First of all, I apologize for my long absence, to anyone out there who actually reads this blog. I'll try to make it up to you with an extra-long post with plenty of pictures.
It has been a very full several months, involving many people and even more miles.
I spent the summer in Korea, three full, glorious months. It was the longest I have been back since we moved to the States seventeen years ago, which meant a lot of family to see, cousins to catch up with, and friends (old and new) to meet.
Oh, and did I mention my cousin got married?
Isn't she beautiful? :)
She is the eldest of the grandchildren on our dads' side, so she always took care of us all. She's really more like a sister to me, and it was lovely to see how happy she and her husband are together.
This was also the first time that our grandmother had her eleven(!) grandchildren all in one place, so of course we took a photo to commemorate.
When I wasn't catching up with family, I was playing with a lot of really cute kids. Every day.
You are so jealous right now.
There were also adventures, with limits to push and lessons to learn. And sometimes, just laughter.
And there was, of course, loads of delicious food to cook and eat.
After that lovely vacation, I was back in Madison for a spell. This was again the longest I have been back since leaving for college. Having been away for so long, I could really appreciate how autumn brings out the best in Madison.
I spent a lot of my time cooking, baking, reading, running, seeing friends... and occasionally thinking about packing and getting ready for the big move.
Well, believe it or not, I actually did get through all the packing and the intricate bureaucratic dance, and have been in Brisbane for two weeks now.
I am in love with this place so far.
There is so much to explore and love about it, and so many people to meet before classes start next week!
It's summer here, which is all kinds of confusing for my Midwestern winter-accustomed brain. The sun also rises super early (around 03:30), which throws off my sense of time even further. What with all the sunshine, and the crazy flora and fauna around, it's no wonder Dorothy was amazed when she stepped into Oz for the first time.
By the way, the Aussies have a great sense of humor and take immense delight in warning tourists about drop bears, or rabid koalas that will jump from trees to attack passersby.
It's okay, we tell them all about the killer moose we have back home.
It's all in good fun and quite silly, and you can see why it appeals to me (simple minds and all that). :) Another simple pleasure in life, of course, is cookies.
My house, while lovely and equipped with almost everything I could ever need during my two-year sojourn in Brizzy, does not have any baking pans or cookie sheets. It does have three rice cookers, but I have serious doubts as to their oven-safeness. So yesterday a friend and I made a trip down to the Ikea in Logan, involving three bus transfers and several nerve-wracking moments during which the Google Maps GPS failed to locate us. We finally made it there, though, and I got a cookie sheet and a loaf pan.
And then, you guys, it was time to make cookies!
I had forgotten to get vanilla when I bought baking ingredients, so I used orange zest to flavor these cookies instead, which turned out rather beautifully! These cookies are not too sweet, and I love how thick and soft they are.
Orange chocolate chip cookies
250 g (2 1/5 sticks) unsalted butter
1 c. (scant) raw sugar
zest of 1 orange
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Lightly butter a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour and baking soda together.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the zest and eggs, then the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet, placed about an inch apart. Place cookie sheet in freezer for half an hour, then in preheated oven.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown, rotating the cookie sheet halfway through.
Cool on wire rack.