Tag Archives: Switzerland

Maybe it’s time to stop jumping

When I told my mom that we were taking an extended holiday in Europe and also considering going back to school when I came back, she accused me of jumping from fire to fire. I suppose I can understand why she would say that.

IMG_0269
I caught myself wishing I could look at this every day. I also knew it was unrealistic.

I guess I do have a habit of jumping to something new when something isn’t working for me. I do believe that I try really hard to make things work before I walk away. I spend countless hours (Libra, here) weighing out the pros and cons to staying or leaving. Sometimes I’ve overstayed my welcome and things slip out of my hands. Other times, I have walked away with minimal regret.

IMG_0135
Some decisions are harder than others.

So, when we came to Europe, I went through phases of desire with each city we visited. In Scandinavia, I tried to imagine what living in each city would be like long-term. I liked what I envisioned. I’d start listing out all the pros of what life could be like if we tried to settle in each city we were currently in. But often, we’d come across a few cons which would lead me to immediately flag it as “un-livable” to us and then we’d move on.

It occurred to me over the last few months that what we’re doing could be considered running from city to city – literally and figuratively speaking.

Being over here has given us the freedom to dream and imagine what life could be like living in any of these cities. Visas and employment aside, I’d say my order of preference would be:

  1. Switzerland (German, then French side)
  2. Germany (Berlin, then Frankfurt)
  3. Sweden (Stockholm or Gothenburg)
  4. Denmark (Copenhagen)
  5. England (London)

Before we came over here, London was always my number one choice. I’ve dreamt about living in London for as long as I can remember. It’s so interesting how being in a different stage in your life can change your perspective. In a different stage in my life, no other city (except maybe Manhattan) would have satisfied me and so I stayed living in Toronto.

IMG_2218
City must-have: stunning scenery.

Now I’ve come to realize that the destination of where we’re living matters less. Now our must-have list looks like this:

  • Must be near natural beauty (seeing the Alps every day when I went for a run really changed my whole perspective on what makes me happy on a daily basis);
  • Must have fresh food available. I’m much more satisfied when I’m eating real, flavourful food. I’ve been missing out in Toronto (I mostly shopped in Chinatown where the majority of the food is imported). Farmers markets are great, but I’d love to have access to this type of food all year round.
  • Must place an emphasis on work life balance, being especially understanding of hobbies outside of work. It doesn’t / shouldn’t always be about work, nor should your status be completely tied to your career.
  • Must have an active community. We got some weird looks when we’d be out running in certain neighbourhoods. I also did 90% of my runs completely solo except in some cities where running groups existed. I’d like to have the choice to train with groups.

Over the last week, I’ve realized that I’m reaching the point where I might be done with jumping for a while. I’m not exactly homesick yet, but I miss having a home base. Moving around all the time and not having our own space to relax in is starting to get tiring, not to mention expensive. The crazy, awesome thing is that Mike told me that he was feeling same way. I’m always relieved when we’re in sync like that.

Travelling is great, and I’m so happy that I finally got to try this lifestyle out. Something tells me that this won’t be the last time we take an extended trip to Europe. Life is short, and we should prioritize whatever inspires us and makes us happy.

IMG_2420
I didn’t regret a single run in Switzerland.

I also realized something powerful today. I’ve been happy nonstop since we came here in January. Sure there have been a few panicked moments where I’ve asked myself what I want to achieve in the next 2 to 5 years, but the difference is that I haven’t felt despair over the fact that I didn’t have a definitive answer. I made it through another winter with a smile on my face and feeling energized and refreshed. It feels so good. 

 
alison

The difference in European eggs and a recipe

The eggs in Switzerland are incredible. They’re superior all over Europe compared to Canada, but the ones in Switzerland are extra special. I thought it was Swiss bias talking, but since we’ve been back and forth between Switzerland and a few other European countries, we’ve been able to directly compare and yes – Swiss eggs are in a different league.

First of all, the eggs in Switzerland (and all of Europe, I think) aren’t sold in the refrigerated section like they are in Canada and the US. According to Business Insider, this is due to the way the eggs are treated. In the US (and I assume Canada), the eggs are cleaned to minimize salmonella contamination which damages the outer shell and results in it needing to be refrigerated. In the UK (and I assume Switzerland), egg farmers focus their salmonella prevention at the production level as they are collected. For example, hens are vaccinated against salmonella. By not allowing the cleaning of eggs, one hope is that the farmers will have better farming practices overall to remain competitive.

