Fjordland National Park in New Zealand is a truly magnificent place to go. On our recent cruise we were favored with fantastic weather outside, but inside Sue Adams was a bit under the weather so some of the viewing was done just from our stateroom balcony. As we were passing by another stunning waterfall, some dolphins just happened to swim by and put on a show for us. Wow! #love2getaway
You know, some people still wonder…Do I really need to have a balcony cabin? uh, yes you do!
This post is not about travel. It’s not even about activities to do when travelling. It’s sort of about a travel tip, but not completely.
Sue has been on an AIP diet for almost a year now. It has many challenges as it is highly restrictive. For example: no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no processed foods, no nuts or seeds, no nightshade vegetables, no refined sugars. The diet is used to help heal the gut to reduce inflammation caused by auto-immune conditions.
The diet is not all about “no” though. Examples of foods we regularly consume in our house are: grain fed beef, organic chicken, wild (not farmed) seafood, coconut products, olive oil, vinegar, many fresh organic fruits and vegetables (with the exception of nightshades), herbs and uncured bacon. We’ve gone from a typical midwest US diet to routinely making items such as our own bone broth, mayonnaise (we recently added eggs back in to the diet) and snacks. We still have an occasional Friday Fish Fry – but it is all AIP compliant. That may need to be the subject of a different post!
First off – What exactly is AIP?
(from healthline.com) The autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet is … food-based approach to eliminating unwanted inflammation in a person’s body. It’s a diet that’s thought to help heal your gut to reduce inflammation created by autoimmune conditions.
Why post this here?
Well we make these special chips for ourselves which travel well and make for a great snack when out with friends at some of our favorite wine bars (also added back in). They are crunchy, salty, AIP compliant and quite delicious. They are not difficult to make, but might take a little practice to perfect.
Ingredients needed: Arrowroot Powder, Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, Kosher Salt, Water
In addition you will need parchment paper, rolling-pin, pastry blender, measuring cups and of course an oven.
As these are so good we will make a double batch!
Preheat oven to 350F
Measure 2 Cups of Arrowroot powder and put in mixing bowl. Arrowroot is ground extremely fine so be aware a cloud may rise up if you just dump this in.
Add about 1/2 teaspoon of Baking soda into the bowl.
Melt 1/2 cup of the Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil. Unrefined is solid at room temperature. Do not use refined liquid coconut oil.
Hand mix these ingredients together with your pastry blender.
Add 1/2 cup + ~ 2 tbsp of cold tap water. Mix well – the material will stick together extremely well after adding the water. Too little water and it is hard to work with – too much water and it will look like quicksand.
Form 2 even sized balls of dough by hand. They should stick nice when pressed together. This is not regular bread dough though, kneading is not necessary and they do not form a sticky gluteny blob.
Lay out some parchment paper about the same size or a bit larger than your cookie sheets. Put 1 ball in the middle of the parchment paper
Lay a second piece of parchment paper over the first and press the ball flat with your hand.
With the dough in between our 2 pieces of parchment paper, roll it out to about the size of your cookie sheet. I generally roll it to the short ends first and then work it towards the long ends to finish. You may find you need to use the rolling-pin as a squeegee to get the dough to size and a somewhat uniform thickness.
Here’s what it looks like after being all rolled out
Place the whole thing on your cookie sheet – and then gently pull away the top piece of parchment. The bottom stays in place during the cooking process. DO not try to take the dough off the bottom parchment as it will not stay together until it is cooked
Sprinkle Kosher Salt across the dough to taste. You could also add other herbs if you wish at this point such as rosemary or thyme. Let us know if you do and how you liked it. No matter what – with just salt, the final taste will be excellent
Here is the oven arrangement we commonly use. As we seem to frequently multi-task, some delicious uncured bacon is cooking on the middle shelf. We place the Arrowroot chips on the top and bottom. The bottom one will finish first and when it does, move the top one to the bottom shelf if it needs more time.
How long does it take to cook? This is up to you – cook it until it browns – maybe 10 minutes, maybe longer. We’ve never really exactly timed this part.
Why the bottom shelf? You will get nicer browning this way if your oven heat source is on the bottom. “Brown food tastes good”
Once you remove from the oven, let it sit until cooled and then break it by hand into whatever sizes you like. It is crunchy. It is salty. It is AIP compliant and very satisfying. The closest flavor it brings to our mind is corn chips, but actually much better.
Sue eats it plain or dips it into Organic black olive Tapenade.
Lot’s of our friends and customers have asked for the recipe and instructions – so here it finally is. If you think more clarity is needed or something is missing – please leave a comment and we will update.
If you are also on an AIP diet it can be quite a challenge when travelling – believe us we know. These Arrowroot chips travel well but you will need to put them in a hard sided plastic container so they don’t break during your trip. We have lots of first hand experience on what vacations and locations are easier for AIP compliance than others – so if you need help with this, just give us a call. 262.538.2140
Only an hour from Florence by train, Pisa should be high on your list of sights to see in Italy. The most iconic structure to see is Torre Pendente or the Leaning Tower, which was conceived as the bell tower for the splendid Duomo di Pisa (or Pisa Cathedral). Shortly after construction began in 1173, the tower started to lean due to the soft ground on which it was being built. Tower construction occurred in 3 phases over a period of 199 years.
Galileo Galilei is said to have dropped two cannonballs of different masses from the tower to demonstrate that their speed of descent was independent of their mass. It’s not known if this is completely true or not – but it does make a good story and demonstrates an important property of physics
During World War II, the Allies suspected that the Germans were using the tower as an observation post. A U.S. Army sergeant sent to confirm the presence of German troops in the tower was impressed by the beauty of the cathedral and its campanile, and thus refrained from ordering an artillery strike, sparing it from destruction. (you can read an account of this story here)
Numerous efforts were made to stabilize the tower and it was closed for a long time for safety reasons. In 2008 it was reported by engineers that it stopped moving for the first time in 800 years and that it should remain stable for at least another 200 years.
