This is a big dill…not sorry

I have a confession to make: I really love pickles.

I recently read a Buzzfeed post about how apparently awful pickles are and it offended me on a very deep level. According to whatever trash wrote this article, “there’s nothing more repulsive than sour, wet pickles.”

It’s a sad excuse for journalism. Read it here if you need to get fired up or if you want to have a good cry or if you’re a monster and you for some reason agree with the writer. If you’re a monster who doesn’t like pickles, please exit my blog right now and do something more productive with your life, like developing taste buds.

I apologize for getting so defensive. But I will never apologize for my deep love of pickles. They make so many things so much better! A Chick Fil A spicy chicken sandwich? A BBQ plate? A batch of potato salad? All infinitely better with pickles.

You can also frequently find me standing in front of the open fridge devouring these elusive treats solo. On several occasions I’ve cracked open a jar in the grocery store parking lot because I don’t feel like waiting till I get home.

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My favorite brand is “Wickles,” which I buy at Wal Mart because my parents raised me right. For a while I thought that the label said “weirdly delicious pickles” which I found to be a bit of overkill because if you were to ask me to describe a pickle, I would say “weirdly delicious.”

Perhaps this is why there is such a vendetta against these delicious little things. They are just weirdly good. If you’ve never read the label on a pickle jar or looked up a recipe, you probably would have very little idea what makes them taste so darn mysterious and AMAZING. P.s. turns out I’m just bad a reading comprehension and the Wickles’s tag line is actually “wickedly delicious pickles.”

This week I set out to unravel the mystery surrounding these green creatures by whipping up my own.

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As is advisable when making anything for the first time, I stuck with a very basic dill pickle recipe, deviating a tiny bit by using apple cider vinegar instead of plain white vinegar because I’m just rebellious like that.

Here’s my recipe:

    • 3-4 salad cucumbers
    • 3.5 cups water
    • 1.25 cups vinegar
    • 1 tbsp salt
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 4 sprigs of dill
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1 tsp mustard seed
Step One: Bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil and allow the mixture to reduce for a few minutes, then let it cool completely.
Step Two: Cut the cucumbers into your shape of choice. I went for coins and spears, but you could also leave them whole if you want, just make sure to cut a little bit off the top and the bottom so the pickling liquid gets through the skin.
Step Three: Put the cucumbers, dill, garlic, and mustard seed in a jar. I utilized a jar that formerly held hearts of palm. Pour the pickling liquid in so it covers the tops of the cucumbers.
Step Four: Let the concoction work it’s magic for several hours. I left mine overnight and woke up the next morning with pickles for breakfast.

The Verdict: I was initially a little skeptical about how these would turn out, because watching all of the ingredients come together I was sure that they could never be as good as what I buy in the store. However, I was really pleased with the final product. My pickles turned out pretty mild and super fresh. They didn’t pack the same tongue-pinching punch that I often expect from a pickle, but that didn’t really bother me. I’m giving myself a solid pat on the back for this one.

Unfortunately it’s day three and they’ve already become a little soggier than I like (I know what you’re thinking, ‘Get it together Megan, what kind of wuss can’t crank through a single jar of pickles in three days?’). That being said, I would advise that if your diet doesn’t consist of exclusively pickle-friendly meals, you plan to share these (Isn’t there an old saying that if you share pickles with someone they’ll be your friend for life? Idk).

Okay so I think we’re all tired of the word “pickles” and I’ve said my piece.

#StopTheWarAgainstPickles

*Most recipes say to use pickling salt but I’m cheap so I just used the basic salt in my pantry and it all worked out just fine

**Most recipes also only call for one clove but I really like garlic

Zoodles: I tried…

If you are a user of the internet with any interest in food whatsoever, I would venture a guess that you’ve seen #PinterestFails.

Up until this week, I’ve laughed along with all of you as other people try out Pinterest recipes and fail miserably. This is probably because my older sister, Blair, is a Pinterest pro, and I know I could never live up to that.

