Archive for November, 2009

Tastykakes Finished

November 30 2009

I just finished the last Butterscotch Krimpet, and boy was it delicious.  About a month ago, my dad sent me a package with Tastykakes, Mike N Ikes, and Triscuits.  I have been rationing the Tastykakes, but they are so delicious …

Today I woke up before 7am in order to be in the office for a 9am German class.  IST Austria is now offering German classes for us.  Currently, I am in the intermediate class … that will probably change though.  I am somewhere in between beginner and intemediate level.  If I go into the beginner class, I get to sleep in on Mondays…



November 27 2009

I learned a few more lessons about cooking a turkey in a European apartment.  I’ll start from the beginning.

When I ordered the turkey, I had to put down a 10 euro deposit.  I asked how much more the turkey would be, and I heard “funfzehn” (15), but he really said “funfzig” (50).  I figured this out when Amit and I picked up the turkey yesterday morning.

The issue of carrying an almost 7 kilo (about 15 pounds) turkey up the stairs was solved by Amit.  He did the manly heavy lifting.  J

When we brought the turkey upstairs, we opened it up.  It came with a little bow on it which was cute.  The bird was really fresh.   The skin of the turkey almost looked like a shrinkwrap on it (we had to double check that there was no plastic on it!)  Then, we looked inside, and the bird was hallow.  They gave us no giblets!  So, we decided to go to Naschmark to eat a Kebab for lunch and go demand our giblets.  But, first we had to get the bird in the oven.  The second thing we noticed about the bird was that it had a weird growth on it.  Amit said it was the neck, and I didn’t think it could be … given that it was on the wrong side of the turkey to be that.  Then, we decided that it was a tail.  Our turkey came with a two inch tail.  I called my mom to ask if her turkey came with a tail, and she laughed at me.

We prepared the stuffing, and turned on the oven.  While I was chopping celery, Amit measured the herbs.  Unfortunatly, I bought dill and not rosemary, but we decided it would be ok without it.

When I took out the pan that was to cook the turkey, I looked back at the oven, and to the pan once more.  There was no way this thing would fit in my tiny oven.  We tried, just in case, and sure enough … it didn’t fit.  We thought of taking the handles off, but there was no way to do that really.  We would up putting the rack into a broiler pan.  It was a little shallow, but it had to do.  So, back to stuffing the bird.  I got my hands dirty and grabbed the stuffing by the handful, then shoved my hand up its butt.  We managed to get all of the stuffing into the turkey.

Next, I held the turkey legs together, and Amit attempted to tie them.  When I let go of the legs, the knot he tied slipped off.  So, he tried again.  After his third retry, I told him to hold the legs.  Since the rack I have was flat, and not a V shape like a normal turkey rack, I had to tie the arms to the body as well  so the bird would fit into the oven.  Then, I poured olive oil on the turkey as Amit massaged the bird.  Then, we put on the herbs.  Since I couldn’t find poultry seasoning, we used a mixture of fresh herbs and dried herbs.  It turns out that the dry ones stick better.  We did not think to pat the fresh ones after we washed them, and oil + water = slippery.  So, they slid off the sides.

Finally, at 12:00 exactly, the bird went into the oven, and we went to demand our giblets.   As we were walking out the door, Amit asked what the nutmeg was for.    When we looked at the recipe, it was supposed to go into the stuffing.  My herb mixer failed.

I know that when I ordered the turkey, I said “mit leber und herz”  … but they were quite surprised by me wanting a “puten compli” that I don’t think my message got across.  When I demanded my giblets, they sent us “down and to the left”, where we saw a Billa (supermarket) and an Asian something.  We figured they must have thought “the asians will have that” so we walked to the Asian store.  When we arrived at the door, we realized that it was a restaurant and decided not to go in because asking for a heart and a liver at a restaurant is a little weird.  So, the butcher must have sent us to Billa.  Reluctantly, we walked in.  We both have seen livers at the grocery store before, but didn’t remember ever seeing hearts.  Amit said “there is no way that we will find any hearts here” just as I found a package of eight turkey hearts!  Although we didn’t find any livers, Amit was able to find a package of chiken livers at Spar (another supermarket).

I return home, and find that the turkey has no drippings yet.  I decided to baste with a little of olive oil.  When I asked my mom what to do, she said “not olive oil, that is only for the begininng.”  Whoops.  So, I made some chicken broth (it comes in a cube) for basting.  After an hour and a half of cooking, the turkey finally started to drip.

The rest of the cooking went smoothly.  Although, around 6:00 chaos began as Bei and Paul started making various food in the kitchen as I was making the gravy.  Amit acted as the doorman and wine pourer during this time.  He even fed me some wine as I was cutting up the hearts and livers (I put in two of each.  Now I need to figure out what to do with all of the extra hearts and livers).

