Easter Cooking

no not hot cross buns but just good food. I had plans of going away this glorious four day weekend, going bush and exploring. Sadly though that has not been the case as it is nearly two months from when I wrecked my ankle and it is still causing me havoc. Most recently from me thinking it was better than it was and overdoing it, so much that I spent a fair bit of Friday in bed recovering.

Yesterday we had not one but three phone calls from Iceland!!!! That does not happen very often even less than once in a blue moon, more like once is a red moon. It was one of my brother’s birthdays so he rang to say hello and then he passed the phone to one of our other brothers. Then one of my sisters rang to have a chat. Then to top it off Karl the next eldest in age brother from me rang from Ísafjörður the town of his birth where he and a big handful of mates were at Aldrei fór ég suður or I Never Went South a music festival that is exactly how I think a festival should be and so looking forward to going to one year soon. One of the first things Karl mentioned was that he had seen Svavar play with his band Hraun earlier on and commented on his polaroid picture taking which I had to laugh at as last year when Svavar was here I think he quite possibly took more poloraids than he drank beers and that is saying something. A little while later Karl asked if I wanted to speak to Svavar as he had just walked outside, I said of course why not and that was then the most amusing thing. Karl handing a phone to someone who does not know him and saying there is a girl on the phone from Australia for you. Very hilarious. So that was quite a fun thing.

When I woke up Sunday morning I didn’t expect to speak to any family in Iceland and much less Svavar.

Back to the food.

Easter Friday I made a a big whopping batch of pesto (we are talking 1kg plus here). Don’t underestimate my love for pesto or the fact that my pesto could rival that of the best Nonna made pesto from Genoa well I haven’t tested it against a Nonna from Genoa but I think it could. I made a pesto loaf using a slightly different bread recipe to what I normally used and well moral of that story, when making a plain white loaf, use the recipe you know! It is edible but that is about it, the Mum analysis is that I probably altered the water content too much when adding the pesto.

Dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday.
lunch and dinner
Four slices of bread toasted on/under the grill, rubbed with a little bit of garlic, topped with some more pesto, then some toasted prosciutto, some semi-dried tomatoes, a sprinkle of salt/pepper/oil and a fine grating of pecorino. It was quite delightful, my only wish would if we had had some salad greens in the fridge to add as well.

Lunch for Mum and I today as well as lunch for the next two days.
lunch today for Mum and I
Little egg and bacon tarts.
Puff pastry shell pre-baked for a few minutes to crisp the bottom up, spread with some pesto, filled with sautéed onion, garlic, shallots and bacon, topped with egg, pecorino, seasoning and cream fraiche with a semi-dried tomato on top, baked for a handful of minutes and served with a quick grate of pecorino and served with a good handful of fresh beans.

Then in the freezer I have some lime granita and I made a pretty tasty dinner tonight which was cannelloni stuffed with mince, pesto, ricotta, parmigiano, bread crumbs, seasoning, parsley, semi-dried tomatoes, onion and an egg to help bind it all together in a sauce of tomatoes, spinach, ricotta, onion, garlic. Pretty nice, no photos of either though because the lime granita is just that and well the cannelloni as good as it tasted didn’t exactly look good and most of it disappeared pretty quickly.

Tomorrow it is Tuesday which means the end of the four day weekend and back to work.

damm my brother

Now, my brother currently lives in Iceland (actually four of my five brothers live in Iceland but I am referring to the first born son of my mother), the brother who has probably shaped my musical tastes more than anyone else. My brother gets to go and see all those cool Icelandic bands that I only get to listen to on myspace or on the CDs I get sent for Christmas.

What trigged this post you ask?
Karl, the aforementioned brother has just posted his photos and write up from the music festival that he went to over the Easter weekend. We both spent the Easter long weekend at music festivals which were on opposite ends of the festival spectrum. I went to the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival, Karl went to Aldrei fór ég suðuror I never went South. A music festival in Ísafjörður, which is the town where Karl was born and the largest town in the Westfjords with a population of about 2750. The festival is 110% free, the bands play for free, the events are free with the town pitching in to make it happen, all ages and true all ages in that the crowd ranged from babies to oldies. Best of all, it seems most of it happened in a fish shed, embracing the true roots of the Westfjords.

I was happily clicking the next button looking at all Karl’s photos and I came across this photo of Lay Low at which I jumped in my chair and made some noise along the lines of argrh as to the fact that I want to see Lay Low live dammit! I have been thinking about throwing it all in and going to Iceland Airwaves this year though I don’t think that will be on the cards till I have actually got a real job. Or figuring out a way to get Lay Low and some other cool Iceland bands to come to Aus and do a tour. That would perhaps be even cooler.

What is the point of this post?
Just me been envious of what my dear brother is getting up to in Iceland of course and making those envious feelings public, nothing more than that. Also admiring just how cool his photos from Aldrei are.

Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 14

July 9, 2005.

After setting up camp the night before, we had breakfast and headed up out of the campsite to the main building where we would be kitted out with wetsuits, dry jackets, helmets and shoes to make the most of our day rafting down the Jökulsá Austari (East Glacial River – Skagafjörður). What a day it would be!

