January 2, 2008

New Year’s Eve in Belarus

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , at 10:53 pm by Jenn

sparkers-2.jpg

Scott and I attended a party at a friends apartment for New Year’s Eve.  We took Scott’s traditional New Year’s dish of sauerkraut and sausage and arrived about 9pm,  There were only a handful of people there when we arrived which I was thankful for.  I like getting places early and claiming my “spot”.  

Everyone takes their shoes off here because it is so dirty/slushy/mucky outside and I forgot my slippers so my feet were a little cold unless I was standing in the kitchen.  One cool thing about some of the apartments here is that the floors are heated.  The kitchen floor was heated so I claimed my spot in a cozy little corner near the chips and salsa ( a luxury to find in Lithuania).   There was SO MUCH food.   There were veggies and all types of salad, and draniki.  Draniki is basically a potato pancake that you top with sour cream.  I tried them.  It was just Ok.  Now everyone raves about these things so maybe this was a bum batch I don’t know, but I wasn’t overly crazy about them.  I will try them again though to compare.

The city put on several fireworks displays around Minsk.  There was one nearby and most of the party goers left to see them.  I not liking the cold opted to stay at the apartment and actually had a pretty good view of them over the KGB building.

The Belarusian president addresses the country every New Year’s Eve and it is televised.  The address lasted maybe 10 minutes.  Now my Russian is very poor, but we had plenty of locals there to translate and basically what he said in a nutshell was that the United States needs to mind their business and leave his country alone.  One thing that I found the most interesting during this address is that the Americans at the party were the ones gathered around the television listening to the address.  The Belarusians were partying their assess off, lighting sparklers having a good ole time!

Another thing that I found interesting was the sparklers indoors.  I’m not sure if that was happening all over Belarus, but it was definitely happening where we were.  I just kept thinking, I’m glad this isn’t my house.     

November 27, 2007

Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , at 1:13 pm by Jenn

Thanksgiving dinner was a huge success!  We had 10 guests and 4 “to go” plates, including one for “old guy” who came out of his booth to kiss me he was so excited.

I am so glad I managed to pull that whole dinner off on my own.  It was a lot of work, but well worth it.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy the meal.  I think the thing I am most proud of is pulling off Pumpkin Pie without Sweetened Condensed Milk (SCM).  Here is the recipe for Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute…it WORKED!  I was a little nervous so Scott and I sampled the pie the night before and I was amazed how good it was.  I will use this instead of SCM for all my future pumpkin pies.

I also ventured off the “safe” path and tried this Pecan Pie.  No Karo syrup and it was FABULOUS!

So with that said, soups on!  Today is turkey soup day.  Scott is sick so it is perfect timing!

Recovery mode

Posted in Journal tagged , , at 11:28 am by Jenn

This was a very different Thanksgiving weekend for me.  Instead of the usual decorate for Christmas and spend way to much money Christmas shopping on QVC I went to Warsaw, Poland with a friend for the weekend.  She was taking her daughter and daughter’s friend for the weekend and asked me if I wanted to tag along.  That took about 1 minute for me to answer.  SURE! 

We left Friday morning and returned Sunday evening.  It is about a 6 hour drive from Minsk to Warsaw.  The Belarusian roads were better than the Polish roads so most of the trip thankfully was through Belarus. 

We stayed at the Sheraton in Warsaw.  A very nice hotel with extremely expensive restaurants.  Saturday morning when we came down for breakfast we were told it would be 99 zloti (which is about $40).  Needless to say we passed.  Dinner the night before for the four of us was 671 zloti (tip not included).   It was good and I didn’t mind paying it, but I certainly didn’t want to pay $40 for breakfast!

Saturday we spent the first part of the day walking and making purchases in local shops.  There was an awesome glass shop where I purchased a few handpainted Chirstmas candle holders.  I wish I had made a few more purchases there.  I also really liked the quaint little tea shop that we went in to.  I bought several different kinds of tea and a few for gifts.  Most of these stores closed around 3 or 4 in the afternoon so we decided to head to pottery store and then mall. 

Parking at the pottery was probably the best story of the trip (other than the $40 breakfast).  The man at the parking lot did not speak English and we did not speak Polish.  Alexandra (daughter’s friend) is fluent in Russian so we had her give it a go…no luck.  We did get that we could park in the lot for 24 hours for 20 zloti, but what we wanted to know is if we paid him 20 zloti, would he be there at 7:30 to open the gate and let us leave.  After about 15 minutes of pointing, talking slow, talking loud and finally deciding to give up a man who spoke English and Polish came in and saved the day.  THANK YOU~English speaking Polish guy.

The pottery store was nice, but nothing screamed out for me to buy it.  The patterns were pretty, but not “me”.  The mall was very overpriced  (75 zloti for a MAC lipstick…um, I love MAC and faithfully wear it everyday, but can see paying $30 for my $14 lipstick) and I just enjoyed walking around, people watching and actually entering a store where hundreds of people could shop at the same time.   I did by a pair of knee socks (yes, knee socks) at H&M.

Here is a picture of St. Alexander’s Church in Warsaw, it is just up the street from the Sheraton where we stayed.  Right behind this church is the Burberry store where I discovered the tie that I wanted to get for Scott was $160 – sorry (I didn’t buy my $500 scarf either)!  Prices in the states are much better than in Poland.

St. Alexander’s Church

Dana and I agree.  The next trip to Poland should be during the week rather than a weekend with more time spent in the quaint shops in town rather than “the mall”.

November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving menu

Posted in Journal, What's for Dinner tagged , , , , at 10:31 pm by Jenn

We are hosting Thanksgiving for 8-10 people this year.  I’m doing all the cooking.  Here’s what’s on the menu: 

Turkey w/stuffing

Ham 

Mashed potatoes w/gravy

Sweet potato casserole w/pecan topping

Green Bean casserole

Mixed greens

Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Rolls

Apple Pie, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bread

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