Thursday, September 24, 2009

So here I am, setting off on my newest adventure. Living alone for the first time (am I old enough for this yet?) Friends to meet, classes to take, and recipes to be tried and swooned over!

On my first night alone in this lovely grey apartment, before even making the bed or putting the toothbrush away in the bathroom, I filled the rooms with the warm, homey smells of cooking. I made a Vidalia Onion Pie thanks to Paula Deen, of course. And I ending up eating it for dinner that night as well as breakfast the next day (...and lunch). I am home.

Recreo by Moonlight

oh how i miss this

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

a girl after my own heart

Under the tutelage of Miss Rose, she spent the unpleasant years of her puberty balancing a book on her head and studying piano, at the same time growing native herbs in Mama Fresia's garden and learning age-old recipes for curing known maladies and others yet to be learned, including mustard for an indifference to everyday life, hydrangea leaves for ripening tumors and restoring laughter, violets for enduring loneliness, and verbena, which she put in Miss Rose's soup because this noble plant cures the vagaries of bad humor... A lady could not smell of garlic and onion, but Eliza preferred practice to theory and went to all their friends looking for recipes she copied in a notebook and then improved in their kitchen. She could spend entire days grinding spices and nuts for tortes or maize for Chilean cakes, dressing turtledoves for pickling and chopping fruit for preserves.
Daughter of Fortune

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I know, I know. I should be living in the present and seeing all that Chile has to offer. My mother reminds me every time I begin to rile myself up over the projects I'm dying to tackle when I get home. Duly noted, Mom, I agree. But I thought I'd take a bit of a mental escape anyway, and move to a place that is easier for my mind to digest. And that doesn't involve speaking Spanish. I need to indulge a bit in the part of myself that is consumed in all things cooking, baking, bee-keeping, project-ing, etc. It's Tuesday, after all. I need a little motivation to get me over the hump that will be Wednesday.

Anyway, here it is, my current favorite-book-of-all-time, and if you're a friend/family member/stalker of mine you will know that I lend that title to many a book I have read in the past. But to be sincere, they really all are my most favorites. The book is Seattle-local (holla!) Molly Wizenberg's "A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table" and though I have yet to get myself a real copy I am currently obsessing over her beautiful blog, Orangette.

In the meantime, don't get too huffy about my relapse into all things Americana. I have been undertaking a bit of culinary exploration in the land of empanadas and completos, a place that I have come to call home. And when I say a bit of exploration, I mean a lot. So here is an ode to Chile. Choripan, charquican, churrascos, and chili powder hot chocolate. I didn't intend each topic to begin with a C. Then again, I also saw it coming and chose not to stop it. But it fits nicely, don't you think? Chile begins with a C.
These are just a sampling of the most delectable, as well as most common food items I've found here. 3/4 of which happen to include meat, telling you a lot about the eating experience you too can have if you visit.

To begin, choripan. 'Chori' standing in for it's full name chorizo, and 'pan' meaning bread in Spanish. So there you have it. Bread and sausage. But do not take this simple duo for granted. It is like heaven in your mouth. And to eat a choripan while peering up at the Andes helps a bit too.

Charquican. This is somewhat resembling a very thick stew, made up almost entirely of mashed potatoes (puree in Spanish). And it is comfort food at its best. It is eaten in the homes of the campesinos as well as any city folk. The only difference is that in the country it may have more aji and in the city, more meat, but the ingredients are traditionally the same. Before refrigeration the meat that was used in charquican was dried, called "charqui," from which the name of the dish is derived. Can happens to mean dog, but we won't get into that. Many people use beef rump or any other inexpensive beef cut, but my host mother uses ground beef. Some innovative cooks found a high protein substitute for the beef and they use a type of giant Pacific seaweed called cochayuyo.

And then there are churrascos. When using the word 'churrasco' someone can be referring to a particular kind of bread or a kind of thinly sliced meat, usually of the beef variety. Over the weekend in Maipo we ate both choripan and churrascos making me one very happy camper. Ok, so here's how to make one. One churrasco I mean, though you'll be making many more in the near future once you try your first. Use any bread you like best, but as is appropriate, churrasco bread is typically the best option. It's big and fluffy and has the capacity to hold all that good stuff. Take your bread, cut in half lengthwise, and fill it with sliced avocado and tomato, cheese, grilled onions, a fried egg if you can fit it, and of course the churrasco meat itself. Chileans love themselves some mayonnaise and slather it on absolutely everything, including churrascos. I'll let you decide whether or not you'd like to do the same. A good recipe for your heart to have a sure meltdown. But it just tastes so good!

