Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Anna and Lizzy make Monday Night Dinner

My roommate Anna and I had the 2nd Monday Night Family Dinner. We decided to go for the Breakfast for Dinner. For me, breakfast food is my favorite and having Sunday brunch after church is tradition. I've been disappointed so far with the "pastry and coffee" for breakfast here in Italy. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, and although I love my pastries, eating the amount to fill me up probably is not the best for my health. We had to include some Italian sausage with this meal, and despite popular belief, I can actually cook meat, and those sausages were gone in minutes. I coated them in olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.
We found these mini frozen potatoes at the big grocery store on the mainland, which I keep calling Pandora or Patagonia, but it's actually called Panorama. They were so cute and saved us the trouble of cutting up potatoes.
For the onions and peppers I marinated them in olive oil, rosemary, oregano, garlic and salt.

Anna made a gluten free cinnamon crumb cake. You couldn't even tell it was gluten free! Actually I never can tell when stuff is gluten free. I guess most people just assume gluten free tastes weird. The ovens here are super weird and take forever to cook, but both of our cakes still tasted good, but were a little dense from falling.
I made a non-gluten free lemon blueberry cake. Here's my recipe for it! Who knew finding powdered sugar would be so hard. Also, the baking powder here comes in little packets that look and smell like powdered sugar and so does the vanilla flavoring. So confusing.
We also made mushrooms, spinach and sundried tomatoes and of course scrambled eggs!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Island of Lido

Emily and I made our first trip to Lido today. We were told to watch the sunset there and that when it gets warmer to go to the beach.

We left Casa Artom and made our way to the vaporetto stop at the Salute Church. On the way there we saw the vaporetto coming and had to sprint to make it on time. We fumbled for our IMOB cards and barely made it on. It was a little windy out but sunny.

When we arrived to Lido, it was nothing what we expected. Where was the beach? It was like a mini-Venice, with cars. Fiats and smart cars everywhere. We turned right out of the vaporetto station and started running along the water. We looked down every alley, but still, no beach. We stopped a couple women asking, Dov' la playa (hoping our spanish was close enough to the Italian word for beach). They didn't understand us. Finally, a man with a missing finger standing on a corner was able to point us in the right direction. "Spiaggia" is beach by the way. Not "playa." We had joked about the beach being on the other side of the island when we first arrived. It turns out we were actually correct. So we cut across and followed a little trail to a huge sand dune. We climbed up it and finally realized what the big deal about Lido was.

Every 100 feet or so there are these rock levees that lead out to a dock. We had to be careful since they must have taken down the boardwalks during high tide.

We ran along the beach for a little while before climbing back over the sand dune and continuing on the rest of our run. Emily is training for a marathon so our goal was 8 miles but we only did about 7 due to stopping to climb up on the docks.

 We ran around the other side of the island, passing little huts that we think may be shops in the summer. We decided to try to find the main street we started on and get back to the vaporetto station to check departure times. The next departure was at 4:40 and we wanted to wait for sunset so we ran past a little farther to the cafe we passed when we first started.
The sun was just starting to set when we looked at our clock and decided to head back to the station.

The vaporetto ride on the way back gave us the most beautiful view. The sun was setting and the sky turned a beautiful golden color. We sat in the back of the boat to maximize our picture taking abilities, especially since I had to make due with my 4th generation iPod touch.

The Italian flag on the back of the boat was not cooperating with the wind, but after a couple (okay, several) tries, we managed to get a semi-decent one.
We have decided to do all of our long runs on this beautiful island, since the vaporetto ride is only a little more than 1 euro each way.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Buckwheat pasta with pesto and a veggie burger

I found these buckwheat pasta noodles at a natural food store in Dorsoduro close to Casa Artom. They have a neat darker color and are gluten free! I made a simple pesto with the last bit of my arugula, chopped hazelnuts and basil and added sundried tomatoes, which were a little salty. I also found veggie burger mix at this store made of grains, seasoning and vegetables that you add water to and fry. I added some brie and asiago cheeses Mmmmm.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What's for dinner tonight?

