Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stockholm, Sweden - Favorite Pic

Despite working 60 hour work weeks at the local pork processing plant, my dear friend Lindsey came to visit me in The Mother Land in late February. Having grown up in poverty in a trailer park in Buzzards Gulch, SD Lindsey had never traveled outside of the Dakotas before, much less to a different country.

Imagine her surprise when she was treated to not one but two international destinations. After pawning her 3 kids off on various family relations, Lindsey was ready to see the sights of not only Norway, but Sweden as well. I had never been there before, either, which brings me to my favorite picture of our trip to Stockholm:

We stayed in The Red Boat, which is a floating boat hotel that is colored a deep shade of aqua marine. Nah, I'm just shitting you - it really is red. And this is the view of the one and only window in our room, also known as a porthole. Lindsey had never heard that term before and assumed I was talking about some sort of latrine type apparatus when I mentioned it. Oh mercy me, the things you have to teach these country folk!

After yet another pregnancy scare for Lindsey during our trip we wound up having a fabulous time, complete with a traditional Swedish dish called tunnsbrodsrulle. Nothing says "Just like Lindsey's mom used to make" like shrimp salad and mashed potatoes surrounding a deep fried hot dog.

Full disclosure: Today Lindsey makes $250,000 a year and is engaged to a United States senator. She hasn't spoken to me since her visit.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

In Praise of Gaga

The very bestest thing I like about living in Norway is the ability to shield myself from American popular culture. Call me a grumpy old curmudgeon but I am in no mood to put up with the youth of today and what they consider hip and with it.

That said, have y'all heard about this popular new musical artist Lady Gaga? Rumor has it she has lady bits and man bits, but from what I can see she is all woman:

And you know what? If she does have a teeny weeny peen that won't make her any less hot. Because homegirl can sing. And dance. And, lest we forget, America celebrates a rich heritage of dudes-who-are-hotter-than-most-chicks:

Oddly alluring yet undeniably sexy. Moustache or not.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gee Thanks, Uncle Sam

I got a care package from the United States of America:

And by care package I mean "even though you don't live here anymore or earn money here or pay taxes here you have to file taxes here or else" package.


Last year I, like the good expatriate I am, filed my taxes in the U.S. For an income earned (and taxed) entirely in Norway. Yeah, you figure that one out. But, I'm a rule follower, so I bucked up and filed.

But - I flinch just writing this - my bottom line was a negative number. Oy vei. I made less than the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion of $91,400. Yes, folks, I'm sorry to break your illusions but I make less than $90k. However I did pay student loan interest in the U.S., for the sake of ease let's say $500.

Let's do some math:

$0 (income)
$500 (student loan interest paid)
-$500 (bottom line of tax return)

I'm no mathematician or IRS finger breaker but I do know that having a negative bottom line on your tax return is like riding Osama bin Laden's back through a gay pride parade with a basket of Haitian babies wearing this:

So Uncle Sam has tracked me down and has shown me in 300 easy to read pages how to not screw it up this time.


Friday, February 5, 2010

To Roast a Chicken

Perhaps one of the most perplexing questions of the universe, I have solved the riddle of how to turn this:

Into this:

And how might you ask? The answer is absolutely astounding. The answer is: EASILY!

I never in a bijillion years thought I was grown up enough or had mad enough cooking skillz to roast a chicken. It intimidated the bejesus but it is nothing to be scared of! Here's how you, too, can impress your friends and fam with a big 'ol fancy roast chicken.

Whole chicken
1 lemon
Bottle of lemon juice
Garlic (I use pre-chopped from a jar, sue me)

Disclaimer: I am not a measure-er, I'm an eyeball-er. I eyeball almost everything I cook. So, when roasting your very own chicken use the amount that looks right based on the size of your chicken.

Step 1: Wash chicken
Yes, run that bald, nasty looking thing under the kitchen sink. It felt icky to do so (aren't we going to eat that?!) but, for some reason I don't understand, it must be done. Make sure it's thoroughly thawed first. Pat dry with paper towels.

Step 2: Put stuff on chicken
I used a mix of melted butter, lemon juice from a bottle and a few teaspoons of garlic. Having a basting brush would really come in handy at this point, but I'm not comfortable with that sort of financial commitment so I just spooned the juice over it. Don't forget to baste the cavity, which will from here on be referred to as the a-hole.

Step 3: Put stuff in a-hole of chicken
Roll a lemon around on the counter to get the juices flowing. Slice it in half and shove it into the chicken's a-hole. The a-hole of my chicken could only handle 1 lemon but I suppose if your chicken had a super big a-hole you could fit a few more in there.

Step 4: Cook chicken
A nifty little tip I read online is to let the chicken spend half the cooking time breast side down so the delicious moist-inducing juices run into, not out of, the tasty, tasty breasts. It was a good tip and you should follow it, too. My chicken spent the first 45 minutes of its hour and 45 minute cooking time breast side down.