When we were kitting up, I managed to grab shoes that were a size or two too small and didn’t really notice that till we were a little away so I spent most of the time curling my toes in to try to make not so tight! That however did not put a damper on the day as I had a total blast! The river is graded an IV by most sources which means that it isn’t really for pansies.

We trooped up to the launch site on a big old bus which at times felt like it wasn’t going to make it round the bends or up the hills but after driving for a while we made it to the launch site we were given some morning tea and were instructed in paddling techniques and safety procedures before getting put in teams and getting introduced to our guides. One of the great things about our guides been Nepalese meant that English was the primary language spoken during the day with the guides shouting back and forth to each other in Nepalese. It is hard to describe the day in words other to say than it was utterly amazing and I would love to do it again!

We had fun going down rapids, laughing and cheering other boats on as went through tricky bits and then cheering for ourselves when we managed to get to the end of the trip without having capsized our boat. The guides threatened to do it on purpose as all the other boats had turned over at one stage or another but in the end they didn’t.

Part way down the river we stopped at a little “beach” and those who wanted to were able to get out and climb up a rocky outcrop (4-6m above the water depending on where you jumped from) and jump into the water below. I was more than happy to lie back on the raft in the sun and watch Matthew, Karl and the rest of the crew jump.

When we reached quieter sections of the river it was fun to watch the guides who were in kayaks showing off doing Eskimo Rolls and other little tricks.

Then after some more paddling, cascades, rapids and other fun stuff we reached the end 🙁 Where we were greeted with cups of steaming hot meat soup 🙂 and the ride back to Bakkaflöt feeling a little damp 🙁 After arriving back at Bakkaflöt and getting out of our kit, we headed over to the hot tub and heated pool for some fun 🙂 and then onto a dinner of pylsur (hot dogs) and drinks for those who were not driving later on (i.e everyone but me). 🙂 I did however had a sip of Ã?sdís’s sister’s Pear Cider which was yum with a capital Y and a capital U and a capital M. After sitting round the campsite eating, talking, playing with cameras, listening to music, Matthew and I jumped in the Micra, hit the road and drove the 100 odd km to Akureyri where we crawled into bed at the Youth Hostel after a loooong day.

I have no photos of the rafting trip because it wasn’t really somewhere to take my camera but I do have photos from the time we spent sitting round the campsite that evening. The first two are taken by Matthew and I think the last one was by me.

Helen and �sdís Karl Matthew

Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 13

Today was a big driving day, Matthew and I did about 520km as we were meeting up with Karl and some of his friends to spend the next day white-water rafting.


Once we left Korpudalur in the morning we drove through the West Fjords Tunnel (1 on the map) and stopped in at �safjörður to pick up some groceries and post some postcards.

Driving to �safjörður in the Vestfirðir tunnel

Then we hit the road! We drove past the wrecking yard at Ögur and washed our away hopes of having a look round as the signs made a good job of saying we don’t want visitors.

Then we drove round, over and across the fjord’s as we made our way to our first destination – the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft in Hólmavík (2 on map). This was a pretty cool place to check out, lots of history and exhibits of the not so normal.

Fish Drying Whale Bone Table Necropants / Nábrók

And we drove some more and more, as we reached the start of the North coast it was so interesting to see all the logs on the shore that come up on the beach as drift wood from the logging operations in Siberia, it can take 4/5 years between when the wood “swims” down the rivers of Siberia and when it beaches itself on the Icelandic north coast. Pretty Cool. The even cooler thing was spotting an Iceberg on the horizon. That was so rocking! It was just this big hunk of ice floating in the sea!!!

drift logs

Back on the road; Matthew, Pabbi and I pulled into the hamlet of Borðeyri (4 on map) which is across the fjord from Tannstaðabakki, which is where Pabbi’s mother worked for a little while when Pabbi was a little tyke.

As we drove back up the eastern side of the fjord, Pabbi pointed out the machine gun placement up the hill from Tannstaðabakki where his father was stationed during part of WWII. After we drove some more, we reached the Youth Hostel at Ósar on the Vatnsnes Peninsula which is where Mum, Pabbi and Margaret would be staying for the night. We spent some time chilling out, talking to some of the other guests and chowing down on the whale steaks that Pabbi had cooked for dinner. yum.

As the night drew on, Matthew and I packed up our gear and reorganised the cars so that all our stuff was in the Micra and headed down the 811 to where it joins the 1 to wait for Karl and his friends to arrive so we could follow them to Bakkaflöt which is where we would spend the night before heading up the valley to raft in the morning.

Hay, Hay, Hay Looking east

Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 13

July 7, 2005.
The first item on the agenda this morning was to ring Karl and wish him a happy 26th Birthday.


Today Margaret and Mum attempted to walk over Kaldbakur which at 998m is the highest mountain in the West Fjords. Matthew, Pabbi and I left Auðkúla at a leisurely pace and headed into to �safjörður for a poke round whilst the other two did their walk.

