Tag Archives: food

Grenaderløpet – into the heart of darkness

15 Jan

Trained for the 90km Grenaderløpet today. Left from home and got into the above marked race route at km 10. Hopped off at about km 43 after the Løvlia forest lodge.

I therefore sampled the “heart of darkness” of the race route. The truly worst part is between Kikut lodge at km 17 and Løvlia. At certain points you nearly want to laugh. Or cry. It’s like a bad joke. The nasty herringbone climbs just keep coming. I go diagonal through the entire Birkebeiner route with one little exception just before Midtfjellet. But on the Grenaderløype there’s no choice, you have to eat a lot of herring(bone).

I’m guesstimating today’s total route as 68km. My IPhone GPS program died just after 4km, so I’m getting that figure from a combination of other trips where GPS has functioned and the Skiforeningen ski society’s data. I’ve attempted to estimate low, if anything.

Here are the distances from the different parts of my route:

Total time was 5:09. If I use the above distance, that puts me right on my Grenaderløpet target pace of 13,1 kmh. That’s not bad considering I was heavy-laden with lots of water and even my headlight and its battery which I took as a matter of precaution in the event the trip took longer than planned. In the race there will be drink stations and I obviously won’t need the headlight.

In addition to a better level of fitness compared to when I did a slightly shorter variant of the same route last year, the big difference this year was probably nutrition. I brought some glucose gel packs. Only “ate” one of the disgusting things, but it probably staved off the worst of the “metabolic moments”. I still had occasional crises where I got gloomy, bitchy and violent and my technique fell apart, but taking a shot of the sticky gunk seemed to perk me up. Maybe my body just decided to behave to avoid ingesting more of that crap.

Once I arrived at my destination at Sørkedalen skole, I stopped in at the café while waiting for my bus and had two hot chocolates, a waffle and a bowl of rice porridge.

Now while writing this I feel surprisingly good. Not particularly tired. My butt muscles ache, but that’s about it. Knees feel great. We’ll see what the morning brings.

Wheel doping, fårikål and other addictions

11 Oct

When I moved from France to Norway my dear French colleagues warned me that I would die from malnourishment. The Norwegians eat “caramel cheese”, they told me in such foreboding tones as to make you think the Nogs were guilty of crimes against humanity. En France on ne rigole pas avec le fromage!

And it’s true that Norway often fails in the food category. The Norwegian food aesthetic generally involves taking a perfectly good piece of fish and doing something unholy to it. Like burying it or soaking it in caustic soda (lye).

But when people who are generally bad do something good, we should encourage them. Case in point, Fårikål, a Norwegian recipe that approaches genius.

Fårikål means “mutton in cabbage”, and that’s exactly what it is. If you count strictly, there are only five ingredients. But simple can be good. Really good.

But the minimalistic brilliance of fårikål doesn’t stop there. It’s a lifestyle recipe. A ski-lifestyle recipe.

Let me try to explain.

It takes five minutes to prepare fårikål and five hours to cook it. And it smells so good that if you hang around waiting for it to cook you will surely go mad. So, the solution is to throw it on the back burner and then go out and (roller)ski for a LONG time.

Then, when you get back, cold and exhausted, your nutrient-starved brain will wonder who’s cooking such nice-smelling food as you approach your door. And, finally, when the warm embrace of fårikål goodness floods around you as you stumble inside it will dawn on you that you have made it. And that it’s ready to eat. Valhalla here you come!

Ingredients:

  • Some cheap, fatty, bony cuts of lamb or mutton
  • A big, smooth-leaf cabbage (chou lisse, pas frisé)
  • Whole peppercorns
  • Salt
  • 50cl water

Directions:

Put the fattiest bits of meat fat side down in the bottom of the pot. Cover them with a layer of wedges of cabbage. Throw a little salt and some peppercorns on top of that. Then add another layer of meat. More cabbage wedges on top of that with again a sprinkling of salt and whole peppercorns. Keep filling the pot like that. The topmost layer should be cabbage. Toss in the water and put on a low flame. (Roller)ski for at least five hours. Come home. Eat. Can be served on top of boiled potatoes but I like mine straight up.

This all leads me naturally to the subject of rollerski wheels. My new record performance Sunday on Grefsenkollen wasn’t achieved by pure, honorable hard work. No, it was doping. Wheel doping. But can it be cheating when it feels so good? My advice, come to the dark side and buy yourself some speed. Olivier from Roll’x is helpful and knowledgeable and can surely tell you what’s legal in a professional race if you’re going to participate in one. I’ve heard he has a secret, illustrious, mistreated-fish-eating pro client. But even as a humble amateur my experience is that climbing big hills is so much more pleasurable with fast PU wheels. While I just did my fastest time ever on rubber wheels this evening, the motivation was purely and simply the unpleasant feeling that I was standing still compared to the sensations I had going up Grefsenkollen on fast wheels yesterday.

But like any potent performance enhancer, there are side effects. Remember speed kills. I’ve seen my life flash before my eyes when going over rough asphalt at 50km/h on a downhill. And there’s a definite addiction factor too. Once you taste speed you don’t want to go slow. But you must. If slow rubber made you fast then abandoning it means becoming slow again, even on fast wheels. So there, you are warned. But it’s like ice cream on a hot summer day, so you’ll cave in.

Yeah, well, except that ice cream doesn’t take all the skin off your butt when you’re not careful with it…

Gravenstein apple

10 Oct

 

Have you been following me?

