then, because we are dumb, we decided to take the cable car up to the top of Tromsø.  We didn’t see much and thought we were going to blow off the cable at one point!  (In this pictures you can see our ship on the far left and the Arctic Cathedral on the far right.)


Once back to ground level, we saw the other church in Tromsø and did some souvenir shopping at a huge souvenir store.  Then it was back to the ship for the evening. 


Our dinner roll. 


The first course was a very lovely “green pea soup with bacon and cream.” 


The second course was “grilled stock fish with potato puree, Sauce Porto and bacon.”  This was the first meal that we saw many others have an issue with.  You see, stockfish is something we learned about on the bus back in Lofoten.  It’s basically cod that is hung to dry for some months.  It is then either turned into lutefisk or rehydrated to cook “as normal.”  It was fairly bland and had a much chewier texture than fresh cod, but both Lance and I thought it was palatable and even a bit tasty.  It wasn’t a bad dish by any means, just a bit strange.  I think we were happier with it since we knew what it was and its importance to the region.  (It’s funny how knowing where your food comes from can increase satisfaction, eh?) 


For dessert we had “cheesecake served with forest berry compot.”  I’m surprised that the description didn’t mention lemon considering the top half of the “cheesecake” was lemon!  It was scrumptious and we both loved it. 

After dinner, since it was too gross to be out on deck, we hung out in the internet lounge.  We ended up chatting with the other young couple on the ship!  (Most people on the ship were significantly older than we were, so this other couple had stood out to us when we’d seen them, we just weren’t outgoing enough to make first contact.)  We stayed up much too late and had a really wonderful time talking together.  Lance and I both wished that we had sought them out sooner! 

You can view all the pictures from the day here

May 26 Nordkapp


Lance had his usual breakfast. 


And I had mine.  For someone who has only come to like cucumber in the last four years, I sure did eat a lot of it while on the ship.


We landed in Honningsvåg around noon and joined our third pre-booked excursion of the trip.  This time it was off to Nordkapp for about three and a half hours! 


The weather was gross, again, but we did it anyway!  We even saw a Sami chieftain with his reindeer on the way. 


We tried not to blow off the cape itself and then enjoyed the 20 minute movie that showed us how lovely the cape would have looked if the weather had been nice. 


Once back on the ship we got a demonstration from a cod fisherman which was fascinating and disgusting all at the same time.  We ran into our new German friends, Philip and Christina, and decided to sit together at dinner since it was a seafood buffet with free seating. 


Sadly, I had to leave dinner shortly after sitting down since I started to experience my first seasickness of the trip, but Lance had a few plates full of seafood and a great time talking with our new friends.  Once he was back in the cabin we packed our stuff up (since our bags had to be in the hallway by midnight) and called it a night. 

You can view all the pictures from the day here

May 27 Kirkenes, Russian border


We woke up super early since we had to be out of our rooms by 8am.  I was feeling much better in the morning and had breakfast of bread, salmon, and eggs. 


Lance had eggs and bacon.  We hung out in the internet lounge until we made port in Kirkenes since it was much too cold to be out on deck!

The time on the ship was super informative and educational.  We really hadn’t expected much and just thought it would be a neat way to see the country.  It was that and so much more.  I’m glad we did as many excursions as we did, since it was great to have a knowledgeable tour guide in the places we had never been.  My only qualm about the entire experience is that it was clearly geared toward older folks, but the ship itself wasn’t very accessible in terms of getting around on board or even getting into that top bunk to sleep.  Perhaps the newer Hurtigruten ships have better accessibility? 

That said, we had a really wonderful time and we’re both so glad we decided to go the water route instead of the land route.  I’m not sure we’ll ever do this again, but I’m glad we got to do it once. 


Once in Kirkenes, we joined up with the only excursion we booked on the ship.  Lance had wanted to take the pictured ATVs to the Russian border, but we compromised and took a bus instead. 


The bus took us through the teeny town of Kirkenes…


And then to the Russian border.  We were able to wave at Russia and buy thimbles but, of course, we couldn’t enter without visas. 


While bussing around we saw this great bus shelter.  It looks like a huge bear claw and is hoodlum-resistant. 


We checked into our room at the Thon Hotel after the excursion.  We relaxed a bit and tried to get used to being on land again!  The town of Kirkenes is teeny, so we decided to have dinner at the hotel where we had this great view of the harbor. 


Our meal started off with an “amuse” of cauliflower soup.  It was really a bowl of soup, not just an amuse, and it was great. 


Our waiter served us slices of foccacia bread. 


As well as butter, oil and vinegar, and flake salt to dip the bread in. 


Since I hadn’t know about the cauliflower soup and was in a soup mood, I ordered a bowl of creamy mushroom soup.  It was huge and scrumptious.  Just what I wanted. 


