Savory Yogurt

Yogurt. I don’t really remember eating it much until I studied abroad in Australia and found the creamiest of creamy yogurt. Seriously, why is Australian yogurt so creamy? I think it’s the bacteria profile. I’ve tried to find similar varieties in the US but haven’t been successful. Those so-called Australian-style brands don’t replicate my memories.

It was also in Australia that I discovered Greek yogurt covered in fruit, muesli or granola, and honey. In 2006, the Aussies were eating that stuff like crazy. At least, they were in the little coffee shop and cafe that I worked in. Quick shout out to the Aussies that pay a livable minimum wage. As a barista and occasional sandwich maker, in 2006 I was making $17/hour. Seriously.

Anyway, it was only a couple years ago that I started eating yogurt of the savory variety. I don’t even know why. One day, instead of adding honey, I threw in a little salt, and I’ve never turned back.

Savory Yogurt

My most recent iteration of savory yogurt includes truffle salt, but I’ve eaten varieties covered in za’atar, sprinkled with sumac, aleppo pepper, and dried mint, or others that are reminiscent of tzatziki. Sometimes just a dusting of cumin and ground coriander do the trick. For texture, add roasted nuts or seeds. I’ve even used edamame before. Think of yogurt as a blank canvas and you’ll start to see the possibilities.

Savory Yogurt (2)

In other news, Eric and I went to Idaho for the 4th of July and my birthday and had a blast backpacking in the Sawtooth Wilderness, visiting the little towns of Stanley and Ketchum, and exploring Boise via breweries. It was a really fun and affordable trip thanks yet again to our Southwest Companion Pass. The full set is here, but below are a couple favorite pics.

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Now, go eat some savory yogurt.

Savory Yogurt (3)

Savory Yogurt

*Vary amounts of each based on how much yogurt you want to eat! This makes the perfect mid-morning snack.

Plain, full-fat Greek or regular yogurt
High-quality sheep’s milk feta, cubed
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Fresh herbs, chopped (I used cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, and mint)
Fresh cracked pepper (I had some tellicherry peppercorns on hand)
Really good extra virgin olive oil
Truffle salt (you could also use truffle oil and add salt to taste)

Put the yogurt in a bowl, top it with everything, stir, eat. Always add the salt to taste – a little bit, stir, taste, add more if needed.

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Citrus Salad

I recently discovered that I like grapefruit. No, love grapefruit. The pink variety, specifically. All these years I thought that I didn’t like grapefruit mostly because I loathed grapefruit juice, but I should know better than to judge a fruit by its concentrated juice counterpart.

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These bright pinks ones are my favorite. So juicy and mildly sweet. I’ve mainly been eating them in two iterations: on their own as breakfast or in a salad for lunch or dinner. This version is my most basic one – the one that I make when I don’t have much time – but I often jazz it up with avocados, sesame or pumpkin seeds, or some lightly blanched green beans or asparagus. With a simple vinaigrette, the salad makes for a nice contrast to the cold, snowy scenery outside.

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We went on a couple fun trips within the last couple months. I piggy-backed on a work trip of Eric’s to El Paso to visit White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns, and for Eric’s birthday, we paid a visit to his birthplace – Puerto Rico. In Carlsbad, we went on a fun wild cave tour that had us crawling through crevices and rappelling down underground cliffs. We were also planning on camping at nearby Guadalupe Mountains National Park, but unseasonably cold weather forced us indoors. We still had a weekend’s worth of camping food, though, so we still cooked our meals on the camp stove inside the hotel – and only set the smoke alarm off once!

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Puerto Rico was a week-long adventure. We flew to nearby island Vieques and drove around stopping off at whichever secluded beach we wanted. Back on mainland PR, we drove around the island the rest of the week, stopping in Ponce, Boqueron, Rincon, Arecibo, and of course, San Juan. Oddly enough, we barely stepped foot on a beach once we left Vieques – too much other fun stuff to do!

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Citrus Salad

*As mentioned above, there are many ways to spruce up this salad to make it heartier. Add sliced avocado, blanched asparagus or green beans, and cashews or seeds.

1/2 pink grapefruit, peels removed and segmented with no membranes
1 blood orange, peels removed and sliced into rounds
1 head butter lettuce
1 tablespoon red wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon good extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

Wash and dry the butter lettuce, then tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Prepare the fruit and arrange them atop the lettuce. Mix the vinegar, oil, and salt together and pour over the salad.

Old and New Photos

Yes, I am procrastinating… again. I managed to sneak in a few solid hours of very productive work today on my paper on neoliberal policy and its effects on health outcomes for poor people in Nicaragua. I like that paper. The topic is interesting and its flowing nicely. Right now, though, I’m working on a community profile for Hammond, Indiana. This. is. boring. It’s one of those papers, you know – I didn’t choose the topic (except for choosing the city), and having to write about the mundane aspects of a post-industrial city are not exactly exciting me. So here I am, posting pictures from some recent outings.

The countryside of New York looks an awful lot like the countryside of Wisconsin, though Eric will quickly point out that there are hills in New York. Ok. Point taken. We were recently visiting Eric’s family’s country house in Otto, New York for his brother’s and my new sister-in-law’s wonderfully small wedding. Here are a few shots from that lovely fall day.

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Eric and his mom. Love this moment.

