Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Regina- a tribute to my mother.

So since people here don't sew with patterns, I decided to try to it. My mother taught me to sew when I was a very little girl. I even had this little miniature sewing machine that really worked. There is a little fabric store here in my town that reminds me of an old west mercantile shop. Every time I go in there, I find myself talking about my mother and how she had a fabric shop and how she taught me to sew. I always ask them if they will let me touch the fabrics because I cant know them only by sight. They must giggle when Evita comes to visit.

Anyhow, so remembering how patterns generally are, I went out into the world of sewing in Nicaragua, and I tore it up. I started hand sewing a shirt and decided that it would be WAAAAAAYYY easier if I had a machine. So, knowing that the Casa Materna had a machine (even though it was a manual) It MUUUUUSSST be easier than sewing by hand right?

So, the Regina is a machine that is extremly common here in nicaragua. There is a sewing machine, and an electric sewing machine. This is the sewing machine. Which, surprising is quite handy when the power goes out. So since everybody here, well, many people know how to use it, I figured I could too. I tried one of the machines and it was fregared, that is to say, NOT working very well. Then the midwife told me there was a newer one tucked away in the closet. So I drug it out and gave it a whirl. It took a while to figure it out, and a whole can of oil to the joints, and a visit from a lady in my church to get the stitches working right, and some work getting the rythm of the foot peddle, but I was teaching a class within a few days. Here I am showing the women in the CM how to use it. I sewed a dress this day and realized some technical errores in the pattern and may have to redo a part, but I was pretty pleased.

This is the first shirt I made. Most of it is sewn by hand, but it was finished on the regina. So... Thanks mom for showing me the way in the world of sewing. I think of you with every stitch.

31 Years of Creation and Beauty

My best friend will be turning 31 soon, and as he says, officially entering his 30's. And as his best friend I can attest to his staggering genious and earthshattering beauty (no im not as creative with my words as he, so I borrowed those and mixed them up.) Kory has been blessed by a drive to create meticulously refined peices of work of many mediums, favoring the watercolor and word medium. I have been blessed to be his partner of 5 years, and his siamese twin for the last 1 1/2 years here where we are nearly inseperable. How do you celebrate such quiet and intense beauty as he? I am not sure. Besides to give him these words in this small and huge semi private/public forum.

Whether he is framed in mamoth snow storms, fog, a garden, a computer, a gaggle of fluckigers, a jungle or a mosquito net, he is still the most lovely person I have known.

Kory, congratulations on another year of living, and learning. As the aboriginies would say, "what have you learned? Do you desearve a birthday?" As his official twin, I would definatly say yes.

We love you kory. We are blessed by you. Happy birthday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

I am sure that many of you have been wondering how Heather and I stay in such great shape in the Third World. Especially as vegetarians in the second poorest country in the hemisphere (yes, that means this half of the planet Earth). First of all, being vegetarian is cheaper and healthier than eating meat here and all Nicaraguans could benefit from a little less cerdo and a little more repollo. However, the real secret lies in this simple new recipe happened upon by Heather. Banana Maple Chocolate Tacos. Here´s how it works.

What you need:
Chocolate pancakes (pancakes, cocoa)
Homemade maple syrup (as if there were other kinds)


Friday, June 12, 2009

The First 5 Years of Us

Yesterday we completed our fifth trip around the sun as married people.
We have decided that we sort of like it, being married and travelling around the sun on this blue rock. I won´t bore anyone with an account of all of the things that we have learned and how happy we are etc. because it is obvious from our glowing faces above. (Incidentally, the bottom of the totem pole is always the most important, being at eye level, and is always carved by the chief. The top is harder to see and left to lesser artisans. At least I read that somewhere. Obviously a lie. Which is why I like to call this photo "Tall Cheif.") Rather, I thought I would post some of these images that we shot of each other and ourselves yesterday. We decided that as an anniversary activity we would shoot some portraits of each other. They look much darker here than they should be, but I hope it is just this monitor. It was a fabulous activity and I highly recomend it to any couple. It is a great way to study each other and remember that wrinkle in that one spot that you thought about for days after the first, and haven´t thought much about since.

So with no further ado, I give you the us, acording to us.

Happy June days!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


It’s 4 am and kory just left on the bus for Managua. I miss him when he is gone and decided to write a blog entry. Besides seeing my first live snake here, the only other exciting things we have done is attend an “In-Service Training” with our Nicaraguan colleagues.
(I know I look terrible in this picture.. no im not pregnant, just pansona.)
Kory took a 14 year old from our radio group and besides a possible scandal with her and a young doctor that was there, all went very well. It was the first time she had stayed in a hotel. One of the most exciting things we did was learn that the US government has set aside funds for HIV-AIDS trainings, which are to be done by peace corps volunteers. So we were divided into groups by region and started planning. We chose to focus on youth ages 15-20. Was that suicide or what! It will take place in October so there will be more to say about that later.

Since I have become a master at cooking with soy during my time here, and because we also had a session from Soynica, an NGO that promotes the use of soy, I thought I would put some instructions on here.
Soy is an amazing crop that has soooooo many endless wonders that its like trying to imagine where space ends. Ok, not quite that much. BUT, its extremely healthy and its even better it your not buying pre-processed stuff but actually making it yourself. Its also a lot more cost effective. So here it is, I hope you try it:

Buy the soybeans. They are a pale color and perfectly round. I don’t now how they get like that, but they happily change to regular been shape once they are “inflated”.

