Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Photo Wednesday: The Braid Experiment

This is how my lovely profile picture came to be... haha.

And just for kicks..... the dogs again. :o)

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Hot and Cold of taking a shower

As I've previously mentioned, we "live without" in many ways. This is compared to my cushy-US-lifestyle -- because, let's be serious, there are people out there with much tougher lives than me. Since I grew up with having access to a shower with good water pressure and no lack of hot water, my shower situation now is a little shocking.

Let me describe. We have a strange nozzle for a shower head. There is a switch on the shower head for either cold, warm, or hot. I enjoy my hot showers, so I turn the switch to hot and then turn on the water. If you turn the water on full blast (meaning wonderful water pressure), you will only get freezing cold water (even if the switch is on "hot"). But, if you slowly turn the water down down down... until the nozzle starts making a "gurgling sound" .... then you will get hot water... and no water pressure. That's all good though. I can handle that. I will take my hot water, and forfeit my water pressure.

Oh wait, the fun doesn't stop there. This lovely shower head decided to - how should I put it? hmmm- uh, crap out. So now I have one choice only: freezing cold shower. I just can't do it. How do people live without hot water? I know plenty of people around the world do it, but geeeeez. They're all much stronger than me.

Now I did have a brief experience with no-hot-water when I was living in Chile. I suffered through by boiling hot water, pouring it into a bowl, and then washing my hair in the bowl. Awkward, but it worked.

I mentioned this water-boiling solution to the man as well as my absolute aversion to taking cold showers. He says "OK" and immediately goes to fill a bucket full of water. I watch him curiously because (A) the bucket is being filled with cold water (obviously) and (B) a plastic bucket cannot be heated on the stove. Then he grabbed a long cord with a oddly shaped orange contraption on the end. He places this thing in the bucket and then plugs the other end of the cord into an outlet. "Don't touch anything," he says. "I'll tell you when it's ready." A little while later, he carefully disconnects the cord and removes the orange dealy from the bucket. "Hot water."

And indeed it was hot water. And plenty of it to wash my massive amounts of (red!) hair. Oh you clever little guatemalans! (although, is risking electrocution really worth hot water?)

Seriously though, can't we just fix the shower head? (says the spoiled gringa)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cooking with Kelly: Cheesy Bacon Potato Soup

Sorry that I've been lazy about writing posts for the past few days. I've been busy with a few job leads (yay!), so all my energies have been focused on that. I have also been cooking a lot. I've made cilantro-lime rice, Kelly style chopped salad, red rice and chorizo, and more! I've mentioned my cooking adventures to a few people and have gotten some recipe requests. So todays post will be an awesome foodie post.

If you know anything about my eating habits and addictions, you know that I love baked potatoes. I'm talking a baked potato with the works: butter, cheese (usually cheddar), sour cream, etc. Yes, it's exceptionally unhealthy, but it tastes oh so good.

Unfortunately, I don't have an oven or a microwave for making my awesome potato goodness. So I have to be more creative.

One of my favorite things to cook is soup. I think I like the fact that there is a lot of knife work involved -- chopping veggies is oddly relaxing for me. Within the soup category I tend to make classic chicken soup a lot, as well as Chicken Tortilla soup (an awesomely zippy tomato and chicken broth concoction topped with cheese, avocado, and tortilla chips).

Today I had a craving for a baked potato with the works -- so I decided to branch out with my soup making and have a try at Cheesy Bacon Potato Soup. And man oh man was it successful. And now, I'm sharing the goodness with you!

*please keep in mind that I tend to "eye" things a lot when cooking. So a lot of the measurements here I'm just guessing at. Just listen to your gut :o) *

4-5 medium to small potatoes thinly sliced
4-5 leeks chopped (depending on size of leeks)
4-6 pieces of bacon
water - enough to just barely cover the potatoes
2 chicken bouillon cubes
8 oz Velveeta cheese (or something of the sort.. Velveeta is a little expensive in Guate, so I used something similar but more reasonably priced)
1 cup of cream (I guess this would be heavy cream ... I got mine from a corner store where you ask for crema and get cream in a small plastic baggy tied in a knot at the top. You could probably also use sour cream, although that would give it a slightly different flavor ... possibly more "sour" haha)

Slice potatoes and put in pot. Fill pot with water to just cover the sliced potatoes. Add chicken bouillon. Boil potatoes until soft (do not throw out the broth). While the potatoes are boiling, fry the bacon and set aside. Do not discard the bacon grease, use the same pan to quickly fry the chopped leeks (I added a little butter to the pan as well). Add the leeks to the potatoes and broth. Mash the potatoes in the pot along with the broth and the onions (I wish I had one of those mashed potato mashers, but I managed to get the job done with a spoon and knife) Stir cheese and then stir in the cream. Chop bacon and stir into soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Let me know how it goes if you try out the recipe!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Photo Wednesday: The Pregnancy

As requested (and because I'm too tired to write a real entry today)....

Pregnant Perla!

And evidence that Terry is indeed and evil evil little chihuahua (and he is actually smaller than Perla and has a girly-er bark -- both of which I find funny)...

