Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm Back

I have so much to tell you from Portugal but It's been a whirlwind since I have been home with family Thanksgivings and putting up Christmas decorations and getting caught up with the work I missed.  Whew, I'm still exhausted.  How long is jet lag supposed to last anyways?  I think I should probably stop using that as an excuse.

The picture above is a look at the city Coimbra where we were serving.  It was so incredibly beautiful!

We took our cooking very seriously.

We really did... but sometimes we had a few minutes to relax before the guests arrived.
All utinsils were washed before using.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Some of the "imports"

Here are some of the things we have used every day here. The Portuguese make everything from scratch (another reason I like them so much) so they are amazed by box stuffing.

We checked 2 50lb suitcases full of food. Actually, one was 54lbs. So we had to open it up in the airport and pull out 4 lbs. Michelle and I each ended up carrying on a bag of pumpkin bread.

So far everyone has liked the food. Only a few have loved it but they are very polite and eat everything. The kids are hesitant to try it. One thing they have all really liked is the cranberry sauce. No one wants to try it but when they do they love it. Also, sweet potatoes with marshmallows are a big hit. Neither thing is popular here.

Michael and Cristi always take the opportunity to explain about thanksgiving and why we celebrate. They talk about how families take hands to pray (which we do) and then go around the table to say what they are thankful for. That is sometimes harder for them but they all participate.

Cooking for the neighbors tonight so pray for good conversations with them.

Thank you for all your prayers. This trip has gone so smoothly and I know it is because of prayers from you.

More later!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cooking in Portugal

We knew when we came that there would be a lot of cooking. 5 full thanksgiving dinners in 5 days. I've never cooked 1 full thanksgiving dinner much less 5. The cooking has gone easier than I originally anticipated... Cooking almost everything from a box makes that possible I guess. It is still long days of standing on your feet and lots of cleaning up messes.

One thing we did make from scratch is the pumpkin pie. Here's Michelle trying to fit 2 in a tiny European oven.

You can see a few of our meal items here.

I'll take more pictures when we start really cooking in an hour!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 18, 2011

Portugal- The First Few Days

First of all- forgive me, I am typing on a Portuguese keyboard and it´s a little different.

Tuesday morning we arrived at DFW at 8:30 in the morning and took off for Miami, a 3 hour layover then a long flight to Madrid, another 3 hour layover and off to Porto.  Cristi met us in Porto with our 5- 50 pound bags and we headed to the mall for lunch.  The food court was really cool and offered us a lot of options ( including McDonalds) but I had some crepes.  Yummy!

We looked around a bit and headed to Coimbra to their apartment.  It's wonderful and modern and the perfect place to entertain.  After lugging the suitcases in we headed out for dinner.... at McDonalds (I can't escape it!).  After dinner we came home and pretty much crashed.  Exhausted after being in an airport or in the air for 24 hours.

Thursday morning we got up and headed to breakfast at a cafe inside the grocery store.  We proceeded to grocery shop for the next few hours for a weeks worth of Thanksgiving dinners.  3 grocery stores later we got back to the house and made sandwiches and started cooking.

The pies were first- 2 pumpkin and 2 pecan.  Then we headed to Calvin's elementary school to read them a story in English and share some pumpkin bread and chocolate chip cookies.  They were totally precious pre-schoolers and we loved watching them interact with each other and speak in Portuguese.

When we were done there we headed home to do the rest of the cooking- green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, deviled eggs, pumpkin soup, turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing- and I'm sure there was more.  LOTS of cooking, cleaning, arranging, etc.

At 7:30 or 8 the students from the local University start arriving.  Michael and Cristi meet with them twice a week to help them practice English so this night was all mostly in english.  15 students came and that was a BIG group.  Luckily we had doubled some of our recipes.  I could go on and on about how much fun they were.  I think we counted 5 different countries represented and we loved teaching them about thanksgiving food, helping them with English words, playing cards, learning more about their lives and telling them more about ours.

I will have to wait to post pictures until I get home and unload them from my camera but we got a lot.  When we sat down to dinner the first thing they wanted to do was pray.  They have seen so much American TV and movies where people pray before their Thanksgiving meal they were excited to participate in the tradition.  We also took the opportunity to go around the room and talk about what we are thankful for.

They were absolutely precious and we were so blessed to meet them last night.

Today we toured the city this morning and after another grocery run we started cooking.  It's time for me to go help Michelle put the finishing touches on dinner before our guests arrive in 1 hour.

More pictures later!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Practicing Thanksgiving... For Portugal

A month ago (or so) we had a "practice" Thanksgiving dinner for our Portugal trip.  We have to take a lot of the food with us and many of the items are going to come from a box or a can.

My first thing to practice was pie crust.  I have only used frozen pie crusts but I figured the box wouldn't be too hard.

Apparently I need to practice a bit more because it was hard.  Easy to mix- hard to roll out and get in the pan and get even.  Mine is not very pretty.  Tasted good, but wasn't pretty.

This is the pumpkin pie.  It doesn't look great either.  I used the sweetened condensed milk recipe and I couldn't get it smooth.  I'm going to try the condensed milk recipe in Portugal.

I also tried to make cranberry sauce using dried cranberries.  Dried cranberries are lighter than cranberry sauce. 
First you soak in apple juice.
Then cook it down with some orange zest and sugar.  At the end you add cornstarch.  I wasn't using a great recipe and it just tasted like cornstarch.  Fail.

For the sweet potatoes we had two options.  There are boxed sweet potatoes and canned.  Did you know there were canned?  I didn't.  I made the boxed and put them in a casserole dish and topped with marshmallows.  The canned I mashed and stirred in some brown sugar and orange juice and topped with oatmeal and brown sugar.  I liked the canned better but cans are heavier and most of the others liked the boxed so that's what we are taking.

Also on the menu green bean casserole and stove top stuffing.
We also had some cute kids to entertain us.

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