Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Missing Kenya

Yep, I said it. I'm actually missing Kenya a bit. After being in Hungary for 2 1/2 months, I'm finally having some I-miss-Kenya moments. Maybe the "honeymoon stage" is wearing off. Maybe I'm just tired from work. Maybe it's time to remember the good times of Kenya rather than the slum I left. Regardless, here are some of the things I've been remembering and missing with fondness...

Friends, of course.

Good Art Cafe bread. Haven't found a Hungarian bakery that measures up.

Diversity! Everyone here has white skin. Everyone here is from Western culture. I miss the mix Nairobi has. I actually miss NOT blending in. (Although I must say, Hungarians stare worse than Kenyans. This was kind of nice when I first arrived and I was staring at all the white people. I just fit in with my freakish staring.)

More down time. In Kenya the city doesn't have a whole lot to offer, so quite a bit of time is spent at home reading, watching movies, baking, just chillin' out. Not so much here in Hungary. I kind of miss snuggling on the couch on a Friday night, Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night...

Still appreciative of life in Budapest. Still thankful for my new job. Still happy to be living in Europe. At the same time, very grateful for what Kenya gave me as well!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's in style in Hungary?

The mornings have a nip in the air and the nights are cooling down in Budapest. As the weather changes, so does the wardrobe of Hungarians. Coats, boots, scarves, and... TIGHTS. Women are coming out in full force, still donning their skirts, but covering their legs with tights. Now these are not just plain colored tights you wore when you were seven. You can see black and brown and the old tan-nylon ones our mothers wore (or wear). And then you can see red, turquoise, and green. But the best are the patterned ones with designs and colors that you find on old drapes (the kind that Fraulein Maria would use to make clothes for the Von Trapp kids). I'm not kidding! Today the lady next to me on the bus had tights that looked like a brown doily. I suppose the various designs and colors give character and individuality to personal fashion. However, I just don't think I can adopt this particular European style. Deep down I keep thinking of eight year old Kim wearing white tights with purple hearts all over them. And what was cool at eight, just isn't so cool in your 30's.

Europe, I love your Zara's and H&M's and Promod's, but I just can't do the tights.

I may be eating my words in a year's time. We'll see...!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cooking success!

I haven't been much use in the kitchen lately. My wonderful husband has been doing most of the cooking since we arrived in Hungary. Mostly because he is better at it than me. And partly because starting school was a bit hectic for me. But tonight I decided to get off my lazy bum and cook a decent meal. A little perusing on the internet gave me the idea of stuffed bell peppers. Yum! The recipe online called for too many ingredients, so I toned it down to create something that seemed good to me and headed to Match, the corner grocery store three minutes walk from our door. (Gotta love living in the city!) This is what I ended up creating...
Now these peppers probably look a little different than what you expect. I had to cut them long-ways because Hungarian peppers look like this:
Instead of this:
But it worked and created a great meal. Here's how I did it...

Ingredients (Measurements are estimated, as I kind of just did it as I went along.)
4 bell peppers
1/3 cup rice
5 strips bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 or 3 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 lb ground beef (or ground pork if you live in Hungary)
1 1/4 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup grated cheese (parmesan or cheddar are my preferences)
various spices (ground chilies, chili powder, pepper, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 200 Celsius or 375 Fahrenheit.
2. Cook rice (can be a little moist) and set aside.
3. Cook bacon. Let cool and break up into bacon bits. Set aside.
4. Cut bell peppers in half. Set aside.
5. Sautee garlic and onions (only 2 minutes or so). Then add ground meat to skillet and cook completely.
6. Add marinara sauce and various spices to the meat. (I like things a little more on the spicy side, so I add a lot of chili powder and paste and black pepper for flavor.)
7. Add rice and half the bacon bits to the meat mixture. Let mixture simmer until well mixed and flavorful (about 3 to 5 minutes).
8. When meat mixture is ready, add mixture to bell peppers, filling them to the top.
9. Sprinkle cheese and bacon bits on the top of each pepper.
10. Bake on cookie sheet or in casserole dish for 30 minutes at 200 C or 375 F.
(Tip: Grease the bottom of the cookware with a bit of olive oil and your peppers won't stick.)
11. Serve hot.

Makes a large helping for 2 or a small helping for 3. (We had left overs for my lunch tomorrow.)


Monday, September 12, 2011

Got bikes!

Saturday we took our new bikes out for a spin along the Danube. We headed north of the city and came across a lot of new finds!

This quaint square in Obuda (a small little village that has now merged with the city).
Pebble beaches on the river.
And little resort-like sections where we got a bite to eat. This concoction is meat and dumplings.
Looking at the picture, it kind of looks nasty, but it is really good. Hungarian food could definitely add on the pounds!

Honestly, this day was one of the best I've had in Budapest. The honeymoon phase of moving is still in full effect, and we're enjoying every bit of it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Weekends in Budapest

When I'm not working, this is what we do.

Meet up with friends for drinks or lunch or dinner,
At cool places like this...
Lazily walk around the city while it's still warm and summery,
And take in the sites like this...
And this...
And meander through parks like this...
See new sights, like these old Roman ruins only a few tram stops away from home.
And sleep in, of course!

Weekends in Budapest are definitely TOO short. But I suppose they're too short everywhere. How do you spend your weekends these days?

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Daily Routine

A friend teaching in Singapore recently posted about her school week. It very closely resembles mine, so I'll quote her here:

Wake up.
Drink coffee (for me it's sit on the tram for 40 minutes).
Wake up.
Sit on the tram for 40 minutes.
Wake up...

You get the picture. I'm TIRED! I got my first cold of the school year. I go to bed at 9pm. I don't even have energy to read before falling asleep. Starting school is always a shocker to the system. (I honestly don't know how people do this job and have a family!) Despite all of that, I have a great little class. I love my school. I work with cool people. It's still sunny and warm here. My dear husband takes good care of me! I'm having fun exploring the city on the weekends. And I get to sleep in tomorrow.

Thank goodness it's FRIDAY!