Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chilly in Chile

Friends, countrymen, Russians who may or may not read this:
I laugh in your face, North American heatwave!
I have been MIA for a very good reason!  I am spending my summer in Chile, in winter (you know, opposite hemisphere and all) doing science, trying to figure out how cold the human body can get indoors without heating before said heating is justified for its life giving values. Or something like that.  Actually, I¨m leading a service and cultural exchange trip down here.  But the cold part is not an exaggeration.  There. is. no. heat. in. house.  Allegedly, it never gets cold enough for it to freeze, so there´s no need to keep the pipes warm.  But what about my pipes, ¿Chile? They´s soooo cold.  It´s like being trapped inside the crisper drawer of the refrigerator all the time.  It´s just warm enough to keep you alive, but cool enough to keep you from wilting.  Or if you are a gringo, ever really being warm. But other than the being cold all the time, and the testing out the Chilean medical system with my minor league accident prone kids (they´re all fine), it´s been pretty fantastic.  Allow me to take you on a tour of the places we´ve been so far:

The Andes

People like to make snowmen and put them on their cars.  Since it apparently only freezes here, most Chileans have never seen snow, and were way more excited than the Northern gringos, who were in turn way more excited about the cactuses.  Sadly, none of the cactus snow pictures came out.  So hard to be you!

The Ocean
Toolbox, of course I didn´t get in.  Didn´t you read the part about it being winter and cold and spending a lot of time in the Chilean hospital already?  
Chilean Baywatch

We are staying in Viña del Mar, and thusly have seen a fair bit of ocean.  Including lobos del mar.  Aka seawolves.  Aka, sealions.  So fat! So massive!  So cute!
Valparaiso: shipping capitol of South America.  Those boats are BIG.

What a terrible view.

Lobos del mar!  Gringo translation: sea lions.

Plus, this is the sea base for the Chilean navy.  Aka, the Armada.  An armada, you guys! 

The Fútbol

Um hello excuse to set things on fire, whip the opposing teams hooligans with belts, set off smoke bombs, tear up barbed wire fence, chant, froth at the mouth, assault police officers in riot gear, etc.  Totally an experience, totally worth it. 

The opposition.  They also had colored smoke cannons.  And drums.  Lots of drums.
Latin American sporting events are filled with pacifists.  

This is my coleader.  He narrowly avoided death when he tried to sit in the section seen behind him, aka the opposition, wearing that scarf.  Thankfully, the Chilean ticket people saved us a belt buckle whipping.  Also, this computer is in Spanish, and refuses to switch my pictures to the right direction.  You´ll survive.  

 Thankfully, nobody scored, so things kind of fizzled out.  If they had, I had plans to stick with this lady.  
The best little Santiago Wanderers fan of them all!

The Food

OMG.  So much of it.  Clementines are in season down here!  I´m going to need an extra plane ticket, partially because it is winter and I¨m eating to compensate.  While this winter theory explains why I put aji on everything, it doesn´t explain the massive ice cream intake.  But you try saying no to lucuma!  It´s also partially because I discovered Sahne-Nuss.  Partially because manjar is a staple.  Partially because all bread is white bread, most meals are starch based, and most other things are fried.  Or gigantic.  But generally for the following reasons, some of which will be inspirations for further adventures with in Le Creuset-land.  
Chorrillana, a Chilean midnight snack.  I prefer to think of it as Chilean Poutine.  With chunks of meat.

The best part?  The restaurant was called Mastadonte.  Gringo translation: Mastadon.

The national Chilean delicacy: a giant completo.  Cross section below.
Guacamole, relish, onions, a giant hotdog, other things, and yes, mayo, Chile´s preferred condiment of choice.


Lentil soup

One of my kids and I were feeling kind of under the weather while we were doing community service.  Naturally, the Chilean solution was for us to share my germs by helping prepare lunch for the soup kitchen!   

Una parrillada, a meat mountain over a charcoal grill.
Confession: I ate blood sausage and I liked it.

More later (possibly in America, considering my kids get back from homestays tonight, there are 15 of them, and Facebook is as much of a human right to them as oxygen), including fashion, street dog fashion, earthquakes, alpaca wool, and street art.  Until then, as we say in Chile, ¡Ciao pescado!

Valparaiso street art and my arty kids on the street.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Recipe 39: Peach, Plum, and Blueberry Balsamic Cobbler

Peach, Plum, and Blueberry Balsamic Cobbler
Good luck not just going at this
with a spoon.
     How delicious does that look?  Peaches and blueberries are probably some of my favorite things about summer, so when I saw the recipe for a blueberry and peach cobbler in last July's Cooking Light, obviously I had to try.  It was memorably good.  The type of good where you find yourself standing in the refrigerator door with a spoon chanting "Just one more bite! Just one more bite!"