 

The Gravenstein apple figures prominently in my family history and memories. My mother grew up in a coastal California area famous for growing them. I have fond memories of eating a lot of them as a kid. They’re a great apple. Sweet yet tart and bursting with flavor. Unfortunately they don’t keep well and so are hard to commercialize.

You have to love them even more for being an anti-capitalist, locavore apple.

And by a lovely stroke of luck and history, I can get this rare apple in Norway too. It turns out that the variety originated in nearby Denmark and appeared in Norway in 1752. And although they seem to do well in the mild coastal California climate, Gravenstein trees are very cold resistant.

Moreover, with our cold winters and extra long summer days fruit in Norway generally develops into amazing flavor bombs. So take an already especially delicious variety of apple and then just imagine what it becomes here. Yum!

Photo: Jarle Vines (Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 3.0)

Food for a busy lifestyle

17 Aug

So it’s hard to eat right with all the training I do. For proteins I nearly live on reindeer. It’s as eco-friendly as meat gets and convenient to boot. Here in Norway it comes in a bag, frozen and thin sliced. I fry up an onion and then shake out into the skillet the quantity matching my hunger. A couple glugs of whatever I’m drinking (usually non-alcoholic Clausthaler) go in to ward off dryness. Just put it on rice or with peas and I’m a happy boy.

One of my other faves is my Norwegian adaptation of Pasta Putanesca. Originally conceived for a, well, busy and active lifestyle, the recipe fits my schedule too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 box of chopped tomatoes with garlic
  • some capers
  • some sliced black olives
  • a pinch of Spanish chorizo chilli powder
  • 1 big tin of mackerel in tomato sauce (‘Makrell i tomat’)

Instructions:

Sauté the onion in some olive oil. When it’s tender, add the chopped tomatoes. Then add the capers, olives and the chilli powder. I picked up the chorizo style powder at an outdoor market in Spain. It has a great smoky flavor that just makes the recipe. If you can get Mexican food products, some chopped chipotles in adobo sauce would work great. Otherwise, just add some good hot sauce to taste.

Then add the mackerel and hack it up with a spatula. The real Italian recipe calls for tuna, but you can’t get good canned tuna in Norway and it’s full of mercury to put little holes in your brain anyhow. Maybe good for letting the bad memories escape through, but probably not otherwise helpful.

I get the sauce done in the time required to boil up the pasta.

Raspberry smoothy

11 Aug

My backyard ski trail has provided me with a new source of joy. The trail is only three years old and this year the raspberry bushes along its edges have come into their own. Raspberries love sunny forest edges. My wide ski trail provides lots of those.

An hour’s picking provided me with far more berries than I would dare eat in one go. So most went into the freezer. But a big handful went into this smoothy. The TV remote and my toe make it look extra appealing, no?

Here’s my recipe:

  • A big handful of raspberries
  • 4 dollops of plain yoghurt
  • 1 banana
  • a couple glugs of milk

The berries were so sweet and flavorful that I didn’t bother with any sweetening.

Was a lovely reward and satisfying half dinner after a rollerski up the valley on Gamle Maridalsveien.

Bravo Sweden

2 Oct

Top 7 Countdown to incontrovertibly prove all the Swedish jokes are actually true:

  1. Rancid Swedish Cold War meat sold to Poland
  2. Hand gel faulted for fouling up Swedish bus service
  3. Swedish parents emerge victorious in bid to name son ‘Q’
  4. Elite Swedish soldiers blow up wrong house
  5. Swedish naval vessel jumps Göta Canal banks (great video)
  6. One-fifth of Swedish military conscripts ‘fear for their lives’ (gee whiz, can you blame them?)
  7. ‘Flammable’ bras hold back Swedish female conscripts

Did I ever mention I’m a bit unhappy about where the Swedes have placed the Torsby Ski Tunnel? Outer BFE isn’t quite the strong enough term. Sick nasty people.  Go and eat your Surströming. But when you do, make sure it’s far away.  Far far away. Hey, I know, in TORSBY!!!!

1-2-3 Fårikål

27 Sep

Farikal-på-1-2-3Prepared this season’s first fårikål, that Norwegian lamb and cabbage stew which is so superbly simple and good that it almost makes up for the invention of lutefisk. The three ingredient recipe can be seen in pictorial form, above.

Fårikål is an active lifestyle recipe. The initial prep time is five minutes max. You just need to chop your cabbage in wedges and layer meat then cabbage in a big pot and sprinkle in a few peppercorns. But once you put it on the stove on low heat, you really need to go do something active. There’s no question of hanging out and doing nothing for three to five hours while it cooks.

So today I prepped my dinner in three minutes flat and bolted out the door and went for a long rollerski. Near Røa I smelled someone else cooking the same thing. Its siren call hits you from a block away.

We had lovely weather today but it cools down noticeably at night. I was a bit cold when I got through my door and so immediately served myself a large, fragrant, steaming bowl of divine Fårikål. It tastes so good when you’ve worked for it!

For environmental and ethical reasons I limit my meat consumption. The most carbon friendly meat in this country is Moose. With no wolves around, there’s a natural surplus that needs to be eaten.

Fårikål is considerably less green, but better than  beef:

[The carbon footprint of] lamb falls somewhere in the middle as sheep produce lots of methane, making their greenhouse gas emission score relatively high. However, sheep also make use of land that can’t be used for growing crops and if you are concerned about animal welfare, lamb and mutton seem good compromise options. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/jun/07/food.foodanddrink

If you’re serious about not inducing famine, not drowning island nations and generally preserving my ski possibilities, you should go vegan. A college friend does a great blog on that subject called ‘Your vegan mom‘.