Summer in Your Mouth

With most schools back in session, summer is coming to a close.  I don’t know about you but this summer just flew by.  So to milk the most out of it, here is a recipe that according to Maria, author of beanafoodie, was just like summer in your mouth.  I made this recipe for our intern graduation back in June and they were a big hit.  I’m sure they would be perfect for any labor day festivities

Goat Cheese Crostini


Goat Cheese Crostini

Ingredients:

1 baguette, sliced into 16 rounds
10-12 ounces of goat cheese
2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
1 head of garlic
1 bag of frozen sweet corn OR 4 ears of grilled corn, cut from the cob 
1 pint of grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Slice the baguette on a diagonal, making each slice about two centimeters thick.  Place on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for about 10 minutes, just enough so they crisp up and have a nice golden brown color.  Allow them to cool before adding toppings.
  2. In a food processor, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese and garlic and blend until smooth.  I used about 12 oz. of goat cheese and ended up with a lot of extra so I would advise adding it slowly until it looks like the right volume. 
  3. If using frozen corn, boil until it is thawed and then sauté with a little olive oil.  If you have access to a grill, just cut the corn right off the cob.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, salt, pepper and olive oil to ensure that the tomatoes are evenly coated.  Then add the corn and basil, mixing thoroughly.
  5. Once the bread is cool, spread on the cheese then scoop on a mound of the vegetable mixture. 

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That’s it!  It took me about 30 minutes and it made enough for 10 people to each have a couple slices.  It was so easy once everything was mixed that I actually assembled a second batch halfway through the party .

What is your favorite summer recipe?

Rome Recap Part 2

Our vacation continued on in Rome for another 2 days.  In this time, we had an archeology tour where we saw the Forum, Palatine Hill and the Colosseum.  We also toured the Vatican and capped it off with a twilight tour of the city.  All of our tours were from Through Eternity and I was so impressed.  All of our guides knew everything.  We Baiers tend to ask a lot of questions, some of which may be considered “random” or “off-topic” but these guys didn’t even flinch.  We had the delight of being escorted around by Francesca, Adriana and Thomas.

Forum Tour

We started the day at the Roman Forum, an archeological site that houses the most ancient ruins in the whole city. 

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So we could wander during the tour, we had little head sets, which naturally made us feel like CIA agents.  To the right is Francesca with her pointer and scarf so we could find her in the crowd.Forum Collage 1

Below are the remains of an old bank.  Fun Facts!

  1. Basilica used to just mean public building so it could refer to a court house, bank or church.  The name was typically given for whatever politician commissioned it.
  2. This building in particular caught on fire.  They could tell because coins were melted and when the molten metal fell onto the stone, it left an impression that we were still able to see. 

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A current dig.  Francesca works for the university so she participates on the digs during the summers. As they dig, they have to destroy the layers.  One of her professors likened it to reading a book and tearing out each page as you finish it.Forum Collage 3

  1. Top Left: where Caesar Augustus was originally laid to rest.  It is now a shrine
  2. A common theme through the tour was that when romans fell on tough times, they did a lot of recycling.  It started with the precious materials like marble and gold but then as times got a little more desperate during the dark ages, they even stole the bricks! (apparently they forgot how to make them) In the top right is a medieval building made with recycled bricks.
  3. This area was originally a swamp and through the power of a drainage system, was converted to useable land.  Unfortunately after Rome fell, no one maintained the pipes so it slowly converted back to a swamp.  This buried the buildings in many meters of muck.  We can thank that muck for preserving the buildings we have left because it saved them from looters, I mean recyclers
  4. On the main steps, the unemployed citizens (about half of the population) would gather to play dice-like games.  In the bottom right you can see indents in the marble where they carved it out for their games!
  5. And of course, there is my lovely family  Smile

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  1. One emperor had two sons and his wish was that after he passed away, both of his sons would rule as co-emperors.  He had both of their names carved into a victory arch to declare it.  Upon his death, the elder promptly killed his younger brother and removed his name from the arch.  Rome was no Philadelphia, if you catch my drift. 
  2. One of the highest honors a woman could receive was being chosen to be a Vestal Virgin, priestesses for Vesta, Goddess of the hearth.  They were chosen at age 6 and had a 30 year term where upon completion, they could retire and receive a pension.  If they broke any of the rules, they had to be punished.  But they were considered to be property of the gods, so their bodies could not be damaged.  Solution? Buried alive.  Yikes!
  3. Some of the buildings were still used, despite being partially covered in mud.  In the dome in the upper right, there were multiple doors made, each a couple of feet above the others. 

