Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This years Christmas tree - an all plastic Walmart tree. The kids decorated it with ornaments in all kinds of colors and the more it shimmered and shined the better it was.

We are heading south and I really wanted to show you our Christmas card jingle we made - Rocking all the way to the beach, but the link will not work on here for some reason, so all you, who are Facebook friends with me can view the link on there instead.

We have been watching the news back home about the real winter you have. I know it is tough with all delays in traffic, shoveling snow to get the car out, or just bundle up so much to be able to spend a while out in the cold air. Well, in Alabama, that kind of weather would probably kill people, so I do not wish it over here, but I do miss the Christmas spirit the snow gives me. The Christmas feeling is far away from me even if I do have a Walmart Christmas tree, lights hanging in the trees outside and our advent star in the window. I guess, for me the snow does it all! Unfortunately, the Christmas spirit will probably be further way when we in a couple of days are setting our course south and getting into our car for a 14 hour road trip to the Southern most tip of the USA - The Florida Keys. But at least it will be relaxing and hopefully the weather will be warmer. I am not in need of doing dishes or cook for that matter. So, I will have to wait until next years Christmas and I am hoping to see as much snow than as you have this year back home... Many might not agree with me on that, but you don´t know how much you miss snow when you are far away from it and so used to it during some season...

Marry Christmas to all of you!!!

We have done our best in getting into the Christmas spirit, but I cannot say that I have succeeded.

This Christmas it is the Southern most tip of the USA who is waiting for us. It do look nice and I am looking forward to the service and getting relaxed. I am guessing the hotel will have jingle bell playing all over every lobby and pool area, but it is going to feel weird and misplaced for me who are used to winter and dark times during Christmas.

I know the kids will have a blast!!!

Great inspiration got me into a baking frenzy...

The first cinnamon roles we have made since we moved to Alabama - 6 months ago.

I have suddenly got into baking..... Usually it is my husband that stand for any creation in the kitchen. But I found myself more often stand there lately and today I really hit it off - to my husbands big smile... and he made comments... hmmm I should not do this too often... he might get used to it... *smiling*

Anyway, I started of with baking some cinnamon roles (Swedish version) - not as big and not to sweet. At the same time I stared of to do a batch of ebelskivers. Ebelskivers is my new thing - and I love to be able to make both savory foods and desserts. It started when I walked into one of my favorite stores here in the USA. Williams Sonoma - a very high class store with lots of nice things for the kitchen. That is a store I will miss when I go back home. So now we eat even more than we need... ha ha. I guess I just have to work even harder at the gym...

Ebelskivers (danish) here with a mix of salmon, dill, Philadelphia cheese. Served with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Delicious!

These Ebelskivers contain apples and cinnamon. Topped with powdered sugar.. Yummi!

My favorite cookware and my favorite cookbook for the moment.... Can recommend it to all!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dinner out has consequences....

The kids favorite restaurant and they do have good burgers but one should not dine here more than once a month....

My husband and I enjoy food. We like to cook at home as much as we also enjoy going out to restaurants. And right now we are in the country where dining out is less expensive than stocking the fridge and cook at home. Of course it is fun to go out when it makes it easy on the household work and finer dining is also very inexpensive compared to home. But it will have consequences.

Montgomery might not have as many of the gourmet restaurants we would like to see, unfortunately. And it is truly lacking of the healthier version of food. It is easier to find burger restaurants where you can choose from twelve different versions of burgers. It has taken us a while and we have probably gone through all the fast food restaurants in the beginning, but we have found restaurants we truly enjoy and it is fun to be able to taste some of the true Southern cooking - even if it is less healthy for you. However, all the dining out have consequences - large portions, lots of fat and sugar, makes us at least, gain lots of weight if we do not watch it.

So, all this dining out has been limited to weekends now and when the kids get their choice we know we are having burgers. I always order kids size on the menu, and they are compared to home the regular size salad/burgers. We have banned fries and there will be no soda, except for special occasion. One day I ordered sushi and was served a Southern version of it - Fried! I don´t even want to know how many calories that contained. Many might say, well you are just away for a year. And that is true, one have to enjoy oneself and taste much of the American food culture. But SORRY! There is too much junk and if I where to eat and try it all, I would probably be about 10 kg heavier before I know it. At least that was what happened when I lived in the States as an exchange student back in 1988. My mom thought I was pregnant when I sent a picture home at Christmas, at the age of 17.

