Category Archives: Food

Food to learn how to make

I have a growing list of things I find absolutely delicious that I’ve only bought from the store, but I’ve heard are really easy to make on your own. I haven’t tested any of these recipes yet, but hopefully once I have a kitchen again, I will be making delicious tasty treats all the time.

My own Greek yogurt: I love Face Greek yogurt but it’s fairly expensive. Also, when I was reading Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man, he mentioned that he learned how to make his own Greek yogurt and it was pretty easy.

Favorite way to eat it: mixed with pureed frozen mango and other fruits, with a little bit of Splenda for extra sweetness

Fresh cheese: I had never had fresh cheese until I lived in Portugal, and I was missing out for 20 years. Fresh cheese is delicious…salty and soft, more spreadable than butter. I never thought I could make it on my own, but I went to visit my grandparents and they had just made some fresh cheese the way before.

Favorite way to eat it: on Portuguese white bread

Black bean burgers: I started eating black bean burgers a lot last summer, mostly from Morningstar or the other vegetarian meat companies. Recipe from epicurious.

Favorite way to eat it: with balsamic vinegar dressing on it, lettuce, purple onions, and sandwich thin buns and a side of sweet potato fries.

Falafel: another food I didn’t appreciate until recently, but what’s bad about fried chickpeas? Recipe from epicurious.

Pita: If I’m learning to make my own pita, I have to be able to make my own pita as well. Recipe from smittenkitchen.

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Portugal was great. It was cool to go back to Lisbon and be able to show people around. I knew the city really well — much better than I had thought — and was able to drag Mom, Dad, and Lauren all over town for the best and biggest sites.

We weren’t in Lisbon the whole time, we took a few day trips south to the Algarve, north to Coimbra, and nearby to Sintra. I’d been to all those places before, but in the short time we were there, we were able to do somethings that were new even for me.

We also had delicious pastry and octopus and caldo verde soup, among other things.

And here’s some pictures of it:


Popped over to Norway for the weekend with one of my friends from QM. We just got back a half hour ago or so and I’m tired and while my brain tells me it’s 2:36 am, my body has no clue what time it is (daylight savings time + time zone changes + sleeping on the floor can do that to you).

Norway was awesome. Really cold though. The water was frozen and there was snow every where. Also, all the Norwegians had skis and just brought them on the T-banen (tube/metro/subway) with them. We tried to see the fjords, but with everything frozen, the ferries weren’t really working (except for one to Copenhagen).

I probably didn’t pack enough warm clothes for Norway but I was fine after I triple layered my shirts, double layered my socks, and used my spare pair of socks as mittens (I only had one glove with me for some reason). After that, plus a scarf and a hat, it was quite toasty. Plus my friend and I were quite good at finding warm places to hang out (like train stations or malls).

Norway or Oslo at least is also super expensive. By super expensive I mean most meals cost $30 at least. No joke. I even saw some restaurants with appetizers for that much. But my friend (Corinne) and I were able to beat that system. Instead of spending $30 a meal, we went to a grocery store and spent about $30 total for all our meals for 3 days. Go us.

Anyway, it’s late and I need to sleep since I have a 9 am tomorrow. I’ll post pictures later. I’ve been saying that for ages, but I will.


Today, today was a good day.

2 papers submitted (along with that great I-kicked-paper-butt feeling and DONE).

1 fancy tea party with classical music and scones, pictures will follow, probably tomorrow.

1 cool movie (though utterly lacking in explosions).

And realizing my friends like the same bad made-for-TV movies I do.


And now I should go to sleep because tomorrow’s going to be a big, long day. Details later.


Who leaves meat to defrost in a bathroom sink?

No, really? I want to know because that’s what’s happening in my bathroom right now. It’s not my meat though; it belongs to one of my suite mates. If you’ve ever done this, I’m judging you just a little right now, but please explain. I want to understand.

National Holiday

Today’s a national holiday, marking the … 370th anniversary of Portugal regaining independence from Spain (they were under Spanish rule for about 80 years). What does this mean for me? No classes and almost everything’s closed. Basically, it’s another Sunday. But it gave me time to be productive. Also, I just checked…Google Portugal unfortunately does not have any special graphics for the day.

Camelbak Water Bottles

So I’ve known this for the past few months, but this week I have officially decided that Camelbak water bottles are pretty much the best things ever. I have one, in the 500 mL size (thank you Aunt Melanie and Uncle Dave) and it is perfect. It was probably designed for camping or hiking or something outdoorsy like that, but I have found it perfect for essay writing…okay, researching (I haven’t started writing yet). Anyway it’s perfect; you just suck on the straw and all at once you stay hydrated, it prevents you from grinding your teeth and it comes with built in, distraction free mini study/bathroom breaks. I’ve also been told that it’s the only water bottle approved for stage managers in the booth since when you knock it over it won’t spill. You know, double win.

