Mastering the Art of College Cooking

This year, I’m making some big changes. I am hoping that by ridding myself of the toxic things in my life and adding some positives, I will become more of the person I want to be. One of those changes is in the area of cooking. I LOVE to cook. Unfortunately, I have been avoiding things that I love, so one of my many resolutions for 2010 is to become a better cook.

To start off my newly redesigned eating habits, I made a fresh from France dish that Mariah (my roommate) picked up from her host mom while studying abroad there last year. To begin, here is the ingredient list:

6 peppers (a mix of green, red and yellow is best– diced)

4 zucchinis (peeled and cut into rounds)

1/2 sweet white onion (diced)

2 large eggplants (peeled and diced)

4 bulbs fresh garlic (peeled but not diced)

3-4 roma tomatoes (diced)

1 cup water

salt

fresh pepper

olive oil (2 turns of the pot)

sunflower oil (at least 20 oz.)

Begin by rinsing and chopping up all vegetables.

In a large (very large) skillet, coat the bottom with sunflower oil and add peppers. Sprinkle salt and pepper over peppers. Fry until slightly soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove peppers and place in a large high-sided pot. Fry zucchini and onions together in the skillet. Add salt and pepper. When zucchini is slightly soft, transfer with slotted spoon to the pot with peppers. Repeat this process with the eggplant. (Note: Eggplant will soak up all the oil in the pan and then release some of it right before it is finished cooking.)

Add the eggplants to the high-sided pot with the other vegetables. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup water. Sprinkle in another few pinches of salt and pepper. Add garlic, whole, to the pot and cover. Simmer on medium-high for 30 min. Just before serving, add 2 turns of olive oil to give it a final touch of flavor.

Serve immediately with a whole bunch of fresh, delicious French bread!

Ratatouille is a perfect winter meal for a few reasons. First, it is considered a comfort food in the Provencal region of France and warms you body and soul. Second, it freezes and stores easily so you can make large batches and use it throughout the season. When you want another round, simply pop a bowl of it into a pan to reheat, or even easier, nuke it. And the third reason… It is just that good.

Note: All ingredients bought at Whole Foods and Sunflower Market.

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27 January 2010. Tags: , , , , . Europe, Food and Recipes. Leave a comment.

‘sAll Greek to Me

Santorini Isalnd, Greece, cannot be contained in photos. But here they are nonetheless…

This was paradise after some of the places we had stayed.

This was paradise after some of the places we had stayed.

Mariah and I began laughing hysterically as soon as we were shown this room. We just sat on the balcony and enjoyed the breeze coming through the windows, sure that we were the at butt end of some mistake. Alas, it was not, we were welcomed to Greece with a glass of local wine, and thus began the idyllic last leg of our EroTrip 2009.

The view from our hotel balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

The view from our hotel balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

There are about 7 churches to every family of Santorinians.

There are about 7 churches to every family of Santorinians.

Cruisin' on our quad.

Cruisin' on our quad.

We rented a quad for the two and a half day stay (why hadn’t we made it 2 and a half weeks?!) and spent our time touring beaches, Oia, and the locals!

Arriving in Oia for the world famous sunsets.

Arriving in Oia for the world famous sunsets.

The Greecian flag serenading the Oia crowds.

The Greecian flag serenading the Oia crowds.

It wasn't tourist season yet, so we had many of the beaches to ourselves.

It wasn't tourist season yet, so we had many of the beaches to ourselves.

The nightlit city streets of Oia.

The nightlit city streets of Oia.

For two and a half days, we were in heaven on earth. We saw donkeys, thousands of stairs, beautiful beaches (and beautiful Greecians), ate the most fresh and delicious food you can imagine, and had the honor of meeting Poppy and her husband who ran the hotel we stayed in. If I ever had a second home, it would be here.

"This is a field." That is my Greek translation... and 100% incorrect.

"This is a field." That is my Greek translation... and 100% incorrect.

Obviously, walking is the favored way of travel.

Obviously, walking is the favored way of travel.

GREEK SALAD

1 cucumber, sliced and quartered

1 tomato, quartered

1/4 white onion, sliced

5-10 kalamata olives

1-2 ounces feta cheese (can be crumbled, or left in block)

Capers (optional)

Dressing:

Light olive oil and a hint of white wine vinegar drizzeled over the top of this amazing work of art called a salad. So delicious.

