Saturday, July 31, 2010

Adventures in Cooking

I've spent the last month living by myself, but it's a pretty temporary situation and given my training schedule, I haven't been home much to cook anyways. However, since I will be moving over seas and totally responsible for all my own food (eek), I figured it was time to start practicing. Although I have had some cooking successes, I have also had a lot of failures (ie, burning things, leaving out half the ingredients, etc). Well, today was full of successes, and I even have photographic evidence!

Firstly, it's Saturday, and weekends basically call for brunches. Here is my gorgeous omelet (onions, pepper jack cheese, parsley, tabasco), cinnamon toast and fruit.

Next up, was me cooking something from a recipe. I have never had this dish before, but apparently, it is very popular in Peru, which is why I chose it. I am really excited to see what the dish tastes like when I get there, but I think my attempt went quite well. Here is a basic run down:

Lomo soltado is a common dish, and I took several recipes and adapted them based on what ingredients I had available. It's basically a mix of beef (I marinated it with vinegar, soy sauce and garlic beforehand), tomatoes, orange bell peppers, red jalapeno peppers, a little more soy sauce, and some cayenne pepper. There are freshly made french fries on the side (I seasoned  them with some salt and cayenne) and rice.

I used two sautee pans, one pot for the rice and four cutting boards, but this dish turned out really well. In fact, I invited some friends to try it, and they liked it. Yay! Cooking experiment number 1: Success.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Peruvian Independence Day

Happy 189th Independence Day Peru!

Today I had the unique opportunity to attend a reception in honor of this holiday, and it just got me more excited about my living in Lima starting this August! I of course had the chance to drink a pisco sour, which was a very welcome respite to this awful weather in D.C. I didn't make it to the food at the buffet table because I was too busy chatting, but it looked very yummy from afar! I am very much looking forward to sampling all the lovely food Peru has to offer.

There was also some live entertainment with a choir and dancers. Although I couldn't hear the singing very well over the noise of conversation, I did like the costumes. Maybe when I get there I will  track down some dance classes. :)

This reception also provided a nice break from training. Although I have been learning a lot of new things over the past few weeks, it is really nice to just get out and do something outside of the classroom. I got some hands on experience with chatting in Spanish and going through the receiving line, etc at parties, which is something I will definitely have to get used to once I'm abroad.

As far as training goes, my formal class ends this week, and after that I have some other courses (some in class, many online) to complete, and also more time for errands. Tomorrow we are giving presentations on our countries of assignment. Although I created a PowerPoint presentation to go along with mine, I will be very careful to stick within the 10 minute time limit, and for those of me who know my hate for all things powerpoint slide mental torture, be comforted by the fact that it's mostly just pictures. I have a very good presentation worked out completely independently of the slides. I am however, excited to use the Smart Board. :P

Well, until you hear from me again, I will continue buying things I will need over seas (like, an entire household minus the furniture) and finishing up my immunizations!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

For all U.S. citizens who travel abroad

Please visit International Travel Alerts (part of Department of State Consular Affairs) before your next trip! In my orientation course today, this is one thing we talked about. If you are traveling out of the country anywhere, this will give you specific information you need to know about traveling in whatever country, and any special issues you need to know about (ie, hurricane season, common security concerns, etc). Also, you never know when something bad will happen, so you can also look up how to register at the U.S. embassy in a foreign country so that, if needed, they can get in contact with you and get you safe. I know this isn't something we all want to think about, but I'd rather have everything in place (such as emergency contact info) beforehand.

Anyways, that's my little advice token for the day. I hope all my friends who are going to travel internationally any time soon (or you are abroad right now) take a look at the site and register yourself at your local embassy asap. :)

In other news, we get our assignments next Tuesday, where we will be given a flag of the country we will be posted at. Also, we will be officially swearing in to the service on Friday the 9th, and my family is flying out to see me! So basically, I am really excited next week and can't wait to find out where I will be going!