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Archive for February, 2012

BreAnna decided to search for this particular recipe, thanks to a wonderful meal at the Great Market (described in To The Market!!).  BreAnna successfully located this particular recipe at: Hungarian Langos.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1.25 teaspoons of yeast
  • 0.75 teaspoons of salt
  • water
  • oil for frying

This Sunday Night Dinner had 3 pairs of hands involved in its creation; My hands, BreAnna’s hands, and Clare’s hands. Our friend Clare owns the two puppy dogs, Judae and Buddy (see Puppy Love).  We actually doubled the recipe since it said it produces four small langos or two large langos, and our hunger called for 4 Large Langos.

Instructions:

Step 1: Combine the flour and yeasts with your fingersBreAnna stepped up to the plate, and we figured so far, this is.

Step 2: Add the salt and lightly stir throughYep, going well.

Step 3: Add sufficient water to make a thick sticky dough – basically just enough to absorb the flour, not too much or you’ll need more flourI began adding water, a few pours at a time and BreAnna stirred the increasingly goopy mess. We analyzed the amount of water needed, added a few more pours and plopped into the next step.

Step 4: Mix together well and turn out onto a board or workbench to kneadHaving only plastic cutting boards that I felt were too small anyway, we wound up spreading flour on the kitchen table for our work space. I remembered enough from previous experience that excess flour was necessary to keep the dough from gluing to the table. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop the dough from gluing to BreAnna’s hands. So, I took over the kneading, BreAnna washed clumps of dough from her hands, and Clare added flour when necessary.

Step 5: Knead in the French style, making sure to capture much air in the dough. (Pick up the sticky dough in the middle, whack one end onto the bench and fold over the other end, repeat). VIDEO Demonstration by Me!

Step 6: The dough will eventually become smooth and springy. Set aside to rest for 1/2 hourFacebook Time!

Step 7: Once rested, carefully tip out the dough onto a floured surface and then carefully stretch out into a square. Cut into four (or two for larger langos).

Step 8: Stretch out each piece with your fingers into a rough square with the centre being thinner than the edges.  The only issue: our dough squares didn’t want to stay stretched!  Eventually, Clare and I wound up with 4 oval pieces of dough.

Step 9: Place into hot oil, turn once such that each side is goldenBreAnna and Clare busied themselves with frying the dough as I was briefly occupied with an email.  They began to smell delicious!

Step 10: Optionally brush with garlic oilWe decided to forgo this option since I was planning to put jam on part of my langos, and garlic + jam didn’t sound appetizing.

Step 11: Top with grated cheese and sour creamOur particular toppings involved sour cream, stir fried mushrooms, and cheese. BreAnna and I also tried strawberry jam.

Langos with jam, and mushrooms, sour cream, and cheese

Results:

  • Fried dough and toppings = A scrumptious meal that we couldn’t stop discussing.
  • I can’t decide which I liked better, the strawberry jam or the mushroom/sour cream/cheese version because they were both delectable.
  • I’m going to make this meal for my family when I return home, although with 5 people, I’ll have to at least triple the ingredients.
Feb 26, 2012

BreAnna wants me to take the picture faster because she's hungry.

Ready to Eat.

What a wonderful Dinner with Friends!

Both topping types were wonderful!

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Hungarian Structures

How Hungarians Structure Apartments:

– Apartment buildings are built above stores. The doors for these apartment buildings are nestled in between storefronts. Their grays, blacks and browns cause the doors to disappear between shiny groceries and bright cafes.  In order to reach the actual apartment doors, you have to enter the building, and climb up stairs to emerge onto a floor’s balcony.  The floors’ balconies encircle a courtyard, and around the balconies are the apartment doors. It’s unnerving to consider the thin metal that provides us with an entrance and exit for our apartment. The guardrail looks sturdy enough, but I won’t be crashing into it simply for a test run.

Sketch-Tastic Elevators!

– Appear to have the innate ability to break down at any point…. good luck

Architecture Making us Feel Small

– Hungarians love ridiculously high ceilings. Our apartment has an extra 1/3 height that will never be used.

You'd need 3 of me to reach the ceiling

– They’re also partial to doors that are not only tall, but heavy.  Even the bathroom doors at McDaniel Budapest are skyscrapers.  I spent nearly a full minute staring at the bathroom door the first time I saw it because I had to be sure it was actually the one I wanted.

BreAnna vs the Massive Bathroom Door

Jan-May, 2012

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Ms. Feline

On the second day in our new apartment, we encountered the feline tenant.  Tromping down the final few steps of our apartment’s drafty staircase, BreAnna and I paused when we spotted a cat occupying the courtyard doorway.  With little time to spare, we passed by, earning a nasty glare.  The prissy kitty was ensuring we didn’t tread on her toes or mash her tail.

