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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Roasted Figs

As promised, I have some cooking to blog about!  I made some Eggplant Parmesan that actually turned out, but I failed to take some pictures.  Now that I know what I am doing I'll get some pictures, or snaps as they are called here and blog about that soon (as there is more of that in our near future)!

Today I had lunch with two friends.  It was wonderful to chat and learn about their go-to places in Bangalore.  After lunch I went with one friend to a store that gets their produce in today.  There was a good selection so I stocked up on some more veggies.  We also went to another grocery store to look for the coveted lettuce (which can be hard to find here).  They didn't have any; but I did find some figs!

My Mom talks about figs and how she would eat them when she went to visit her Grandma and Grandpa in Louisiana.  There have been quite a few figs available at breakfast so I knew they must be in season.  Also, one of the blogs I follow posted something about all of the things one could do with figs and I remember them roasting the figs with honey and serving them with goat cheese and crackers.

My mouth has been salivating since I got that idea so I didn't think twice and bought some!

This dish was rather simple to prepare.  After washing them, I cut the tops off, quartered them, and placed them in a baking dish with the skin side down.

Then, I squeezed some honey over the top and finished it off with some fresh cracked black pepper. I remember the recipe said to use 1/4 to 1/3 cup.  I didn't use that much, and after tasting them warm out of the oven I wish I would have used what the recipe recommended.

So, when I eat these I plan to put them on a cracker with some cheese and squeeze a bit of honey on top.

Tonight for supper I made a casserole that is complete with large amounts of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and carrots.

Veggies: Check!
Fruit: Check!

Here's to hoping there are more balanced meals in our future!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas season for the Muilenburgs in Bangalore

It is officially Christmas season at the Muilenburg house.  This year after Thanksgiving we decorated a small Christmas tree.  It is a bit of a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, but it brings a bit of Christmas cheer to our apartment all the same.  We purchased a package of ornaments that came with the balls, gifts (that we placed under the tree) and drums that we placed on our TV.  It's quite the little Christmas shrine!

We bought the silver angel tree toper for our tree at home.  Since it's officially taller than our tree this year, we just sat the topper beside the tree.

To give you some perspective of how small the tree is, here are both of us next to it.  I think Bryan's head may be as big as the tree!!

Bryan is now treating me to Christmas music and Christmas uTube videos so we're starting to get into the holiday season!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and some other randomness

As it’s my Thursday (Thanksgiving day in the United States) I’ve been thinking about the things that I’m thankful for and this year my list is very simple: clean water that I can drink, regularly scheduled and reliable trash pickup, that I have a job and can feed and provide shelter for myself, and the sense of community that we are slowly building here in Bangalore.  Of course there are others, but living here has made me realize how lucky we are to have even the most basic of our needs met and it has also surprised me how much we miss our sense of community back home.

I’ve been talking to one of the trainers at the gym while I work out and we were talking about all things food.  Some big food news in India is that Starbucks is coming to India.   The current India equivalent to Starbucks is called Café Coffee Day.  There are multiple of them in the city and they can be found along the major highways too.  I will be interested to see how Starbucks does here because at Café Coffee Day you can get coffee and a pastry for about 150 INR or $2.50.  The same is true for lunch if you want a light lunch.  So, I’m interested to see if Starbucks is able to charge the same prices they charge in the United States here in India.  What I found even more interesting is that he said he can go out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner here in India for about 150 INR and if he makes his meals himself it is much cheaper than that!

We are hopeful to get to Skype with both of our families as they celebrate Thanksgiving.  I’m going to try to make fried chicken, potatoes, and green beans for our supper so it will be somewhat similar to the feasts our families are preparing at home.  We even have chocolate cake to eat with our supper!

I haven’t blogged as much about the food I make here because all things food have been much more difficult than I imagined.  Our kitchen is lightly stocked with cooking gadgets and my attempt at Indian food fails miserably every time.  I recognize that we could go buy more gadgets but there is a certain degree of adventure and challenge in cooking with the things we have.  I’ve adapted well and baked a chocolate cake in the big soup stockpot just the other day.  I’ve also been making pizzas in sauce pans.  Oh, and one of the cleaning guys showed me how to open a can of beans with a knife!  (I’ll be buying canned goods with the pop-top from now on as the can opener we have is an ancient artifact that belongs in a museum!  I don’t recommend opening canned goods with a knife.  He managed not to cut himself but I am not so sure the result would be as positive every time!)

I’ll try to do a better job blogging about the things we make here.  I hope you’ll find it interesting! 

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!  It doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving here with the warm weather, sun, and other festivals we’ve gotten to participate in.  I do miss winter squash, sweet potatoes, and green beans so fill up on those for me. J

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hampi Pictures

I've let too much time go by without posting more pictures from our trip to Hampi.

I'll spare you the history lesson and let you look at the pictures.  To give you a very high-level overview, the area is thought to be created from volcanoes that eruped under the ocean millions (or maybe even billions) of years ago.  The volcanoes created granite, so pretty much everything you see is granite.

It's amazing that thousands of years ago without the equipment we use today, people built these civilizations that are still standing today.  They think it took 30 or more years to build some of these things.  Can you imagine if we wanted to buid something today and they told us it would take 30 years?  We would say no thank you!

