Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Is Coming

Tomorrow night is New Year's Eve. Next year will be the last year of the first decade of the 2000's - hard to believe this 10 years has passed so quickly. Seems like it was just yesterday that everyone was panicked about the Y2K bug. That NYE passed badly for me - I was sick in bed with the flu, so missed out on all the Y2K excitement. I vaguely remember watching the ball drop several times, as one of the channels was showing the stroke of midnight around the world.

So what will the next year bring? I haven't a clue. It looks to be exciting, my mom and nephew will be here spending a lot more time with us. They'll be coming down at the end of January and staying for 6 months. I can't wait - We're all really looking forward to it.

I'm working on improving my financial status, and have set some goals for myself, which you can read about at my 'other' blog - Ok, Internet - Make Me Money! - if you are so inclined.

I'm also working on improving my relationship with my two sons - one is turning 13 in a month, the other is closing in on 11, and things are starting to get rocky. It's not easy, being a step-parent.

And I'm also making a commitment to spend more time together with my husband this year - we both have a tendency to get wrapped up in our own stuff and neglect our time together.

So, how about you? Are you making any resolutions?

Oh - and if you're in Lima tomorrow, come by around 9 or 10 - we're having a party. ;)
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Roast Turkey BreastImage by pellis via Flickr

We ended up with a holiday worthy of 'A Christmas Story'.

Christmas Eve, I'm expected my husband's family to show up, as they have every year for the last 5, with all the food - my mother in law cooks every thing, and I typically make a side dish or two.

Around 6pm, i ask my husband who all is coming - and he casually replies 'Oh, didn't I tell you? Everyone is going over to my aunt's for Xmas eve, because she's sick and can't get out' .

For some reason, it had never been mentioned, although I'd been asking for 3 weeks what the plans were for Xmas eve.

Well, we had company in the house, backpackers from Venezuela and Ecuador, that we had invited to stay for Xmas with us instead of going on to Bolivia on the 23rd as they'd planned, so it would have been bad form for us to slide off to someone else's house. So we rushed off to Wong and got a pre-cooked turkey part, a couple boxes of salads and cookies, and what not.

Unbeknownst to me, the Venezuelan had also gone off shopping, and came home with enough food to feed a small army - lechon, more salads, more what not.

I started cooking scalloped potatoes (I had to have one favorite side dish of my own), and at about 10 pm (about the time I'm inviting people over - sadly, no one showed :() my husband says, 'I'll be back in a few minutes, I'm going to run to my aunt's house and say Merry Xmas to everyone - no more than half an hour. I looked at him and said... 'Do NOT leave me all alone on Xmas eve.'

At 10 minutes to midnight (!!!) I'm calling my husband on the cellphone - 'Where the heck are you?? it's almost time to eat?? He walked in at midnight, calmly mentioning 'I'm not really hungry, I already ate over there'.

I punched him in the arm. :oops:

The guests had gotten tired and gone to bed, but the fireworks woke them up.

Well, the fireworks and our dogs, who went absolutely berserk when the fireworks started up.

So - the food turned out being delicious, and we all ate until we were stuffed, then talked for a while, drank a bunch of wine, and finally fell into bed around 3am.

Hope your Christmas was as exciting as mine!!
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

What Are You Eating For Christmas?

Collage of various Christmas images, made from...Image via Wikipedia

Christmas in Peru takes place on Christmas Eve. My mother in law is doing the turkey, and most of the rest of the food. I'm going to make a couple casseroles full of scalloped potatoes - if I'm lucky enough to find cheddar cheese in the market, I'll make that au gratin. I think I might make a pot of green beans too - There never seem to be enough vegetables to make me happy.

Everyone will start coming over around 10 or 11 pm, and we'll listen to music, talk or watch a movie. Cartoon Network is showing all Christmas specials, so maybe I'll get lucky and there will be a Rudolph or Frosty - Or a Charlie Brown Christmas!

At midnight, all around us we'll hear fireworks and firecrackers shooting off. They aren't supposed to be permitted anymore, yet everyone still does it.

Then, we'll all come inside and eat. Turkey, potatoes, salad, zarsa, and of course at the end, paneton and hot chocolate.

After the food, we'll sit around and talk some more - if anyone has gifts to open, this is when we'll do it.

And then, probably no early than 2 or 3 am, everyone will go home. Anyone who doesn't have transportation will spend the night.

