The first course served in the Bangladesh lunch is a bitter course.  The bitter course tradition is also in the Portuguese culture.   Before every meal the Portuguese would have a dish with bitter fruit to prepare the mouth for the food that was to come.  The Portuguese settled in Bangladesh which is where they got the tradition.

Speaking of bitter I got my results from the MRI, which determined my cancer stage.  I was diagnosed as stage III.  My doctor called the night before the appointment to let me know.  He felt the news was good.  It was a relief to hear it was not stage IV, but not really great news to have any stage.

The next day my friends Jeff and Amanda go with me to my medical oncologist.  The goal of the appointment was to finalize which chemo treatment I was to do and when it will start.  I’m not nervous with this appointment as I think of it as settling on the details.

The appointment starts with the three of us seated in front of my doctor’s desk.  The desk feels large for the room and he started the appointment by saying, “since the cancer has not spread you are stage III”.

My friend Amanda yelled out, “Thank God!”.

The doctor stared at her a bit, puzzled and I realized she hadn’t heard.  I told her “Oh we already knew.  The doctor called me yesterday you must not have seen my update.”

She responded, “No I didn’t have a chance to go online, well good news.”

We all chuckle a bit as her expression is what I felt last night when he called with the results.  It hadn’t dawned on me that anyone else was so worried and concerned about my test results.  I know my friends were willing to come with me to my appointments to support, but didn’t think about the fact that this was suspenseful for them too.  It made me feel loved and I felt that I wasn’t the only one that carried the burden of this disease.

Now that we had my stage settled, the doctor is able to carry on with the real message he wanted to deliver.  He believed that I would need an additional surgery that will take place after chemo.  The reason being is that the count of the 6 lymph nodes is really high and rare.  They think it is best to have more removed and do a radiation treatment as well.  So the plan is chemo, lymph node removal surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and surgery to put in my inplants.

We discussed again the chemo options as there was a 3 month chemo regiment and a 5 month chemo regiment.  He recommends in my age and surgical biopsy results that I do the 5 month.  I agree with him I would like to be aggressive.  So he walks me over to another room where I will get my chemo.

In the room there were two nurses behind a desk, big reclining chairs all around the room facing the nurses, and windows behind the chairs that looked out onto the city.  He explained the treatment I am planning to do with the nurses.  The nurses and the doctor discuss whether I should get a port.  The conversation took place more around me than with me.  Once they have come to agreement they turned and explained that with the lymph node removal I only have one arm that they will be able administer the chemo and I don’t have great veins, so 16 treatments would be difficult.  The port is a device that is surgically embedded in my chest and they can poke in the chemo there.

The conversation only took a few minutes and at the end I had agreed to get a port.  I’m not so excited about all the surgery, as I had already been to more doctor appointments than I think I have been to in my whole life!  However, it feels solvable and I have a plan that will have an end.  So the plan is port surgery, chemo, lymph node removal surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and surgery to put in my implants.  I don’t even think about the surgery needed for my port removal.  That is something to think about for another day the next things are to focus on wigs and learning how to draw on eyebrows to get me ready for chemo.

In the meantime lets get back to this bitter meal made out of bitter gourd. It is a popular dish in Bangladesh that uses this fruit amongst other vegetables.

The first thing in the recipe calls for a few odd things:

  • Bitter gourd
  • Drumsticks
  • Raw rice ground into a powder
  • Mustard paste
  • Mustard oil

The mustard paste I am assuming means mustard.  Likely not a french mustard, so I substitute it for a stone ground mustard in my fridge.  So one random ingredient acquired.

The raw rice powder I assume is rice flour, which I am familiar with from some Japanese recipes.  I don’t think this will be hard to find.  It is common in the Asian aisles of U.S. markets and if it’s not there, there are a few Asian markets near me that will have it for sure.

The rest of these ingredients require my google skills to figure out what is going on.  The drumsticks, I’m a bit lost on.  I highly doubt that this is chicken drumsticks.  With my research I find that this is a common seasoning in India.  I figure I will get this at an Indian Market that isn’t too far away.  I have never heard of mustard oil, but am fascinated.  I find this is also common in Indian cooking, so figure I will find it in the same store as drumsticks.  The bitter gourd I look up to see pictures of.  This is not something common in U.S. markets, but think I have seen something similar in Asian markets.

