Monthly Archives: January 2012

chocolate and peanut butter experiment

chocolate and peanut butter experiment

For some reason, since our vacation, I’ve felt like baking, a lot.  Sometimes I go to and look up new recipes.  Lately, though, I also have another online interest…Pinterest!  I’m afraid that I’ve found it very addicting!  It’s like having bulletin boards for little photos and snips of all your to-do ideas and inspirations, but online.  So if you see a photo, quote, recipe, or anything at all that you like and want to remember or share, you “pin” it to your board.  Then you can share your cool stuff and check out other people’s cool stuff.  So goodbye magazine clippings!  Now all my cool ideas are online, stored in one place, with links to intructions, etc.  What fun!

The other night I saw a photo of these Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows on Pinterest, and then I couldn’t get it out of my mind…I love that combination!!!  So I clicked into the blogs full of recipes, read dozens of readers’ comments on the recipes, then opted for the one that had the easiest ingredients.  I realized afterwards that it’s a vegan recipe (that’s made without dairy and eggs), so for you dairy-free people, here’s a yummy recipe!  I later found another recipe called Magic in the Middle, that has lots of added animal ingredients and am thinking of trying that one out later.  I liked these ones a lot, but there was a slightly strange “healthy” aftertaste, like I had added some secret extra-healthy ingredient, which I didn’t!  Because of this hint of healthy, I may try the other, more rich sounding recipe another day!

For the recipe for these little pillows (well, mine didn’t look like pillows because I didn’t use all natural peanut butter and the dairy-free stuff, so mine just look like normal cookies), see here (the Post Punk Kitchen blog)

Here are a few photos of my efforts:   First you make little peanut butter balls, that was easy and fun!

Then you make a chocolate dough, this was easy with ingredients that I had on hand, like canola oil….(I used milk instead of non-dairy milk).  No eggs or butter (which I didn’t happen to have).  It was all so quick and easy!  Then came the fiddly part: flattening chocolate balls, adding a peanut butter ball to the middle, then closing the flat chocolate tortilla around the middle filling and rolling it into a neat ball.  The photos I saw made it look so easy, but the chocolate dough had a strange texture, nice and greasy, but cracked easily.  So it took quite awhile to cover the little tan balls with the dark brown dough, making large ploppy mounds.

They baked up pretty nicely, making about 25 medium to large cookies.  The smell was wonderful while they baked! Straight out of the oven they were delicious!  When they cooled off they were still yummy, nice and crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with a nice strip of peanut butter in the middle!  For some reason, sometimes I still felt like they had some strange ingredient or smell, like ground flax….sometimes, then other times they were super.  Sometimes I add strange healthy ingredients, but not this time!  The kids really liked them, but they were almost too big, and not all the kids finished the cookie they took.  I don’t think Henry was too impressed, but he ate quite a few anyways, with several glasses of milk.  So I guess my experiment was a success..!?!  Here’s the finished product:

If you would like an invitation to join Pinterest, just let me know 🙂  it’s so much fun (if you like that kinda thing, and clicking around, and looking at photos, etc)

An unexpected purpose

An unexpected purpose

Our vacation to Guatemala didn’t end up being exactly as we had planned.  There was an unexpected reason why we travelled down,  which  we wouldn’t find out until we were already there.  We thought we were just going to have fun and see the sights, and of course, to spend time with family.  It turned out that we couldn’t have guessed how important the time with family would be.  The day after we arrived, we found out that Henry’s Aunt had just been diagnosed with cancer.  Everyone agreed that she needed to be taken care of at home (Henry’s parents’ place).  It wasn’t in our minds at first, but it was terminal cancer.  The kids were able to meet their great Aunt and were aware that there was a sick person in the house who needed care and some quiet.  Keeping 8 kids even kind of  quiet can be tricky!  So the first 2 weeks of our stay were mainly dedicated to nursing.  I’m afraid that I’m not very good at that, so I mostly kept an eye on kids.  Henry’s mom hardly slept for taking care of her sister.  Both of my sister-in-laws were right there helping out in everything.  I just have to say how much I admire these ladies: my mother-in-law, and Henry’s sister and sister-in-law, they are amazing!!!

So Christmas day and New Years weren’t exactly the way we had imagined… yes we did some celebrating, but festivities weren’t the only thing on our minds.  We were able to give Henry’s Aunt her “Christmas hug” and “New Years hug” this year.  Those are special hugs in Latinamerica!  Usually hugged at midnight.  And she was able to eat a little of the traditional Christmas tamales.  It was a very bittersweet time.

To make a long story short, she passed away in January.  Henry’s dad was out of the city on business, so it was such a blessing that Henry was there, along with his siblings, to help his mom with all the arrangements of the day.  In Guatemala they do a “velorio” which I can only translate as a wake.  But more toned down from the pictures I get in my head when I hear the word “wake”.  And the next day, the kids and everyone went to the funeral home.

