Thursday, October 31, 2013

I'm addicted

Many of you know of my 'slight' addiction to tabouli made with quinoa… I cannot stop eating it - breakfast (gasp!), lunch, snack time, with dinner. The addiction is so bad that I now make it every week. Who would've thought I'd trade chocolate for this? I know what you're' thinking: "But what about Reese's Peanut Butter cups?" Sit down… I'm about to say… I don't eat them anymore. (Wendy - get up off the floor.)

So many have asked for the recipe that I thought I'd blog it for posterity. If you make it and don't like it, which I think is impossible, then call me. I'll come get it and eat it. (Denyc - this is not to be used as a trick to get me to Oregon.)

For all my GF sisters - you know who you are - and especially for Jen and Lejla, here it is:

You'll need:

quinoa (any color or flavor) - super food, high in protein, iron, fiber, magnesium (eat it all the time!)
tomatoes - your favorites or whatever is freshest - high in Vitamin C, low in sugar, anti-carcinogen
cucumber - I use 'seedless' English - high in B vitamins, fights insulin, good source of silica
parsley - mix it up - very high in Vit. C & K, and crazy high in iron
garlic - high in Vit. C & B6, helps absorb iron, lowers blood pressure
lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
olive oil

Cook the quinoa (2 parts water/1 part quinoa) for 15 minutes, let it rest, covered, for 5 more minutes, then cool it in the fridge. (Don't you just love these healthy little suckers?)

Halve, then seed your cucumbers. (Why do we call it 'seeding' when we are actually de-seeding?) I use a spoon to just scoop down the center. Easy.

Next, chop the cucumbers any way you'd like. This is not about accuracy, my friends. This about getting everything in the bowl so you can eat it.

Next, start cutting your tomatoes. I prefer to seed them so the mix isn't too wet before we add the dressing. However, when I use grape tomatoes, like I did this time, I regret this extra little step. About halfway through, I remember why this step is so tedious. Using larger tomatoes makes this so much easier, but, alas…

…They're so gorgeous, and juicy, and healthy, and cute. I cave every time.  Just chop them and add them. Easy shmeezy (is that a word?).

Chop and add the parsley. I use whatever kind of fresh parsley I have on hand. This is a simple, no fuss, no measure recipe.

And, now for the dressing… fresh, citrusy, tart, garlicky - yum.  Pour 1 part EVOO (or any light oil, if you're not into heavy dressings) to 2 parts lemon juice. If you're using fresh lemons, you'll want to squeeze them first to see how much juice you have before adding the oil.  (Remember - no measuring here. Just eye ball it into a Pyrex bowl. Lastly, crush your fresh garlic into the bowl and mix.

Pour it on, mix it up, and voila! Done! Ready to eat!

I'm showing you the finished product in a little serving bowl (of which I ate 3 helpings), but I confess to having to taste it, a few times, right out of the mixing bowl. What can I say? I told you I'm addicted…

Enjoy! And don't blame me if you eat too much of it - it's all good, right?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

From LAS to DTW to IAD to ADD to DTW to FLL but not back (yet)

Friends like to give me a hard time about traveling so much. I, honestly, don't know how all the travel happens, but I'm glad it does. If you really know me, you know I am the Queen of Cheap when it comes to travel. I have a certain price in mind whenever we book, and if I can't get that price, we don't go. We try to plan in advance, and, because of that, trips often collide when an opportunity comes up quickly. 

Two weeks ago, we enjoyed a free trip Las Vegas compliments of Hilton. We appreciated their offer and hotel and used the location to visit Red Rock Canyon, the Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon. Watching the expression on my engineering husband's face when he looked over the Dam was priceless... And that Canyon is still Grand. Deciding to stay on East Coast time meant we were awake later than usual and up before anyone else in Vegas except those still coming in from the previous night out.  We're just too old for that...