Palatine

Next we saw the Palatine, the old Emperor’s palace.  Rumor has it that Nero set a village on fire so he could then build this palace on the hill.  He was not well liked.  In his palace he had a full stadium that he could view from his ROTATATING DINING ROOM! Below in the top right is a new dig started in 2008 where they believe he had a contraption set up so slaves below could rotate his dining room while he ate.  The original space needle. 

Palatine Collage Colosseum

Our last stop was the Colosseum! History time.  When Nero demolished that village and built his palace, he didn’t stop there.  He commissioned a massive manmade lake that he could look over.  Then, in case that wasn’t indulgent enough, he erected a 35 meter high bronze statue of himself (more like his head on Hercules’s body, if you know what I’m saying). This statue was dubbed, the Colossus because of its shear grandeur. After his death, the next rule, Emperor Flavius, decided to give something to the people, so he tore down the lake and in its place built the Flavian Amphitheatre.  It quickly was dubbed the Colosseum, meaning next to the colossus. 

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Some ancient graffiti.  These images were carved into the seats.  The one on the left depicts 2 gladiators fighting, one with a shield, the other with a sword and a net.  They also have remains of the different animals involved in the shows including horses and more exotic animals like lions and tigers.Colleseum Collage 1With the other artifacts, they had a map that showed the expanse of the entire roman empire during its peak.Map Collage

A mix of some silly pictures.  Most of the pagan buildings were saved by being converted into churches.  This cross was installed at the colosseum and ledged has it that if you kiss it, you get 190 days of free indulgences.  My dad fell asleep while we were chatting with a British family. Aaaaand there are my feet.  Funny Coleseum

There were 3 tiers to the colosseum, with the base being for emperors, senators and other high ranking citizens.  The second was for the general masses and the third was reserved for women and slaves.  The Vestal Virgins were the only women allowed on the first level.  Even the wives of prominent figures had to sit up high. 

To protect those on the first level, there were three lines of defense.

  1. A large net that lined the perimeter
  2. Archers positioned in cubbies all around to shoot rouge gladiators or animals
  3. The top of the net was lined with elephant tusks to further trap the contenders.  Most elegant fence ever.

The Vatican

My camera died near the beginning of the tour so I only have a few photos.  Just imagine tons of marble, and paintings, and gilding everywhere. 

Vatican Collage

We learned all about frescos.  It is a method of painting where you lay the plaster, let it partially dry and then paint on it.  I only allows you an hour or two to complete your painting, but it lasts incredibly well because the pigment is one with the plaster. 

Michelangelo always thought of himself primarily as a sculptor.  He was commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel and there he completed his first ever fresco painting.  It is still considered one of the best frescos to date. 

Rome at Twilight

Thomas was our guide here, an American living in Rome.  This tour was a little more casual, especially because there were only 5 of us – my family and 1 other tourist.  He gave us some insight into modern politics, where things came from, some of the sneaky little bits of history and the culture of the city.  It was more of a conversation than a tour and it was really wonderful.  We went to see the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, and along the way he described the different types of architecture including medieval, baroque and renaissance. 

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Jessie’s favorite sight of the trip. IMG_1488

Final Fun Fact:  Popes tended to come from very prominent families that had rivalries with each other.  One pope had commissioned a fountain in front of his families’ palace, but when he died, only the pipes had been laid.  The next pope was from a rival family and decided to outshine the palace with HIS design for a fountain.  The Trevi fountain is so grand, you don’t even notice that it is in front of a palace.

Well that sums of up our time in Rome.  This will likely be the longest recap because we spent so much time there (and it was my favorite). 