So my first grocery stop is at the U.S. market.  I don’t find any of the remaining four items.  The next stop is a Japanese market near me.  I find the rice flour only.  Then I stop at a Korean market and the remaining three ingredients are not to be found.  Finally at the Indian market, I find the Mustard oil!


I also find the bitter gourd.

I can’t find the drumstick.  I am tempted to add chicken and call it that, but that doesn’t seem right as this is a vegetarian dish.  I look up ideas of how to substitute the spice and I don’t find anything.  So I just decided to skip it.  My friends are coming and I have now been to 4 grocery stores!  This is supposed to be the Bangladesh meal Americans can make.

The recipe also called for pumpkin.  I don’t feel like buying a big pumpkin and cutting it up, so I substitute butternut squash.  It is easier and I can buy it already cut up.

With all the ingredients I am ready to start.  Well the recipe is basically a stir fry in the mustard oil.  So this shouldn’t be hard.  The only thing to learn is how to cut a bitter gourd.  Here is the method:

First, to chop this bitter gourd-

Cut in half.

Scoop out the seeds and slice.

Personally I would have thought you have to removed the skin, but not from what I read. This is the way to eat it.

It all takes a bit longer than I expected to cook, I think it actually takes closer to 40 minutes to get the vegetables to soften.


The mustard oil is amazing and makes the vegetables taste good.  The bitter gourd, well is bitter.  I’m not a fan of the bitter gourd, but I enjoy the rest of the vegetables.


Original recipe can be found here
  •  1 medium eggplant
  • 5-6 green beans
  • 2 medium bitter gourd
  • 1/2 of a butternut squash
  • 2 medium size yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
  • 4 tablespoons mustard oil
  1. Dice the vegetables into similarly sized pieces.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoon of oil in a wok, throw in the mustard seeds and rice flour.
  3. Add all the vegetables as the mustard seeds start popping.
  4. Mix the oil well with the vegetables and let it cook in low flame under cover.
  5. Take out the cover when the vegetables are half done, pour in a little water (about half cup), ginger and mustard, and turmeric; mix well.
  6. Cook for about 40 min or until the vegetables are well cooked.
  7. Pour in the rest of the mustard oil and take off the flame.
  8. Serve warm with white rice.





Borani Esfanaj

My brother had stayed with me for a week after my mastectomy.  It seemed really soon for him to have to leave, probably because I was out for at least 2 days of his visit.  It ended up being way more comforting than I expected.  My friend Issac volunteered to stay with me after my brother left.  I was still struggling to do some minor things, like picking up, cooking, taking out the trash, so having the help was still needed.  The surprising thing for me was how hard it was to put on clothes.  My arms just have limited movement and stretching the arms up over my head and to put on a shirt hurts.  The doctors recommended button down shirts, which I found useful for the doctors appointments, but buttoning the buttons was no fun.  I got some loose fitting dresses and this is now what I wear.  They really are fancy muumuu’s.  Never really saw myself wearing them, but it works.  Also helps with people coming over and not just being in my pajamas.

Equally as hard is finding Bahrain recipes.  A lot of things I found online seems to be middle eastern dishes rather than specific Bahrain dishes.  With a lot of time spent researching I find a cookbook called “multicultural cookbook of life-cyle celebrations”.  It basically has recipes from all over the world.  It has a recipe for a spinach salad called Borani Esfanaj.  The book describes how it is common on feast and wedding days that a whole baby goat is served and this is a common salad to accompany it.  I’m not feeding a family, so don’t go for the whole goat recipe but want to make this salad.

When reading the Borani Esfanaj recipe it seems to be much more of appetizer or more specifically a dip than a salad.  I was thinking of this as a side dish.  What goes well with a creamy spinach dip?  BREAD!  Well as I am cooking Bahrain I start to look into what is a common bread and find that they typically eat khubz.  Which is like a pita, so I am going to make this as well and serve with the “salad”.

The khbuz is a yeast dough.  Following instructions I add yeast to water and let it sit.


Mix the dough and let it rest.



Then split the dough into small balls and let it rest.


I roll out the dough into the circle.  Yeah, my skills are of rolling dough is getting better!



Then you bake it in the oven.  While it cooks the dough puffs up.


