Friday, November 28, 2008

And so it begins...

Stay tuned! We're having our Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday.

Our friendly local butcher prepares
our 13 lb (6 kg) turkey...neck and all!

We finally found whole, so-called "baby" turkeys in the
Nagy Vasarcsarnok (central market)
for 800 forints per
kilogram (about $1.77 a pound)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you for your support.
Thank you for your encouragement.
Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for your friendship.
Thank you for your emails.
Thank you for joining Skype:)
Thank you for your comments left on this blog.
Thank you for being our friend.

Happy Thanksgiving.
We miss you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Our first snow!

We are told it didn't snow at all in Budapest last year. Further, there has been less and less snow in Hungary over the years. To our delight--especially Steven's--snow began to fall this past weekend and has continued to come down. On Sunday, we bundled up and headed for the Christmas market located in Vörösmarty square which is in the center of Budapest near the Danube River.
Yummy sugary cinnamon bready
stuff grilled over an open fire!
The Christmas Market
Diane keeping warm with hot wine...
Santa's watching you...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It is beginning to look a lot like...Glögi

Hot mulled wine goes by many names and has just as many recipes. With the temperature dropping to freezing temperatures here in Budapest and snow in the forecast, we tucked into some yummy forralt bor (Hungarian's call it "boiled wine").
We bought some California red wine for 200 Forint at Tesco (translated: $1 bottle of wine from Walmart). How they ever can ship California wine over here at $1 a bottle is beyond us. Needless to say the wine was less then desirable. Perfect for Glögi--which is what the Finns and Estonians call this drink.

We used this recipe but you can put anything you'd like into it. We used about 1/2 the sugar it calls for. You can always add more toward the end. In spite of being called boiled wine, be careful not to boil it after adding the wine and fruit juices. Do as Swedes do and add nuts and dried fruit--always tasty. We'll add some vanilla bean next time. Vodka can always be added to keep you extra warm on these chilly winter nights.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gomba Paprikas es Csipetke

As promised...the recipe for Gomba Paprikas and Csipetke. When I make the Paprikas I don't really measure the ingredients. I use a little more of that and a little less of this. I typically use more of all the spices.

Gomba Paprikas (Mushroom Paprika)

2 lbs Button or Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 stick Salted or Unsalted Butter
1 Medium Onion, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1/2 cup Tomatoes, chopped
1 Banana or Red Pepper, chopped
1/2 cup Water
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Sweet Paprika*
1/2 tsp. Hot Paprika* (Leave this out for a Mild version)
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Fresh Rosemary (optional)
1/4 tsp. Fresh Thyme (optional)

1/2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Tbsp. Flour

In large sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Brown onions, then add tomatoes and peppers. Add all seasonings and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms. Check saltiness, add extra if needed. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add water. Cover, bring to boil. Then lower heat as low as it will go. Cook for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Thicken if desired right before serving. Serve over Pinches Noodles (Csipetke)
How to thicken sauce:
Thickening is optional. Melt butter in small sauce pan. Mix in flower. When it forms a paste, remove from heat and mix into sauce thoroughly.
Csipetke (Pinches Noodles)

1 cup sifted all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 Tablespoon oil

Mix flour and salt. Add egg. Stir to make stiff dough, sprinkleing drops of cold water if necessary. Knead until smooth. Let dough rest for at least 30 minutes. Flattened it a bit between your floured palms and pinch off pieces slightly smaller than a dime. Drop them into rapidly boiling salted water and cook until tender-about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse the csipetke. You can stir them directly into soup or stew. You can also treat them like a pasta and toss with a little oil and put aside til ready to use.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Patience + a Smile

My sister, Lisa, sent a package awhile back. We were concerned that someone else was enjoying the contents as we had not received the package yet-over 4 weeks had gone by.

I headed to the post office to inquire about the package. Now, this may seem like no big deal....think about this. You head to the post office (which is no fun to begin with) and they speak no English. There is a different floor and different window for every possible transaction. You just hope that the woman who is going to help will be patient as you butcher her language and mispronounce every possible word....Oh yeah, and on top of it, you do not have the slip of paper that they leave in your mailbox that lets you know you have a package.

I headed to the post office prepared that this would be one of many trips to try to find this package. I get to the counter (only one person waiting behind me) and say with an innocent sweet smile...
"Bocsánat, nem beszélek magyarul. Nem szamla. Box." (using sign language to show I should have a box). (the translation..."sorry, I don't speak Hungarian. No invoice. Box")

The very nice woman gets out a book and starts looking for my address to see if there was a note left by the postman about this package. Not in that book. Another book comes out. Line behind me is now 3 people. She looks through that book. Not in that book. Number of people behind me-5. She looks at me, shrugs her shoulders and says to me in Hungarian go to the 1st floor window 4. I say "Nem" (no). I keep signaling and saying over and over "box, parcel, box, parcel". She looks at me...her eyes get huge and she runs off. A few minutes go by. People behind me-6. I am getting impatient and feeling guilty that I am holding up this line of people.

Next thing I know, she is running back with package in hand! I say over and over with a huge smile, "Köszönöm szépen! Köszönöm szépen! Köszönöm szépen!". (Thank you very much! Thank you very much! Thank you very much!) I sign for the package and race home to open my first care package!

So many goodies! The one I am savoring at this very moment....Highlander Grog Coffee. It tastes like home:) Thank you Lisa and Kevin! We are enjoying the books, the coffee and all the other goodies you sent. And the jeans fit perfectly!

