Monday, May 3, 2010

Magazine Birds

Inspired by amazingly creative Katie at Color Me Katie, I spent an afternoon cutting birds from vibrant magazine pages and filled an empty wall.  I smile every time I see them.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kathmandu Valley

I was so enamored by the quiet Himalayas that last week when I posted pictures, I forgot to include some from our whirlwind tour of the Kathmandu Valley.

Black and Whites

While I was sick, I remembered the times as a kid being home-bound with a fever, lying on the couch and watching more TV in a day than I was allowed to watch in an entire month.  Other perks that came along with being sick were gifts from my dad, including musical cards, silly pens and gadgets from drug companies, and famous NYC black and white cookies.  Admittedly and fortunately, the cookies didn't only show up when illness struck.  They were presented from briefcases, on occasion, just because.  

They are not pinnacles of gourmet baked goods, they do not require special skills or equipment or ingredients to make, they are not complex in flavor; however, they provide that taste memory that brings me back to my childhood when sweets and TV were treasured privileges. 

So, after I was feeling better, I decided to attempt to recreate the black and white cookies of my youth using the recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  The results were good, but the cookies just didn't taste the way I remembered.  In fact, the ones I made tasted more gourmet-y with a cakier cookie and chocolatier icing.  Nevertheless, they were a nice memory trip.

Dirty Water

Well, I think I am finally on the mend after two weeks of being sick!  First it was a cold that just made me feel really run down and then the giardia hit and took over my world.  If you've never had the pleasure of meeting these little parasites, allow me to introduce you.  They lurk in food, water, or soil that's been contaminated by the poo of an infected person or animal.  (Yes, that's right.  In spite of choosing food carefully, treating our water, and washing my hands, I managed to ingest someone else's fecal matter.  Eew!)  Once consumed, they take up residence and reproduce in the small intestine, where they wreak havoc on the digestive system, causing abdominal cramping (among other symptoms I will spare you) with pain that may give childbirth a run for its money.

So, anyway.  I took a single mega dose of an anti-parasitic drug and am now cured.  Yeah! 

I must admit, that during the past few weeks between tense political protests, traveling in Nepal, and then being sick, I just haven't really felt inspired to blog.  I'm hoping after forcing myself a few times, I'll get back into the swing of it.

*Fingers crossed*

Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm Back!

April in Thailand is wet and wild during the annual Songkran (aka Water) Festival that marks the Thai New Year and the beginning of the rainy season.  I am not ashamed to say, I hate this holiday.  I lived through it once and found participants intrusive and aggressive and it was downright annoying to be drenched with water days on end, especially on the way to and from work.  (I sound like Scrooge, I know.)  So, I have vowed to myself to always leave the region during this time of the year.  (Yes, as I discovered three years ago, it's not only a Thai phenomenon; Burma celebrates drenching strangers, too.)

This year, T and I traveled to Nepal where we remained undrenched (except for copious sweating on our trek to and from Namche).  It was awesome.  The hiking was tough, but the views made it all worth it.  I loved being in nature and working hard during the day and then hunkering down with a book or a few games of Uno before an early bedtime.  The mountains breathed new life into me and I had a smile plastered on my face nearly the entire time.  I just couldn't contain my happiness.     
T on one of the many suspension bridges --not for those with fears of heights!
Namche Bazaar.  We made it!
From our hotel window at Snowland.  We moved to the much nicer and friendlier Namche Hotel the next night.
  Thar she blows!  Everest!  (T was pretty disappointed that all we could see was the tip.)
A mani stone with "om mani padme hum" painted in Tibetan on it.  The words are considered sacred, so one must always walk clockwise around these stones, as tradition dictates.
Ah, mountains!  LOVE them.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Birthday Cupcakes

I took on the task of baking cupcakes for a friend's daughter's 3rd birthday.  I opted for plain chocolate cupcakes using a Cook's Illustrated (maybe the smartest, usually-right-on cooking magazine out there) recipe with a surprise ingredient of sour cream (crazy! wild!) to make the cakes lighter and cut the sweetness a bit.  Much needed, since I topped the cupcakes with super-sugary buttercream.  This was my first attempt at buttercream and I don't know if I did something wrong or if I'm just not a fan of buttercream, but it was just ultrasweet, buttery, and otherwise pretty flavorless.  Blech.  I'm much more of a chocolate ganache girl.

All in all, I thought the project turned out well and all who partook in the results seemed happy.  Including the birthday girl.

Perhaps my greatest source of pride: a homemade cupcake transporter

Also, in case you didn't see this article,  or hadn't noticed during your blog travels, taking photos of food is a trend.  (Duh.) Thank you for pointing that out, New York Times.
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