As per my usual blog posts, here’s a little fun fact about me: I’m lazily competitive. If I think I’m good at something, I hate losing. For example, I will never back down from an AP style contest because that’s one of my niche skills. On the other hand, if there’s something I know I’m not great at, I’d rather not even try. For example, I consistently tried to be at the end of the kickball line just so I would never have to step up to the plate. Yeah, I’m pretty bad at sports.

Because I don’t like failure, I’ve generally strayed away from involved Pinterest recipes. This week, though, I ventured deep into my archive of Pinterest recipes and decided to be trendy for once by ~spiralizing~ my zucchini.

Zucchini is one of the best vegetables out there, in my opinion. It goes with so many cuisines (think about it: Italian, Asian, Mexican, American).

I was optimistic going into this spiralizing adventure because I think in many instances pasta is just a vehicle for sauce. For example, I think that spaghetti is stupid so whenever I make Bolognese I just eat it out of a bowl like soup (sorry to any Italian readers who may be offended by that).

While some spiralizers can go for upwards of $50, I sprung for the very affordable $10 Vegetti.

I decided to keep this one simple because frankly I haven’t been grocery shopping in a whilleeeee so I had no choice but to stick with olive oil, garlic, tomato, and herbs.

The recipe I skimmed over said that the most important step was salting the zucchini and letting it drain for 20 minutes before cooking it, so I did. The salt drew out the water as well as a lot of the texture that I love so much.

For some reason the first time around I thought that I would be satisfied with half of a zucchini, but was horribly mistaken. By the time it had cooked down, I was left with a very sad little bowl of what I pretended wasn’t reminiscent of worms.

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Although I was #unimpressed, for the sake of experimentation I decided to spiralize the second half of the zucchini and cook it up without presalting it. I concluded that batch number two was better, and scarfed it down before I could even take a picture.

At the end of the day, zoodles did end up being a nice, guilt free way to enjoy sauce. Will I use the spiralizer again? Yes, I paid $10 for that thing. Would I buy the spiralizer again? Nah. Ignoring that conclusion, anyone want to buy the spiralizer from me? I’d charge ya a fair $11 (The extra dollar is tacked on because it’s now kookie-famous)

We’re going to file this experiment under #PinterestMehs

A not-so-cool chick(en)

If I’m being honest, I’ve never been the coolest kid in school. Or one of the cooler kids. Or cool by any means.

Here’s a photo of me after winning second place in a Texas state science competition:

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As nerdy as this occasion already was, I managed to make it even worse by neglecting to take off my Mickey Mouse sweatshirt when I got on stage. In my defense, I didn’t expect to win anything, but still, I think we can all agree that when it comes to being not-cool, I’m a PRO.

While many transcend their nerdy phase when they escape the clutches of middle school, I did not. I managed to stay very uncool by morphing into one of those really annoying girls who’s way too invested in her high school newspaper.

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Of course I was also a self-proclaimed captain of the backpacking team because as I’ve mentioned previously, I am not anywhere near athletic enough for real sports.

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When you enter college, there’s an expectation that the concept of “coolness” changes radically from what it was in high school. This is definitely true, especially when your freshman floor is full of other former way-too-invested-in-the-high-school-newspaper types.

Yet here I am, standing ankle deep in my senior year of college, still proving to myself and others that I am without a doubt not cool.

On Sunday night, I spent two hours standing in my kitchen keeping watch on a whole roast chicken. With my cat as my sous chef.

(I’m often told that I’m going to become a cat lady, to which I respond: already there, buddy. Case in point.)

So why was a slaving over a whole bird? Because I like to feel fancy from time-to-time. And because Bink’s birthday was last week and I’m trying to spoil him in his old age (that little thing is 17 years old, people.) And for you, my kookie readers.