Rosemary glazed carrots (honey, brown sugar, olive oil, fresh rosemary)
 Pasta with garlic, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, basil, Asiago and Parmesan cheeses.

Homemade Pasta Night!

Every Monday is Family Dinner. This means groups of 2 or 3 students takes turns preparing a meal for the whole house. The first Monday dinner was homemade pasta night organized by our RA. This was my first time making homemade pasta. It was a lot easier than I was expecting!

 We mixed the dough with our hands and got a little messy.

 Rolled the dough into a ball and let it sit for an hour.

Rolled the dough out as thin as possible.

 Attempted to cut out noodles. Ours came out a little crooked.

<<This one was actually the Marsh family's. Ours came out a little less neat.

We also attempted to make homemade pasta sauce as well but underestimated the amount of tomatoes needed, and it turned out more like tomato chunks than tomato sauce.

And here is the final presentation (after adding some garlic, basil and zucchini.

Monday, January 20, 2014

First Weekend!

It was our first weekend in Venice, and we all went out to the bars after getting pizza. This was a new experience to me seeing that the closest thing I've been to a bar is Last Resort, or that one time I walked into the Men's Bar at the MAC when I was in middle school looking for my parents and they shooed me away forcing me to wander like a lost duckling all over the club.

We came back to the house for a bit and played some cards. Spoons, Presidents, and Cheers (Salute!) to the Governor. You know that cliche saying that wine is cheaper than water here? It is true. You can get a whole bottle of wine for less than a small bottle of water which usually runs at least 2 euros.
We took a group selfie before heading out.

There are even water police and ambulances in the small canals!

We met some cool Peruvian girls who spoke English, Spanish and Italian. They showed us around Campo San Margherita (where the Venetian students hang out) and helped ward off the pesky rose sellers by yelling, "siamo allergici alle rose!" (we are allergic to roses!)

Many of us bought our first drinks at a bar.

 Later on we even made it to Piazza San Marco. We were the only ones there and with the lights on looking out at the empty plaza was amazing and so different from the daytime crowds of tourists.

Pizzeria Oke is OK

It's pretty hard finding restaurants to fit 18+ students in remotely the same eating area. Pizzeria Oke (Dorsoduro 1414VeniceItaly) seemed like a great place with a large eating area and modern like pizzeria feel. Right on the zattere, a short walk from Casa Artom, everyone was hungry and excited to eat at a place we heard had really good pizza. If you didn't know before, Italian pizza, at least in Venice is very thin crusted with minimal sauce.

 My pizza had arugula, walnuts and pesto. The toppings were not cooked down and were so heavy I had to fold each slice into a burrito to keep everything together!

And no, I wasn't the only one who ate my whole pizza.

Although the pizza was delicious, there were some things that we were not so happy about. In Italy, there is a "coperto" or cover charge which includes the place setting, table, and service. It is usually a flat fee per person at sit down restaurants. If a waiter tells you that tip is not included, this is not correct, especially if the the coperto charge is written on the menu. Also, they do not like to split bills separately, so that meant that 10 of us had to pull out our change and pay our coperto charge. But, this restaurant had both a coperto and a service charge and the waiter insisted we pay both. A lot of times waiters take advantage of Americans because we are so used to tipping, but we had already learned about the coperto so were very frustrated.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Banana nutmeg pancakes with dark chocolate chunks

I've been craving "real" breakfast food like pancakes and eggs. I'm not really a pastry and coffee person and breakfast is definitely my favorite meal. I bought some whole wheat flour and added one egg, some plain yogurt, half a banana and some brown sugar the first time. They were tasty but a little flat. I'm so used to using bisquick and I couldn't find the baking soda! I found these little packets of what I thought were yeast and I tried it out. It looked like a mixture between powdered sugar and baking soda and had a vanilla scent. But it worked!

I added some chunks of bitter chocolate this time with bananas and cinnamon on top.
Good thing I'm not a maple syrup person because there is no such thing in Italy! I will continue to experiment with pancake flavors, especially if I can find the canned pumpkin for a pumpkin ricotta pancake. Mmmmm.