My Interview with Expat Blog Published Online

9 Jan

Hi guys, check out my interview on Expat Blog!

http://www.expat-blog.com/en/interview/137_sarah-in-geneva.html

This is a great community of expat bloggers from around the world with so many interesting stories of daily life abroad and I just love being apart of it.

If you’re an expat and you’re a blogger, why not become part of the Expat Blog community.

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Foulées Automnales de Meyrin 10KM Race

2 Jan

Autumn was packed full of activities. We started off with the Berlin Marathon, followed by a weekend of hiking in and around Kandersteg, then there was the Lausanne Marathon where I ran the 10KM, followed by another weekend of hiking in Emmental and another 10KM race at the end of November.

The Foulées Automnales de Meyrin is a little local fun run around Meyrin – Meyrin is our neighbouring commune and a short hop, skip and jump from our apartment. Just over 100 women participated in the race while almost 300 men dominated the course. It was a beautifully clear day and we were due to set off at 13h30. I wasn’t feeling up to running though, after a girl’s night out the night before, and knowing all the hills that were part of the course did not help to ease my thoughts of wanting to hitch a tram ride back to the apartment. I didn’t really prepare for this race either; I did maybe 3 or 4 short runs in the 4 weeks leading up to this race… so yeah, not ideal.

It was a nice course (apart from all the hills), touring around Meyrin and finishing at the stadium (official name but by no means a “stadium”). My legs held up their part of the bargain but I had a stitch for the most part of the race so again not ideal conditions. Must have been the wraps I had for lunch just before the race.. normally I don’t eat before a midday run. I finished in 51m13s and could not have been happier to have finished!

Note to self : It pays to have a good sleep and proper practiced nutrition before a race 🙂

Coming up next.. The final run for 2013 and Christmas in Australia

A New Year

2 Jan

Happy New Year Everyone!

It’s been a little more than a month since I was last here which means I have A LOT to update you on!!

I ran in two local races at the end of the year, cooked up some really yummy Christmas treats and took a trip back to Australia for the holidays.

So stay tuned for some interesting tales coming your way 🙂

All the best for 2014!

More Autumn Recipes #2 : Pumpkin Spice Loaf

28 Nov

In between running and socialising and working and more socialising, I managed to whip out this little beauty.

Remember those  gorgeous pumpkins we picked up at the farm a few weeks ago? Well we finally cracked one open for this lovely bake. My husband has had this recipe earmarked since last Autumn when I refused to make it for him. See the thing is, I’m not much of a fan of savory loaves and this one has “ginger” in it which put me off even more. There are two flavours I like least of all out of all possible flavours and they are ginger and aniseed. I don’t like ginger biscuits and I certainly don’t like licorice. All the more biscuits for my husband and licorice for my sister!

Anyways, I finally caved and made this cake for my beloved a few weeks ago and I was surprised at how nice it was. I would perhaps go a bit lighter on the spices next time because they overpowered the pumpkin flavour entirely. The most time-consuming part of this recipe is preparing the pumpkin so ladies, a word of advice, get your men involved here for flexing a bit of muscle and cutting up the pumpkin – it makes for a nice show and you can just sit back with a cup of tea and watch! Well, that’s what I did anyway, minus the cup of tea 🙂

If you’re like my mum and you don’t like pumpkin, here’s what’s so good about pumpkin and why you should eat some. Pumpkin might be difficult to prepare but it sure is quick and easy to cook. You can whack it in the microwave as suggested in this recipe, you can boil it, bake it, fry it, grill it… skin on or skin off… what’s not to love?! Roasted pumpkin is my absolute favourite and I would recommend using roasted pumpkin in this recipe if you have the time. Pumpkin is a great source of carotenoid antioxidants (the orange-red colour pigment in pumpkins) that help the body reduce the inflammatory action of free-radicals and help to support a healthy immune system. The potassium content of pumpkin is so good that it makes a perfect pre- and post- workout recovery fuel for the body.  Potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes and supports heart and muscle function. The added cinnamon in this recipe helps to stabilise blood sugar levels as well as helps to boost brain function. Having said that, there is a lot of sugar in this recipe so please use a suitable substitute if necessary.

