Five Things From On The Road

Hello dear readers!

I’m sorry I have been so spotty lately in posting and responding to comments. I’ve been on the road for almost two weeks, working (and doing some adventuring) in Bangladesh and Nepal.

Please let me share five of my favorite things from this trip so far….

Cows in a truck!

Cows in a truck

Color

Ground Flower Powder

Cricket

Cricket

Temples

Hindu Temple

The Himalayas

Mount Everest

Also, how cool is it that WordPress has it ‘snowing’ on your Reader screen?  Love it!

So, please come back for a visit sometime over the next week or so for more comprehensive posts about the truely awesome countries of Nepal and Bangladesh and some traditional Christmas cookie recipes. It’s hard to get into the ‘spirit of the season’ while on the road so I’m looking ahead to this weekend when I return and can get in the kitchen to make up for lost time!

Miss you all!

- Erin

A 23 Hour Homecoming, or Why I Almost Hate (Air) Canada

Hi readers, I’m back from my Ireland vacation and I have so much to share.

I don’t want to seem like that annoying person on Facebook always bragging about doing X, Y and Z super awesome trip of a lifetime blah blah blah. I realize blogging about it is walking a fine line, so in case anyone out there wants to not-so-secretly punch me in the face for this, I apologize.

You don’t have to continue reading. But you may want to.

I’ll start at the end, the journey back home, a nightmarish airline travel scenario with Canada Air that has almost made me hate the entire country as a whole. That is too harsh; the people of Canada don’t deserve my wrath. The airline people do. DOOM on you Air Canada.

Ever heard of Goose Bay? I’ve been there.  Want to know what Halifax airport looks like? I’ll tell you, lots of prop planes and pure wilderness. Oh and Toronto? I’ve been there too! All three in one day…

The first five hours: We left Tullamore to drive to Dublin Airport at 6:45 am.  We dropped off our car, our bags and made it to the gate with plenty of time to peruse the gift shops before our 10:45 departure.  Using a giant handful of leftover 50 and 20 cent Euro coins I bought a hunk of brown soda bread and a giant Toblerone bar.  Nom nom nom. I was feeling pretty happy and didn’t even react when the flight was delayed until 12:00 noon.

Eventually we board the plane and settle into our seats for a nice 1 hour wait on the tarmac. Right before takeoff, the pilot comes on to inform us that our plane  doesn’t have enough fuel to cross the Atlantic and make it to our final destination of Toronto. This will require is stopping in Goose Bay to refuel.

Okay, not the most comforting thing to hear right before rocketing into the sky. While I appreciate the airline considering our safety and diverting us to Goose Bay, I couldn’t help but wonder why we were using a plane that couldn’t hold enough fuel in the first place? Awesome.

The next 5 hours:  We’ve made it to Goose Bay and have been assured this will be a ‘quick turnaround’ procedure. The airline refueling folks did a bang-up job and got us outta there in a blazing 1 hour 15 minutes.  Shortly after reaching a comfortable cruising altitude and generously turning off the fasten seat-belt sign the captain comes on to inform us that we will be flying to Halifax to change flight crews, as this one needed to be off-duty. What the F@CK?  Was Air Canada unable to grasp the fact that we had just landed and could possibly have gotten new crew there? Killing two birds with one stone people!

The next 8 hours: There is a palpable sense of mutiny amongst the passengers. The flight attendants are hiding in the galley. I overheard one whispering with genuine concern “we are out of ice and don’t have enough snacks…” She was afraid- of us.  Upon landing in Halifax we were assured crew would be waiting to board the plane right away. Apparently Air Canada thinks 2 hours is an appropriate amount of time to change crews and get “new load figures” -whatever the f@ck those are- and still qualify as being ‘right away’. Oh and sorry, you have to stay on the airplane but feel free to get up and stretch.  Gee, thanks, I was planning on sitting quietly stewing in my rage with my hands folded in my lap, but not now!

Now we are back en route to Toronto, having wasted four hours flying to Nova Scotia and getting new crew. The crew put the movie reel back in, at the beginning, meaning I now had the opportunity to watch Brave, Happy Feet 2 and the first 5 minutes of The Big Year for the third time today.  I’m still not that mad.

