Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Home tour

So it's been a couple months since we moved in now, and I finally got around to taking some pictures of our "new" place. I still haven't put stuff up on the walls or hung curtains or anything fancy like that... and the place is rather lacking in furniture... but we like it anyways :)
Let me just begin by saying how frustrated I am with our camera... it's getting a little old and refuses to take clear, well-lit pictures. The pictures all turn out grainy, blurry, or washed out no matter what I do. I want to get one of those fancy ones that has lenses and stuff (and then learn how to use it) because I looooove taking pictures to document our lives (just ask Thomas about that, haha, he gets kind of annoyed with it). I'm a firm believer in that saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" and I want to be able to take beautiful pictures. If only those nice cameras weren't so darned expensive. For now, any picture is better than no picture... so I'll keep taking blurry ones :)

We'll start with the living room.

And here's where you notice the lack of furniture...

Looking from living room into dining area. Ignore the boxes in the corner (it's our "I-don't-know-where-the-heck-to-put-this" pile). The display cabinet holds all of our African/international stuff.

Looking through to the kitchen

One side of kitchen

Other side. Yes, it's that tiny. Never thought I'd say this... but I miss my old kitchen.

Looking through to the dining area.

All-important coffee corner.

French doors through to living area. They're pretty, but annoyingly in-the-way in such a tiny kitchen.

More French doors through to the bedroom and bathroom. 

To the right is the bedroom. 
Various angles:

I love this shoe rack in our bedroom. It makes me feel organized.

This is what you see when you walk into the bathroom... washer and dryer behind French doors.

Turn right into the bathroom


Yup. That's our little apartment. We have a year-long lease on it, so we'll be moving again next June... to a place with a bigger kitchen and another bedroom or two. The kitchen is the most important room to me. I need space to cook. And shiny appliances :)

And, totally unrelated... the reason for no Menu Monday post this week... Thomas's cousin Ellie flew in from Portland and is staying with us for a night or two. I did make dinner (grilled chicken, baked potatoes and salad)... but didn't take any pictures because we were all too busy talking and eating.

Thomas and Ellie played cribbage and bananagrams... Thomas is happy to have someone who likes to play games around. I'm just not a game person, but he comes from a large family of game lovers.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Congdons & Kenyan food

We had some Congdon cousins over for dinner tonight... Craig and his wife Emily just moved to Dallas - yay! I decided to make them some Kenyan food, because no one's life is complete until they have tasted Kenyan food :)

Beef stew

Curried cabbage


We ate around our coffee table... because we don't technically have a dining table (unless you count the bar) :)

I had an enjoyable afternoon cooking up a storm (while Thomas cleaned the house, poor chap), and we had an engaging and lively evening eating and talking with Craig and Emily... who seemed to like the Kenyan food :) Either that or they're really good actors! 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Menu Monday

I spotted butternut squash while I was grocery shopping on Monday and added it to my [ever-growing and changing] list for the week. When I got home I changed my dinner plan to revolve around the butternut squash, because if there is a butternut squash in my house it must. be. eaten. immediately. I chopped it up and steamed the pieces to get the skin off, brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme, and roasted them in the oven. We ate it with salmon steaks and quinoa (which were somewhat of an afterthought, when I realized butternut squash wasn't exactly a meal in and of itself).

This is a butternut squash. If you haven't had it before, you're missing out.

Dinner. Yum.

I had dessert all planned out. We were going to have panna cotta... I had all the ingredients ready to go. So when dinner was done, I got ready to whip it up for dessert. And then I remembered. It has to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Brilliant, Sarah... always thinking ahead *sarcasm*.
So we ended up having our dessert the next day. But it was worth the wait.

Panna cotta (Italian for "cooked cream"). It's basically a kind of custard... a very delicious kind of custard. I topped it with raspberry sauce (which is super easy to make by the way... throw some raspberries sprinkled with sugar in a bowl in the microwave for a minute and hey presto raspberry sauce).

Close-up of the deliciousness

...and I just realized I haven't posted since the last Menu Monday... fail. I'm going to have to start distinguishing between the titles.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Menu Monday

Uhhhh... So. We had Chinese takeout on Monday. Yeah. I was lazy, so instead of cooking we called in an order and had it delivered to our door, then sat and ate it as we watched a movie. It was kind of awesome. I've never had food delivered to my door ready to eat. Not even pizza.

We grew up in Africa. These things are novel to us.

Kind of a lame excuse for a Menu Monday post, I know. And one of these days I'll actually do this post on a Monday .

