Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our first First Friday!

Many towns and cities across the country do "First Friday" events. Bryan held theirs last week and it was a great time! Ramona called it "Family Date Night." We started at Mr. G's for pizza. Then walked around town a bit and checked out some street performers. We came across the "Aggie Illusionists Club." They asked for a volunteer and you can just imagine who was the first to raise her hand! There were bands and balloons and face painting. A wonderful night!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Recipe: "Whaddya Got?" Soup

Cooking in Egypt had presented some fun challenges. Like you can't go to the store, recipe in hand (er, on screen), and expect to find everything on the ingredient list. Most often, you would find everything but one vital item and then have to rethink the whole thing. p.s. yogurt is NOT  substitute for sour cream, I don't care what anyone says. The other fun adventure was never knowing how much something was going to cost. There were rarely prices on things and you never knew if your total was going to be 50LE or 250LE. There was never any advance planning/coupons/club cards, etc. However, all of that was not a big deal when you can order things online and have them delivered for pennies! You learn to improvise. You also learn to revel in the seasonal food. Which is what we should all be doing anyway, right? 
I'm not going to lie, I have been LOVING the ease of food shopping here. But I still want to retain my "from scratch" attitude and not get lazy. Here is a VERY adaptable recipe for soup that can be made with almost anything you have on hand. I will warn you, if you are a "follow the recipe down to the quarter teaspoon" person, this may not be for you. But this is a good chance to play around a bit and learn what you like. I would also love to hear what kind of combinations and ingredients you've tried. Enjoy!

The basics...
I start most soups with olive oil, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. From there, you can go with a chicken or veggie stock, or a tomato base, or both!
3TBS Olive oil (or butter, if you prefer) 
one small onion, chopped
1-3 cloves of garlic, chopped or put through a garlic press (I like garlic, I add a lot, it's up to you though)
2 carrots, chopped
1 or 2 celery stalks, chopped. I knew people are divisive on celery in soups. I love it, but by all means, omit it if you don't.  
Saute the ingredients, adding them in the order they are listed.  I throw a little salt and pepper on each ingredient as I add it, but again, that's up to you.
From there, it's whatever you like! Earlier this week, I added 4 cups of just water, a large can of crushed tomatoes, a can of red beans, a quarter chopped cabbage and about 10 chopped baby potatoes. The week before I did 2 chicken breasts, 3 ears of corn, and few cups of noodles. It really is whatever you have on hand. I usually add 4-6 cups of water or broth, depending on how I want the ratio of broth to ingredients.  One tip; if you're planning on freezing it, don't add potatoes, they get mushy and grainy upon reheating. I hope this helps add something easy into your meal rotation. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Farm Patch

I honestly almost got into a car accident the first time I drove past this place. "Fresh Herbs! Tomatoes! Okra!" It was calling to me...We went the other night and it was everything I'd hoped and more. Not only are there amazing fresh veggies and fruit, but all kinds of fun local delicacies and I finally found some locally roasted coffee!
 Needless to say, this will be a weekly stop for me, and it's only a few miles away! 

Monday, September 1, 2014


Ira and I have been together for 7 years, he has always been a professor, but this is the first time we have lived in a true college town. And how. I grew up with fairly rabid Penn State fans, and in an area where many people went to that school. I went to a big state school and became a college sports fan. I think I have a sweatshirt someplace....
But Aggieland is something different.
First of all, what the hell is an Aggie??
According to the FAQ page on the Texas A&M website, "An Aggie is a student at Texas A&M University. In the early 1900s A&M students were referred to as Farmers. The term Aggie began to be used in the 1920s and in 1949, when the yearbook changed its name to Aggieland, Aggie became the official student body nickname."
Every business is the "official" something something of the Aggies. Official mattress provider of the Aggies. No joke. The local Ashley Furniture Store had a special last weekend where if the Aggies won by more than 10 for their first football game of the season, your purchase was free. We laughed and laughed at the ad. Until they won.
And the t-shirts. Everyone is wearing A&M gear. Even people you wouldn't think would be school spirit types. I expect the jocks and frat boys to be sporting official gear. The sorority girls with A&M tank tops and jean shorts, fine. But when the woman with the cool dye job and Warby Parker frames is wearing something that says "Gig Em Aggies", it kind of messes with me! The kids at the grocery store, shopping with their parents for a semester's supply of ramen are like a little maroon family strolling the aisles. Dad is an Aggie Dad, mom is an Aggie Mom. It's just all so fascinating. You would think after living in a foreign country, something like this wouldn't faze me, but this is all very unfamiliar. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get an Official Aggie Taco.    

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Local Flavor

I am really loving it here! Here are some photos from my first week...

backyard sunset 

downtown Bryan

clouds from the front yard

sweet planters in my backyard fence

 I quickly learned that it's "Hatch Chile Season" here. these babies are hot but packed with flavor, delicious!

I can't get over the clouds here. They don't look real! 

 archway to the backyard and the greenbelt right next to our house

figs for breakfast

avocados. I love them so.

front yard flowers

ahhh the hot sauce aisle at the grocery store

Ramona's "first day" at her new school 

lovely pepper plant from Ira's new colleague 

dipping my feet in our pool

The Journey Home

 On August 16th we began our journey to our new home. A 1,500 mile drive from Pennsylvania to Texas. Although, from our last home in Cairo, it's an 8,000 mile trip! We spent the summer in Pennsylvania with our families and regrouping before heading to Texas.

Here we are, mile 0, on our way! We spent the first night in Kingsport, Tennessee. The next morning, we drove to Chattanooga and met up with an old Cairo pal, Carolyn. And had brunch at the fabulous Tupelo Honey. 
Pint glass mimosas, yes please!

From there, we went to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and stayed with Ira's best bud, Stacy and his wife, Anne. We were treated to some great Thai food and cozy accommodations. Not to mention Stacy's famous pancakes in the morning! I should also mention that Stacy drove the 20 foot moving van with Ira the week before. He then helped unload, went to IKEA, and swore in Swedish alongside Ira while they put together some of our furniture. We are forever grateful!
On the third day, we made our way across Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. We spent the night in Shreveport and met up with some more Cairo friends, Liz and Alan and their awesome kids. Ramona was happy to finally have some playmates on the road. And I was happy to have some delicious Mexican food and a salty margarita! It was great catching up with Liz and I was wish she was closer, but hopefully we'll see them a bit more often now.

We finally made it to our new state!

And then, there it was, our new address!

And our happy family had arrived.