22 July 2015

Let me feel the sand between my toes and the sun on my back!

We're headed to the beach, and not the one in these pictures which is about twenty minutes from our house and is graced by ice cold waves all year round.  Heck no, this Friday we are off to a sunny tropical beach.  More stories to come, in the meantime enjoy some of the beachy photos from this past summer.

...just two nerds walking through a forest with big backpacks...

greatest selfie ever! 

17 July 2015

Family, I have a confession to make.

I am not an herbivore.  Now, before you start dreaming of the steak dinners and pork chops that we will share when I come to visit, hold back those meat-a-saurus urges and listen.  In my house, we cook and eat many things.  On any given week you might find Pablo or I whipping up some pesto pasta, risotto, tortilla española, curry, lentil soup, quiche, beet salad, peirogi, mac & cheese, arepa, lasagna, frijoles, or any number of other dishes.  We do, in fact, make a menu on Saturdays so that we continue to eat well even during the busy week.  And, of the things we make, I would say that 90% of our eats include lots of cream, butter, eggs, and cheese but no real animal flesh.  However, from time to time a bit of sausage in our beans, fish in our wok, or chicken in our pie seems like a good idea.

So, last Sunday I got the wild idea that I would leave pie-hibernation in style.  You see, a few months ago for a friend’s birthday I made a sugar cream pie and I was sorely disappointed with the results.  The crust was a bit soggy and worse, the sugar cream filling was so sweet I could feel the cavities forming in my teeth.  It was a five hour project that could have been accomplished by pouring a jar of arequipe into a half-ass crust.  Needless to say, I was pie scarred.  I even told Pablo, “I am never making pie again.”  I guess I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl.  Do something awesome or don’t do it at all.

Hence, the Chicken Pot Pie.  After months of pie avoidance do I choose to make a tried and true pie that never fails?  Heck no.  I find the recipe that is five pages long and set to work.  First, I made some stock; chicken carcass, carrots, garlic, onion, herbs, salt, and celery were boiled (Side note, apparently celery can only be bought in huge bunches in Chile.  I now have several pounds of chopped celery in my not-so-large freezer).  Then, I roasted some chicken thighs and mixed the drippings with (more) celery, tomatoes, garlic, and pisco for the base of a gravy.  Next, I chopped up some potatoes, (more) carrots, and onion and roasted that until soft.  Finally, I made a roux to mix with the gravy base.  Once I combined the roasted veggies, pieces of chicken, and gravy I had something that very much resembled Dinty Moore… delicious canned goup of my childhood.  Throw that into a double pie crust and voila, you have chicken pot pie.

I must admit, it was really good.  The chicken bits were incredibly tender, the gravy was tangy, creamy, and salty all at the same time, and the thing really looked like a pot pie!  I feel reassured in my ability to make an edible pie!  And so, in summary, yes, folks I eat meat.  I think I will never have a pallet for that metallic flavor of a grilled steak- really beef flesh, pork chops, pork tenderloin, and ground beef are not something I like- but, if you dress up some bits of meat in a pie, or add a piece of this or that to a soup, I will not object and neither will my stomach.  

05 July 2015

Pretty bird, pretty bird

The periquitos now visit us daily.  They grow fat on the chestnuts that remain on the ground while they flit and flutter about in a little group.  Pablo and I are constantly saying to one another, “Oh look, the periquitos are back!”  They are like another addition to our family.  We watch them through our kitchen window and try to sneak up on them to take a nice photo of their colorful plumage.  With the birds singing their songs and the days getting ever so slightly longer it feels like spring might not be too far off.

Happy 4th of July to my countrymen!  While we didn’t shoot off any fireworks nor sing any teary-eyed patriotic songs, we did enjoy the evening with friends while watching the final game of the Copa America... ganó Chile!!

28 June 2015

Winter in Valdivia.

Winter here is quite different than winter where I come from.  Many of the trees keep their leaves, the grass stays green and competes with the moss, and there is no snow.  The coastal breezes keep our climate more stable.  Though, that does not mean it doesn’t get cold.  Last week we had several days of 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  That might not sound too cold for those from the northland, but for the majority of chileans who do not have insulated houses and only have a wood burning stove to crowd around, 25 is cold.  But for me, winter here is mild.  I never leave the house and feel that icy breeze of my childhood that steals the breath from your lips.  We don’t have to shovel snow off the driveway or cringe when the heat bill comes at the end of the month.  

Some days, like yesterday, we get very beautiful winter days with the sun shining. The light and warmth beckons people out of their houses to take a walk along the river, have a barbecue, or hang out the clothes to dry.  However, the sunny days bring the coldest nights when there are no clouds to entrap the earth’s heat.  Last night we attended a friend’s birthday party which started out as a very nice gathering along the river on a sunny evening.  But, that river’s edge soon turned very cold when the sun went down. So, we crowded around the fire, shuffled our feet to stay warm, and got wild with face paint while enjoying some local music.  

The big Bandurian birds are back!  They left us for awhile during the dry summer.  They are really impressive with their large wingspan and long curved beaks.  Before we learned what they are called, we referred to them as Pajaros con Pico Largo.  That got some laughs from the chileans who don't used the word pico in the same way as the colombians...

21 June 2015

Happy Father’s Day!!

I am very sorry that I am able to spend today with my dad.  No doubt we would play at the lake and sit on the porch and have a nice chat.  But, due to the many thousands of miles between us, I just don’t think that is feasible.  So, instead, I would like to send my dad a little gift… a happy puppy story!

You know who came to greet me this past Saturday?  Three little fur balls.  And before you get concerned that I have introduced yet more animals into my bite-sized house.  Fear not.  These cuties belong to the neighbor…

Just a few weeks ago as Pablo and I were driving into town, we spotted not one, not two, but five tiny puppies that had been abandoned on our road.  Of course, my first instinct was to grab a box and bring the pups home.  But then I was kindly reminded of a few felines on house arrest and the likely cat-astrophe that would ensue if they were subjected to yet more furry friends.  So, with tears in our eyes, we had to pass those puppies and hope that someone else with a kind heart and a large house would be able to take them in.  And, as luck would have it, that person turned out to be our neighbor!  Of the five pups, two now have new homes and for now the other three are being happily spoiled by the neighbor kids… and by us.  It is impossible not to smile with a puppy around.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

14 June 2015

A year ago today we got married!

How has a year gone by so quickly?  In some ways, it feels like just yesterday that we were in Colombia, surrounded by friends and family celebrating our love.  In other ways, that day feels like a lifetime ago.  Since June of 2014, our life has changed so very much.  I think that getting married was the least of those changes! In the past year, we have started life together in a new home, on another hemisphere, with an entirely different climate and local language.  We both now have new jobs with different responsibilities and income.  We have learned to pay bills together, run a wood burning stove like champs, and decipher the chilean dialect.  In the past 365 days, we have bought not one, but two new cars and we temporarily adopted a new kitty.  We have both figured out how to live in a new country together, a country that is both far from everyone we knew and distinct from both of our own cultures.  And despite all of this, we've made it happily through the first year of marriage without killing each other!

We both decided that this called for a little celebration.  So, last night we put on our Sunday finest (I really need to bring some of my dresses from the US) and went out for a nice dinner.  Pablo surprised me with the restaurant of choice, the Naguilan.  We were both very pleased with the service and the food... and the company was pretty nice too :)  We had a wonderful evening.  I can't wait for the many more years to come.  I love you Mamor!

And... in just a few weeks when the break in semesters arrives we will be heading off on a sunny adventure to fully celebrate year one.