Then broil till brown.


Once it is done the air in the middle forms a pocket like a pita would.


The “salad” is straightforward to make.  Boil spinach in water and then cook with onion and garlic.  Cool a bit and mix with yogurt.


Then top with nuts and mint.


The result is good.  The “salad” is like a dip.  It is like a spinach dip with a bit more unique flavors.  The mint is refreshing bite with the yogurt.  The bread is like a pita not particularly flavorful, but I’m shocked at how crisp the outside and soft the inside is.  The two pair together well, this may not be how they ate it in Bahrain, but works in my imagination.


Borani Esfanaj

The original Recipe can be found here

  • 1 lb fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons roasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  1. Boil water and add spinach.  Cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain spinach.
  3. In large sauce pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add onion and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes
  5. Add spinach and cook for 5 minutes
  6. Transfer to bowl and let cool for at least 5 minutes.
  7. Add yogurt, salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with walnuts and mint sprinkled on top.


Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
  1. In a large bowl, pour in the warm water and add in the yeast, stir until the yeast is dissolved.
  2. Add in the salt.
  3. Start gradually adding in the flour and oil while kneading.
  4. Knead the dough for 8 minutes.
  5. Put the dough into a large greased bowl and turn dough to grease all sides.
  6. Cover with a dry tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size about 1 ½ hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Punch dough gently.
  9. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape them into smooth balls.
  10. Place on a floured work surface and dust tops lightly with flour.
  11. Cover with a dry tea towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  12. Roll out each ball into a 6-inch diameter circle.
  13. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes, until puffy.
  14. Then broil for 2 minutes to brown.

Bahamian Baked Macaroni and Cheese with a Crab Mousse Stuffing

The Bahamas loves macaroni and cheese as much as I do! It was brought over to the Bahamas by the British and of course they have made it their own.  Their variety is baked with bell peppers in it.  They serve it as a side dish and always have it for special occasions. I find a recipe that takes their traditional mac and cheese and adds crab. Okay that does sound odd, but it is a dinner party and so why not add the additional flare!

The first step is to make the crab mousse.  You just combine all the ingredients.  It seems to be much more like a crab slaw than a mousse, but it looks good.


For the mac and cheese you first boil the vegetables with the pasta.  Then the rest is a standard method of creating a cheese sauce pour it into a pan


and then bake. The result is yummy!  It is one of the cheesiest mac and cheese I have ever had.  The bell peppers I think help keep the cheesiness up.  The crab mousse actually pairs perfectly with the mac and cheese and definitely elevates the dish.  This I am making again!

I also made a side dish of okra.  My family is from the south and I love fried okra.  One of the reasons you fry it is to get the sliminess out.  I actually have never cooked with okra so I’m excited to try to make this simple salad.

I cut the okra


I prepare the okra frying and cooking in water, but they are slimy.  I then bake them for 20 minutes thinking it will dry them out a bit, but no help.   I start to panic as I don’t think I can serve this.  So I go to the trusty internet and start to read online.  I find out that the reason that lime is added is the acid of the lime cuts the sliminess.  So, I do this and it works!


It is still a bit slimy as that is okra.  The okra is yummy, simple and full of flavor.  I giggle at myself getting in a panic when I should just follow instructions.


Speaking of laughter, my first night home after surgery I went to bed listening to my brother and my friend Jeff laughing.  It was a great feeling to hear two people I really love and care about enjoying each other.  I did have to remind them to keep it down.  My neighbors are still pretty mad at me from my pre-surgery partying and another school night party will probably make them mad.  So I encouraged them to go to a bar, they are hesitant to leave me.  I explained to them that I’m just going to take my sleeping pill and go to bed and I will be fine for the few hours they’re out.  This did the trick and they went to a bar.

As the house is quiet I lay in my bed and realize it was nice to be home and nice to be in my bed.  I laid flat on my back as I still can’t roll on my side and finally nod off to sleep.  I woke up early in the morning in excruciating pain.! I try not to move to see if the pain will subside and it doesn’t.  I panic and start to cry.  After a few moments I get the courage to try and sit up to get my pain medicine.  Every slight movement sends another shock of pain through my chest.  After what seemed like an hour long struggle I have the pain pill bottle in my hand and tears streaming down my cheeks.  I now have to get my sippy cup. Yes I mean a little kid sippy cup, it is awesome for surgery.  I don’t have to worry about spills and can lay it down anywhere so it is always close.  I took my pills and lie very still waiting for the pain to subside.  After about 2 hours the pain slowly started to come back.  I take another pill.  I’m never really out of pain, but if I lay still it seems manageable.

