May 17, 2013 0
Mar 15, 2013 0
Birds chirping, roosters crowing and local music blasting. These are the sounds of Ethiopia in the morning. As our fellow traveler Andrew says, Ethiopia has a continuous soundtrack. This soundtrack motivated us uphill towards the centre of town to see the famed historical rock churches. We paid the exorbitant price to get in, but it was worth it.
We traveled between the churches against the grain of the rest of the tourists. We climbed and clambered our way through narrow passageways, squeezed into small crevices and overlooked incredible views of Lalibela. The intricacies of the red stonework was remarkable, and we all marvelled at how not only were these churches built so long ago, but they are still used for worship today. Drums are beaten, voices are raised, and men and women kneel in humble prayer.
After sufficiently using up our leg strength and sweating more than a bit, we headed back downhill to see the most famous rock church – St. George’s. It’s shaped like a cross with beautifully carved stonework set way down in a man-made cavern.
After we had snapped our obligatory photos, we trekked our way back toward our hotel where we paused to eat lunch. It was there that I was intrigued by avocado juice. So I gave it a try, and the smooth, creamy, green liquid was sweet and fresh and very surprisingly delicious.
We took the chance to rest all afternoon in our rooms, which was absolutely glorious. Reading, journaling, napping.
We met up with our driver around dinnertime and we ended up at this completely quirky restaurant called Ben Abeba. It is set up on a hill and is co-owned by a Scottish lady and an Ethiopian man. “Ben,” in Scottish means “hill.” And “Abeba,” in Amheric means “flowers.” So it literally means “Hill of Flowers.” It looks out over the valley to a most stunning view. The restaurant is an architectural wonder with seemingly never-ending spiralled ramps leading to multiple locations in and out, with different views and designs.
We finally settled on a rock “ledge” nestled into the side of the hill overlooking the valley. We had our own personal bonfire which was both practical and quaint. The menu was a fusion of traditional and non, and we all equally loved the ambiance and the food. A hilight for all of us was the banana-stuffed crepes drizzled in local honey and lemon sauce.
We chatted with Susan, one of the owners, and we were all so smitten, we agreed to go back again the next evening.
Read the other posts on Ethiopia:
Mar 8, 2013 0
**This is a post written by my husband, Peter to give you a glimpse of life behind the blog from his perspective! Enjoy!**
My wife Alison has been blogging for some time now. It’s had different looks (some of which I have helped design or create); it’s gone through different phases and focused on different subjects over the years; but in one way or another she has been blogging since 2006. In fact she has had a blog longer than we have been married – anyone remember the first few years of Blogspot? I remember the summer before we got married we were both tweaking our blogs over our lunch breaks from the Cable Company in Ontario where we both worked.
Over time she has shared about how she has grown and developed as a person, and occasionally how the process of blogging has been a part of that change. With that in mind we thought it might be interesting to have me say a few words on how I have been changed or effected by the blogging process. A peak at what its like being married to a blogger, if you will. So this is the exclusive, once in a life-time, not-to-be-missed report from behind the scenes. This is “The Husband Edition” of Alison’s blog.
I guess right off the bat I should say the biggest change for me has been meal times. You see I grew up with, let’s say, a more “traditionally North American” menu. Most meals consisted of the classic trio: meat, potatoes and veggies, with the occasional break where we ate pasta or a stir-fry. That’s sort of how I imagined life as a married person going as well. And truthfully, in our first year of marriage that was probably pretty close to how we ate (we even had a solid supply of Hamburger Helper on hand in the cupboard during the first year or so of marriage!).
But change was in the air.
Over the past 6 years meal times have become even more a time of experimentation and creativity. For the most part these creations have been amazing and left me thinking, why did it take me so long to taste this! I have eaten things I never thought I’d ever eat, and occasionally eaten things that I had frankly never even heard of before. Truthfully this has been a real treat. Meals that I now see as normal go-to meals, are vastly different than what I would have considered a go-to meal years ago.
I now see eating a primarily vegetarian diet as being pretty normal and find myself being far more aware of what’s going on in the organic section of the grocery store than I ever had been in the past. But as tasty and as wonderful as my role as primary taste tester has been, there are a few side-effects that we have experienced over the years that I think are worth sharing.
First, would be that in experimenting with food as often as we do, occasionally things… well… let’s just say they don’t turn out as planned. There is also the amount of dishes that get left after a fancy or creative meal. The tastier the meal, sometimes the larger the pile of dishes produced (and as the chief dish washer, that’s not always great). And finally, for a time, there was a long pause between dinner being hot and us being able to eat it. That was of course in order to get that perfect photograph to use for the blog or some other publication (this one seems to have worked itself out over time.).