My main course was salmon with hazelnut cream sauce, asparagus, and potato puree.  Every bite was perfect. 


Lance got entrecote with potatoes, broccoli, and pepper sauce.  Sorry about the picture – he took it!  This was the first steak he’d had in a while, so he was very happy with it.  Then we went to the local Narvesen for thimbles and ice cream.  This meal was surprisingly grand.  We didn’t have high hopes for a hotel meal in a little teeny town and were very impressed. 


And we learned that you should not set fire to people in elevators. 

You can view all the pictures from the day here

Begin with The Norway Diaries - Part One Continue with The Norway Diaries - Part Four

The Norway Diaries - Part One

Lance and I recently had the opportunity to spend two and a half weeks in Norway.  We had two main goals for our trip – see/meet his family and see the country – and I’m happy to say that we completed both goals with great success!  I’ll be sharing the tales of our travels with you in chronological order and there will even be pictures of food.

This post recounts May 14th to the 21st. 

May 14 Leaving on a Jet Plane
Lance and I left in the afternoon on the 14th.  It was an 8 hour flight from IAD to AMS followed by a 4 hour layover in AMS before a 2 hour flight to OSL.  International flights actually involve quite a lot of food, but I didn’t take pictures of any of it.  The highlight of the flight, at least for me, was the ginger ale made with sugar instead of HFCS. 

Once we got to AMS, we had a nice lunch at a Mediterranean sandwich place.  My sandwich was smoked salmon and a sign of things to come.  I ate a whole lot of smoked salmon on this trip.  Lance had a chicken sandwich. 

I really like the sandwiches we had on our trip and I wish I had thought to take pictures of them.  They were on long, thin rolls, sort of like baguettes, and panini-pressed.  As a result, they had grill lines and a nice, crisp exterior.  Most of the ones we had were chicken with some sort of pesto-type sauce.  Delicious. 

May 15 Strømmen
We arrived in OSL on the 15th and Lance’s mom picked us up from the airport after we successfully made it through customs.  We were whisked away to Lance’s parents’ house and I got my first glimpses of Norway.  The road between the airport and Strømmen has lots of farmland, so it felt quite a bit like home just with more roundabouts. 

Once we got to the house, had a tour, and spent some time catching up with Lance’s mom, the two of us headed into town.  The house is a few blocks away from the town, the bus station, and the train station, so it’s at a great location – walking distance to everything.  I’ve never lived anywhere that has been walking distance to anything!  We walked briefly around the local mall to try to get a sim card for our old iPhone before checking out the grocery store.  I took my first picture of this box of frozen whale steaks.  We also picked up a package of horse sausage, something I’d been interested in trying for a while, before heading back to the house. 

whale steaks

Shortly after getting back, Lance’s dad arrived home and we feasted on Lance’s favorite stroganoff which is made with strips of beef and a red sauce.  I have a recipe that’s sort of similar, but his mom’s version is a bit different.  Sadly, she’s one of those amazing cooks who doesn’t use (recipes.  I envy people like her!  We stayed up and chatted with Lance’s parents for a bit and I went to bed super early.  I can’t sleep on planes, so I was exhausted.  I slept for about 12 hours straight, best sleep I’d had in months. 

May 16 Oslo
After a good night of sleep, and a lovely breakfast of eggs, meats, and breads, Lance and his dad headed back to the mall to get the sim card for the phone.  Then the four of us headed into Oslo for a day of sightseeing.  We took the bus into the main terminal in the city and then, aside from a quick tram ride, we walked.

opera house

We started off at the Opera House which is a fantastic modern building with a flat roof that you can walk all over. 


From there we headed to Parliament,


the Palace,

fort america

and the American Embassy.


Then we went to one of the places I was most looking forward to seeing – Vigeland Park!  It was super impressive.  Vigeland was a master of bronze casting as well as stone carving. 


After the park we wandered back to the bus terminal via a few other sites such as the courthouse

Then it was just a short bus trip home for a fantastic “Christmas Dinner.”  The meal consisted of some sort of (mostly) boneless pork ribs, sausage, meatballs, boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam, sauerkraut, and gravy.  It was all delicious and homemade.  Super enjoyable and a great end to the day. 

You can view all the pictures from the day here

May 17 Oslo
This is an important day of the year for Norwegians – Constitution Day!  Schools throughout the country have children’s parades to celebrate and many people dress up in traditional dress (Bunad) to celebrate.  Since we were close to Oslo, we got to go into the city to see the celebration.  Lance’s dad drove us into the city and we spent the day with him watching the parade while Lance’s mom stayed home and prepared for the feast and party to follow.


The crowds of the day were quite a change from the calm of the day before. 


