Friday, July 2, 2010

All Over the World Part Deux

What's good! So I just returned from spending six weeks in Sarajevo, Bosnia, only this past Wednesday night. You'll notice that it is approximately seven in the morning. This is one in the afternoon in Bosnian time; I am still adjusting. I feel so accomplished waking up early that I hope I stay this way!

Anyways, I will have an enormous update in the future (if I can muster the energy even to attempt summarizing my stay in Sarajevo) on this blog's better half and you will be able to hear more about what that was like. Spoiler alert: best summer ever.

However, I just remembered my journey in World Heritage site chronicling, and also remembered that I have another one now, thanks to beautiful Hercegovina! So let's add a new location to the list:

Bosnia and Hercegovina

1. Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar

Stari Most! (Also known as "Old Bridge." Very creatively named.) The water really is that blue, it's absolutely beautiful. We got to raft the Neretva closer to the city of Konjic a few weeks later and it was freezing but the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. Take note, travelers: Bosnia is really where it's at!

The bridge itself isn't even the only beautiful architecture around; the whole town is just lovely. This mosque is across from the bridge down the river a little bit. Oh my gosh, I miss those mountains. What a beautiful country.

The saddest thing is that this isn't the original bridge -- it was destroyed in the war. But they rebuilt it and so we can look at this gorgeous example of the beautiful Ottoman architecture in Bosnia and Hercegovina and... pretend? Haha, no, it's a great place. I will annoy you to death about visiting Bosnia because it rules, so be prepared.

Anyways, so although the heart of my trip was not sightseeing, I really enjoyed visiting Mostar. But between Mostar and Sarajevo, there is no contest: Sarajevo has my heart. I can't wait to tell you more about it, from how out of control it is to how out of control it is. Have a good one!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dr. Steve Brule, For Your Health

Sometimes in life, you just have to eat ice cream. Sometimes in life, though, you need to eat something healthy.

And, sometimes in life, you can do both! Those are the best times.

I played with this recipe to make dessert out of my favorite combo in the history of the world: bananas and chocolate. It is so magical and delicious and... drumroll... good for you. Or, at least, not bad. Yeah! It's not bad at all.

Who needs a plate to cut things? Bananas come with their own containers.

So you toss those puppies in a blender.

You don't hear that sentence every day!

And add some cocoa powder.

I also squirted in some reduced sugar chocolate syrup because one kind of chocolate is never enough, and also threw in a blob of peanut butter for protein/tastiness. And while the white girl in me would definitely have used honey or raw sugar to sweeten the rest of it, the slightly less white girl used xylitol because that's what we have. It's weird, I know. But it works!

You have to blend the living daylight out of it but when you do, it will be so smooth and freeze up a lot like real ice cream!

It definitely could have stood to freeze a little longer, but let's be real: I wanted to eat it.

Sooooo good. (And I wish I had a macro lens.) And that, my dear friends, is my take on Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream-less.

And then, for the more savory side of life, I found this snack to attempt and I think it's a good choice. Chickpeas = fiber. And they are good for more than hummus!

First, ya grease the sheet. I hope your arm looks as beautiful as mine does in pictures.

Cumin smells sooooo good. I want that. I got a little carried away with the cayenne pepper, but we'll all float on alright.

I didn't have chickpeas, so I committed a major heresy and used pigeon peas. I know, I'm sorry. I had no choice! :(

They were a little small; chickpeas would be better.

But I wouldn't knock these too hard!

These would be good on a salad, or soup, or straight off the pan. You should have Spicy Roasted Pigeon Peas sometime!

Lesson: snacks can be good for you! Make one next time you want something that makes you feel all vegan and raw and ethical. Wear TOMs and have a good day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

So I Cross-Posted, Kiss My Grits

So I think on a lot deeper of a level than cooking and taking pictures sometimes. Shocking, I know. These two things, and many others to come, tend to swim around on the top of my brain all day long. But underneath that is pure gold, my friends, pure gold.

Or pure narcissism.

Either way, you are free (and encouraged) to peruse:

Live a full life, my friends.

All Over the World

I was reading up on Croatia for a research paper I am currently writing -- I bet you're jealous of how much I am learning about the conflict in the Balkans in the 1990's. You're just dying of envy. Anyway, the Wikipedia page happened to mention a UNESCO World Heritage site there, the Plitvice Lakes.

I have really not traveled very extensively by any means, mostly on my own budget. My bank account is rather upset with me for it at present, and will only be angrier this summer unless God performs a miracle and all my expenses are covered. This is indeed possible; God is the ultimate worker of the unbelievable. However, I say all that to say that I have not gone many places because of my constraints, but I did wonder if I had seen any of these World Heritage sites myself.

And, consequently, if I've got any photos of them, just out of curiosity.

Spoiler: I have a couple! It's neat to see them on a list; I feel so accomplished. Mostly, though, I feel privileged.


I was here over Thanksgiving break, 2009. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Quite rainy, but lovely.

1. Paris, Banks of the Seine

The one thing in Paris that has seen it all: the revolutions, the industrialization, the art, the food, and all the je ne sais quoi. You can follow the Seine and see just about everything.

2. Palace and Park of Versailles

Opulence, thy name is Versailles. I really can't believe people used to live here. No wonder the peasants of France revolted; they had to be starving to death if all the money went towards this!

Someone had to paint that. Someone had to find the paint for that. Someone had to foot the bill. And that's one out of a billion ceilings!

The gardens must be unbelievably lovely in the springtime; they were really nice even for a dim day in fall!

Oh, and if I had my way, I would so have a pretend village just like Marie Antoinette's.

3. Chartres Cathedral

This cathedral is old. It is beautiful, too, for how old it is. The reason the two towers are different shapes and styles is because of reconstruction after a fire. Weird, huh?