2 August 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. Leave a comment.

Spientia et Fortidudo

         And welcome to the city that almost killed me. Mariah lost her wallet within the first hour of arriving in Rome, Italy, and it only got more fun from there. After spending a good amount of time in (and looking for the) polizia station, we were on our way to our hostel… except the buses to get there were shut down for the night and it was 30 miles away. We finally managed to get close to the hostel, but when we called to ask for directions from the intersection, the Italian speaking host tried very hard to convince us that it was imperative that we “stay;” he came to get us. Our later couchsurfing host, Christian, told us that the place were stay at was known for it’s high crime rate. We were there at 1:30 am. Oh bug. 

 

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

 

 

         Needless to say, we survived, but Rome had a few more tricks up it’s sleeve. After being silly and running around, pretending to be statues, I carelessly ran across what I thought was a one way street only to find out how wrong. 

 

Biomimicry at it's best.

Biomimicry at it's best.

    I now know that life does not flash in front of these eyes when death comes a knockin’. Okay, it was not life or death, but I did get hit by the car and I am still amazed that there was no real damage (save a tire mark on my leg). Oh well, we pressed on to day two.

 

The skylight of St. Mary's Basilica. It made delicious designs on the timeline laden marble floor.

The skylight of St. Mary's Basilica. It made delicious designs on the timeline laden marble floor.

     There wasn’t a lot of damage done on day two… until I decided to follow Mariah up a stick infested hill as opposed to taking the more sturdy stair route. I think the scar that is engraved on my leg might disappear in a year or so. 

 

Proof that Ancient Rome was better than the 2.0 version.

Proof that Ancient Rome was better than the 2.0 version.

         The sights of old Rome helped to heal the wounds, but I can only dream about what it would have been like to see these places on their own time. 

 

Made for Mariah.

Made for Mariah.

         I wasn’t the only one to cave under Rome’s pressure. The fellow tourists sure got a show as Mariah tripped and tangled her way through the Vatican City Museums. I saw this sign just before we made it to the Sistine chapel… and just as Mariah’s feet decided to take another step without the rest of her in tow. 

 

The Wrath: The Complete Series

The Wrath: The Complete Series

 

Adonis and Evelyn? Either way, they messed up.

Adonis and Evelyn? Either way, they messed up.

 

A favorite.

A favorite.

 

Even the Italian metro systems were covered in art!

Even the Italian metro systems were covered in art!

      The third day in Rome was much better and I almost got out scathe -free. The curb just popped up out of nowhere and attacked my ankle! At least it helped us to decide where to eat: I fell onto a restaurant patio.

 

Pocket-size-Ryan even got to join us on our adventures!

Pocket-size-Ryan even got to join us on our adventures!

 

Keep your panties on, and welcome to the Pantheon!

Keep your panties on, and welcome to the Pantheon!

         We learned some valuable lessons in Rome like ignore those who stare, ignore those who talk at you, ignore those who are rude… Oh, and that the Pantheon was created 5,000 years ago and survived the times because it was a pagan temple before Constantine altered the religious sway.

 

Raphie's resting room.

Raphie's resting room.

         At least I didn’t fall to the same fate as Raphael while in Rome. Rumor has it, the city was only trying to sabotage my stay because it wanted to keep me there (albeit six feet under…).

16 July 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking. Leave a comment.

Welcome to Italy.

     This phrase became the bane of our existence while in Italy. While riding from Switzerland to Venice, Italy via TrainItalia, the announcements followed this typical pattern:

3 minutes (of the Italian language) worth of telling where we were, what we were doing, what stops we were arriving at… and any other important information.

2 minutes of similar dialogue in French.

1 (German) minute of a shortened version of the French explanations.

In Engligh: “Welcome to Italy.”

     Due to this, we were highly unsure of were to get off the train, and we further confused by the hour long stop we made in the middle of nowhere. That hour plus the fact that the train was late to begin with left us unable to catch the connection train to Venice. We went to the service desk and quickly learned that the Italian customer service ethic is similar to their timeliness ethic: nonexistent. Eventually we made it into Venice, to our hostel (which was, surprisingly, amazing)… and found out our train had been delayed due to a minor incident–the derailment of another in front of us. 

    Italy was not bad, though it was nothing what I had expected. The calm, coolness, and the laid back stereotypes only applied in reference to time, it seemed. I learned a lot about the culture and a lot about the art of being stared at. 

 

The hour long train stop by a small village in the Italian countryside.

The hour long train stop by a small village in the Italian countryside.