Tomorrow, Christmas Day, isn't much different from any other day - a lot of stores and restaurants will be open as usual. Hopefully, I can go to the black market and get some deals on 'filler' toys for the boys. David is getting a camping trip, Franco is getting some Hot Wheels, and they're both getting a telescope to share. But I want to get some smaller, less expensive toys for filler - and for their stockings - things like little green army men, a deck of cards, a checker's set... things I can get for less than 10 soles. Because when you're a kid at Christmas, no matter what anyone else says, quantity DOES count!

So - to all my readers (all 25 of you!) I wish you the most joyous of holiday seasons, what ever holiday you may celebrate. And I'll see you later in the week!
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Mom!

A contemporary birthday cakeImage via Wikipedia

Today is my mom's birthday, and I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell her how much I love her, and how important she is in my life. :)

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas in Lima

Cover of "A Charlie Brown Christmas(TM)"Cover of A Charlie Brown Christmas(TM)

Christmas is getting closer, and I'm just not feeling it.

Believe it or not, I think I miss the crass commercialization of Christmas in the US! I miss seeing decorations everywhere, music blaring in every store, commercials non-stop on the TV. I did see Santa Claus in Wong (a supermarket) the other day, but my kids want nothing to do with that - even though he was giving out free candy canes. I loved that they were playing Vince Guaraldi's music from 'A Charlie Brown Christmas', though.

THAT'S what I need! I'm going to track down all the old Christmas specials - Charlie Brown, Rudolph, Little Drummer Boy, Frosty.... I'm sure I can find them online. Maybe I'll burn them to a DVD and watch them one after the other.

I'm am looking forward to my mom coming down in January - we're going to have a whole other Christmas, US style, with turkey, and green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and scalloped potatoes, and pie. :D And we'll all get up early and open presents from Santa - none of this ridiculous (sorry Peru!) staying up until midnight and eating a full meal then opening presents when everyone is all cranky and tired. And with hot chocolate? In full summer?? How on earth did that tradition get started? I love you Peru, but sometimes, you just don't make sense.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peanut Butter, Bananas and Mayo

Ok, people -

What's the weirdest food that you love?

Since I was a kid, I loved banana sandwiches - sliced banana and mayonnaise on white bread. As I got older, I started experimenting. Wheat bread was a good choice. Banana and peanut butter was good, especially with a little honey. Any kind of nuts tossed on for crunch.

But the Florida cracker in me won out - and my favorite is peanut butter, bananas and Kraft Mayo on white bread. Good, soft white bread, with chewy crust. I like to think I'm being a little bit healthy with fruit and peanut butter.

A lot of people think the combination is disgusting. Most of those people have never tried it. ;) I don't mind trying unusual foods, that's why I've eaten everything from raw fish to guinea pig since I've lived in Peru. There are some things I won't eat - tripe is one of them. Actually, most things made of intestine are off limits for me. And it's not because I think it's gross, it's because I've tried it and didn't like it. (I actually didn't know what it was the first time I ate it, I just didn't like the taste)

So tell me - what is your favorite weird food? Maybe it's an unusual exotic food, or maybe it's a combination that most people find weird, like scrambled eggs and grape jelly (yum).

Hmmm... I seem to like a lot of weird combinations.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Zarsa - Peruvian Salsa

Onion and lettuce from a chicken sandwich I go...Image via Wikipedia

If there's one thing you can say about Peruvians, it's that they love onions. Red onions are a part of just about every meal. Even when they aren't cooked into the food, you'll find them served raw as a side dish. This side dish is officially called 'Salsa Criolla' , but everywhere you go, you'll see it called 'zarsa'.

2 Medium red onions
1 aji limo
2-3 limones (or key limes, if you're in the US)
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro (optional)

Cut the onions in half from top to bottom and peel off the outer skin. Slice in super thin half rings. When you've got everything sliced up, put it all in a colander, and rinse under cold water.

Slice your aji limo, also in very thin slices, so that you have little thin rings of pepper. It probably won't take the whole pepper, I usually add between 5-10 little tiny slices of it, depending on the size of my onions. It all depends on how spicy you like your zarsa.

Combine the onion slices and aji slices in a serving bowl. Sprinkle on salt and pepper, add about a tablespoons worth of finely chopped cilantro (if you like it - it's not necessary), then juice the limones over the whole thing. Stir to mix everything together. You can serve right away, or let it sit for a half hour or so, to let the flavors meld.

Great on hamburgers, hot dogs, with fried fish, fried chicken, on top of avocado slices - or just by itself as a side dish. I make this nearly every day!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

¡Viva Alianza! and Other Sports News

logoImage via Wikipedia

Today is the big day between Alianza Lima and Universitario. These are the two favorite teams out of all the Peruvian teams, and they have a huge rivalry. This season, the championship is down to the two of them, and everyone is a-flutter.

