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Spaghetti Lily
Before I had a baby of my own, I thought photos of babies with food stuck all over themselves were gross. But like soooo many other things, once it’s your own:
baby + spaghetti = adorable and hilarious

She wasn’t dextrous enough to keep most of the noodles in her mouth long enough to gum them to death, but she managed to lick the tomato sauce off and sure seemed to enjoy it!

Lily’s first foods
A few days before she turned 6 months old, we let Lily officially try solid food for the first time (she’d snuck a few tastes here and there before). We are trying out the Baby Led Weaning method of introducing solid foods (basically skipping the purees and going straight for whole soft foods) and so far it’s going well. She went straight for the steamed carrot and while she didn’t actually swallow anything this first test she sure enjoyed the taste and texture! We’ll see how it goes in the coming months!

Watching Daddy eat his carrots to see how it’s done.

 

Om nom nom

 

 

 

June Bug

First off, June brought Chris’ birthday. Lily got dressed up especially for the occasion:

For all you non-nerds, she’s wearing a World of Warcraft onesie. Definitely her daddy’s girl!

 

June also ushers in the Norwegian strawberry season. Oh Norwegian strawberries, you tender, luscious drops of juicy sweetness. Chris’ birthday conveniently falls right when strawberry season and rhubarb season overlap, so OF COURSE we celebrate each year with Chris’ favorite strawberry rhubarb pie. Yet again, I was reminded that we have to buy twice as many strawberries as we think we need if we are going to use them besides eating fresh. “One for the pie. And one for Chelsea! One for the pie. And one for Chelsea!” You just can’t stop! I’ll include the recipe below since this year I feel like I finally nailed it!

 

Have you tried the “soaking strawberries in vinegar” trick to keep them fresh? It’s awesome! We do it every time we buy strawberries and they last much longer than they usually do (if we happen to have any leftovers, that is. Which is rare.)
Strawberry-rhubarb pie in the making!

 

We’ve basically been eating our weight in strawberries this season!
Strawberry muffins.

 

Salads with strawberries, pecans, and poppyseed dressing.

 

So gorgeous!
Lily being her cute self.
We’ve reached the MUSTCHEWONEVERYTHING!!!! stage. I suspect teething is imminent.

 

Cloudy walk.

 

This spring has officially been one of the coldest springs on record here in Stavanger. Not much sun, lots of rain, and cold winds off the coast. Not very springy and a total bummer, especially for my poor garden. This year I went all out and bought a small raised bed gardening box to try my hand at the square foot gardening method (we have awesome landlords who let me take over a portion of our backyard for this experiment). I planned the layout and planting dates over 6 months in advance, I spent a lot of my maternity leave during naps mixing the soil correctly (I think) and felt like I had all my research in order so that this year was going to be the Year of the Garden of Awesome.

 

Then, as I said before, the coldest spring on record hit. I waited almost 4 weeks for anything to sprout (when it should have taken a 1-2 weeks) and the little seedlings that did manage to sprout eventually were stunted and small. I barely even got some of my radishes to grow, and radishes basically grow themselves. Apparently I seeded WAY too early, despite the guidelines from this planting guide for Stavanger. I tried planting some more later on in hopes that the weather would warm up, and so far I’ve been able to get somewhat of a harvest.

 

Some lettuces:
The radishes that eventually did grow:

 

Kale and sugar snap peas have also managed to pull through lately and I have some small shreds of hope left for a broccoli plant. Total failures = Romaine, spinach, butter lettuce, green beans, two broccoli plants, sunflowers, and beets. I’ve replanted everything but the broccoli, so we’ll see how that turns out.

 

Also, see this sheep?
This jerk managed to hop the fence and get into our backyard. When Chris tried to shoo her back over the fence, she panicked and trampled through my garden patch instead. Thankfully the only major casualties were my spinach and green beans but they were pretty much failures anyway. All in all not a good year for the garden.

 

Chris also celebrated his first Father’s Day. Dads rock! This is one of his many attempts to convince/trick/bribe Lily to drink from a bottle…to no avail.

 

One weekend it was pretty sunny out and looked decently warm, so we packed some blankets and headed for a new beach that I happened upon on my way home from a cake delivery. Because it is summer dang it!
Turns out this summery day was a big fat lie and we spent 2 minutes sitting on towels in the sand huddled behind a rock attempting to block the wind before we decided pretending it was summer wasn’t going to actually make it summer. We did see this random fellow wandering down the shore though:
And then he met up with some friends:
Only in Norway…
C2's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Classic strawberry rhubarb pie that isn't watery and runny! Be sure to follow the recipe exactly. Speaking from experience, varying the ingredients too much usually makes for a runny pie and nobody wants that!
Creator:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 1 pie
Ingredients
  • 1 double pie crust (Use your favorite one. I love this one: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/all-butter-pie-crust-recipe)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ to 4 cups lightly packed diced rhubarb, fresh or frozen
  • 3 ½ cups hulled, quartered fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • coarse white sparkling sugar, to garnish
Instructions
  1. To make the crust: Line a 9" pie pan (or two 6" pie pans) with half the crust. Refrigerate while you make the filling, for at least 30 minutes.
  2. To make the filling: Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
  3. Toss the rhubarb and strawberries with the sugar mixture. Spoon the fruit into the pan(s), filling them about ¾ full and mounding the filling a bit in the center.
  4. Place dabs of the butter atop the filling. Return the pie to the refrigerator.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  6. Roll out the remaining crust, and cut it into strips for a latice top, or cookie cutter shapes for a festive touch.
  7. Place the pastry atop the filling in a lattice pattern or arrange the shapes however you would like. Brush with egg white wash (beaten egg white and a little bit of water) and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.
  8. Bake the pie(s) for 30 minutes (for the 9" pie), or 20 minutes (for the 6" pies), then reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes (9" pie), or 20 to 25 minutes (6" pies), until the filling is bubbling and the crust nicely browned. (Cover top with tin foil if too much browning is occurring.
  9. Remove the pie(s) from the oven, and let them cool to room temperature before serving.
  10. The pie may be served warm, but it'll be a bit messy; it sets as it cools. You can reheat after setting and just before serving if desired. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
Notes
Use the ripest, most local strawberries you can find. It really does make a difference!
When making your pie crust, DO NOT OVERMIX. If your butter is cut into the flour in the size of large peas and you don't overmix, you will end up with a lovely flaky crust :)