When my mother and sister where visiting us a few weeks back, I was guiding them every where around the neighborhoods, we often dined out for lunch and once for breakfast - just because they would like the experience. The portion we got for breakfast was best suited for a hard physical steel worker or something. I am not kidding if that breakfast contained close to 1000 calories.

I have however, started to work out every day now and I also have a wonderful PT (Shea). No less than an hour of hard work, every day, is what I have to do at the gym, to be able to treat myself a little bit of all the big American portion of junk...

This is a local version of Sushi with salmon and Philadelphia cheese and topped with a spicy sauce. The outside of the rice
fried. Fried food is a Southern thing. There is a saying: "if it isn´t fried it is not from Alabama."

Breakfast served at a local restaurant. French Toast with scramble eggs and bacon. Topped with syrup and butter.

I however don´t think we are very much better in Sweden. We do have most junk food restaurants, burgers, pizza and lattes. But I know for a fact that the portions are smaller and home cooking a lot more common. And we do not use the car as often as I do in the US. Here, it is no other way to get around which also means less walking and less physical work.

Fried Green tomatos is a Southern dish. And they taste really good if it made correctly. This, served at one of our favorite restaurants, LaJolla.

A nice lunch is served at LaJolla. What we paid for the lunch (2 dishes with water to drink to) is very inexpensive (10 dollars), and what I like about it is that they do serve smaller portions - but if it is healthier - don´t know.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Crazy weather.... everywhere...

Compared to back home in Sweden where they are dealing with lots of snow, icy and cold weather we are in Alabama dealing with severe weather too, but the most severe once are Tornados and Hurricanes.

Now when the summer has passed us and from what we have experienced it is quite difficult to explain, but I do like the Swedish summers much better compared to the Alabama humid heat. Parts of this summer was awful. We could not be outside at all. When I try to illustrate it for folks back home I said: Turn on the hairdryer, turn it on low speed with heat on. Blow it directly to your face so it almost burns. In your other hand you have a bottle of water which you squirt onto your face so your face stay constantly moist. That is how summer is here from top to toe.

We haven´t seen much rain this summer at all, but when it does rain... it does not drizzle. It is pouring down. No umbrella would like to have to deal with it either. But, what is the most worrying about the weather systems here is the tornado season which runs from April-November. We have been very fortuned to not have had any encounters of Tornados or Hurricanes yet. But the closest call we had this season was the very last day of November and the last day of the tornado season.

This morning there was a lot of moist in the air and it was 22C (73F) outside already at 8 a.m. It started blowing after dropping of our kids at school. It seemed like every body (local people went about their business) and so did I. When I got home I saw my Iphone blinking and I checked it to find issued warnings in our area for tornados. I turned on the TV and followed the news about the warnings. But it seemed cool and I did like everybody else, went about my business and made it to the gym right before the rain came down. Or should I say heaven opened itself and through a bucket of water down on us... The noise of the rain coming down was high and water came flooding through the cracks of the doors and windows...

Apparently there are different stages of tornado warnings but I cannot separate them. However, this particular weather system was just crossing our neck of the hoods, but luckily not in my neighborhood. But in the aftermaths of it, it left traces of so called "touch downs" just a half hour drive from us... And that is close enough for me. Because the devastation these weather storms leave is unbelievable. When the system had passed the temperature had also dropped nearly 12 degrees C and that is just over a couple hours time frame - so this moves fast...
Luckily this touch down was not too bad and severe. So, I guess we were lucky this time and no lives were taken.

We have since we moved here learned how to act when the warnings are issued. If we were at home, we should take shelter inside the house in a room without windows and a room located in the center of the house. If we are outside and encounter a tornado, the recommendation is the leave the car and go lay down in a ditch. If kids are at school we cannot go and pick them up until the tornado has passed. The warning it self of a tornado in your neighborhood is through a laud signal like our military alarm - these signals are tested every third month like they are back in Sweden, but for different causes.

The Weather Channel and all the local channels was reporting about the Tornado warning this day. Here you can see how the warnings are issued from New Orleans in the South to Huntsville in Northern Alabama.
The channel also very carefully tells you how to act when a Tornado is spotted. This is of another tornado in our neighboring state Louisiana.

The storm had just passed Montgomery in this picture and moving North.

The news seemed very intense when this weather system appears and it is difficult for someone who has not been in a weather like this to even illustrate how what it can do or what force it has.