The fact that the EU encourages farmers to take more responsibility in ensuring their processes are clean compared to the US (and maybe Canadian) who decide not to give the farmers the benefit of the doubt and instead pass a law to clean and permanently alter the eggshell to the point where it must be refrigerated is fascinating to me. One approach to me speaks of empowerment, the other speaks of mistrust and an assumption that farmers can’t meet a higher quality on their own. Personally, I am motivated when I feel empowered and take pride in anything I produce – but I can understand why this may not always work on a national level. Either way, this has convinced me that when I come back to Canada, Mike and I are going to try extra hard to purchase eggs directly from the farmer so we can talk to them and understand a bit more about the production process. Honestly, it was something I never really cared about before coming here, but I’d almost rather not eat eggs at all if I know how much better they can taste.

Having said that, I don’t have scientific evidence that the production process is the sole reason that the eggs taste so good (I’m sure the answer exists somewhere on the internet if I searched hard enough), but what I will speak anecdotally. I had the chance to try an egg from Maja’s backyard chicken one day and it was even better than the best grocery store egg that we had in Switzerland. She has two chickens and one rooster (she’s strict about not getting any more) and they roam free all day long and produce eggs on semi regular basis (less in the winter when it’s cold). She feeds them real food (often leftovers from our meals). They’re also sassy; the rooster crows all day long, and the chickens are always roaming around in the yard or in one of the two wooden structures built for them. When you come near the fence, they come straight at you and start calling out to you. They have personalities.

IMG_2684
Eggs on a shelf, not in a refrigerated section (by the way, this was taken in Germany, which is why the prices are so much cheaper than in Switzerland).

In addition to taste, the eggs look different as well. The yokes are a dark orange colour compared to the yellow they are in Canada. Granted, I rarely bought eggs directly from the farmer in Canada so maybe I’m making an unfair assertion that this type of egg quality doesn’t exist at all in Canada.

IMG_1829
An unfiltered picture of a whisked egg – so this is how yellow it looks with the yoke and egg white mixed together! Amazing.

Anyway, back to eating Swiss eggs. I have yet to cook and ruin a Swiss egg.  Scrambled, over easy, hard boiled… all cooking methods have resulted in deliciously satisfying meals. Before I came to Europe, I wouldn’t even have called myself an egg person. I may have bee lucky to heat an egg once a week back in Canada. Here, I look forward to eating them every day.

One night, Maja offered to make a very simple “leftover egg dish” that she said she typically makes on Fridays using whatever leftovers she had in the fridge. She brushed it off as no big deal and didn’t even have a recipe. “I cook by feeling,” was her response as she pointed to a few things here and there on her spice rack when I asked her how she made it.

IMG_1970
Maja’s delicious egg bake

It was basically a crustless quiche. Whatever you’d call it, it was delicious and I knew I wanted to recreate this and add it to our regular meal rotation.

Here is a basic recipe which can and should be tailored to whatever you have in your fridge at home.

IMG_0509

Egg Bake

Ingredients

  • 6-8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1-2 cups of grated cheese (I like gruyere or any other sharp cheese)
  • 2-3 TBSP of flour (can leave out if you want, but I find it adds to the overall texture)
  • dried herbs (I like to use dill or a mix of oregano and basil)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 2-3 cups of cooked vegetables (I love using broccoli, zucchini, red peppers, spinach and mushrooms)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F (~190C).
  2. Add the cooked vegetables to the bottom of an oven safe glass casserole pan (8×8 or 9×9 would be great).
  3. Whisk eggs, milk, flour, herbs, 3/4 of the cheese salt and pepper well.
  4. Pour over cooked vegetables and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.
  5. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

A few process photos:

Vegetables of choice at the bottom of the pan. I cooked these especially for this dish, but Maja used leftovers from other meals. It doesn’t matter if the vegetables are already seasoned – the eggs act as a great canvas to mingle with whatever the vegetables are flavoured with.

IMG_3041

Whisk the egg, milk, spices and cheese. You can also leave the cheese out and add it all on top at the end – it really doesn’t matter. IMG_3042
Pour egg mixture over vegetables.IMG_3043Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, and bake for 20-25 minutes. 
IMG_3044

Allow to cool before eating as it will be a puffed up when you first pull it out, but settles after a few minutes. IMG_3045
Enjoy with a large side salad, a few pieces of sourdough bread and some extra cheese if you’re feeling adventurous. 

IMG_1972Enjoy!

alison

Related Posts with Thumbnails