We even had a view of the royal family in front of the palace!

some meats

Once the parade wrapped up we headed back to the house via metro and car, then the party began!  Company started arriving and I met all of Lance’s family in one fell swoop – Lance’s brother and his partner, Lance’s sister, her partner, and their three children, and Lance’s godparents.  Everyone was fantastic and super welcoming to both of us.  We had a delicious smorgasbord of cold meats, bread, lots of salmon,


and wonderful desserts. 

You can view all the pictures from the day, including more food pictures, here

May 18 Holmenkollbakken, Viking Ship Museum, Kon-Tiki Museum
On the 18th, Lance’s parents were kind enough to drive us around the area near Oslo.  We went to visit the area that Lance grew up in which was a pretty great little community complete with store and school.  His parents were fantastic tour guides and it was neat to see where Lance spent his youth.

ski jump

From there, we visited the first of two ski jumps for the trip – Holmenkollbakken.  It has hosted the Olympics as well as many other tournaments. 

Viking Ships

Then we drove to the Viking Ship Museum!  Apparently there have been talks to move this museum, but the ships would crumble if an attempt were made to move them.  I was very impressed by the level of detail in the carving that is still visible today. 

kon tiki

After the Viking Ships, we visited the Kon-Tiki Museum.  It has vessels from the Kon-Tiki expedition and was quite fascinating and inspiring. 

Once back at the house we had a dinner of leftovers from the previous day’s party.  I was forced to finish off the salmon.  Poor me! 

You can view all the pictures from the day here.  (It seems like the more pictures I have on a day, the less I have to say about it.  I guess pictures really do speak a thousand words.) 

May 19 Cabin, Lillehammer
Lance’s parents own a cabin that’s about a two hour drive away from their house.  It was built by Lance’s grandpa back before there were roads to the area, so he had to float the materials in by boat.  It was cozy and lovely.  We spent a few hours there and had a picnic lunch. 


The view from the deck was stellar.


After lunch we headed over to Lillehammer and saw another ski jump!  This one even had an Olympic Torch. 

Lance’s mom made us delicious spaghetti for dinner.  Yum.  Then we packed up everything to be ready for our train ride the next day. 

You can view all the pictures from the day here

May 20 Train to Bergen
Lance’s dad dropped us, and our bags, off at the train station so we could catch a ride to Bergen.  Lance had gotten us first class tickets so we had great seats with plenty of leg room and endless free hot chocolate.  The trip was about 8 hours long and I took a ton of pictures. 


Most of them look like this.


But some of them look like Hoth, because this is where Hoth was filmed. 

We saw tons of beautiful scenery and it was an easy trip and fun way to cross the country on the way to Bergen.  Once we got to Bergen it was about a 10 block walk from the terminal to the hotel, all uphill.  All of Bergen is uphill, regardless of where you’re walking to and from.  This is because the city is between seven mountains.  It’s pretty ridiculous.  My leg muscles were pretty happy for a break once we got to the hotel. 

After settling in, we went to dinner at a local place called Zupperia that was recommended to us by hotel reception.


I had a delicious stag steak with veggies and rice.


Lance had chicken skewers.  All of our food was scrumptious and enjoyable. 

You can view all the pictures from the day here

May 21 Bergen


After a good night of sleep, we had breakfast at the hotel.  Most of our breakfasts in Norway were fairly simple – meats and/or eggs and breads.


We stowed our bags in the bag check room and then wandered around Bergen during the day.  We started off at the fish market, and then went up in the Fløibanen which is a funicular to Fløyen.  I’d never been in a funicular before, nor had I even heard the word before!  We had amazing views of the city from the top of the mountain. 

cable car

After that, we went to Ulriksbanen and took the cable car to the top of Ulriken, another mountain.  Ulriken is about twice as high as Fløyen, so we had even more amazing views of the city. 


Once back in the city we did a little bit of gift shopping before heading over to the Hurtigruten terminal to check it out.  Since we still had a little bit of time to kill, and needed to get our bags, we went back to the hotel to take advantage of the free internet before it was time to board our ship, the Vesterålen.


After we were able to board we checked out our cabin, unpacked a bit, and had our first dinner on ship.  This was a buffet and had free seating.  Then it was time to watch the ship leave port at Bergen and attend a meeting with our tour guide, Egbert, to tell us about the ship and the excursions offered. 

I should probably explain a bit about the whole ship thing.  We had initially planned on seeing the country like Americans – from a car.  However, many months out, Lance mentioned this plan to his parents and they convinced us that Norwegian roads are horrible and we shouldn’t subject ourselves to them.  They suggested that we book passage on the Hurtigruten instead. 

Now I’m not a huge fan of ships, oceans, or sharks but I felt it would be okay as we would always be able to see the shore.  Having never been on a ship for more than a trip around Annapolis, I also made sure we had Dramamine.  Just in case. 