The biggest attraction in Córdoba was literally a 5 minute walk from our hotel. The Mezquita is truly a must see building. It’s a massive former mosque turned cathedral with an amazing forest of columns topped by red and white striped double arches that have seen over 1000 years of history. It is not only the largest mosque in the world, but the largest temple in the world as well. It occupies an area of over 250,000 square feet or almost 6 acres.
The focal point in the prayer hall is the mihrab – which identifies the wall that faces Mecca
Originally built in 786, the initial construction lasted for about 200 years. After Córdoba was recaptured by King Ferdinand III in 1236, the mosque became used as a church. Currently in the very middle of the Mezquita is a stunning Renaissance cathedral, which was built in the 1500’s. Although some parts of the original column hall had been destroyed to make room for the cathedral – the building is still a remarkable and dazzling example of Moorish architecture.
The Mezquita is certainly a signature attraction in Córdoba and visitors should plan on spending at least a half day to see everything.
Well we didn’t have the greatest weather in Ronda, however the clouds stayed high enough and held in their rain fairly well so we could get some pretty decent photos.
Ronda is an impressive town in the province of Málaga; an easy day trip from the Costa del Sol or for us a nice diversion on our car ride from Seville to Córdoba. Ronda is built on and around a very deep gorge spanned by an extremely impressive bridge.
Ronda was first settled by the early Celts, and later inhabited by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans. The Moors left an indelible imprint in the city, which only fell to the Christian Reconquista in 1485. In more recent times, the town has hosted a number of well-known writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, & James Joyce.
This large and incredible bridge over the Tajo gorge, is called Puento Neuvo finished in 1793, is Ronda’s principal attraction. The bridge is 230 feet long and 320 feet high, roughly equivalent to a 30-floor building. It was built following the collapse of an earlier bridge from 1735; this bridge had a single arch of 115 feet but collapsed six years after construction, killing 50 people. There are beautiful views from here of the Natural Park -Sierra de Grazalema to the west – although this was a bit tough to see on the day we visited.
Views of the gorge and surrounding countryside are amazing, but that was not all we saw in Ronda. We went on a self guided tour of the very quaint Santa Maria la Mayor church (built on the ruins of an older mosque) -which has outstanding views of the town from the roof and is well worth a visit.
And we of course stopped for a wine tasting. While not world class at this point – (maybe another 10 years…or so) it was certainly a lot of fun.
Unfortunately the 13th century Arab Baths in Ronda were closed during our visit which just means that we’ll have to see them on a return trip as they are considered to be the best example in Spain.
In January we took our oldest Grandson on a trip to southern Spain to celebrate his upcoming high school graduation. Coming from the midwest US, most folks think of warm weather beach vacations during the winter. We wanted to do something with more culture and history – southern Spain in January was a perfect choice. Mild weather, no crowds, mostly sunshine, tons of extremely interesting history and culture – AND fantastic food.
There are so many things to blog about – but let’s start with some history in Córdoba. Córdoba was originally a Roman settlement taken over by the Visigoths and then taken by Muslim armies in the eighth century. The Caliphate of Córdoba encompassed most of the Iberian peninsula and was likely the largest city in Europe in the 10th century. It was recaptured by Christian forces in 1236.
No visit to Córdoba is complete without visiting the Mezquita (Mosque-Cathedral) and the Alcázar. The amazing Mezquita will be the subject of an upcoming blog – for now let’s focus on the Alcázar.
The Alcázar had been around for 200 years before the monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand used it for one of the first permanent tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition. In addition it was the used as headquarters for the campaign against the last remaining (at that time) Moorish kingdom on the peninsula which was the Nasrids in Granada. After about 10 years, their campaign succeeded in 1492 – the same year the monarchs met Christopher Columbus in the Alcázar as he prepared his first voyage to what we now know was the Americas.
A visit to Southern Spain should be on everyone’s bucket list. Please let us know if we can help make your travel dreams come true.
Recently we sailed aboard the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas on it’s inaugural voyage from Miami, Florida. She is the reigning queen of large ships with so much to see and do on-board that it would take several vacations just to experience it all.
Here’s a sample of what we experienced: water slides, robot bartenders, world class fine dining, high energy Vegas show, Broadway show – Hairspray, Water show with high diving into an ever changing pool , fireworks, balloon drop, wine tasting, fresh seafood lunch, organic italian pasta, laser tag, a real boardwalk carousel ride, a musical staircase, a bar that’s also an elevator, mini-golf, the international space station, and the Wright brothers flying a plane above the theater audiences heads. I’m sure i’m forgetting something – and we were only there for 4 nights!
As there is so much, we’ve created a photo & video gallery if you wish to see more
Follow us on Facebook as we sail on the inaugural voyage from Miami on the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas.
By the numbers she is 1188 feet long and 215.5 feet wide. She occupies 228,081 Gross Tons. 18 Decks with 24 guest elevators. 4 Bow thrusters with 7500 horse power each. There are 7 neighborhoods (really our favorite feature of this class of ship) Central Park, Boardwalk, Royal Promenade, Pool & Sports Zone, Spa & Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. There are 2759 Staterooms which accommodate 5518 guests with double occupancy. 2200 crew members.
There are 9 complimentary dining venues and 11 specialty ones.
And this is all just the beginning – there is so much to see and do including Rock Climbing Wall, Water slides, Escape Room, Surfing, Zip line, laser tag and not to be missed the Ultimate Abyss. Will we head down the tallest slide at sea? Only one way to find out!