Sunday, August 19, 2012

Domesticated


New duvet - yay!
Ben and I have continued to settle into our apartment. As mentioned previously, we made a trip to IKEA last week and picked up a couple of things.  While we have been trying to be very frugal, I am thrilled that we went ahead and purchased a duvet and side table for the bed/bedroom.  It has really made a difference in the room and makes it feel more warm and homey.  You can see a more full view in the picture below.  I really like that the windows in our apartment go all the way to the floor.  Grover enjoys it as well because he can easily see out and growl at everything - birds, people, his reflection, etc.

View of our room.
We have also done a bit to the bathroom in our room to make it a bit more attractive.  Last year when I came to visit Ben, there was only a clear plastic shower curtain that I wasn't exactly fond of.  The snob in me prefers the cloth shower liners with an attractive, decorative curtain for show.  Before leaving the States, I picked up a gender neutral shower curtain that just so happened to match the bathroom (unintentional).  With that up and a couple of shelve things under the sink for storage, I think the bathroom looks pretty good.  Unfortunately our shower leaks buckets of water allllllll over the floor every time we shower.  We have bathmats to soak up some of it for the time being and we are going to figure something out soon in the near future to get this problem to stop.
Another issue we have with the bathroom is the plumbing.  While it gets the job done, you can still SMELL stale pee and poo.  That may be TMI, but it is something we have been dealing with.  Yesterday we picked up a couple of those clip on toilet bowl cleaner things hoping that the scent from that would mask the disgustingness and it has for the most part.  I haven't really noticed it today and it leaves bubbles in the toilet after you flush.  Bubbles are always fun!

Stinky



Garlic bread
Prepare avgolemono



















Ben and I have made Saturday our official "date night".  Last week we went to the marina and ate out and had juice.  This week we decided to grab groceries and cook something for ourselves and stay in.  I grabbed a cookbook off of the very, very high shelf in the kitchen and sat down to plan.  I love making soups, so true to form I chose a soup for us.  We made out our grocery list, went to the store, still grabbed a fresh juice, and headed home.  The soup we were getting ready to make is called avgolemono.  According to the cookbook it originated in Greece.  It is very easy to make and has a very rich and delicious flavor. 

I also grabbed a loaf of cheese bread at the store and made garlic bread with a very different recipe than I had ever used.  You simply crushed garlic and put it in the center of a piece of tin foil, drizzled some olive oil on it, sprinkled on sea salt, then placed the bread on top of that to cook in the oven.  The flavor was more in the bread rather than slathered on top of it.

The recipes for the soup and garlic bread are as follows:

Avgolemono

You  need:

1 1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
6 egg yolks
7 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cup rice
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/4 lemon juice (or to taste)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To do:

Stir the milk and cornstarch together until smooth.  Beat in the egg yolks.  Set aside.  Bring the stock to boil in a large pot, and add the rice.  Cook, covered, over low heat until the rice is puffy and tender, about 25 minutes.  Remove the soup from heat, and add the milk and egg mixture very gradually, stirring constantly to prevent lumps forming.  Put the soup back on the burner and continue to cook for a moment, stirring, until it thickens.  Remove from the heat again and add the butter, chopped parsley, lemon juice and finely grated lemon zest.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir once more and serve immediately.  Serves 7-10.


Garlic Bread

You need:

1 head garlic
olive oil
sea salt
1 large loaf of good rustic bread

To do:


Finished product!





Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Crush the head of garlic and place it (skin and all) in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil (large enough to encase the loaf of bread).  Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt.  Place the loaf on top of the garlic, fold the foil over to create a parcel and bake for about 5 minutes (long enough to allow the garlic flavors to permeate the bread).  Serve warm.  Serves 4-6.






Both of these recipes are from 500 Mediterranean Dishes by Valentina Sforza.  I have many more recipes from this cookbook that I would LOVE to try!!  While deciding on what we wanted for supper, we ran across a couple recipes that had ingredients such as rose water, that we hadn't ever used in cooking before.  When we came across things that were unheard of to us, we thought that if we could find them at the store then maybe we would make them.  We are both so used to doing grocery shopping in the US and not seeing these different ingredients unless you go to a specialty store, so we weren't holding our breath.  When we were at Geant, the grocery store, we were walking down one aisle and there Ben pointed out rose water!  Then it dawned on me - and this is total common sense I guess, but I still didn't think about it - we are getting recipes out of a cookbook based around dishes that would be common in this area.  DUH they are going to have the ingredients we would need at the grocery store....

Aside from getting settled and cooking, Ben and I are also getting out and seeing people as they return to the country.  We went with the K's to meet Sue and her daughter Zoe (2 years old) for lunch the other day and caught up with her.  The food was pretty good - I had a fruit plate with cottage cheese and coffee and Ben had a tuna sandwich and coffee - and the company was even better.  Zoe has gotten much bigger since I saw her last when I came for a visit in January.  She is adorable!  We also have had the K's over for dinner and games and went to the K's for the same. 


View from my lounge chair!
Ben and I have made it a point to go to the gym semi-regularly.  It has been difficult because of Ramadan (you aren't allowed to eat or drink in public, which means no water at the gym), but we have gone several times.  The main attraction for me is the pool!  It is very nice and cooled so that it isn't like stepping into a hot tub.  Ben and I have been working to improve our different strokes by swimming laps.  It is also an execellent source of exercise for the whole body, so that is a bonus!! 

We will keep you updated as more happens!