Older sisters always get
the last laugh, punk.

      Thusly, I knew exactly what I'd be making for my family barbecue, especially because my pissant little brother refuses to try new things unless they are a) covered in chocolate, or b) covered in ketchup, so there would be leftovers, mwahahaha.  But when I got to the grocery store, the plums also looked so tasty!  Thus began my rogue recipe spinoff, so rogue that I added BALSAMIC.  Next time, I may double it and halve the lime just to see if it'll be stronger tasting.  Even my very skeptical mother had two whole bowls!  I mean, if Romina liked it, you know it's a winner (and has a no garlic, no fish, no onion in this house guarantee!).

It's not mold
It's an extra shake of patriotism!

Sidebar: I used half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour for the batter; it was fine but probably  would be slightly tastier/less dense using just all-purpose.  Also, forgive the blue sugar sprinkles.  I thought it would look more 4th of July festive.  My sister told me it looked like mold.  She was right. Finally, you don't have to use a Dutch oven for this recipe; a regular old 9x13 pan would work fine.  The benefit of using a Le Creuset is that it won't cook over thanks to the tall sides.  If you go regular pan, put a baking sheet under to prevent stove drippings.  Finally, you can prepare this in steps and let your fruit marinade in the fridge for a while if you want; I had to and was fine!

Peach, Plum, and Blueberry Balsamic Cobbler
Allegedly this serves 12.   It probably could, but really, it's more like me and 5 friends who like it as much.  
Peach, Plum, and Blueberry Balsamic Cobbler

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tidbits: Drew Barrymore gets Uncommon while I reveal a secret shame and a hankering for ancient beer

  • Sparkling Witt: Becky and Jeff are super, and not just because they love to eat my Le Creuset experiments!  Becky is blogging about their current adventures (like learning to say baking soda) in Finland and it is faaantastic.  Bonus points: visit
Food Porn:
  •  The Beer Archaeologist: this. is. so. cool.  Indiana Jones of BEER!  I read this while waiting to get a typhoid, yes, typhoid shot at 10am.  And wasn't disgusted by my craving for beer.  I dare you to read this and deem it not cool.  Or crave ancient beer!
Secret Shame:
  • I don't like to talk about it (much).  BUT.  The Vampire Diaries is my secret favorite show that I get overly excited to watch. Don't judge me!  Or do, because according to this article, I have EXCELLENT taste.  It's delightfully crazytown, they're not afraid to kill people off, and Damon, oh me, you will never get bored of this crazy parade. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey: Australian YA for the win, rave #4320

by Craig Silvey
New York: Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 978-0-375-866661

Thirteen-year-old Charlie Bucktin is sick of his small Australian town and looking forward to spend his summer writing and hanging out with his best friend. However, the moment he awakens from a midnight knock on his window and opens it to find the local teenage pariah Jasper Jones seeking his help, his plans and life derail. Charlie, not wanting to seem immature, agrees and climbs of out the window into the night.  In doing so, he becomes privy to Jasper's horrible discovery: a body hanging from a giant hollow eucalyptis in the isolated grove that Jasper hides in when his alcoholic father gets to be too much.  To protect Jasper from taking the blame for a crime he did not commit, the boys hide the body, vowing to find the killer on their own.  Holding onto this unspeakable knowledge, Charlie is catapulted too soon into adulthood in a town filled with fear, racism, and finger pointing, experiencing first love and the agony of both keeping secret this terrible and unraveling a few more in the process.  This timeless coming of age tale is haunting, and charged with emotion, humor, and the unbearable sadness of growing up and away your own childhood.  Skillfully written, this novel often operates from very nostalgic, almost adult voice, and is strongly recommended to teens grades 9-12 who will best understand this way of thinking. 

Book Talk Hook:  Summarize the sitch.  Then ask what they would do.  If you have AV capabilities (are we still calling it that?), show the below book trailer to do the dirty for you. 

Okay, peoples.  Maybe it is the fear of imminent death due to everything being poisonous that prompts Aussie authors of YA to write like every book is their last, best, book.  Maybe there is something in the Australian water.  I like the first explanation best.  Irregardless.  I know I rave about it a bit, but the YA coming out of Australia is just so. so. good. you. guys.   Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey is no exception to this rule.   But enough with my Aussieloveparade.  I also think that the book trailer for this movie is one of the best, if not the best I've ever seen:

This book.  Is seriously fantastic.  After moping my way through Monsters of Men being horribly overlooked for American awards this past year, I don't know if I'll be able to contain my rage if this one doesn't get any nods stateside.  Seriously.  Let me tell you all the reasons I scribbled down illedgibly on a post-it while reading it to remember exactly what captivated me about it:  
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