In our house, we're big Alianza fans. (I say 'we' loosely, because I don't really care much ;)) So today, we're going to be partying and eating chips and drinking chelas (beer) and rooting for the 'home' team!

¡Viva Alianza! ¡Viva Peru!

In other sports news, Sofia Mulanovich, Peru's world champion surfer, is competing today for 2nd place at the Billabong Pro surf competition. 1st place has already been awarded to Stephanie Gilmore from Australia, who is so far in the lead that she can't be touched.

And of course, the golden girl, Kina 'Maldita' Malpartida won her boxing match against Britain's Lyndsey Scragg and held on to the WBA Women's Super Featherweight world title.
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

I make the BEST roast chicken

If you live in Peru, you have the secret to absolutely delicious roast meats right in your grocery store.

In the section of the supermarket where they sell seasonings and mixes, you'll find some sauces under the brand name Piki. I've been using the rocoto molida for cooking and my husband likes to put in on his food. One day, I'm in Plaza Vea trying to figure out what I want to do different with the chicken that week, and I notice this 'Piki Aderezo para Pollo'. I figured, what the heck, and bought it.

Oh my. It made the most delicious chicken I've ever had. I put 4 leg quarters in a glass baking dish, and just poured the sauce on top and spread it around. Then I covered it and let it marinate for about an hour. Later, i cooked it in the oven at 350F for about 40-45 minutes. It came out with perfect seasoning, juicy, tender - my guys LOVE it. That with some potatoes, rice and salad, and it's a perfect meal.

This week, after such success with the chicken, I decided to try one of their other products - Aderezo para Cerdo - and used it to marinade a pork tenderloin. Now, tenderloins are very lean, so I usually wrap them in bacon to make sure they have enough fat cooking with them to stay juicy. It was not necessary with this marinate! I did add about a half cup of water, since I was cooking it uncovered, so that it wouldn't cook out completely. They cooked absolutely delicious and tender and juicy. It was hard to get the boys to leave enough for their Dad to eat when he got home!

So, if you're in Peru, I highly recommend giving the Piki line a try. And as an added bonus, if you aren't in Peru, it looks like you can buy it online -
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Swine Flu :(

This past Saturday evening, my oldest son David mentioned that his throat felt a little scratchy. I gave him some hot tea, but about an hour later his mom came by and picked him up for the weekend, and I didn't think any more about it. When he came home Monday morning, he had breakfast, but seemed a bit quiet.

Then he said 'Kelly, I don't feel very good'. Uh-oh. Runny nose, a bit of a cough, congestion.

He didn't look real good, so I told him to go lay down. At that point, he didn't have a fever.

Within a couple of hours, he could hardly walk, was crying from the body aches and had a raging fever. It was obvious he wasn't going to school. He all but collapsed walking to his bedroom from the bathroom - I ended up half carrying him back to bed.

I called the doctor, who said it was definitely flu, and most likely swine flu (later confirmed). He said there was no reason to bring him to the clinic unless he started developing a rash with his fever, had trouble breathing, or any other more serious symptom.

Meanwhile, it was necessary to lower the fever - it was causing him to shiver uncontrollably, and he was having terrible body aches. He said it hurt his whole face just to drink a little water! My poor baby :( It was awful watching him suffer like that.

After a bit of a mix up at the pharmacy (they sent Johnny home with antibiotics and ibuprofen - NOT treatment for the flu!) I ended up with a decent anti-flu medicine and tylenol for the fever. By the evening, David was feeling well enough to eat a little something, and was drinking lots of gatorade and fruit juice.

He felt a little better on Tuesday, but still spent the majority of the day sleeping. His fever broke and he sweat so bad it soaked the bed sheets. I sent him off to the showers and changed the bed - and sprayed the whole room down with Lysol! (Franco has been sleeping on the couch through this whole thing)

Wednesday he still slept until nearly 1pm, but when he woke up was feeling MUCH better. Good enough to get up and start wanting to kick the soccer ball around - so I sent him to study for a couple of hours and do his chores :D

Today is Thursday, and he's heading back to school. So far (knock on wood!) no one else is showing any symptoms. So it looks like we may have weathered the H1N1 storm!
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Monday, November 30, 2009



My nephew Joe had a wreck in his car this weekend - slammed into a post. Messed up his car pretty bad - it's going to cost around $1500 to get it fixed. Fortunately no one was hurt.