Have you ever been to Rome?  What was your experience like?

How I Passed My RD Exam

For those of you who haven’t heard, I passed my CDR exam and am now officially a Registered Dietitian!

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This was the culmination of 4 years of school and 1200 unpaid internship hours.  I am now able to practice dietetics as a full professional and get to sign my name with an ‘RD’ after it. Credentials! I have credentials!!!!

For the past couple of years, I have been hearing about how hard this exam was and honestly, I was freaked out.  I had heard of what seemed like tons of very capable people people failing the exam.  We also had our director hammering it into our skulls how important it was to study for this thing, recommending 2 hours a night for 6 weeks.

Well, as a success story, I am here to tell you how I prepared for the exam.  I know that not everyone learns the same way, so what I did may not work for you, but I’m hoping that everyone can take away some helpful nugget.

Schedule Your Test

Exam Calendar

This was the most nerve wracking part, but I knew I had to do it.  I had started studying very passively prior to scheduling the exam, but it was so easy to put it off.  After all, I had just moved back to CT and had friends to catch up with.  Thanks to Eric, I got the courage to just go for it and signed up for a date a little over a week away.  From that point on, there was a fire under me and I new I couldn’t slack, not even for a day.  I didn’t want to be that intern that failed.  I studied for 7-9 hours a day for 7 days straight.  Eric was the only person who knew I had scheduled it.  I didn’t tell anyone else, which seems pretty common among the RD’s I’ve met.  This helped me to just focus, without added pressure from others.

Make a Study ScheduleCDR Collage

The first thing I did when I sat down with all my books and resources was make a schedule.  I wrote out what material I was going to do each day and how I was going to do it.  Built into the schedule was a confidence check.  If you need to reschedule your exam, you have to do it 2 business days prior to the test.  3 days before, I knew that I needed to make a judgment call.  If I felt totally unprepared, I could reschedule it.  Better to reschedule than to fail.

Get Jean Inman’s Study Guide2013-07-25 19.38.03

Just do it, you will be glad you did.  She has content broken into 4 domains that comes in a binder with CD’s of her reading through all of the material.  Her program is very expensive, so I would recommend buying a used copy off of a friend or splitting up the cost between a few of you and sharing.  If I didn’t have her guide, I think I would have been a bit overwhelmed and had a much more stressful time.

Now, how do you use it?

  1. Read through a section.  Break it up into manageable portions (I did between 3-10 pages, depending on how tired my eyes were).
  2. Listen to the corresponding section.  Listening to her reading it immediately after helped to solidify the information.  And doing it in small chunks helped keep me focused.
  3. Take notes.  In the audio, she will frequently say “Note” and then read a section.  Every time she did this, I jotted that piece of info down.
  4. When I finished a domain, I read through all of my notes once or twice.

This gets you familiar with everything.  If there is a concept that I didn’t understand, I went back through my text books or to the internet to make sure I knew it inside and out.

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Test Yourself

Its scary, but it’s the best way to see if you are prepared.  In addition to testing your knowledge, it gets you more familiar with test taking.  I haven’t had to take an exam in over a year, so there were a few cobwebs to brush out.  To do this, I used 3 methods.

CDR Study Guide from the AcademyIMG_0083[2]

This is about $30 from the Academy, but I got it second hand from one of the RD’s at the Baltimore VA (thanks Cathy!). The best thing about this is that it comes with a CD program that mimics the testing format. I was able to see how I was going to answer the questions, where to click and fully understand the instructions. The way it is set up is that you cannot go back to a question, making each answer final. The more guess work you take out of exam day, the calmer you will be. I just ran through it once, but it helped to calm some nerves.

Jean Inman’s Study Questions

She has over 1,000 questions and answers in her guide, some of which are on the exam itself.  After I completed a domain, I did all the questions in each section.  Afterwards, I graded myself, and I usually got between 70-77% correct.  For every question that I got wrong, I wrote out the correct answer and an explanation.  Again, if I didn’t understand something, I looked it up.

