Monday, November 12, 2007

Hó hó hó!

I’ve been learning about the wonders of tejfől. I did not feel like doing HW Thursday evening and my next assignment was not due until Monday, so I decided to experiment with cooking instead. My goal: to try actually making some of the delicious Hungarian food I have been watching my host mother make. I went to Kaiser (one of the local grocery stores) and obtained two large tubs of tejfől (sour cream), a small box of tejszin (really thick heavy cream) and a carton of tojas (eggs). I then obtained ket hagyma, ket alma és ket körte (two each of onions, apples and pears). I decided to start the project with nokedli.

When I asked my host mom what was in the nokedli dough she responded: ket tojas, ket deci viz, fel kilo liszt. Now, when we were making the nokedli it was clear that there was a lot more dough than would come from those proportions (and we had about 3 times as much nokedi as I was hoping to make) so I decided to just hope that she had given me a reasonable sized recipe. I beat the eggs with the water and then attempted to add something close to ½ kilo of flour (my host mom never measures anything, so I figured the exact amounts were not crucial). This resulted in a dough that resembled the dough we had used before, I figured we were off to a good start. I got a pot of water boiling, dug out the cheese grater and found a big metal spoon to force the dough through the grater with. The first blob of dough that I blopped onto the grater was difficult to force through and was resulting in very small noodle/dumplings, so I added a little more water to the dough and this corrected the problem. The only other issue was the grater. My host mom’s grater seems like it was made for making nokedli - the back has raised sides to keep the dough from falling off the grater and otherwise has no unneccesary bumps or grooves. Christina’s grater on the other hand has the raised sides, but also lots of little groves that like to catch the dough and keep it from going through the holes. I am going to see if I can find a proper nokedli grater to bring back to the States with me. Nokedli is a fun alternative to pasta and rice and I rather like the texture.

However, like noodles, nokedli is somewhat bland plain, so my next task was to create something to serve over it. While I was working on the nokedli I had a separate pot on the back burner boiling eggs (I was rather amused that the one thing I had to look up online for this meal of things I had never made on my own before was how long to boil eggs). Cartons come with 10 eggs, and I used two for the nokedli, so I boiled 8. While Christina was pealing the eggs, I diced and sauted the onions. I dumped on of the tubs of tejföl into a bowl and mixed in a largish glob of the tejszin, some flour (for thickening purposes, roughly the same amount I would have used if I had been making the kind of cream sauce I was used to) and a liberal portion of paprika (akin to the quanity of chili powder I might use when making chili). I then added two sour cream tubs worth of water to the pot with the onions and mixed in the cream mixture. While this was heating up, I chopped the eggs and added them to the mix. From this point it just needed to be stirred periodically to keep it from sticking and it came out great. It was really far easier than trying to get a normal cream sauce to the right consistency.

Now, this probably would have been enough for dinner, but I had been wanting to try my hand at fruit soup for a while now. I have not managed to be home when my host mom was making fruit soup yet, but I have asked her about it and as far as I could tell it consisted of boiling fruit until it is mushy and then adding – naturally – tejföl és tejszin és picsit cukor (a little sugar) és fahej és szegfűszeg (cinnamon and cloves). As such, we pealed and chopped the apples and pears and put them in a pot with some water to boil them. A traditional Hungarian meal would start with the fruit soup, but it made more sense to make it last given the selection of pots Christina’s apartment is stocked with (I used all of the large ones twice), so we let them boil while we ate the nokedli and tojas paprikas (I have no idea what it is really called, but that follows the pattern of csirke paprikas so I assume it works as a reasonable name). When the fruit had gotten soft, I scooped some of it out into a bowl, mashed it, and added it back to the pot. I then mixed half of the second tub of tejföl with another glob of the tejszin, a little flour, some sugar, cinnamon and cloves and then dumped it into the pot of fruit. Once I got it all blended together, I took it out and set it on the balcony to get it to cool off (using the balcony as a fridge seems to be common practice here, and when it is at least as cold outside as in the fridge it really makes sense. The concoction was delicious. It was not quite like any fruit soup I have had here, but also was not that different, more of a variation on a theme than something different.

Overall, I deem the whole project an overwhelming success and a much more productive use of a Thursday night than getting ahead on HW. Also, I suspect that sour cream may become a kitchen staple.

Friday was not terribly exciting and this is going to be quite long as it is, so I will just jump to Saturday.