It seems to me that Hungarians tend keep to themselves and they minimize interactions with strangers.  Even the dogs walking through the city, whether they trot on a leash or wander a block ahead of their owners, go about their business ignoring the human traffic parting to either side.  A slightly curious dog may extend a sniff in the direction of a particular foreigner, but they rarely approach strangers for pets.  I have met a few dogs that were inclined to request my attention, providing an opportunity to exchange smiles with a stranger.

I figured that the cat’s disdain seemed to fit the Hungarian mood.  However, after passing by the feline sentry 3 days in a row, I decided it couldn’t hurt to say hi.  I squatted down and waited.  She stared at me, ears flattened.  Suddenly her legs straightened, sending a stretch down her back to her rear.  Poised in the air, her tail dropped, relaxing her body and releasing from her mouth a massive squeak which zipped passed me and fired around the room.  I nearly fell over in shock.

Trotting from her doorway post she immediately wound herself by me, expressing perhaps the first friendly Hungarian interaction after a week of being in Hungary.  I’ve found that my feline friend keeps odd ours, and I never know if she’ll be at home to greet me or out prowling about the city.  When I open the building door, I always glance about in hopes that I’ll see the crafty cat.  If I’m lucky enough that our schedules allow us to meet, I know to expect the cat’s special meow, her ridiculous squeak.

Jan-May, 2012

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Out of all the people I’ve had to leave at home, my puppy dog was one of the most difficult.  My dog Angel is a border collie, and I miss her terribly.  When I came home from college this past December for winter break with all of my stuff, I could tell she was confused.  Believe me, she’s a smart puppy, and knows very well that the boxes of supplies and college tools leave in fall and don’t return until spring.  As I began to pack my suitcase for the flight in January (I pack way ahead of time), she was inconsolable.  Usually she lazily trots behind me, or relaxes while watching me race around the house.  When I pulled my suitcase out and began washing clothes her nose magically glued itself to my heels.  I couldn’t turn around without tripping over her.  My puppy shadow turned into a puppy can’t-leave-me-behind.  I felt terrible, and I wasn’t leaving for another 3 weeks.

I completed most of my packing ahead of time, adding a few items as the days passed, and Angel settled a little.  Only a little, mind you, because any time I headed out the door she frantically glanced to ensure my suitcase wasn’t with me.  The final week at home was day after day of incessantly packing items that I’d been waiting upon, stressing over baggage limits, and judging what to take and what was unnecessary.  Angel was once again stuck as close to me as possible without actually standing on me.

During the school year, I return home at least one weekend each month.  There’s also school breaks and minor opportunities to see my Angel.  However, with a 4 month stretch ahead of us, I didn’t know how to promise her I would return again.  I figured it would be good for her to have a safety-blanket of sorts.  She’s been with me for 9 years, and knows I come home, however I’ve never left her completely for more than a few weeks.  My parents discouraged stuffed animals as puppy toys (they didn’t want the dogs chewing on our actual stuffed animals), but I wasn’t sure she’d like a blanket.  Besides, I didn’t want to BUY her a toy that smelled like a store and not me.  I knew she needed something with my scent.

I decided to sew her a pillow.  I’ve had some experience sewing pillows, although the design I wanted to create was a bit different, and it didn’t turn out perfect.  It doesn’t matter that the heart design is overly lopsided, what matters is that it was functional and that she saw me making it.  Being stuck to my leg, she was there as I picked out the material from my vast collection, cut out the patterns, pinned the pieces, and sewed everything together.  Finally, I stuffed the pillow and presented to her.  Initially, she wasn’t overly interested in it, but since I’ve been gone, she’s been sleeping with it most nights.  I’m incredibly happy, but also terribly sad because I miss her a ton.

It’s especially difficult here in Budapest where many people own dogs.  I pass a variety of dogs each day, and for the most part they ignore me.  A lot of dogs are walked off-leash in Budapest, and the dogs are well trained; they’re within their owner’s sight, and generally ignore other people and dogs.  It’s also difficult because I can’t walk up to someone and say, “Can I pet your dog?” because there’s a 50% chance they won’t understand me and a 99% chance I’ll feel that I’m being a bother.

So, when my friend Clare announced that she had two dogs, I was thrilled to indulge in some doggie interactions, aka puppy love.

I truly believe that happiness is found in a warm puppy, and I found happiness with Judae and Buddy.

