Day 118

Smelling: the ginger and onion in my sweet potato latkes
Feeling: warm and balmy wind tired of sitting, a bit crampy in my back
Tasting: scrambled eggs with sharp cheddar cheese
Seeing: light rain outside my window
Hearing: bells for Mass toll

This morning I tried to use up more of the leftover food from my fridge/pantry: so two scrambled eggs with plenty of sharp cheddar, and some avocado on oat bread. I picked up the bread in a specialty store a couple of nights ago, and it’s very interesting. I wonder why oats are so mild when boiled, but turn so dark (in color and taste) when baked or fried. The only grain in the bread is oats (41%), but the first ingredient is milk. And there’s a goat on the package so I wonder if it’s goat milk.

I went on a short walk to get cash (just in case I need it tomorrow) and there were actually plenty of people walking to church, but very few cars. I also heard so many people speaking what I’m sure is some Slavic language.

I made latkes with the sweet potato that Teya gave me, and I ate every single one. I was surprised how little grease splattering there was– I didn’t get a single burn!

Okay, well. My recent posts have been a lot less detailed than they were at the start, which is kind of ironic since I don’t have class anymore. But I’m looking forward to the next semester. I’m sure I’ll post about my goals for next semester sometime before it starts. Until then!

Sweet Review #15: Malteasers Instant Malty Drink

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I was never a big fan of Whoppers. They were always among the last of my Halloween candy to be kept or touched. And while I drank my fair share of Ovaltine, it did bother me that the cocoa flavor was overshadowed by its sweetness and maltiness.

But with my first visit to continental Europe years ago, my perception of malted sweets changed when I tried Malteasers. Like many American kids at that time, I’d only heard of them from the British YouTubers danisnotonfire and amazingphil. I didn’t have high expectations since they seemed to just be a different version of Whoppers.  Boy, was I wrong. They were life-changinng, or at least perspective-changing. Unlike the chalky Whoppers, Malteasers had a cereal-like crunch.

So when my roommate bequeathed us her Malteasers drink mix before going home for the holidays, I knew I had to try it. All there was to do was pour an unspecified amount of warm water over three heaped teaspoons of the drink powder and stir. As you may be able to tell from the photo above, I was not feeling particularly eager to drink that much.

The oddest thing that struck me about this taste was how vegetal it was. Nothing on the ingredient list would suggest this property, but there were legume-y, brassica-y notes in the cup. At first I thought it might have had to do with the fact that I made it in a cup that was holding black tea very recently, but a whiff of the bag revealed this smell too.

Oh, and the drink doesn’t actually taste much like Malteasers. It’s not chocolatey enough, not is it milky enough as it’s mixed with water, and the saltiness is just too much. I was considering mixing this into coffee, which sounds unappealing for warm coffee but actually may work with iced.

Anyway, if you’re as much of a diehard Malteasers fan as me (or Dan), don’t get your hopes up.

Day 117

Smelling: cinnamon
Seeing: rain on the window
Hearing: wind whistling, Animal Collective
Feeling: a bit sore in the hips, very cozy
Tasting: chocolate rice and oat porridge

Things that are great about Christmas: being cozy, having twinkly lights up, being cozy next to the twinkly lights, warm beverages, making cookies, chillin with the fam. All of those things I did today. I mean I didn’t actually chill with anyone beyond a long FaceTime convo with my family. But I made the most of the day in that way. I worked on my suitcase re-packing.

Yoga and drawing and baking cinnamon-chocolate-almond jam cookie kept me occupied and I had plenty of food to snack on throughout the day. And now I feel done with Christmas and would like to go home now please.

Day 116

Smelling: mulling wine and hot chocolate
Feeling: a bit of a headache and grogginess
Seeing: my rainbow twinkly lights in the living room
Hearing: very loud wind outside the window
Tasting: milk chocolate, oat bread

I didn’t leave the house today, hurray. And with the storm that I woke up to, I wasn’t exactly fixing to do so either.

The only person I talked to face-to-face was Teya, who came up to give me more leftover food and cleaning supplies. I spent a lot of time today putting away that extra stuff. She said she was gonna get her last drink and Jackie’s tonight, and I said I’d tag along if she wanted someone to, but I knew I wouldn’t be feeling it and she went by herself anyway. Plus I had no cash and didn’t feel like eating chips (or really anything) after my fried rice and hot chocolate which I ended up eating at dinner.