Every bit of food was delicious.  I can’t decide what I liked the best.  Chao brought some hummus and bread, and other various snacking things for starters.  We had turkey, stuffing and gravy made be me, with my mom’s  recipes, slightly altered.  Amit made mashed potatoes with bacon.  Bei made string beans, with bacon.  (I almost added bacon to the stuffing too).  Paul made cranberries sauce from fresh cranberries, an orange, and ginger.   He also made mashed sweet potatoes (of course with ginger).  Michael and Michaela brought dessert, yummy nut squares with chocolate mouse.  It was homemade.  Herbert brought cream to make fresh whipped cream, but he forgot a piece of equipment for that.  So, he just teased us.

It is ironic that the first time I make a Thanksgiving turkey it is in Austria, and not with my family.  Although, my family didn’t miss me as they have replaced me with a my sister’s friend’s sister, who has the same name.  She’s a year younger than me too, I think.

a visit from Nat, Ma, and Pa

November 26 2009

This will be a longer post.  I finally have my new laptop at my apartment, so I will celebrate by writing about Natalie & her parent’s visit to Vienna.  (I am using a UK keyboard, so I apologize if weird typos happen).

Their first night was my last night living in Klosterneuburg.  They were a little tired after arriving, so they took naps and showers while I did some work (in preparation for not going into the office the following week).  Around 5 or so, we took the bus to Klosterneuburg center with Olga (who was visiting IST Austria from Georgia Tech.  Ironically, she is from Ukraine).  We saw the Stift Klosterneuburg in all of its gradure, and then took a walk to our favorite Heurigen (Redinger), where Chao, Bei, Michael, and Michaela met us for dinner.  Of course, it was delicious.

The next few days, we were in Budapest (which I have already written about).

On the day we returned from Budapest, I moved into my new apartment in the 5th district of Vienna.  I think that evening we went out to dinner on the other side of Margareten Strasse, near the Naschmarkt and went to bed.  The next day, Natalie and her parents took the tram around the inner ring and saw some of the Habsburg palace as well as the Rathaus.  Then, they met me at IST Austria and helped me take the rest of my belongings home.  Daria counted every one of the 104 stairs as she was walking up …

The next few days, we explored Vienna until our feet fell off, at which point we stopped at a cafe to recharge and do it again.  I will not attempt to remember the order in which we explored, but I will tell you about some of the highlights:

Stefansplatz is in the very center of the city.  Rick Steves told us a few things I did not know about this church, including the fact that there is a cannonball in one of the towers from the Ottoman invasion of the city.  He also said that the second tower was not finished due to not having enough money.  I was not observant enough to even notice that the towers are not the same height …

We ate dinner one day at a Medeterrian restaurant called Gyros in the 1st district.  I must say, the food was delicious, and the desserts amazing.  I made the mistake of looking at the dessert case after I went to the bathroom towards the end of the meal, and would up coming back to the table with a second round of desserts!  The staff at the restaurant was very kind to us, and happy to serve us.

One morning we went to the Spanish Riding School morning practice.  In the palace, there is a showroom for the horses.  Amazingly, the room does not smell like horses.  We got to watch them trot around, and occassionally saw a horse stand on its hind legs.  We also saw the trainer tap the backs of the legs so that the horses walked in an almost skip.  Watching this made me want to see an actual show.

We ate lunch one day at Buffet Tresniewski.  They serve small tasty open faced sandwiches for one Euro each.  You can get a small beer there for one Euro as well.  Although the food was very good, I was hungry again shortly after leaving the restaurant.  Perhaps I should have had more mini sandwiches.  Or, perhaps I am just always hungry.

Visiting Budapest and Vienna, they could not leave without seeing spectacular royal things.  So, we went to the tresuary.  There, of course we saw amazing jewels and large rocks worth a lot of money.  There were jeweled crowns and beautifully decorated religious pieces.  Among the possessions are a couple of items of religious signifigance for Christians.  There is a piece of the cross from which Jesus hung, with a nail hole in it.  There is a piece of the manger and a piece of Jesus’ loin cloth.  Although these items may or may not be historically accurate, the possibility that these are their origins amazes me.

Having a sacher torte in Vienna is probably among the top five things tourists look to do here.  Cafe sacher is the restaurant that first created this Vienese dessert.  However, over the years, they have turned into a tourist attraction and the quality of their cakes has gone down.  So, we went to Demel to get a sacher torte.  Demal has a peek-through bakery, so we could watch the confectionerists baking and decorating as we ate our snack.  Unfortunatly, Demal is also a tourist trap and refused to give me a glass of water if I did not order a coffee or hot chocolate.  The nerve!

The original snowglobes are the Perzy snowglobes.  We stopped by the museum (really a little shop) and bought some original snowglobes.  It is a little out of the way of the normal tourist routes, but worth visiting to pick up a globe.

On their last night here, we went out to see the musical Tanz der Vampire.  I thought the show was amazing, and I am really glad that we went.  The theatre was tiny, so every seat had a good view.  Even though the musical was in german, we could understand most of it.  At the begining, I heard them singing about ‘Knoblaugh’ and I said to Natalie ‘They are now singing about Garlic?’  As I said the words, it dawned on me why they were singing about garlic …

So, that is a summary of the highlights of their visit.  I am sure that Natalie will remind me of what I missed.

