oooh sorry

July 19, 2009

Yes, I’ve been away. Yes, I’ve been neglecting the blog. Yes, many things have happened in the mean time. I’ll try to get back up to speed soon. Until then, you can check out the photos on Adolfo’s Flickr site – he is doing a much better job of posting.

The obvious

April 30, 2009

About the Swine Flu, we have no cases in the State of Jalisco.  Nevertheless, all classes are canceled until the 6th.  Movie theaters, bars, museums and other places where large amounts of people gather are closed until the 6th.  The restaurants are open and on Tuesday, when we went to buy Adolfo’s guayabera for the wedding, I saw the restaurants doing pretty good business.  I don’t see panic in the streets, people seem pretty calm.

We aren’t really heading out unless it is necessary – Adolfo went out to a meeting this morning and I think he went to another meeting on Tuesday.  Any business that can is be handled by phone or email.  I’m fielding a lot of questions from my coworkers and students and Adolfo has a translation project he’s working on, so we are busy at home.  I probably won’t go to the Abastos market this weekend and will go instead to a small supermarket.  Also, my excursion was canceled yesterday – we were supposed to leave for Michoacan tomorrow.  I’m really sad about that.

All in all, I’m about to get really bored here at home.  I hope we will be back to normal soon, the country is losing a lot of money on all these closures.

Lemongrass and peas, maybe

April 12, 2009

The garden is on the upsurge, once again.  I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on the gardenia and it seems to be thriving as long as I keep picking off the little bugs that gather at the blossoms.  The azalea seems to be suffering through all the wind that comes racing through the terrace at sunset and we will see if it ever blooms again.  So far, it’s putting out a nice amount of new foliage.  My free fern that came wrapped around the azalea has been putting up new fronds and as the new fronds unfurl, I’ve been clipping off the older browner leaves with the kitchen shears.

The rotation plan for the green onions is also doing really well.  Every time I pick one green onion, I push a new seed or two into the vacant soil.  I have four onions going at different stages of development.  The lettuce is once again in it’s last hurrah and I’m going to pull it up in the next few days.  However, I already planted the replacement lettuce and it is too small to eat, but coming along.

Last week, after several weeks of pondering, I broke down and bought the lemongrass plant I’ve been eyeing.  It was so root-bound I had to use the scissors to cut off some of the most offending masses.  I divided the plant, but put it in one large container.  Next time I do this I need to wear opera-length gloves, as I managed to slice up both arms to the elbow.

I also made it back to the horticulture store in the Centro.  Trips to the horticulture store are both exciting and disappointing.  I really want the people working there to be more knowledgeable.  But the seeds are so cheap, I feel like experimenting.  I ended up buying some peas and serrano chiles, I passed on the tomatoes for the moment.  The chiles were really an unnecessary expenditure.  I can get a few chiles every couple weeks for pennies at the abastos market.  Sometimes the venders even throw them in for free – I usually ask for three or four and it’s not worth the trouble to charge me if I’m buying other vegetables at the same time.  But, I’ve been wanting to have my own chiles and the plants can last for several years – if you treat them right.  Since a packet was only $5 pesos (~$0.40 US), I thought, why not give it a try.

I’ve purchaced peas a few times in the market and I decided after the last attempt to give up on the fresh peas.  They are old and square, starchy and hard.  These are not the peas I want to eat.  So now I have three pots with a pea seed in each and we will see what they do. The packet said the growing season was September to January.  This may be the practice round since I’m growing them out of season.  I know the weather has been extra warm and the peas shouldn’t like that, but the lettuce hangs on.

I wanted to know if they were going to need supports when I bought them and I asked the woman behind the counter, what kind of peas are these?  She replied: normal.

So, for more than one reason, I may need a practice run with these peas to see what I have and what they want.

I also asked about the tomato varieties and received unsatisfying answers.  Apparently, there are three kinds of tomato seeds:  round, oblong, and by the kilo.  hmmmm…..