The Dreaded Lutefisk

One of the most common questions we get asked about living in Norway is, “What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten there?” I think there’s just something about foreign countries that invokes images of strange and exotic foods and people have some strange desire to hear about it and get grossed out.

Norway definitely has some pretty strange foods compared to the US. A lot of it’s weirdness stems from the bygone necessity of preservation back in the old days. I tell you, Norwegians came up with the most creative ways to preserve and reconstitute food I have ever seen. There’s this salmon called “gravlaks” which literally translates to “grave salmon”. Traditionally, it was salted, buried in the ground, and left to ferment until it became super pungent and strong tasting. Yum.

Another one that is pretty common here in Southwestern Norway is lutefisk. Lutefisk is cod that has been hung out in the open air and dried for months like so:

Photograph by Peter Prokosch
The dried fish is then soaked in water and then in lye for a week until its structural proteins dissolve and it becomes a sort of fish-jelly (lutefisk directly translates to “lye fish”). Since now the fish is caustic from soaking in the lye, it is soaked again for another week in cold water to make it edible. THEN it is boiled or pan-fried until translucent and served with mustard, potatoes, and mushy peas. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?? I want to go back in time to meet the first guy who thought, “Hey, what if I soaked my dried cod in toxic lye? Think it would be delicious?”

 

For some reason, lutefisk is a pretty traditional Christmas dish in this part of Norway. We’ve been hearing about it for years so we decided that this year was the year we were going to give it a try. Some good friends of ours really like it and eat it every Christmas, so we went with them to City Bistro which supposedly serves the best-prepared lutefisk in town. We figured if we were going to try reconstituted fish jelly, we might as well do it right. Apparently, it’s reputation is sound because you have to reserve a table for lutefisk in advance and when we tried a few weeks before Christmas they were fully booked until January! So we had a post-Christmas lutefisk celebration this year.

We were too apprehensive to order the full main-course lutefisk so we split the appetizer version. Our friends thought it was hilarious to watch “the Americans” try it for the first time.
But you know what? We actually really liked it! We were very surprised based on the horror stories we’ve heard, and we can only attribute it to the fact that we supposedly had the best-prepared lutefisk in town. But it was seriously enjoyable to eat and when we were served our main courses (catch-of-the-day and reindeer) we regretted that we only ordered the lutefisk appetizer. I think we’ll definitely be making this an annual Hill Christmas tradition!
And now we have a really good answer to the “what’s the weirdest thing you’ve eated in Norway” question :) Next on our list is smalahove (Google image it if you dare!)

 

 

A Very Thankful New Years

One of the perks of Chris working for NATO is the annual opportunity we have to order real Butterball turkeys for Thanksgiving every year. The only thing is, we have to order them a few months in advance and you can only order in a size range (e.g. 10-15 lb or 16-20 lb, etc) so it’s kind of a crap shoot how much turkey you will actually get. Chris and I had talked about having a bunch of friends over for Thanksgiving, so we played it safe and ordered one in the 16-20 lb category back in September. And, since Chris REALLY likes leftover turkey, he played it extra safe and ordered an additional 10-15 lb turkey thinking we could have a smaller one just for leftovers.

 

Then as the months progressed, Chris’ little brother decided to get married around Thanksgiving so we bought plane tickets home instead of planning Thanksgiving dinner in Norway. Then the turkey shipment came in and we were given a 19lb turkey and a 14lb turkey! So we spent the holiday in the US with the Hills with two giant turkeys waiting for us back home. Yikes.

 

We had to do SOMETHING with the turkeys because as much as Chris loves Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, 33 pounds of turkey is a bit more than even he can handle. Since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Norway anyway, we decided we could celebrate our own Thanksgiving whenever we wanted to! So we picked New Year’s Day and had a bunch of our friends join us for a Thankful New Year’s feast!

We were lucky to be able to book the NATO boat house for the night, since we were still table-less and couch-less at our apartment. Eating Thanksgiving on the floor with 20 people just seemed like a bad idea…
I’m still on my quest to make the PERFECT Thanksgiving turkey. You know, like the ones on the cover of Martha Stewart Magazine with the perfectly even brown skin and juicy insides. I got pretty close this year! It looks a little charred in the photos, but in person it wasn’t far off. I think next year might just be the year I finally get it!
The group shot
Chris photobombing his own photo.
We spent the evening enjoying good food, fun games, and fantastic company! We couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2014!

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