I’m not going to give you a recipe spiel here because salmonella is a very real thing and I don’t want to be on anybody’s hit list because I’m just not qualified to be directing anyone in their chicken-roasting experience. Instead I’ll just give you a few tips:

-Google “How to roast a chicken,” there’s no shortage of recipes. For starters I’d go for a simple S&P combo **link

-When buying the chicken, don’t be stingy. You’re investing around two hours in this project so you may as well start with quality. Sometimes bargain meat says stuff like “96% real chicken!” and that scares me a lot. What is the other 4%?? Did you expect me not to wonder??

-When you unwrap the chicken, check the inner cavity. There will likely be a small bag of chicken guts in there (yes, chicken guts is the culinary term.) If you forget to take this bag out, you will have a very messy, very displeasing roast.

-Rinsing the chicken is no small task, and if you’re like me you will look like you’re performing a comedy routine. Be ready to deeply sanitize your sink after you’re done cooking.

-Beware of finicky ovens. My cheap college-apartment oven was very temperamental, so I had to keep an extra eye on it. That’s right, three eyes. My kitchen and living room also had a real sultry (read: smoky) vibe when I was done.

– The moment you pull it out of the oven, you’re going to want to dig in. The house smells like Thanksgiving and you’ve been waiting for at least an hour and you’re just tired of being patient. But good things come to those who wait, let the meat sit for at least 15 minutes.

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(You’ll notice in the photo above, despite some strategic angling, that I in fact dug into the skin immediately because it was 9:30 and I was starving. And as I mentioned previously, nothing that I do is cool).

So there you have it, another rowdy night with Megan.

I may not be conventionally cool. But what’s cooler than being able to roast your own chicken? That question is rhetorical, please don’t answer it.

 

 

Challenging the cosmos with cupcakes

According to my sister, Mercury is in retrograde, so “everything is eff’d up.”

You may think that horoscopes are a load of baloney, and most days I would think you’re right. For example, today my Cosmopolitan horoscope said that “a love connection with someone unique and quirky” could “light up” my weekend and quite frankly that weirds me out.

Yet I still know every word to Beyoncé’s “Signs” and check my horoscope at least three times a week because you never know…

Last night I found myself in a terrible mood. Some yucky cocktail of post-game day blues, Sunday sadness, a few personal conflicts, and presumably our buddy Mercury, made me feel like this:

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I’m not a very confrontational person, so instead of facing my problems head on, I decided to make cupcakes.

I admit that baking is not my forte. My kitchen demeanor is just a bit too undisciplined (read: sloppy). Because of this, I am a slave to cake mix. But the options are so endless, how do you possibly pick just one?

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I knocked out white and yellow right off the bat because those are colors not flavors and I didn’t want to reward the lack of creativity by Betty Crocker’s marketing department. Also I’d like to start a petition to remove the word “moist” from literally everywhere.

Next out were carrot, spice, and gingerbread because I knew they would just remind me that the holidays are still a ways away (104 days until Christmas, yes I’m already counting down).

The remaining contenders were an array of chocolates and of course, Funfetti. I got the chocoholic gene from my dad, so I couldn’t go wrong there. At the same time, Funfetti is the most deliciously whimsical cake flavor out there. So I bought a box of both (Devil’s food as my chocolate choice, you know why *wink* ).

In the interest of restraint, I decided to make the Funfetti box first and leave the Devils Food box for a later bad mood.

Staring into a bowl of confetti-filled batter, my icy attitude began to thaw. I think I may have found a prescription for grumpiness.

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I’m really terrible at A) waiting for cupcakes to cool before icing them and B) actually icing them, but their final appearance didn’t matter since 10/12 of them were gone within 20 minutes after my roommates smelled the sugar and swarmed the kitchen.

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While I’m not going to assert that cupcakes can fix everything, they sure don’t hurt. I’m raising a cupcake to what’s sure to be another crazy week.

Mercury will be in retrograde until September 22nd, so whether you subscribe to horoscope mumbo-jumbo or not, keep calm and eat refined sugars.

Happy Monday!