The “by the kilo” seeds were also of the “round” variety.  I could see the labels on the seeds and wrote down the varieties so I could go home and look them up on the internet.  This is what I found: Flora Dade and Rio Grande.  Do you know anything about these?  I didn’t write down the “by the kilo” type since I have NO need for a kilo of tomato seeds.

I looked them up, and the descriptions used words like: firm, blocky and grown for market.  Other tomatoes are described as tasty or sweet and juicy.  These are not words used for Flora Dade or Rio Grande.  I am not convinced.

Other than the tomato mess, things are growing and growing and I’m excited to see what the peas will do.

Being a tourist in my own town

April 10, 2009

We are right in the middle of most people’s two week vacation.  Semana Santa started this past Monday and next Monday begins Semana Pascua.  Both the universities I work with are closed and my students are out exploring, so my job duties have also slowed considerably.  This is good since Adolfo’s sister and aunt were in town this past week for his mother’s birthday.  We were able to do a lot of touristy things, including shopping and eating all around town.

In the process we began to frequent a new cafe in the Colonia Americana.  La Cafeteria has been open for five weeks and seems to be going strong at this point.  In fact, they have been doing so much business that they ran out of quite a lot of their menu.  This, combined with a very charming and air-headed waitress, made for very interesting visits.  Adolfo’s sister says she is like Lisa Kudrow’s waitress character in Mad About You.  The highlight for me happened while trying to eat dinner one night.  We were told that they only had bagels for the bread option on their sandwiches and so we ordered a couple bagels with cream cheese and salmon, along with some sides.  First, she comes back to our table to change our sides, because what we ordered is no longer available, then she returns to tell us that some of the sides we ordered are in fact available.  Then she returns again to apologize that they had run out of ham.  We replied that this is  a shame.  She stays at our table, then says, did you want to get something else instead?  We reply that we had ordered salmon, and thought we would stick with that.  At this point, after the waitress leaves, Adolfo’s aunt declares that whatever the waitress wants to bring will be fine with her.  She brings out the sandwiches and only one is on a bagel, because she said they “found” some other bread in the back.  We are dumbfounded, but the food is really pretty good and in total, in the last week, we went three times to the cafe.  The deserts were particularly good and I am excited about trying more of the food, once they get their feet back on the ground.

The Cafeteria is on Libertad at Robles Gil.

Love of parchment paper

March 29, 2009

Many thanks to those of you who are feeding my parchment paper obsession.  I have recently been on a brownie kick and it also came in quite handy with some Pane di Como Antico from The Italian Baker book.

I found the perfect brownie recipe in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, where I should have looked to begin with.  The latest recipe of Moist Chocolate Brownies were made with some chopped toasted almonds and amaretto.  The parchment paper makes life so much easier.  I can take the brownies right out of the pan and cut them on the cutting board, stack them on a paper plate and take them downstairs to the concierge, as a “get well soon” gift.  Not that brownies are necessarily going to help when you’ve cut your arm with a machete.  (He’s much better now and got the stitches out last week.)

Yesterday, I made the Pane Como again and it came out even better than the previous time.  And, I’m crediting the parchment paper.  I have a small problem with my ceramic bread form – it’s a little too short.  In the past I’ve had problems with the bread running off the edge and creating a little frown.

This time, I put it on a piece of parchment and in the bread mold.  Not only did I not need to grease the mold, the paper was longer than the mold and any run off was contained, and the bread browned better on the paper than in the form.  Success on all levels.

In non-parchment paper cooking news, I made a really interesting blood orange olive oil cake and with my excessive orange purchasing lately, it is easy and fast.  I’ve never seen blood oranges here, and when I asked a friend about them she was really confused.  I used regular juicing oranges and the cake was very tasty.  I may try the original recipe soon.