Over the past 2 weeks, I have experienced the bank (4 times), immigration (4 times), the tax authority (3 times) and the post office (3 times). And all I had to do was accomplish one thing at each place. Why did it take so many tries...I don't speak the language. The one things I can say about Hungarians-they are extremely patient and friendly.

It is an interesting concept to think of Steven and I as immigrants. So, I have a favor to ask of you. The next time you are in line somewhere and the person in front of you does not speak fluent English or their mispronouncing every word...think of us. Be patient and give that person a smile.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

a walk in the park

What a day. Diane has been itching to get out of the city and go explore the Buda Hills. So today, we headed for the Budapest Cog-wheel Railway and headed for the hills. What we found was more beautiful than we expected. Cool air, crispy leaves, distant views of the city, and glimpses of the sun peaking from behind the clouds. Some hot wine kept us warm and some yummy sausage filled our bellies. It was a wonderful day.

Budapest in the distant

A walk in the park
happy people
Steven enjoying a sajtos perec (cheese preztel)
Dinner from Saturday night-Diane is
enjoying testing her Hungarian cooking skills
Gomba Paprikás with csipetke
(Mushroom paprika with homemade pinched noodles)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An evening at the Opera

Last night we went to the Opera! It was so beautiful! We saw Verdi: A Végyet Hatalma. The Opera is so close to our house. Anytime we leave our flat we walk by it. I am often jealous of the people dressed up standing on the balcony sipping their wine....last night that was us.

A few things you should know about Hungarian Opera...everyone seems to know what is playing. The arts (ballet, music, art exhibits and opera) are so much a part of the culture here. Long ago the arts were so affordable that everyone went. It is still inexpensive compared to American standards-you can find tickets under $10. I really like that Hungarians know and have such great appreciation of the arts. Enjoy the photos-it doesn't do the Opera justice. It is so beautiful!
Diane and Steve
Diane has a twin?
The main chandelier.
The Opera
During the intermission we had a class of
wine and a coffee on the balcony. What a view!
Hanging Out
A guardian Angel

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jó utat Audrey es Dan!

Our friends, Audrey and Dan, have left after spending 5 wonderful days with us. We had a great time during their visit...election parties, Hungarian dinners, walking the around the castle at night, enjoying the wines of Hungary, telling stores about living abroad, listening to stories about foreign travels and ending it all with a trip to the baths. We cooked, we talked and we laughed. It was a great visit. Thanks for visiting us!

A walk around the Fisherman's Bastion

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Elections and the Office of Immigration

The election is over and lets just say we were very happy with the results:) The event at the American Chamber was a lot of fun. Some highlights...the 2 mock elections one for US citizens and one for non-US citizens, the all you can eat American buffet and the Jack Daniels bar! The event began at 7:30 and ended around 4 a.m.  And yes, we stayed til 4.

Audrey, Dan, Steven and Diane

the main hall at the event

Ambassador Foley with opening remarks
Around 3am people were tired of standing.
Tomorrow morning we head to the Office of Immigration and apply for our resident permits. I have to say thank you to two people who have been so helpful in this whole process! At the very last minute Andrea translated Diane's business plan. We can not thank you enough Andi! And Peggy, you have been so patient with the numerous phone calls (three so far today) regarding faxes and money transfers. I don't know how we would have gotten everything finished without you two. We hope you both know how much we appreciate everything you have done! xo!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

To Do List

Tonight we are heading to the American Chamber for an election party with our good friends Audry and Dan (aka "World Travelers"). We will report more tomorrow.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Yesterday was All Saints Day. We went to the cemetery in the evening and walked along the candlelit paths...remembering.

White chrysanthemums are placed on graves.
Shops like this were everywhere outside the cemetery.

Candles of red and white lit up the cemetery.
This photo doesn't come close to representing how beautiful it was.
A memorial for a loved one.This cemetery is a popular place for
actors, musicians, painters,
sculptors, architects, writers and poets.
There is a huge Griffin at the gate of the cemetery where people gathered lighting candles and placing flowers. The Griffin is an especially powerful, majestic creature and known for guarding treasure.
Remembering Sheila (Diane's Mom).

Around the World

We have started November with an absolutely beautiful day in Budapest! The sun (was) out, the weather is warm and the leaves are the colors of fall. We went for a walk and enjoyed the crunching of leaves under our feet.
We got an email from Mike (Diane's Dad). He left last week for his long awaited trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. He is traveling with a National Geographic tour group. Sounds like a great time! Here's a piece of his email.

"Cambodia is beautiful but hot and humid. I am staying at a 5 star hotel, GrandHoteldÁngkor, that was built by the French in the 1920s. Yesterday we spent most of the day at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom is were Raiders of the Tomb was filmed. Tomorrow we board our boat the Makong Panda and head south in the direction of Viet Nam. This morning we went to the silk farm, I took a lot of pictures for you and got an address and phone number. The Cambodia people are the nicest people. Everything is great."

To see what Mike is seeing visit our friends Audrey and Dan's website

Audrey and Dan are traveling around the world and spent time where Mike is currently traveling. The picture above is from their photo gallery.

Today is
All Saints Day. In Hungary, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of relatives. Tonight we will go to Farkasréti Cemetery. We hear it is very beautiful to walk the cemetery at night. We will post more about it tomorrow.