Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Graverobber

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This song has been in my mind for the last couple of weeks, for various reasons.  (One of which is that I have been thinking of my Grandpa Ernie, since this week would have been his 94th birthday).  When I was in high school (or junior high) we sang this song in choir and I’ve never forgotten it.  Let it rock you.  Here are the lyrics:

That is the hope that I live with.

You can see a video, also with the lyrics here:

This must be a recent version, by Petra, since the old version was a bit “rockier” as I remember it!  We sang a lot of Petra songs in choir and I always appreciated the lyrics!!

The graphics are by Paula Kesselring Designs, mostly from her kits “Retrosweets” and “Ephemera 1”

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Quick Microwave Caramel Corn

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It seems to be the season for caramel corn, caramel apples and all sorts of caramel things!  YUM, caramel is my favorite!  So far I haven’t ever tried making caramel corn in the oven, but just use this microwave recipe that I remember my mom making when we were kids (yes, microwaves existed then).  It’s also a great recipe for people who only micro-cook!!  😉 Maybe it doesn’t taste or look exactly like the from-scratch oven caramel corn, where you cook the caramel with a candy thermometer and then bake it and all that, but if you want a quick sweet snack that is popcorny and caramely, then you should try out this quick recipe! 😉

Here are the ingredients.

It helps to have a hot air corn popper or know how to pop your corn some other way.  I don’t recommend using the bags of microwave popcorn, but I suppose it would be ok if it wasn’t too salty…

Quick Microwave Caramel Corn (serves 1-4):

7-8 cups of popped corn

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 Tbsp. golden corn syrup

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt in a microwave-proof bowl.  Cook on high for 1 and 1/2 minutes, stir.  Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring after 1 minute.  Add baking soda and vanilla and mix well and quickly pour over the popcorn, mixing well.  You might want to divide it into 2 bowls at this point, if that makes it easier.  Cook each bowl-full in the microwave for 2 minutes more, stirring after a minute.

Here are the steps in photos, Pop yer corn!

Then add most of the ingredients in a bowl, this is the dark (golden) corn syrup…Here we are all cozy together:Micro-cook!(Like the retro bowl?)  Get the popcorn ready, about 7 or 8 cups of popped stuff…maybe you should have already measured this out….This is the bowl of bubbly ingredients coming out of the micro,Sprinkle on the baking sodaAnd splash in the vanilla and mix well, The mixture will foam up, it’s kinda fun!Stir quick and then get that stuff poured over the popcorn!! I wasn’t really fast enough because I had the camera in my hand…This is the sticky part….I was so busy trying to photograph this stuff, that I forgot the very last step, the cooking of the popcorn for 2 minutes more in the microwave.  So I set up my little photoshoot with the caramel corn and it wasn’t quite done….so you’ll just have to believe me that it turns out more uniform in color and caramel than mine looks in the photo!  I don’t think this recipe is the best for popcorn balls….but it might be ok for poppycock: adding in different nuts! yum!  Enjoy a quick treat!

P.S. if you are wondering about the Golden Corn Syrup, I think it might be fine to substitute the light or clear corn syrup.  But if you do buy a bottle of this stuff, you could also use it for caramel apples (I’m going to try that tomorrow) and for butter tarts for Christmas baking, oooooo baby!!

A little birthday tradition and a chilly walk

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This morning was a beautiful morning…..for staying in bed with a good book!  It was so dark and overcast.  A chilly breeze was blowing and the temperature was about -6 C.  What I ended up doing turned out, strangely enough, to be just as soothing (if not as cozy) as curling up in bed with a book.  I went on a walk.

Now I am not big on walking, jogging or any exercise in general.  And the idea of going out on a dark freezing day doesn’t appeal to me.  I couldn’t summon up the guts to do it yesterday, but today was different:  I was going to walk to the “corner” grocery store.  For my son.

I haven’t pulled out my winter boots yet, since it is really still supposed to be fall, so I prepared for my walk with knee-socks and my tennis shoes (hee hee!) and a hoodie, heavy overcoat, scarf and my new toasty mittens.  I’m sure I looked fabulous, especially with 2 hoods on!  (I could hardly see).  Oh yes, a mug of hot chocolate was needed to warm up my insides in preparation for the outdoors, too.