Today was nice. I did hella yoga in the morning and that really set a good mood for the day. I decided to direct my energy at painting rather than baking, since if I bring back these cookies to the States (and what else would I do with them) they should be as fresh as possible. I listened to Vertical by Animal Collective and Currents by Tame Impala, first time listening to both of those bands. I liked the former but not so much the latter. Also listened to our Definitely for that playlist and ANTI by Rihanna, which was incredible.

Swede Review #14: Marabou milk chocolate

When I met my Swedish friend Sarah from Belgium for fika, we reminisced about how good Belgian chocolate is. “Swedish people think their chocolate is so great,” she scoffed. “It’s good, but nothing like Belgian chocolate.” This made me curious about Swedish chocolate, though. Sarah told me to look for a brand called Marabou.

When I went to the nighttime Christmas market, I wanted to try a spin on one of the chocolate wheels, and the first one I saw was Marabou. I won nothing, but it’s the effort that counts, right? Kidding, there’s no effort in those games.

So on my way out of the country, when I had a few sweaty minutes before my train between Stockholm Central Station and Airport departed, I bought a little 50-kronor Marabou milk chocolate bar, the kind of thing you eat as fika. Between the Kex, the protein bar, and the smoothie I had, I didn’t need any sugar right then and there. It was small enough to stow away in my backpack til I had a coffee to enjoy it with properly.

That turned out to be this morning. I was considering not doing any review at all for this, but I think it’s worth it just to show you how cute the bar is.

So it’s not as “pure”-tasting as Belgian dark, nor as caramel-tasting as Swiss milk. But it has a nice sweetness that isn’t overbearing unless your coffee was as weak as this one was. The melt was fantastic.

And because coffee isn’t enough, I used it in my hot chocolate later that night.

Day 115, plus catch-up from the last few days

Smelling: Jackie Lennox’s, milk in black tea
Tasting: Cotton Ball stout, my apple-cinnamon rosette, blood from my lip
Hearing: conversation among the Steele family
Feeling: drowsy, hazy, chilly
Seeing: sunlight stream in through my window

Whoops, sorry for being so peripatetic and inconsistent. I don’t even have a real excuse of being busy this time, as my days have been pretty unstructured for a while now.

There is some regularity though: waking up much later than usual, like around 9 or so (“Wow, that’s sooooo late,” Brian sarcastically commented). This is due to my staying up later than usual since people are always going out for someone’s last night and I want to give them a good farewell. I am still waking up early but have enough exhaustion/willpower/lack thereof to get up to make myself go back to sleep repeatedly.

I baked cinnamon apple rosette on Wednesday. I didn’t quite know what I was making until I started, due to my neglect to read the directions. First I thought it was another apple cake, then when I saw that yeast was involved I thought it was a sweet bread with apples throughout, then when I saw that I had to roll out the dough and fill it up with cinnamon-apple filling, I thought I had to spiral that roll out in a round pan. Then I saw that I was to slice the roll as if I were making cinnamon rolls, and place those in a round pan. I instead decided to bake two separate ones in my loaf tins, and squish the rolls together to make a loaf.

So this morning Laura kindly walked with me to deliver one loaf to the reception desk, and one to Mary’s house. Mary wasn’t in when we arrived, but her daughter Mags invited us in for tea. Laura had to go to pick up the car for her parents (they were driving to Dingle the following day), but I accepted her kind offer for tea and to try the loaf I’d just baked. I was satisfied with it. It was like challah with little bits of Bramley apple tucked into it.

I worked more on my painting projects, which made it hard to get up from my desk when Laura and I decided to go out to get a “6 before 6” deal at an Asian street food restaurant. We got delicious katsu curries (chicken for her, tofu for me) that came in cardboard cartons but could be emptied into actual bowls on the table.

We went up to a pub that Laura’d wanted to try for a while to meet her friend Ayano from her nutrition class, another American who came from Folsom, California. This was only Ayano’s third beer since coming to Ireland. So there was an American student who’d drunk even less beer than I had here.

