Monday, June 27, 2011

Pasteles - Day 4!

For day 3 all we did is to go to Global foods for the banana leaves. We were just too tired to do much more. Today, day 4, my friend Maria who is originally from the Dominican Republic stopped by to help. (They eat pasteles there too) She took 1/2 dozen home to eat tonight with her family.
Than we ran out of parchment paper. Karen is out getting more of that and we should only have about a few more (less than a dozen) to make. Karen and family leave next week and go to Pittsburgh to visit family. They are taking a dozen with them. So all in all, we should only have about 2 and 1/2 dozen left in the freezer when we are finished. That's a lot of work to get to this point! But think of all the pastele eaters who we have made happy!
I think Merida will be like making pasteles, a place where friends will help friends and we will all become each others friends, share good food and good times together. I hope I'm not being naive.

Pasteles is labor intensive.

My friend Maria helping out.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pasteles - Day 2

Looks like there will be a day 3. Almost 11:00 pm and we've run out of banana leaves. So tomorrow we will go to global foods to purchase them. CQ leaves in the morning to go to Washington DC for the week so Karen and I and the kids will be on our own to finish these. Karen's husband arrives Thursday night for a week. He is already salivating with the thought of pasteles! (or so he says) Here are some action photos!
The pasteles need to be tasted!

Sebastian stirs the masa

CQ puts them together

Kylie show up to give us a hand

The pork is shredded and seasoned with Achiote and other spices

Friday, June 24, 2011

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Carlos’ sister Karen and her 2 kids, Ana and Sebastian are here from Florida visiting us for 5 weeks. (If Sebastian is looking Chinese, that because he was adopted from there but that's another story as I went with them in 2007, my second trip to China.)
Leaving Ft Lauderdale at 5:00 AM
As Carlos is in town this week through Sunday we decided we could make pasteles. Pasteles are wrapped green banana stuffed meat pastries, traditionally served at Christmas time in Puerto Rico.

I think that it’s the Puerto Rican version of a tamale. It will take us two days to make them. It’s traditional that a family group gets together to make these during the holidays. Since we hope to be in Merida for the month of December we will make them now.
They will go into the freezer and Carlos can have his comfort food whenever he wants to cook them. I do not eat them. I don’t like the texture of the pasteles just like I don’t like the texture of tamales.
So we have been running around finding all of the items we need. First I went to Sam’s and bought a whole pork loin. (15.00) Karen and Carlos went to Global Foods and bought, yucca (cassava), yautia (taro), plantains, green banana, calabasa (pumpkin squash), potatoes, garbanzo beans, green pepper, onion, achiote, green olives and capers. (50.00) We also bought, parchment paper, banana leaves, plastic freezer bags, sazon and adobo seasoning. (20.00) Hay Caramba!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


A young man was sitting against the fence, strumming his guitar and singing antiwar songs and I was smitten!
At that time we were students a different schools, both involved in different life styles. Politically we were a good match. Democratic, liberal, unafraid to question authority and social norms of the day, interested in alternative lifestyles, and on the edge of counterculture. It would be two years before we joined forces!
During that time I flirted with communal living in a vegetarian cooperative farming community, he finished his college education, remained politically active and became a nuclear engineer.... and than we met up again.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

My dad (Daniel) was a great dad to the 6 kids in our family. He taught us to work hard and to show moderation in all things. He served his country and was a proud man. He worked hard on the Boston and Maine railroad for more than 35 years, following in the footsteps of his own father.
Daniel, my dad
Carlos' father, (also Carlos, called Charlie) was a good man too. His sense of humor will always be remembered. He was a stocky man who could dance salsa like an expert!  He also served his country and was steadfast in his love for his son and daughter. One of the first HIV counselors in the Chicago area he was known for his compassion and knowledge.
CQ was a great dad to our son named Carlos Daniel (but nicknamed 'Cheech') (and to more than 14 exchange students throughout our life) I started our son ice skating a 2 years old and ice hockey at three. Carlos being mostly raised in Puerto Rico was not very acquainted with ice or skates. He took lessons, learned to skate and began playing in an adult league so that he could experience hockey and help to coach our son. Later he took snowboarding lessons to keep up with a teenage Cheech.  CQ and Cheech took many a road trip together, the last one being when Cheech had reached the legal age and the drove from STL to Seattle for a beer fest than onto San Francisco. CQ's example of being a great dad has been passed down to our son.
CQ and Cheech
Cheech is now a dad. He has been blessed with a wonderful girlfriend and a daughter. He is shaping up to be a great dad. The love he has for baby Maia Danielle is evident whenever you see them together.
Cheech and Maia

Happy Father's Day to all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What’s on Your Summer Reading List?

