Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Europe Trip (first part), the Wedding, and Recipe

Blog for Switzerland – the Beginning

Switzerland is beautiful, which is no surprise.

Our flight took about 9 hours and was uneventful, the best kind. However, it’s so hard to get the correct information from the airlines. I had called about meals aboard and was told that they would serve breakfast, only breakfast. I thought that odd since it was such a long flight, but go argue. So I made sandwiches, a turkey, brie and avocado on croissant for Art and an organic turkey, cucumber, avocado and tomato wrapped in a collard leaf for me. I brought some fruit and chips as well. Once on board, they told us they’d be serving a apertif and then dinner. The apertif was a bag of small crackers and small pretzels. I had ordered a vegetarian breakfast, so I got a vegetarian dinner. I took two bites and ate my sandwich. Art loved his pasta dish, and I still have his sandwich two day later. Oh well.

We’ve rarely had negative experiences on our travels, so I guess we were due. Our first stop before we even got our rental car, was at the Orange Store which carried sim cards for our phones. That took a while, and when we left we still didn’t have working phones, but we had been told that it would take about an hour more before they would work. The car renting was fine. However, when we got our car, and Art was loading the trunk, which was quite small, a man who are asked if we were finished with our cart (in sign language, no English), came over and insisted on helping us. He showed us how we could put the back seats down and the luggage would fit. And, he promptly walked away, without the cart, which I thought was strange at the time, but quickly forgot about. When we arrived at our Servas hosts’ home in Dietlikon, about 20 minutes from Zurich airport, and Art was unloading the car, he couldn’t find his personal black bag. Aha! We had been taken. Art called the police. Luckily, someone had found his bag with his American passport still in it. Yes! Actually, almost everything was in it except for some very old American Express Travelers Checks, at least 15 year old. Turns out that he would need to have a passport to use them, so I don’t know why he even took them. And our phones still weren’t working, 3 hours later than when we had left the store. So, while at the airport, we went back to the Orange Store and it was an easy fix. These should be the worst things that ever happen to us! Now, they have already happened, so the rest of the trip should be a breeze. And, so far it has been.

We’ve been having a wonderful time with our Servas hosts and exploring near by places. We’re staying with a really warm, fun, and interesting couple who have two sons, 17 and 12. We’re laughing a lot and Miriam is a great cook. I made my Smothered Onion Pasta one night (I’ve written the recipe in a past Blog, but if asked, will be happy to give it again), and then a form of Brian’s Veggie Quinoa another night (which I’ve also written before).

I used different vegetables for the Veggie Quinoa, so this time:
I cooked the Quinoa with just a touch of Olive oil and some sea salt, while I sauted onion, red pepper, and zucchini with fresh basil, fresh oregano, and a bit of sea salt until all the veggies were soft. I stirred the softened mixture into the cooked quinoa.
However, before starting the quinoa to cook, I had cut up vegetables and was roasting them in a 425 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. I used onion, carrots, cauliflower, leek, eggplant, sea salt, and Greek Seasoning from The Spice Hunter (go online to find it). When everything was finished, I served the two together. A lot of yums!

Our first full day here, from Deitlikon, north of Zurich, we went to Stein Am Rhein, a wonderful small village about an hour away. It has a charming cobblestone town square, which is incredibly quaint and colorful. All the buildings have murals painted on their facades, mostly telling in pictures what the stores sell. It’s considered the most beautiful plaza in all of Switzerland.

I have tried and tried to copy my photo of the Plaza here. Unfortunately, I can't seem to manage that right now. Will send photo later. This should be easy to do, as I've done it in the past, but.... what can I say. Easy for some, not so easy for others.

We had a lovely lunch of Rosti (I was off my diet), a Naitonal dish of shredded potatoes made into a large pancake, and ours was topped with sliced tomatoes and a mild cheese, and a salad. They were delicious and very filling.