Jeff’s wife Jan, who is a doctor, came by to check on me.  She looked at my dressing and everything looked fine.  She asked how the pain was and I tell her how I have been rationing my pain meds.  The medication was prescribed two pills for every 4 hours. However the pain comes back in 2 hours and by hour 3 it is not manageable.  So I found taking 1 pill every 2 hours will keep it at a dull pain.  Jan is shocked and explains that I shouldn’t feel anything.  So she calls my doctor and they figure out a stronger prescription that will be accepted by my insurance.  I took the new pills and it is much better!  I slept through the next night and didn’t have a moment where I am in tons of pain.

Well this concludes Bahamas.  I actually like everything I made.  Probably because I stayed away from the flavors I’m not a fan of.  I was surprised by the combinations of things.  I may start trying new adventurous combinations or just move onto the the next country which is Bahrain.


Bahamian Baked Macaroni and Cheese with a Crab Mousse Stuffing

Original recipe can be found here

  • 5 cups penne pasta
  • 2 lbs grated organic yellow cheddar cheese
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3  eggs
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 stalks of celery (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (Divided)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • cooking spray
  • 4 ounces high-quality shredded crab meat
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • dash of cayenne
  1. For crab mousse, in a medium bowl, combine crab meat,  1/3 of chopped onion, 1/3 red pepper, 1/3 of a celery, lime, mayonnaise, cayenne  and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
  4. Add remaining onion, pepper & celery.  Boil for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add pasta.  Bring heat down to medium. S immer for about 15 minutes (until pasta is cooked).
  6. Drain- off excess water.
  7. Place pasta, onion, sweet pepper & celery back into pot.  Turn off heat.
  8. Add cream, butter, cheese & eggs.  Mix until all the ingredients bind/melt (smooth consistency).
  9.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  10. To serve top with crab mousse.

Okra Salad

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1lb okra (caps snapped)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 2 tablespoon lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 dashes of crystal hot sauce
  1. In frying pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil.
  2. Add okra and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Add water cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Drain if needed.
  6. Mix together the okra, remaining oil, lime, garlic, and hot sauce.

Guava Duff

Guava Duff is a dessert served in the Bahamas.  It is a dish believed to be inspired by UK cuisine.  It resembles figgy pudding in the way the dough is steamed with the tropical fruit of Guava.  It sounds interesting to make.

The first step is to find guava.  It calls for fresh guava or guava puree. I grew up in Hawaii and didn’t think guava would be that hard to find but it turns into a nightmare!  I go to three grocery stores and all I find is pineapple and mangos.  I go to a Japanese market and no luck there either.  I end up at a Hawaiian speciality store where I find guava butter.  I get it as it may not be exact, but this is all I can find and I have been walking for 3 hours from store to store and my dinner party is the next day.


Turns out medical insurance is like finding guava in Northern California.  When I first took my job I thought to myself, “I’m a healthy adult, so I can get the cheapest insurance.” Well that wasn’t a great decision.  My co-pay for the specialist was $80 and even worse my co-pay for my biopsy was $1200.  I ended up almost hitting my out-of-pocket limit before my surgery.  My insurance renewal was happening right around my surgery, so my brother and I sat down and figured that paying more per month would be cheaper than the free insurance.  This is because the amount of out of pocket is reduced by the higher cost I pay per month.  After this change my co-pays go back to $10.  This is the first time I understood the importance of benefits and why people will take a job because of it. Thankfully, I figured this all out ahead of time as the day I was released from the hospital was the day the program switched.  If I stayed one more day in the hospital it may have gotten complicated.  It all ended up fine for me, but I have never felt so dependent on medical care and a job before.  Not a great feeling.

Well hopefully making this cake will be easier than navigating insurance and finding guava.  The first step is to make the dough.  The dough isn’t hard to make, but it feels a lot like cookie dough rather than a bread dough.  I’m worried this isn’t right and about to get more complicated.


Roll out the dough.


