Archive for September, 2009

hail

September 25, 2009

So as soon as I post about the successes in the garden, the worst storm of the season rolls through town.  I managed to rescue the chile plant when I saw it rocking back and forth in the pot.  The roots looked like there were going to come right out of the dirt.  I propped it up in a corner of the patio behind a chair and it was pretty safe from the rest of the storm.  The tomato, however, was a different story.

I can’t move the tomato so easily and one of the first things to happen was the tomato cage fell over, while trying to rip out the tomato.  Luckily the stem was not broken, it has happened before, and I was able to kind of prop it up on the fallen tomato cage for the rest of the storm.  The leaves are pretty battered by the hail, but no major damage is apparent.  We put the tomato cage back over the plant and reinforced it with two more pieces of wood.  I think it will stay put, now.

rogue squash

September 22, 2009

I believe there is a rogue squash down the street and I’ve been keeping my eye on it for a while now.  Ever since it put out a few squash/melon/cucumber-like leaves, I will check under the leaves every so often to see if there’s anything interesting going on.  It’s residing in some dirt between an empty house for sale and the street.  But, just the same, the street sweeper/gardener/concierge guys on my street are sometimes inclined to tidy up things like this.

I’m pretty sure we have a neighborhood squash plant, since there are now several yellow squash blossoms, but not enough to eat.  Maybe this is the start of my own personal community garden. (Can a person have a community garden alone?)

In other garden news, the chile serano has three open flowers and quite a few blossoms.  Every since the last big storm he’s growing a little sideways, but seems to be doing ok.  Adolfo’s father gave me three chile pods of a Tornachile and I am going to plant them as soon as I figure out where to put them.  I guess the side of the road is an option around here now.

The Health Kick Hybrid tomato has several buds on it and the tomato cage Adolfo and I made out of discarded tree parts (and modeled on my father’s wooden tomato cage) is holding up just fine.  I’m starting some Homesweet Hybrid seeds and hopefully they will be coming up soon.

The dill is infested with aphids again and has stopped growing at about two inches.  I’m going to rip it out.  I have not yet had a successful dill crop and I’m about to give up – except that it’s practically impossible to find dill in the market.

The onions are coming along, but don’t seem to be as happy as previous batches.  The lettuce is bolting and we have to eat it VERY SOON.

The gardenia for some unknown reason is very happy (!?!) and continues to bloom. It smells lovely.  And, the bougainvillea is recovering from a worm/unknown menace infestation and is refusing to bloom any more.  I’m doing my best to be convincing.

tourism at home

September 13, 2009

We had a very eventful weekend with Adolfo’s brother and girlfriend, which included the Ballet of Jalisco, a ceramics studio in Tonala, Guachimontones and raiding the lemon tree down the street.

The Ballet was nice to see and I hope they get better and better. They are a very young company, only just formed in January, and their first show was canceled due to swine flu.  Of the four pieces, one was very nice and showed a lot of promise.  Three of the pieces were kind of painful to watch.  But, I think they show promise, some of the dancers were very good, and I hope the city continues to support them.

Yesterday, we traveled out to the suburbs of Guadalajara to Tonala, a town known for ceramics.  We got a tip from Adolfo’s father on how to find a ceramics studio and with a map were able to find our way to a plain-looking door leading into a small house.  In the entryway, we met two brothers whose father, Nicasio Pajarito, started their studio and they showed us the pieces on display.  As Adolfo’s brother and his girlfriend looked over the cups and water pitchers, Adolfo chatted with the brothers.  As they chatted, one of the brothers said to the other, “Well, looks like we aren’t going to sell anything today….” and Adolfo said “What are you talking about? We’re here to buy things.”  And, the brother explained, that since their father wasn’t in the shop today, they couldn’t sell any of his things.  Adolfo suggested they call the father, but they said he was out in the fields harvesting corn and wouldn’t be available.  Finally, they decided they could sell some of their own pieces, which were purchased with gusto.  We were able to see the kiln and the areas where they form and paint the pieces.  When Mom and Dad come to visit, we are going to return and see if we can get one of the sons to give us to a tour.

The day before that, we went to see the local pyramids!  We have pyramids!  Way over here in Western Mexico.  And, the best part is – they are circular.  Check it out. They were only just discovered in 1970 and the reconstruction/reparations began in 1999.  They are currently building a museum at the entrance and when we arrived there was almost nobody there.  It was much more green than the link shows, and maybe Adolfo will put his pictures up soon.  Guachimontones is only an hour from Guadalajara and a very easy day trip for some very interesting sights.

And lastly, we stop off at the lemon tree down the street and brought home about 30 lemons – and there are many more on the tree.  This weekend, while walking to Adolfo’s mother’s house, I passed the lemon tree and the gardener was outside raking leaves.  I stopped to talk to him and mentioned that the tree looked like it was ripe for the picking.  He agreed but said, “there’s a problem with this tree”  I said, “oh really?”  and he continued to explain that the problem with the tree is that it’s not a lime tree and it’s not an orange tree.  He said the owner doesn’t really like the fruit and I could have as much as I liked, whenever I wanted.  Apparently, the only thing this tree is good for is making “aguas” or fruit-waters, but even then you have to add a few oranges or it’s undrinkable.  So far, I have two quarts of preserved lemons in jars.  I made a bunch of lemonade, some lemon curd (and biscuits to go with) and still have five lemons left over.  I’ll be on the lookout for more lemon-based recipes.

Quite an eventful weekend.

help

September 5, 2009

Since we’ve been back from New York we have had new help around the house.  Previously, we employed a woman who came and cleaned (swept, mopped, washed dishes) and ironed once a week.  However, she is pregnant and decided to start leaving some of her jobs and offered to have her sister come work with us.  The sister came a couple times, but we didn’t click and the job wasn’t so good.

Now we have Paty.  Paty has been working for Adolfo’s mother since Adolfo was living at home.  Adolfo’s mother trained her to cook her recipes.  Already, she has made us picadillo, lengua en salsa roja, rice (mexican style), jamaica and the famous tomatillo and chile de arbol salsa. Also, Paty is really good at what she does.

There were some recipes which I’ve eaten at Adolfo’s mother’s house and really liked and was really excited to have Paty here once a week to cook some of these very mexican dishes.  One of the first ones I asked for was the lengua.

I went with her to buy the tongue (lengua), as I have never purchased tongue and had no idea what questions I would need to answer, how much to get, or how to recognize quality.  First of all, tongue is huge!  I thought we would be getting two or three and it would be about a kilo of meat.  No.  One was plenty and weighed about two kilos.  Also, it was frozen solid. Paty and the butcher agreed that tongue was always sold frozen.  I do not know why, when everything else at the butcher shop seems to be refrigerated, or not.  (Also, Adolfo says this is not true and he remembers buying tongue with his mother and it was not frozen.)  And, the one question the butcher asked was:  Hijo o padre? (Son or father?)  Paty opted for “hijo”, and I think I would have made the same choice on my own.

So, we took the giant, frozen tongue home and I went back to work and so did Paty.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to look over Paty’s shoulder while she was making the tongue, but she did give me a few tips while I was making excessive trips to the kitchen, for example:  the tongue is boiled for a couple hours and then it has to be cooled before you peel off an outer membrane, slice it and put it into the sauce, also it starts off pretty chewy and will soften the longer it cooks.

Later, for lunch there was lengua en salsa roja, as if by magic.  It is wonderful to have lunch just appear.  We are really happy to have Paty around and one of these days I will have less work and be able to hover while she cooks – I’m not sure Paty is looking forward to this day as much as I am.