Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Soup, Diwali, Learning Hindi and Devanagari!

     My internet has been out for a week. And by "my internet" I mean the open wifi connection I have been using since I moved here is no longer working and it's time to find an internet provider because I have been spending every day at the library! So, I missed a few days of writing. But that doesn't mean I haven't been on my travel game hard!
I have done some research on what people are eating in the countries we are going to. Here's a great site if you would like to do something similar. I went to a few libraries and read the books they had on asian cooking.  This is so I can start learning to use the ingredients and getting familiar with the tastes so I can cook when I arrive! I checked out a  a book from the library on basic Asian cooking. I know these books are so broad but I figured I would start with some familiar tastes so I can get myself going! I made a soup with chicken, corn, spring onions, chili sauce, cilantro, lime and vermicelli noodles. It was a pretty simple recipe for most but for me a challenge because I don't have a pot yet! So, I made my chicken stock and soup in a pan! The noodles were easy, you just boil some water ( I used a coffee pot) and then just let them sit in the water so they come to life! I made chicken stock but you can buy it. You can use any veggies you want! It only called for spring onions and corn but I added thick chopped onions and peppers that I roasted before hand. In the chicken stock I added pepper, a lot of chili sauce because we like it hot, corn, a little juice from the can and spring onions. Let it simmer, salt to taste and add chicken. When it's in the bowl, I added in some noodles, squeezed in some lime and used a little shaved lime rind. And then mixed in the fresh chopped cilantro! This soup was amazing and Andrew loved it also! We ate it for a few days. The next day I bought boneless chicken thighs onions and peppers and marinated them in Teriyaki, honey, ginger, soy sauce and pineapple juice for 5 hours. (2 is sufficient, over night is fine). And then instead of using the skewers I presoaked, I got lazy and just through it all on a pan (after draining the marinate i made a new sauce with just the honey, ginger and soy sauce so that the sesame seeds would stick! Pour on the seeds and cook! I want more right now. It was all so good. So, I hope to learn more about Asian flavors that are available here and there!

     Another thing that the library has helped me with is that I have begun using Rosetta Stone Hindi! I have learned in the process that Devanagari is the written language and it's also used for Nepali which I will need and Sanskrit! So, I am pretty happy to start practicing. Brenda came up with the idea for each of us to learn a few languages. That way as a group we can talk a little in each country we visit. I have read that you should give each new language atleast 6 months brewing in your mind before throwing in a new one. So, I am learning Hindi, then because it is also using Devanagari, Nepali, and then Vietnamese. I have a year and a half until we leave so that's six months with each language. I would also like to learn a few hundred words in the other languages so I am not clueless!
    This process has made me feel like a kindergartner all over again. My hand writing so far is atrocious haha. Example above! The interesting thing about Hindi is that each letter is only pronounced one way. It's not like English where you have circus and cactus starting with the same letter! The letters are all sounds. So you can never pronounce it wrong once you understand it because the way something should be said is exactly written for you! The first thing I am teaching myself is Hindi vowels!
The first letter that looks like a 3T is A. It represents all words that have an a like in the word alert (ugh). The second, which looks very similar with a 3TT, is also an English A, but it is used for words with a sound like the "a" in father (ahh). These distinctions make it easy to know how to say words! It's pretty genius. One thing that's weird about learning a new written language is just like English fonts, most of the words I have seen in Hindi are on a computer so the written form of these words aren't going to look the same as a font which is much prettier. Take the letter t in English. The typed leltter has a curved bottom but when I write a t I just write two lines crossing one another. So its these distinctions that I have to figure out. I am loving Rosetta Stone though! It's something I used before for Spanish but I never stuck with. And I am hoping to really put in some time with Hindi because I am excited to learn. It's the fourth most popular language after Mandarin, Spanish and English. I know that most places we are visiting not only have their own forms of languages AND have English on most signs but I think its important to speak the language if you are in a new country. It shows respect and it really makes you a part of the culture.  Speaking of delving into the culture.
     I was thinking about how I may not have Christmas the way I am used to and so I started looking up other holidays in Asian countries that we might be able to attend. I mean, after all it's not about what you are missing out on, it's about what we are gaining knowledge of! So I figured out that right around the time we wanted to arrive India will be celebrating Diwali!!! I am so excited about this. And it sounds like everyone else is on board too! Even though my only experience with it was on The Office, I have done my research and it's more like Christmas than Halloween as they depicted lol. Diwali is the festival of lights and it represents the inner light you have that keeps away darkness. Diwali calls for cleaning and fixing up your houses, buying a new outfit, lighting lamps inside and outside of the home, fireworks, and of course, feasts! There is also a present exchange.We are hoping to stay with a host family so we can really experience a true Diwali!

Friday, May 1, 2015

KC or Bust: BBQ, Art, Comic-Con and Adult Slushies.

