The beginning of our trip!

The flights from Denver to Reykjavik and Reykjavik to Amsterdam were monotonous. Plane flights these days are things best done while not fully aware of the conditions you voluntary enter into. I listened to music, watched the free movies, and didn’t sleep much.

We arrived in the early afternoon at Schipol. We were being picked up by Helen, and whisked into the city in her car. She brought us straight to our hostel and then took us to a delicious bakery/cafe, De Bakkerswinkel. We walked around the city a bit. Emily and I were quite tired but I immediately found myself taking pictures of the rooflines. I was entranced by them, looking up. I don’t know how people in Amsterdam or other architecturally saturated cities don’t constantly run into each other- looking up in awe all the time made me prone to bumping into people, running into my sister, and just plain ignoring what was in front of me. (I did at one point step directly into the path of a speeding Vespa- oops.)

Amsterdam was chaotic. We stayed at Hotel Internationaal, right in the Red Light District. It was noisy 24/7- Emily and I were armed with ear plugs, thank goodness. (We mutually agreed that if we had known how chaotic it was we would have stayed elsewhere.) There were so many people, and so many bikes. We heard Dutch everywhere and I came to the conclusion that it was indeed akin to very very drunk German with more guttural noises.

I remember when we stopped at a bar and I attempted to order a beer. I was dead sober and struggled mightily to pronounce the phrases properly and in the end reverted to the most Neanderthal action ever: Point and grunt. Well, not quite grunt but gesticulate in the direction of the beer I wanted. That, sadly, was more successful than words. (I’d like to clarify here and point out that 95-100% of the Dutch speak excellent English and this was more me trying, stubbornly, to work in another language other than my own.)

Anyway, Amsterdam was magnificent to walk around. If you ever go bring sturdy shoes and explore. There are enough church towers and markets and squares that you can easily find yourself if you’re lost. There are lovely quiet pockets and louder more crowded areas, all scattered across the remarkably flat landscape. Do beware of the bikers though! I have to say that riding a bike in Amsterdam to me seemed akin to suicide or homicide- you would surely either kill yourself or slaughter others. The  Dutch ride their bikes with a speed that borders on reckless- they use their bells ferociously and dodge humans, cars, and other bikes fiercely. If you’re a visitor and you’re up to speed on biking in cities, go for it, but if you’re like me and from a largely rural area don’t unless you’ve got organs lined with steel and a skull made of sheet metal- collisions are imminent.

Now to the important part: the food culture that exists in Amsterdam is one to take full advantage of. Thank god we walked everywhere or I would have come back quite a bit larger. We had incredible Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish food, among many others. For me, one of the best parts of traveling is eating and drinking the culture, which I believe can give you a lot of ideas about who the people are, what they think they are, and how they define themselves or want to be defined. There’s a lot of complexity in food and drink woven into cultural landscapes. Not that I’m delving into this sort of thought while I’m devouring a plate of food, but I have to justify my eating habits somehow. I will definitely be elaborating on all the food we ate, because eating is one of my favorite things to do.

More to come! Til then, tschüß!

Amsterdam: the coffee

Oh goodness.

The coffee.

I can’t even make words about the caffeinated perfection that comes in neat ceramic cups in Amsterdam. I became a fiend- Emily and I would get up and head off to an adventure and I’d have to stop and get a double espresso to go or we’d sit down and I’d savor every bit of the experience. I could become a poet or a folk singer just devoted to singing the praise of the coffee there.

Just kidding. Mostly.

Not really sure how to even begin to post about all the incredible things we ate/saw/did so I’m haphazardly breaking it down in small bits and will most likely sprinkle enormous posts here and there. Stay tuned- I”m queuing posts so that they’ll be regularly posted!

Headframe Spirits

Butte is a proud city that saw some of the nations first unions, had an incredibly diverse immigrant population, and a world famous Red Light district, among many other accomplishments. It also saw some serious mining disasters and has battled environmental issues and dwindling populations at times. There is a sturdiness to Butte, though, that leaves you with the impression that even if you regularly drive past empty or dilapidated buildings or get the feeling of decay, that these issues are not real setbacks. They add to the cocktail that is Butte. The folks in Butte (like many fellow Montanans) are incredibly friendly and Butte itself always seems to surprise me with how much I learn or discover.

Headframe Spirits could be argued to have these ideals woven into it as well. Each variation of the alcohol brewed is named after an important mine within Butte, and I particulary enjoyed this aspect. Seeing as I will soon be a master’s candidate in History, I especially love how much history is reflected. The Headframes website itself is full of historical facts, with links to various historical museums and updates.

Kristin and I went into the taproom on Montana Avenue and I immediately admired the large old fashioned wooden bar with tall windows. The taproom was well lit and comfortable, without any feeling of pretentiousness. Aesthetically I enjoyed how neat everything was- the glinting of the glasses, a lovely vase of purple tulips that we sat near, and the menus which are tied with cord. Our bartender was really friendly and there was no rush- maybe this is because it was a Sunday afternoon.

Our drinks weren’t too expensive, and while I’m no gin connoisseur I greatly enjoyed my basil gimlet. Kristin and I agreed that there could have been more alcohol in proportion to the mixes in our drinks but nevertheless they were delicious. I definitely plan on going back.

Raspberry pie!

This is the amazing all-butter crust pie I made on Sunday night.

It set perfectly overnight and it’s already almost gone…and only two people are eating it. So yeah, I’d say it was a pretty good raspberry pie.

