Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Adventures in Peru: Pre-Trip

I never thought traveling outside of the country would be so incredibly stressful. I guess I was lucky the last time I went outside of the country I a) went to Europe which is fairly sophisticated, and b) didn't really care about anything because I was 19. Now, we are faced with an impressive amount of necessary planning and too many details to think of them all. I've also discovered that Luis, while being from Peru, is not the best person to ask about the technical details. Yesterday I asked him what type of electricity they use in Peru and he's not real sure. Granted, he's been gone for over 10 years, but it still surprises me how little he knows about his home country. So I've been responsible for the majority of the planning, organizing and details; partly because that is what I do. I can't handle being unorganized and I like to have some sort of plan when we go places. It's a good thing because if not, we would arrive in Peru and be shocked to find some of our plans will not work out!

Back to the actual planning. I feel like nothing is going right with making plans for this. A lot of this is our fault for waiting until late, but I didn't think these things would be a problem. Guess what, we're going during the busy season, made even busier because we'll be there during Inti Raymi! We couldn't book the trains we wanted from Cusco to Machu Picchu because they were all sold out, so we had to change some plans. This means we won't get to take the cool Vistadome train, and we have to return to Ollantaytambo (which I think will be a good thing and I'm excited about seeing the ruins in Ollanta!)

The biggest problem is that the combination between our Chase cards and the somewhat unreliable Internet in Peru is making it difficult to book things (I should clarify- the Internet in Peru may be fine, but the process of paying for services based in Peru doesn't work very well). Our cards keep getting declined either by the business or Chase. I've read that a lot of people have problems booking things in Peru using Chase cards and Visa cards that either are or are not in the Verified by Visa program. We've been mostly unsuccessful. I've tried to book our Machu Picchu tickets several times, but keep getting declined. After a phone call to Chase, they remove the fraud alert from the card and tell me that there's no guarantee that the charge will go through (spoiler alert: it didn't.). They basically tell me, several times, that there's nothing they can do. So we're less than 2 weeks out from our trip and we don't have Machu Picchu tickets or tickets to Inti Raymi! Great! We could possibly get to Peru and not get to see the 2 main things we want to.

If you ever go to Peru for Inti Raymi, know that you need tickets to see the performances. Luis and I thought it was more like a festival atmosphere and were a little surprised to find out that we needed tickets (yay for doing research). The problem is: the tickets are not that easy to acquire. The website doesn't start selling tickets until the beginning of June and good luck paying for them in the States. I tried twice and both times never got a chance to pay online, it seems like the only way to pay is in person. In Cusco. Most people have their hotel buy the tickets and charge a commission, but our hotel is not that fancy. After multiple tries, we decided to book through a tour agency, which is a lot more expensive, but we really want to go to this ceremony! Now we are waiting to hear back from one tour group so hopefully this will work out. I'm also going to try to book Machu Picchu tickets one more time... hopefully it will work or we will have to wait until we get to Peru to buy tickets and take the chance that they won't be sold out. Argh.

What I have learned during this process is Chase is kind of awful with international stuff. I've read a lot of accounts online where people couldn't use their Chase cards to book international stuff and I've had a similar experience. After being told by a two Chase employees that they can't guarantee that my charges will go through in Peru I'm not feeling great about their service. Today, I went to the bank to talk to someone about our cards being declined in Peru. He spent the whole time trying to get me to sign up for a new credit card (no thanks) and did nothing to alleviate my feelings towards the possibility of our cards being declined in Peru. And, bonus, now I'm scared that if I use our debit cards someone is going to steal our numbers and all our money! Thanks, Chase employee! So, first order of business post Peru, find a new bank!

In addition to being worried that we won't get to do our two important events, I'm also stressing out that we'll get to Peru and not be able to access our money, that someone is going to steal all of our money, and that all these hotels that we have booked and not paid for will lose our reservations. I'm also worried about the water- I've been told not to drink the tap water, and was planning on just drinking bottled water, but then I'm worried that we may not have access to bottled water, plus everything I've read says they are trying to cut back on plastic bottles and they're not allowed in certain places. So. Yea. I'm thinking about buying a Steri-pen just in case? Also, I'm worried that we're going to get yellow fever or typhoid because even though no vaccines are required to go to Peru, the CDC recommends these and it would be just my luck to contract one of these diseases.