Saturday morning I went over to Christina’s apartment. It felt chillier than it had been being, certainly colder than the 10 C Christina had seen on a sign when she had gone running earlier that morning. We looked up the weather report on line and found that it was 6 C feels like 2 C – that’s quite a wind chill factor. Never mind the cold, it was actually sunny. Or rather, it was about half sunny. There was a distinct line in the sky between blue and some potentially nasty looking grey clouds. Mandi came over to theoretically work on HW, but none of us could focus, so we decided that it was a good day to go up to the top of St. Stephens Basilica to see the view of the city. We collected Kyle on the way and then got to see the results of having both rainy and sunny weather at the same time – a rainbow! Not a very bright one, but still:

The view of the city from the top of the basilica was quite impressive:

After that we went back to Christina’s apartment. Christina and Mandi worked on their combinatorics and I made dinner . Every time I have gone to the zöldseg-gyümölcs recently they have had big squash and I had been wanting to try it, so I finally decided to just get one. I baked it like I would an acorn or butternut squash and then decided that it smelled like it would go really well with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, so I scraped it out of the skin and mixed it with some of the leftover tejfől and tejszin, a little bit of brown sugar and a liberal sprinkling of each of the above mentioned spices. It was quite tasty. I served it as a side with the left over tojas paprikas sauce and rice (since we had basically eaten up the nokedli).

After dinner the four of us (Kyle had shown up for dinner) went to a tanchaz – a Hungarian folk dance thing similar in spirit to a contra dance as Kyle and Mandi are in a class that had encouraged them to go. It was quite fun, though also exceedingly exhausting. The Hungarians and seemed to be slightly amused at the presence of American students, but were none the less very helpful and happy to dance with us. It’s really too bad that Mudd does not have any sort of folk dance class. That would be a PE class I could enjoy.

Sunday morning Christina and I went to church. The service made me very happy as I actually knew 3 of the hymns. But anyway, after the service we had tea and sweets as usual and stood around chatting with the other members of congregation. Christina mentioned that she would really like to see it snow and asked what the chances of it snowing while we were still here were. The general consensus was that the forecast is expecting this to be a mild winter and there is not likely to be much snow, if any. We then go back to Christina's apartment to eat leftovers for lunch. After lunch I went out on their balcony to check my email (it is the only place they get wireless) and it started to rain. I went back inside and started helping Christina clean up in the kitchen, watching the rain out the kitchen window and not really looking forward to walking to the busz stop at Deák in the rain. Then the rain started falling funny. At first I just attributed it to the fact that wind does strange things in their courtyard sometimes, and it quickly looked like normal rain again, so I shrugged it off. Pretty soon it had changed back to falling really did not look like rain, it really looked more like...snow! Christina and Alison and I all crowded at the window and confirmed to each other that, yes, it really was snowing! Within a minute it had changed back to rain again. I figured I should head back to my apartment to get my HW done, so I put on my shoes and collected my jacket. By the time I was ready to leave, it had once again been transformed to snow. Christina and I glanced at each other and exchanged looks that clearly said, "Do you think there is any chance...?" and shook our heads. There was no way it was going to stick. Everything was wet from the earlier rain and it couldn't even make up its mind to stay snow. I walked to the busz stop at Deák, amused by the bewildered looks I saw on the faces of the Hungarians I passed (and the huge grins that little kids had), and sat on the busz watching it snow as I waited the 5 or so minutes before it was time for it to leave.

Mother nature seemed to have decided that yes, it really was going to snow today, not rain. By I got to my stop the benches and the cars parked on the side of the road had started to accumulate snow (as was my jacket and hair).

I went up to my apartment, and by the time I had finished my geometry (which did not take long) the hill behind the house was covered in snow. I realized that it was also starting to accumulate on the street level when a snowball came flying through the grates in the window of the little balcony room and smashed into my window (I then looked out and down to see a group of kids excitedly packing snowballs and throwing them at each other and the building).

Around 4 I decided to take a break from my homework to go see just how snowy it had gotten outside and to see about getting some pictures of snow covered Budapest. Judging by the trees and castle walls we had gotten at least an inch of snow by that point.

Sometime during the night it had switched from hó back to eső, from snow back to rain, so by morning most of the snow had melted. However, I came across this on my way to school

Hó hó hó!

1 comment:

Shotaro said...

Hi Sarah! I should read the mc mailing list more often...I had no idea you were you Budapest! I was there for nearly a week this October for a Rubik's Cube championship.

I agree that the language is very interesting. I know a Dutch cuber who speaks 12 languages, but even he says Hungarian is too difficult because it's so different. It sounds like you're making good progress though. =)

Good luck with math, Hungarian, and everything.

-macky mc05/06