If you don’t like your raspberries super sour, add in vanilla or more sugar. For every 4/5 cups of raspberries I only add in about 1/3 cup of sugar and a bit of lemon juice and some corn starch but taste test yours to where you like it. I love sour pies, especially with a heavy whipped cream.

What’s your favorite kind of pie?

 

Craft Pride: Texas brews on display

Chelsea and Kate and I paid for parking after doing loops trying to find a space for the car. It was definitely worth it!

Craft Pride was worth the parking hassle. It had more kinds of Texas local brews than I thought possible (I think close to 50) and deciding was the worst part. If I had the liver of a decades-older Scotsman I might have been able to try multiple brews, but I only had one!

The one I did have, a delightfully fruity IPA called the Yellow Rose from Lone Pint Brewery, was fantastic! I loved how different it was. I am by no means literate in the sort of terms that are used to describe beer, but regardless of that, I plain loved my beer. The atmosphere was fun, too, with tactile, textured wood tables and hanging lights. We went right at the golden hour and so photographing our brews was perfect. I don’t remember what Chelsea and Kate both got but every beer I tried there was fantastic!

Being from Montana, I’m lucky to be surrounded by a wealth of craft breweries that are always trying new things, but I was really excited to experience Craft Pride in Austin! What an awesome place.

I made a thing. A thing made of Brie, butternut squash, and apples. A galette!

 

I tried to go to work today but I threw my back out of wack taking peanut butter chocolate chip toffee cookies out of the oven. I went to work for an hour and after realizing I couldn’t even sit comfortably I went home, put a hot pad on my back, and slept for a few more hours.

I feel so restless lately. I walk up and down the same streets. I’ve been devouring books, so many books, and they make me even more restless, because when I am done with them I am back to my life, not on a beach in Normandy or in the Carpathian mountains. I decided to foster some creativity and cook, which for me is always a test of my ability to read directions closely and not get too neurotic if it doesn’t come out well.

I have a folder on my computer that holds recipes for everything from Vietnamese spring rolls to sloppy joe sandwiches. However, one thing that I have wanted to try for months was a recipe that Happyolk posted. The recipe below is entirely from her, I take no credit!

She’s an amazing blogger in Colorado who posts beautiful photographs and recipes that make me want to drool. A lot of her posts are accompanied by gorgeous swaths of text. It’s more than a recipe- it’s a little mini story. She gets creative in clever ways, and this galette didn’t look too difficult to put together!

I’m not defective in the kitchen, but to be honest I don’t try. I’m exhausted after work and the gym, and the last thing I want to do is devote 1 or 2 hours to putting together meals.

However, lately I’ve been feeling very antsy and very disconnected to myself. I think cooking, or trying to, will give me a chance to listen to my body more and give it better things than something frozen or quickly, hastily put together. I’m trying all sorts of things to listen to myself more, because it’s hard sometimes to know what’s really wrong. Is anything really wrong?

Anyway, I followed her recipe pretty closely, except I already had pre-chopped butternut squash, so I sliced the small chunks pretty thin. I think getting a whole squash, peeling it, and then slicing much bigger slices would work better!

For the pastry dough you need: 

1 tsp sugar

Pinch of salt

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup ice water

12 tbs unsalted butter, cold

Mix flour + sugar + salt, then use the pastry chopper thing (ugh I have no idea what it’s actually called) or your fingers and break the butter apart and blend with flour until the mixture is course. Mix in the rest of the butter the same way. Pour in the ice water and mix dough into a ball. Roll dough flat, put in the fridge for 30+ minutes.

 

For the inside things (butternut squash, apples, cheese):

3 lb butternut squash

2 cups brie cheese w/o rind

2 apples, preferably Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, or Fuji (I used Pink Lady)

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

1 egg

Peel and slice butternut squash. Lay flat on a baking tray; drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put in oven at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, then take out and let cool. Slice apples into 1/4 inch pieces with the peel on. Pull or slice apart the brie.

Take the dough from the fridge, and put on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Have it be about 12″ or so in a disc shape. Then begin layering cool squash, apples, and brie cheese as you want! Use all your ingredients, leaving a 1 1/2″ empty edge on the dough disc for pulling it up and securing the delicious filling inside!

Gently fold the edges up around the filling. Pinch edges. Put an egg wash on the outside, then put back into the 400 degree F oven for 30-40 minutes! Then consume the delicious concoction you just made and swell with pride that you did it. YAY!

I made this for myself, and I have plenty leftover for lunch at the office! No more sandwiches!

Again, all recipe content from Happyolk.

From the fone.

I got my thesis approved, an independent study approved, and I’ve signed up for a graduate level class as an undergraduate for the second time in my academic history.

Whew.

I also made a pecan pie for Chris for his birthday. He was actually sick on it, but we made the pie once he was better. I did a damn good job. I don’t think he can disagree.

I’ve been mastering pizza. Pizza pizza pizza. Veggie pizza, meat pizza, any kind of pizza I can whip together with what’s on hand!

Chris got me into Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I have been thoroughly sucked in! NOOOO/YESSSS/WHAT?

I cut myself with a particularly rough piece of cardboard (which yes, can happen).

Chelsea came for the weekend and stayed with me. We slept in my bed and ate bagels and drank things with vodka and gin. I already miss that girl but hopefully might be travelling down to see her in California over Spring Break- fingers crossed!

I have literally been busy almost every moment though. If I’m not at school I’m making food or working on projects or coordinating projects or trying to make sure I graduate or I’m working. C’est la vie!

Life is a beautiful fast paced thing right now. I’ve got Portra film in a camera so I might get that done soon.