Sunday, December 20, 2009

Makin' CHEESE!

One of the little things we brought back with us from our trip was a little cheese making kit. So the girls & I tried it out. We heated the milk and added the rennet. Then we used this nifty little stirrer to break up the curds.
Next we scooped out the curds into the little mold.
After it sits for a while you take it out of the mold to dry. Isn't it cute?
We rubbed salt water on it every day for a few days, and this is what it looked like.
This is what it looked like when we cut into it. It tasted all right but could use a little more salt or longer time doing the salt rubs. We also needed a cellar.
It was a long process for a little tiny cheese. If I were to do it again I would want a bigger amount for the work put into it. I hear mozzarella is easy to make.....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 14 Bern, Last day

OK I think I was tired of taking photos because I only have 3 for this day. Bern is the capital of Switzerland. The streets were cobble stone with statued fountains all along the main streets. (I can't believe I didn't get a picture of that.) There is also a famous Bear pit (Bern means bear) But there were no bears in it because the are renovating and building a new bear pit. But I did get a picture of the clock tower (the Swiss are know for their clocks) Crowds of people stand around to watch it chime in the hour, it has all kinds of moving parts with figures ringing bells and such.
Alright this photo we did a little play on words, and decided that they made chocolate fabric here. YUM.
This is a apartment that Albert Einstein lived in for a few years.
We got to tour the Capital building and do some shopping here We enjoyed our visit her in the old city. We later took an hour train ride to Zurich where we were to catch our flight home the next morning. We enjoyed our trip so much, but when we got off the plane in Arkansas and saw the kids waiting there with open arms.... There is just no place like home with your family around.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 13 Free day, Temple

Shaun & I were hoping for an opportunity to go to the temple in Bern.The day we were in Bern was booked solid and we were beginning to think we weren't going to be able to go. Our one free day was in a town an hour or so away. So we decided To get up at 4:30 am. to catch the 5:18 train after a couple of connections and one wrong turn we made it. Shaun has wanted to go here since his mission, the Swiss temple was on the cover of his french hymn book. This is a very bilingual temple. There were some missionary couples from the states so that made it a little easier. The session was in Italian so we used the headsets. Luckily there was a lady from Florida there picking up her son from his mission sitting next to me, She helped me where needed. It was a great experience and I am glad we found a way to go.
An interesting point, the temple grounds did not have a fence around it like most do.
We rode the train in & out of Grindelwald several times. I kept seeing this building and thought it was interesting so I took a picture because you can really see the house and the barn under one roof. House on the left barn on the right.
Here is a picture of our hostel in Grindelwald. If you look in the background on the hillside you can see a little house with a white dot (flag) by it That is where we stayed.
We had to walk up a very steep hill to get to the hostel but it was worth it for the view. Our balcony is on the left by the flagpole.
Our last night, us on our balcony with the Eiger behind us.
Did I mention I could live here?

Day 12 Ballenburg Museum

Today we took a train to Brienz and the a bus ride to Ballenburg. This was about a 3 mile long open air museum. They have taken old Swiss homes, barns, and other structures and reconstructed them, then grouped them by regions where they were found in Switzerland. Inside the buildings there was period furnishings and an occasional person working the old arts. It was kind of like a living museum. You could easily spend 2 days there but we only had half a day. (OK maybe I could spend 2-3 days, 1/2 a day was enough for Shaun.) I started taking pictures but decided I would literally have hundreds so I stopped. So here are a few random ones. This was an awesome place!
Doesn't Shaun look cute as Peter?
Just a view of the thickness of the thatched roof.
That is a lot of straw!

A lot of these buildings were home and barn under one roof.
Several of the kitchens we saw were in a hallway in the center of the building, they were black with soot, and very dark and dingy.
They had cloths you could try on, Shaun found an alpine hat.

I thought this was kind of neat, The chickens coop was in the barn so they built a little ramp for the chickens to get in.
I just like chickens, It's kind of like cows with bells. I just like it.
We then met this lady and her husband in the Heirloom garden. They talked to us about growing plants and saving the seeds. They maintain this small garden at the museum and then they have a larger one that they save and sell seeds from.
Have you ever heard the term skinny as a bean pole? Well here are a bunch of bean poles.
I did not have enough time at this place. If you take a trip to Switzerland go here, but plan a few days.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 11, Old Traditional Cheese making