But truthfully it’s been worth it. The food experience and journey has been fantastic (including the occasional flop or cold meal). And in part I have to see Alison’s blog as contributing to that in some way. Both because it has connected to her to a community of food bloggers for inspiration and because the need to write that ‘next post’ or get that recipe in for a deadline has often motivated her to push to the next level of creative cuisine. Alison, my stomach thanks you!
Experiments around the house:
Beyond the amazing food experiments it seems there is always a new idea or experiment for around the house as well. From homemade cleaning supplies to homemade toiletry items and the occasional homeopathic remedy for sickness. A couple of week ago, for example, when I was sick, I found myself being treated by Dr. Alison with all sorts of special homemade detox drinks and even found myself with my feet soaking in Apple Cider Vinegar while sitting in the shower… I blame the blog ;)
Although at times these experiments have been odd or peculiar, we have as a result had an increasingly healthy and affordable home. Like the food experiments, any downsides (like awkwardly sitting my with feet in Vinegar having just chewed raw garlic) have been small in comparison to the relative benefits. Needless to say, like the food experiments this is not exactly how I envisioned things turning out – but boy am I glad it did!
Life is well documented:
Far more than in years past I find a camera or camera phone accompanying us on outings so that we can get a nice shot for the blog. I even find myself saying things like, “Oh you should totally blog about this…!” The net result has been that we have an amazing amount of pictures and written stories about our life thus far. While you might not access the archives around here all that often, doing so for us can be an amazing reminder of the things we have done over the years. In the moment you might think, “Really, do we need to take a picture now, this is just everyday-life stuff?” In the long run, looking back, it’s so worth it. Thanks to the blog for keeping track of our life thus far for us!
The Experiment of Life:
In writing this short little post I noticed how often the word ‘experiment’ came up. And I think that’s probably a great word to describe my experience as a blogger spouse. By being connected to such a broad and diverse group of people through the blogosphere I find the limits on what we saw as possible when we got married continue to be shifted.
Far from planning on settling down and paying a mortgage, I now find myself thinking, “Moving to Thailand and working on an online business might be nice for a year!” “Wouldn’t it be nice to open up a nice artsy music cafe some place?” “What if we quit working and backpacked for a year instead, we could blog about it as we go?” “I’d love to move to Europe and do my Phd.”…
True. Much of this is not directly related to being a blogger spouse, but the consistent reminder from blogging to record and remember the past, to experiment with the present and dream of the future has played an important role.
Thanks Alison for putting so much into your blog, as much as it has surely cost you time and energy and certainly at times feels taxing, the benefit to us as a couple in our adventures with life has been worth it! I am thrilled to be on this adventure with you, and equally thrilled that you have been so willing to record it as we go.
Feb 25, 2013 0
We literally live a 3 minute walk from some of the most delicious food in our neighbourhood. It’s both amazing and terrible. Amazing, because of course the food is sooooo flavourful. Terrible, because it means that we want to eat it on a
daily weekly basis. The best part of it all is that it only costs approximately $3.00 for the two of us to completely overstuff ourselves. Did I mention how amazing it is?
One of the dishes that they sell that I really love is some sort of spicy eggplant dish. To be honest I don’t fully know how they cook/prepare it, but it seems to be sauteed in oil until soft and marinated in some type of spicy sauce. They pile on more chilli sauce when they serve it, and I could easily finish both my portion and Peter’s.
We don’t get this every time we go there, but every once in a while it “calls” out to me and we order it along with a whole roasted chicken or some shawarma (more on those items in future posts!).
I’d like to re-create this dish at home sometime, seeing as we eat eggplant at least 3 times a week, but until then I’ll enjoy the deliciousness created by our friendly neighbourhood restaurant.
Feb 19, 2013 0
I don’t care if you’re married, single, have a tribe of children, or zero on the horizon…every one needs a date night.
You can go on a date with your spouse, your best friend, your child, your grand-mother, or your crazy Uncle Freddy. A date is simply two people spending pre-planned time together in the hopes of growing closer together. You can do that with anyone that means something to you!
And despite what people believe, you don’t have to go out to go on a date. You can enjoy some quality time right inside your own home. And it’s NOT restricted to February 14th. No siree, it’s possible any time of the day, any day of the year.
Your crazy Uncle Freddy will thank
*This post is dedicated to my latest published recipes in the Faith & Friends magazine.