Now, I had been following a recipe that had you soak the beans in water overnight. But Soynica says to use the following recipe that does NOT include soaking them overnight. They say that it lessens the weird bean taste that you get when soak them all night. Becky can attest that I HATE this been taste and that it made the soymilk intolerable for me, so hopefully this helps. I haven’t tried it yet, except at the training and I thought it was still there somewhat, but hey… remember you are not buy Silk soymilk, you are making your own! And that’s just beautiful in itself.

1 pound of dried soybeans

• Take the beans and clean them, that is, make sure there are no rocks or grass etc, which all of ya’ll in north America, probably won’t find too many, but we do.
• Put them in a pan with enough water to cover them and bring them to a boil for 20 mins.
• Wash the “precooked” beans (that is what you call them at this stage because they still require more cooking) 4 times without trying to remove all the skins.
• Now you need to grind them. If your suuuuper cool and have a mill that grinds, say, wheat, this is perfect. If not you can use a blender, food processor or hand mill. You want them to be ground pretty fine unless you plan on using them for hamburgers. I like a little texture in my burgers so I leave a part of the beans ground roughly.

Now you have what is called soy payana, or meat. *The payana still needs more cooking which is to be done in whatever recipe you use.

Now what do you do with the payana you ask?
You can make soy milk or tofu with the liquid (see below) or you can use the “meat” to make a billion things, like meat balls, hamburgers, taco meat, fritters, enriched rice or pasta etc etc. Here are a few recipes.

Soy milk

Payana from 1 pound of dried beans
1-2 liters of water
A little vanilla
sugar to taste
Some put a little lemon juice in or lemon peal
and any fruit you want

• Put the payana and the water in a pan and mix them together.
• Cook them until it boils then turn it off.
• When it cools you will need to strain the payana through a cloth, squeezing it to get all the milk out.
• Put the payana aside and use in another recipe.
• To the milk add sugar or honey to taste and the vanilla.
• Allow to cool and enjoy.
• If you want to make a fruit smoothy.. mmm. You will like it. Just blend with fruit and ice.

Tofu/ Bean Curd

• When you get the meat and water boiling, strain the out the meat while hot.
• In the milk add half of the following mixture while stirring a little and then leave it covered for five minutes.
¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup water.
• If after 5 mins, it has not curdled, put the rest of the above mixture in and leave it another five mins.
• When you see that the white part has curdled and separated from the whey or yellow liquid, it is ready to strain in a cloth. The more liquid you strain out the firmer your tofu will be. You can also leave it in the cloth and press it for a while with something heavy to make it firmer. Now, I will be honest, I haven’t ever really gotten a nice firm, square piece of tofu like you buy in the store. But if you have access to buy a tofu mold for pressing, it might help.
• Remember that the payana you have left over is of LESS nutrient value than the payana you get if you don’t make the milk, just so long as you drink the milk you will get it all. If you don’t make milk, you can just use the payana to make stuff.
• I like to curdle the tofu while the payana is still in it and then I just strain it with a cloth like normal and throw out the whey. It makes a neato texture that was the catalyst to my first “Chik Patty”.

Soy “meats”

“Chik Patties”

Payana from 1 pound of dried beans
1-2 vegetarian bullion or chicken bullion
1- 1 ½ cups white flour for every pound of dried beans
Crushed up corn flakes

• Dissolve the bullion in about ¼ cup hot water and then add the payana.
• Add the flour and mix well. It should form nicely into firm patties. If it doesn’t, keep adding flour. (also if when you cook them they fall apart its because you haven’t put in enough flour to make it stick. So add more.)
• Press each patty into the corn flakes
• Fry in a little bit of oil in a frying pan and enjoy.

Payana from 1 pound of dried beans
1-2 vegetarian bullion or chicken bullion (optional, but if you don’t add this, you must add some salt)
1- 1 ½ cups white flour for every pound of dried beans

• Dissolve the bullion in about ¼ cup hot water and then add the payana.
• Add the flour and mix well. (if when you cook them they fall apart its because you haven’t put in enough flour to make it stick. So add more.)
• Form into 1 inch balls
• Deep fry.


1-2 cups of flour
1-2 tablespoons of salt
Whatever kind of vegetables you like, chopped very finely. Could be ANYTHING, but especially onions and garlic. Also green leafy vegetables add even more nutrients. I have learned to REALLY appreciate carrot leaves since I’ve been here and recommend that you put some in. I NEVER throw those guys away now. They have a great taste. You can also eat the leaves from any kind of squash.

• Mix the veggies with the payana and salt (and pepper if you want)
• Mix in 1 cup of flour, if you need more, add more.
• Shape into patties and fry with a little bit of oil. If they fall apart you didn’t use enough flour.

This might seem overwhelming, but it can be frozen in any of its forms. I make the payana and freeze half of it until im ready to cook It into something. You could even make a million hamburgers and freeze them, all ready for the grill at any time, saving tons of money and nutrients.

Well dearies, I bet your fed up with recipes and What a long blog!
If you have any recipe requests, let me know and I will oblige.