About an hour after Johnny took off to go help Joe, Crash Bang!!! Right in front of the house, another accident! Some people in a VW bug crossed right in front of a taxi scooting down the street. The taxi took off hit n run style, I'm not sure why, because he didn't seem to be at fault. The passenger in the Beetle was definitely hurt though - it didn't take 5 minutes before cops, firefighters, ambulances and everything were crawling all over the place.

It was nice to see such a quick response. I felt bad for the girl, though. :(
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Papas a la Huancaina

04 Papa a La Huancaina sliced potato in spicy ...Image by jasonlam via Flickr

In the central highlands of Peru you'll find a province called Huancayo. This province is known for many things - the Cerrito de la Libertad, the statue of the Virgin of Concepcion... but it's most known for it's food. In particular, it's known for a potato dish called papas a la huancaina (huancayo style potatoes... clever, eh?) This is a delicious dish, usually served as an appetizer but sometimes as a side dish that consists of boiled and sliced potatos covered in a spicy cheese sauce. It's the first authentic Peruvian dish I ever tasted, and is one of my favorites still. And here's how you make it!

  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 aji amarillo (yellow peruvian pepper) - seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups queso fresco or queso blanco (farmers cheese - I've been told feta will do in a pinch)
  • saltine crackers
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute the onion, aji and garlic in 2 0r 3 tbsps of vegetable oil, until the onion becomes soft and translucent.
  2. Put the sauted mixture in a blender or food processer, and puree it with the cheese and evaporated milk.
  3. Add crackers as needed to make it thick - this should be a fairly thick sauce that sticks to the spoon. If you get it too thick, add a little more evaporated milk to thin it out
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
Boil whole potatoes until cooked through, but don't let them get real soft! (If you're in Peru, you'll want to use papas rosadas for this - do NOT use papas amarillas!) After they've cooked, let them cool enough to touch then take the skin off and slice in 1/2 inch slices.

Arrange each serving like this -
- 1 lettuce leaf or a small bed of shredded lettuce
- 3 slices of potato
- sauce to cover
- decorate with a quarter of a hard boiled egg and a couple slices of black olive


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Saturday, November 21, 2009

We went to the movies...

We started this new thing with the boys - a behavior chart where they get points for good behaviors and for doing their chores on time. The points they earn in a day dictate how much tv/computer/playstation they get, and if they get enough points over the course of the week, they get to go along on a family outing, if they choose to do so.

Last week, the weekly prize was going out to the movies, and we went to see 2012. Knowing that Franco has had 'end of the world' issues in the past ( he's been terrified with Christian imagery of the Anti-Christ), we talked about the story behind the movie some before hand, and I let them know that in my opinion, the whole 2012/end of the world thing is a load of hooey.

Anyway - the movie. OK, the movie is cliche ridden and has a ridiculous plot and so many completely implausible scenes it's not even funny. But on the other hand, the acting was all pretty good - and let's face it, you only go to a disaster flick for awesome disaster, right? And this had some AWESOME disaster going on! The effects were great, imo (if not often a bit unbelievable) and that's what it's all about. The kids LOVED it. David is a sucker for special effects, and here it is a week later and he's STILL talking about it. Also - we watched in English with subtitles, so it made both kids get some reading done, and helped them with learning English. They can both recite lines from the movie in English! After only one viewing!! That's freaking amazing to me - what is it about guys that they manage to memorize movie lines like that?

And anything that can have both my boys interested for over 2 hours, sitting there wide eyed and jaws dropped, literally on the edge of their seats - that's a winner in my book.

I'd recommend this movie for pre-teens, as long as they're old enoughto know the difference between movies and reality, they'll love this movie. Although there's a LOT of death (like, most of the people in the world) there's no blood and nothing gruesome to see. There are some pretty intense scenes, but nothing extraordinarily violent.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Is this a gorgeous French oven or what? (well, I'd call it a Dutch oven, I don't know what's the diff? if you know, tell me!) I want it so bad!! I think of all the things I could cook with it. Ok, mainly I think of a big pot roast in the oven, but it would be awesome for baking bread, too. This Le Creuset cook ware is expensive, but man, that's the stuff of my dream kitchen. I think if I ever start making enough money, I'm gonna buy everything they make! It's cast iron, which I love love love, but it's coated with a porcelain enamel, so it's easy to clean and looks so pretty! I'm telling ya - I'm gonna have this thing one day! As much as I like the red, I think the cobalt blue would go better with my kitchen...