Look close. There are two bite marks; one on the left wrist and the other on the right arm. Don't worry though, the man is fine - though slightly bruised at the moment.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The case of the monster-fridge

So I went through a pretty nasty case of food poisoning about a week ago. I got food poisoning about two weeks after moving to Chile as well - so it seems to be a pattern. Maybe that's how long it takes my body to realize the food is different and react negatively, or maybe it's just an odd coincidence. This time I figured out that the culprit was the pork made for a BBQ for B's birthday. Now, pork is a dangerous meat since, as many people say, pigs are dirty animals. I, however, do not blame the pig. I blame the refrigerator.

My suegro (father-in-law) had the interesting idea of buying a cheaper fridge to save some money. OK OK, not a bad idea. The problem is that this cheaper fridge is not your normal kitchen fridge. It's one of those soda display fridges that people put in their mini-marts, which also tend to consume a ridiculous amount of energy. Buy cheaper fridge, spend super duper amounts on the electric bill.... hmmmm. Ever the money-saver, el suegro decides to periodically unplug the fridge throughout the day. Lovely! Keep the fridge monster from eating all the electricity while making the temperature in the fridge fluctuate throughout the day. Food gone bad is a waste of money. Even worse, food that causes sickness could end in a hospital visit which is a LOT of money.

Now let's all ponder what might be one of the worst things to leave in the fluctuating-temperature-monster-fridge.... hmmm... let's see... need another minute? ..... ok ok, I'll tell you: RAW MEAT. Guess how long this raw meat was marinating before we cooked it! -- Roughly a day and a half. UFF.

And TA-DA! Miss Kelly has food poisoning like nobody's business (followed by B and el suegro not feeling so hot either...). I won't go into the nasty details of my suffering... but just know that it was exceptionally awful. I will offer one bit of advice though. If you ever have food poisoning, please know that dehydration usually comes along with that - so drink tons and tons of water. If you don't, you will experience the worst stabbing pain in your side (which after everything you went through with the food poisoning just feels like karma is being unnecessarily mean).

And about a week after this whole incident, I'm feeling much better............ and the monster-refrigerator has been happily devouring electricity without any breaks for the past few days. :o)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Introducing my roommates...

So I live with 2 dogs - chihuahuas, to be more exact. I love dogs- really, I do. But I never thought that I would be living with chihuahuas. In fact, I remember wanting to laugh when my Latino boyfriend told me he has pet chihuahuas (oh all the stereotype jokes you can think of!)

People seem to know chihuahuas for two things.... #1: the Taco Bell dog and/or #2: being vicious angry little purse dogs. As far as I know our chihuahuas do not prefer Taco Bell more than other human food nor do they say clever Spanish phrases. And only one of the two is vicious and mean.

So here are Terry and Perla.....

Terry is an evil evil dog. He's male and quite possibly has multi-personality disorder. One minute he is sitting calmly on the sofa next to you and then the next he is snarling and snapping at your hand. B. has bite marks on his arm now for simply sitting down next to him.

Terry is about 8 years old and has some issues jumping. He also tends to prance when he walks. The most bizarre thing about Terry is his nicotine addiction. If anyone is smoking a cigarette near him, that person is immediately his best friend. He will wait patiently until he can get to the smoking hand and then lick all the nicotine flavor off the hand. Seriously weird, right?

Perla is the lady of the house. She's about a year and half and she also has some issues jumping up onto the sofa -- this is due to the fact that she is PREGNANT (thanks to Terry, uff).

She is a sweetheart and only snaps at Terry. She has become my guardian. She will sit next to me on the sofa all comfy and then bark and snap at Terry if he tries to come anywhere near me. She seems to be rather scared of the camera (I think it might be the flash) - so we're lucky to have this photo of her. Perla is well along in her pregnancy, so we should be seeing chihuahua puppies very shortly!

I don't want to become one of those people who blogs about their pets too much, but there will definitely be some more blogs about Perla and Terry. :o)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dear Chile, Happy Dieciocho!

Fiestas Patrias. Funny to think that one year ago I was in Chile going to fundas, eating obscene amounts of empanadas and drinking delicious Chilean wine (sorry, not a fan of the chicha).

And now I'm in Guatemala, missing Chile like it's my job. In honor of this nostalgia for my 2nd home and for the national holiday being celebrated, I bought a bottle of Concha y Toro Carmenere (on sale today for only 50Q!!*) and I made my own version of pebre using Guatemalan ingredients (which will probably mean the pebre will be super spicy, but I love it!). (OK OK, I also bought a bottle of Pisco. It's Capel. But come on now, it's pisco in, that's awesome!)

Completely unrelated to Chile, we're also making pan-fried chicken wings. Neither of us has ever done this before and most wing recipes online call for some amount of baking. Unfortunately, we don't have an oven (! oh yes, we definitely "live without" in many ways). This should be interesting (at this very moment I can hear the chicken sizzling). Hopefully we don't burn down our kitchen in our attempt to satisfy the craving for US style Happy Hour hot wings.

Pictures to come. And with that, I'm off to make sure the man isn't burning anything!

Viva Chile! Enjoy your chicha/vino/pisco!

* 8Q = 1 USD

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hello World.

So I'm finally starting up the blog. I know it's been a few weeks since I moved to "the land of the trees," but I've had my hands full with things like eating more beans than I have in my life so far, the unnecessarily difficult process of setting up the internet, surviving rides in brightly colored buses blasting reggaeton, the painful experience of food poisoning, and spoiling a cute pregnant chihuahua. I will expand on all of these fantastically entertaining topics in the next few days for your reading enjoyment. For now this is just a "hello world!" post in order to let everyone know that I am here!