It has been a while since I’ve posted anything new, I know. I have a good excuse. I was home for a whirlwind ten days that, in reality, felt like 10 seconds. I got to see my family, whom I had not seen in 3 months, including my little sister, who I had not seen in 4 months, since she spent part of the summer in Oxford being brainy and fabulous, rather than staying home, being bored and helping me pack for Italy.  She is growing up entirely too quickly for my taste, and it has gotten to the point where I can no longer help her with her math homework, because I barely understood that stuff when I had to do it. It feels like only yesterday she was learning about binomials and I was screeching terms like “FOIL” at her constantly, throwing crumpled pieces of paper at her when she messed up (please note, my tutoring services are available for hire).

I took advantage of my brief time at home to hit up as many of Ithaca’s Greatest Gastronomic Hits as I could, excluding all the Italian joints (with one notable exception*). I made it to Wegmans, Boatyard Grill, hibachi at Kyushu, multiple pizza bagels at CTB/Ithaca Bakery, Tamarind, arancini at Ciao*, and, of course, the heavenly deep fried potato wedges at my favorite restaurant:

I didn’t bring my camera home with me, and what we have here is a picture hastily taken with my phone. It had been three months since I’d had those potato wedges, and I wasn’t about to waste time taking a decent picture of them. Sorry I’m not sorry.

I did do some baking at home, taking advantage of long-forgotten luxuries like counter space and convection ovens and food processors and measuring cups. I made three (yep, three) key lime pies using this recipe that has never failed me. I made homemade poptarts filled with Nutella (post coming soon), and chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my sister’s bake sale.

Even though I couldn’t pack up my friends and family and bring them back with me, I was able to smuggle a little bit of home into Rome, in the form of a few comfort foods:

The cast of characters includes Annie’s mac&cheese (because everyone keeps saying it’s so much better than Kraft, but so far I just don’t see it), Kraft Easy Mac (in case I still don’t see it), Reese’s peanut butter cups, Lipton cream of chicken cup-a-soups (in case Rome ever does remember that it is almost November, and starts cooling down accordingly), Heath toffee bits for baking (and snacking while baking), apple pie spice, and real cheddar cheese so that I can make my own mac&cheese once I run out of the offending Annie’s and conciliatory Kraft.

I also brought back a measuring cup, measuring spoons, a zester, a mini cake pan, and my pastry bags and tips. Oh, and my old electric hand mixer that will be ready to retire soon, because I’m sure it (much like myself) would rather retire in Italy than in Ithaca anyways.