Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jiao zi!

I went to China a year and a half ago and fell in love. With everything. The people, the culture, the language, the food...I love it all and can hardly wait to go back one day.

One of my favorite foods there was the jiao zi, otherwise known by us Westerners as "potstickers" or "asian dumplings." Most of the time when I ate them in China they were boiled, but I have since learned that my favorite way to eat them is lightly fried, which I guess technically would be called "sautéed." Well, I don't know that they're really even "sautéed." (Did you know that if you spell "sautéed without the little ´, there will be a little red line under the word? It's quite annoying.) You just put a little bit of oil in the pan, put the jiao zi in, let them sauté/fry/stir-fry (without the stir) for 2 minutes, and then add water. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes until all of the water is absorbed. What would that method be called? Panda?

All that to say....the other night I was craving jiao zi. Every time I go to a Chinese restaurant I ask if they have it, but the answer is usually no. When my mom was here we discovered this awesome Asian place called "The Wok" and their jiao zi is really good. BUT it's 4 Euros for 3 dumplings. That's more than a Euro each!! Ridiculous!!

So I thought to myself, "I'll make my own jiao zi." I looked up recipes online and while I considered making my own dough I was advised that you can buy it pre-made. So a friend took me to a Chinese store to buy the dough and tonight I spent a good solid 2 hours-ish making jiao zi. I must say that I was quite impressed with myself for a first try.

This picture is not even half of the amount I made:
This is me eating it (as if that wasn't obvious):

Notice that my tongue is brown. That would be the soy sauce. Except that the soy sauce we currently have is more like soy syrup. I'm going to the store tomorrow to get some Kikoman, because that syrupy junk just won't do.

Now you need to go eat some jiao zi, potstickers, dumplings...whatever you want to call them...right now. Even if it's 2 in the morning. Even if the baby is crying. Eat some. They'll make all your cares disappear (okay, that was a lie). They're delicious (that was not a lie). Or come visit me and I'll make them for you (that wasn't a lie either, but be sure to give me fair warning before you book any flights).

To bed!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hanging with the Mom!

For the past 10 days I have had the delightful pleasure of showing my mom around my wonderful city and discovering some new and exciting places!

I took a million BEAUTIFUL pictures at the Alhambra, a Moorish fort/palace in Granada, but uploading them was a bit of a challenge and now they're all missing! pictures of that until I can figure out how to recover the files! But know that the Alhambra is WELL worth the visit. With all the pictures gone, I guess that just means I need to go back sometime! In fact, I'd be ready to go back tomorrow if someone would go with me!

On Tuesday we celebrated my mom's birthday by having dinner at TGI Friday's and going to the musical "Beauty and the Beast." Dinner was FABULOUS. While there are quite a few nice restaurants around here, eating out is expensive and the American restaurants are even MORE expensive, so I generally avoid them unless it's a special occasion. Hmm..whose birthday can we celebrate next?? And even though "Beauty and the Beast" wasn't in English, my mom was still able to follow along (she's seen the movie a million times!) and it was great language practice for me! I was surprisingly able to understand almost everything (it helps that I had the movie memorized as a child and the script is almost exactly the same)!

Yesterday we went to Toledo. We had heard so many great things about it, but to be honest, after Granada, Toledo just wasn't all that impressive. HOWEVER I will say that they make GREAT marzipan. The city is famous for it, and while I've had it before, I've never had it like THAT. It was delectable! I had no idea almond paste could be so good!

Toledo is a medieval town, and the streets make no sense what-so-ever. Twisting and turning, going up and down hills, changing names, disappearing magically...those narrow streets are impossible! My mom and I decided that they must have just built where ever they wanted and then used the space that was left for streets. Here is a picture of my mom and I being not-impressed, but still having fun:

Hopefully I'll be adding some pictures of the Alhambra soon, but if not, I'm sure you can find some on the internet. Or you should just go yourself, and take me with you. Because I'm already dying to go back.


Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm Still Alive

While I haven't updated in a bit, I am still alive and kicking and will be posting something amazing in the next few days. Until then, enjoy this, one of the many wonders of the backroads of East Texas:

Monday, February 4, 2008

Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong...

Something has gone terribly wrong in the world.

I thought it was bad when leggings came back. Girls started wearing them under dresses or skirts. They thought they were so cute, but really - come on. Well, at least that's what I thought when the trend first hit Texas. Now that I live in Europe, the whole idea makes more sense to me. It's cold outside, you don't have a car, you walk everywhere, and you want to wear a skirt. Leggings make perfect sense. And once they started to make sense, they became kinda cute. So I got over the leggings bit. In fact, I might just buy some.

Then came the skinny jeans. I hated them. They reminded me of Lee tapered "mom jeans" (no offense to anybody reading this who wears them, but let's be honest - tapered jeans just aren't flattering). But then Stacey and Clinton recommended to one of the guests on "What Not To Wear" that she could wear the skinny jeans. I was furious, but I had to admit - they did look kind of cute on her. Today's skinny jeans have a new twist on them - they're not just tapered. They're skinny. I've come to accept that some people can pull them off. And by "some people" I mean skinny people with no hips.

But here's where I draw the line: when people start wearing leggings with no dress/skirt - nothing covering their lovely (or not-so-lovely) little behind. I was afraid it would come to this, but hoped I was wrong. But about a week and a half ago, I saw a girl walking down the street in her leggings. No skirt, no dress, no extra-long shirt to cover the rear - just leggings. So then I went out of town with some friends for a week, and when I get back it's like a leggings explosion. Today on campus I saw FOUR girls wearing black leggings in this way. That's FOUR little tooshies more than I wanted to see!

And it's not just the utter lack of modesty that I protest - leggings just aren't flattering on anybody! Not even those cute little size 4 tooshies look good in them! Nobody! That's why they are supposed to go UNDER something.

And now that I have seen this, I'm afraid that my worst fears are about to come true. Surely you know to what I am referring. If you were alive during the late 80's...if you have seen pictures of your older sister with the teased bangs and bangle jewelry...surely you know what my worst fashion fear is.

Stirrup Pants.

Need I say more? The day I see these walking down the street, I will know that the women of the world have been sucked into a never ending fashion vortex of death.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

23 Flavors of Awesomeness

Several years ago I gave up cokes. All cokes. All of them. Even Dr. Pepper GASP yes, even Dr. Pepper.

My doctor told me that I was at risk for diabetes and I should make some drastic changes to my diet, one of them, was to give up cokes. So I did it, begrudgingly, but also gladly, because I did not want diabetes.

The past year or so I started sipping the occasional coke, only when friends or family had one, and only just a little bit.

Now that I've been in Europe, every now and then I allow myself Orange Fanta, however I've decided to go back to my anti-diabetes diet because I've realized I've been a bit too relaxed about it all lately, and like I said, I DO NOT want diabetes.

But a few days ago some people visiting from the U.S. brought some Dr. Pepper. You just can't not make an exception for Dr. Pepper when you live outside of the Southern U.S. I had a whole can to myself, but knowing that I didn't need all 40 grams of that sugar, I decided to split it with someone. And while I still think that yes, Dr. Pepper is the BEST coke that ever existed and yes, I did enjoy every sip of it, I realized that I really didn't miss it that much. I don't NEED Dr. Pepper in my normal beverage intake. I expected my first sip of Dr. Pepper in something like 7 months to be life changing, inspiring, emotionally moving. I expected to see the lights turn bright and soft around me and hear Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. But really, it was just "good". I had no spiritual epiphany, there was no chorale of angels and world peace did not break out. My expected moment of bliss was merely "tasty".

It feels good to know that I am no longer a slave to carbonated sugar-filled beverages. =)