Productivity/Lack thereof

Do you ever feel like you’ve been working, working, working for hours and not much has come of it? Because that’s where I am right now. Between today and yesterday, I’ve spent at least 8 hours just reading/researching for my anthropology paper (25 pages…why?) which I know I should have done ages ago but have to do now so I can finally start writing but I haven’t read that much. Maybe I’m just a spectacularly slow reader/note taker (which is made worse by the fact that most of my sources are PDF files on my computer, so instead of highlighting/post-it noting important pages, I have to type them all into one of many Word documents) but I still feel like after all this time and work I should have read at least a book by now.

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Natal em Lisboa

It all started this afternoon, around 4 pm. I had been studying all day and I had reached the point that I had to leave the dorms pronto before I went crazy.

Out I went, on the streets of Lisbon, armed with my camera and Camelbak, bundled in a sweater, polartech, and wind/rain proof jacket. (It was only 48 degrees here and I was that layered…I’m in for a big shock when I get back to the States). My goal: find the Elevador de Santa Justa from the back entrance and take lots of beautiful pictures. Goal: achieved.

View of Rossio Square from the Elevador

View from the Elevador

While at the top of the elevator, I saw something going on in Rossio Square and I decided to check it out. In some sort of odd, rambling way, I made my way from this Elevador (which is an actual elevator) to one lookout and another and then down a second elevator (which is actually just a trolley that brings people up/down really steep hills).

Eventually I ended up in Rossio and literally as soon as I arrived the Christmas lights all turned on for the first time this year! I had accidentally walked into a tree lighting ceremony (even though there was no Christmas tree. There was supposed to be one at the park near me, but there’s no money. :/ Budget crises). . I think I’m a magnet for these ceremonies; I’ve been to 6 years of them at home, and I’ve even accidentally stumbled upon them at school. There were kids playing recorder and singing the Sound of Music (in English) and Christmas carols (in Portuguese).

Part of my route today

Inspired by these lights, I decided to wander the Baixa/Chiado area and see if the other lights were on yet (the decorations have been up for a few weeks, but nothing’s been on) and they were! I took lots of pictures, stopped in so many stores, but didn’t buy much except for a piece of what is supposed to be the best chocolate cake in the world. We’ll see.

So it’s officially Christmas season here, and I for one am excited. The decorations have been up for weeks in the streets, you’ve been able to find chestnuts (roasting on an open fire) on street corners for month, and Christmas stuff has been on sale in some places since the middle of October. But now the lights are on which means it’s officially Christmas (season) and I can start listening to Christmas music.

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The slideshow is me trying something new/failing at wordpress technology, but it’s the same pictures from earlier in the post.

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My Portuguese Thanksgiving

Without a doubt, the strangest Thanksgiving I’ve ever had thus far, though it was still fun.

The day started, like no Thanksgiving ever should: at 7:45 in the morning with no running water and 5 hours of classes straight from 9 am till 2 pm. Getting up was a pain, as was getting ready without water (made me thankful I normally have running water), but classes were okay. It was just so wrong to be in class on Thanksgiving, almost alternate universe.

After classes, nothing exciting happened till I was about to leave for dinner. We were meeting at Parliament to go to a restaurant with the whole CIEE group that was still in the country (some had left for other European countries to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends) plus one of the “gang members.”* One of the metro lines I needed wasn’t working and we got a little bit lost, but kept finding more people in our group. Even though we were horribly late (it’s the metro’s fault: we left with more than enough time to arrive early at the meeting place), we weren’t the last ones because someone was lost.

The meal was pretty normal for this group: it was loud, the food was very Portuguese, and there were french fries involved. There was no turkey or cranberry sauce, but lots of steak, pork, and piri piri sauce. The food was delicious; I had warm bread, soup, and a giant piece of pork, but it was strange not to have the variety I’m used to at Thanksgiving.

After, we wandered for a while with the intent of reaching a hostel because one of the people in the group has a friend visiting and then a jazz club. By the time we got to the jazz club, after stopping at every other street corner, I was done for the night.

I went home and was able to skype with half of the family. It was so good to talk to/see you all!

While this was a good and interesting Thanksgiving, I’m so glad I decided to go home for Christmas and I can’t wait to see you all in less than an month (eek!).

Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to the official start of the Christmas season.


*Gang member: Don’t worry, not a real gang. Erik, one of the guys in the group met some Portuguese people at the beginning of the semester who like to hang out near the dorms. Erik started calling them “his gang” and CIEE and “the gang” have been friends ever since.