Next visitor: HERO!

Henrietta Lacks

November 25 2009

Last spring, I went to a talk given by Rebecca Skloot.  She was investigating the person behind the “hela” cells, and wrote a book about Henrietta Lacks.  Henrietta lost her life to cancer, but before she died a doctor at Johns Hopkins took a sample of her cells.  Those cells multiplied and multiplied and multiplied.  Today, 60 years later they are still alive, and used in medical research.  They are known as “hela cells”, although previous to Rebecca’s investigations, few people actually knew that hela stood for Henrietta Lacks.  Henrietta’s story is both tragic (she had children who grew up without their mother) and motivating.  One incident that Rebecca spoke about stands out in my mind.  When Henrietta’s family was approached for the first time after her death by (I think) a young doctor or intern at Johns Hopkins, they could not understand what they were being told.  The person attempted to tell them that Henrietta’s cells were being used for research.  What they understood (being an undereducated black family) was that Henrietta was still alive and being kept  in a cell.  Could you imagine what happened to her family as a result of this medical anomaly?

Today, I searched to see if the book has been released yet.  I found that it will be available February 2nd.  (see Amazon).  Look on Wikipedia for more information on Henrietta.


November 24 2009

I got a message from Jen today.  I thought it was funny, so I’ll share:

We got your postcard in the mail today. Paige was walking around the house saying how beautiful Austria is and it is always sunny there!!!! She said there are swimming pools there too.

Resident of Vienna

November 23 2009

This post is just a couple of random thoughts.

As of today, I am officially a resident of Vienna.  I was supposed to register within three days of moving to Vienna, which I did … with a multiplicitive constant of three.

I am wondering how my language in Facebook got set to be French.  I don’t understand.

Also, there is a video called “I am a technical woman“.  It was created at the 2008 Grace Hopper celebration, and is supposed to encourage young women to become technical women.  Yours truly is shown around one minute and 42 seconds.  Enjoy!

Thursday is Thanksgiving, and we are celebrating American style.  I am making a turkey, stuffing, and gravy.  Amit is bringing mashed potatoes, Bei is making vegetables, and Paul is making Sweet Potatoes.  Michael and Michaela (yes, married with almost the same name) are bringing Dessert, and Herbert will bring Sturm (even though the season is over … he stocked up to hold him over until next year I think).  There are just a few challenges when cooking a turkey in a foreign country.  (1) getting the turkey.  (2) finding a rack to cook it on. (3) finding a turkey baster.  After playing charades a couple of stores….I was able to accomplish all three purchases.  I just hope they give me the liver and the heart of the turkey.

Amit and I will be going to Innsbruck to go skiing on a glacier December 7 and 8.  We are skiing at Stubaier Gletscher, and staying at a hostel in the 6-bed room.  Now, I need to look into planning our Christmas ski holiday.  🙂

Photo Shoot!

November 18 2009

Brittany's Photo Shoot

So, IST Austria had a photo shoot for all of the scientists.  This is my photo.


November 18 2009

Well, I must admit, I knew very little about Budapest before going there two weekends ago.  Did you know that Budapest is really two cities: Buda and Pest?  (ps- Pest is pronounced “pescht”).

Natalie, her parents, Bei, and I left Vienna for a long weekend in Budapest.  The most important part about visiting a new place is trying their food.   I would like to note that the food in Budapest was AMAZING…and pretty cheap too.  Their goulash hit the spot after sightseeing in dreary weather.  My favorite meal, however, was the night we ate at the Spanish Tapas restaurant.  It was delicious.

The first night, Nat, Bei & I went for a walk from our apartment to Hero’s square, then took a subway back.  We saw the opera building, the terror museum, and stopped in a coffee shop for dessert on our walk.  Due to a misunderstanding, we didn’t actually get to go into the terror museum.  I would actually like to go see that.  Perhaps another trip is in my future…

The next two days were packed with sightseeing and eating.  Among the most memorable was the holocaust memorial along the Danube.  There, bronzed shoes were scattered to commemorate those who lost their lives at that location, where Nazi soldiers shot people and let their bodies fall into the Danube.  Still today, there is no railing which makes the shoes a very realistic memorial.

We also spent Saturday night at the Baths.  We were in nice warm water, under the stars.  It was quite relaxing.  It could only be better if there were reclining chairs in the water 🙂

my first wordpress poll!

November 16 2009

I made this poll for two reasons.  One, to see how to use the polls on wordpress; and two, to see if my showering habits are normal.

Black Pepper is not Spicy

November 4 2009

When I make the comment that Austria and Germany do not know how to make spicy food, most Austrians respond “you can always make it spicy by adding (ground) pepper”.   (I am referring to a general phenomena here … this is not one isolated incident that I am talking about.)  It is then I realize that they just don’t know spicy.  Black pepper is not spicy.  But, that leaves me to think … what is pepper?  How would you describe the taste that it gives food?  The best I can come up with is “peppery.”