Clare’s dogs, Judae and Buddy provided plenty of comfort and attention.  Even though seeing them made me miss Angel even more, it also helped a great deal.  I hope to have many opportunities to visit Clare, Judae and Buddy.  BreAnna and I already had some puppy healing time (cuddle time), and puppy play time at the park.  Here are some photos:

Feb 23-26, 2012

BreAnna and Judae

Buddy

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This entry is about a week late because I’ve been trying to get back on track after the Pécs trip (Feb 11-12).  We made this dish last weekend, February 19.  I try to add an entry at least every 2 days, but with the promise of warmer weather, outside exploration may impede my blog posts.

The Story

The creation of our Vegetarian Gulyáswas an adventure.  The word “Gulyás” is Hungarian, and the English version is Goulash (pronunciation is basically the same).   The full recipe can be found at:

http://low-cholesterol.food.com/recipe/vegetarian-goulash-279773#ixzz1lulpjnbu

Ingredients Included: olive oil, onion, celery, mushroom, green bell pepper, veggie crumbles (or veggie steak strips), garlic cloves, paprika, whole canned tomatoes, red wine, oregano, carraway seed (optional), tomato puree, sugar, salt and pepper.  All of the ingredients are ultimately cooked in a skillet.

Our Version: Our vegetarian gulyás was slightly altered.  First of all, veggie crumbles don’t seem to exist in Hungary, and trust me, we looked.  Second, we were having issues locating caraway seed, so we decided not to exert any more effort since it was optional.  Third, BreAnna and I had purchased a green pepper a little over a week earlier in preparation for cooking that Sunday night.  Due to exhaustion following our trip to Pécs, we decided to forgo our Sunday night dinner.  By this Sunday night, our green pepper had obtained a ring of white, fuzzy mold.  We pitched it, and eliminated pepper from our recipe because the few grocery stores that are actually open on Sunday are closed by 8pm.  Finally, since we were worried the elimination of the veggie crumbles would cause the gulyás to be overly soupy, instead of a skillet, we cooked our gulyás in a pot.

BreAnna and I were doing fairly well at cooking our gulyás until we realized that we hadn’t yet opened the bottle of wine.  Having never used a wine opener, BreAnna and I encountered several false starts.  Finally, I realized that our concept of how the wine opener SHOULD be working was completely opposite of how it ACTUALLY works.  I succeeded in extracting the cork partway, but I didn’t have the arm strength to hold the wine bottle on the high counter top to completely pop the cork.  So, I manned the bottle and attempted to keep it from jumping across the counter, and BreAnna tugged at the bottle opener.  For a good 2 minutes we were hauling and grunting and laughing our asses off.

A satisfying pop accompanied the cork’s release.  Unfortunately, as BreAnna successfully opened the bottle, the vengeful cork directed the bottle opener into her face.  She escaped with a small slice upon her cheek, a tiny reminder of our wine bottle extravaganza.

After patching herself up from her mini scuffle, BreAnna waltzed back into the kitchen, smiling.  The gulyás finished cooking and we dug in.

Cooking the Gulyás

Results:

-It’s ok.

-Probably should have made some rice to go with it, but we were so consumed in actually completing the gulyás that rice wasn’t about to happen.

-It would have been better if we’d had the pepper and veggie crumbles to add.

-Paprika = spicy

-Personally, I don’t like the tomatoes (but then again, I never have), and if we’d added more ingredients, the tomato taste would have been counterbalanced.

Dinner is Ready

Feb 19, 2012

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For me, Saturday night’s dinner in Pécs was a highlight.  A few people had some issues with their meals, but they’d chosen a different menu.  I had picked Menu C, which was the only all-vegetarian menu option.

Menu C Included:

1. Two pancakes stuffed with courgette and mushroom.  Aka, a vegetable crepe.  I’ve tasted veggie crepes before, but they rarely live up to their fruit-filled versions.  Note: courgette is zucchini.  The crepes I wound up with were deliciousness under a blanket of cream sauce.  If these two crepes had been dinner, I would have been happy because they were quite enough for a meal.  However, this was only the first course.

Pancakes stuffed with zucchini and mushrooms

2. Potato with spinach, tomato, cheese and roasted vegetables.  At least, that’s what the menu said, but what arrived appeared to be a sandwich, not a baked potato.  I was wondering if they’d added a biscuit to keep the vegetables together.  When I took a bite, I realized that the “biscuit,” was instead fluffy potatoes.  I couldn’t eat more than half of this sandwich because I was nearly full.

Potato with spinach, tomato, cheese, roasted vegetables

3. Sponge-cake.  When I looked at the menu, I was disappointed that the only menu I could choose had such a boring dessert (the other menus looked like they had amazing deserts).  Then my plate arrived with three snowballs covered in chocolate sauce.  They tasted more like sponge-cake ice cream, and they were amazing.

Sponge-cake

The entire meal was a little richer than my usual chosen cuisine, but it was a nice change from noodles and bread.  I had a fabulous meal, and I honestly have no idea how to recreate any of the food.  Perhaps I’ll try to look up similar recipes and add them to our Sunday-night cooking attempts.