Since Laura was the last one in her apartment, we worked to bring up to my apartment all the stuff she was bequeathing to Erin and me. I put away the stuff that needed putting away immediately, then rolled into bed where I Skyped with Brian for a bit. I made the mistake of pulling my blankets close to me while lying down and with my laptop sitting on top, and the bottom of it jammed into my lip. I’m not sure if the situation was made better or worse by Brian being there to see it.

Sweet Review #13: Mcvitie’s Digestives Frosty Mint Slice

I try to be pretty open-minded when it comes to linguistic differences, but there are certain weak spots that turn me into a total grammar dictator. Like pronouncing “sandwiches” as “sangwiches.” Unsurprisingly, one of the most irritating words that I encountered here had to do with pastries. Well, there was the struggle to get myself to say “scohne” after years of training myself to say “skawn,” but that’s a minor blip compared to this. It was slice.

Now you might be saying, IJ, maybe a slice is just a pastry that’s unique to this and other British empire countries. And to that I say, maybe, but I think I know what a bar is when I see one. Bars are rectangular, baked in a rectangular pan, and cut from that pan. Usually they have some kind of pastry base with something softer on top, like jam or curd or ganache. And that’s what they call a “slice” here. I don’t know what’s irritating about the word– maybe it feels weird to say “a caramel slice” instead of “a slice of caramel.”

But I try to keep an open mind. And I’m not going to kid anyone by saying the caramel slices don’t look good.

So just as I’m getting over this gross, earth-destroying prejudice of mine, I see the Mcvitie’s logo on a box of something called “Frosty Mint Slice.” They ground up Digestives into a crust, aka they took the world’s laziest pastry crust and packaged it? They had the nerve to call these pre-packaged bars “slices”? I had to try it.

The mint flavor was indeed frosty, and this didn’t exactly mesh with the Digestive biscuits. Congrats Mcvities, you finally found a flavoring that doesn’t go with your bland-ass biscuit.

Oh, and the use of milk chocolate is something I can’t exactly get down with either, when it comes to mint. The dark chocolate just works so well. You have the deep dark chocolate with a lightning strike of mint through it, whereas milk chocolate seems to weaken the combination.

All that being said, they tasted pretty good baked into the brownie I made for my friend’s birthday (that’s right, biscuits baked into slices baked into a brownie, which was, in turn, sliced), and I saved one to eat with coffee some day. But you’d be much better off following one of the countless Tastemade/Tasty videos that could instruct you to make something much yummier.

Day 112

Tasting: the ginger-sesame-soy sauce I made for my fried rice
Smelling: brown rice cooking, my new yoga mat
Feeling: cold leftover haddock, a light backpack on my shoulders
Seeing: Christmas lights hung my my living room, the O’Rahilly building, my friends’ names on my phone screen
Hearing: my winter playlist, the voice-over narration on Wizard People, Dear Reader

It was kind of a slow day because I’m still in mega-unwind mode, but I did get my final English paper turned in. And an upside of waking up later is that I don’t have to wait as long for my friends in America to wake up as well.

At night, some USAC people and I went out for a tradition called “The Twelve Pubs of Christmas” at which every pub has its own rule that people are supposed to follow while there. I ended up getting tired and ditching after pub #3, but hung out with some friends in Apartment Eight.

Swede Review #12: Salted Licorice Pipe

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I was simultaneously very pleased and slightly revolted to find a candy called “Skipper’s Pipes” among the heap of sweets on the bedside table. Salted licorice was on the “I’m pretty sure those are Swedish but I can’t remember the difference between this Western European country and that one” list. So I guess it was time for some demystifying.

Disclaimer: I’m generally a black licorice fan. I don’t really like anise as a flavor by itself, but middle school me once went through half a box of Panda in a sitting, then when I was informed that eating too much licorice could cause potassium deficiency, chased it down with a hand of bananas. And that was, perhaps ironically, how I got over my subtle dislike of bananas.

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I guess the sprinkles are essential to show that it’s lit.

The texture was wonderfully soft. I tried to hold it between my teeth like a real pipe but could do so for long because of how easily I bit through it.

And I now understand why anyone would add salt to licorice. The saltiness cuts through that somewhat menthol-like invasiveness of licorice. I still don’t understand, however, why it’s a pipe or why it came attached to a wooden spoon/knife (spife?) device.

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I’ll be in my study, contemplating that.