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fast Breakfast Ideas

Cornflakes and pseudo-espresso (really just ve...Image via Wikipedia

Breakfast is the easiest meal of the day around here. Since the boys don't have school until 1pm, we're in no rush. Which is great - since I don't have to worry about them rushing to get out the door on time, I can let them be responsible for their own breakfast. At first it was easy, they were happy to have cold cereal with milk or yogurt every day. Yogurt is more common in a liquid, drinkable form here in Peru - perfect with cereal. But, although they said before that all they ever wanted for breakfast was cornflakes, they're now telling me they're a little bored with it. So I've started coming up with some things I can have ready in the fridge for them to do on their own. And I started thinking, most of these things are so quick and easy, they would also work for people who ARE in a rush in the mornings.

1) Have a piece of casserole. I'll make a breakfast casserole, like a quiche, during the day. When it cools, I can cut it up and put portions in freezer bags - the boys just take one out, dump it on a plate and microwave it for a few seconds.

2) Yogurt. Yogurt is a healthy, economical and fast. When you are eating on the run, grab a container of yogurt and some dried or fresh fruit. I like vanilla yogurt with bananas cut up in it, and then sprinkle it with some All-Bran cereal for extra fiber.

3) Breakfast shake. If you keep some cut up fruit in individual bags in the freezer, this is a super easy breakfast - even my kids can make it. I put frozen fruit, yogurt and honey to sweeten in the blender. Good choice if you're on the move, because if you put it in travel mug with a straw, you can take it with you in the car.

4) Pancake Rolls. Whip up a batch of pancakes and freeze them in short stacks of three. The kids can heat them up in the microwave later, spread them with peanut butter and jelly and roll them up. If you have some frozen sausage links (which I DON'T in Peru!!) you could make pigs in a blanket by microwaving a few sausage to go with it.

5) Breakfast sandwiches. In the evening, while you are getting things ready for the next day, grill up a few breakfast sandwiches. Choose whatever you like: turkey slices, ham slices, cheese, tomato, bacon, etc. When the sandwich cools, cut it into bite size pieces and put it in a container. In the morning, just grab a container; pop it into the microwave for fifteen or twenty seconds and breakfast is served.

My boys like being able to do their breakfast on their own, and it gives them a great sense of responsibility. And honestly, I appreciate the break - while they're doing their breakfast, I can work on getting a load of laundry in and making sure they have clean uniforms for school!
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to make a chicken last 3 meals (at least!)

Red-cooked chickenImage by 3liz4 via Flickr

Chicken is probably the most common main dish around here. There are SO many ways to prepare it - arroz con pollo, seco de pollo, fried chicken and caldo de gallina (Peruvian style chicken soup), just to name a few. I've mentioned before how I can usually get 3 meals out of one chicken, and I thought I'd talk a little more about how I go about doing that.One of the best ways is to start out by roasting the whole chicken - you can do wonders with what you don’t eat for dinner. Here are some ways to make that roasted chicken appealing to the family.

Learn to slice a whole chicken. Slicing one properly makes it easier to remove the rest of the meat from the bone. The carcass can be used to create stock. Boil it in some water with a carrot, a whole onion and some celery until the rest of the meat falls off.

You can season the broth with herbs and spices - try garlic and a bay leaf. After it cools, pour it into jars for storage. Freeze it and have it ready to use for soups and casseroles.

Do your kids carry their lunches to school? Instead of buying lunch meat, slice leftover chicken breast for sandwiches. It will be a nice change from the usual lunch fare.

On the weekends, instead of ordering a pizza or going to McDonald’s, use that chicken. Cube a few pieces to toss on top of a salad with some cheese and croutons. Combine with peppers and onions in a skillet, then stir in some chili powder or taco seasonings to make filling for fajitas or soft tacos.

My guys don't care for the breast meat as a main dish, but will eat it up if it's cooked into a tallarin saltado (stir fry) or aji de gallina (chicken in a spicy sauce). Does your family like chicken pot pie? Add some of the chicken, along with vegetables (canned or frozen) and a can of creamed soup to a pie crust and you’ve got an instant dinner that takes less than an hour to prepare. It is a quick meal idea perfect for busy families. A salad on the side will make a complete and healthy dinner.

Chicken based casseroles can be made and frozen for future meals. The family may be all “chickened out” for the week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the chicken you have left for future weeks.

Make your own soup with juicy chicken pieces and wide egg noodles - or use spaghetti noodles for Peruvian style.. That broth you jarred up will serve as a nice base and best of all it's already seasoned. Add noodles and sliced vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions to your soup. When the noodles are tender, add the chicken. Since it is already cooked it just needs to warn up. Ladle up a bowl for a light weekend lunch, or for 'lonche' in the evening with some fresh pan frances from the panaderia.