Also, I got a tip from one of Adolfo’s friends about a charcuterie near my regular supermarket.  I went yesterday and there was practically a line out the door.  Everyone was getting prosciutto and I got in line.  I was able to come home with some prosciutto, salami and Dutch Gouda.  I also tried the Chilean Gouda and it was obvious why it was significantly less expensive.  There were too many interesting options listed on their wall, so I will have to go back to try the pastrami (!), Gruyere, bacon, Camembert and other interesting goodies.

Olive Paste

March 22, 2009

I made this while dad was here visiting and he wanted the recipe:

1 c. sliced kalamata olives
1/2 clove of garlic
1 t. fresh thyme (approx.)
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
2 anchovies
1 T. olive oil (extra virgin)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process to the desired consistency.

We ate this on toast while Dad was here, but yesterday I made it again and spread on some pizza with onions and it was pretty good.

Many things

February 24, 2009

Well, many things have been happening and not much writing has been done.

I have been stalking the dried fava beans at the abastos market and I finally got up the nerve and bought about two cups.  Tonight, I made soup from my Diana Kennedy book and I think it turned out really good.  Sadly, I also found out that Adolfo detests dried fava bean soup and would not even try a bite.

My job has been kind of nuts lately, but mostly in a good way.  Hopefully, I will soon be planning a trip to Xalapa.

I went for the first round of wedding dress shopping, which was kind of horrible.  The first shop was comically horrible.  First, when the shop ladies found out I was shopping for a wedding dress, there were yelps and squeals of fake congratulations.  Then, I tried to explain that it would be a casual affair and I was not interested in dresses with sequins, rinestones, or other plastic crap.  She responded excitedly that it was “my day” and as the bride, no matter how casual, I was supposed to “shine” (with rinestones, apparently).

Also, a friend is beginning to study for the GRE and this morning we met to work on vocabulary.  We are thinking good thoughts about a Fulbright grant to the New School in NYC.

While all this is going on, I’ve managed to kill off a tomato plant and encouraged an aphid invasion.  So, the garden is not in tip top shape.

There are many more plans in the works.


February 16, 2009

I’ve been working on the other blog and haven’t had time to think about posting here.  I’ll be back soon!

a quick trip to Missouri

January 20, 2009

Well, the new year has started as a hectic, whirl-wind of events.  We hosted some friends from San Francisco for a few days, attended a very nice wedding in Mexico City and I then received word that my grandfather was very sick.

I left  Mexico City for Missouri, and landed in a shocking cold front.  My grandfather passed away on January 13th and all of his grandchildren were able to attend the visitation and funeral.  I am sad, but it felt good to be with family.  I was also reminded by a friend today to be thankful for my current job (which I am) and had I been still with my previous job I would have had to fight to leave for a week (I would have quit on the spot).

I was able to spend a good amount of time with my grandma and we worked on a particularly frustrating jigsaw puzzle.  I wanted to have more time to look through the recipe box she showed me, but this visit wasn’t particularly conducive to reading recipes.

There was a lot of good food, stories and photos.  And, I am thankful for all of them.


January 7, 2009

I have been seeing these things in the food stalls around town and I just haven’t been able to figure them out. The food stalls here are very seasonal and I remember these things from last year.

They are green and steaming, appear to be a pod of some sort and sold in little bags. Usually the stand is also selling roasted peanuts. My first thought is fava beans, but I know that favas are called habas here. I asked Adolfo several times if they are habas and he always says no, but can’t tell me what they are – except that he doesn’t really like them… not unusual.

So, we recently had some visitors in town for a day and a half and they were also commenting on these things. And, finally, I was motivated to the dictionaries. First up, the International Gastronomic Dictionary in Spanish – no dice. Second, the Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary (Spanish and English) – nothing. Finally, I looked in the Diccionario de Mexico. Jackpot!

Guasanas: Toasted green garbanzo beans that are sold in the streets of Jalisco.

Of course Adolfo doesn’t like them, he HATES garbanzo beans!

Now I’ve got to get my hands on some before the season ends.