So it’s like I said, pumpkin is good, I like pumpkin so why not give this Pumpkin Loaf a whirl. My husband enjoyed this loaf, I enjoyed a few pieces myself and my work colleagues devoured the rest. Enough talk, here’s the recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Loaf

Recipe courtesy of taste.com.au

Ingredients

  • 650g butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Method

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease base and sides of a 6cm deep, 10.5cm x 20.5cm (base) loaf pan. Line with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang at both long ends.

Step 2 – Wash and cut pumpkin into 4cm pieces. With water clinging, place pumpkin in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH (100%) for 3 to 4 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Set aside to cool. Drain and place cooled pumpkin in a food processor. Process until smooth (you should have 1 cup).

Step 3 – Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in pumpkin.

Step 4 – Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves over pumpkin mixture. Stir gently to combine. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth surface. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Lift onto a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.

Enjoy x

Did you try making the Green Tomato Chutney or Pear and Almond Tart yet?

Weekend Hiking in Emmental

22 Nov

Emmental, a dairy region in central Switzerland, famous for its Emmental cheese (or the Swiss cheese with holes in it) and Kambly biscuits.

A beautiful area of rolling hills and green pastures and views of the Swiss Alps. My husband had planned a two-day hike for us to do last weekend and the weather was looking to be good – chilly and overcast but no chance of rain equals perfect hiking conditions.

We packed our bags and headed to Burgdorf on Friday night after work, about 2 hours by train from Geneva. We stayed the night in Burgdorf before starting our hike from Langnau on Saturday.

*You will notice a theme throughout the weekend… can you guess what it is*

Burgdorf

On Saturday morning before starting our hike we took a quick turn around Burgdorf. A typical Swiss town; super cute and totally quiet in the early morning.

Day 1 Hike : Langnau to Eggiwil

The map below is from the national hiking trails website and the route we had planned to follow – 10km of easy hiking.

Trans Swiss Trail - Langnau to Eggiwil

Trans Swiss Trail – Langnau to Eggiwil

This what we ended up doing – 17km of moderate intensity hiking

My Garmin - Langnau to Eggiwil

My Garmin – Langnau to Eggiwil

All through Switzerland, hiking trails are marked by small yellow signs, some with place names and arrows, some just a marker. Right at the start we missed on of the signs and started walking in the wrong direction. We found ourselves in Emmenmatt after 2.5km, not a place we were suppose to be walking through on our way to Eggiwil. My husband had said that the first few kilometers were all uphill and so when we had been walking on fairly flat ground for 2.5km we did start to wonder what was going on. After a quick read of our map (thank goodness we printed them out!) we backtracked the 2.5km and started “up” the right path. Here’s what we saw along the way…

We passed by one local dairy farmer who provides milk to the Emmentaler cheese dairy. Over 150 farmers provide more than 28,000 litres of fresh cows milk every day for the production of just 20 wheels of cheese each day. I’m sure this place would be more lively in the summer months so we may just have to come back.

We also made a slight detour via Blapbach for a pit stop at the Restaurant Blapbach. This restaurant is famous for its meringues, yum 🙂

We stayed at Gasthof Baren (a popular name for Guesthouses in the Bern canton) in Eggiwil – the only guests I think – which was quite cosy and enjoyable.