I'm definitely excited about going to Peru, but I'll feel a lot better if we can get MP and Inti Raymi tickets purchased. And I'll probably feel better once we get there. Welcome to the world of traveling with Sam. Let's get our vacation on!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Indian Run Falls

After moving to Columbus two weeks ago, I finally got the chance to do some exploring! I'd read that there were two waterfalls in the area, and one was super close. So I decided to seek it out. This is Indian Run Falls which is located in Dublin, OH. It's incredibly close to our house and I discovered that the Dublin Public Library is behind where the trail ends! The waterfall is nice, it's not very high, but it's very easy to reach. When I got out of my car, I could hear the sound of the crashing water nearby, building anticipation. Indian Run Falls has a trail that makes for an easy hike, but the falls is right at the beginning of the trail. After I admired the waterfall, I continued on to see where the trail ended (at first, I thought it looped around and make a circle, but that wasn't the case.) It ended at the Dublin Garden of Remembrance and Dublin Cemetery. AND behind that, the Dublin Public Library! It was a nice little hike, and since it was about 35 degrees out, I was the only person there! The waterfall itself is actually kind of difficult to see from the trail, but I found some paths that gave a closer view! I'm looking forward to going back in the summer to see what it's like then.


It was a nice hike, and I got to try out some of my filters I got for Christmas!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Marco Polo

We came back [from the Vink] and me and Jill had the best conversations. Jill kept saying, "We live in a castle. Who does that?" And I got into a very long discussion of Marco Polo and why we play it in a pool if Marco Polo went over land, and did Marco Polo ever get lost? Why don't we play Ponce de Leon or Christopher Columbus. I know Columbus got lost!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hello, again

Debating actually updating on a regular basis again, but for now, here's an adorable picture of a cow.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eating my words (and they taste delicious!)

This post is about garlic. Why? Because it's delicious. Because if you have to ask, you're not eating the right type of garlic. Seriously.

When Luis and I were dating I was very much a fan of the instant food. If it was quick and easy, I loved it. Of course, it helped that I was in college at the time and my cooking skills were not that great, and I was broke. So often when I fixed food it involved a lot of instant stuff. One of my favorites at the time was instant rice. I ate so much of that stuff. Luis hated (and still does) instant rice. The first time he ate it he responded "this isn't rice." Now I'd had real rice before, but usually in a Chinese restaurant, I'd never cooked real rice, so I always told him instant tastes just like real rice. So I continued to make instant rice and he continued to hate it. Until we got married and one of his relatives took pity on him and gave us a rice cooker. Now, lots of real rice! At first, when I cooked rice, I made instant rice and he made real rice in our rice cooker. Eventually, he showed me how to use the rice cooker and I started to use it and gradually stopped buying instant rice. Not too long ago we were at a friends house and they made rice, instant rice. After dinner was over, I looked at Luis and told him he was right, the instant rice is pretty gross in comparison to real rice. I was officially a convert.

I know I said this was about garlic, I'm getting there.

Again, due to the convenience of them, we always buy those little jars of minced garlic. They're already cut up for my convenience! All I have to do is measure how much I need! So easy! It tastes like garlic, right? That's what I thought. I've bought cloves of garlic before, even a garlic press (really have no idea what the purpose of those stupid things are), but usually all I end up with is a sticky mess that looks nothing like my nice uniform garlic in a jar. Not too long ago I read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential in which he writes, "Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime. Old garlic, bunt garlic, garlic cut too long ago and garlic that has been tragically smashed through one of those abominations, the garlic press, are all disgusting. ... Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screw-top jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." When I read that, I chuckled. It was funny how someone could feel so strongly about garlic. I'm pretty sure afterwards, we bought some bulbs and tried fresh garlic, but that never panned out. Soon we went back to our little jars.

Back to the great rice debate; when Luis and I started making rice, Luis called his mom for instruction on how to make rice: what to add and all that. She said to add garlic, fresh garlic. We, of course, didn't have any so we started using the stuff in a jar. Again, I told Luis, "it tastes the same." When Luis' mom came to town and was cooking, I swear when we handed her that jar of garlic she looked at it with such disdain. But we never cared enough to buy fresh garlic and peel it and attempt to dice it whilst ending up with a sticky mess.

