Back from my Staycation

That’s right, I’m back.  Back from a week visit from my MIL and her sister.  Notice anything about them?
That’s right…they are TWINS!  Ryan’s mom is the one on the right with the short hair.

Before I get in to the start of our staycation (ok, vacation for some, staycation for others) I wanted to say a few more things about our move to Japan since some of you had questions.  We are excited, but of course nervous.  At this time all moves there are on hold, so we don’t know for sure what is going on, but we are scheduled to go there July/August time.  The base has a voluntary evacuation now for military dependents.  We will wait and see how this plays out. 

Gina mentioned volunteering, and I hope I get to be part of these efforts to help out and rebuild in Japan.  I know Ryan would love to be able to help in such a meaningful way too.  Both Gina and Jessie asked if I will continue teaching.  The answer is yes.  I am lucky to have portable jobs.  My seminars with Kaplan are held live on the internet, so I will be teaching early morning hours instead of like midnight which I do now.  I also teach with the University of Maryland University College in the Asia division.  How cool is that?!?!?  I have been teaching in the Europe division too, and I may be able to continue with them also.  I hope that when I am in Japan I will get the chance to teach my online NUTR100 course in the classroom too.

Most importantly, once things settle down there and we settle in to our new lives there, I look forward to blogging about the food and culture and life living as an American in Japan.  Feel free to ask questions, and I will answer whatever I can.

Back to the staycation…
Olives and cheese are the perfect way to start off any island vacation.  We took them to one of our favorite restaurants because the location is perfect.  It looks back over the city of Angra.  At night it is just as beautiful because of all the lights.

They both ordered the boca negra.  I am a master when it comes to eating this fish.  Not that I would say that is the best thing to brag about, but it is tough work, and the servers are usually impressed that I order this and I am not bothered at all by the presentation.  I love the fish so I don’t mind working for it.  Plus, I have learned to embrace the way the island locals eat seafood, at least most of it.  I helped Ryan’s mom and Aunt debone the fish…and I guess you could say behead it as well!  For a vegetarian with years of not even eating fish, I have certainly developed a sense of humor with this.
Ryan ordered a fish that normally comes as a steak cut, but I guess in the winter the fish is smaller and it was served whole also.
I ordered squid.  Like I said, I have embraced island dining.  I couldn’t convince anyone to give these a try.  Oh well, I will wait for June when my sister plans to come for a visit.
As we finished the mean, stuffed as could be, we watched the table next to us break into song.  They were singing Happy Birthday in Portuguese.  Out came a beautiful cake.  If you are wondering why I love the island, this is why.
They had so much cake and were in such a joyous mood that they cut 4 generous slices of cake and brought them to our table.  I can’t remember the last time I saw anything like that in the US.  Maybe one piece in the US to be nice, but to bring 4 pieces over and then give some to the staff too, that is something you rarely see in the world anymore between strangers.  The cake was good too so we couldn’t resist eating it all.

The next day we hit some stores in Angra.
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I couldn’t resist stopping in to one of my favorite “health” food stores.  I love all the vegetarian things I can find here.
We walked around Angra.  the weather was perfect.
This is one of my favorite spots in the whole world.  I think I just really love the color of the pain on that church.
Can you believe how calm the Atlantic Ocean is right here?
Then we stopped in to another favorite for dinner.  This was a chance for our visitors to try more local foods.
Ryan’s mom had shrimp, but they wound up being more trouble than they were worth.  We couldn’t get them out of their skins.  I have never seen shrimp put up a fight like this before.
Ryan’s Aunt had a shrimp and pasta dish.
I ordered the boca negra.
Ryan had a steak that came with little clams on top.
On the way home from dinner we passed by another nicely painted church.  This is actually the big one in Angra.
After a night of rest, we headed out again Saturday morning.  The weather was awesome.  As we were heading up a hill in Praia to the statue, we noticed this little guy on the side of the road.  How funny is that?  I know it belongs to someone, and I assume he is used to pull a cart.  That is very common around here.  Horses and donkeys are still used for transportation, especially among the elderly farmers.
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There was a horse out there too.
We tried to visit a farm but they were closed for renovations, so we headed to Angra again.  Along the way we spotted a little trail down to the ocean.  Ryan’s mom and Aunt are very artistic and make jewelry, and his mom has made some with sea glass.  We went down here to search for some, but sadly we did not find any.
Lunch was quick and easy.  We went to Kono Pizza.  If you have never seen this on my blog before, it is the closest thing to franchise fast food on the island.  Keep in mind, food still takes some time to prepare, but the idea is similar, as in, convenience and not a full sit down meal, which is the norm here.
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Here they are enjoying their pizza in a cone.
Although regular pizza in a cone is good, I get one with cream cheese, smoked salmon, lettuce and tomato.  It’s the closest thing to a bagel with lox I can find around here.
After we left we passed by our favorite bakery, so we HAD to stop in for some little sweet treats.
After lunch, we headed over to Algar do Carvao, which is a magnificent piece of nature and the only one like it in the world that people can go in.  It is a hollow volcano.  This is not how volcanoes usually cool.  When this erupted the lava was expelled through the chimney (hole) and then the rest cooled all the way back to the bottom, where normally it remains inside the cone.  In the late 1800’s the first person climbed inside.  years later a way in for visitors was built.  This is an amazing experience, so I was glad we could take them inside.  This was on opening day (closed in winter).
As we were leaving we spotted these goats…sans owner/farmer/herder.
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After a long and busy day, we opted for dinner in.  I didn’t have to do any cooking at all.  I didn’t even have to do the dishes, which was awesome.  I just did some work and waited for dinner to be ready.
Welcome to From Scratch Weekends revisited.
Ryan and I made those pierogies from scratch a while back.  There were still tons in the freezer, not cooked.  We thought that would make an awesome dinner.
We set up the table and lit the candles.
They were delicious.  I was glad to know the raw pierogies froze so well AND cooked so well after freezing.
QUESTIONS:  Have you ever had people share their celebration cake with you while at a restaurant?  What is your favorite spot in the world?  What are your thoughts on “working” for your food?


Special K said...

My favorite food in Portugal was the squid! and I am not sure that I would be able to cook it at home. One time I tried mussels when I worked at MAMC and lived by the bay and the guys got them fresh from that morning.
Aren't you off to Italy soon?

Unknown said...

Looks like u had a great time with Ryan's fam!
No one has ever given me cake :(
I love anywhere that has a beach! Or don't be surprised when I show up in your hotel room, haha!

KimberlyInSEA said...

Woah, your post has made me REALLY hungry :-)

sophia said...

You know, I'm studying post-war Japan history right now...and Japan has a lot of controversies regarding the foreign military base (U.S.) in its land...I think it'll be interesting to read up on that beforehand, but I'm excited (and nervous) for your move to Japan...I think it'll be a great experience, for sure!

My favorite spot on earth...I can't say yet, as I need to travel more. Still haven't been to Europe yet!

Gina; The Candid RD said...

Glad you enjoyed your STAYcation!! I bet your family loves to come visit you at all the different places you and Ryan reside. I know I would love it.

I'm glad to hear you are still teaching while in Japan. Not only with Kaplan, but now Maryland's Japan-based university?! That's awesome.

No, I hate working for my food, especially when I'm really hungry! And yes, I love it when people share their celebration cake! Because, I'm a cake eater :)

Kristen (swanky dietitian) said...

Looks like such a great staycation!
I am hoping the move to Japan will be an easy one. I know it can probably be tough to bounce around.
I could easily go back to Italy and be perfectly fine with that!

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