Surprisingly enough, it was a beautiful walk.  Most of the trees have dropped their leaves in piles on the sidewalks and lawns, but a few have stubbornly held onto their yellow and lime-green leaves.  I also really love those Mountain Ash trees full of bunches of red berries and rusty leaves, so gorgeous.  It was a solitary, chilly walk, but I enjoyed the quiet.  Only a couple of bundled up people passed me, walking their doggies and breathing through their scarves.

I made it to the corner grocery store, though I had to pass many corners to get there!  Someday I hope to do a post on “my little store,” the Elsafadi Mediterranean Market.  I love shopping there!  Today especially was rather nostalgic for me.  It reminded me of my growing-up years in Guatemala and the shops we used to go to, the products we used to buy.  I walked the aisles and looked at every interesting item, from packs of chloro-“chiclets” to jars of honey with the beeswax in them, cans of tomatillos and green mole sauce to packs of corn tortillas.

Especially nice was chatting with the baker and getting him to specially slice some fresh-baked bread for me, and for 99 cents a loaf!  Did I mention that I was shopping for my son’s birthday dinner?  I’m planning on making those special party sandwiches

Another fun purchase was some soda pop in real bottles with real bottle caps!  I know that’s going to be a hit!  And they are extra fun because they are Jarritos brand from Mexico.  Haven’t tried them before but orange and pineapple flavors with natural cane sugar look yummy!

And here’s where the birthday tradition in the title comes in….it’s just a little tradition we’ve been doing for a few years, but it makes the birthday morning that extra bit more fun (especially if it’s a school morning!).  The birthday person gets to choose their favorite cereal!  That might not sound like a big deal to you, but I must explain that we normally buy “healthyish” cereals, full of protein and fiber and iron, in those jumbo boxes and not cutely-colored cereal full of fun thingys!  So it is a treat for the birthday person.  It’s fun to see the kids discussing their options and trying to persuade the birthday person to pick their own favorite!  I’m always trying to convince someone to pick Honeycombs or Captain Krunch, my old childhood favorites!   Guess I just have to wait ’till my birthday….

So I spent awhile in the cereal aisle, looking for the birthday boy’s selected favorite.  I also spent awhile in the aisle where there are all sorts of unusual middle eastern treasures…wooden and tin gadgets that remind me so much of the fun things we could find in the downtown markets in Guatemala!  I’m not sure what they are used for exactly, but I’d like to own a few nonetheless.

Then came the walk home, happily pushing my purchases in a baby stroller, probably looking like a bag lady.  This time a tiny snowflake floated down and settled on my lapel, and a few more gradually drifted onto the plaid blanket that was holding my grocery bags into the stroller.  (I was trying to make it look like I really had a baby in the stroller…so I wouldn’t look too weird…mission-probably-not-accomplished).  It was so nice and peaceful and nostalgic, walking home with pop bottles and fresh bread, candy and chips, passing the empty playground and hearing the seagulls squawk and the stroller wheels crunching over some fallen leaves.  The really great thing (and not nostalgic at all) was the feeling of peace and safety.  Complete aloneness and security.  Thank the Lord for that.  Then home to a cozy house and a plate of delicious reheated leftovers.  (I’m not being sarcastic, I love leftovers, these ones above all).   It’s a good day, it’s a good life.

I’m thankful for small enjoyable moments, those seemingly plain moments that are really wonderful moments in disguise.

World of Goo party

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Who has heard of World of Goo?  And I don’t mean my kitchen….;) My kids used to play this game on the computer, this World of Goo.  A game based on principles of physics, the idea is to build structures out of goo balls that will reach certain heights and then other reactions will happen.  Anyways, the things that grabbed my attention on this game were the graphics and the music!  (Of course!)  My biggest beef about the computer games the kids play is whether I like the music or not!!  (Poptropica is fine because there is no music or noise!)

