Food makes a great present

We have solved the mystery of the name of this Middle Eastern dessert. Kristen was right, this is Kunafi. It is also called Kutaifi. So, if you were curious about the shredded wheat on top of custard dessert we had at our break fast meal, it is called Kunafi.

I was going through all of my photos and I realized that I never shared this picture I took at 35,000 feet of my meal on the flight back to the US. The options were chicken and pork, and I obviously did not call ahead to ask if a vegetarian meal was possible, so this was what the flight attendant did for me. This is a double portion of (almost) everything else. There was a very interesting corn, kidney bean, garbanzo bean, pasta and black olive salad. I also had crackers, fruit, rolls and laughing cow cheese, and some kind of custard tart. It wasn't too bad and munched on this over the course of the flight. They also passed out pretzels and oreo cookies along the way.

Ok, now let's jump back to the present. Yesterday morning I woke up and I was very thirsty. I headed to my mom's garage to grab something to drink. You can see below why I had a hard decision to make early in the morning. I only wanted water, but my mother has the party fridge in the garage with every kind of beverage you could imagine.

In the end, I still went with a bottle of water. That has always been my favorite.

Speaking of favorites, I wanted to bring my family some of my favorite foods for the Azores and some that just looked really good while I was at the local grocery store. Here are some of the great and tasty gifts I brought home.

These bars are my favorite mid-morning snack. 57 cals per bar and there are 3 bars in each individually wrapped package. This is the apple flavor, and it also comes in berry. I like the apple best.
These are fitness bars. I actually buy this brand in the breakfast cereal flakes. I thought the focus on women was interesting and on the cereal box this is a huge silhouette of a women. I see that are advertising to women's health specifically. I still had Ryan eat some of it!
These just looked really good so I bought these. They are a little spicy, but I really like them.
Who could resist a candy bar?
These looked good too, and I will admit I have not tried one yet. I also bought a package of these to give to my sister's friends.
These are banana and cinnamon cookies. Looking forward to trying these too.
Then there were these tartletes. The Continente brand is the generic grocery brand sold at Modelo, which is the closet thing we have to a Wal-mart, but really it is mostly a grocery store with some household goods. I love Modelo!

My mom did try these and she said they were really good. I will try to some myself. These were from the aisle I avoid when shopping since

a) I could spend all day exploring the cookies
b) I would buy things that I don't need on a regular basis in our house

so I was happy to have an excuse to visit the cookie aisle.
So that was it for my food presents. I hope my family enjoys all of the local snacks i brought home as gifts.

Hey, look what I found in my mom's fridge. That's right, they have Chobani!
This was breakfast yesterday. Leftovers from breaking the fast. I couldn't find the lox, so it was just a poppy seed bagel (which is my favorite bagel of all time) with lite cream cheese, tomato and muenster cheese.

After a morning of grading papers and relaxing at my mom's house, my sister and I went out shopping. After a few stores we decided to stop for coffee. This would be my first time buying coffee in the US. We stopped at Baltimore Coffee and Tea, which is the place where my dad bought espresso ground beans for us and we use this for our coffee on the island.

I ordered a latte, which is the same as a meia da leite in Portugal. I added 4 splendas and it was still super bitter. I had a hard time stirring it up. It was wierd, I did not like it as much as the ones I make in my home with the same beans. My stepdad (Joe) said it might be the water used.
Here is my sister's coffee. She told me what she ordered, but my day was so long, so let's see if I can remember. This was coffee, with a little steamed soy milk and sweet-n-low.
After the caffeine recharge, we continued on with our shopping before meeting up with our parents for dinner. My sister selected this Afghan restaurant located in downtown Baltimore. This is The Helmand. I will apologize for the quality of the pictures from the meal. The lighting was too dim, but the food looked so good.
This is the bread.

For an appetizer we ordered this dish. It is called Kaddo Borawni, which is pan-fried and baked pumpkin seasoned with sugar. This was delicious and I think my sister for sharing it with me.
Here's a better picture of this.
My mom and Joe ordered a few appetizers to start and then had salads for their meal. This salad is called Shornakhod and has potatoes and chick peas.
This salad was just like a house salad with mixed veggies.
For entrees, my sister and I split 2 vegan dishes. This dish is called Mushroom Lawand. this was whole mushrooms sauteed in a tomato, corn and green pea sauce, with spices. This had a great flavor and I would recommend this dish.
It was served with spinach
and of course there was rice.
The other dish we split was a vegetarian korma. I would recommend this too. I loved the combination of the spices and the great flavor of this cuisine.
This was not my first time eating Afghan cuisine, but it has been a while. I was happy to eat there last night and would go back there again. So if you are ever in Baltimore and looking for some good Afghan food, try The Helmand !

QUESTIONS: What was the last food gift you gave someone? Have you been to an Afghani restaurant before?

How did you break it?