 

 

I think these "street signs" were only for effect. Truth: We spent 75 per cent of our time attempting to find our way around the city. It's no wonder people call it a magical city of mazes that change every nightfall.

I think these "street signs" were only for effect. Truth: We spent 75 per cent of our time attempting to find our way around the city. It's no wonder people call it a magical city of mazes that change every nightfall. (Also note the adorable, fat posing dog in the window.)

 

Mariah and I in Venice

 

Staring down one of the Venetian roadways.

Staring down one of the Venetian roadways.

 

A beautiful detail of the world famous Palazzo del San Marco.

A beautiful detail of the world famous Palazzo del San Marco.

 

You cannot escape Venice without trying on at least one creepy mask.

You cannot escape Venice without trying on at least one creepy mask.

 

A dusky view of the magical city built on water.

A dusky view of the magical city built on water.

 

Early Italian architecture. My favorite art history era.

Early Italian architecture. My favorite art history era.

3 July 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. Leave a comment.

More Cow Bell!

         And here we arrived. In beautiful Geneva, Switzerland. The locals we so friendly and our couchsurfing host, Jullianne, was incredible. She fed us and kept us occupied as we explored the city. This was my first experience with couchsurfing, and I couldn’t have had a better host. On the first morning, we ate at the bakery where Julianne worked (delicious apricot cheese danish and some fresh fresh squeezed orange juice… yum!), and then headed into explore the city. Luckily, we were staying in the countryside, so we had a nice little walk to the bus stop on which we met these lovely ladies…

 

Cows. Bells. Switzerland.

Cows. Bells. Switzerland.

 

The wine vineyards just behind Julianne's apartment in the countryside. We never got to try any, but rumor has it that it's wonderful.

The wine vineyards just behind Julianne's apartment in the countryside. We never got to try any, but rumor has it that it's wonderful.

         On the last night, we got to take a walk with Julianne and Athos (her little Yorkie dog named after one of the three musketeers) and saw a beautiful lightning storm rolling over the Swiss Alps.  The clock below was one of several dozen we saw in the city. Some were sun-dials, some were brick, stone, yellow, black, artsy, expensive…

The world famous flower garden clock in Geneva's city center. It took us three passes before we finally found it. Turns out, all we had to do was look for the Chinese people. The gathered there in clustered hundreds, camera and case in hand.

The world famous flower garden clock in Geneva's city center. It took us three passes before we finally found it. Turns out, all we had to do was look for the Chinese people. They gathered there in clustered hundreds, stealthily wielding cameras and making peace signs.

 


Chateau de Chillon

This is the Chateau de Chillon just outside of Montreux. Historians say that the beginnings of the castle date back 1,000 years, but it's prime was in the 1300s. Lord Byron made this famous in his poem "The Prisoner of Chillon."

 

Me and Mariah on the bridge that leads to nowhere... but is connected to Chateau de Chillon. It doesn't look perilous, but the water was cold, the bridge was narrow, and we all know that I am less than graceful.

Me and Mariah on the bridge that leads to nowhere... but is connected to Chateau de Chillon. It doesn't look perilous, but the water was cold, the bridge was narrow, and we all know that I am less than graceful.

 

A vista of the quaint little city of Montreux, Switzerland.

A vista of the quaint little city of Montreux, Switzerland.

 

 

This gem of a tree lined the streets of Geneva. This isn't photoshop... it really looked like this.

This gem of a tree lined the streets of Geneva. This isn't photoshop... it really looked like this.

 

A hidden square in the city walls. We only found it because someone opened a door and we were rubbernecking.

A hidden square in the city walls. We only found it because someone opened a door and we were rubbernecking.

 

A mob of Laotians outside of the United Nations protesting government hostility.

A mob of Laotians outside of the United Nations protesting government hostility.

 

 

These are the flags of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Borough in which Geneva is situated. The span across the Mont Blanc bridge.

These are the flags of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Borough in which Geneva is situated. They span across the Mont Blanc bridge.

 

A beautiful view of the Swiss Alps as we rode the train through the mountains, across switzerland, and into Italy.

A beautiful view of the Swiss Alps as we rode the train through the mountains, across switzerland, and into Italy.

         Sadly, we had to say goodbye to the idyllic, peaceful  country of Switzerland, the witty, playful sarcasm of Julianne, and began our venture into the land where time has no meaning: Italy. Let the adventures begin.

26 June 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. Leave a comment.

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