So, it’s been almost two weeks since we were in Stein-am-Rhein, and we’re now in the South of France in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. We’ve had so many wonderful and exciting experiences during this time. We went to the Wedding of our dear friends, Barbara and Don’s daughter, in Verey, which was so very special it would take another several pages to tell all about it, so I’ll keep it short and sweet, if I can, as I’d really like to share it with you.

The day after we arrived in Vevey, Switzerland, we went as a group of 11 to Les Bains Lavey, hot water springs in pools, with jets and other fun things. One area had such heavy duty jets that it circulated you around – you had to move in the one direction. It was set up as a donut, with a center of quiet water you could get to thru a spiral from the fast moving water. This doesn’t sound clear, so I guess you had to be there. They also had an indoor pool and once every half hour, if you laid on your back with your ears underwater, you could hear either classical music or whale sounds – they alternated them. They had saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs, and a cold plunge after the sauna if you so wished. I didn’t! We spent the evening with our Servas hosts, wonderful people, Amy, who is American and has lived in Switzerland for the past 16 years, and her significant other, Ghislain. I had cooked my lemon chicken the first night we were there (a previous recipe in  my blog). Ghislain loves to cook, so he cooked the night of the baths, a delicious dish of onions, spinach, and shrimp over brown rice. I’m going to work on that recipe and publish it when I do; it was terrific and I hope I can duplicate it. He didn’t used measurements, so it’s up to me.

The next day was free, no group activity planned for during the day. Art and I took the ferry from Lausanne, about 20 minutes from Vevey, across Lake Geneva to Yvoire, a charming medieval village, where you could only walk through the town; this is true of all the medieval towns as the streets are so narrow. The ferry ride was about 40 minutes, making two stops, one in Evian (the water, you know). It rained most of the day, but we had an umbrella and it wasn’t a problem. They had lovely boutiques throughout the town, cobblestone streets, a castle, which wasn’t open to the public, lots of hanging flowers, and lots of restaurants. We had a delicious meal of perch, a nice white fish from the lake, considered a speciality in the whole area. Half the lake is in Switzerland, Lake Geneva, and half is in France, Lake Leman. Makes life interesting, I would think. The ferry ride back was longer as we had to transfer to a second ferry. We landed in Lausanne a few minutes late, drove back to Vevey, quickly changed, and made it to the rehearsal dinner only 15 minutes late, but we were really early, as most arrived after we did.

Wow – talk about a gourmet dinner. It was fantastic. It’s now several days later so I hope I remember the whole meal. It started out with a cold cantaloupe soup, with three small scoops of watermelon in it, served with a piece of toasted baguette topped with diced parma ham. The next course was a tartare of salmon, on salad greens, with three different types of tomato going down the side of the plate, one was a 1 - 1½” round of tomato aspic, next a stuffed grape tomato with goat cheese, and the third was chopped tomato molded in the shape of a heart (it was a wedding, you know). The third course was a poached white fish in a delicious exotic mushroom sauce (can’t remember what else was on the plate). Two more course to go! The next was a cheese platter. The last was dessert – three types of chocolate: white chocolate mousse over soft dark chocolate, two meringues surrounding a home made sorbet, and believe it or not, I can’t remember the third, but they were all delicious! We ate into the late hours of the night; no early meal here.