Today we road a cog train up the mountain then hiked to a little cheese makers hut. Yes the hut and the cheese maker were little. The hut was probably 2/3 barn, and 1/3 living quarters with more than half of that, cheese making kitchen.
You can see how short the doorway is behind Shaun.
Also on the back corner of the house underneath is where the pigs are. Every space is used.
Here is the Cheese maker and his wife, she is stirring the cow milk cheese and he is stirring the goat milk cheese.
I know, I know, it's another picture of a cow with a bell. I just can't help myself.
This was such a cute scene, the cheese-maker and his grandsons driving the animals back to graze. The boys probably 4 & 6 years old were working hard cleaning out the barn then washing tools,there was no dilly dallying around. It made me realize that I did not teach my kids to work, I may have to remedy that.
This is the stick he was using to break up the curds for the goat cheese.
That is one big beam & pot!
Scooping out the curd, what is left is whey which they feed to the pigs. It is really good to drink and should be kept for people. It tastes a little like a sweet skim milk but has good enzymes in it.
Nothing like a good goat pillow.
This one got a little hungry and started eating Shaun's backpack.
At this point we had several choices on how to get back.
1- we could hike a back up to the train station and pay for a ride back down to the village.
2-we could hike a little ways down to the next train station and then pay a little less and ride back down to town.
3- Hike all the way down to the town and save some money.
Well There were a few of us that decided since it was a nice day we would enjoy the hike all the way down.
I don't know if you can tell in this picture but if you look at the tops of the pine trees, towards the valley that is the town. We thought "Oh, It's not that far, and down hill this will be a nice and easy walk." I don't know what we were thinking! One of the ladies with us had a pedometer and she said we walked 10 miles down hill. We felt it! Oh by the way the 82 yr old was with us, I was impressed. It was a beautiful hike and it was a nice day for it.
One more interesting point, We saw more people hiking Or riding bikes up than there were going down. Now what were they thinking?

Day 10, 1000 Sheep Festival

To day we walked down to the lake behind the hotel we were staying at, to a Church service. Followed by Alpine horn blowing,
Traditional yodeling and an accordion band. The yodeling was very soft and pretty as were the horns. As a side note imagine if you will Goofy skiing or falling off the side of a mountain, he always bellows out the same thing, YA HA HA WHOEEEE! That is the way a Swiss will call to another Swiss up on the mountain to find out where they are at.
After listening to the variety of music, we then watched the Sheep come down from the summer grazing areas.
It was awesome seeing them all come down the hill.
And here they are, at least a few.
More of the sheep and some of the people.
We had to leave to catch the train to get to our next place. This is a picture looking back on the festivities, you can see the white splotch of sheep in the middle.
We took several trains to get to our next hostel in Grindelwald. We had to walk up a steep hill to get to it. The hostel was a several hundred year old chalet, and this was the view from our balcony! This is the Eiger (Ogre) A famous mountain that rock climbers attempt to climb and some die trying.
Just another part of the view.
The Eiger at sunset. I think our guide saved the best place for last. It was so peaceful and beautiful here. For the next couple of nights we would come back from the days adventures eat our dinner, play games, and relax out on the balcony just soaking in the view.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 9 Leuk & Gemmi Alp

We did a little butter making today. We learned that the butter churn & molds are soaked in water for 2 days to tighten the joints, and you only fill the churn half way because the cream will expand as churned.
Boy it took a long time to churn! Us amateurs were very sloppy.
The butter molds
Our pretty finished butter. (It was very tasty! We had it on our sourdough bread we made.)
We then took a hike up the this ravine. Most of the trail was on these catwalks. Some spots were a little scary. It was a pretty awesome hike.
As we were coming back from our hike our guide pointed out where we would be staying that night, if you look real close on the top of that mountain you can see the hotel up there. you could either take a several hour hike up to it or a gondola. We wished we would have hiked it, you could see the trail from the gondola and it looked pretty amazing.
Our hotel room slept 20, quite an interesting arrangement and because you pay by the bed and there was only 16 of us we had 3 more men join our room. There was a Sheep festival the next day so everything was booked up. Needless to say nobody slept well that night.
The view from our room and for that fact, anywhere in the hotel was amazing So that made up for the awkward sleeping arrangements. In the center of the mountain line is the Matterhorn.
This is a view from the Hotel looking down on the town of Leuk. This is where we would have hiked up. Amazing, right?
This is the backside of the hotel, down by the lake is where they will have the sheep festival. I will tell you more on that on Day 11.
Here is all of us at dinner, we are at the back on the left. The nice guys that are sharing our room took multiple pictures for all of us.
The beauty of this country is amazing! (I think I keep repeating myself.)