Finally, a sassy chocolate caliente to end. Spicy hot chocolate. Well here we are in the land of chocolate, so I thought this would be fitting. Especially the part with the chili powder. C-H-I-L-E powder. I found the recipe online after watching the movie, Chocolat, and finding my thoughts preoccupied with the Mayan hot chocolate Juliette Binoche makes in her shop, I decided I better have a go at it myself. When I made this over the holidays, in a bout of excitement, I added more than the listed amount of chili powder. Yikes. That was a shock to my system. I wound up coughing my lungs out over the kitchen sink. Use caution.

Spicy Mayan Hot Chocolate
via the Left Over Queen

8 oz. whole milk
4 T Ghiradelli's Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa (or any other rich mix you like)
2 tsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
sugar to taste

In a saucepan heat up the milk over medium to low heat. Then slowly whisk the hot cocoa mix cocoa powder and spices into the milk until blended. Serve!

So easy to make and such a good way to warm up on a cool day. I want to try this recipe using Mexican hot chocolate instead of Ghiradelli's sometime.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Over the weekend the group and I took a trip up north to El Cajon del Maipo. At the last minute our wee family grew with 5 (count 'em, five) new chilean friends. Plus two very loved perros. Activities on the agenda included: horseback riding; a trip to thermal waters on a day much too cold for bathing suits; and a hike to a river nestled closely between two mounds of Andes foothills in a place where ogres must live. We munched on grapes fresh from our backyard, sipped neighborhood wine, and basked in the last taste of sunny weather for a while. Now, getting back to the grindstone seems all that much easier.

a & l with negro


Media noche
En el jardín
Cada sombra es un arroyo
Aquel ruido que se acerca no es un coche

Sobre el cielo de París
Otto Von Zeppelin
Las sirenas cantan
Entre las olas negras
Y este clarín de la Victoria
Cien aeroplanos
Vuelan en torno de la luna
Paga tu pipa

Los obuses estallan como rosas maduras
Y las bombas agujerean los días
Canciones cortadas
Tiemblan entre las ramas
El viento cortisona las calles
Como apagar la estrella del estanque

Vicente Huidobro

Saturday, March 28, 2009


a ship arrived in valparaíso
dropped its anchor in the bay
her name reminded me of kingdoms
sunlit countries far away

come along with me she whispered
far from cloud and mist for you'll
find beneath the andes mountains
an awesome city - bright as a jewel

but I was young and would not wander
with hope and youth i chose instead
the promises of verse and fable
from the wondrous book i read

the ship sailed off into the vapour
shining like gold its mast so bright
it wrote its story on the parchment
high amidst the stars that night
An Dr Pádraig de Brún
(1889 - 1960)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Yesterday morning a pair of ants made the unfortunate mistake of vacationing in my cup of coffee. I hope I didn't slurp down any of their friends before realizing that those black specks weren't in fact coffee grounds.
The woman who brought my cup of coffee is Maria. And she does make one good cup o' joe. It may be because of the three spoonfuls of sugar and plenty of whole (yes WHOLE) milk, but I actually love Nescafe. Yum. Anyway, Maria is our 'nana' here at the Paloma residence, an occupation landing somewhere between nanny and servant. I forgot to mention that my coffee arrives at my room on a tray, no less. She does the laundry, makes all the meals for the day (serving us as well), and cleans the house. I find myself quite often debating the pros and cons of the nana profession. I must admit Maria is like the Jewish grandmother I never had. And I love the way she calls me 'mi amor.' Though, I still find myself conflicted: At one moment I feel quite like a princess, but then reality and a touch of humanity steps in and I start to feel a bit uncomfortable. Maria genuinely seems to enjoy what she does and there is no way she will ever allow me to help her wash the dishes or mop the floors while she's present. She always serves me more than I can eat, she constantly asks me why I'm so skinny, and she never forgets to show me the massive pills she takes to keep her diabetes in check. I love Maria.
But then I wonder, what would the American version of Maria look like? The relationship between nana and employer would be completely different in the States. Or so I think. In this household here in Chile there is no real social or socioeconomic barrier between Maria and ourselves. We treat her as we treat each other. From what I have experienced growing up in the U.S. there seems to be an obstruction between those receiving pay and those doing the paying. And I guess that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Perfect High

