Swiss cheese and other things

Hello friends! 6 countries, 24-ish cities (I lost track), and many a plane/train/boat/tube ride later, I am back in the good ol’ US of A. When I sat down to start writing about my whereabouts for the last two months, I realized that I never published this post I wrote wayyy in the beginning of my study abroad program… so I’ll leave you with this 6-weeks overdue update before I go on about how I ate my way through the rest of Europe :)

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Even if you don’t typically like the outdoors, Switzerland will turn you into a hiking person because the views are breathtaking and you just can’t miss out on it.

I’ve been in Geneva for just over two weeks now and it feels like we are already getting ready to leave. One month is not enough in this beautiful place, but at least there’s lots more excitement in store for me!

Geneva is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Switzerland operates under a federal system much like the United States, divided into cantons that are each very autonomous – the four languages spoken in different regions of Switzerland are German, Italian, French, and Romansch. With French borders on nearly all sides of Geneva, we may as well be in France (but not actually, don’t tell the Swiss people I said that).

Lake Geneva is actually called Lac Leman, and Geneva is only at the southernmost tip of the crescent-shaped lake. The lake is one of the largest in Western Europe and is under the jurisdiction of both France and Switzerland!

The jet d’eau is a famous landmark in Geneva and you can see it from 33,000 feet above! It shoots water almost 500 feet into the air and sometimes changes color at night.

Some brief observations after two weeks here:

  • There is a steady stream of attractive men in fitted suits that zoom around on motorcycles. Can’t complain.
  • Everyone has a little dog. Like, purse-size.
  • You can spot an American a mile away. We stick out like sore thumbs, especially when traveling in loud obnoxious groups.
  • Except for the part where everyone smokes, the air feels fresher and the water that flows out of public fountains everywhere is delicious.
  • A small cup of drip coffee (“Americano”) at Starbucks is $7. No joke.

The UN Office in Geneva is the European headquarters and deals mostly with humanitarian rather than security issues.

Behind the Swiss flags are the Geneva canton flags. The eagle is the eagle of the Holy Roman Empire and the key is one of St Peter’s keys to heaven.

Now, as I am here taking a class from an international law professor on International Conflict Resolution, I could bore you with details of all the fascinating IR stuff that I’m learning for the rest of the summer (“IR stuff” being a highly technical term…) I could tell you about the problems with the Minsk agreements mediated by OSCE in the Ukrainian conflict. I could tell you the difference between a truce, cessation of hostilities, ceasefire, and armistice. I could tell you about different kinds of terrorism, or launch into the history of the United Nations… I’ve learned so much about the world in just two weeks, but this is not your typical study abroad blog. So I’ll leave the international relations to the professors and do what I do best instead – talk about food.

Photo courtesy of Sofia Soto Sugar

Fondue and raclette in the little town of Gruyere… more on this later!

In Switzerland, wine, cheese, and chocolate are basically their own food groups. I’ve soaked in so much over the last two weeks (including a weekend trip to Paris!), I’ll go into detail about some things I’ve learned about the Swiss and their food and wine culture in future posts. Stay tuned to hear about Raclette and Gruyere, my first (completely legal) wine tasting experience, Swiss restaurant etiquette, and more!

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The End of an Era

Courtesy of Devon Haddock

Beautiful last day of class at UNC… Not sure if anyone actually went to class?

As the first half of my undergraduate career comes frighteningly close to an end – aka I’m definitely procrastinating studying right now – I am reminded of my imminent 20th birthday right after finals. (I didn’t have a summer birthday until college because of how early UNC starts and ends… At least I always got to bring cupcakes into class on my birthday growing up!) Leaving the teenage years behind isn’t usually a significant event for college kids because we are still essentially fake adults. For someone who runs a blog called “Diary of a Teenage Baker”, though, I suppose I should acknowledge it.

Ever since I debuted this website about three years ago, people have asked me what would happen once I turned 20. After wrestling with the idea of changing the name, I’ve decided that it wouldn’t make sense for me to change my blog for every life stage I go through – Diary of a Broke College Student… Diary of a Law Student… Diary of a Real-Person-with-a-Job… etc. My love for cooking and baking will always be with me no matter where I am in life, so Diary of a Teenage Baker is here to stay. I’m even going to have a real kitchen in my apartment when I move off campus next year, so you can expect more regular updates next semester… after my my summer abroad!

My home for the summer

I’ll be living here for part of this summer! (Not the castle though, I wish…)

I am excited beyond words to have the opportunity to study International Conflict Resolution in Geneva, Switzerland and London, UK for a total of eight weeks. I will eat and travel my way through Europe both during and after the program, and I’ll be sure to document accordingly. That said, I feel like I am due for a camera upgrade after five years of using a mediocre Nikon point-and-shoot for food photography. My best shots have been taken with my friends’ DSLRs. I figured that my once-in-a-lifetime trip warrants the investment to properly preserve those memories, as well as for future food shoots on the blog. After much research and consideration, I’ve decided to spring for a mirrorless digital camera system that fits my travel and food photography needs. I’m super excited to learn how to use it and improve as a photographer!

If you are feeling generous and wish to support my photographic endeavors and/or want to gift me an early birthday present, feel free to chip in (christina@diaryofateenagebaker.com) toward my camera investment. You will see the fruits of that gift on this blog for sure!

I may or may not have a paper due in five hours that I should return to now, but thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of you for supporting Diary of a Teenage Baker – especially those who have been following since its inception! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and for this blog.

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Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

Despite my complaints that I think I might be developing a mild allergy to citrus fruits, my mom keeps buying oranges by the box, faster than we can eat them. That, coupled with the fact that we have a giant bag of Craisins that has been sitting around the pantry, I’ve made it my personal mission to bake as many orange-cranberry flavored things as possible before I go back to school.

I’ve always loved slice and bake cookies for their simplicity and convenience, and these shortbread rounds are no exception. The ingredients list is pleasantly short, so I whipped up the dough while I was making some other cookies on Christmas Eve, and plopped the log in the fridge… and promptly forgot about the dough until a few days later when I realized that I meant to write a ‘cookies for Santa’ post with this cake stand:

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

I know Christmas is over, but look at this little guy! He’s too cute not to post. Ever since I got this cake stand for Christmas last year from a friend, I knew I had to photograph it with some festive Christmas cookies. It’s New Year’s Eve now so I’m a few days late (oops), but anytime is a good time for cranberry orange shortbread cookies. For anyone planning on dieting or hitting the gym more often in 2015 – quick, make these and shove a few of in your mouth before we ring in the new year!

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Goodbye, 2014, you’ve been good to me :)

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Cranberry Orange Quickbread

Cranberry Orange Quickbread

Dear blogging world, contrary to evidence that suggests I have fallen off the face of the earth, I am alive and well. I’ve missed you. I thought of you often over the course of this semester, especially when contemplating whether or not I should: 1) eat Chex Mix for dinner the third night in a row, or 2) tote dishes, utensils, and ingredients back and forth between my room and the kitchen to make boxed mac ‘n cheese. (Chex Mix usually wins.)

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Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

I’m honestly surprised it took so long for me to post a recipe for mint chocolate cupcakes on the blog. If you know me well, you know that mint chocolate anything is my favorite flavor combination… if it’s option at an ice cream or frozen yogurt place, you can be sure that I’ll have it. You just can’t go wrong!

Mint Chocolate cupcakes

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