And here are more images from my time in Nicaragua this past summer. Clockwise from the top left corner:
-a statue in the cemetery in Granada set against a bright blue sky
-reflections in the window of moto-taxis
-the main square in Granada
-old-fashioned potter’s wheels in San Juan de Oriente
-coffee in multiple stages of production – from berry to roasted bean
-a local artisan in San Juan de Oriente makes traditional ceramics on the old-fashioned potter’s wheel

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My time in Costa Rica (top three photos) and Panama (bottom three photos) were characterized by outdoor excursions and city fun. Clockwise from top left corner:
-a snail in Corcovado National Park
-sunset view from Finca Maresia in Bahia Drake, Costa Rica
-beaches on Isla del Caño
-a large ship carrying more than 4500 cars through the Panama Canal
-graffiti in the Casco Viejo neighborhood of Panama City
-views of the modern Panama City from the original city ruins

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Finally, my sisters and I had a fun little weekend in Seattle back in September. Here are some shots:

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of course we hit the market

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oh the irony

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sisters in front of the gum wall

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feeling kind of lonely while they both play on their phones

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truffle popcorn and wine? um, yes please

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kayaking

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Amber is really, really white

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hiking

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more from the hike

And that’s it!

Honeymoon Gluttony

We’re back! After a month of wandering around Southeast Asia, we arrived in Chicago at 9am Saturday. I’ll be busy writing up posts on everything we did in addition to trying to recreate the amazing food we ate, but for now, I have a few pictures of some of the amazing food we ate.

Best thing we ate in NYC: the famous pork buns at Momofuku

Pork Belly Steam Buns at Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC

The jet lag has controlled us the last two days. After 36 hours of traveling and sleeping on airplanes, I went into a coma for about 4 hours, then stayed awake until 4am. Laying down in a bed and stretching out my legs under my down blanket was pure comfort after being couped up in economy class.

This was amazing. Toasted Manti with garlic yogurt.

Toasted Manti with Garlic Yogurt and Broth at Prune in NYC

The trip went like this: 4 days in NYC prior to departure. It was actually quite warm (high of 50 degrees F the day we left), but snow blanketed the city. It was just three days after the first of the massive snow storms in the Northeast, and the streets and sidewalks were a mess. Regardless, we managed to eat some scrumptious food.

best thing ever. mango and sticky rice. you haven't had mango until you've had it in Southeast Asia.

Mango with Sticky Rice on the streets of Bangkok

Then we flew to Seoul. With a 12-hour layover in Seoul, we took a tour of the city and ate some bibimbap (rice with mixed veggies, beef, and spicy paste) and bulgogi (marinated grilled beef). The meals were good, but the photos haven’t uploaded to Flickr yet, so I haven’t included them here. After that, it was on to Bangkok. We had just one day in Bangkok – we ate street food, saw some temples, and checked out the infamous Khao San Road. We also had about 5 hours to kill in Bangkok at the tail end of our trip, which is when we picked up this amazingly juicy mango served with coconut-y sticky rice. Probably the highlight of Bangkok.

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Bun Bo, aka Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad, in Hanoi, Vietnam

From Bangkok, we flew to Hanoi, Vietnam. We had some glorious meals in Vietnam (in addition to several sub par meals), but the Bun Bo shown above may have been my favorite. Our hotel recommended this place – a small restaurant that serves only Bun Bo. The salad is served with tender butter lettuce and a rich, flavorful broth. Yum.

and the final product - wow.

Marinated beef, grilled tableside and served with crusty bread, on the streets of Hanoi

Another day in Hanoi, we were wandering around looking for a lunch when we spotted, and smelled, this amazing grilled beef. It’s grilled at your table in lard and butter with tons of vegetables. The famous banh mi, Vietnamese bread, was flaky and crusty on the outside, and soft and doughy on the inside. It was incredible.

We had a whole snapper and sting ray, plus two bottles of water, for a grand total of about $9.

Fresh seafood at the Night Market in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

After Vietnam, we flew to Malaysian Borneo, where you can go to the well-known night market in the main city, Kota Kinabalu. All the vendors display their freshly caught seafood, so you can pick out what you want and they’ll grill it up for you on the spot. Pretty amazing stuff.

a Balinese specialty - crispy duck!!

Crispy Duck in Ubud, Bali

Finally, our last stop was Bali. In Ubud, the famous dish is this Crispy Duck – a small Balinese duck that is grilled and then deep fried. Served with the super spicy sambal shown below, it was a tender, delicious meal.

that spicy spicy sambal. it looks so good, i want to eat it by the spoonful, but one small bite burns my mouth for hours

Very spicy Balinese Sambal

This stuff is more potent than you’d think. It looks so delicious that I wanted to eat it by the spoonful, but it was so spicy, I could only stand a small bit at a time.

rambutans and snake skin fruit

Rambutans and Snake Skin Fruit at the market in Bali

Lastly, we had some amazing fruit. Besides the juicy mangoes, I also loved the snake skin fruit. It peals ridiculously easy and has a texture similar to an apple. It is dry – not juicy like most delicious fruits – but it’s sweetness is seriously delicious.

I’ll be updating on more adventures soon. I already went to the book store today and picked up a Vietnamese cookbook, so I’ll be sharing some recipes soon as well.

Colombia Soon and DC Photo Recap

A quick update on the wanderlust aspect of this blog… my trip to Colombia is coming up in a week! Our time is short, but we’re spending one day in Bogota, two days in Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, and two days in Cartagena de Indias… oh lovely! I’m debating about bringing the “big camera” (ie, flashy, expensive camera) – I’m thinking that since we’ll primarily be in tourist areas, it will probably be ok. Still on the fence. Either way, I’ll be sure to share some beautiful pictures!

On another note, we were in DC a couple weekends ago… here are a few snapshots I took.

We spent a day touring the District and monuments…

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And another day in some neighborhoods – specifically, most of these pics are from Capitol Hill and the Eastern Market…

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And another day hanging out with Eric’s aunt and uncle, exploring Annapolis, MD and eating yummy food…

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