      I know I have been obsessing over my future trip  planning as I love to do. So, I am going to do a throwback entry about our weekend in Kansas City, Missouri. It was definitely much more than I expected and would love to go back. Kansas City is famous for it's food and music. We experienced plenty of one and unfortunately none of the other while we were here. Can you guess which one? BBQ!! My favorite part of the trip was all of the art! It's absolutely a beautiful city. The eerie thing was it was by far one of the quietest cities I have ever been to though. Walking the streets I felt a silence and emptiness that was almost scarier than being surrounded by thousands of strangers. I wonder why?
Kelsey Wroten
     We came to Kansas City for Comic-Con. It was my first time attending and I really went just because I wanted to make sure the trip included things that everyone enjoyed. So it was nice to surprise Andrew with tickets since he always tries to lure me into going and I always weasel my way out. Well for one thing, if you haven't been it's definitely an experience. I was smart enough to pay extra to cut in line so we didn't end up having to wait. Wow, I am so glad we did that. A line that wrapped around a block and went completely through the convention center into rows and rows of people who ranged from sexy costumed patrons to pale computer nerdswho may have never left a basement but for these events. As we were ushered around the line, through miles of people and up an escalator we met the hundreds who also purchased these early tickets who already filled the room entirely! I can't tell you how crowded it was. The people in line were definitely going to go far beyond capacity, So come early!  Enough haterade. I actually had an amazing time. We bought a few things and it was really awesome to speak with the artists (many who were female) who were inspiring and talented.  I couldn't get the photo to go the right direction but I couldn't leave it out! So, what I ended up with was a variety of awesome artwork. I also had a few larger pieces one being a Beyonce drawing that's truly phenomenal by local woman and comic book artist Kelsey Wroten who was definitely our favorite artist at the whole event!
     When you enter Comic-con after you have already waited in a momentous line you are then escorted to a room full of more lines. Lines to get food or drink, lines to buy things, and the longest lines are to meet and greet with Sci-Fi related celebs. I was totally blushing over George Takei but he had the longest line so I just snuck on the side and tried to catch a pic of him. Brenda went ballistic over a power ranger  who just ended up wanting a bunch of money for an autograph- (not thanks- and we all were impressed by the Back to the Future Car! Oh and there's face painting- so we HAD to do that which we continued to wear out to the bar that night and made me pretty damn happy! And yes, there was a line! lol

      Ok, let's talk food. We really wanted to get BBQ. That was the main game plan. We asked a few locals and walked about two miles but we finally arrived at Jack Stack BBQ. It was a bit expensive for us but it was hella worth it. Now I am thinking about these ribs and how to get them! You can choose from a variety of meats and we got a sampler of a few different things with a bunch of sides (potato salad, mac, bread- you know the bbq drill). We were highly impressed! Because we were on a tight budget we chose to get the food to go, it was a bit cheaper than the eat-in menu. There's a take out area and everyone was very friendly. The waitstaff who passed by us made comments about the makeup and we all had a good laugh! All and all a great experience.

Brenda picking her first try! 

Andrew excited about his flavor choices

     Then it was time for drinks. We headed to Snow & Company. I can't talk this place up enough. I was so impressed. I actually think about it very often! And when we were heading back across the coast from West to East the second time I was bummed we couldn't reach Missouri because this place was so fun! There is nothing I love more than strong drinks and water ice ( as we call it in Phillly) Slushies are the best alternative to that and alcoholic slushies really hit the spot!
    The place was fun, modern and had the convenience of being indoors but had an open garage style doors so it brought in a nice breeze like a deck. The tables are huge and the seats are comfy. The waitresses aren't like regular restaurants- they all walk around and help everyone. So, don't be afraid to ask any of them questions or for help. I found it confusing at first but after they explained it- I thought it was pretty convenient. We all got testers. They are a pretty good size and you can get 3, 5, 10 or 15 and since they are shot glass size you assume you need more than you do! We got about 25 of them! We tried every flavor on the menu. And we were drunk-fast! My favorite flavor was Kick To The Peaches. There are a variety of flavors to choose from and they were all pretty good! They print out a slip for you to remember all the ones you chose and you can look at the menus to check all the flavor combos much like a beer flight! They also had hot drinks but we didn't try those. We all had so much fun!
     Two blocks over get yourself some food at YJ's Snack Bar. 24 hour service from the friendly and wonderful and beautifully androgynous staff makes this place a must go to destination. The inside of this place is small but picturesque. You really feel like you are in someone's house getting dinner. Why? Because there aren't any  menus. The food is based on what they got and what they want to make. They switch it up daily. We went twice and were happy both times. The decor is pretty damn interesting and theirs just a history to this place that makes it feel special. There's a piano with many different hot sauces on it, pictures of Martin Luther King, the walls are adorned in all kinds of different signs and art and the prices were fair! There's also outdoor seating! Plus, it's open any hour of the day! Can't go wrong!

 I am one lucky lady. <3 

         Thank You Kansas City! We had a lovely time!