An interesting tidbit:  as we were walking into the funeral home, we walked past a couple of slightly distinguished-looking older men, and I noticed one with blue eyes…a few minutes later Henry mentions that he was the president of Guatemala from years ago.  Of course I recognized the name, but hadn’t recognized his face after so many years!!  You just never know who you will run into in Guatemala City!!! craziness!

I must say, the kids enjoyed the funeral home: cousins and food.  It was good to see and greet family members that we might not have otherwise seen.  I had no idea whether it was ok to take photos…I’ve been to uh, only a few, ok, maybe it was only 2 velorios in Guate.  I didn’t know if it was a good idea or not, and didn’t see anyone else with a camera or phone out.  So I just sneaked my camera out and took a couple blurry shots.

I would have liked some shots of  Henry’s dad leading the service, he did such a good job, and of the kids right up front there listening to their Abuelo.  But I have a fear of being too conspicuous sometimes, and especially in those close, emotional moments, just couldn’t bring myself to snap away.  So they will be filed with other “mental photos” I keep in my head.  Now comes the big adventure part:  the graveside service.

Maybe it was just a “big adventure” for myself and my kids.  Maybe “adventure” is the wrong word.  It was probably a totally normal, everyfuneral kind of experience for everyone else, but for us…well, lets just say we won’t be forgetting anytime in the near future.  After that build-up you’ll be expecting all the details, but to keep this story short, I’m just going to mention a few things.

It was a slightly windy, overcast day, which lent to the “movieness” of the whole experience.  Did I mention that it was like being in a movie?  It was. There was a solitary trumpet player, which I found cool, but the kids found eerie.  Graveyards are just different in other parts of the world….in North America they usually seem to be peaceful green parks, with little tufts of flowers popping up and some orderly marble markers and crosses….it’s not like this everywhere, just so you know.  In Latin America, graveyards tend to run to vaults and mausoleum-type structures.  This cemetery was mostly all cement…with a couple of trees, and big cement buildings or “casket condominiums”  almost 2 storeys high.  So it was very different looking.  And I realized that my kids have never been to a graveside service, ever.  The graveside experience was rather emotional and dramatic for me and the kids (probably the norm for everyone else).  So needless to say, as soon as I could, I took them back to the car for a de-briefing session.  I wish I had recorded myself.  I waxed eloquent, as the saying goes, in order to put my children’s minds at ease.  (modest cough).  It was a good moment, maybe not in their minds, but I was able to say a bunch of stuff (that doesn’t sound nearly as eloquent) that they needed to hear.  And it was a real-life moment.  One of those learning experiences.  So there.

A distant shot of the graveside….the trumpet player had already zoomed off on his motorbike.

We drove past this ostentatious tomb on the way out and just had to get a photo of it….who knows who’s buried there, we weren’t going to stop and find out!  But pretty fancy, eh?  The doors were copper. The garbage barrel kind of ruins the mighty effect though, ….typical…..

 In the background is another “casket condo”.  Seriously, they even had little “balconies” on the “condos” to put flowers in!

Leaving the cemetery.  Oh yeah, right inside the gate, there was a funny sign, that I wish I could have photographed, it said:  “It is not permitted to learn to drive a vehicle on these premises.”   

After all of this, we realized how very content we were to have been there with Henry’s family in the midst of this difficult time.  Unexpected, yes, but truly in God’s plans for us, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some Culture…¡y qué cultura!

The ancient Mayan culture has left some interesting relics…I mostly enjoy seeing the pottery, and even more than that, finding my own bits of ancient pottery.  Didn’t have time for all that on this last trip, this was about all we had time for, check out the artifacts:

La antigua cultura maya nos ha dejado unos reliquias interesantes, disfruto de ver las cosas de barro y cerámica, pero más que nada me gusta encontrar mis propios pedacitos de barro antiguo.  Esta vez no tuvimos tiempo para todo eso…mira y verán lo que tuvimos tiempo de hacer:

We didn’t spend long looking at the pottery, because we had some other things to do here…..guess what and where we were!

No pasamos mucho tiempo viendo los artefactos porque tuvimos algunas otras cosas que hacer…..¡adivinan qué y donde estabamos!

I think you´ve guessed…….ya adivinaron, verdad?

Did you know that in Guate you can get any fast food you want delivered to your house?!  Free of charge.  I embarassed my kids by trying to get a photo of the McD’s delivery guy, just so you all would believe my incredible story!  Pharmacies also deliver medicines and school supplies to your home, nice, eh?

¿Sabian que en Guate se puede pedir cualquier comida rapida para entrega a domicilio gratis?  Les dió verguenza a mis hijos cuando estaba tratando de tomar esta foto de la moto para probar que lo que digo es cierto. ¡jaja!  Tambien las farmacias tienen entrega a domicilio para las medicinas y hasta útiles escolares, chilero, ¿no?

Some Culture…¡y qué cultura!