Monday, September 7, 2009
Long Time Coming...
Sorry for the long hiatus between blog posts. To be honest, we have been really lazy and boring the past week, which would be a good reason to post I suppose, lots of free time. Really though, I just didn't want to bore you all with the mundane...went to class, walked to the store, made dinner, watched a movie, etc. I'm not sure when the picture above was taken but it was a really beautiful day with alternating rain clouds and blinding sunshine.
When I left off last week, we were in the process of making Friday night pizzas, which were excellent; by the time we return to the states we will have mastered stovetop pizzas. Saturday we attempted to get into town for the open market, but apparently you must get there in the morning because when we arrived at 2pm, everyone was gone and the three street sweepers were making it look like no one was ever there. We did go into the covered market and bought some Sausage a Rotir de Vosges and lots of veggies. While walking back home the long way, we passed a wine store and decided to check it out. The main room (or what we thought was the main room) of the shop was fairly small and only had about 10 kinds of wine but multiple liquors...which seemed strange for a wine store. The man working (I'll assume he is the owner) was talking on the phone when we walked in but as soon he hung up he said something to us in French, at which time I explained (in French) that I only speak a little French. After a little more conversation he asked if we wanted to see the wine and when we said yes, he led us down the stairs (which we should have noticed when we first walked in) to the wine cellar. Obviously, there was a much greater selection in the part of the store and after he went through describing the different sections of wine (based on region of origin) and giving us some suggestions (thankfully, keeping it in the under 10 euro range for our sakes), we spent a bit of time deciding on a bottle of 2007 Saint-Bris Sauvignon from the Burgundy region. For dinner that night we cooked up our Sausage de Roti and turned all of those lovely veggies into the ratatouille pictured below. I hadn't made ratatouill since culinary class in school and had forgotten just how delicious it is. Essentially, it is a casserole of eggplant, zucchini, tomato, pepper, and onion which is cooked with garlic, parsley, and lots of olive oil until all the veggies are creamy and infused with their combined flavors. It was an excellent dinner and the wine turned out to be an excellent and very flavorful companion. The sausage, I should mention, tasted just like jimmy dean breakfast sausage links.
On Monday we attempted to find the rumored thrift store and ended up walking roughly 3 miles down the freeway (they do have walkways but I understand why they don't allow it in the US, it was frightening) to find nothing but fields of vegetables and what looked like an old estate or vineyard that is being turned into a hospital. Despite not finding our destination, it was really nice to be out in the country with rolling hills and fields (and a highway, but we'll ignore that). Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the camera along so you'll just have to go by my explanation. The landscape reminded me of driving through the farms back in Wellsboro only flatter (not flat as in mid-west flat, but the hills are much smaller and less severe than the Appalachians).
Wednesday night (sorry I'm skipping some days but really, they aren't even worth mentioning) we made some delicious pork chops, carrots glazed with Orangina (an orange juice drink that is about 1/10 orange juice and 9/10 sparkling water for those who don't know) and some of our local honey from the market, and potato pancakes. Needless to say, with only one burner, the carrots and pork chops were a bit cold by the time the potato pancakes were done, but wonderful nonetheless. I had never made potato pancakes by myself before but had watched my dad do it a million times. Unfortunately, I forgot to drain any of the liquid out of the grated potato before adding in the seasoning and egg, so we ended up having to drain a bunch of liquid off which included some of the egg before we fried them up. The resulting product didn't hold together quite as well as I remembered but tasted just like my dad's and they reminded me of home :-)
We had to find something to serve with them in place of the sour cream that we usually used at home. We ended up caramelizing some onions (well...they went a little past caramelizes), seasoning them with salt and pepper, and mixing in some fromage frais; it was something I had remembered our French teacher mentioning as dip and it went very well smeared over the pancakes (and is much less fattening than sour cream). To go along with this meal, we watched The English Patient, which was enjoyable but the story was full of holes that we spent a good bit of time trying to fill ourselves after the movie was over.
Thursday night, at Aunt Susie's suggestion, we made hamburgers (well, cheeseburgers) and french fries, ate them while watching the Pink Panther, and attempted to not spit out our food while Steve Martin struggled with the word "hamburger".
We went to a meeting at GTL in the afternoon to sign up online for our housing subsidy which will make our rent pretty much dirt-cheap. After the meeting we talked with Moses for a few minutes about possibly finding the illusive thrift store this weekend...let's hope. Michael then had to drop off a couple of papers in Josyane's office (the Academic Director), she asked how I was doing and wondered if there was anything I would like to do....she is now on the hunt and might be able to help me find something to keep me occupied :-) Then on the way downstairs we ran into Albert who suggested that, if we can find a way there, we might go out to some Abbey (about 15km away) for a bread festival this weekend, which sounded awesome to us! All-in-all, a very productive afternoon; Michael and I might just have to hang out at GTL on Thursday afternoons to see what opportunities come our way. I hit a milestone today: I made my first successful spaghetti and meatball dinner; I had attempted once before while still in Pittsburgh but the meatballs didn't have enough binding (egg, breadcrumbs) and we just ended up with yummy meat sauce. Today however, the meatballs stayed balls and were very yummy. Apparently no one uses bread crumbs here, or everyone has too much left over bread to bother buying it in a can, because I ended up chopping up stale bread to make mine. We're thinking that the ground meat, with a label that translated literally into flesh of pork and beef, was some sort of seasoned sausage blend because it was very flavorful. We watched From Hell with Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, then came out of our room (where the blinds were down) to realize that is was only 7:30 and still broad daylight. It was then that we realized just how boring we are; but this should be changing soon. Next week we head to Paris for a long weekend and sometime soon after that we should be recieving our EURail passes which will give us 2 months to travel for 10 days anywhere within France, Germany or BeNeLux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg). Have a good afternoon/evening everyone, I going to spend mine trying to figure out how to watch the Steelers game tomorrow.