November 30, 2012

Random thoughts on Mexican Cooking

Over the years, I've learned a lot about cooking Mexican style. I have learned to make soups, salsas, guisados (stews) and many tomato based dishes. All of these include using a blender. Its probably the most important kitchen appliance that I use on a daily basis. I am always blending tomatoes, cooked or uncooked. The blender is also used for smoothies, juices, and making aguas de frutas too. When I lived in the States, the only thing I used a blender for was making milkshakes. I love that most food is made from scratch here. 

Before it used to seem like a pain...but now I realize, its so much healthier to cook the Mexican way. Its also gotten much easier over the years. I can whip up some meatballs in guisado de jitomate in fifteen or twenty minutes. You want noodle soup? That takes about the same amount of time. And since I have one little boy who won't eat his vegetables, I can sneak them in using the blender! And he never notices.

Another important kitchen tool I use on a daily basis is a sieve or strainer with a handle. You need this to keep the tomato seeds and pieces out of what you're making. Or when you add chicken stock (we can't buy it here, we have to make it) to a soup, you have to strain out the pieces. Or if you want little boys to drink fresh juice, you strain the fruit pieces out. Mostly I use mine for making soups, which I make pretty often. I learned the hard way that you need one made of metal and not plastic! Once I poured hot chicken stock into my plastic strainer and all of a sudden, I realized the strainer had melted and was now part of my soup!

I have my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to thank for the knowledge I have of how to cook. I think the only thing I could really make when I got married was barbecued chicken. Now I have a lot more knowledge under my belt. I am so thankful for all the things they've taught me.

November 29, 2012

Little inconveniences in Mexico become big ones.

I don't usually complain about Mexico...I do gripe from time to time but I wouldn't say my blog is a continuous complaint about living here. Ok, maybe the last few posts are but I promise to post something positive....NEXT time.

 Today, though, I need to just vent a little bit. Let's just use running out of gas (for heating water in my home and cooking) as an example here. When you run out of are out. You have to call the gas people, get them to send a truck and wait all day, or as long as they decide to take depending on their route, etc. If you so much as leave for ten minutes to pick up kids from school or something, you are out of luck and have to call again. Inconvenient is an understatement. This means, no showers, hot breakfasts or anything else until they refill the tank. In the US you just pay your bill and the gas is always there! I miss that. And I know having a dryer is an extreme luxury here. I have one that was given to me as a gift by my uncle and mom when Alex was born. Well, imagine, washing school clothes the night before because you are behind on laundry and everything else due to a situation beyond your control that keeps you from keeping up on housework....and then no gas? And two crying boys telling you that if they don't have the right school uniform, they miss out on the one recess they have a day. Yeah....that's what happened. I hung the uniforms out all night but they were still super damp this morning.

I feel like I'm ten steps behind on getting ahead on household chores. I feel so overwhelmed right now and then running out of gas or just having to do something outside my normal routine, throws everything off. And housework takes so much more time here. It's so dusty and dirty and I have to mop and dust so many more times a week than I would elsewhere.

Also, I know what a huge blessing it is to have a few people to sit at night with my mother-in-law. We pay them and everything but it is still such a big deal to have these two ladies come and alternate staying with her every night. It would be exhausting for us to have to do that at this point. Anyway, these sweet ladies DON'T show up at the time I ask them to. Like I said, we pay's a job. I have asked them to please come at 8:30 p.m. at the latest and they come at 9, sometimes even as late as 9:30. This totally screws up the bedtime routine, which is SUPER important and if you're a mom you will know this. Anyway, they don't respect the time of arrival, even though I PAY them and ask them to please arrive earlier. So, I have to sit with my mil while I know my boys are here by themselves, not getting to sleep. But when I don't go straight to her house in the morning when it's time for them to leave, I can see they are upset! In the U.S. most of the time, when you are told to show up to work at a certain time, you GO at that time. End of story or you get fired.

That's it, I'm glad I could get that off my chest. Hopefully the gas didn't come while I was gone and will arrive soon.

November 26, 2012

Mexican teachers love to give homework!

