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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