There once was a boy named Gimmesome Roy... He was nothing like me or you, 'cause laying back and gettin' high was all he cared to do. As a kid he sat in the cellar, sniffing airplane glue. And then he smoked banana peels, when that was the thing to do. He tried aspirin in coca-cola, he breathed helium on the sly, and his life became one endless search to find that perfect high. But grass just made him want to lay back and eat chocolate chip pizza all night. And the great things he wrote while he was stoned looked like shit in the morning light. And speed just made him rap all day, reds just laid him back. And cocaine rose was sweet to his nose, but the price nearly broke his back. He tried PCP & THC, but they didn't quite do the trick. And poppers nearly blew his heart and mushrooms made him sick. Acid made him see the light, but he couldn't remember it long. And hashish was just a little too weak, and smack was a little too strong. And quaaludes made him stumble, and booze just made him cry. Til' he heard of a cat named Baba Fatts who knew of the perfect high.
Now Baba Fatts was a hermit cat who lived up in Nepal, high on a craggy mountaintop, up a sheer and icy wall. "But hell," says Roy, "I'm a healthy boy and I'll crawl or climb or fly. But I'll find that guru who'll give me the clue to what's the perfect high."
So out and off goes Gimmesome Roy to the land that knows no time, up a trail no man could conquer, to a cliff no man could climb. For fourteen years he tries that cliff, then back down again he slides, then sits - and cries - and climbs up again, pursuing the perfect high. He's grinding his teeth, he's coughing blood, he's aching and shaking and weak, as starving and sore and bleeding and tore, he reaches the mountain peak. And his eyes blink red like a snow-blind wolf and he snarls the snarl of a rat, as there, in perfect repose and wearing no clothes, sits the god-like Baba Fatts.
"What's happenin', Fatts?" says Roy with joy. "I've come to state my biz. I hear you're hip to the perfect trip. Please tell me what it is. For you can see," says Roy to he, "that I'm about to die. So for my last ride, Fatts, how can I achieve the perfect high?" 
"Well dog my cats!" says Baba Fatts, "Here's one more burnt-out soul who's looking for some alchemist to turn his trip to gold. But you won't find it in no dealer's stash, or on no druggist's shelf. Son, if you would seek the perfect high, find it in yourself."
"Why you jive motherfucker!" screamed Gimmesome Roy, "I've climbed through rain and sleet. I've lost three fingers off my hands and four toes off my feet! I've braved the lair of the polar bear and tasted the maggot's kiss. Now you tell me the high in myself? What kind of shit is this? My ears, 'fore they froze off," says Roy, "had heard all kinds of crap, but I didn't climb for fourteen years to listen to that sophomore rap. And I didn't crawl up here to hear that the high is on the natch. So you tell me where the real stuff is or I'll kill your guru ass!"
"Ok, ok," says Baba Fatts, "you're forcing it out of me. There is a land beyond the sun that's known as Zaboli. A wretched land of stone and sand where snakes and buzzards scream, and in this devil garden blooms the mystic Tzu-Tzu tree. And every ten years it blooms one flower as white as the Key West sky. And he who eats of the Tzu-Tzu flower will know the perfect high. For the rush comes on like a tidal wave and it hits like the blazing sun. And the high, it lasts a lifetime, and the down don't ever come. But the Zaboli land is ruled by a giant who stands twelve cubits high, with eyes of red in his hundred heads, he waits for passersby. And you must slay the red-eyed giant, and swim the River of Slime, where the mucous beasts, they wait to feast on those who journey by. And if you survive the giant and the beasts, and swim that slimy sea, there's a blood-drinking witch who sharpens her teeth as she guards that Tzu-Tzu tree."
"To hell with your witches and giants," laughs Roy. "To hell with the beasts of the sea. As long as the Tzu-Tzu flower blooms, some hope still blooms for me." And with tears of joy in his snow-blind eye, Roy hands the guru a five. Then back down the icy mountain he crawls, pursuing the perfect high.
"Well, that is that," says Baba Fatts, sitting back down on his stone, facing another thousand years of talking to God alone. "It seems, Lord," says Fatts, "it's always the same, old men or bright-eyed youth. It's always easier to sell them some shit than it is to give them the truth."
Shel Silverstein 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Because ingredients are fairly limited here in Vina..

I'm dreaming of the following possibilities:
Chile carries curry powder in its supermercados, right? As well as avocado (otherwise known as palta in these parts) and mantequilla con sal, if you please.

:Curried Carrot Soup:
. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, one turn of the pan
. 2 tablespoons butter
. 1 medium onion, chopped
. about 2 lbs carrots
. 6 cups chicken stock
. 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
. 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
. coarse salt
. sour cream

Preheat medium-sized pot over medium high heat. Add olive oil, butter, onions, and carrots. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of chicken stock along with curry, cayenne, and 1 tsp salt. Bring to boil and cover. Cook until carrots are very tender (about 15 min). Process soup in food processor. Or use a handy gadget like an immersion blender until soup reaches desired consistency. Return to pot and place over low heat. If the soup is still too thick add more stock. Adjust seasonings. Depending on my mood I add a little cream to the mix. So good with a dollop of sour cream on top too.

:Open-Faced Avocado Sandwich:
. avocados
. salt
. watercress
. good crusty bread
. butter, unsalted

Toast a slice of the bread. Apply butter. Slice the avocado and place onto toast. Salt to taste. Cover in watercress.