Our next scheduled trip was/is Oct. 11 to Florida. Canadians celebrate their Thanksgiving on Oct. 14, so we're taking advantage of the long weekend and Spirit Airlines dirt-cheap fares. Don't mock me; their pilots are amazing flyers, and their planes are new. If you don't carry luggage, it's a deal! (Best price we've gotten: $57 round-trip)

Last Tuesday, I left for Africa. Ethiopia, to be specific. This trip came about in a matter of weeks, so if you didn't know about it, don't feel left out. I'm not sure what time zone my body thinks I'm in, but it didn't matter once I 'started' my day in Addis Ababa at 11:30 PM EDT (body time) - or 6:30 AM local time. This Addis trip wedged itself right between the other 2 planned trips, so as of today, Oct. 15th, I have traveled 20 straight days.

Did someone mention Operation Christmas Child Collection Season? Yes, there's that, too! In 5 short weeks, we finish for this year, and, yet, I hate to see it go so quickly.

Time stands still for no one.

I'm up for the challenge!

*A special thanks to United Airlines' computer glitch for my $5 round-trip ticket to and from DC from Detroit. I love a deal but hadn't planned on one that good...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Random Thoughts from an Airplane

If the crackers on Ethiopian Airlines are shaped like little airplanes and are all broken when I open them, does this not bode well? They tasted good, but looking like little, mangled jets made me a little unsettled.

If my carry-on had to be checked because it was over 20 lbs., then why were there 200+ fully-packed, bursting-at-the-seams suitcases at the gate with me? Not that I'm complaining... Do you think the 7 lb. bag of candy I took for kids there threw it off?

If it's currently 2005 in Ethiopia, am I, as Jared said, arriving from the future? Also, was I really 7 years younger for one week? If so, yay!

If 11:30 PM EDT is 6:30AM GMT+3 and in Ethiopia local time starts at dawn, that means 7 AM international time is really 1:00AM with 10AM being 4:00AM. Got that? As Chicago asked us long ago, "Does anybody really know what time it is?"

If Ferenji mean 'foreigner' in Amharic, then Gene Roddenberry knew what he was doing all along. But we already knew that.

If my spell check changes "except" to "expat", have I been away from the U.S. too long?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What the heck are the Faroe Islands?

I know I asked myself that question. Please tell me I'm not the only one... The Faroe Islands are situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, halfway between Norway and Iceland. That last part explains how it landed on our itinerary as a cruise ship port. When you're going to Iceland, where else is "on the way", right?  It's right here...

Be honest. How many times have you noticed these islands on a map - or anywhere, for that matter?

Let's proceed into the Faroe Islands and on to Klaksvik, shall we? This was my first view of the islands. The little fishery circles fascinated me. 

As we got closer, you could see the fish jumping around in them.  

By this time on the cruise, we were becoming accustomed to mountains and fjords, but each country was unique in its topography. The Faroes allegedly have rain more than 260 days a year, and yet we had a clear day. Well, relatively clear. No rain - yay!

Klaksvik sits deep inside a sliver of waterway and is the largest city in the Faroes. It still affects me that people live in little places like this, but I can see the idyllic side of it. These residents of Denmark pay 50% income tax and have a 37% (!) HST (harmonized sales tax). That's the not-so-idyllic part.

As always, we spent a good part of the day walking the backstreets of town. I'll just share a few photos to give you a taste of life in the Faroes.

This gentleman, as many others we saw that day, was building a wind wall of hay. Hay is a huge crop in these islands. I loved walking among the locals and seeing how they really live. So often, when we visit, we're looking for "highlights", but, for me, the best things are the 'normal' things of the people and their country.

(note the roof of the house in the foreground...)

Some people like to be a little more remote. That's a hard concept for me in a place like this...

Around town, we found some interesting things. An odd statue, a war memorial with the Psalms (in Faroese), a business where one guy understands name recognition, and the fish hook...

 Ummm... I have nothing to say...

Psalm 103: 15-18

(Jordan said, "Bil had the right idea.")

