~ Stargazing and Sunrise Watching ~

 

What a belter of a weekend. Scorching temperatures in Stavanger again! After growing up in England and living my last 7 years in Scotland, I cannot stand to be inside when it’s warm. On Saturday we spent the day at the Gladmat festival (see my recent post under ‘Cookery’!) followed by a trip to Ikea and some flat-pack-furniture assembly.

 

 

As the evening wore on, warm and clear, Mike and I moved our furniture outside to enjoy the sun for as long as possible. We’ve found the best way to be comfortable outside is to disassemble our sofa and make a nest from the cushions on the decking!

 

 

 

We both had a good book to read; Mike was enjoying a bottle of rioja and I was enjoying a pot of tea; the stars were starting to come through and even though the sun had dipped below the horizon, the air was warm. I’d read about a meteor shower in National Geographic so we decided to take a blanket outside and stargaze for a little while.

At just gone 12:30am we hadn’t seen any meteors, but we’d had a lovely evening and were ready for bed. We decided to set the alarm for 03:15am to get up and see the sunrise, so we had a couple of hours’ sleep before I shook Mike awake. While he stumbled around in a sleepy haze, I made some jam sandwiches and a flask of coffee, and we drove out to Dalsnuten. We parked in the car park and walked for 30 minutes uphill to the viewing point, 323m above sea level. The sky was rosy as we arrived, and we had half an hour to wait until proper sunrise.

We opened our coffee and ate our jam sandwiches in total silence, gazing out over Gandafjorden and the twinkling lights of Sandnes and Tasta – where we’d left our apartment. A strong but warm breeze tugged at our clothes, so we sheltered by a cairn while we waited for the sun. It was absolutely magical. As the sun rose over the mountains to the east, the light levels crept up and the sky became blue rather than pink… The start of another beautiful summer’s day. We began our descent and were back in the car by 06:00am, back home by 06:30am and in our bed again by 06:35am. We slept late and woke up at lunchtime. What a lovely start to Sunday.

K

 

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~ Mango Chutney ~

The mangos in the supermarket at the moment are just beautiful – so ripe you have to be careful not to bruise them on your way home, dripping with juice, fragrant and sweet. I’d seen a recipe in Good Food magazine a few weeks back for mango chutney, so last night I gave it a go. I adjusted some amounts and cooking times for the recipe below, but the original is here.

Ingredients for Mango Chutney

Ingredients:

~ 3 large ripe mangoes
~ 2 tbsp sunflower oil
~ 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
~ Thumb-sized piece fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into thin shreds
~ 10 green cardamom pods
~ 1 cinnamon stick
~ 1 tsp cumin seed
~ 1 tsp ground coriander
~ ½ tsp black onion seeds
~ ½ tsp ground turmeric
~ 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (they were meant to be Bramleys but I used pink ladies as it’s all the supermarket had!)
~ 1 large red chilli, finely sliced
~ 300ml white wine vinegar
~ 400g golden caster sugar
~ Juice of 1 lemon
~ 1 tsp salt

1) Heat the oil in a large, deep sauté pan – the wider the better for cooking the chutney down later – and fry off the onion for a few mins until it starts to turn translucent. Stir in the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 mins until the onion is golden. Stir in all of the spices, except the turmeric, and fry until toasted.

2) While you’re waiting for your onions to soften, peel and chop your apples, discarding the core. To prepare your mangos, cut the flesh from around the stones of the mango, trim off the skin and chop any big lumps into chunks. I used very very ripe mangos, so half of my fruit was pulped by the time I’d peeled it – it doesn’t seem to matter for this recipe, though.

3) When your onion is golden and your spices toasted, add in the turmeric, apple and 300ml water, then cover the pan and let it boil vigorously for 10 mins. Stir in the mango and chilli, then cover and cook for 20 mins more until the apple is pulpy and the mango is tender.

4) Pour in the vinegar, stir in the sugar and salt, then leave to simmer uncovered for 60 mins, stirring very frequently (I have a few ‘caramelised’ bits in my chutney!) until the mixture is pulpy rather than watery. Spoon into sterilised jars.

Mango Chutney - Jarred

I have taken a lot of liquid out of the original recipe and increased the cooking time, as I was up until midnight trying to get my chutney to a good consistency! Also note: the Good Food magazine authors think you will get 4 x 500ml jars out of this – not likely, I got approximately 8-10 small jars out of my mix.

Now the big question… Can I wait for a week before opening the first jar to taste? I’ll make a follow-up post when I do!

K

~ Avocados and Marinated Chicken ~

I managed a bit of baking this weekend… Mum bought and shipped over Tori Haschka’s new book, “Cut the Carbs!” for me – what a treat. I flicked straight to the puddings and conjured up a lovely chocolate cake whose main component was a tin of black beans (no flour, no butter). Aside from me leaving it in the oven for about 5 minutes too long – a real error for chocolate cake which is always prone to being a bit dry anyway – it was absolutely delicious and didn’t taste any different to a regular cake. I should have taken a picture to blog, but in typical Kirsty style, I hadn’t really left myself enough time to bake it before taking it round to the recipient’s house. Next time.

Other tasty treats this weekend included mostly grilled protein and salads – the avocados in the shops are just fantastic at the moment so they’re on the side of everything I make! Here’s Mike cooking the chicken he marinaded in cumin, turmeric, fresh ginger, chilli, garlic and olive oil… Fantastic with salad, crumbly feta and a cold glass of Sauvignon.

Grilling in the last of the sun!

Grilling in the last of the sun!

~ Weekend Sun ~

It’s been a wonderful weekend in Stavanger. 31 degrees Celsius, all-day sun and even the largest of the nearby lakes now warm enough to swim in! Mike and I cooked up some tasty food and spent time with friends; I thought it was a good time to start the blog I’ve been meaning to post since we moved over in March.

Mike had to work on Saturday morning, so while he was away I took myself off for a run. It was 24 degrees by 10.30 and although the first 3k went past quite quickly (I was on-track for a personal best!) the last 2k nearly beat me, and I finished at 36 seconds under my PB (32 minutes 43 sec). Very disappointing – all I want is a 30-minute 5k! After speaking to some friends who have been running much longer than me, the advice seemed to be interval training. The idea of intervals does make my heart sink a little, but I think it has to be done.
Once I’d recovered and Mike had arrived back home from the office, I baked a cake for our friend Andy as a belated birthday celebration and took it over to his house. We had a lovely walk in the forest at Brekko then a dip in Ålgård lake before heading back to Andy’s for a BBQ and a soak in the hot tub. Perfection.

Unusually, Mike had to head back into work on Sunday (neither of us has had to do much overtime since we started working here!) so I decided to go with him and help out. Having never worked in a workshop before I’m not sure if I was just a hindrance, but by late afternoon I felt like I’d had a workout! Mike’s not often in the workshop – his main job is business development – but he enjoys getting his hands dirty sometimes. We came home via the lake near our apartment (Stokkavaten) and washed some of the dust from ourselves in the water, then spent the afternoon sleeping on the decking in the sun.

Post-swim paddling at Stokkavaten.

Post-swim paddling at Stokkavaten

Excepting the part where Mike was working, this weekend was fairly typical of our life here in Stavanger and we had a really relaxing couple of days. I hope to update this blog fairly regularly with recipes, photos and other bits and pieces to record the kinds of things we get up to and the things we enjoy. That’s all for my first post for now, thanks for reading :o)

K