My rolling skills are not getting much better.  It’s supposed to be a rectangle.  Don’t worry, I know how to cut!


There, a perfect rectangle!   Now to spread on the guava butter.


The butter is thick and easy top spread.  I try a bit.  It’s sweet and tastes like guava.  I’m sure it will work. T hen I roll the dough.


Then roll it in tin foil.


I double it in tin foil, so as not to let it get wet.  However when I put it in the boiling water, it is way to long for the pan.  So I cut the suff in half.


My two halves come out.


It doesn’t totally look appetizing, but as I proved earlier I handy with a knife!


They come out!  This is my kind of dessert.  The dough is dense like a pudding.  Almost like a pudding cake.  The guava is a little subtle.  I should have added more guava butter.  It is fairly simple to make and totally worth trying again.  Much better than finding the guava and insurance!


Original recipe can be found here

Guava Duff

  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup guava butter
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder


  1. Whisk butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth.
  2. Add eggs & spices.  Whisk well.
  3. Sift in flour and baking powder, mix well and turn stiff dough out onto an extra-large sheet of floured aluminum foil.
  4. Flour a rolling pin and roll out dough to make a sheet that is 1″ smaller on all sides than the aluminum foil sheet.
  5. Smear 1/2 cup guava butter (more if desired) all over dough sheet.
  6. Roll up the dough into a cylinder, making a jelly-roll shape. ( may need to cut in half based on the size of your pan).
  7. Fold up edges of aluminum foil and seal both the top and sides, retaining the cylindrical shape.
  8. Roll out another sheet of aluminum foil, place the cylinder on it and again, roll up and seal all edges.
  9. Place the cylinder in boiling water and boil for 1 1/2 hours, or until very firm.
  10. Remove from water, drain, let cool slightly, then unwrap on a cutting board.
  11. Cut into thick, round slices.



Shuyud plov

Plov is extremely popular in Azerbaijan and they have 40 different types.  Shuyud plov is a dill rice pilaf.  With my pre-surgery health kick I’m also going to make a salad called Çoban Salati, which is a tomato cucumber salad.  To add to all this healthiness my surgeon didn’t want me drinking any alcohol before surgery.  So that is 10 days with out any liquor, which should be easy to do.  However I don’t find this out until about two weeks before my surgery.  I was planning on throwing a party before the surgery, but with this new restriction there is no time.  I instead I go out with friends and make the most of the few days I had left.  Most of my social activities have to do with liquor, so I think I am going to be bored out of my mind for 10 days.  However I find that it isn’t all that bad. I still have to work out daily, which ends up being a great social activity going hiking, long walks, and yoga with friends.  Shane works me out about 2 times a week and we go to lunch.  I do a spring cleaning of my house, get a microwave, make keys, prepare my job for my leaving. All great healthy things, but after surgery I plan to go back to my partying ways!

To make shuyud plov you par-steam the rice and create a qamaq for the bottom.


Add the rice, butter saffron water, and dill.




The salad is much like a greek cumber salad.  Finely chop the vegetables.

IMG_6273 IMG_6274 IMG_6275 IMG_6276 IMG_6277



The rice has a nice subtle dill flavor.  It is not overly powerful, but with certain foods like fish the dill will pair nicely.  The salad is a refreshing bite.


Shuyud plov

Original recipe can be found here

  • 400 g/1 lb basmati rice
  • 100 g/4 oz melted butter
  • two medium-sized bunches of fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon threads of saffron
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg and 1-2 tbsp yogurt
  • 100 g/4 oz plain flour


  1. Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water.  Cover and leave to infuse.
  2. Wash and chop the dill.
  3. Rinse the rice.
  4. Fill a large, heavy saucepan with water and add salt.  Bring to the boil.
  5. Add the rice to the boiling water. Turn the heat down slightly but cook at a rapid boil for 5 to 10 minutes.  Be careful not to cook for too long or the finished rice will be sticky.
  6. Strain the rice through a rice colander.
  7. Add the chopped dill to the rice, mixing it in gently.
  8.  Mix together 1 egg, 4 tablespoons of the parboiled rice and 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt. Add some of the infused saffron water.
  9. Rinse and dry the rice pan.  Return it to the heat and melt a generous knob of butter. Spread the qazmaq mixture or lavash over the bottom of the pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Add the parboiled rice mixed with dill.  Spoon it gently into the pan to avoid breaking the grains.  When half the rice is in the pan, pour over some of the saffron infusion.
  11. Put the rest of the rice in the pan and pour most of the remaining saffron infusion over it.
  12. Put several knobs of butter on top.  Make holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow the steam to escape.
  13. Place a well-fitting lid on top of the saucepan, covered underneath with a clean tea towel. The towel helps to absorb the steam.
  14. Once the rice is steaming, turn down the heat and leave to continue steaming for 30 to 45 minutes.  The rice can be left to steam for longer without coming to any harm.
  15. Serve on a large dish.

