Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just like the State Fair

One week before my due date with Veronica I decided to take the kids to the Texas Livestock Show and Rodeo. It runs for 2 weeks every March and it's always a good time. Texas has a tradition of raising livestock. 4 legged animals that give back in some way... milk, beef, wool, or animals with 2 legs, also giving back, eggs mostly. They have competitions where farms or individuals (often young adults or children) can enter their animals in contests and win prize money, usually spent on another animal to raise and show off again the next year. So, for 2 weeks, all the winning animals and some of the 2nd and 3rd place as well, are kept in a big barn for everyone to see. There are also rides for the kids, exhibitions on milking a cow, petting zoo, these types of things. Exposing the city kids to a little farm livin' is never a bad thing... see below...


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pig race. they race around to reach the oreo at the end. very cute.
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Yes, yes, that's all very cute and we're making memories, etc., etc.

In REALITY, we all know why we really go to the State Fair and Rodeo...for the food...


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Deep Fried anything
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"Italian food" on a stick
  

There is an entire category of food that is "Fairground Food" (the first two photos) and a sub-culture within that which includes all kinds of foods on sticks. One hand for your beer. One hand for your food. No utensils needed, and if you're super careful, you won't even need a napkin.

Oh, how glorious was the day man invented food on sticks.

One such beloved food on a stick is called a 'corn dog'. This is a hot dog weiner, beef, pork, unidentifiable meat in tube form on a stick, dipped in a special cornmeal batter. It usually looks like this...


Picture taken from Sonic, the king of fast food corn dogs.

We would go to Sonic occasionally as kids. And I would always order one of two things. Hamburger - meat and bun only (no veggies or condiments - I know you Poles are just cringing at this ;)) OR a corn dog - plain.  Heaven.

Poland doesn't have Sonic or Texas State Fairs. So when the corn dog can't come to us... we create it ourselves...

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This is what happens when you let your children take the pictures to "document corn dog making." Little goobers. I used Popsicle sticks ( I have tons now, thank you very much!) stuck into some short and fat parowki and followed this recipe for the batter.

They. were. amazing.  

I am only allowed to make these once a year says Martin, because they are the definition of heart attack inducing deliciousness. But goodness, it's worth it.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer time - Picture Dump

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Martin and I took advantage of having Babcia living downstairs for a while and went out on the town by ourselves.

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She came too.  Fancy European baby. "What's that?, Europe?!, I live in Europe?!!... I was not consulted!"
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Swimmer #1


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Swimmer #2

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Swimmer #3


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Fancy tired European baby.
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Spectator. Who dresses this kid?
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I do exist, after all.
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Unsupervised 3 year old.


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My first and only completed knit of the summer. Sigh.

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This reads: We welcome you to a festival of hot dogs. Sounds good to me! Hosted by...your local gas station.

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4th of July faces.

Who am I kidding? It's summer, I have a new baby plus 4 other kids and I have never claimed to be super mom, the laundry piles and half finished sewing projects are proof of that. I like blogging but it has taken a big back seat to other things right now. Sporadic posts are what we get.

In case you're following along...we got our loan approved. It's a conditional approval which means that we must meet a condition before the money is released but it is a step in the right direction. We are hesitantly excited. If you have a chance and some extra space on your prayer list, send some up for Martin. He is working so hard to get all this put together. We have been told by every other person how hard it is to build a house in Poland, how all the contractors will tell you you're doing it wrong and how every neighbor will have an opinion. At this point, I welcome those comments because it means there is actually a house to criticize! Plus, then I get to wear my "Jestem szefem" shirt! (if you know what I'm talking about here you have definitely been paying attention ;) )


If you happen to come across this blog, or have been reading from the very start, please don't hesitate to shoot me an email if you're in Krakow and would like to meet up!

Cheers!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Building a house in Poland: Frustration

Here is where we are now...

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and here is where we were a month ago...


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If you're thinkin' they look similar, you'd be correct. Because they are similar, the exact same in fact. And no, here in Poland, foundations do not have to sit for a whole month before you can build on them.

Banks, man. Banks.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANKS!!!!




I'm not going to go into detail. It's been a long and arduous task, compiling all the paperwork, submitting all the forms, translations and more translation, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting..... and waiting. Martin, to be more specific, has been doing all of this, on top of his other, real job, which actually makes the money so we can even have what you see up there in those photos.

And we didn't start this process a month ago, no ma'am, we started it almost 6 months ago.

Don't. even. ask.

I know all the arguments about how Poland weathered the worldwide recession by being fiscally conservative and blah, blah, bah... but c'mon, man.

C'MON.

We just want some money. That's all. Just some money.




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Labor of Love

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Cherries!

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Never buy the housewares brand "Feckelman"...they just stink.


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I took over pitting and scooped out all the worms. Liquid courage to my left. 

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There are the worms, right there. You all needed to be included in the grossness.


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Very juicy.


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Surgery, circa 1800.


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Boiling.


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Thickening.


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Rolling out the dough.


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Ready for the oven!


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While we wait... eat some baby cheeks.


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Done!