What are you doing with your chicken after dinner tonight? Try some of these ideas to make that chicken do double and triple duty to save on your family’s grocery bill. The best part is that the new meals are just as tasty as the original dish.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo y papa a la huancainaImage via Wikipedia

Today I cooked arroz con pollo for my guys - that's rice with chicken. It's a staple of pretty much every Latin American country, although they've all got their own special take on it. In Peru cooking style, it's sometimes called 'arroz verde' or green rice, because it contains a LOT of cilantro (also called coriander). It's usually served with papas a la huancaina, and often an avocado salad. Here's how I make my arroz con pollo.

4 chicken thighs (you can remove the skin if you like)
3 cups of rice
vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup of aji amarillo (yellow chili pepper - check your Latin market) finely chopped or liquefied
1 cup of cilantro/coriander - liquefied (see the recipe for seco de pollo for directions on doing this)
2 large handfuls of green pea pods - shell them, and use the peas, not the pods!
About a half a cup of carrot cut up into cubes
2-1/2 cups of chicken stock/bouillon.
1/2 cup of beer
Salt and pepper

Put about 1/2 cup of oil in a dutch oven or stew pan.
Salt and pepper your chicken thighs, then brown them in the oil.
Remove them from the pan, and then add the onion, garlic, cilantro and aji.
Stir it around a bit until the onion starts to turn golden and translucent.
Add the chicken back in and pour in the beer. Let it cook until the chicken is cooked through.
Take the chicken back out and set it aside covered where it will stay warm - in a very low temperature oven or on the back of your range top is good.
Put the rice, shelled peas, carrot and chicken stock into the mix.
Add salt and pepper as necessary here, then cover tightly to cook the rice.

Serve the rice together with the chicken.

Ok - now for the truth - I can NEVER cook rice right on the stove top, so I do my chicken on the stove top, then throw everything into the rice cooker at the end and let it all cook together there. It comes out perfect every time.

If you are opposed to cooking with beer, just replace it with chicken bouillon. If you're short on time, don't feel bad about using a small can of peas and carrots instead of fresh. For more Peruviness, (that's like grooviness, only Peruvian) throw in a handful or two of Andean corn (choclo) if you can find it.

You might also want to add a little bit of thinly sliced red bell pepper. I don't because everyone in my house just picks it out - but if you look around on the internet, you'll find that a lot of recipes and pictures show it.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

reBlog from Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Backlinks

I found this great source for anyone who's looking for ways to get backlinks to their blogs/lenses/hubs etc:

This page is going to be a great resource to find all the information you need on how to build backlinks. I will keep adding to it as more linking resources are created. Remember ~ this is a comprehensive resource ~ not all of these ideas will be right for what you are doing. If you have questions about whether something in particular will work for you feel free to ask in the comment section of the particular post or resource. (make sure you bookmark this page so you can find it again ~ and hit the retweet button to share with your friends), Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Backlinks

You should read the whole article.

I know this is a really bizarrely off-topic post for me - but the above website has been so much help to me in learning my way around the internet, I wanted to share it with other people.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

Strawberry SmoothieImage by Poldavo (Alex) via Flickr

I love smoothies. I love strawberry smoothies the best. Especially with banana. I like to make them for me and the boys for breakfast because it's so yummy, and so healthy. And so easy!

For your strawberry smoothie, start with a pint of strawberries. I rinse them, cut off the stem and then cut them into smaller pieces - it doesn't have to be real small, because it's going in the blender anyway. I put them all in a tupper and then sprinkle a little sugar over the top - just a dusting. Then, I put them in the freezer and let them freeze solid.

Meanwhile, I peel a couple bananas, cut them up and put them in a plastic bag and freeze them too.

Next day, everything's ready for breakfast!

Get the blender out, drop in all your cut up, frozen fruit. Add enough drinkable yogurt to come to the same level as the top of your fruit (I hope that makes sense!) And then blend! If it's too thick, you can add more yogurt or cut it with a little skim milk to thin it down.

If you don't have drinkable yogurt, you can make your own. Or, add in a 8 oz cup of regular vanilla yogurt, and add skim milk as necessary. Or instead of milk, add a little orange juice.

If your smoothie isn't sweet enough, add a little honey.

I like to put my smoothie in bowl, and sprinkle it with some muesli or puffed wheat.

If you love smoothies like I do, you'll want to check this out - Amazing Smoothies

AND - Speaking of strawberry smoothies, MAN - I want this so bad!!