Cooking time depends on the weight of the bird, but a good rule of thumb is 20-ish minutes per pound plus a little extra. I was expecting my 4 pound bird to cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes but the meat thermometer I inserted wasn't quite up to the chicken symbol at that time so I let it cook another 15 minutes. Thankfully that was sufficient for salmonella prevention, though I remember hearing somewhere that salmonella does not exist in Norway.

Let the bird sit for 10-15 minutes once it comes out of the oven - remember, chicken cooking is all about moisture creation, retention and preservation. If you cut it too soon the juices will run right out and you'll be left with dry meat. This also applies to steak. Rachael Ray taught me that.

Resting time is also a good time to finish whipping up your side dishes. I served my roast chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and lemon-shallot brussel sprouts. If you said 'eew' to the brussel sprouts I would like to personally punch you in the face. They are so good and have a totally undeserved bad reputation. And they're healthy, too (if you care about that sort of thing)!

If you're an anal Norwegian male who can't cook without a very specific recipe, check out the one I based mine on.

Impress your friends and fam, roast a chicken with these 4 easy steps. Martha will be so proud!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blog for Choice

Oblivious me, without fail, forgets this date every year until I stumble upon a reminder that today is the anniversary that Roe v. Wade was decided. And every year I think "I am so lucky to have a choice in what happens to my life".

I was reminded by this nifty little campaign by NARAL Pro-Choice America:

The campaign asks bloggers to answer the question: What does Trust Women mean to you?

It's hard for me to answer a question that's so simple. So painfully, obviously simple. To me it means trusting women, not a government, not a religion, not an outside force, to make decisions about what they think is best for themselves. To not treat women like fragile porcelain dolls that, those poor dears, need to be told what to do, lest they wrinkle their pretty little foreheads thinking too hard.

Abortion ain't pretty; it's only ever talked about in hushed tones and, increasingly to a terrifying level, through spitting venom. Most people who've had one, I'd guess, wouldn't publicly admit it. And why would they? It's their choice and their lives. Nobody needs to be involved except the people of their choosing. Again, no government, no religion, no outside force. Nor is it something to be ashamed of.

If I ever have daughters in the future (sons, too - children I choose to have) I don't want them growing up in a world without abortion. Access to abortion is a civil and human right.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Being Martha Stewart

Lots of bloggers write about their culinary adventures for all the world to see. I like reading about said adventures so, in an effort to mask just how lacking in personality I am, I'll jump on the bandwagon.

After an attempt at pumpkin cheesecake on Christmas Day (damn you Norway and your lack of pre-made graham cracker crusts) I had some leftover pumpkin in a can, purchased safely in July before the pumpkin shortage crisis of 2009.

I went to my favorite recipe website,, to see what was in the 'ol cookbook. Yes, I am awesome enough to have an account there which stores saved recipes in a "cookbook". That makes me a foodie, right?

In the time I've had an account with The Zaar (as we foodies call it) I've collected quite a few recipes over the years. 184 to be exact. A quick search for "pumpkin" reveals this tasty sounding delight: Pumpkin Chocolate Loaf. I like pumpkin. I like chocolate. I like loaves. And had all the ingredients in the house, which is vital on a Sunday when the grocery stores are all closed. I would've murdered for such a luxury as a grocery store employee in high school, but that's a story (rant?) for another day. Back to the food.

My blogging-about-cooking idea came a wee bit late, as most people take pictures during the entire step-by-step process. Well, my dough was all mixed up before the light bulb went off in my head so all I have is a before and after shot of my culinary creation:

Before baking:

After baking:

Was it good? Yes. Was it great? No. But I think I know why. One nifty tool on the Zaar is the ability to change the size of the recipe. The original recipe made 3 loaves and, pumpkin shortage crisis notwithstanding, I didn't have enough to make 3 whole loaves. So I adjusted the recipe to make only 1 loaf. Because of that I don't think there was enough of the "pumpkin spices" (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) in the reduced size recipe to make the bread taste super super pumpkin pie-y, which I was expecting.

The Zaar also lets you view the nutrition facts of all their recipes. This information I usually ignore. Useful tool, though, if you care about silly, vapid things like fitting through doorways and premature death.

All in all the Pumpkin Chocolate Loaf is a tasty carbonanza that stinks up your house real nice and pretty. I will make it again one cold winters night, and add more spices, but I've got to get my hands on more canned pumpkin first!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

United Airlines FAIL

Attention United Airlines:

As you may or may not know, there are 365 days in a typical, non-leap year. 2010 is one of those years.

So why, according to you, does March end (31) on a Wednesday and April begin (1) on a Friday? What happened to Thursday, United? What happened to Thursday?!


(Click to enlarge)

Bad attempt at an early April Fools joke, perhaps?

Regardless, you are in a world of hurt when people book flights for the completely wrong day/date, which is going happen for 3/4 of the entire year. And every single year after this one.

And you wonder why your industry is in the crapper.