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I made a cherry pie on Sunday from the last of the cherries we could reach in our yard. What seemed like a simple request in the beginning turned out to be a 2 hour ordeal. Luckily I enjoy simple, repetitive, silent work. If it hadn't been for the small white WORMS in just about every cherry I pitted, it would have been an almost therapeutic endeavor (and taken half the time). Perhaps on some level it was anyway. As you can see from the picture above I was not excited to be scooping those worms out - but I did it!

Everyone agreed, the pie was a success and although  I will teak a couple things here and there next time, it really was quite delicious.

Also, I wanted to share my dough recipe. In America they have something called "pie sticks" which are basically just pie crusts already made, pre-packaged, and you just take them out of the box, unroll them, and throw them in your pie dish. I used to always use those, it quick and they are delicious in that flaky, fake buttery kind of way. Here in Poland I have not found this type of dough or crust available so I make my own. I consistently get compliments and I feel slightly sheepish because it's not that hard.Very easy and quick to make (and much healthier I assume)...

Makes one 9 in. pie crust (so, for this pie I doubled the recipe)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk

If it's a savory dish like a chicken pot pie I usually add a couple tsps. of salt. (if you use salted butter you can skip this)
If it's a sweet dish like a cherry pie, I add a couple tblsps of sugar.

Cut the butter into the flour, crumble and mix until it creates course looking crumbs, chunks of butter are ok and even preferable. Add milk. Mix until dough forms, cover in plastic wrap, pop in fridge. Make your innards and then get the dough out. Knead until smooth. Form into ball and roll it out as a circle. With a pie like this I use 3/4 of the dough for the bottom crust and 1/4 for the top. Easy!

It always comes out flaky and crisp. There are definitely fancier recipes out there that probably taste better...my sister makes one that requires vodka, she's fancy like that... but this is simple and gets the job done.

Plums will be ready soon! I can't wait to try these again!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Breathing in a stranger's face


Me: Please don't pull me over, please don't pull me over....crap! he's pulling me over. What'd I do? Lights on? Check. Speed limit? Check. Maybe it's because I'm driving this dang van. Dang it, dang it, dang it!

Just smile, explain that you just got here (technically we did just get here ;) , you don't speak good Polish, you live very close. Crap! Where are all the documents...glove compartment?! Where?! And my wallet?! My license! Should I call Martin? He could explain...

Here he comes.

Roll down window.

Police officer: Speaking in Polish and holding up some sort of device to my face.

Me:  Oh, thank goodness! It's just the breathalyzer test!!

Breathe deeply into the little machine. DON'T touch it with your lips. Gross. How nice for him that I was just chewing gum.

Police officer: Dobrze, dziekuje Pani.

Me: Dziekuje!


Happy Weekend folks!


breathalyzer


Monday, June 16, 2014

Futuristic mail - Paczkomaty Post

I bought something online a couple weeks ago and was quite excited when the shipping options allowed for me to choose "paczkomaty post" for delivery. I *just* found about this wanted to try it out. Luckily, they have a pick up center close to where we are building so it was easily combined with a trip to check on the progress out there. Krakow has over 50 locations.

You choose your location. Ours is in Wielicka at Armado Pizzeria (I think they were going for an Italian sound, I like to imagine rolling the r when I say it since i can't actually roll my r's). We've eaten here before so I knew where it was. Pizza is not so great, but luckily they do have two gambling machines inside to class the place up.
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You find your location, and retrieve the code from your phone. (If you don't have texting on your phone then that means you have a phone older than the one we have and you and I should meet so that I can feel better about our technology situation)
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Then you punch in your phone number and code on the screen.
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After punching in all the appropriate numbers on the touch screen (fancy, fancy - again, reflect on the era of technology I'm used to dwelling in), you take a step back (this was intuitive, since there is no other way to open the doors and I can't see the screen to follow other instructions) and one of the doors, appropriate to the size of your package, pops open somewhere on the big yellow structure... and then a creepy voice with a British accent speaks very loudly and tells you to remove your package and shut the door.
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The Koniec.


Pros and Cons...

It does't really make sense to travel outside your home to pick up a package if you don't have to, that's kind of the whole point of buying things online. BUT, it was cheaper this way (by 2zl.,) and I wanted to try it out. This is definitely going to be something I try next time I ship something within Poland. The first and only time I did that the item never made it and it was a pair of handknit fingerless gloves and I am still a bit peeved. (I'm very slowly knitting new ones to replace them but gosh darn it, how do you lose a package? Where does it go? It's just sitting somewhere either thrown away or being used... I'm gonna see someone wearing them someday aren't I?...) Clearly if more technology is involved no packages will be lost. Sigh. Martin will want me to add that he has sent many packages and documents within Poland and never had anything get lost AND I have sent several things to the States and they have always made it.

The biggest con, and it is a big one... you can't see the screen, at all. If you were a really tall man you might not have any problems but the height of the screen plus the sunlight made it impossible to read instructions or even see the touch pad unless I stood on my tiptoes and shielded the screen. They need to add a piece of cloth to hang over the screen to shield the sun like they do at the Redbox's in America. And perhaps add a little step up on the ground for shorter people. It would be almost impossible for someone shorter than 5 ft. 4in. to use it.

Why am I boring you with all these details? No reason other than I thought this was really cool.