Vita Mix 1300 Turboblend 4500

It looks so awesome - We make a lot of smoothies and fruit drinks, and I'd LOVE to be able to sneak in some veggies like spinach or kale. I know the boys need more raw foods and green veggies, but David in particular just doesn't like them, and I refuse to force them to eat things they really don't like. (I make them take a forkful, but no more than that) My blender is a good little Oster, but it's just not strong enough to really blend in tough green veggies. I'd love to get a Vita Mix, and give my kids some SUPER powered drinks before school!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seco de Carne - Peruvian Beef Stew

Purple Peruvian potatoesImage by chez pim via Flickr

I'm gonna cheat here today.

I was checking out the search phrases that have brought people here, and it seems that about 99% of the people who find my blog on Google find it after doing a search for seco de pollo or Peruvian chicken stew, or some variation of that.

So - for all of y'all that have shown up here and tried my recipe for seco de pollo - thanks, and I hope it was delicious!

And I'm going to give you an extra bonus on that today - If you like the seco de pollo, you can do seco de carne also. It's the same recipe - just substitute stew beef for the chicken! My boys prefer it to the chicken, actually.

So - click on the linkie here and go to the seco de pollo recipe - and instead of browning chicken, lightly flour some stew beef and brown it. Then follow all the rest of the directions just like they're written. It's yummy!

I couldn't find a picture of any seco de carne, so I put a picture of some pretty Peruvian purple potatoes. I'll cook up some stew this week or next and put up a picture of it.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween in Lima, Peru

Last year at Halloween, we were still living in Surquillo. Surquillo is one of the poorer districts, as far as residential status goes - but it's still a nice place to live! Now we're living in Miraflores, which is one of the best residential areas in the city. The difference it made in trick or treaters was huge!

Last year, I had two groups of mostly teen-aged kids come by - no costumes, just plastic grocery bags and yelling 'Halloween! Halloween!' They haven't quite got the 'trick or treat!' part down yet.

This year, we went through two bags of candy! We had group after group of little kids with their moms - in all sorts of adorable costumes. We had a lot of princesses, some ghostface masks, an awesome dinosaur - and even a Teletubby!

We had carved our little pumpkin and put it out on the front step, hoping to let people know we were giving out candy. It was very popular with the little kids. My husband said we were the only ones that had a jack O Lantern out - not really a surprise, since it's not a custom here.

The truth of the matter is, Halloween itself isn't a custom in Peru. When I first arrived, there was no sign of Halloween. But each subsequent year, I've seen more and more Halloween goods in the stores. Some people don't like it - they say that it's an American custom and is usurping Peru's own culture. But I think, if people like it, and adapt to it and make it their own, it becomes their culture. The United States didn't invent Halloween, it was a mixture of customs from various cultures that came together and became what we have now. Just in my lifetime, Halloween culture has changed in the US. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing for it to change in other cultures. As more North Americans move to Peru, we - as immigrants, just like our forefathers were up north - are bringing our cultures here, and our new home is adapting to us.

I think that's an awesome thing!
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Man (or a Woman) Needs a Maid

10 Maid Cafe - AkihabaraImage by avlxyz via Flickr

Sorry Neil Young, I know my problems aren't exactly what you were singing about, but dang! I could sure use a maid here.

I'm so busy writing and working my affiliate stuff, I feel like every second away from the computer is a potential dollar lost. I miss my Ana - she was the best. But I'm glad she got a job she's happy with, and making more money than she did cleaning house, too.

My mom was a HUGE help while she was here, but I don't want her to be stuck doing housework all the time. That's not really fair for her.

Johnny and the boys help out, but now that J's out driving the taxi, he's not home as much to supervise the boys. And you know, almost teenage boys just don't clean the house as well as a paid housekeeper. ;) And while I'm a BIG stickler for teaching kids responsibility around the house, I also think they need to have some free time for playing football and PS2.

So - hopefully one more month, and I'll be able to look for a housekeeper. Live in? Maybe! That would sure be awesome. I always wanted a butler, like in Arthur - somebody to follow me around all the time and keep in line, pick up my dirty clothes and make sure my pants were zipped up. Hey - a girl can dream, can't she?
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

CouchSurfing, Take 2!

Day 344Image by SuperFantastic via Flickr

We now have 2 couples here at the house. Antti and Satu are here visiting from Finland, and Tammy and Lane have just arrived from Albuquerque.

It's really been a lot of fun having people here and getting to know them. I'm looking forward to having a lot more!
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Living Room CouchImage by Mini D via Flickr

I recently signed up with a great organization, If you aren't aware of them, it's an international website that hooks up travelers who need a place to sleep with people who have a couch (or bed, or floor) to share. I've been signed up for less than a week, and already have 2 people coming to stay with us in the next week. And others have contacted me for in the future.

