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Monthly Archives: June 2016


As previously mentioned in Dante Alighieri | Cooking in Siena, Italy, if I found the recipes for the food we prepared while taking a cooking class in Siena, I would post them. And guess what? I (and by I, I mean Aaron looked for them and his mom had a scanned copy of them from the last time we decided to make a visit) found them!

Traditional meals in Italy generally consist of 4 courses; an appetizer, a pasta, a meat, and a dessert… and wine. Does wine count? It doesn’t for us because we don’t drink, but we did taste the wine in Italy (it’s supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread) and we weren’t impressed. We actually weren’t impressed with a lot of the food in Italy. But that’s for a different post and I don’t want to scare you away from trying out this delicious recipe! Because the food we prepared through this cooking class was the best food we ate in Italy!

So, here we go. Our antipasto (appetizer) dish, Sformato Di Verdure, translated to vegetable pie, looked less like a pie and more like a tiny quiche. Probably because the concoction was baked in a muffin tin.

And while I am proud to be a United States citizen, I am not proud that we have not yet adopted the metric system and have to convert all foreign ingredients. I’m also lazy, and refuse to convert for you, so the following ingredients will be measured using the international system.


For 8 people (we fed a family of 5 with this recipe and it seemed to be just enough)

  • 1 kg of carrots, of courgettes, of brocolli, etc.
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g of grated Parmesan
  • nutmeg
  • breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper

For the bechamel sauce:

  • 500 ml of milk
  • 50 g of olive oil
  • 50 g of flour
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper


Preparation Time: 1 hour         Difficulty: Difficult (it’s not that difficult)

1. Wash and trim the carrots and boil in salted water.


2. Butter a mold and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Like I said, we used muffin tins for the mold.


3. Drain the cooked carrots, chop them, and mix in a bowl with the eggs, Parmesan, pinch of nutmeg, salt, pepper, and bechamel sauce.


4. Pour the mixture into the mould, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and bake at 180 degrees C for approx. 40 minutes.


For the bechamel sauce: melt olive oil in a pan and add flour, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Add the milk (either hot or at room temperature), salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue to stir until the sauce has thickened.


And voila! A yummy carrot quiche/vegetable pie/Sformato Di Verdure! Enjoy.IMG_3921

How to Travel When One Spouse Hates Traveling

I love my husband 100% and he’s probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but let’s be honest, the guy tends to stifle my travel dreams and sometimes it can be a real buzz kill. You know what I mean? How do you make it work with someone who doesn’t like to travel when you feel like traveling the world could be a full-time hobby? How do you keep your travel mojo alive when your spouse rolls his eyes every time you look into a new destination? Look no further my friends… This is how we do it! (“This is how we dooooo it. It’s Friday night, and I feel alright, the party is here on the West side…”)

  1. Find a job that allows you to travel more frequently. Managing federal grants means opportunities to travel outside of Alaska for mandatory grantee meetings, and for that, I am very grateful. Finding a job with frequent travel isn’t always easy, but if you are lucky enough to work for an organization who prioritizes traveling for training, education, and staff development, use it as an opportunity to explore a new city, for free! And while I do miss my husband when I’m traveling for work, it’s a great opportunity for me to get rid of some of my “I’ve been stuck in Anchorage for too long” anxiety.
  2. Visit a country with a scenery and climate you both can enjoy. Nothing ruins a vacation more than a complainer. “It’s too hot.” “It’s too cold.” “It’s too dry.” “It’s too dirty.” When planning a vacation, choose a destination you can both get excited about. There are 196 countries in the world and you’re telling me you can’t think of one country you’d both enjoy? Even though I am dying to visit West Africa (where my ancestors are from!) and go back to India to show my husband all of the wonderful things I experienced while living there, he hates the heat more than anything and won’t step foot in a country where there a more cockroaches than people. So, visiting India or West Africa with my husband probably won’t be happening anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean I can’t go with my girlfriends, right?!
  3. Travel with friends and family. If you really can’t agree on travel plans or your spouse can’t find the time to get away, talk to friends and family and see if they’d be interested in traveling with you. Aaron and I live 3,000 miles away from our closest friends and family, so planning a girls trip or mommy-daughter vacation would totally help me keep my sanity!
  4. Cut costs where you can. Aaron’s biggest deal breaker when it comes to travelling is the cost of doing it. Why spend thousands of dollars to fly to Mexico when you can get Mexican food at Don Pablo’s around the corner? Of course I get this, but Aaron doesn’t.  So what do we do to cut our travel costs?
    • We book vacations through Groupon, Gate1travel, VacationstoGo, last-minute travel deals, etc. Groupon has a plethora of discounted, all-inclusive travel options, and the accommodations always go above and beyond what we expect! When we first moved to Alaska, we booked a 7 day Princess Cruises, Alaska cruise for $300/person  through one of those discount sites!
    • We pack our own travel food. Fruit, crackers, cheese, vegetables, whatever. You’ll be happy you didn’t have to pay $30 for a water and piece of cheese at the airport.
    • We use public transportation. Most countries have some type of metro system and the cost of traveling around for an entire day is generally cheaper than renting a car.
    • We save our money. Living on two incomes, without children, has truly been a blessing, and it’s given us an opportunity to put my salary away for safe keeping.
  5. Upgrade your flight. This goes against everything Aaron stands for in terms of budget travel, but the guy has long legs and hates to fly, so what’s a girl to do? Besides, I make my own money, so I do what I want! And that means upgrading to economy plus or first class so my husband can be as comfortable as possible. If you’ve booked your flight well in advance, you can usually make the upgrade to economy plus, business class, or first class for an extra $40-$120/seat. First class is the bomb… You get food, you don’t have to touch the person next to you, you can stretch your legs out. It’s expensive, but if you’re trying to make a travel experience as pleasurable as possible for someone who hates to travel, just upgrade.
  6. Stick to a travel schedule you both agree on. As much as I’d like to be one of those travelers who travels for 6 months out of the year; living a carefree lifestyle with no responsibility… that is not my reality. And it never will be. Aaron and I enjoy working  full-time, and we’re satisfied with how far we’ve come in our careers. So like the majority of the world, we have to prioritize work, vacation, and family time and save some serious PTO before we get to go anywhere. So, in order to satisfy my need to be anywhere but in Anchorage, our travel schedule looks something like this:
    • One out of the country trip per year
    • One trip to visit family
    • Lots of tiny trips/weekend adventures in between
  7. Explore new things about your state. We’re spoiled. When you live in the State of Alaska,  there are always new adventures to be had and mini-vacations to take! Exploring around your own state can be a great way to satisfy your “wanderlust” (that’s the first time I’ve used that word and I think it’s kind of weird) without spending a lot of money or getting leg cramps because you’ve been sitting in a plane for 10 hours. Aaron went to college in Utah and I went to college in Idaho, and to this day we still complain about all of the exploring we didn’t do when we lived there! There is beauty all around, you just have to look for  it.
  8. Be patient. While it’s common to think that anyone with a pulse would quit their jobs at a moments notice to travel around the world (I sure would!), that’s just not an accurate representation of the total population. Travelling isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. When Aaron and I were on vacation in Peru, he caught me looking up destinations and getaways on Groupon. I know, who plans another vacation in the middle of a vacation? But I couldn’t help it. I love to travel! And Aaron doesn’t. And he can’t help it. And that’s okay. Because I love him and I am patient (at least that’s what I tell myself).
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