 Ganesh is inside this structure.  Notice the detail on the top.  Also, on the right there is a lady bent over cleaning the grounds.  It gives you a perspective of just how big all of these things were!

Check out this two-story structure. 
 A piece of the mountain broke off and fell on this structure, but it was still standing.  Just this one corner was not 'square' but the rest of the structure looked to be in good shape.
 That temple is probably 13 stories tall, but from this vantage point it doesn't look like it!  It was mostly overcast while we were in Hampi.  That was a good thing because it could have been very hot!

 Check out the crazy eyes on this guy!
 This detail of carving was all over the place!  Here is an example of their hunting techniques.  I found it interesting that in that day many women hunted too.
 This was a water reservoir of sorts.  It's pretty deep - and there were 7 of these on this one site alone!
 The leaders used to go underground into this space to talk about private concerns.  (It had a top and was ultra-secure.)  Our guide told us about it and then asked if we wanted to go down the steep stairs to be inside it.  I emphatically said yes!  Bryan immediately said really? 
We climbed down the stairs and then had to turn into this extremely dark hallway that was really wet to get into the part you can see here.  About half way in I realized that that location is probably a perfect location for the highly poisonous snakes of the area and froze!  At that point it was clear why Bryan was so surprised I wanted to go down there!  Suzanne coaxed me into the open space below.  I'm glad that we went down there, and glad that we got out of there without any unwanted critters!
 We did a lot of climbing these small mountains on Day #2.  We stoped here for a break.  You can see by the red on our foreheads that we visited the temple earlier that day.
 This carriage was not build to move, but rather designed to be a piece of art.  It was really impressive!  We heard it is one of the most popular spots in Hampi.
 This was the entrance.  You can barely see the intricate carvings at the top.
Many Hindu people travel here if they are unable to have a baby or if they are in need of a home.  They tie little bundles to the tree and hope they can have a baby or build little homes at the base of the tree if the yare in need of a home.  If they do have a baby or get a home, then the couple brings their family and friends here for a huge feast.  This picture doesn't really do it justice - there was SO MUCH stuff tied to the tree and on the ground.

 These were Elephant stables for the Elephants.  It seemed to be a very nice place for them.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veggies, ah veggies

If you know me very well you know that I don't love vegetables.  I will eat them because I know they are good for me but I never think to myself, "Gee, I'd really like some (insert vegetable here)."  My thinking is more along the lines of "Pizza, yeah, that has tomatoes on it.  I don't think we need a vegetable to go with pizza!"

Fruit?  Now fruit is a different story.  I have no problem consuming inappropriately large amounts of fruit!

After finding out that I couldn't have gluten or dairy, I decided I should really try to eat more vegetables.  Ok, maybe I didn't decide that I needed more vegetables, but it was something I could eat so instead of limiting myself even further I thought I should try to consume more vegetables.  Oh, and by consuming them it also meant consuming large amounts of hummus and salad dressing to wash them down.  Whatever it takes, right?

Now that we are in Bangalore I've fallen into my old habits and have not eaten many vegetables.  And, for the past week I've been actually craving them.  (My Mom is never going to believe that I was actually hungry for vegetables!)

On Friday I went out for lunch and ordered a salad.  It was a bit smaller than I would have liked but it was delicious!  It even came with red peppers, tomatoes, and onions on it.  Oh, and it was real lettuce, not just iceberg lettuce. 

About an hour after lunch I became sick.  Really sick.  Laying on the bathroom floor sick.  Hardly getting out of bed sick. 

I've been taking Cipro for more than 24 hours and am hoping that it's going to kick in soon.  In more than 24 hours my main sustenance has been Sprite. 

What I know is that I likely won't be craving vegetables, especially salad, anytime soon! 

See, I knew vegetables were bad for me!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Visiting Hampi

This weekend we traveled about 6 hours north of Bangalore to Hampi.  Hampi is in the same state that Bangalore is in, Kanartaka, but felt like an entirely different place.  It was a much smaller city that bustling Bangalore, but the terrain was different as well.  While Bangalore is flat, Hampi is filled with small mountains of granite. 

Hampi is actually an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is the former captial of the Vijayanagara Empire and is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara.  Hampi is an important religious center as it is home to the Virupaksha temple as well as several other monuments. 

We took more than 500 pictures during the two days were were sight seeing so I (quickly) reviewed a few and posted them here.  As I have more time to sort through the pictures and identify them I will update some more.

We went to Hampi with our friend Suzanne who is also living here in Bangalore so you'll see her in some of these pictures.  It was fun to have a travel buddy and share some laughs and memories!

This was a structure built out of granite.  Granite is not easy to carve or shape, but thousands of years ago without the equipment we have now, they cut and lifted the granite to make the amazing structures we saw this weekend.  They created tongue-and-groove joints to ensure that their buildings would be sturdy.  You can see in the picture above just how sturdy those joints are!  A huge bolder broke off and hit the monument but it is still standing.  You can see it is crooked though!

We visited many temples including the one behind me.  I think that one is more than 10 stories high.  I've grown since you saw me last!  Actually, in the background you can see the other large hills/small mountains and I'm standing on top of one for this picture.
You can see the same temple behind Bryan, Suzanne and I.  This time it's a bit closer to scale but not quite right.  You can see the tongue-and-groove joints in this structure though.

 Here are some more pictures to tempt you until I can get captions and label them.

(See - look at all that granite!)