We have been on this God forsaken aircraft for 13 hours by the time we land in Toronto at 12:30 pm Irish time, 7:30 EST. The captain thanks us for flying Air Canada and for being patient (did I have another f@cking option?).  I have accepted the fact that I will miss my connection to DC. I never thought it was possible to miss it, as I had a whopping 7 hour layover, but Air Canada showed me that it is possible!

3/4ths of the plane’s passengers were trying to make connections and each one of them was 100% pissed off.  I strapped on my backpack and started running in the hopes my DC flight might have been delayed- it was, but I stilled missed it. My flight to DC left at 7:22.

Don’t get between a man and his connecting flight

The last 5 hours: Air Canada knows they are in deep shit. They’ve stuck the interns with handing out vouchers for discounted airfare to all the irate passengers.  They have booked hotel rooms and awarded generous $15 certificates for dinner and breakfast. For me? You shouldn’t have!

Now, I’m actually mad, a silent sort of anger. I refuse to spend the night. I read the departure board and  tell the ticketing agent that I want to go onto the 8:50 flight to Baltimore, which is one hour away from DC. At this point I have 30 minutes to make it through customs, recheck my bag and get to the gate. I run run run and make it just as the last passenger is walking down the jetway. Relax. Sigh. I’m in. We land in Baltimore at 3:30 am Irish time, 10:30 pm EST.

My luggage is nowhere to be found. The Air Canada service desk is empty. I have to spend $125 dollars to get to DC in a cab manned by a friendly Ethiopian who wanted to talk to me the whole time.

I get to my apartment, it’s  midnight. My husband is sleeping soundly and I want nothing more than to punch him in the face for that offense. If I’m unhappy, he should be unhappy!!!!

My 23 hour voyage is over and my own bed has never felt so good.

My bag arrived in DC the next day. We were happily reunited.

The End

- Erin

Note: I plan on doing some feature posts over the coming week to share with you what we saw and did in Ireland, complete with some real Irish recipes! So check back soon :-)

San Francisco in Less than 2 Hours

Work travel can take you to some cool locations, but the question of how to actually enjoy those locations is another thing. Site seeing or finding the perfect little happy hour spot beloved by locals isn’t usually in the cards when you don’t get out of the office until after 5:00.

So when you are a desk jockey like me, the most practical way you can get out and explore a new city is through meals.

Bummer. Hahaha, ya right- you know I love food like a fat kid loves cake. I love cake like a fat kid too.

Here’s how we enjoyed San Francisco in less than 2 hours, if you ever find yourself in the city, maybe you can do this too.

A coworker and I were staying about 20 miles outside San Francisco itself, which translated to a 45 minutes drive into the city. We hopped into the car and without much of a plan, drove to the iconic tourist trap Fisherman’s Wharf assuming we would find a restaurant.

I recommend taking The Embarcadero route to the wharf, it is a scenic city drive along the water which takes you past several piers, the Giant’s baseball park and iconic streetcars.

Parking structures were abundant in the wharf area and we found a spot without issue. Expect to pay between $15 and $30. Hop out and start walking. You’ll have a great view of Alcatraz (actually quite foreboding) and the pier with the sea lions is there too. We didn’t see any though.

You’ll come up on Pier 39, which we explored a bit. I would best describe it as the offspring of a renaissance festival that mated with an East Coast boardwalk. You’ve got corndogs, donuts, pretzels, carousals, crab stands, cheesy spray painted tee-shirts AND a psychedelic mirror maze that will provide 5 minutes of fun for $5 dollars.

Toats worth it. We thought of it as a team-building experience.

There is an abundance of street performers and overall the people watching in the area is really awesome.  We saw a sign advertising THE BEST sourdough bread in San Francisco. Alright, sold.

We rolled into Boudin’s café and each ordered a sandwich and side salad. I sprung for the ‘bay shrimp salad’ on sourdough. We both liked our food overall, but were in complete agreement that this was the least sourdoughy tasting bread we’ve ever had. Oh well, the meal was still good.

That’s it, end of story. We headed back to the hotel.  No Golden Gate bridge, no scenes straight out of Full House.  No Uncle Jessie :-(.

No Full House

But it was fun, I got a tiny taste of what the city has to offer.  I’d go back- but I would bring a jacket!!!! It’s cold in San Fran!

Happy travels,

Erin

Daily Question:  How do you make the most of work travel experiences?