Get chopped

I realized recently that I have yet to actually give my readers any proof that I do in fact know how to make food. Unless you’ve physically made a visit to my kitchen, you would have no reason to believe me. This blog could be fully a result of some savvy google searches.

But I promise it isn’t.

Well this week I decided to try my hand at some multimedia evidence that I know one of cooking’s most basic skills: chopping.

Knife skills are one of those things that you don’t acquire overnight. It took me years of eating irregular, offensively-sized onions to get to where I am now.

As I mentioned in the post before this one, I find chopping to be therapeutic because it forces me to focus on one thing when I probably have a million things to worry about.

Much like how I eat carrots exclusively as a vehicle for ranch, I use my mom’s Greek Salad as a vehicle for vinegar because I am a weird person and I love vinegar (this probably explains my taste for cheap wine).

The best thing about this is that it can easily be tailored based on what you like and what you have on hand. I would say that the must have’s are tomatoes and vinegar, but here’s a kitchen sink list of ingredients:

  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Onion
  • Olive
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Hearts of Palm
  • Avocado
  • Feta cheese
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Oil
  • S&P

Here’s how mine comes together:

So there you have it, I know how to use a knife. My kitchen also clearly has really terrible lighting, but I’ll work on that for next time.

 

At the intersection of quality and convenience

These past couple weeks have been insane.After a 12-hour day of running all around campus for classes and all around town for work, sometimes I just don’t have energy to stand at the stove and feed myself. At the same time, I don’t want to expend the time and energy necessary for stopping at a restaurant and picking something up.

Fortunately, modern technology is constantly finding new ways for us to get food real quick in the kitchen. Here’s my breakdown of culinary timesavers:

1. Frozen dinners- America is an incredible place because nearly anything you could ever want to eat comes in frozen-box form. The quality of different products, however, really runs the gamut. There are literally dozens of doors of options (pardon the freezer-aisle pun). Some of them are awesome, like my personal favorite, the Amy’s section:

These meals are all around $4, they taste delicious, and they don’t make you feel disgusting. I attribute this partially to the fact that they have no meat, because let’s face it, you’d be hard pressed to find frozen entrée meat that doesn’t have a texture similar to the bottom of your shoe.

Some of them, however, are a little frightening. Would steer clear of seafood options entirely, if I were you.

2. Pre-chopped vegetables- Absolutely not. Yes, it’s true, I’m a bit of an anomaly in that I find chopping to be therapeutic but be real here, you’re paying considerably more for something that will only take you a couple minutes to execute yourself, and you’ll probably end up doing a better job anyway (okay that may be a stretch depending on your knife skills.) But seriously, buy your produce whole and chop it yourself. It’s cheaper and it’ll last longer plus if you’re like me you’ll feel a bit like Bobby Flay.


3. Pre-chopped garlic- Okay so I’ve suffered from post-pasta-night-garlic-fingers just as much if not more than the next guy. But are you tryin’ to  tell me that this looks acceptable???? NO.

4. Frozen Pizza- As fun as make-your-own-pizza night is, I’m a firm believer in frozen pizza. I’ve never found a frozen pizza that I didn’t devour entirely too quickly.

5. Quick rice- Rice is a staple in my diet, mostly because it seemingly lasts forever and you can put anything on top of it. Making rice from its raw form, however, takes a pretty damn long time and consistently boils over making a mess that I don’t feel like dealing with. These barriers are probably why your local grocery store has pretty extensive shelves of quick-rice options.


a. Pouch- this is probably my favorite kind because it literally takes a minute to prepare. The downside: they’re often pretty chalk full of salt and other not-super-great additives. While my pantry is always stocked with this stuff, I try to avoid it if I have time to spare.

b. Minute rice- This is a bit of a misnomer because unlike the aforementioned pouch-rice, this stuff does not actually take one minute. While it doesn’t have the same sodium problem, the texture can be a little off-putting if you don’t cook it correctly.

c. Box rice- This stuff cuts down on the time and adds some funky flavor, but combines the sodium problem with the not-so-speedy problem.