Sunday, August 15, 2010


We got to spend the weekend with our Congdon cousins in New Braunfels. They have friends in high places and they got us free tickets to Schlitterbahn for the day. It was loads of fun, but it's kind of hard to take pictures when you're going down water slides and tubing on rivers... so this picture of the wristband is the only proof I have that we were there :) We had a wonderful weekend, and it was SO nice to get out of the Dallas heat. It's surprising to me that New Braunfels is cooler since it's further south... it must be because of all the buildings in Dallas trapping the heat. We're driving back right now, armed with iced vanilla bean lattes to fight Sunday afternoon sleepyness.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Menu Monday x 2

Nothing terribly interesting has happened recently (apart from Dallas being 100+ degrees for the past two weeks, holy moly, someone please turn the sun off)... so I'm just going to write about my two favorite meals of the week :)
On Monday I made something that I decided to call Mexican lasagna. It's kind of like chicken enchiladas, but the name "chicken enchiladas" instills great fear in me, as a result of an unfortunate school-wide food poisoning event by a dish of that same name at the cafeteria at boarding school in Kenya back in 9th grade. So, Mexican lasagna it is. For the benefit of my brothers over in South Africa, who expressed a desire to make this when I described it to them, I'll write out the whole recipe. Bear with me, recipes are not my strong point. It'll be more of an estimation.

The finished product

Instructions (I bolded all the ingredients you'll need):
Preheat oven to 400 F
In a pot, saute one chopped onion in oil, add some minced garlic. Add about one pound of bite-sized pieces of boneless skinless chicken breast... while that's cooking put in some taco seasoning to taste, 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1/8 tsp ground coriander seed. Put in one drained can of sweetcorn, or about the same amount of frozen sweetcorn. Then, put in 2 cups of salsa. You can also add some chopped up jalapeno peppers if you like it spicy. Simmer until it's nice and hot.
While that's simmering, layer the bottom of a non-stick 9x13 baking pan with tortillas (I used about six 6-inch diameter ones). Then put 1/2 of the chicken mixture in, spread some sour cream on top of it, and sprinkle some cheese of top of that. Then repeat the layers one more time (tortillas, chicken, sour cream, cheese). Cover the pan in aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 5 or 10 minutes.

We ate it with avocados, of course :)

Now for the other favorite meal of the week. Steak.

Mmmmm... the only dressing I used was some salt and fresh ground pepper rubbed on each side. Simple but deliciously effective.

Seriously, those were some of the best steaks I've ever had.... but they were a huge pain in the rear end to cook. We don't have a grill/BBQ, and I read somewhere that if you sear both sides of the steak on high heat on the stovetop in a frying pan with some butter it gets a nice grilled/roasted flavor. Then you finish oven it in the oven so it stays tender... sounds easy. And maybe it will be easier next time (which will be in several months after I've forgotten what a pain they were to cook). 
The first problem is that you can't let the butter burn, which it does fairly easily. Especially on the high heat that it needs to be to sear the steak. The second problem is I only have one frying pan large to fit the size of those huge steaks, so I had to sear them one at a time, rinsing the pan to get rid of the burnt butter and then melting new butter between each steak.

And watch out for that butter. It splashes. And burns. Especially when it gets between your fingers. Ouchie.

I eventually got them all seared and in the oven one at a time, and then had to take them all out one at a time as they were all done at different times... then you have to cover them tightly with foil and let them sit for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle (otherwise the steaks apparently go dry and chewy). 
Phewsh. Well, I can say it was worth it when we finally sat down to eat... because those steaks were D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. Juicy and tender on the inside, with grilled crispiness on the outside. We ate them with baked potatoes, green beans, and of course, avocados. The avocado kick has now become a full fledged obsession. We love them.


And I think that's about enough food for one post, yes?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


For some reason everything has seemed upside-down this past week or so. It's been mostly good, though. We had two girls staying with us for a wedding of a mutual friend from school in Kenya (RVA), which was super fun. There were some other friends from RVA at the wedding as well.

RVA peeps
L to R: Roland, Loise, Thomas, Lisa, Sarah

And here's a few of me and Thomas :)

Our two house guests, Christine and Lisa :)

And, of course, a picture of the bride and groom... what a beautiful wedding it was! Congrats to Karen and Theo :)

[ Photo credits: stolen from Loise and Christine :) ]

So we had a few late nights/early mornings with all the excitement, and the weekend rushed by, we met up with a JBU friend for dinner one night, and all of sudden it's Wednesday and I'm wondering what happened to the past 72 hours... hmmm. What little of a routine I had has been thrown into disarray. I guess I'd better get back to scheduled boringness.

Since I missed Menu Monday this week, here's a picture of dinner last night:

We had margarita pizza, garlic bread, salad, and avocado slices (we've been on an avocado kick recently)... we actually ended up putting avocado slices on top of the pizza when we ate it, and it was really good!

Tonight we're having steak. I haven't really figured out how to cook steak on the stove-top, but here's to hoping it will turn out since we don't have a grill.

Time to get cracking... housework and homework have piled up while I was in some kind of topsy-turvy world for the past few days...


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