Day 2 Hike : Eggiwil to Trubschachen

For this part of our weekend hike we joined two hikes together. Unfortunately I can’t show you on the Swiss hiking website but here is what my Garmin showed – 15km of moderate intensity hiking

My Garmin - Eggiwil to Trubschachen

My Garmin – Eggiwil to Trubschachen

We didn’t take any wrong turns this time! We started off just after 9am and this is what we saw along the way to Trubschachen…

With such a rapid increase in elevation, it wasn’t long before we hit snow. Green pastures and autumn coloured leaves soon turned to white. It was a fairly steep climb but we took it slowly and stopped every now and again to take some photos and greet some alpacas. The sun almost broke through the clouds at Pfyffer but we were sadly unlucky.

Upon arriving in Trubschachen, I could smell freshly baked bread, like a bakery smell. To my surprise, the Kambly factory was located in Trubschachen! Kambly has been making biscuits in Switzerland for more than 100 years. There is no tour of the factory, no tourist video to watch, only a small cafe and shop selling the biscuits.

Did I mention free tasting of ALL the biscuits? Yep, that’s right, free tasting! The absolute best way to end a weekend of hiking.

So, did any of you guess the theme of our weekend? Anyone? How about the fog? Did any one notice the fog? I’ve seen photos of what scenery we should have been able to see on this hike but unfortunately for us we were enveloped in a thick hazy of cloud all weekend long. *sigh*

Stay tuned for more hiking tales from Switzerland xx

More Autumn Recipes : Green Tomato Chutney

20 Nov

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, we’re spending more time inside and in the kitchen.

I want to share with you what I ended up doing with all the green tomatoes I had from our tomato plant that wouldn’t ripen. We could have put them in a warm sunny room for a few weeks in an attempt to encourage them to ripen but my husband really wanted to make more chutney.

**As as side note, we cracked open the first jar of Red Tomato Chutney we made a few months back and it was gobbled up in a week! Must have been yummy!**

I searched for a suitable recipe and found that all the one’s I looked at were all based on a fairly similar theme so decided to just make my own version of this theme – mainly because I didn’t have all the ingredients for one particular recipe 🙂

I started off trying to peel the tomatoes – same as when I made the Red Tomato Chutney. I put a cross in the bottom of each tomato, put them in hot water for a minute or two then straight into cold water. Should have been simple right? Wrong! None of the skins had started to feel away on their own like the red tomatoes had so I plopped them back into hot water for another minute or two then into a bowl of cold water again. Still no sign of peeling.  Unfortunately, this meant that I spent the best part of the next hour trying to pry the skins off these completely un-helpful green tomatoes. A word of advice; don’t bother!

Aside from that the process is pretty straight forward as you’ll see below. It will still take you a few hours from start to finish but once all the stuff is in the pot and on to boil you can leave it and not think about it.

Do you have any green tomato recipes that you’d like to share?

Green Tomato Chutney

Ingredients

1 kg green tomatoes
200g onions
200g sultanas
200g cooking apples
200g sugar – I used coarse brown sugar however most recipes called for light muscovado sugar
500mL vinegar – I used apple cider vinegar with added mixed spice as most recipes called for spiced pickling vinegar

Method

Dice up the tomatoes, finely chop the onions, roughly chop the sultanas, and peel, core and chop the apples.
Put the sugar and vinegar into a large pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Add the sultanas and apples and simmer for around 10 mins. Add the tomatoes and onions to the pan and return to the boil.
Simmer for about 1 hr, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick and pulpy. Transfer to warmed sterilized jars and cover with lids. Store for a few months before consuming.
*The simmering took about 90 minutes for me to get a thick consistency to be prepared to wait it out!
Now you have perfect Christmas gifts!

Everyday Hero: Typhoon Haiyan

14 Nov

Typhoon Haiyan – EMERGENCY APPEAL

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I’m sure that most of you will have heard about Typhoon Haiyan and the devastation it has caused in the Philippines and most of you will have seen photographs in newspapers, magazines and social media or video footage on your televisions. You can’t help but feel empathy for these people and what they are suffering.