Even on a cruise we go well stocked with reading material

There are so many good books this summer. Today the UPS truck arrived and dropped off two that we thought would interest us this month. A third should be arriving in a day or so. Many times we have our books delivered to the kindle but we thought we would order these in hardback and bring them down to the Merida English library on our next trip.
The first book is “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson. A non-fiction account of the days before WW II began, 1933, in Berlin. William E. Dodd becomes first ambassador to Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. A professor from Chicago, he brings along his wife and two adult children. His daughter Martha is a flamboyant personality entranced by the parties, and pomp, enamored by the Third Reich, ‘New Germany’ she indulges in several affairs. This is the story of an American family during the tense atmosphere before the war breaks out.
Our second book that arrived today is “Lost in Shangri-La” authored by Mitchell Zuckoff. Another true story from WW II, this one takes place in the New Guinea jungle May 1945 just before the end of the war. A plane filled with military employees take off for a joy ride over the lush jungle. The crash left only three survivors who must battle their way out of the jungle. Caught between a primitive tribe of natives and the Japanese, they endure a harrowing hike. A brave band of paratroopers risk their own lives to save them. The author uses journals, newspaper reports, films and interviews to write this true adventure.
The third book is also about WW II. (It must be a theme!) “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand is another true story. This is about Louie Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent turned Olympic runner turned army hero. It should be a good read!
What’s on your summer reading list? I’d love to plan our next few books and I’m always open to suggestions!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What A Difference a Week Makes!

This morning I received some new photos. Looks like a lot of work has been done this week. Footings and trenches are dug, and the outer wall is about 1/2 way up. I can't wait to see more! I am finding it difficult to visualize the size. I hope it gets easier as more of the building gets done.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Private Space

I'm pretty much a social person. I have friends and I like to spend time with them. All during my adult life I have had friends and family as well as an abundance of young children to teenagers in and out of my home. (Remember all those exchange students? I also placed and supervised up to 10 at a time during a typical school year and did many activities with them and their host families)
Carlos on the other hand relishes his alone time to meditate, read and listen and play music. His one complaint over the years has been his lack of private space to use as he would like. So when we worked with R & D, our architects we emphasized Carlos' need for personal space and this is what they came up with!

Now I know where all those thousands of books he plans to bring with him will go. This is his dream and it looks like it will happen. Lately he's been talking about an 'infrared sauna' or a hot tub... hmmm , I'm not sure about either of those in Merida! I think maybe I'll have to stop him at this. After all I need some space too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

CQ is Puerto Rican

Puerto Rico
CQ is Puerto Rican. He was born there and spent a few years growing up there, NY, Chicago and than back to Puerto Rico. He is so lucky that his parents insisted that he and his sister speak only Spanish at home. English was only spoken at school and with his non-Spanish speaking friends. Thus his Spanish both spoken and written is excellent. However he does have a non-Spanish speaking! It's not that I haven't tried. My skill at languages is abysmal. After 4 years of high school french I could hardly conjugate a verb and I really struggled!
Puerto Rican Plate
  However I do cook Puerto Rican! Arroz con pollo, arroz con gandules, mofongo, and many other comida criolla specialties. Many of our latino friends and family say that some of my dishes are better than many Puerto Rican cooks! In December I experienced makeshift Puerto Rican cooking when we stayed at our house in Merida. I brought with me some Sazon, a seasoning. I was able to buy in Merida some of the other spices/flavorings like Achiote, (which luckily is used throughout the Yucatan), garlic, onion, cilantro, sour orange and to also find some pink beans (rosada) which worked for our rice and beans. As we were just one step above camping I did not have my food processor with me so I was not able to make 'sofrito' which is what gives Puerto Rican cooking the extra aroma and savory taste! The avocados and plantains were plentiful as well as flavorful. Almost all the familiar fruits are available, papaya, mango, mamay, banana, soursop and more!
I know I can continue to cook familiar foods .... so maybe my Puerto Rican can survive in the Yucatan. And not to forget, today is our 36th wedding anniversary! Here's to 36 more years!
CQ (appreciates fine Puerto Rican Cuisine)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oops - Out of Sequence

I was so excited last night that I posted the photos without waiting and after I finished and published, I returned to my e-mail and I had received a second e-mail with more photos. By the looks of the deconstruction these should have been posted first.....I thought that everything would be done by hand, but it looks like our architects like using some heavy equipment. Maybe it could be done by December!

Monday, June 6, 2011

And the Project Starts!

I'm so excited! After 3 long years we have finally broken ground and started our build. Tonight I received the first photos of the construction.(actually deconstruction!) It is not recognizable! I have poured over them, almost blinding myself. I can't wait to see more photos.
Front (will be septic tank for easy empty)

Construction Material in front room

Front room with closet gone

Kitchen, bath and dinning room gone

Wall between truck co and yard gone

looking at the back

All trees gone

Sand and gravel waiting for construction (notice a piece of heavy equipment)

Yard debris waiting for pickup

By By kitchen!

One of the original bedrooms