It's strange, the things you start to miss when you go away. 
It probably goes without saying but once you have had the pleasure of laying your eyes upon the pigment of my skin in summer and you have begrudgingly allowed me to borrow your sunglasses due to my lack-there-of, you will have realized that I am a native of the Pacific NW, webbed toes and all. Now that I have begun to extend my radius of travel, I find myself missing things I so take for granted when I'm home: 

+ those special sunny days in Seattle
+ the cherry trees that seem to be absolutely everywhere 
+ not to mention peeking in the windows of bakeries, eventually making my way inside to sample their tasty treats. I always secretly try to concoct the recipes in my mind. 

Both semi-sunny days and cherry blossoms are something of a rarity in South America. And I find myself walking past bakeries here with wide eyes, though I'm not quite sure why just yet. I feel a mixture of disloyalty and over-excitement at tasting a new culture. Looking at those plump empanadas I think, "I don't know if I trust you just yet." But I end up buying one anyway and my taste buds are so pleasantly surprised. 
I know I sure don't mind the change of weather in the meantime.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Arrival

I've finally made it to Vina after two flight cancellations, and 12 hours of actual flying time. My layover took me through Dallas, where I ended up spending the night due to the second flight cancellation. That was my first time actually being outside of any airport in Texas. I arrived in Santiago on the 20th so I've been here for about 3 days now.
I met my friend Linnea at the airport after being stuck in customs for smuggling a banana into the country. I didn't even want the thing. I had shoved in my bag at the last minute upon leaving the hotel in Dallas. Customs was not very happy about finding it though, and I ended up having to pay a $200 fine.
On our first night, even though I was exhausted, with all the adrenaline of actually getting here I decided to go out with Linnea and her friends. We went to a club called Scratch, which is an 18 and older club, so at 21, Linnea and I felt kind of old. Everyone there was closer to 19. Chileans know how to dance though and ooh do they love their 90's rap and hair bands too. We danced until closing -- around 5 am -- and left to get completos, which are two hot dogs in a huge bun with avocado and mayo. Linnea and I shared one. It was good even though usually I'm afraid of mayo.
Erika, Linnea's friend who was visiting for a week before going on to her homestay in Uraguay, was my roommate for a night at the hostel where I'm currently staying. So we went back to the room and fell into bed around 5:30 am. The next morning while Erika and I were waiting to meet up with Linnea we walked down to Okay Market to get something to eat. We grabbed what we thought were little packs of donuts, some orange juice, paid, and went to eat outside. what we found were not donuts but little cookies shaped like donuts and covered in chocolate. False advertising if I've ever seen it.
After eating our little cookies and juice we walked to Linnea's house. We were a funny trio walking down the streets of Vina. Three blonde girls speaking English. We attracted a lot of attention, to say the least. So Linnea suggested we start speaking in Spanish. It worked like a charm. So now I'm not sure if it was the language we were speaking or the way that we looked that triggered so much attention. I guess it really doesn't matter to me either way now, because by speaking less English I'm picking up Spanish more quickly.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some of the things I've been up to, part two

Egypt is definitely a different animal from India. The men in Egypt are pretty aggressive in the way that they stare women down. I'm assuming and hoping this applies mostly to foreign women. I can't imagine living with that kind of treatment 24/7. 


Below is Cairo... in all it's beauty. 

And then there were the pyramids. It was so strange to hear the honking of cars coming from one direction and to look out to the other and only see desert. 

Here's Justin with the Sphinx in the background. 

Some of the things I've been up to

I took this fall semester off before studying abroad to travel and volunteer. I'll dedicate this post to India:

The photo at right was taken in Delhi, where the group met up and was introduced to Indian culture and FOOD!

Then we were off to Dharamsala where we were volunteering for Cross-Cultural Solutions.
I would recommend this program to anyone looking to volunteer. I met a lot of incredible people and got the chance to experience a new culture from a local's perspective.
Above are two of the students (Kajal and ?) that my roommate, Mo, and I taught.

I also learned some Hindi.
Aap ka naam kia hay?
Mira naam Caitlin hay

Before I Go

Since I've been waiting around to go to South America I've been baking a lot and I do love to bakity bake. 
These were my Halloween cupcakes. They came out a little pink, but pretty friggen' tasty if i do say so myself. 

My family and I also decided to celebrate Swedish Christmas this year seeing as we are, in fact, Swedish. I made Lussekatter, literally translated meaning "Lucy's Cats." They're sweet saffron buns with two little raisins set into their creases. So cute. 

Then cousin Kelsey came to visit and we found the biggest zucchini I've ever seen. Unfortunately, it was too woody to make any zucchini bread. Shucks.
Behold, next year's Puyallup Fair first prize winner:

The Countdown Begins...

Hola amigos! Aye yai yaii 
There are officially less than 2 more days until I will be in Valparaiso, Chile. Hooray!
I've almost finished reading Isabel Allende's Ines of My Soul, which has been a good introduction to the history of Chile. Now I'm excited to see it for myself.