But what do we do with this empathy? Do we hop on a plane to the Philippines and help out “on the ground” with the immediate physical needs? Do we take a moment of silence and offer our prayers and thoughts of support? Do we open our wallets and give to the dozens of aid organisations working in the Philippines? Do you give away your unwanted clothes and unloved toys?

Perhaps getting on a jet plane is a bit extreme for some people and perhaps costly for others. And whilst giving away our unwanted items makes us as donors feel good, these types of donations put substantial pressure on relief agencies due to the time and expense and sheer hassle of shipping and sorting these gifts. So you want to make a monetary donation. Great! Which organisation do you choose? With so many of the larger aid agencies campaigning for our money it can be difficult to know just how much of your money will make it to the Philippines and what it will actually be used for. GiveWell.org suggests choosing an organization with a pre-existing presence in the Philippines as they will help where they can, and get out of the way where they can’t. And spend time finding an organisation that is transparent and accountable so that if your donation is not used for relief efforts in the Philippines due to “overfunding” then you will know it is being used for another crisis.

My brother-in-law is an Everyday Hero.

My brother-in-law has been so moved by the events in the Philippines that he is fundraising on behalf of World Vision for the people affected by Typhoon Haiyan. 100% of the money raised will go to World Visions Typhoon Haiyan Emergency Appeal and there’s extra special bonuses for donors living in Australia!

I, personally, have been supporting World Vision for more than 10 years and now my husband and I continue to support them in an even bigger way than I could when I was in my teens. I strongly believe in the vision and mission of World Vision and it is with this conviction that I encourage you today, if you haven’t already donated your time, money, or prayers, to visit my bro’s page (HERE!) and consider making a donation.

Everyday Hero

Ben – Everyday Hero

It doesn’t matter how big or small your donation may be, it might not seem like much to you but every little bit helps and every little bit counts and every little bit will make a HUGE difference in the lives of those in the Philippines. So please, make a donation today!

Autumn in Geneva + An Autumn Recipe

11 Nov

Has it really been 11 days since I last posted something on this blog of mine? Really??

The weeks are just flying by and before we know it December will be upon us and that means Christmas, winter and snow and cold and before I get carried away I should probably get on with the fact that we’re loving Autumn! So what have we been up to?

We went to our little farm down the road to pick up some pumpkins and chestnuts…

We went for a little stroll in Meyrin…

Then we had a few little dinner parties at our place and thus begins the cooking tales of the past few weeks.

Even before I started planning the menu for this particular dinner party I knew I wanted to have an “Autumn” sort of theme.

Switzerland is so very unlike Australia when it comes to food shopping. Australia is such a large country with space and varying climates to grow just about anything all year round and you can therefore buy most fruits and vegetable from the supermarket all year round. Switzerland on the other hand is a tiny country which imports a lot of its fruit and vegetables and as a result only stocks those that are currently in season.

My husband and I have discussed this often and agree that eating according to the seasons is much more exciting. It’s Autumn now and we’re excited about the new Apple varieties coming in, pears, pumpkins, root vegetables… Oh what fun!

Anyway, back to my little autumn dinner. The menu I finally settled on consisted of a Polenta toast starter with Olive Tapenade and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, followed by a Mustard and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts wrapped in Proscuitto and a Pear and Almond Tart for dessert. I have made this tart three times now and it never fails to impress and never fails to taste 100% delicious!! So I’m going to share this recipe with you.

Pear and Almond Tart

Courtesy of Donna Hay
  • 90g butter, softened
  • ½ cup (90g) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (120g) almond meal
  • ¼ cup (40g) plain flour (or gluten-free flour for a gluten-free dessert)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder (or gluten-free powder for a gluten-free dessert)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
  • ½ cup (90g) brown sugar, extra
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling
  • double (thick) cream, to serve

Lausanne Marathon 2013 : 10KM Race + NEW PB!