The problem that plagues all of these options is that they cost a lot more than plain old rice. My suggestion? Take an hour every weekend to make a big ol’ pot of regular rice and dress it up quickly every night.

6. Instant mashed potatoes- Usually located in the same aisle as the rice is this ABOMINATION. ‘Nuff said.


7. Premade grocery store sandwiches- My relationship with these sandwiches is akin to the classic definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. To be fair, my “over and over again” is like, three times, but you’d think that my first experience with a volcano of slimy mayo would have been enough. These things are just not good. Why have I fallen into this trap thrice? Shopping while hungry like a rookie. DON’T BUY THESE.


Life is busy. These past few weeks have been downright crazy for you as much as me, I’m sure. But don’t fall victim to 5-minute microwaved seafood cream sauce and chop your own darn garlic.

Do people still say SKA?

That’s right folks, senior year is officially here.

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Three years ago I was a baby tiger learning to navigate a new world brimming with independence. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.

Weirdly enough, August 2016 has a similar feel as 2013 did. I’m exhilarated as I enter my final lap at a school that I love so dearly. And I’m terrified that a couple days ago I got this email reminding me that in 9 months I have to leave (or my parents will be extremely unhappy):

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Unfortunately, all of the excitement of a new year comes with a hell of a lot of strings attached given that I do in fact need to take classes (bummer.)

I launched kookie last fall as a way to earn extra credit points in J4804, aka the most nightmarish class I have ever taken #neverforget. I’m pretty proud that I was able to keep it alive after the class ended.

Today, kookie will once again be a supplement to my education as a requirement for J4806, the aforementioned nightmare’s less-awful (I hope) older sibling.

I had an intense debate with myself the other day regarding a possible change in rhetoric with kookie since it will once again be surveilled by professors who maybe aren’t interested in reading some of the more intimate material that’s been posted on this blog in the past eight months.

I ultimately decided that this blog is my soap box, so it’ll continue to sound like me, rest assured.

Another requirement of the class is that the posts be focused on a specific topic. While it was created as a food blog, I admit that in the past few months kookie has gotten a little off-course, so get ready for a bit of a redirect.

Cheers to senior year!

Here’s to all those Tasty recipes you’re never going to make…

I haven’t posted in a while because frankly my diet has been in a sad state of affairs. I moved out of my apartment on July 15th and was forced to couch-surf (can you say college?) for a solid two weeks until I unpacked permanently in my new house.

Couch-surfing unfortunately does not allow for one to be extravagant with grocery purchases. I ate tuna salad more times than I’m willing to disclose.

I permanently escaped the clutches of homelessness a couple weeks ago when I moved into #BinksHouse, but the struggle isn’t over:

The house has no wifi.

This would be highly unfortunate for your average person, but if you know me at all, you know that I am frighteningly attached to my iPhone. I use half of my phone battery on Snapchat. I rarely feel more accomplished than when I get a RT. I got through all five seasons of Friday Night Lights in a couple weeks.

I am fiercely addicted to the Internet.

In case you’re currently thinking “Well use 4G ya bozo!” you should know that every month I use half of the 10GB of data intended for four members of my family. So imagine how much worse that’s going to be this month? Yikes.

But I digress. Gaining a fridge and losing the ability to binge-watch Netflix means that I’m spending exponentially more time on Pinterest, reading NYT Cooking emails, and of course, watching Tasty videos.

My Pinterest Food board is a work of art. I don’t even want to think about let alone admit how many hours I’ve spent pinning recipes.

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I follow and check Tasty, Proper Tasty, Tasty Demais, Tasty Miam, Bien Tasty, and Tasty Japan religiously.

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I look forward to every morning around 10:15 when the “What to cook tonight” email blast hits my inbox.