Thank you for all the comments about our bull fight party. I want to remind everyone that they do NOT kill the bulls during these bull fights. The bulls just run up and down the streets and people will poke at him with umbrellas. The bull WILL occasionally get a skinned knee (or two or three) but I have not seen one seriously hurt yet. I have seen more people get hurt than bulls this summer.

So far my trip home has been great. My first night home my sister made me dinner since I was exhausted and starving. She made me a vegan black pepper steak on a whole wheat roll with mushrooms and sweet potato. It was very delicious. I wish I could get vegan black pepper steak on the island, but that really won't happen.

My sister is really great at creating things in the kitchen, so hopefully she will cook more for me while I am here visiting.

One of the main reasons I decided to come home now was that there was a major Jewish holiday yesterday called Yom Kippur, which is known as the Day of Atonement. It is the holiest day of the year and we fast on this day. After a long day of not eating we gather to "break the fast".
So here is how we BROKE IT at our house...

LOX (AKA smoked salmon)
Toppings for the BAGELS
These are filled with cheese. We also had blintzes (cheese and apple) but I didn't get a good pic of those.
Noodle KUGEL
And for dessert...RAINBOW CAKE
I love this. This was THE cake of my childhood. Almost every Friday night at my grandmother's house we had this cake. This one has jam in between the layers, but they also come with chocolate in between. I have also had this as a 5 layer cake with the addition of a bright blue layer.
Of course we had fruit too
And this is a Middle Easter dessert. It is like shredded wheat on top of custard. I asked my family what the name of it was and I am not really sure how it is spelled, but it was really good.
So that is how we broke it at our house.

QUESTION: How did you break the fast if you observed Yom Kippur yesterday?
After a long night of fasting (since you were sleeping), how did you break the fast (hence "breakfast") this morning?

A whole lotta bull

Saturday night was our neighborhood bullfight and BBQ party. Less people showed up than expected, but we still had a great time. Here's how it went...

It's like hurricane season, everything that the bull can get to gets boarded up. That's the prepwork that goes on the day before and the day of the actual fight.

Then we worked on the food we were serving. I had never made potato salad before (mostly because I do not like potato salad) but we had many potatoes in the house, we decided this was a good idea.
We left out celery and green onions, mostly because we didn't have any, but also because I don't like green onions.

This pans we found at the commissary can in handy.
And from what everyone told me, the potato salad was great. In fact, I tried some and I did like it.
We decided on fruit salad for our dessert. So we bought these 3 different looking melons...

and some nice looking red grapes...
and cut them up. They looked so nice inside, except...
they were all...

GREEN melons on the inside.
Thankfully I had RED grapes to give this fruit salad some color!
For the main course we were grilling burgers and hot dogs, so the baked beans were a nice side dish.
Beverages for everyone.
It wasn't until half time when everyone really wanted to eat, but we did get set up in advance. Sadly, these are the buns that are available to us at the commissary. They come frozen and squished. We now know we can buy buns locally, so we'll try that next time.
Here's the before picture in the outdoor kitchen. I love that we have a sink right there.
Brand new! The old ones were rusted. That hole in the back turned out to be the perfect spot to keep the beans HOT.
Isn't that so cool? It was really exciting to have the outdoor kitchen up and running.
One of Ryan's coworkers brought (his wife made them) these for us. This is lumpia which is a traditional Phillipino dish.
Our landlord brought these for us. I have NO CLUE what they are called in Portugese, but they are pork. They make them and sell them in their store.
So of course I went with a spicy black bean burger that I made inside.
Our neighbor (the one we see less often) had all this food at his house so he invited all of my party over in to his yard. These are all traditional Azorean dishes for bull fights. Some I can not figure out wehat they are, but some I did. The pizza looked good, btu I did not try any.
This version of deviled eggs was really neat and tasted good. It was tuna salad with the egg yolk mixed in and then served in the white and topped with a green olive. I really liked this.
This was a baked cheese inside a scooped out bread. I am not sure what the red stuff really was, looked like peppers.
Here's where their party got a little Americanized.
This is a fish dish. Looks super crispy.
And now for the bull fight pictures. You can see how many people were around in the streets. Our house was near the ending line (where the bull can't go past), so there is always less action at the end, but I did get some good bull shots.

I love this picture. What was this man thinking?
These guys control the bull.

He messed up my favorite flowers.

So that was it for our bull fight. Actually once the sun went down it was hard to take photos. When it was done there werea few stragglers that managed to locate our house. Overall it was successful and we will have a bigger party next year. We were not sure what to expect and if it really went by our house, so we didn't want to have a big party and then have no bull. But in the end it was a blast and a whole lotta bull!

I apologize for not posting this yesterday, like I wanted to, but I was travelling all day. I did manage to get to the States so I am now visiting my family in Baltimore. I was so jet lagged last night and I am feeling well rested right now and ready to visit my family and friends.

Stay tuned for fun pics from Baltimore, NYC and Philly.

QUESTION: What's the largest party you have ever had in your own home? Any themed parties?

HAPPY MONDAY EVERYONE, thanks for reading!