Waiting for spring

The Easter holidays have started here in Norway – and it is a strange one at that. The weather has been incredibly warm this past month and the snow has melted faster than usual. We have had temperatures up towards and above 20ºC, which is the warmest ever recorded. Easter holidays here normally mean that very many people head towards the mountains, either to cottages or skiing from hut to hut. It also means lots of snow, great tans, oranges, chocolate and good food. Tired, sweaty people who have gone for long ski treks, sitting in front of fireplaces, enjoying the physical tiredness and looking forward to a sauna and a shower, before falling into bed to sleep well before another ski trek the next day.

Unless you have the possibility to head deep into the higher mountains, this is not how Easter will be for most of us this year. Around our cottage there is hardly any snow and the only way to get around is on foot. Yesterday the temperature had dropped and ice had formed during the night, creating beautiful ice patterns and crunchy sounds underfoot. In Oslo spring is well underway, with crocuses and other spring flowers springing forth. Up here however, the greys and browns still dominate, but green patches are gradually pushing through.

We had a lovely walk yesterday in spite of the freezing wind. The wind chill factor was high and it was lovely creeping down into a sheltered warm spot and to smell the earth gradually warming up. Perhaps this little slideshow can show you the treasures we found ….

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To post or not to post …

My life has been like a roller coaster the last two weeks. Too much to think about, too many decisions to make, too many things and people needing attention. Time and inclination to blog has therefore been rather scarce. However, I can’t leave you hanging too long, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite pictures from some time back. The pictures were all taken an autumn day, when the first cold nights had started to cover the small pools of highland water with thin crusts of ice. I only had a point and shoot at that time, but I still think the pictures came out all right. What do you think?

The ice adds a lovely sheen to the water and creates beautiful cracked mirror images of the trees and bushes.

The silvery branches hang low over the water and create lovely patterns.

The iron ore in the rocks add a warm glow.

As does the heather and the moss.

The low autumn sun paints with light and shadow and the ice glistens with highlights.

All gone!

See how the ice is floating above the water?

On Saturday ice crunched under our feet, the wind was icy cold and fingers and ears needed to stay in pockets and under woolly hats.

On Sunday I had hoped to catch more pictures of the wonderful ice patterns, but the weather had suddenly turned much warmer. Two layers of clothing less, in fact it was just too warm to wear anything more than my favorite shirt from Icebreaker. I did get some other nice photos though. I’ll share them with you soon.

But here are two more of the ice pictures I snapped on Saturday:

I am always amazed at nature’s creativity! Tell me that you are just as captivated as I am… See too how lovely the frozen cloudberry leaves are (they are the brown hand shaped ones):

I have enjoyed sharing this with you. Have you enjoyed seeing the pictures?

Come take a walk with me again … and the recipe for my saffron spaghetti with mussels and shrimp

We are extremely lucky to have a beautiful cottage in a very quiet area not too far from Oslo. Located at the foot of Hardangervidda, the area is dotted with marshes, beautiful rocks, moss and lots of pine and birch trees, which as you get up higher up in altitude, get more and more twisted and gnarled.

Sometimes I get the feeling of walking in a bonsai garden, looking ad the trees, the moss covered rocks and the water pools.

Hiking across the marshes yesterday we came across lovely thin ice formations, which were floating above the water, because of the water level having sunk after the ice had formed.

The beauty of the ice constellations hanging on to the thin straws struck a cord of wonder in us. Can you see the lovely ice feather that has been formed in the picture below?

After a 4 hour walk it was nice to get back to the cottage, where a sauna took away the chill of the icy winds. Pottering around the kitchen we created this meal which was enjoyed with a good bottle of Italian wine. Although the ingredients list is long, the meal takes a short while to make and is well worth the trouble!

Pasta with mussels and scampi and a hint of saffron

You will need:

  • 500 g spaghetti of choice, we prefer whole wheat
  • 1 kg mussels
  • 500 g big shrimp in their shells
  • 2 chorizo sausages (sliced chorizo works well too)
  • 2 handfuls of mini tomatoes
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, as preferred
  • 1/2 g saffron
  • 100 ml heavy cream
  • 1 fat bulb fennel
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 good handfuls rucola salad
  • about 10 stoned and sliced black olives
  • salt and pepper

Cook the pasta al dente as the packet prescribes. Rinse in cold water to prevent further cooking. Clean the mussels and throw away any that do not close up when handled. Heat 1/2 dl water in medium sized pot. Place the mussels in the pot and cook gently for 5 minutes by which time they should have opened. Set aside. Peel the shrimp leaving tail on, slice the chorizo, the shallot thinly and the fennel (about 2 mm thick). Cut the tomatoes in half and finely chop the garlic.

Fry in the chorizo in a big sauté pane or large wide pot until it begins release some of its lovely red color.  Add the garlic, shallot, fennel, and tomatoes. Sprinkle the saffron on top.  Pour 1dl of the mussel juice into the pan together with the cream. Let simmer for about 5 min. Adjust flavoring with salt and pepper. Mix in the spaghetti and the mussels and heat gently until everything is warm. Lastly mix in the rucola and the olives.  Serve in warm, deep bowls together with some hot rustic bread.

Tip: Remove half of the mussel shells before mixing them into the spaghetti. Makes serving easier. Serves 4

Read more about Hardanger vidda and hiking there.