These two photos are of the entrance sign to Auðkúla and a look back towards Auðkúla and it’s fjord as we drove up over the mountains (number 1 and 2 on the map).

Auðkúla Looking back

Pabbi showed us sights and memories of �safjörður and after a visit to the grocery store for some lunch supplies we made the drive back to Þingeyri to have lunch. I forgot to mark it on the map where we had lunch but if you look at the map we had lunch at the end of the fjord that Þingeyri is on. We left the road where it crosses the new bridge and drove down the road that my parents used to have to drive on to go to �safjörður. After eating lunch in the car at the end of the fjord as it had started to drizzle we headed up to the spot where we would be picking Mum and Margaret up from their walk, on the way though we pulled into have a look at some fish drying huts (number 4 on the map).

Drying Huts

Once Mum and Margaret had arrived we headed into Þingeyri proper and started to drive and walk around. It was really quite sad to see Þingeyri as it is very run down compared to the photos of when my parents lived there in the late 70’s. There were buildings boarded up everywhere, rust was growing over the town and as a whole the village was a quiet place. The village had a population of around 450 when my parents lived there but like many other fishing villages of the West Fjords had largely declined and is now around 360.

Welcome to Thingeyri poppies Matthew, Pabbi and Mum on the main street in Thingeyri Palsson x4 in Thingeyri 2005_07_07-14_47_39--img_2430 Going to the chapel Australia House
We passed the building where Mum used to live, we visited the church where my parents were married, we went past the places where my parents used to work, we stopped by the house across the road from where my parents used to live to see if anyone was home. No-one was though, which was a bummer because the daughter of the family who live there was who I was named after. Well not Helen but my middle name Þura. The last stop was of course to stop by the house where my parents used to live.

The old house in Thingeyri

As we visited places and ran into people, it was quite funny to watch the exchanges that would occur as Pabbi would recognise people who were children when he last saw them and adults now and they would take a little while before it would click as to who he was.

After we had spent our afternoon exploring and talking we left Þingeyri and drove to the youth hostel where we would be staying the night (Korpudalur, number 6 on the map).

It was quite serendipitous to visit Þingeyri on the day which Karl was born 26 years before and on that note I leave you with this image of the town which I took from a hill just above the town.

Þingeyri and Dýrafjörður in Black and White

Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 12

July 6, 2005 more exploring of the West Fjords.

Below is the map of the day with our 7 stops.

1. Mum, Margaret and Pabbi had gone back out to the bird cliffs in the morning to have a second look but there was no where near as many as we had seen the night before.

Once we had reached the turn off down to Breiðavík, we stopped the car and I took the photo below.

2. As we drove over the pass and into the Bíldudalur valley, we were greeted by two sights, one pleasant and one just gorgeous. The first was this decaying hut on the western side of the valley. The second was looking towards the north east to the slopes of the mountains coming down to greet the sea. This was a sight I would not tire of.

old house near Bíldudalur

We drove into Bíldudalur and had a poke round and Pabbi told how it had changed in the 26yrs odd years since he had last been there.

3. Road Signs
Not really much to this but it was the first sign we saw that said how many km’s to Þingeyri and I thought that was pretty cool
Þingeyri turnoff

4. Emergency Shelter on Dynjandsheidi.
The West Fjords are a pretty a rugged area of Iceland and are one of the least populated areas with about 8000 people living there out of a total population of round 297,000. Due to the nature of the region we passed many emergency shelters in the West Fjords which can provide a safe haven for travellers in winter.

This shelter was one of the ones that my father helped to build back in the day when he was living in the area.


5. Dynjandi or Fjallfoss
Such a beautiful and dramatic waterfall! The falls drop about 100m in a series of falls all of which have their own name.

Dynjandi Helen at Dynjandi Dynjandi

6. Hrafnseyri.
Here we visited the Jón Sigurðsson Museum and a traditional Icelandic life Museum. Jón Sigurðsson was at the forefront of the fight for Icelandic Independeance and now the Icelandic National Day is celebrated on his birthday – June 17.
Classic Iceland Looking SW from Hrafnseyri

7. Auðkúla.
My family relations on my father’s side are a bit confusing but in short Auðkúla is the family farm of my dad’s ex-wife and when we started to plan our trip and where we would go, Pabbi was quickly on the phone to his ex-brother-in-law to see if we could spend the night, which was perfectly fine of course. However, somewhere along the way they got the dates mixed up and he was away when we arrived and was not coming home until the next day, we were lucky however that his daughter Dáðina (?) was home and was able to play hostess.

Auðkúla was a very beautiful place with the outlooks to the fjord from one side of the house and mountain views from the other side 🙂 We were given a tour of the farm from the chickens to the sheep and most importantly the Eider Ducks. As a matter of fact we actually own an Eider Down Sæng (doona) that is filled with down collected at Auðkúla

Looking east from Auðkúla The old co-op building at Auðkúla An old boat at Auðkúla Eider Duckling at Auðkúla Arctic Cottongrass (Eriophorum scheuchzeri) Arctic Cottongrass (Eriophorum scheuchzeri) The Old Co-Op boat at Auðkúla Matthew or Pabbi?