Wednesday, September 30, 2015

31 Days of New Foods

The 31 Day Writing Challenge was started several years ago by The Nester (Myquillyn Smith). For 31 days in the month of October, bloggers everywhere are challenged to write on a topic of their choice.

I decided to do the challenge this year for a couple of reasons. First, it will give me a break from thinking up new topics to write about for a month. Second, it will get me to try some new recipes in the kitchen. If something exciting comes up that I just have to blog about, I will do two blog posts that day.

Here is my plan: Each day, I will make a new recipe from a new cookbook. I stopped by the library today and picked up seven cookbooks to get started. I will review the cookbook and the dish I make. I will make a variety of things: appetizers, soups, salads, side dishes, main dishes and desserts.

Don't worry, every single recipe will be simple to make. You know I don't do complicated cooking.

Can't wait to start! I already have tomorrow's recipe selected.

Day 1: Pig Candy

Day 2: Pasta Fagiola

Day 3: Angel Hair with Tomatoes & Garlic

Day 4: Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 5: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Day 6: Lemony Chicken and Kale Soup

Day 7: Buttermilk Cornmeal Pancakes

Day 8: Foolproof Salmon Baked with Olive Oil and Herbs

Day 9:

Day 10: Cannellini Beans with Crushed Red Pepper

Day 11: Hasselback Potatoes

Day 12: Sweet Cream Scones

Day 13: Moroccan Lamb Burgers

Day 14: Tomato Pumpkin Bisque

Day 15: Apple Cinnamon Streusel Cake

Dy  16: My Big Fat Greek Frittata

Day 17: Meatloaf Sliders

Day 18: White Cheddar-Horseradish Baseball

Day 19: Rotisserie Chicken

Day 20: Baked Chicken Risotto

Day 21: Cake Pops

Day 22: Lemon Sage Drumsticks

Day 23: Guacamole

Day 24: Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Day 25: Butternut Squash Soup

Day 26: Boiled Baby Potatoes

Day 27: Turkey Salad

Day 28: Earl Grey Iced Tea

Day 29: Sour Cream Corn Bread

Day 30: Chicken Piccata

Day 31: Beef Stew with Noodles

Monday, September 28, 2015


Riley sure knows how to get me up out of my chair. He has strategic tactics, I tell you. If I sit at my desk too long, he will do one of three things:

Tactic No 1:
He will tap his tennis ball underneath the coffee table until it stops dead center and he can't reach it. Then he will whine and make such a fuss that I can't ignore him. So I get up out of my chair and reach under the table to retrieve his ball. It reminds me of when my kids would intentionally drop their toys from their high chair so I would have to stoop down and get them. I will let him do this two times before I put the ball in a drawer.

Tactic No 2:
He will go downstairs and ring his bell. The bell is meant to signify he needs to go outside, but Riley is smarter than that. He knows I will get out of my chair when he rings the bell. Even if I suspect he is pulling my leg, just in case he really needs to go out, I get up.

Tactic No 3:
He rolls on his back with his feet in the air and stays there for a half hour. He did this four times today. Every time I see him like this, I cannot resist getting out of my chair and rubbing his belly and laughing at him and telling him he is the silliest dog in the whole wide world.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Violins of Hope

This afternoon, Don and I had the privilege of attending a concert performed by the Cleveland Orchestra using violins restored from the Holocaust by Israeli violin maker, Amnon Weinstein. This was the grand opening of the Maltz Performing Arts Center of Case Western Reserve University.

The Temple - Tifereth Israel was donated to the university and restored to be used as a performing arts hall. The Jewish congregation now meets at a temple in Beachwood, but has the rights for 99 years to hold services here on High Holy days.

At least 20 of the restored violins were played by Cleveland Orchestra musicians during the concert. It was very moving, especially since Amnon Weinstein was in attendance.

The Violins of Hope will be on exhibit at the Maltz Museum of Jewish History beginning October 2.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Katherine and Riley

 Katherine and Riley have always had a special relationship. The first week Riley came to live with us was Katherine's spring break her sophomore year of college. She was home with him all week while I was working, so they bonded quite nicely.

 Ever since, Riley has had a special place in his heart for her. When she comes home, he gets more excited than when anyone else comes through the door. It is the only time he will follow someone else around the house instead of me.

 He will let her pick him up and hold him like a baby.

 He will listen to her when she tells him "no."

 And he will sit for photos with her.

