You have got to respect all the ways you can stay in touch nowadays. Living abroad is not what it used to be. Communication is pretty amazing – for free, I can talk face to face with loved ones through FaceTime and Skype. I can easily share photos through Dropbox and Facebook. I text stupid little thoughts to friends from back home so that I can feel like we’re really just down the street from each other. I blog about my life over here so everyone feels like they are up to date with us! Sure beats the old days of snail mail and psychotically expensive phone calls.
Culture-wise, too, you don’t have to give up as much as you want to. With Netflix (and some well-placed VPNs) I can keep up with most of my usual American TV shows. God, Netflix is amazing. And if you’re into sports, like Z, you don’t have to sacrifice either. Instead of getting super into futbol and cricket, Z has managed to access all NHL games, as well as the NFL games he wants. And he wanted Superbowl.
We had a little Superbowl shindig at our place, on Monday night (because watching it in the middle of Sunday night/Monday morning is ridiculous). The problem was that everyone who wanted to watch the game had to basically be on blackout when it came to social media and the internet. I found it difficult to stay off of my phone, but I did manage to make it through the day without knowing what happened. Only that it was a “good game.”
We got about nine fellow Canadians and Americans over to watch some football and eat some chili. Oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly, most of the women did not know the winner, while most of the men did. Hmmm. Anyway, I had spent the entire day in the kitchen getting snacks ready, so I was happy at how well everything turned out. Like, really well. I kept on muttering “Damn, I’m good,” it was that good. And I’m that full of myself. All of these recipes are designed to stick to your ribs and warm your heart, so I recommend them on a chilly day outside. Here’s my Superbowl menu:
Snacks: Guacamole, Buttermilk Blue Cheese dip with carrots, homemade pita chips and tortilla chips
Really is there an easier dip that tastes as good? Provided you can get good avocados, that is (a distinct problem in Canada, less so here). I mushed up three ripe avocados with the juice of a lime, then added the seasonings: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cayenne. To round out the flavour I added a finely chopped red onion, 3 tbsp of pickled jalapenos, chopped, and a tbsp of chopped chives. Mmmm, so good. I know it never looks like the best dip, which is a part of its secret: I often hope people won’t go for it, so there’s more for me.
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip
I found the original of this recipe on Epicurious. It was a little more involved because I had to make the buttermilk myself, having not found any in Geneva, as well as pickle the onions myself. In the end, it looked weird. I was a little reticent to try it, but it’s actually delicious. The pickled onions and the blue cheese together are divine.
5 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of kosher salt plus more
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Place onion in a small heatproof bowl. Bring vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Pour over onion; stir to coat. Cover; let pickle in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Whisk buttermilk, sour cream, and chives in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in blue cheese. Drain pickled onion and stir into dip. Season with salt and pepper.
The main event: Tex Mex Chili and Jalapeno Cornbread
No pictures exist as evidence of this meal. Probably for the best because chili always looks disgusting, but is always so so good. I found the chili recipe at Taste of Home, and it’s definitely worth repeating. I made some changes and they are found in the recipe below.
3 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
3/4 cup salsa
1 tbsp pickled jalapenos, chopped
1 envelope chili seasoning
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese and minced chives
In a large skillet, brown beef. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a 6-qt. pot and set to simmer.
Stir in the beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes, water, tomato paste, salsa and seasonings. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender. Garnish each serving with cheese and chives. I also added a scoop of creme fraiche on top – it really added to the flavour!
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
This recipe comes courtesy of Ina Garten, found at the Food Network. It’s an easy recipe and has great results, so is highly recommended.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped chives
3 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved.
Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the chives and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.
And last but not least, dessert. I just had to include these because they are so adorable. I had some leftover cookie dough from Christmas, the pepper chocolate dough, so I thawed it and cut them into football shapes (using the edge of a round glass). Then it was just a matter of finding some white icing in a jar to decorate them. They went over really well and were entirely devoured by the crowd, I think in part due to cuteness. Someone did accuse me of deflating the balls, but I think they were being cheeky.
I was exhausted from cooking by the time the game was on, but people were right. Awesome game, and worth the wait!