Happy 100th Julia Child!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week the food world has been celebrating what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday on August 15th.

Julia is an icon when it comes to cooking. She is beloved for her quirky personality (see video below!) and knack for just understanding what good cooking is all about.

I find her to be personally inspiring as both a woman, wife and chef. She was a trailing spouse for her diplomat husband for years but that didn’t define her.  She took charge of her own identity and forged a name for herself through cooking- at a time when celebrity chefs were not a dime a dozen.

She used her time abroad to educate herself, explore and try new things using the world of food as her medium- something that is accessible and universally understood by all.  If you read My Life in France, I think you will get some valuable insight straight from Julia as to just how food connected her with herself and other people at a time when she was alone and vulnerable.

Julia was not afraid to make mistakes in the kitchen either. Just watch the episode of The French Chef when she flips the crepes-  “The first one never turns out anyways, just throw it away!”- in order to understand her mindset.  Sometimes I strive for perfection in the kitchen. Ok a lot of the time. That is crazy, unhealthy, who cares?!  I have reminded myself so many times of Julia’s attitude toward cooking being a process, a time to be alone in the kitchen and learn as you go. It’s ok, take a deep breath…

In DC, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History is  celebrating her legacy with a two week long celebration that kicked off with a party on the 15th and will feature a sneak preview of her kitchen from Cambridge that has been off display since January 2012. Her large collection of copper cookware will finally be reunited with her kitchen later this year. There is also a branch new exhibition called ‘FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000′ that is the first of its kind for the museum.  So take some time to pay homage to Julia, either in her kitchen or yours.

Bon Appétit!

- Erin

Inspiring Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for the Inspiring Blog Award. Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2.  Share 7 things about yourself.
  3.   Nominate 15 other bloggers that you admire or inspire you.
  4. Go leave a comment and let the people know you have nominated them.

Thank you to Dragonflies and Hummingbirds for passing along this award.  Now for more about me. Isn’t that what you wanted?

  1. When I was a kid, I was seriously afraid of getting on escalators. The timing of stepping onto the stair at the right time was too much for me.
  2. I was also deathly afraid of getting stuck in an elevator. This made getting around at department stores a little challenging to say the least.
  3. I have a Master’s degree in international development.
  4. I go to the gym most days during my lunch hour, favorite class is currently kickboxing or cycling.
  5. The top sheet on most beds just doesn’t work for me. Too tangly. I like a big fluffy white duvet with a down comforter only.
  6. I got reblogged for the first time ever, yesterday!
  7. I have English breakfast tea every morning to start the day.

Now for the new recipients, may fame and fortune come to all of you. ;-) This probably won’t be 15…

@350degrees, marybethbakes, sixtyandsingleagain (thanks for the reblog), curious cuisiniere, om nom nom baked goods, yummyfoodmadeeasy, the camel life, a little saffron, bumbleberry lane, lazy homesteader, omeletta (for being Freshly Pressed!), dietitian on the run, the muffin myth, wife meets life, the purple spoon

- Erin

Cha-cha Changes

So, my solo time this summer is rapidly coming to an end.  Can you believe it has almost been three months since my husband left for his assignment abroad?!  It started out slow, but after a couple weeks I had totally adapted and dare I say… even started having fun.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t miss him. I did. I just had a lot more time to do whatever.I.wanted.  That is a powerful thing.

No more sharing of the tv; if I wanted to have a three hour marathon of watching the Food Network or Cooking Channel there was no one to stop me.  No more making dinners when I didn’t feel like it; oatmeal for me, yay! I could bake all day on Saturdays.

Mostly, the time alone forced me to entertain myself and get back in touch with an element of independence I had lost. I think you can lose some of that when you’ve been in a committed relationship for several years- it becomes to easy to just do everything with your partner.  It is comfortable. You stop taking risks, or doing things outside your comfort zone. Heck, why bother when you’ve got a best friend around, right?  But you miss out on some personal growth when you stop pushing yourself. I know I did, and I didn’t notice how stale I had become until he was gone.

One of the ways I pushed myself this summer was by doing things alone. Here are a couple highlights.

First, I went to a Vietnamese cooking class. I was sooo nervous about this. I wondered what people would think of me. I wondered if I could even enjoy the class without someone to share it with.  But I totally enjoyed it and was reminded that strangers can be nice, caring people. I met a lovely mother/daughter and sister/sister duo in the class. We chatted and laughed and learned together.  We spent an hour after the class was over just talking and sharing stories while we ate the food we had cooked. It was different, but it was refreshing.