Çoban Salati

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1/4 medium-sized red onion
  • a few sprigs of coriander, dill and basil
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • salt & pepper


  • Wash and dice the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
  • Finely chop the onion and herbs.
  • Mix all the ingredients together. Add salt & pepper and leave to stand for up to 1 hour before serving.
  • Dress with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil before serving


Macaroni Salad

In Hawaii macaroni salad is served in plate lunch.  Plate lunch is similar to southern meat and three.  However in Hawaii for plate lunch you really only pick the meat; the sides are always a scoop of rice and macaroni salad.  It is believed that plate lunch came about during the plantation times and was started from the concept of the bento box.  Back then they had rice and meat and later macaroni salad was added to bridge the two.

When I was a kid I didn’t really like macaroni salad.  I love food, but I am actually a picky eater.  I don’t like beans, avocados, blue cheese, and pineapple to name a few things.  So when Shane wanted to cook dinner for me I was a bit nervous for him as I didn’t want him to fail.

Shane and I  have been on a few dates since I first met him.  He is easy to talk to, fun to be around, and I feel comfortable.  He is not the cutest guy that I am dating as he is balding and has a big belly, but I always feel immediately comfortable around him and forget all the superficial stuff.

He is ridiculously excited about showing me his culinary chops and I am excited just to spend time with him.  I call him the night before as he is running around getting ingredients for this meal and I tease him that I expect this to be a 7-course meal and better top our recent dining experience at Nico’s.  He teases me back that his going to make a blue cheese, banana, and  avocado sandwich… Gross!

This is the first time I have been to his apartment.  It is a nice place.  There is a single room that is his living room, kitchen, and dining space.  The kitchen is small but it is open to the rest of the area.  Shane’s bedroom is in the back of the apartment. There is a stairwell that leads upstairs to his roommate’s room.   I get there a bit early for dinner to avoid traffic and I have a few things that I need to finish for work.  So he pours me a glass of wine, I work on my laptop, and he keeps cooking.  His roommate comes downstairs and I meet him.  I start to get into my introverted ways and feel a bit uncomfortable with his roommate there.  Shane seems perfectly comfortable.  I sip my wine and use my keyboard as a distraction.

When he is ready to start serving the first course, his roommate finally leaves and I am able to get comfortable.  I am odd that way.  This feels like a private moment and having a perfect stranger there throws me off.  Shane ends up creating a 5 course meal.  The first course is a flat bread.  It is a complicated bite, but yummy.  Then it is a tomato soup and grilled cheese.  He made the grilled cheese with smoked mozzarella, which is my favorite.  Then a simple salad.  For the main course it is mussels and chorizo.  Then finally a simple berry fruit dessert.  The food is good.  Portions are a bit big for me and I’m stuffed.  But it is so nice how much thought and time he but into the meal.

After the meal we chat and finish the bottle of wine.  We move from the table to his couch.  It was an amazing night.  The conversation never died down.  We chatted about nothing in particular but all was engrossing at the time.  There is this moment when I come back from the restroom and see him sitting on the couch.  I think happily to myself this is going to be my man.  I then have another thought and it is of sheer terror that I am going to die if I date him.  I move past the terror, sit down next to him have a sip of wine and snuggle against him.  Maybe I found a boyfriend and hopefully this fact won’t kill me.

Well now there was a tangent; let me get back to the macaroni salad.  I have always avoided this dish, but made it once for a Hawaiian dinner party I was having and finally became a fan.  I don’t know that I can eat any macaroni salad, but I do enjoy this one.