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But I’m a recipe tease. I’m never going to make any of those recipes, reasons being:

  1. I have self-diagnosed recipe ADD where I just can’t follow directions because I get bored by them and would rather fumble through something solo.
  2. I have a tendency to add things even to frozen dinners because I for some reason think I can make them better. This is not always the case…don’t ask my family about the time I killed everyone by adding chipotle peppers to a soup recipe and it just a bit too spicy.
  3. I’m lazy and broke.

With all of that being said, I’m sure I’ve got many hours of pinning ahead of me. I’m not likely stop compulsively watching Tasty vids. I will continue to take time out of my busy intern mornings to see what Sam Sifton wants me to cook this week.

I’d also finally like to take a moment to congratulate anyone who doesn’t relinquish these recipes to a graveyard (lookin’ at all of you in the Tasty Facebook comment threads.)

Side note: does anyone have a great tuna salad recipe? Nevermind, I wouldn’t use it anyway.

You can go home again: Pt 2

I came home, but left a lot of my heart across the pond.

I know I KNOW y’all are tired of hearing that I miss Europe. But I do. A ton. And this blog is my party so I’ll cry if I want to.

What exactly am I crying about? Here’s an itemized list!

  1. BREAD: There was a certain period of time that I said I would fill my luggage with bread when I went home. That passed because I realized that I love my clothes too much but seriously the bread in Europe was insanely delicious. On several occasions I stopped by Delhaize on a Friday afternoon for groceries and would leave ripping my warm baguette from the bag as I walked. So darn good. Also, shout out to Hanna Knutson for always being the one to ask “Is there free bread?” at restaurants across the continent. You are the real MVP.
  2. Haribo Golden Bears- I’m a bit of a candy fiend. I’ve been getting into candy-related trouble since the third grade when I stole my sisters’ Halloween candy (it was a dark period in my life, and I don’t think I’ll ever escape my reputation as The Candy Thief). In my daily life, I try to avoid candy altogether because I’m an addict and there’s no such thing as “moderation” between me and refined sugars. But in Belgium, I faced my biggest tempter yet: authentic Haribo Golden Bears. These little treats are addictive in the US, but something about the Belgian version (perhaps the proximity to their birthplace, Bonn) was no match for my self-control. I went through at least a bag a week.
  3. The architecture: Walking from my apartment to Place Flagey, there was a certain point where an old church came into view. It’s not a particularly attractive landmark, but for some reason whenever I saw it I took a minute to think “Wow, I’m really here.” I got a similar feeling as I looked out the train window when traveling to and from small towns in Belgium, counting the dozens of little chapels that dot the countryside. I could sense the depth of history behind each casually-placed structure. For locals, I’m sure these buildings are just stacks of old bricks, but they continually made my heart swell. 13173587_10209048632475120_1555362490146672070_o.jpg
  4. Accents: I was abroad for so long that I guess I stopped noticing foreign accents and became more sensitive to hearing American accents. Now that I’ve had my feet firmly on US soil for a few weeks, every time I hear a European accent my heart hurts a little. For some reason words are just so much more interesting when they don’t sound like my own.
  5. European style: Europeans just know how to dress. Even when wearing sweatpants they still looked cooler than I think I ever will.
  6. Walking: I can say with a high degree of certainty that I would have gained 30 lbs this semester had it not been for all of the walking. I remember when my parents flew to BXL at the end of my program and I gave them a walking tour of the city, they almost couldn’t keep up. This is shocking because they’re both in excellent shape and I’m boasting a pair of grade-A chicken legs. Yet an entire semester of romping around different European cities on foot (mainly out of stinginess) made me into an excellent walker. Now I feel like a dingus as I get in my car every morning and drive one mile in three minutes to my internship.
  7. Public transportation: Don’t get me wrong, I missed my car, Satan (named affectionately), a lot. He’s the only one who ever gets to hear me sing. But gas costs money and parking is hard and sometimes I find myself wanting to hop on the 71 Delta bus.
  8. Euros: Seriously, America, why is our money so boring? I want colorful bills. And I want deceptive $1 and $2 coins that make me feel like I’m not spending as much as I am.
  9. The ability to run away for the weekend: I keep getting email marketing from RyanAir and Vueling telling me how easy it is to get to another city this weekend! Ha ha…maybe if I had a couple grand to spare. Which after five months at an unpaid internship, I most certainly do not.
  10. Confidence: I know it’s cliché, but studying abroad did have a profound, lasting impact on my character. I’ve always been pretty introverted, and I’ve always enjoyed existing inside my comfort zone. But from the moment I hit the tarmac in Brussels in January, I began to transform into someone who isn’t afraid to speak up, isn’t afraid to take a leadership position, isn’t afraid to walk up to a stranger for whatever reason, and most importantly, isn’t afraid to stand alone in the middle of a bustling city. I’ve found that having settled back into my comfort zone in the past couple weeks, I feel that confidence a lot less, but that’s just motivation to get back out there and see the world ASAP.