They sure do love each other.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


We finally crossed the Chain Bridge into the Buda side of Budapest today.

We rode the funicular elevator 328 feet up to Castle Hill. This funicular was put into service in 1870 to provide cheap transportation to workers in the district. It was destroyed during World War II and not built again until 1986.

From the funicular, we could see a great view of the Chain Bridge, the Danube and the Pest side.

We arrived on Castle Hill just in time to see the changing of the guard.

Matthias Church originally built from the 13th to the 15th century. The roof is made of Zsolnay ceramic tiles.

Inside the church, almost every square inch is painted in beautiful blue, gold and burgundy designs.

Outside the church by the water is Fisherman's Bastian which was built at the turn of the 20th century.

We took a guided tour of the Hospital in the Rock, which was a hospital built in the 1930's in caves beneath the Buda Castle. The hospital was built in preparation for World War II, and it was heavily used during the 1944-45 Seige of Budapest. It was designed to treat up to 60 patients, but ended up housing up to 600 at a time. The hospital was also used in 1956 in response to the uprising against Soviet rule.

The zero kilometer stone at the spot used to measure distances in and out of Budapest.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Budapest officially became one city with the unification of Buda, Pest, and Obuda on November 17, 1873. One thing that helped contribute to the unification was the connecting Chain Bridge over the Danube.
The Chain Bridge connecting Pest and Buda over the Danube

Our hotel is located on the Pest side of the river. This is where we have been exploring since we arrived yesterday. This morning we walked back up to Heroes' Square to see what it looked like after
the horse race track was taken down.

We took a loop around Pest on the Hop-On/Hop-Off bus which provided commentary along the way.

We hopped off down by the river and took a nice afternoon stroll.

Along the Danube between the Chain Bridge and the Parliament building is a row of 60 pairs of shoes made of bronze. This memorial is called "Shoes on the Danube Promenade" and it commemorates those who were shot to death by Hungarian Nazis on the riverbank as the Allies were approaching the city during World War II.

The Parliament building is the second largest building in Europe after England's Westminster Abbey. 

St. Stephen's Basilica is Budapest's largest Roman Catholic church.

Group Photos

Our VBT guides, Csaba and Zoltan, took two group photos of us while on the trip. They were kind enough to email them to all of us today.

The first photo was taken by the Danube with the Esztergom Basilica in the background.

The second photo was taken on our last ride into the heart of Budapest. We stopped by a sculpture of four figures holding umbrellas.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Ride to Budapest

 This morning (Sunday) we hopped on our bikes for the last time and followed a lovely route from our hotel on Budapest's north edge to the center of the city.

 On the way into downtown Budapest, we crossed a bridge to Margaret Island. There are no residents on Margaret Island, but there was plenty of activity there. We stopped to visit the ruins of a 12th century church and convent where Saint Margaret is buried.

 Just a glimpse of the massive Parliament building

 After checking into our hotel around noon, we set out on foot to explore the National Gallop horse race on Heroe's Square. This is an annual three-day event in which teams from various towns and villages in Hungary race to win the Gallop Sword, a weapon of the 19th century hussar heroes.

 Our hotel is located on Andrassy Boulevard which leads to Heroe's Square. Andrassy Boulevard was closed to automobile traffic for the festival, and food and craft vendors lined the street.

We walked the entire length of the festival all the way down to the Danube.

 Don was in heaven when he found the special pastry he ate five years ago when we were in Prague - only this one was about three times as large!

Sekler Cake (Chimney Cake)


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Skanzen and Szentendre

This morning we took a shuttle into the Pilis mountains, then we rode down through the forest to the Skanzen Open Air Museum.

Skanzen is a huge park with re-created historical villages, farms, and towns that show the architecture and lifestyle of every region of Hungary. We rode our bikes through the park and stopped to take a closer look at some of the exhibits.

I enjoyed the unusual farm animals such as this hairy Hungarian pig

And the twisted horn Racka sheep

I finally got a picture of Zoltan and Csaba together. 

For lunch, we biked to the center of the town of Szentendre where we had a couple of hours to explore.

More of Szentendre

A pretty stairway

Hungarian pizza

Back to the VBT van after lunch to get our bikes and ride to the Holiday Beach Budapest Hotel

Even though we have one more short day of biking tomorrow, we had our farewell dinner tonight. We said good-bye to Zoltan and Csaba, but we will see them again in the morning. The highlight of the dinner was music by an excellent gypsy violinist.