(this one's for you, Michael Hatchell... You have always been a fisherman, and you hooked me long ago.)

The Christianschurch is a big draw here, because the church was the first one built in the old Norse Style. The high ceiling is excellent for acoustics (I, personally, like the little boat up there). It's dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Second World War. 

I would like to state, for the record, that I did not eat anything weird or wrong in this port. My ability to leave all my ethics behind has left, and I'm back on the straight and narrow. This is where I draw the line, friends. "Faroese Puffins are very common and part of the local cuisine". Nope! I hit up the grocery store and the bakery (as if  there wasn't any food on the cruise ship...).

Bye-bye, Faroe Islands.

Scotland! Lerwick, or Shetland if you choose.

What are you expecting? Sunny and bright? Not exactly...

Our first glimpse of Scotland was drab and a bit dreary but still so lovely. It was early morning (we'd adjusted our clocks for the 3rd time change in 6 days...), and, although the clouds hung low, the air was fresh and clean.

The town was beautiful, and the architecture seemed perfect for where we were. I feel that buildings should reflect culture - is anybody with me on that?

Due to a late start with the tendering process to get ashore, we didn't have much time in Scotland. Most people grabbed a cab to go find some Shetland ponies, but Jordan & I, in typical Hatchell fashion, made our way through the neighborhoods and mingled with the locals. 

 Here is the obligatory "English Garden" shot with the locals playing bocci on the lawn:

Speaking of locals... we do believe word about our feeding episode in Bergen may have made its way to Scotland. These 2 followed me around for awhile... If you zoom in, you'll see they were looking directly at me.

Or, it may have been that earlier they'd seen us eating exotics. Not birds, mind you - kangaroo. I confess, I tried it (and lots of you have told me you have, too, so don't go pointing any fingers...) Here's the evidence, and, yes, I cajoled my child into trying it, too. I'm a terrible, but interesting, mother.

While we're on the subject of food (hey, we were on a cruise... food is a big part of your daily thoughts) take a look at all the kinds of Turkish Delight! This is for all my Narnia sisters and brothers...

Sail-away gave us some views of some of the flattest cloud formations we'd ever seen.

Sorry - no pony pics. I guess we'll have to go back...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Geiranger - another view of Norway

I woke up at the ridiculous hour of 3 am and decided to peek out the balcony window. So glad I did, as  our ship was just leaving the open sea and entering the fjords that would guide us into Geiranger. And, it was sunrise...

Geiranger was beautiful. I can't imagine living there year-round, but neither can most people. Only 30 of the 1,760 residents stay through the winter (bless them). However, 300,000 cruise passengers visit there in the 4-month long tourist season. Do they love us or hate us?

We did private tours in Geiranger - one by bus and one by boat. Considering we slept through the sail in, we thought we should take a boat through Geirangerfjord. We did NOT do this tour:

No, we took a standard bus and boat tour. No costumes, thankfully. I embarrassed myself enough in Bergen, thank you very much.

This port was the beginning of our waterfall collection, so bear with me as I share lots of waterfall photos.

You can't see too many waterfalls, can you? I kept wondering what this looked like in Springtime when the snow was melting and pouring through these mountains. I doubt the tourism is at its peak then...

Here's an obligatory "bucket list" shot. With all these waterfalls and fjords, Jordan had to touch melting iceberg/waterfall water.

The bus tour gave us vistas that took our breath away. Enjoy the view:

Feeling small? We did. Looking down over our ship put it in perspective.

Or, wrap your brain around these campers (no, they're not cars) on the road at the bottom of this picture for a shocking size comparison...

This road is not for those who get carsick. A cruise friend's wife skipped the tour for that very reason. Good thinking. And, no, Michael, I can't see living here. (Do I have the only husband who is always looking at remote areas and saying, "Can't you see living here?! Wouldn't it be great?" My standard response is "Where do you shop?" wink-wink)

Oh! I almost forgot! Jared - here's your shot - the houses do indeed have flowers growing on their rooftops.