Have Others Quiz You

I employed 3 of my friends, Emily, Henry, and Peter to go through my notebook and ask random questions.  This ensured that I covered all the material, not just what I understood.  This also helped my confidence a ton because I was able to answer most of the questions correctly without too much deliberation.  And confidence is almost as important as knowledge.  If you know the correct answer but second guess yourself, you can easily psych yourself out on a test.

Relax

My exam was scheduled for 1PM and all I did the day of was read through my notes once in the morning.  After that, I watched some Netflix, stretched it out and did a bit of cleaning.  When it was time, I gathered up all my paperwork (that I had printed out the night before) and headed to the testing center, allowing PLENTLY of time to get there.

Relax

By the time I took my test, I felt ready.  I was still anxious, but I honestly felt as if I had done everything I could have to prepare.  I went through the test very slowly, and still had 45 minutes left at the end, so DO NOT RUSH! Use the time, breath and rock it.

What was your test experience like?

I’m Back Baby! Rome Recap Part 1

My family and I are finally back from our 2 week Mediterranean vacation.  This was one of those vacations where we did a lot every day.  I got to see and learn so much history and to use some of my ancient Rome/Greece knowledge (thank you Classical Mythology and Greek and Roman Epics). 

So here was our itinerary:

  • Day 1-3: Rome
  • Day 4-5: Venice
  • Day 5-12: Cruise!!!!  On this cruise we made stops in Kusadasi, Turkey, Split, Croatia, Mykonos, Greece and Katakolon, Greece.

Very busy!  We flew into Rome the morning of July 30th and didn’t waste any time (jet lag? not for the Baier’s!).  We checked into our hotel around 10 and promptly went out exploring.  We ran into the Spanish Steps, a shopping district and a few churches.  I got kicked out of one for wearing a tank top (whoops!). 

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All of the water that comes into Rome is from the Aqueducts (some ancient, some rebuilt) so it is perfectly safe to drink from all of the public fountains. Melissa told me about the fountains ahead of time, and said it was the best water I would ever taste. Its definitely up there! Having fountains all over the city was sooo helpful because it was hot!!! Apparently Europe is having a heat wave unlike any other, but compared to CT this past summer, it was nothing Smile.

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Spanish Steps. Commissioned by the French in and built by Italians. They get their name from from being next to the Spanish Embassy. They open up to Piazza di Spagna which was built with the ancient Romans in mind. They wanted to have an open space for the people to just be.

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In the afternoon, we visited Castle Sant’Angelo, a huge fortress inside the city.  It was originally built for Emperor Hadrian from 130 –139 AD as a mausoleum for himself and his family.  Captain obvious moment, but everything in Rome is incredibly old.  This is one of the more modern things we saw. Yeah.  His ashes were kept their with his family and all succeeding Emperors were also laid to rest there.

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IMG_1122Statue on the Roof (with accompanying lightning rods)IMG_1127Jessie and I.  The first of many posed pictures.IMG_1128

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Me in one of the many nooks and crannies of the castle.IMG_1153Dad with a catapult they used when the castle was turned into a fortress in the 400’s.  Phun with Physics!IMG_1155

Later on, the castle was used for popes to hold up in if they or the city was in any danger from barbarians or other threats. A bridge was built to connect it to Vatican City so they could flee there without sacrificing safety by entering the city. They are about 1/2 mile apart so it’s a pretty long bridge.

Fun Fact: There was an angel statue that was made in all bronze that stood on the rooftop and was struck by lightning. It was rebuilt, and then re-struck. Then rebuilt again, and struck again. All in all, this statue was remade 6 times and the last model now resides in a courtyard, rather than on the roof, and only has bronze wings with a marble body. You would think that after the 3rd try, they would skip the bronze.

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Leading up to the Castle was a beautiful bridge across the Tiber river that was covered with angel statues. We left at sunset to go grab our first Italian meal! We ended up going to the first place we saw because we were starving and I don’t think we could have made a better choice. Everything was fresh and delicious. I got gnocchi and the only time I ever really loved it was when my roommate Meredith made it, and I have to say I fell in love again.

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After dinner we went back to our hotel and crashed. Hard.  We had two more full days in Rome, so look for part 2 coming soon!

What is your favorite city to visit?