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This weekend, the whole CIEE group was in Évora for a trip, coincidentally, the same exact time Obama was in Lisbon.

We were in Évora for only two days, but it’s a small town so we were able to see most of the sites, including a few churches (one with a chapel made of BONES) and an ancient Roman ruin.

I have pictures here. There’s also more pictures of Rome and Coimbra.

The Portuguese countryside is so beautiful. On the bus ride to Évora (and Coimbra and Lagos and the train ride to Porto) I just stared out the window the whole time because the landscape was so pretty. The highways I was on didn’t have billboards or those noise protectors or anything; it was just plains so you could see for miles.

Also: Évora also has its own pastries. I tried a queijada and a pastel de feijão. Both so delicious.


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A week in review

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, I’m officially GOING HOME for Christmas. Oops, I ruined the surprise, but I’m pretty excited about it. I’ll get to see all of you, relax, enjoy a good ol’ American/Portuguese Christmas, and etc. I bought my flights today, first to the Azores, so I can visit family and see the island and from there, home. I’ll have some super long layovers, but what’s travel without waiting around? Plus, at least I wont’ have to rush.

Also exciting: I went to a craft show yesterday which had stuff from a lot of local artists. Apparently it happens every month and I’m pretty sure I’m going back in December.

I saw the Facebook movie (in English); first time going to the movie theatres here. I liked the movie, but hated 99% of the characters.

I bought drumsticks. This may have been a bad decision, but (apparently) I’ve been talking about wanting to learn how to drum all semester and the other day, I finally went into a music store and bought them (after doing some price shopping). It was pretty exciting when I bought them, but then I got home and tried to use them and remembered my total lack of rhythm and musical skills in general. Oops. Maybe practice makes perfect?

I found a kebab place in Lisbon. I had a kebab for the first time in Rome, and it was amazing and I decided I needed to find some place in Lisbon to get one. I did, and it was alright, not as good as the first one, and I’m not entirely convinced it was an actual kebab. But what did this kebab come with? French fries. Yes, you can get french fries with so many things here.

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Theatre & Cafe(taria)s

Today during class we tried to go to another museum. It was also closed (every Monday). Oops. Instead, we got to walk around the park the museum was in. Lots of fun and there was an ampitheatre where they were getting ready for a show. There were a couple of guys working on it; there were a bunch of trusses — maybe 5 — and they were all the way on the ground with only a few lights on them. It made me miss working on theatre. 😦 I miss the techies and Mendenhall and purple carpets.

What else? We found another GIANT shopping mall, like El Corte Ingles (in size) but also like a suburban Connecticut mall, in the types of stores it had. It also was divided into different stores, which potentially would make things easier, but I didn’t have the patience to work out what each store sold. But SO MANY American stores there. I don’t think I’ll use it that much, even though it’s supposed to have a supermarket that is cheaper than El Corte Ingles (which I did not find), because it is 5 or 6 metro stops away. Way too long to be carrying groceries, plus a ten minute walk.

So classes at the university actually start today, but we’re (the CIEE students) not starting till next week. HUH? Yeah, I don’t really get it either. It has something to do with hazing (the upperclassmen dress in black & white dress outfits [pants for boys, skirts for girls] with long jackets and cloaks with patches on them. It’s very flight attendent/Harry Potter-esque and then the younger students get things written on their faces, have to wear paper dunce caps, or paper bags. I don’t understand but I’m glad I don’t have to go through it) and something about the professors not showing up at classes or classes changing location. Apparently we won’t miss anything by starting next week. So I hope.

Also, I’m in danger of becoming a “regular” at a cafe. This has never happened before as I don’t drink hot drinks in most cases and am too cheap to buy a cold fruity drink that often. But there’s this pasteleria/cafetaria (diff meaning than in the US…just a place that sells coffee) called Liberty Cafe on the end of Avenida de Liberdade (Lisbon’s version of New York’s 5th avenue except with a cool, long mini park in the center of the street). They have juices and coffee (my friend always gets a galão, basically a latte), beanbag chairs and outdoor seating, and my personal favorite…chamosas (samosas). SO GOOD. Downside? It’s in a kind of touristy/upscale area so it’s not necessarily that cheap and, while I can walk there, it’s really 4 metro stops away. I’m going to try to find one closer to campus/my dorm that’s cheaper and has all those wonderful qualities (bean bag chairs are negotiable).

And…I only have 3 hours left of being a teenager. I plan on sleeping for at least two of those…I’m wiped. And I think tomorrow’s going to be a win…field trip to Sintra and hopefully the palace there, something at the American Embassy in the afternoon, and … I don’t know what else, but it’ll be fun. Plus, I already did all of my homework.

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