This was my birthday weekend, and I was looking forward to a very special gift that I had specifically asked for. But first...
FRIDAY: Today the workmen came to tear down our fence because our black dog, Quila (short for Tranquila, which she is NOT) had pushed on it so hard in guarding our house from the dangerous and malevolent schoolchildren that pass by every day that it had given up the ghost and fallen over.
This, of course, meant that we had to keep the dogs chained up most of the day so they wouldn't run off and get into trouble, which is their normal MO.
What made the day particularly interesting is that the front end of a tropical storm came through just about the time that the welders started working to weld the posts. Yes, rain - a steady drizzle.
In the late afternoon, since the dogs had been on their chains all day, I decided to take them for a walk - in the rain - to give them a chance to "do their duty". Since I'm not strong enough to take both of them on a leash at the same time, I had to do the walk twice. We all came back thoroughly soaked (surprise!).
SATURDAY: The first thing I did when I woke up was take the dogs for (separate) walks again...in the rain again. On Saturday Tropical Storm Ivo had moved in closer, so we had wind as well. I was desperate to do some laundry and since we don't have a dryer (why bother when it's sunny 360 days out of the year?) I had David string up some twine in the guest bedroom so I could do a load of the most desperately needed clothes and have somewhere to dry them that didn't cut off our ability to walk around in our 850 square foot house.
On Saturdays I generally cook up a bunch of things to use during the week - rice, beans, and whatever else comes to hand. Although we were in the middle of a tropical storm, it was still too hot to cook inside, so I fired up the woodstove in the "summer kitchen" (which is where I've been doing all my cooking since the weather got hot) and put on a pot of black beans, a pot of rice, and 4 crabs that I had bought at the pescaderia (fish store) the day before. By this time the rain had stopped, but the wind had really kicked up, with gusts of about 40 MPH. I had to hold onto my potholders, but other than that it didn't affect my ability to cook.
THEN came my birthday present! Our priest had promised to teach me how to make mole (pronounced mole-ay for you non-spanish speakers), and at lunchtime he showed up with about 20 ingredients. He laid them all out and while he did almost all the work, I took notes. What most people in the States don't realize is that there are many types of mole, not just the one with chocolate. This particular mole doesn't have chocolate, but it does use FOUR different types of chiles, along with TWO types of nuts, bananas, and many other things. It took about an hour and a half to put it all together, and another half hour to cook.
After all that effort we were all hungry so I made a salad for us to eat:
1/2lb of good ham (not that watery stuff-use thick sliced bacon if you can't find good ham)
1 small (8oz) can of corn
1 bell pepper (I used yellow)
1 large roma tomato
1/2-3/4 cup of kalamata olives
3 hard boiled eggs
I cubed the ham and heated it up, then mixed it with the other ingredients and poured garlic italian salad dressing (purchased) over the whole thing. It was a major hit!
Part of the birthday present is that Padre was going to come back after the midday mass on Sunday (the third of 4 for him each Sunday) to have chicken mole with us. He told me that we should have rice and tortillas with it, so after he left I went back out and cooked up the chicken and made another batch of rice (because the first batch I made is for other meals this week). After those were finished, I deboned the chicken and also got all the meat out of the crab to use for later. So the result of all the cooking outside on a woodstove during a tropical storm was:
1.5 quarts of black beans
2.5 quarts of mole (yummy!)
3 quarts of rice
1.5 pounds of deboned chicken
1 pint of crab meat
And of course the salad...
SUNDAY: Our church has a fundraising program for the various groups in the church where one of the couples in the church makes tamale lunches once a month and tickets are sold, with the cost of the tickets covering the ingredients, plus extra which goes to the church groups. For some reason David had bought FOUR tickets this time, plus a friend of mine gave me 2, so we had SIX tickets for tamale lunches. Thankfully I had just found a recipe that uses leftover tamales to make a casserole, so right after church I got the 6 lunches and we hightailed it home to fire up the woodstove so I could heat up the chicken mole and the rice.
We had a VERY tasty lunch and I got a wonderful surprise. I asked Padre what recipe I should learn next and he said that he will come over in a week and teach me how to make a special kind of salsa that I've never heard of. It turns out that he LOVES to cook traditional Mexican ranchero food, which he learned from his mom, and he usually spends his day off each week cooking! So he's pretty excited that I want to learn this stuff, and I'm even more excited that he's willing to find the time to teach me! I'm hoping to have a series of occasional blog posts, "Padre's Kitchen", with the recipes and photos of these traditional dishes. I'm sorry I didn't take any photos while we were making the mole, but trying to watch Padre and take notes during a tropical storm needed my full attention. However, Padre said that soon he's going to come over and watch ME make the mole from scratch, to be sure that I have it down, so I'll do a post with the recipes and photos then.
After Padre left David and I settled in for a nice long summer's nap, and when we woke up we took the dogs for a walk. And enjoyed the sunset, of course!
Feliz cumpleanos to Kathleen Basi and everyone else whose birthday was this weekend! Now hie thyself over to Reinventing Mother to see what's been going with Wanda and others this past weekend.