There's a beautiful view if you can survive the climb to the highest parts of the tower. My thighs didn't think I would make it. But I proved them wrong.

The United Kingdom

It's every bit as weird as you would hope. They might eat strange (medieval) food and have funny words for "bathroom," but I'd go back in a heartbeat.

1. Westminster Abbey

The only upsetting thing about Westminster Abbey is just how full it is of famous people, and how little I am able to comprehend the significance of all of them, especially gathered in one place. Between Elizabeth I, Charles Darwin, Oliver Cromwell, and and Charles Dickens, I would say this is a rather popular place for the renowned dead to be found.

2. Tower of London

A little creepy, but mostly fascinating. Notice that raven up in the corner? Read about them and how they relate to the Tower of London. I am just such a great photographer to get that guy in there.

Beefeaters! I guess they were just taking a break to chat. I am proud to say that I was there for a fire drill here and had the privilege of seeing them run around.

3. Canterbury Cathedral

The history behind this place would make your stomach hurt, it's so enormous and interesting. Suffice it to say that this is tied for my favorite cathedral ever. (Notre Dame is hard to beat, though!)

I have been to the Everglades and am rather sure I've got pictures somewhere, but for now, this will have to do. We live on an interesting, beautiful planet, guys! I hope you have the chance to explore it a little, even in our backyard! (The U.S. has a bunch of natural beauty to soak in, one day I want to take a road trip out west for such a purpose.)

Have a beautiful and blessed day, and be excited for what is in the world, but not of it. :)

"Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world." Isaiah 12:5

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fruity isn't a bad thing

When it comes to the sweet and savory camps, I like to think I travel between the two. Sometimes, nothing beats some nice Italian chicken and pasta, or pita chips and hummus.

But then, sometimes, nothing beats good, dependable dessert. Especially the idea of a "not as bad for you as some desserts" dessert. Thus was born the lovely cranberry apple tart.

I used a delightful recipe online for the crust -- a vegan oat-nut crust to be exact -- with a few minor alterations, replacing a teeny bit of the vanilla with some orange extract and using only pecans since I had no almonds. But I'm sure it would be twice as good with twice the nut variety used!

I should also have made the crust thinner somehow, as it didn't get that crisp so much as it just warmed up, but it was still delicious nonetheless.

Here it is fresh out of the oven, ready for some fruits!

I so artfully, masterfully, plopped some sliced apples on top in a pattern that looks kind of like I knew what I was doing. Right? Either way, apples taste good on everything.



I proceeded then to smear on a can of cranberry sauce mixed with about a tablespoon of flour to thicken it up as it bakes. It's really sad, I love cranberry sauce with a passion, but somehow there is always some left in the pantry after the holidays and no one will put it to good use. Good thing I am here to make things right in the world.

Finally, on went some chopped dried apricots. I love these things, especially when they are kind of gooey on the inside... iausdhfliaush. Just the sound of apricots, cranberries, and apples together is a melody of joy in my heart.

Too dramatic?

This tart of joy hung out in the oven for about 45 minutes at 350, until I was too hungry to do anything else but wait. And lo:

Beautiful! I love how the tips of the apricot pieces got a little brown, and the cranberry sauce glazed over on the top and became thick and more pie-like.

And the smell is just about perfect. If there were a thunderstorm and I were a governess for seven Austrian children, trying to calm them during the calamity outside, this would be one of my favorite things in my song.

My one lament is how the crust did not stay together when I tried to slice it up like a tart ought be sliced, but that was probably a problem because I made it too thick. Nevertheless, it made for a delightful sort of crumble and complemented everything quite well.

Top that little blob of sweetness with some canned whipped cream and presto -- you have a Apricranapple Tart with an Orange Pecan Crust, the perfect fall dessert... to eat in March. Deal with it. :)

10:46 P.M. UPDATE: Could it be? A fruity cobbler dessert pie thing that is even better straight out of the fridge than it would be warmed up? I don't believe it. I will continue in denial as I sneak bites out from time to time. Fruit is good for you. So are pecans. And sugar, too.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Can you have too many Girl Scout cookies?

Happy first day of spring break to me! Unfortunately, no one is home right now, so there is no one to do anything with at the moment.

Fortunately, no one is home right now, so I can do whatever I feel like without judgment, right?

My whim for today was making something fancy-looking for dessert. If you know me even a little, I hope you are aware that I really love to cook and bake. It's so much fun and yields results to share with people you care about. Or whoever is willing to be a taste-tester, or whoever is just about starving to death and is in dire need of whatever strange thing you are creating that day. I'm hardly a mad scientist in the kitchen, but you never know what might come out of there. ;)

Today's adventure was twofold: (not so) Thin Mint Chocolate Mini-Cupcakes with Ganache, and my first adventure in food photography. The cupcakes were an adaptation of a recipe for chocolate cake by the one and only Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Go investigate her website now! The ganache was made in the microwave with butter and chocolate chips, which isn't all that fancy, but I like to think that if something tastes good, that's all that matters anyway.

Making stuff in mini-muffin tins is so much fun! Why are things so much cuter in small form? Do they taste better? Why am I asking so many questions?

So beautiful! So chocolatey! So shiny! Oh, and they don't taste too bad either. Those are crumbled thin mints on the top, by the way. They are so fluffy and sweet! Make that cake recipe when you get the chance; it's to die for.

However, man cannot live on chocolate alone. Life is all about balance.

I'm so glad that I like my green vegetables, especially tasty little brussels sprouts. Who knows what kinds of havoc would be wrought otherwise. I'd be even shorter than I already am.

In any case, may this be the first of many delicious foods and delicious photos. Or whatever I feel like posting. I'm in charge here. I hope your first few days in March are as beautiful as this one is!