Feb 11, 2012

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Saturday, our group of main campus students boarded the bus for Pécs (pronunciation similar to “page”), and yawned away the drive across Budapest.  We skidded over the Danube River.  I was considering how impossible it would be to leap from ice chunk to ice chunk, and my imaginary self’s dangerous game ended with slipping, tilting, and finally smashing into the water.  I would be encased in ice within seconds.  We drove through the Buda side and the city’s buildings drifted behind power plants, massive tubes, and smoke stacks.  Finally, we watched the last few bilboards slide behind us.

Imaginary Krystina was traversing the ice chunks

Brrrrrrrrr.

Then the world went white.

We were thankful for the casing of heat provided by the bus.  Everyone quickly discovered that a colorless world is highly unnerving.  Power-lines draping across silver metal soldiers swooped above us every couple of miles, and sometimes shivering trees provided a bare definition to the starched fields.

Whited-out Smoke Stacks

Several people speculated the chances of our bus stalling, leaving us in a lost world, and there was mild excitment when our bus stopped unexpectedly.  We watched our driver purchase wine from a road-side vender, a small motion on a tree-lined lane.  Hungary is dominated by fields, ones which I saw back in high school swaying with feathery stalks.  The view in winter was of a desolate land mixing with the swirling sky.

Steel Soldiers

When we arrived in Pécs, we had an hour to ourselves, so BreAnna and I drifted down several streets, watching snowflakes drop upon the unfamiliar town.  After returning to the hotel, we met up with our group to began the guided tour.  We had tours on Saturday and Sunday which involved shifting from monuments to buildings.  We visited the Cathedral of Peter and Paul, saw an old Christian burial site, strolled through a museum of Zsolnay porcelain, and gaped at humongous painting by Csontvary Kosztka Tivada.  While we were able to see impressive artworks, and interesting ceramics, most of the time was spent attempting to complete our worksheets.  The worksheets involved photos of places and art that we had to name, so most of our focus was upon running around and searching for the answers.  I didn’t enjoy myself as much because I was overly concerned about finding the answers.  We knew using the Internet was permissible, and ultimately most of the answers were found online. Our group mainly wound up cold and interested solely in returning to the hotel.

There were a few bright points of the trip:

  • Saturday Night’s Dinner was delicious, and I’ve decided to have a separate blog post for its description.
  • On our second day, following our “educational” itinerary, we were given an hour and a half for lunch.  A mounting tension of anticipation had been forming over the past few minutes as several of our group had found entertainment in launching a snowball or two.  Immediately upon our release, snowballs went flying.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting revenge on BreAnna for encouraging Jade to pummel me with snowballs earlier that week.
  • Following the snowball fight, the majority of girls in our group decided gelatos sounded good for lunch.  We trooped down the street that our hotel had been located upon and turned into a gelato place.  I had a wonderful combination of strawberry and chocolate gelatos.  Then, we sat, chatted, and kept warm for most of the remaining time. Right before our appointed meeting time, we grabbed pizzas for actual sustenance for the bus ride.  I got a wonderful pesto and spinach pizza.

Spinach and Pesto Pizza

Sunday, after eating gelatos and buying our pizzas for the bus, we shuffled down hill to our meeting point for boarding the bus.  We arrived a few minutes early, greeted our professors and stamped into a huddled circle to wait.  The meeting time was 12:50, so as 12:55 ticked by with no sign of the guys of our group, we were really annoyed . Not only was it snowing and freezing, but standing around in the cold watching our pizzas freeze was far from entertaining.  Even our professors were annoyed, and they attempted to contact the guys to light a fire under their behinds.  I think the winter wind and snow doused the fire.

When the guys finally reached our group over 10 minutes late, they learned that the meeting time was not 1:00pm.  They stood discussing how they’d heard 1, not 10 till 1, barely showing any remorse.  Our professor requested an apology for the frozen half of the group and we received a few mumbled sorry’s.  The instant our professor turned, a barrage of complaints erupted from the guys including, “Why did we have to apologize? It was only 10 minutes.” “I’m not sorry.” “10 minutes, it’s not like it was 30 minutes.”  One of the girls told them they’d caused our pizzas to ice over, and some guy’s response was, “Well you should have come with us, we went to a great place, it was like Texas Roadhouse.”  I was pissed at the lack of consideration.  I can understand the misunderstanding, but to be entirely unremorseful, and then to tell us their experience was better?  NO!  We had a fine time getting gelatos and chatting, and if we’d been with the guys then everyone would have been late, making the professors stand alone in the cold.  They’d have been standing there, feeling lost in white.

Feb 11-12, 2012

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