Feb 5, 2013 0
I’m not usually one of those people that shows up notoriously late for things. Specifically things like work, dentist appointments, flights, etc, where you’re required to be on time. And those people who do show up late? They drive me nuts.
However, when it comes to stuff where there isn’t necessarily going to be a repercussion for being late, well…then I’m sometimes late. But not usually toooo bad… I need to work on that. I’d much rather be on time for everything. It’s so distracting (to me and others!) when I’m late. I blame the west coast (where we lived for 4 years) for this bad habit. People were just much more laid back and didn’t care if they were late. And now I’m in the middle east where the response to, “Let’s meet at 5:00 p.m. for dinner!” would be, “Insh’allah,” meaning “If God wills it.” It’s essentially free pass to show up whenever you want, or not show up at all. So…what are the chances of this timing thing changing anytime soon? I’ll let you be the judge of that…
In honour of my tardiness, here’s a post about the January edition of the Faith & Friends magazine I was published in. Yah, I know it’s February…but it’s only the 5th, so I figure it’s kind of like being 5 days late in a month is the equivalent to being 5 minutes late for a committment… it’s acceptable, right?
Jan 18, 2013 0
On vacation, other than relaxing, one of the things that I am most excited about is the food. Tasting it, smelling it, seeing it… I just love exploring how other cultures eat! Even if I’ve been there before, there’s still something new to try.
Before diving into our Middle Eastern Cruise with my parents, I’m pausing to do a quick post about the food we ate in Belgium.
Firstly, I had a dynamite hot chocolate the day we traveled to the edge of three countries and went to the Christmas Market. This hot chocolate was insanely delicious, and it was accompanied by the best cookies in the world: speculoos cookies. SO GOOD. Europeans really know how to do up a hot chocolate.
Then there were the desserts we had at Peter’s great Aunt and Uncle’s home: fruit-stuffed waffles and rice pie. Both of these are Verviers specialities. Peter’s mum has attempted to make the rice pie numerous times, and she says that although she’s gotten close she’s never been able to replicate it properly. She said that it has something to do with the water in Verviers. Crazy, right? I love how food can be so specific to regions – it’s amazing!! In any case, if my mother-in-law can’t make this, then I’m not even going to attempt it, because she’s pretty much a genius when it comes to that kind of stuff (and no, I’m not sucking up, because I don’t think she even reads my blog, haha!).
Okay, let’s talk German Christmas Market food. This is slightly “cheating” because the Market was in Germany…but hopefully you’ll let that go. Let me just say this: it smells incredible at the market. You can hear food sizzling and simmering all around you! It was actually super challenging to know what to eat. There were traditional items like sausage, sauerkraut, etc., and tons of non-traditional items like pizza, pasta… We opted to have potato latkes (THE BEST I’ve ever had), and sauerkraut. Now, we don’t eat pork, which is pretty much a sin in Germany, so finding sauerkraut without the pork sausages was a challenge. To the point where although Peter tried to get only sauerkraut, it didn’t happen. So we left them on the side and his dad at them! The sauerkraut was so unique – so fresh, and it had a curry vibe to it. I really loved it!
We didn’t eat any of these homemade cookies this man was making, but it was definitely neat to watch him make them:
Backing up a bit, let’s chat about some of the homemade eats we had. Peter’s mum and dad went ALL out making Peter’s favourites and introducing us to new foods they’ve started to enjoy since moving to Belgium. One of those things was Chervil soup. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d never heard of Chervil before. Apparently it’s a green herb, and it’s common in Europe, but it hasn’t been anywhere else I’ve been. The soup is a veggie soup along with meatballs. It’s super yummy! In fact, we purchased some powdered packets of it to bring back. Of course, it will be nowhere near close to what we had made fresh by Peter’s dad, but c’est la vie.
Also, can I tell you how much I love lunches at Peter’s parents’ house? It’s incredibly European and I love it. Cheeses, crackers, bread, jams, pates, etc…so perfect for the lunchtime nibbler that I am!! Such a treat every time we visit. And this was especially nice because they got some extras since it was Christmas, and of course, because European dairy aisles are GINORMOUS (no joke – I went to many grocery stores in Belgium and the dairy aisleS are insane – in the most amazing way).
Last but not least, it wouldn’t be a trip to Europe without a stop in a Patisserie! I love how they’re all displayed and each one looks absolutely perfect. They’re almost too beautiful to eat!
Of course we ate way more than just what I’m telling you, but I thought I’d just hi-light some of the food for you to get a taste of what we ate while we were away!