It's a super awesome thing, I'm really looking forward to meeting people from around the world - the folks coming to stay so far are from Albuquerque, NM and from a small town in Finland. I've also talked to a lady from Turkey is hoping to come to Peru early next year, and is checking things out ahead of time.

So - anyone coming to Peru, look me up on CouchSurfing! If I don't have a bed available, you're welcome to share the couch!
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Keeping things cold in Lima

Yes, I know I've complained about the cold in Lima for the last 4 months or so. And the other day, i was complaining about the cold in my nose. But this, my friends, is a different type of cold. Actually - it's the lack of cold. I know it's hard to believe when the thermometer has been hovering at 61 degrees for days upon day. But this is a kind of cold that doesn't come from outside, it comes from within.

Within the refrigerator, that is.

More specifically, the cold that was NOT coming from within my fridge. My little LG has been on the fritz for months, and between having other things to spend the cash on and being lazy (i confess!), we just hadn't got around to having it fixed. It was something screwy with the automatic defrost jiggermabob, and instead of automatically defrosting, it would keep frosting and frosting until the freezer froze up and no cold air passed to the fridge part. I had to manually defrost it about every week to 10 days (a serious waste of energy, y'all). I finally lost my cool (haha!) this week when half the stuff in the fridge went bad after it froze up really quickly and unexpectedly. Moldy cheese! Smelly rice! I think I found cures for several diseases with all the mold, but before I could submit them for my Nobel prize, they got up and walked out on their own. (I hear "The Funky Fungi" are playing in a little club down in Barranco now, and doing quite well. )

Anyway - before I get so far off on a ridiculous tangent that i can't get back - We called a repairman today. He's fixing it. I'm happy. Things will be a lot cooler around here now.
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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pizza Loaf

A meatloaf with a tomato sauce topping.Image via Wikipedia

I've been sick, and not feeling up to cooking the last few days. Stupid headcold! But I had some ground beef thawed out and it was getting to the point where I had to use it, or I was gonna lose it.

So, I decided to make a meat loaf. Now, usually, I make 'souper' meatloaf with Lipton Onion soup mix, but I have run out and won't have anymore until January when Mom comes back. I had switched to using Good Season's Italian seasoning mix, but that's all run out too. So, I looked around in the cupboard and fridge, and took stock of what I had on hand, and this is what I came up with.

Pizza Loaf!

1 kg (2lbs) ground beef
1 tbsp Nature's Seasonings
1 packet of saltines, pulverized to powder
1/2 small can of tomato sauce (I used roasted garlic flavor) - save other half for later
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
As much mozzarella cheese as you like.

I put all those ingredients except for the cheese together in a bowl and mixed until it was all incorporated.
Transfer half of the mixture to a casserole or baking dish and flatten it out.
Spoon a little of the remaining tomato sauce on and spread it around, like on a pizza dough.
Next, add a layer of mozzarella cheese. I used thin slices, because grating it just seemed like too much work today.
Spread the remainder of the meat mixture on top, flatten it out and press the seams together. This part was a little tricky, the sauce wanted to squirt out the sides. But I was prepared for that, and had made a little 'lip' around the edge of the bottom layer of meat, and flattened out the top layer as much as possible before laying it on top.

Cook it in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes covered, then take the top off for the last 5 minutes. (I covered it with tin foil at the start, because I used a 9x13 pan instead of my regular casserole) Serve topped with the rest of the tomato sauce.

*Note - picture is NOT my pizza loaf - just a generic meatloaf I found on Wiki. We ate ours up faster than I could find the camera!
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Battle of Angamos

Today is a holiday in Peru - it's the anniversary of the Battle of Angamos. This was a naval battle that took place during the War of the Pacific in which one of Peru's greatest heroes, Adm. Miguel Grau, was killed. He was known as the Cabellero de los Mares - the Gentleman of the Seas - by his enemies for the way he always acted with honor during battle. He warned crewmen to leave ships before attacking, and rescued survivors from the seas. The Chileans were nearly as distraught at his death as the Peruvians.

The loss at Angamos - and the loss of Sr. Grau and his ship, the Huascar - was a turning point in the war of the Pacific. Without Grau to protect the coast, the Chileans had complete control of the seas, and the Chilean army was free to move up the coast.

So, today, let's raise a glass of Pisco for the man whose passing caused his enemies to mourn his loss. Viva el Cabellero de los Mares!
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Car!!!

So, we took the money from the new house and used it to buy a car. Yay! Here's some pictures.

It's a Toyota Corona. So Pretty!
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