Last year we had a World of Goo birthday party, just our family, for our son’s birthday.  Like I said, I like the graphics and the colors in the game, the (mostly) black goo balls and windmills against colored skies.I especially like the purple skies!So I tried to get the idea of the colors and shapes into the decorations.Goo balls and windmills!The goo balls were made from those metal frozen juice lids spray painted black with paper eyeballs.  Then they were attached together with black straws and black ribbon.Here comes the real fun….the food!!Building structures with meatballs!  First with plain meatballs, then later some attempted them with bbq sauce on their meatballs.Meatball engineers 🙂A super goo ball structure!!This is not a violent game and does not produce violence in kids! Really.After the yummy meatball skyscrapers (and a few other foods, I think) it was time for dessert…A peanut-butter-chocolate goo ball tower for the birthday boy!Light the candles on those goo balls…Now eat those chocolatey gooey balls of sweetness!Gooey fun was had by everyone!!Now off to play the game!!

The 5 Minute Individual Chocolate Chip Cookie Midnight Snack

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Oh, forgot to mention that it’s a Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Mmmm….what a lovely new recipe I have found!

The other night I was searching on Pinterest for brilliant ideas to add to my online idea-board stash….and I was feeling kind of hungry.  And then suddenly I found this recipe….just the thing to test out for a late night snack!

It turned out to be the perfect Midnight Snack for One…..or for Two, if you feel like sharing! 😉  There’s nothing like a hot chocolate chip cookie with a cold glass of milk….except a hot chocolate cookie that is ready in 5 minutes or less!

See if this convinces you….

Here’s the recipe with a few of my own tweaks:

5 Minute Individual Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie

1 Tbsp. melted butter

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. white sugar

1/8 tsp. salt (or a big pinch)

1 egg yolk

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup white flour

2 Tbsp. chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a small micorwave-proof dish or bowl.  Add the sugars and salt and lightly beat in the egg yolk with a fork.  Add the vanilla and then the flour, a bit at a time while stirring. Stir just until mixed.  Add the chocolate chips and mix in.  I’m afraid that I already have this recipe memorized.  Oh, a note: you can cut down a tiny bit on the sugar, and another: don’t use whole wheat flour!  Microwave on high power for 40-60 seconds….I found that 40 seconds were just right.  Now pour a glass of milk and dig in!!   (I found this recipe on a site that wasn’t a proper blog or anything, so that’s why I didn’t post the link).This is what it looks like right out of the microwave!Share a bite!I was fairly pleased with the texture, it’s not exactly like oven-baked, but it’s yummy nonetheless.  Quite addiciting….don’t ask me how many times I’ve already “tested” out this new recipe…

The perfect quick snack for a chilly autumn evening! (and for breakfast and for lunch and for an after-school snack….)

Thanksgiving

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Against all the laws of food safety, we are still eating up Thanksgiving leftovers.  Ha ha!  It’s only the mashed potatoes, really!  I’m sure we’ll survive! 🙂  This year I added “sweet mix” pickles and pickled beets to our meal, but I think I was the only one who loved them.  No pumpkin pie was baked for dessert…. 😦  instead we made linzer cookies with raspberry jam, which I think is becoming a Thanksgiving tradition for us.  Here are a few photos of our Thanksgiving table….

Place settings (later add my Romany 1975 dishes):Placemats and napkins and table runner from IKEA.

The napkin holders were cookie cutters, also from IKEA. Can you tell it’s my favorite store for bargains? 😉Cute woodland cookie cutters!  (I saw the serviette holder idea on Pinterest)Thankful for pickles!Linzer cookie making time:Thankful for good food, family and friends 🙂

Columbus Day a.k.a. El Día de la Raza

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Columbus Day a.k.a. El Día de la Raza

I was looking for another fun holiday to celebrate….and I found today, the 12th of October!  But now I find that it seems to be a rather mixed-feelings kind of day.

It seems that in North America it is Columbus Day.  A day to remember that day in 1492 when Columbus sailed the Ocean blue….and discovered America.  When I was little, I only heard good things about Columbus and his discoveries! 🙂

Now I’m older and the world isn’t so rosy.

It turns out that there are a lot of people who are not happy with Columbus and the things he did.  Ok, we all know that he set off to find wealth and riches, preferably gold.  Right?  But it turns out that a lot of bad things happened to the people of the land he was “discovering”….. like sicknesses, slavery, poverty and death.  And being conquered by foreigners.

Yesterday I went online to do a bit of “research” about October 12th, since I knew that in Guatemala they observe El Día de La Raza (Day of The Race), and I wanted to find out more about it.  (See end of post for some of the articles I found).  I kept reading different blogs and articles and the readers’ responses….wow, what a controversial topic!  The responses were getting quite heated!