The Hurtigruten isn’t like a cruise ship, as Egbert was happy to tell us.  There would be no karaoke. Instead, we would have lots of beautiful scenery, many ports, and excursions available daily.  The Hurtigruten is sort of like a cargo ship that just happens to have cabins for people as well.  It stops in a number of ports each day, most for no more than 45 minutes, and has a longer stop each day in a major city.  

Our meeting the first day briefed us on the rules of the ship and told us about how booking excursions would work.  We had booked three excursions prior to boarding, but I’ll get to those on the day they happened.  We also received a copy of a book written about the Hurtigruten experience and Egbert told us our experience would be enhanced by reading it cover to cover.  I tried, but ended up just skimming it and then using it as a reference as needed. 

You can view all the pictures from the day here.

Continue with The Norway Diaries - Part Two.

The Norway Diaries - Part Four

This post recounts May 28th to the 31st.

May 28 Kirkenes
We were able to take it easy the morning of the 28th because we had nothing to do until meeting the bus to the airport around 2pm.  We had a leisurely breakfast buffet at the hotel and just relaxed in our room until we had to check out. 


I only took one picture this day.  The view from the hotel lobby where we continued to relax until it was time to meet the bus to the airport.  Once at the airport, we relaxed more because security was actually closed until 6pm.  Once through it was more waiting until we boarded our plane around 8pm.  We had “lunch” at the Narvesen in the airport once we were through security.  I actually like the Narvesen sandwiches.  Ours were chicken with some sort of pesto on small baguettes that were then pressed in a sandwich press.  Quite tasty for convenience store food! 

Lance’s parents picked us up at the airport and we had Grandiosa for a late-night dinner before bed. 

May 29 Oslo

Our vacation was drawing to an end at this point but we still slept in a little due to the super late night the day before.  Lance’s mom made us a great breakfast of eggs and bacon and then we headed into Oslo for the day. 


We took the bus which went past Maaemo, the restaurant we ate dinner at the following night.  Then we went to the mall to hunt down a VGA cable for Lance’s parents’ TV and saw lots of “Bielebers.” 


We met up with Lance’s brother at the best movie theater in Oslo and saw Men in Black 3D.  I wanted to see churches on our trip – Lance wanted to see a movie at his favorite theater. 

Back at the house we had a lovely, simple dinner of “eggs and stuff.”  I think the “stuff” included salmon.  Yum.  Then we did a slideshow for Lance’s parents with the VGA cable we had acquired earlier.  They were happy to see all of our pictures and I was happy to see how many of them had turned out nicely! 

You can view all the pictures from the day here

May 30 Maaemo

We spent a fair portion of this day hanging out with Lance’s parents at the house just chatting and watching TV off and on. 


The trial of Anders Behring Breivik was going on so the TV looked like this for most of the day.  Filming isn’t allowed inside the courthouse, so they’ve got a live text feed along with a picture of the outside of the courthouse. 

Then we went to Maaemo for dinner, but that deserves its own post with a ton of pictures!  I’ll be making the Maaemo post by the end of June.  Or else. 

You can view all the pictures from the day here

May 31 Strømmen

The last day of May was also our last day in Norway.  We left the house super early on the first of June.  For our last day in Norway, we enjoyed the day with Lance’s parents, packed, and wandered around Strømmen a bit. 


We had kebabs for lunch – apparently these are an “Oslo Thing.”  It was HUGE and had tons of stuff in it.  White sauce, red sauce, kebab meat, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, and maybe other things I’ve forgotten.  It was served in a paper cone with pita at the bottom and I ate every since delicious bite. 


For dinner, Lance’s mom made whale!  (Lance had asked her too when we were there before the voyage and she was happy enough to do so.)  The preparation was kind of like stroganoff and served with potatoes and vegetables.  The meat was tasty, sort of like cow in flavor and texture.  It was neat to get to experience this traditional Norwegian food! 

You can view all the pictures from the day here

The End
And that, as they say, is that.  We spent almost three weeks in Norway and had a really wonderful time.  Aside from the last three days of our voyage, the weather was gorgeous the whole time.  Lance’s family was amazingly kind and generous – we could not have asked for better hosts during our time in the Oslo area.  I sincerely hope that we’re able to get back some day. 

Thanks for reading and keep your eyes peeled for the Maaemo post

Begin with The Norway Diaries - Part One

May 2012 Recipe Roundup

I know I didn’t cook much in May because I was gone for almost three weeks!  There was still one recipe that was particularly tasty, so I’ll share that here.  I only cooked three new (recipes in the entire month.  This will not be the case in June!

Most Cooked Recipes
Mom’s Chicken – 6
Bread – 5
Less Than Salad – 5
Tetrazzini – 5
Pasta with Sausage, Basil, and Sundried Tomatoes – 4
Hamburger Helper – 3
Horseradish Cream Sauce – 3
Hummus – 3
Sweet Potato Fries – 3
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing – 3

Neat New Recipe
Shanghai Chicken Salad