Fresh Spring Rolls

Bahn Mi with marinated chicken and a bowl of Pho

The second solo adventure I did was go see a movie alone.

Maybe some of you are laughing at me right now and thinking about how lame and shallow I sound, but that’s ok. I admit I was scared to do it. I felt like a total creeper. I even asked a couple people at work if they thought it was creepy to go see a movie alone, especially a kids movie ’cause I wanted to see Madagascar 3. They agreed it was not creepy for me to do that, albeit it would be creepy for a middle aged man to go. To much of a Pee-Wee Herman vibe there.  I digress.

I ended up making myself a snack and heading out to the theater solo on a Friday night. I decided it was more fitting for me to see Brave, so I did. I was nervous and sweaty and thought for sure everyone in the theater KNEW. I don’t think a single person noticed I was alone. I loved it!  It was chill. I wore sweatpants. I’m going to do it again in the future.

My snack

Chocolate-Toffee Oatmeal Cookie Bites

It is amazing how once you do something that seems scary and you conquer it, you feel empowered to do more. It’s awesome!

But now, he’s coming back.  He has his own reintegration to go through. We will need to ‘get used to’ each other again. He needs to get used to being in American society again. We’ve talked about how this process will go and we both agree that within a couple days we will pick up right where we left off. No worries there.

But what will happen to me and my new-found independent spirit? How will it affect  the proverbial “us”? I’m not sure. I know I don’t want to lose it, but I also know I cannot act selfishly. Compromise will probably be the key here.

I was viewing this whole separation as a self-contained incident in time. Now I’m beginning to think that the time he was away was only Part 1.  Part 2 will be in the months to come, where I strive to keep challenging myself, to continue being independent and not fall back into comfortable, but lazy, relationship habits.

We’ll see what happens. I’m going to keep blogging about food and family and gardening in the meantime. I’ll keep you posted ;-).

- Erin

It’s been so long…

I’M BACK!

Yay!  I’ve missed posting so much- it has really become therapeutic for me-and I’ve really missed interacting with my readers too. :-)

Well, let me catch you up on what’s been happening. I know I said I’d be gone for one week up in Michigan (which I was) but then I turned around and had to travel to North Carolina for work for another full week. Being on the road is always tiring and I barely had time to check my email let alone get in a blog post.

Besides, I was eating out every single day, 3 meals a day (ewww) and the food was nothing to write home about. Although I did have breakfast-for-dinner at a Waffle House. That was awesome. (Fried eggs, hashbrowns, biscuit and cheese grits to be exact)

Ok, so I’m back now and it’s time to share the deets on my super awesome-very relaxing vacation at the cottage up north.

The cottage is a tradition. More like an institution actually. My mom went when she was a kid. I went when I was a kid. I hope my future kids go too. The cottage is a noun, an adjective and a verb. As a noun: the cottage isn’t a singular place, its a collection of 4 family owned cottages all within walking distance of each other on the lake. As an adjective: the cottage is an attitude that means laid-back, no worries, no plans, just relaxing with a beer and chatting with aunts, uncles and cousins.  As a verb: “It’s time to get my cottage on!!”

For the last couple years my husband and I have rented a 5th cottage near the others.

Where the cooking magic happened…. :-)

Lake in the front, woods in the back, it’s perfect

Our very own dock

Since he is still on his overseas assignment, I shared the cottage with my brother and his girlfriend. Both are amazing photographers by the way, check out these sunset shots:

The sunset side

The cottage is in a small town but they take July 4th seriously and go big with a parade every year. There are lots of floats and they also throw candy. I love a good fat slice of Americana.

Fish float!

Don’t see this everyday, also, slightly creepy

Cousins lined up, waiting to grab some candy

So after the parade there was beach time and then fireworks later that night.  The week was great. I got to cook for my family and they cooked for me too. Blonde brownies, banana cream pie, gingerbread muffins and sour cream coffee cake, oh ya, those were just the desserts ;-) Wait till you see what I made. Yum.

More to come tomorrow :-)  Can’t wait? Check out the monkey bread I made for breakfast the first day up north, here.

- Erin