Archive for July, 2010

21st July
written by Michelle

I am not good at following recipes. It’s not that I don’t like them or have anything against handy measuring cups. In fact my creations would probably turn out better if I just went ahead and followed the simple steps. But for some reason it feels like its cramping my style. I like to add stuff and change a lil’ of this for a lil’ of that. I like to improvise and improve and create.

Last week my Spanish teacher asked me what I wanted to learn for the week and I told her that I wanted to learn how to make pepián, pronounced pay-pe-ahn’. If you have not had the privilege of eating this delicious soup/stew/curry like dish than you’re missing out. And the best part about it is that it’s my kind of recipe! No measuring cups, no exact amounts, just a list of fresh vegetables and a little estimation.
We started with this:

And two hours later, after some chopping, boiling, browning, blending, and stirring, we finished with this:

I feel fairly confident that I could repeat it and make it by myself; minus the slimy-chicken-skin-peeling-bone-breaking part. The end result is served hot, over rice or with tortillas. And it makes wonderful leftovers. I’ll include the “Recipe” below. (this is probably more so for me so that I can remember the ingredients and what order they go in)

Dear Blog Readers, Meet Pepián


1 libre de pollo/carne de res

2 onzas de peitoria semillas

2 onzas de ajonjoli

1 chile pasa

3 tomates

1 cebolla

2 onzas de miltomate

1 manojo mediano de cilantro

3 dientes de ajo


1) Boil chicken/carne in water with onion and any vegetables you want (potatoes, squash, carrots)

2) Brown pepitoria, el anjonjoli and child pasa in a frying pan.

3) Broil tomate, cebolla, el ajo, and miltomates

4) Put items from #2 and #3 in the blender for 5 min

5) Pour back to pot, and cook for another 20 min with chicken.

*If you like rice, cook that simultaneously.

My little gas stove and I have been becoming much better friends these past few weeks. I think because fruits and vegetables are so cheap here and I have a little more time in the evenings I’m enjoying cooking. Even though I just confessed my inability to follow recipes I’d actually like to get better. So, if you have any easy or good recipes pass them along. I promise to try and follow the directions.

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19th July
written by Michelle

This past week has felt full, but not busy- if that makes sense. Full of kids and classrooms, learning new names and exactly where to catch the bus; full of afternoons in language school with too many new Spanish words; full of trips to the market to buy vegetables that I can’t pronounce and visits to the local tiendas where you can find everything from eggs to hand soap to hot sauce to toilet paper. No joke

Full and busy are not mutually exclusive, but I do think they hold different meanings. And I can say that only because most of my past year or two has felt busy, really busy! Busy and rushed and hurried. Contrary to these past few weeks that have felt, well…full, but not busy. I use the word full because my days do feel full; literally from 5:30 in the morning until about 6 or 7 at night. If busy is characterized by rushing around to take care of the present needs while also half-heatedly attempting to plan and prepare for what’s next; then full is defined by simply paying attention to the task at hand and nothing more. It involves waiting, patience, and…for however frustrating it may feel for this efficient-task oriented-productive-girl…slowing down. Ironically, sometimes the fullest days often involve moving slower and doing less. I am learning that sometimes doing less  can be a good thing.

Now don’t give me any credit for figuring out some new quasi-improved way of living life. I would not have ever chosen or had the discipline to necessarily change how I do day-to-day life. But when you put yourself smack center in a culture that values people, manana and siestas it’s kind of forced upon you. So, I am embracing it.

Well, most of it. I have yet to embrace my new morning routine and the un-godly hour that my alarm clock goes of. See why below:

New Morning Routine

5:30 alarm goes off
5:31 press snooze
5:35 moan a few times, snooze again
5:40 actually get out of bed
5:45 start hot water for tea
5:46 get ready
6:15 out the door with tea and breakfast in hand
6:16 10 min walk down 7th Avenida
6:30 catch bus toward Santa Lucia
6:45 get off bus & take a tuk-tuk up the hill
6:50ish arrive at school (lots of room for -ish in Guatemala)

All that before 7am and I’m not even a morning person! Maybe this is the secret to a full day. Get up before 6am?!? I’d still like to argue that I could have a lovely, full day and wake up at 7 o’clock no, 8 o’clock.

With that said, tomorrow is the start of another full week…and a horribly, early morning!

note: i’ve been working on updating the photo page on my blog (well, my cool, tech savvy friend is actually working on it) but in the mean time here’s a link to my flickr page where I’ll be posting photos if you want to see snapshots of life down here.

11th July
written by Michelle

I have not done a great job at regularly updating my blog thus far. A lack of internet and lack of time are my two biggest excuses. I feel like I jumped into life down here quickly and surprisingly rather smoothly. I started working at the school two weeks ago and I just finished my second week of language school. I’m making some friends and I found a great group to play ultimate with on Sunday afternoons. Besides battling mosquito bites (no exaggeration, at one point I had 27. I counted!)  and searching for some dark chocolate (yet to be found in this land of chocolate con leche) I am doing well. Sometimes I fear that one day I am going to wake up and realize this is not a 3-week trip. I am not going home next month or the month after for that matter. Nope. I actually live here. Weird. I don’t think that’s hit me quite yet.

Unrelated to Guatemala, I got an email from a friend this week telling me that an article I wrote is the Westmont Magazine. I’ve never had anything I’ve written published and to be honest, I am not if this counts considering its my alma mater, but it’s exciting nonetheless. This article probably sums up more of who I am and what I belive than anything I’ve posted on here in awhile.

If you’re interested you can read it here.

Coming soon: In Defense of the Besito, Living without a Mirror, and Why Guatemalan’s Don’t Hurry.

2nd July
written by Michelle

As promised, pictures of my new place. It’s simple, but I like it. I am getting used to using bottled water for everything, fervently washing all the fruits and vegtables that I buy in the market and I adjusting my expectations for “hot water.” Perhaps one of the best things about my new place is location. location. location.

Just 4 blocks from El Arco.

A five minute walk to el parque central.

An hour and half bus ride to one of my favorite places in Guatemala: Lago Atitlan.

And a short 5 hour plane ride from the lovely Santa Barbara

Vistors welcome!

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