31 Oct

Lausanne 10KM Run | Sunday 27 October 2013

OK so I didn’t actually do the full marathon, I’m not that silly, not like my husband (sorry babe!), but I did run in the 10KM race. This was my first 10KM race and to be honest I didn’t really know how I would go. I have been pretty lazy when it comes to running since the marathon and for weeks my husband had been saying “just take it easy, you don’t want another injury…”. With that in mind my registration said 55 minutes for my goal time. But I knew I could do better than that and decided to just “go for it” on the day.

Those of you living on the European continent will know that Sunday’s weather was crap. The forecast was crap and sure enough the actual day was crap. It pretty much rained (steadily) until around 11am. I seriously considered just not running. I mean come on, would you? The warm up area and bag drop was in a park, which was well and truly flooded and my socks and shoes were soaked through after 5 minutes. Goodbye white shoes 😦 Poor marathon runners started off at 10:10am and were followed by rain for at least the first 10KM (as told by my husband). Our start time was 10:45am. I held onto my umbrella until the last possible moment and fortunately for me and my fellow 10KM runners the rain eased and completely stopped by the time we started off! HA!

So you know how all the advice in the world tells you not to go out too hard or too fast in a race? Well I’ve been pretty good at sticking to that up until Sunday. Yep, I went out hard and didn’t stop. I figured I’d just see how it went. I could always slow down towards the end if I was really buggered.

It was a pretty uninteresting course to be honest. It was straight up the lake towards Vevey and back again. We started in amongst buildings and houses and just when we were getting to the vineyards and lake views we were turned around for the return. There were quite a few hills too which slowed quite a few people, but not me! Ha ha!! I actually felt really good going up the hills and tried to power up downhill as much as possible. But the one thing powering me all the way was my dire need for a bathroom. I went just before the race but I obviously didn’t get everything out *sigh*. The last half of the race was a serious “I need to finish and FAST” situation. I wasn’t concentrating on my time, my speed or the hills and perhaps this is why those hills didn’t phase me.

I crossed the line in 47:55, my fastest 10KM run ever but certainly not my most enjoyable. I picked up water, a banana, a medal and a cap en route to the nearest porta-loo.

I had a ham and cheese crepe while waiting to see my hubby finish his second marathon in 4 weeks!! He’s an absolute star and even though he didn’t yet crack the 3h15m he’s still a speedy champion in my books.

I was unfortunately not snapped by any of the paparazzi but here’s a few other pics from the day

I’m pretty excited about the next 10KM run we have on the 30th November but I won’t be back running in any of the Lausanne Marathon events any time soon.

Post-Marathon Running

24 Oct

Oh guys, I don’t know what’s happened to me since I finished the marathon nearly ONE MONTH ago.

So what’s been happening? Not a lot to be frank. I’ve been on two runs in the last three weeks which is a pretty dismal effort but on the plus side I’ve signed myself up for two more races!! My “over-eager overachiever” husband wanted to run in the Lausanne Marathon taking place this Sunday so instead of going along with him as a spectator (I’m not ready to run another marathon just yet!) I decided to sign-up for the 10km run. My first 10km race – a lot of “firsts” for me this year! I’m obviously not taking it very seriously because let’s be honest, two runs in the last three weeks is not sufficient training to run a good time but I’m hoping to hash it out in about 55 minutes. And then I’ve signed myself up for the Escalade in December. The, almost, biggest event of the year in Geneva. I wrote a few lines on the Escalade and the associated race around the Geneva Old Town last year which you can read about here and here.

Now that the marathon training is all over I’m getting back into the spinning classes and pilates classes and next week I’m going to try my hand at BodyPump (a Les Mills weights class). I’m aiming to build up more “all over” body conditioning and strength so that next time I start training for a marathon I won’t get injured!! My physio also gave me a heap of strengthening exercises to do which I haven’t been very consistent in doing yet so I need to pull my socks up on that one.

Hmm.. having just said all that it seems I need to find my mojo and get back on the fitness bandwagon before I go too far the other way.

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