The first step is to cook the macaroni.  You actually want to over cook the macaroni as it will soak up the dressing better.  Then poor in the vinegar and let the macaroni soak up the vinegar.


Next mix together the ingredients for the dressing.



Poor in half the dressing into the noodles and let it sit over night.



About an hour before serving, cut the vegetables and mix together with the remaining sauce.



It is rich and creamy, with some tang from the vinegar, bite from the onion, and crunch from the celery.


Macaroni Salad

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 4 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until very tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.  Add vinegar and stir until completely absorbed.  Let pasta stand until cool, about 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, mustard, lemon juice, hot sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  4. Add half of the dressing and stir until well coated and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. About an hour before serving, stir in remaining dressing celery, shallots, scallions, salt and pepper.

Altwiener Apfelstrudel

Altwiener Apfelstrudel or what us English speaking folks call Apple Strudel.  This is a traditional Viennese dish and considered a national dish of Austria.  Wait a second wasn’t Tafelspitz the national dish of Austria?  How many can a country have?  Anyway, it is related to baklava, which is from the Ottoman empire.  So the dish came to Austria from Turkey to Hungry during the Austro-Hungrian empire.  It became popular during the Hasburg empire, which is a large influence over Austrian cuisine.

First thing is to make the dough and let it rest for an hour.  While the dough is taking its nap I soak the raisins in rum.  Maybe this is why it is a national dish alcohol and napping!



Then I toast some bread crumbs in butter.  This is part of the filling.


Then combine the apple and raisins for the filling.


Now roll out the dough to be paper thin.  I don’t have a friend helping me so don’t have pictures, but after you get the dough thin, you need to stretch it by hand to make it so thin it is see through.  This is the result.


Next spread the bread crumbs on the dough.


Then place the apple mixture on one side of the dough.


Fold the dough over the apple mixture.


Fold the dough sides over to create a pocket of  a burrito.


Then roll the dough over its self.  This will create the flakey layers.


At the end you will have a log.


Bake it and melt some butter to brush on.


I’m not sure why I am sad.  Its almost my birthday and I am loving all of the celebrations.  Brush on the butter.



Sprinkle some powdered sugar.


Cut and serve with ice cream.  Then sing happy birthday to me!


The result is awesome.  The dough is flaky and buttery.  The apples are like baked apple or apple pie.  I’m extremely impressed that it turned out.  I think I’ve only had the Pillsbury package strudel and this one is definitely better than that!

This is it for Austria.  I have really enjoyed the food.  Other than the disastrous Kärntner Kasnudeln, which is way more my fault than Austria’s,  I would have to say that I loved all the food and how hardy and comforting it is.  This country has some of my flavor profiles.  Next up is Azerbijan!



Altwiener Apfelstrudel

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 15 T. lukewarm water
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 c. breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 4 T. rum
  • 6 Granny Smith Apples, chopped
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 4 T. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  •  2 T. Melted butter for brushing dough
  • Powdered sugar for decoration
  1. Place the flour in a bowl with the salt and add the water, then the oil and mix.
  2. Knead the dough until it is smooth and tacky, but not sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Form the dough into a smooth ball, brush it with a little oil and place it back in the bowl for 1 hour.
  4. Soak the raisins in the rum.
  5. Heat the butter in a pan until foaming and add the breadcrumbs.  Toast them, stirring constantly, until they are medium brown.  Let cool.
  6.  Peel, core and chop the apples into small pieces.  Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, raisins and cinnamon and mix well.
  7. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to about 9 inches by 13 inches.
  8. Place a towel of a matt under the dough.
  9. Using your hands, gently stretch the dough thinner on all sides, working your way around the sheet of dough.  Stretch it until it starts to look translucent in spots.  Let it rest a minute and stretch the areas you think are too thick, again.
  10.  Brush dough with melted butter.
  11. Spread the breadcrumbs over 2/3 of the dough and pat down evenly.
  12. Drain the apples and spread them over the other 1/3 of the dough.
  13. Using the towel, fold one side of the dough over the filling.
  14.  Fold in ends of dough like a burrito.
  15. Fold other side of dough up and over filling to form a roll.
  16. Roll strudel onto parchment paper so that the seam-side is down.
  17. Brush with melted butter.
  18. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes and then at 350°F for 40-60 minutes longer.
  19. Remove from oven, brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.