We rested the day of the wedding until we had to leave for the ceremony. It was in St. Shaphorin, only about 15 minutes away from Vevey, up the hill from the coast road, in a quaint little town. The church was lovely. Danielle, the bride, was so beautiful and Ben, her groom so handsome, almost like a fairytale in feeling. The ceremony wasn’t too long, Ben’s sister sang, and afterwards, a procession of cars was formed, and we drove through the small neighboring towns and vineyards, periodically blowing our horns ( a tradition here), on our way to Domaine Wannaz, in Cheneaux, where the dinner and dancing was held. The owner of the winery, who was also the chef, insisted on creating the menu, so the whole wedding party had no idea what was to be served. Need I say how gourmet this dinner was too. The previous nights’ was going to be hard to follow, but the wedding dinner was spectacular. This from a woman who has been following a rather restrictive diet and just took it all in, literally. I’m so stuffed just thinking about it. Quickly, 1st course, two colored tomato soup (hot red tomato soup on outside with a cold orange tomato soup placed in the center of the hot) with a pesto drizzle. 2nd course, was noodles made of kohlrabi, blanched, with a multi-colored pepper sauce. 3rd course had roasted boned quail with browned small potatoes halves on a skewer. 4th course served was a round of goat cheese, a warm potato (delish with the goat cheese spread on a slice of it), over a salad (there was more to it, but I didn’t write it down, so I don’t remember and I really want to get this blog out). Next (5th course) was four slices of baked apple over cream surrounded with sprinkled nuts, with some golden raisins and passion fruit seeds over the apple slices. We left around midnight, before the wedding cake was served. We were lucky to get a slice of that the next day at the brunch, which was also fantastic. Both the rehearsal dinner and brunch were at Ben’s folks home, where they had put up a huge tent to accommodate everyone invited. Danielle is a very lucky woman to now have two such warm and wonderful families. It seems like we never stopped eating. However, with all that eating went a lot of talking and laughter. It was all magical. A really special event in our lives; we’re so fortunate to have been able to be there.

Now, we’re in France for a few days. Today we went to Eze, another medieval town between Beaulieu and Monaco. It was different than Yvoire, even though they were both medieval, so they had similarities as well. After visiting there, we went to St Jean-Cap-Ferrat, walked around the marina and then visited the Villa and Gardens Ephrussi de Rothchild. What an incredible villa and gardens; there were nine of them. The main pool in the largest part of the garden had a water show every twenty minutes featuring classical music. We loved the Japanese Garden. What a great place to visit! Definitely put it on your list of things to do when visiting the south of France.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bead Journal Project and Recipe

I finished my BJP Spirit Doll a week ago, but Google had made a transition and split my two accounts. I'm still not sure why. It took me a while, since I'm technologically impaired, to work out how to fix what needed to be fixed. Google IS NOT customer friendly, for those of you who don't know that by now. I have visions of moving but will not now; maybe eventually. This is an "Oh well!"

My June Spirit Doll, shown here, holds a lot of symbolism for me.

She is loaded with happiness. I had a clear CAT Scan and am very happy. Her peachy fabric says it all - life is peachy. I love roses and other flowers, so I picked a real rose under acrylic to use for her face. Making jewelry makes me happy, so I gave her a bracelet and necklace. I love suns and spirals. The large yellow flower was suppose to be the center of a sun with rays emanating from it, and it is but it's so much more, as I turned it into the center of a spiral as well. Her colors make me smile, as they are all about a sunny day and warmth; they even remind me of candy. I created a necklace years ago using these colors and called it "eye candy."

Here's a sweet happiness-making recipe for a delicious dessert I call:

Raw Nut and Fruit Cream
This is a recipe that I concocted one day for a potluck dinner. I wanted something creamy and fruity for dessert. You can use almost any mixture of fruit. I happened to have mangoes, blueberries and raspberries in my refrigerator. I'm making it for a party on July 3rd; however, I plan on using blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries as the party has a red, white, and blue motif. I'll be doubling it.

 Serves 6-8

1 1/2 cups of Brazil nuts
1/2 cup of water

3 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 packets Stevia (equals 4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon of Agave nectar
1 tablespoon of organic vanilla

1/4 teaspoon of Celtic salt
3 mangoes, peeled and chunked
2 cups blueberries, washed
½ pint raspberries, washed

  1. Put all ingredients together, except fruit, in a blender or food processor until very smooth and creamy. Since I used Brazil nuts, there will be tiny flakes of dark brown from their skins; it adds to the visual impact.
  2. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before adding the cut up fruit.
  3. Serve in a large bowl or individual containers. Can use a sprig of mint on top.
Enjoy!!! Happy 4th of July.