Although I've not really succumbed to homesickness yet, I have become nostalgic for my favorite time of the year back home. Mind you, Metz is going through fall at the moment, but it's more of the traditions of fall in the states that I miss. The football season has been difficult for us to come to terms with during this particular adventure. For those of you who haven't spent more than 3 minutes in a room with me, I am, and have been since I can remember, a die-hard Steelers fan, and have slowly but surely converted Michael over to the black and gold side (a process that was aided by his living in Pittsburgh and being there for their 5th Superbowl win). Before the season started, we had assumed that there would be some way to watch the games on the internet but were faced with a hard blow when we realized that the first 3 games of the year were all at 8:30pm...2:30am our time, meaning we weren't even able to attempt to watch those first few games. Even though I couldn't watch the games, I went to bed at night with my Parker jersey on and would jump on the computer upon waking to see how the game went. Thankfully, the past two weeks have been much more enjoyable; 1pm games mean we can watch it at 7pm our time. And we have been keeping the football season menu the past couple of weeks.On the left is a pumpin pie (tart) that we made from roasting and pureeing courge (the closest equivaent to a sugar pumpkin). As you can see, I have not mastered the communal kitchen ovens yet...it was a little "caramelized on the top".For the football game we made some of my family's traditional chicken wings. At this point though, we had no oven, and since we normally let them slow bake for 2 hours or so, the communal kitchen was really out of the question. This meant that we had to fry them, which is not my favorite method, but it worked and was yummy.
The picture on the right is of the chili we made last Saturday. It is pretty much your basic chili...you can't buy black beans here, so red beans were subsituted. And unlike America, it is very hard to find ground meat here (well, you can usually find it but it is pre-seasoned for sausage) and if you do find it, it is often times as much or more than just buying a chunk of meat, so instead of the ground turkey I usually use, we just used some braising meat and simmered it until it was nice and tender.This past Saturday, we took a chilly ride down to the thrift store again. I was running low on crochet thread for the project that I'm working on (pictured above), it is about 3/4 of the way done and will hopefully be a 3 foot wide table centerpiece when finished. I will make sure to get a better picture with more contrast when it is all finished. Anyway, we rode our bikes down amid sporadic autumn showers. The landscape was absolutely beautiful.
The photo above was taken from our balcony just minutes before getting on our bikes to leave. At the thrift store I managed to find 1 more spool of the cotton I had been using along with 3 new spools in a slightly different off-white color...let's hope these last me awhile. While we were there, Michael managed to snap this (slightly blurry) picture of the store from the top floor. I still can't get over the incredible antiques that they sell here for next to nothing. On this particular trip, I fell in love with an old desk for 150euros...actually, I think you can see it in the bottom left of the photo, it has the white cone-shaped thing on it, not that you can really get an idea of what it looked or felt like from this picture. An just in case you were wondering, the table top felt exactly like someone had written on it for several hours over hundreds of years, it had that smooth wood feeling that you feel when you run you hand along a railing in Disney Land...I love that feeling.
On Saturday night we were invited to a couple of parties, and since we are normally hermits at night, we decided to shake things up and get out of the dorm. The first party we went to was in the GTL undergraduate dorm, Lafayette. The party turned out to be exactly what you would expect from a college party; we played beer pong and foosball. The only difference was that I wasn't in constant fear of being caught "supplying" minors since everyone can drink at 18. At about midnight we all headed into town to a bar near the train station that was hosting a party that night (essentially meaning they cleared the floor for some dancing and brought in 2 DJ's). We had a great time with everyone and I was especially excited that Vanessa, the first Metzer I met, came later in the evening. We had a good time but still ended up leaving earlier than everyone (2am *Gasp*) and made the nice, brisk, 45 minute walk home.
For the football game yesterday, we made a Cincinnati Style chili...not that I was cheering for Cincinnati. In fact, the Steelers played Cleveland yesterday, so the food choice didn't make much sense but at least it was a good, hearty, football-type food. For those of you who are unaware, don't be ashamed, I didn't learn about Cincinnati chili until Michael and I started dating. Here is wikipedia's definition of Cincinnati chili:
Cincinnati chili (or "Cincinnati-style chili") is a regional style of chili characterized by the use of unusual ingredients such as cinnamon, cloves, or chocolate. It is frequently served over spaghetti or as a hot dog sauce.
Michael has had quite a bit of Cincinnati chili in his time while I've only had it twice (and loved it both times), but when searching for chili recipes last week on www.epicurious.com, I came across a recipe for Cincinnati chili. It had never occurred to me that I could just make it at home rather than having to wait for our next trip to Ohio, so we decided that it would be a good meal to remind us of home. Here is a picture of my plate of 5-way Cincinnati chili, a mountainous tower of spaghetti, onions, beans, chili, and shredded cheese (it should be cheddar, but since cheddar is hard to come by but gouda isn't ,we used a yellow, gouda-type cheese); Michael eats his chili 4-way, without the onions. I'm no Cincinnati chili critic, but I thought the spices were pretty accurate. It was delicious, and, as you can imagine, quite filling.
In other news, we've decided to stay in Metz longer than we had initially intended, which is both a good thing and a bad thing for all of you. If you had put any thought to visiting us here in Europe, this gives you a whole 7 extra months to make it work (until December 2010). If you just wanted us to come home, I'm sorry to disappoint you. There were many factors that went into the decision but essentially, we didn't think that 9 months would be enough time to do everything we want to do (learn the language fairly well, travel, learn about the culture, find me an internship) and adding to that argument was the fact that Michael had overloaded his schedule with a particularly difficult course, thinking that he wanted to graduate by May. So instead of cramming everything into 9 months, Michael has changed course and will now be spreading his 1o classes out over 3 semesters. The really exciting part about this is that we made a couple of purchases after deciding. The first thing we bought was a fitted sheet for the bed (well, I made Michael get this, sheets are NOT cheap here, even poor quality sheets). You can see the pretty green color on the right. Before this, we had been fighting with making two twin-sized flat sheets work; it was OK but I curl up in a ball at night and would always get my feet all tangled up in the sheet on top. We also bought a mattress pad a few weeks ago (and a rope to tie the beds together) so our beds no longer slide apart through the night. And last week we bought a comforter so we weren't fighting over 2 doubled up twin sized blankets (one wasn't warm enough on it's own), so now we finally have a nice comfy bed to sleep in :-)
After our bedding purchase, we went from store to store for hours before we finally decided on a good, middle-ground mini-oven which means now I can make my chicken wings the way I like to make them.
And to prove that our new oven works well, I've included a picture of last week's pizza night pizzas. We still did one on the stove since we don't have a pan big enough for a 2-person pizza. We even managed to find pepperoni for this weeks pizzas...there's something we hadn't had since moving from the states, now all we need to find is some good/crappy Chinese take-out and we will have all of our cravings met!
Until next time, bonne semaine!