Monday, January 16, 2012

Places I Would Rather be on Monday Morning: In the Shadow of Mt. Blanc

If it has to be cold then there better be snow, and really excellent hot chocolate! Geneve, Switzerland

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Money Side of Travel: dealing with disappointment

I have read countless posts by as many travel bloggers about how you 'don't need money to travel.' However, every single one of these respected bloggers also as a post about saving up to go on a trip or budgeting for trips.  How can it be that you need to dedicate time to saving and budgeting if you don't need many for travel?  The answer is that while you don't need to be a millionaire or "from money," you definitely need to be able to pay for your transport, lodging, food, etc.  Sometimes when you're on a deadline, the desire to go someplace doesn't match up to the cost.

Someday I'll find this spot in Santo Domingo, Photo credit
 I recently had the opportunity to spend 4 days in the Dominican Republic with some friends of mine.  One of the guys is from the DR and the other three are visiting.  I knew from the get-go that I wasn't going to be able to go for the full trip. Two days ago and after a couple beers, I checked the cost of flights to prove that it was financially impossible for me to show up after my experiment finished and in time for the last half of the trip.  To my surprise, the flights weren't that bad.  Not great but doable.   And so began a battle of wills and logistics.

Logistics turned into a nightmare. Between the multi-city flights, parking, transportation, and the fact that I've already allocated all of my vacation days for this year all ready, I was beginning to feel like Napoleon at Waterloo.  48 hours of convert war through multiple websites and scheming it looked like everything was going to workout. I was escaping to the DR in the middle of the NY winter! and then I wasn't...

The logistics won in the last round.  No rebuttal. No instant replay.  I couldn't afford the trip anymore.  I was still crushed (this happened in the early hours of the morning). As disappointed as I am that the glorious Caribbean sun has evaded me.  I'm flat out distraught that I got my hopes up, and my friends' hopes up only to have them dashed by a stupid piece of plastic.  I'm angry and upset and disappointed and dealing with the guilt of disappointing my friends.  I fully admit the on the list of top 20 responsible life choices this trip wasn't even in the running but it still would have been amazing. 

DR you may have delayed my arrival but make no mistake I will be flying in sooner than later! To my friends flying in today, DiviƩrtanse!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The end of the Holidays: Twelfth Day of Christmas Meat pies

I don't remember which holiday it went with originally but in the Pinto-Beaudet family holiday traditional compromise meat pies became the dinner of choice for the Epiphany while I was growing up.  Over the years the exact date and holiday proximity has changed from the day after Christmas to the nearest weekend to the Epiphany.  Regardless, I always associate them with the twelfth day or Christmas.  Grad school significantly shortened my holidays this year so I missed out on any tradition that takes place after Christmas dinner. 
Never one to settle, especially when food is involved, I asked my mom to send me the recipe. Ground meat in a pie crust. How difficult to it be?  Truth is that it's not terribly difficult, just time consuming.  I had been planning on this dinner all week so when I got out of lab several hours later than anticipated there was no way I wasn't going to make this dinner.  As I was driving home I realized that if I was going to make a pie crust I needed to get a rolling pin. Add in detour to Walmart.

7:30pm: Start making pie crust

I know I have made pie crust in the past.  Usually under the careful supervision of an adult and in a well stocked kitchen.  I can't remember that last time I actually made a crust though and my kitchen is lacking the seasoned cooking tools of my mom's and grandma's kitchens.  The consistency of my dough didn't feel quite right but if I wanted to eat tonight it was going to have to do.

8:00pm: Start the filling

I thought this would be the quickest part of the operation.  Turns out mincing a large onion by hand isn't so quick.  At least I got the pot size right.One mashed potato, ground pork and beef, and 4 pinches from spices bottles that cost almost $20 (McCormick needs some serious competition!). Next step in the recipe, allow to cook and thicken for about one hour. What?!?  Luckily I had more potatoes to peel for mashed potatoes and gravy.

9:20pm: Pie assembled

I do not like the rolling pin I have.  It is the classic style of pin that has been brandished at troublemakers for decades.  But I don't like how narrow the pin is and how abruptly it ends.  I'd love one like my mom's which resembles a thick tapered broomstick and is close to two feet long.  As I rolled out the dough and tried to place it in the pan it kept ripping.  Another sign the consistency was off.  I had to re-roll the top crust  do to a giant rip when I tried to cover the pie.  The second time it came out much better and lay nicely.  I was meant to brush the top with an egg wash.  Brush, another random kitchen gadget I took for granted until I got my own kitchen.  I improvised with the back of spoon and hoped for the best.  The best of making meat pies on my own was not having to share the crust scraps with my brothers and other vultures.

10:30pm: Pie done

So far so good.   Nothing has exploded yet.  Just need to finish up the side dishes.

10:40pm: Dinnertime!!

A day late and hours later than anticipated, I finally got my traditional Beaudet meat pie dinner.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Three Step to Long Hair: 4 Months

 Operation Long Hair has been in effect for just over 4 months now.  So far it hasn't been that painful. *knock on wood* Another inch and I'm going to be at the length where it starts getting all sorts of tangled.  I think I'm going to veer off from my anticipated plan for step 2 but I haven't decided exactly how yet.

Day 1 to Month 4

What do you think?