It seems that some people want to have a peaceful holiday where they remember the great discovery of America and celebrate Hispanoamericaness.  Others are shocked that genocides should be commemorated and they think that the day that triggered off the conquest of America should be remembered with grief.  There were arguments about the “conquerors and conquerees” and who thinks they are better than whom.  And who gets a holiday from work on the 12th and who doesn’t.  There were discussions about race, about the mixture of races (in Guatemala in particular) and how and when and where that happened.  And there were those who were just pleased to have a day off from work and some excuse to do something festive (like dressing up!).

Here are some of the comments about what the day is called where:

Día de la Resistencia Indigena en Venezuela,  Día de la Raza en Guatemala y Mexico, Día de la Hispanidad y Fiesta Nacional en España,  en Argentina se celebra el Día de los Pueblos Originarios y en Argentina el Día de la Raza y es feriado nacional, Día de las Américas en Uruguy,  “y aqui en mexico es el día del “descubrimiento de america” (asi o mas largo) y aqui no hay asueto como alla en España” dijo uno.

So in English that is: Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela, Day of the Race in Guatemala and Mexico, Day of Spanishness (that’s what google translate gave me) and National Holiday in Spain, Day of Original Peoples and Day of the Race in Argentina and it’s a holiday, Day of the Americas in Uruguay, and from Mexico someone said “here in Mexico we celebrate the Day of the Discovery of America and we don’t have a holiday here like they do in Spain”.

And when they say Day of the Race, they don’t mean a marathon….they are talking about their ethnic race….and in particular (this is what I understood?) the mixture of Spanish and Indigenous races that have become the ladino or mestizo races.  (Or maybe it’s the “orignal” Mayan race….I’m not quite clear yet).  It seems that the discussion can get rather complicated!

What was in the back of my mind, for Día de La Raza in Guatemala City, was a day when little children dressed up in traditional indigenous costumes and it was fun and colorful!  My husband says that his memories are of seeing kids in costumes (traditional outfits) and that the day wasn’t a negative thing at all and that Columbus and his discoveries were mentioned.  period.

(Things have changed in Guatemala since we lived there, obviously, and there was a big march in the capitol city in 2007 where thousands of people were against observing Dia de la Raza, and were calling it the Day of Dignity and Pacific Resistance, el Día de la Dignidad y la Resistencia Pacífica –among other things-.  There were other demonstrations in other countries on that day in 2007, too.)

I’ve been thinking about what we are going to talk to our kids about today, when they get home from school.  I had wanted to go for a quick visit to see the replica of Columbus’ ship the Santa Maria that is on display near here, but I don’t think we’ll have time!  We’ll have a chat about Columbus and what his discoveries meant to many: in both the good and the bad ways.  And maybe we’ll dress up. We can’t ignore history.  We don’t have to celebrate this day, but observing it is not a bad idea.  You know, the old saying about those who forget the past….

It happened, and because of this day, way back in 1492, all our lives have been touched.  Rudy Girón made a great comparison about this day and the War of the Worlds, the collision of two worlds at the incident of Columbus’ trip to the new world (see his parody here: AntiguaDailyPhoto.com listen to the music and read through some of the comments!).

Even if we won’t make it there today, we have seen the ship before, so here’s a photo of my pirate by the Santa Maria :).

(Those ships were a lot smaller than we imagine!)

There must be some pirate in me somewhere! Arg!

And whether there is some conqueror, conquered, arab, indigenous, viking or pirate blood in my own little family…..meh!  It’s all about the stories and the exciting fun of discovery, really.  We can observe, learn, share and discover for ourselves about this day in history.

I just had to include these darling photos of the kids, even though this was from our Christmas Nativity Scene a few years ago!  They just seemed to fit in this post! 🙂 😉

I just love this one, it was for our Christmas card!

Here are some of the sites/posts/articles I checked into:  link to Antigua Daily photo here, from Roots and Wings Int’l here, from Mundo Chapin here, from wikispaces here, from La Jornada here.

Hopefully I’ll get time later on to check out what kind of a day it was today in Guatemala City! 🙂  Hasta luego!