Friday, May 29, 2009

Food for Thought: Natural Beauty

"Cheerfulness and content are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of good looks."
~ Charles Dickens

"Taking joy in living is a woman's best cosmetic."
~ Rosalind Russell

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Make that Thirty-One

Travis and I spent Memorial Day weekend in Indianapolis with our friends Mike & Becca. It was a wonderfully relaxing time...we made meals together, slept in, went for walks, read, conversed, watched a movie, played some games, went to church, made (and ate) cookies, and had a spontaneous (though short-lived) Latin dance party.

We also tried out a new restaurant in downtown Indy called The Taste of Tango. This meal was our introduction to Argentine cuisine. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression...but for Argentina's sake, I would like to give the country a second chance. The food was okay, but I was expecting/hoping to be "wowed" by at least something about it - the flavor, the presentation, the ingredients - but nothing really stood out. The empanadas were tasty enough, the homemade ravioli with Rossini (white sauce with filetto) Travis ordered was good, the dish I ordered (Matambre con Rusa) was...interesting, and the beef Mike and Becca ordered (Asado de tira) was, frankly, fatty and rather disappointing (given that Argentina is one of the world's leading producers of beef and it's a staple of the Argentine diet). I want to believe Argentina has tastier dishes to offer. I'll have to ask my friends who were missionaries there for over 30 years...and perhaps see if I can score an invitation to dinner.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal Mix

A couple months ago I was given a package of "gourmet" cinnamon raisin instant oatmeal mix. It sent me on a bit of an "oatmeal kick" and also sent me looking online for recipes to make my own instant oatmeal mix. I combined and modified a few of the recipes I found, and here's what I came up with. It's a cinch to mix up a batch, very economical, and open to endless variations.

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Mix

3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Store in an airtight container.

To prepare one serving of oatmeal:
In a microwave safe bowl, mix 1/2 cup oatmeal mix with 2/3 cup water. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Stir, then let stand for about 1 minute before serving.


Just before adding water and cooking, stir in one or more of the following:
  • raisins
  • dried cranberries
  • any other dried fruit
  • chopped dates
  • diced apple
  • chopped pecans or walnuts
  • slivered almonds
  • wheat germ
After cooking, you can also try stirring in or topping your oatmeal with one of these:
  • maple (or any flavor) syrup
  • fruit jam
  • fresh fruit
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Monday, May 11, 2009

Around the World in 80 Meals

A couple weeks ago, as Travis and I shared a combination sampler platter of traditional Nepali dishes at Taste of Himalayas in St. Charles, I thought to myself that "Around the World in 80 Meals" would be a good title for a book...or at least a blog post. And that got me wondering just how many countries I've visited, via their cuisine. With the help of a world map, I think the answer is 30 (listed below).

Although trying Nepali food just kind of happened as we strolled through downtown St. Charles looking for somewhere to have dinner, upcoming intentional forays into international cuisine are to include Colombian and Ethiopian.
  1. Afghanistan
  2. Austria
  3. Brazil
  4. China
  5. England
  6. Finland
  7. France
  8. Germany
  9. Greece
  10. India
  11. Indonesia
  12. Ireland
  13. Israel
  14. Italy
  15. Japan
  16. Korea
  17. Mexico
  18. Mongolia
  19. Morocco
  20. Nepal
  21. Peru
  22. Poland
  23. Romania
  24. Spain
  25. Sweden
  26. Switzerland
  27. Thailand
  28. Turkey
  29. United States
  30. Vietnam
Countries added since I originally posted this list:
31. Argentina
32. Lebanon

How Now Brown Cow?

This past Saturday Travis and I had a date night in Forest Park, which is the next town over from Oak Park. After browsing through Two Fish Art Glass Gallery we went up the street to The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor.On our first visit it seemed only appropriate to get the name sake Brown Cow Sundae. Now, the menu describes this sundae as "three scoops of chocolate ice cream topped with hot fudge, peanut butter topping, whipped cream, sprinkles, nuts, and a cherry, served in our signature pail." Well, it turns out that "three scoops" is really more like a PINT of ice cream. Seriously, this was a huge sundae. Travis and I shared it and did our best, but still left probably about a third of the ice cream to melt in the pail. Next time we will know to either order the "mini" or bring friends!

Friday, May 08, 2009


Back in February Travis and I celebrated one year since we'd met. At that point, some events (i.e. holidays, etc.) began to repeat themselves and no longer felt quite so momentous the second time around. The fun thing about moving into my new place (which will be our place come October) is that it ushers in a whole new round of firsts.

Last evening we enjoyed our first dinner together at our dining room table, complete with a vase of flowers (compliments of Travis) and candles (compliments of one of the boxes I've actually managed to unpack so far). As the days turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months, we will recognize many more firsts, but also delight in deciding which things we want to repeat, which acts are worthy of instituting as a tradition, which things were good but with room for improvement, and which things we should never do again (first on that list...attempt the reverse commute using the same route I took yesterday - it was awful).

Last night we also joined Alex & Allison in their Thursday evening tradition, an after dinner trip to Paciugo for gelato. In my little piccolo cup I enjoyed S'mores, Mediterranean Sea Salt Caramel, and Pannacotta Wedding Cake. Yum! Travis and I might not visit weekly, but we'll definitely be going back - especially because they're constantly swapping out flavors from their over 250 tasty options!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A New Nest, A New Community

As of this past Saturday I am now a resident of Oak Park! Spring finally delivered on its promise, and I couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather for the big move. Friends and family came out to help, and the whole process went pretty smoothly. Though there's still a lot of work (unpacking, cleaning, organizing, purging) to be done before I feel settled, I must say it feels REALLY good to be in my new space, even if it is littered with boxes and covered in more dust than I'd like. Added to the relief of having the move behind me is my excitement over the reality that this new apartment is not just my home, but it will be OUR home. Travis and I are so thankful for how the Lord led us to this apartment and provided so much space in just the right location and at just the right price.

In addition to nesting in my new apartment I look forward to exploring my new community. I'm excited to get a library walk into wander through the neighborhoods and check out the different kinds of learn the history of this try out the different discover my favorite determine the best routes from here to do some window visit the farmers market on Saturday meet my make spontaneous coffee dates with my best friend...and to have my fiance living only 7 miles away (instead of 32)!