Then, we joined a CSA. And now, almost every week when we pick up our veggies, there's fresh bulbs of garlic. We have a ton in our fridge that I've started adding to everything because we have so much. The first time we got garlic, I was sauteing some of the other veggies we got and decided to add some garlic. That was the most delicious tasting garlic I have ever had. It was amazing and full of flavor. Again, I looked at Luis and proclaimed that fresh garlic is so much better than that stuff in a jar! And now, I will never go back. When our CSA ends and we run out of garlic, I will not be returning to that nasty stuff in a jar. Not when I can get so much flavor out of those bulbs. Now, when I reach for the garlic, I grab a bulb of deliciousness and give that old jar that still hangs around in our fridge the evil eye. No thanks jar, you can keep your oil and rotting garlic because I officially join Anthony Bourdain by saying "Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic."

*I realized that my biggest mistake when trying to cook fresh garlic was trying to emulate what I got in a jar: that perfect mince. Once I stopped trying to do that, it became easy to chop it up and add to everything!*

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adventures with Vegetables: Week 6

Starting to get a little more color.
On to week 6! This week we got:

- 2 lbs. carrots
- 2 scarlet turnips
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1 bunch collards
- 1 bunch Swiss chard
- 2 heads lettuce
- 1 bunch parsley

So many carrots in the share this week! But we love carrots, so it's okay. In an attempt to do something with our massive shelf of green onions, I searched online for recipes and found this hummus recipe that used them, AND parsley. It looked easy, so I made it. It was easy, although messy when it wouldn't all fit in my tiny food processor. And it wasn't the best hummus in the world. It tasted good, but it wasn't the creamy delicious hummus we usually get at Kroger. I later found out here that there's a secret to achieving that. Next time, I'll remember that. But it did use up some green onions and helped me consume a large amount of carrots and turnips.

That's a lot of hummus!

I also made fennel pork with roasted kohlrabi, sauteed chard and some sort of potatoes. I'm not real sure why I bought the potatoes, I'm sure I had a reason and then forgot about it, but I needed to use them. Apparently, I can think of nothing else to do with greens than sautee them. They taste pretty good (to me at least), but I have found that they don't reheat very well. The kohlrabi was delicious as always, and I do miss getting those.

As for the rest, Luis used the collards in his chaufa (fried rice), among other veggies. The parsley is still in our fridge and used periodically. I don't know what we did with the lettuce, probably ate it on sandwiches or something.

In next week's share: deliciousness that is summer squash and zucchini!

Adventures with Vegetables: Week 5

I'm like a month behind on posting this, so it will probably be short in that I'm a little fuzzy on the details. I know I cooked more than the previous week because I felt bad for wasting so many vegetables. I find the hardest part of this experiment is planning recipes based soley on the veggies we get from our CSA. I want to be able to eat broccoli or potatoes without feeling bad. But I feel awful when I buy veggies and there's so many rotting away. Luckily, at this point we are slowly steering away from leafy veggies in to more hardy ones. Since veggies all have their seasons, similar types of veggies are in season at the same time. There's only so many leafy greens I can eat!

In this share we got:
- 6 Kohlrabi
- 1 bunch carrots
- 1 bunch beets
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1 bunch Red Russian kale
- 2 heads lettuce
- 1 bag basil
- 1 bunch savory
- 1 bunch fennel

I of course, had no idea what to do with the beets. I was excited about the basil and made some delicious pesto with it. I also made lemon chicken with sauteed kale (using the current and previous week's kale) and a marinated beet salad that was included in our newsletter.

I can't really say it was delicious. Later, I took the beets and put them over lettuce and made another salad, which was alright. I hated making that beet salad because I managed to cut myself with the vegetable peeler and the cheese grater during it. I decided I don't like kale (which is bad because we get a lot of it). Luis hates both beets and all leafy greens. I'm pretty sure I used the kohlrabi and the fennel the following week. We never used the savory, we still have a mountain of green onions in our fridge (which we garnish everything with now) and we used the carrots for various stir fries or eating raw. Mostly what we accomplished this week was learning what we didn't like.