As with my Belgian one, this isn’t exhaustive. I miss so many things that it’d be insulting if I tried to put them on a single post.

I miss ya terribly, Europe. But I’ll be back!

You can go home again: Pt. 1

I’ve officially been back on US soil for two weeks. It’s been pretty surreal. Like everything here feels the same yet it can’t possibly be.

Regardless, it’s good to be home.

A couple of people have accused me of being anti-American since spending so much time abroad. This would not be surprising because frankly I endured a lot of America-bashing and as I’m sure is obvious, I fell in love with Europe.

Yes, I have become more aware of problems that exist in America since being displaced, including obesity, waste, and gun control. However, being so far away ultimately gave me a lot more confidence in saying that the USA is in fact the best country in the entire world.

Here’s a few of the many things I missed when I was away from home:

  1. Pride: Americans love being American. More so than any other nationality that I’ve ever encountered. There are American flags EVERYWHERE. Independence Day preparation had already begun when my feet hit American soil in early June. Being American is a blessing, and everyone here knows it.
    1. My pets: I think I spent more time FaceTiming my pets than I did my parents, to be honest. On most days I like animals more than I like people so it was tough to spend a semester merely admiring other people’s dogs. On several occasions I had to resist the urge to snatch a sweater-clad pug off the sidewalk and run away because I missed this cutie so much:
      IMG_2744Now every morning when my obnoxious, senile cat wakes me up by meowing kibble-breath into my face, I remember those five long, pawless months and resist the urge to push him off the bed.  12828559_10208475839195646_9222731178017058388_o
  2. Smoke-free air- Europeans smoke. A lot. It felt like a couple of my coworkers spent more time outside smoking than they did in the office. Enough people asked me for a light that it’s one of the few French phrases I know. Now whenever I smell smoke I enjoy the nostalgia but certainly don’t miss the carcinogens.
  1. FREE WATER- Can someone please explain to me why it was impossible to get tap water at European restaurants? I don’t get it. Is it an environmental thing? A fiscal thing? I was dehydrated for quite literally the entire time I was there despite carrying a water bottle everywhere. Now that I’m home, I instinctively still fill up my water bottle in the bathroom sink at work instead of going to the cooler. Maybe that’s weird?
  2. FREE BATHROOMS- I was getting pretty tired of shelling out a euro every time I needed to relieve myself at a public venue. I think it’d be much more of a nuisance if I urinated on the floor of your establishment without paying, idk (sorry for the vulgarity, just keeping it real).
  3. Looking like a scrub in public- Compared to the stylish European masses, I felt like I belonged in a dumpster whenever I wore a T-shirt outside my apartment in Brussels. Now when I want to make a Wal Mart run I feel perfectly comfortable in Nike shorts and an oversized tank that says “Camo: America’s Away Colors” (yes I own this tank).
  4. Food Network- Chopped, DDD, Barefoot Contessa, need I say more?
    200-22
  5. My people- Home is where the heart is, and my heart was always back here on American soil with all the people I love.