While I realize this might just be an exageration on my part,(the title of this post, that is) the past few months (since school started) my third grader has had at times up to two and even three hours of homework in one day. He is also expected to read half an hour in English and in Spanish daily. I honestly can't find the time. We've had to skip extracurricular classes that he enjoys just to finish by dinnertime. I feel like it is getting out of hand and many of the other parents have also complained. I have read a few articles (I dont' know how reliable the sources were) that say that homework in elementary school does nothing to help children that are already on the right track, and in fact could even have negative consequences for these children since it takes away important playtime in the after school hours. It seems true for my boy because he takes forever to finish and then has no time to play outside. I guess I could better understand if he were in middle or high school, but not third grade. Its just too much!

Museo de la Revolución

Yesterday I visited the Casa de los Hermanos Serdan with the family.  Alex has to visit two museums a month for a project at school and since Nov 20th was the celebration of the Mexican Revolution, the teacher assigned this museum.  These hermanos Serdan helped start the revolution, a movement with Francisco I. Madero to get Porfirio Diaz out of the office of president, which he had held in an oppressive rule for around thirty years.  After having lived here for SO long, I can't believe I'd never set foot in this amazing museum.  It was inspiring to hear the story of how these two brothers, their mother and sister and one of the brother's wives fought off the police when it was discovered they were involved in the movement to oust Diaz.  Both brothers lost their lives that day but it marked the beginning of a revolution that ended the regime of Porfirio Diaz.  To this day there are huge bullet holes in the front of the house.  The tour guide explained that the house had been covered inside and out by the bullet marks but for a time it was used for housing and the tenants patched up the holes.  Now only holes on the outside remain and a mirror that also has huge holes.

What strikes me as so very sad, is that after the revolution, not too much truly changed.  Instead of "el Porfiriato", the Revolutionary Party become the ruling party and had seventy years without competition in which Mexico continued under oppression, now by them.  And now after twelve years under a different party, we go back to lo mismo.  Some people call the reign of the PRI (revolutionary party) el PRIato.    Under the PRI corruption abounded, the poor remained poor, the rich became richer.  Now I'm not saying Fox, or Calderon were much better, I'm really not.  I'm just saying it saddens me to go back to this party instead of moving forward.  But as the tour guide explained yesterday... "There are no more men like the Serdans left."  Men who rise up and face their oppresors and are not easily sold out.  Obviously I can't vouch for the Serdans or anyone who took part in the revolution. How can I know much except what history books say?  I can't.  All I know is what I see today, and it's an amazing country treading water with it's boots on.  The oppression of the poor and less fortunate is obvious.  Corruption touches everyday life from the corrupt officials making money off public works, to the taxi driver paying a bribe to the cops.  I have been touched by this corruption too, more than a few times.  

Sometimes when I go to the zocalo or to the museum yesterday, I really just have to stop and look around at this incredible city where I live.  The buildings and architecture and colors are amazing.  This city is so picturesque, but its the systematic corruption that continues to taint the view for me.

November 16, 2012

momento superficial!

The commercials for our local cable provider have been so cute lately.  Patrick Dempsey's accent is adorable.  Every time I see him say "Yo quiero todo contigo", it makes me smile.

Yo Quiero Todo Contigo

That's my superficial moment....para el dia de hoy :)

November 11, 2012

My husband's sister is leaving tomorrow.  She has been helping us so much with her mom and I am so thankful for all she's done.  It has helped tremendously but she can't stay forever.  Her life is somewhere else.  Ours is here so we stay.  We are going to miss her (and her husband) soooo much. It isn't only that she helped with caring for her mom.  She has been a huge moral support and sounding board for us during this time.  I really don't think we could've made the transistion from hospital to home without her.  Both my husband and I are very sad to see them leave.  

My mother-in-law is on such a roller coaster physically these days.  You never know what kind of day she'll have...if she'll be in pain and depressed, or talkative and optimistic.  Lately it's been bad days.  She doesn't sleep enough and that makes her feel a lot worse.   

I never had any idea at all about what having a stroke could be like for someone, or what it takes to care for that person.  I never knew how common it is and how often this happens.  It is such a hard situation for the patient and I know many people never recover at all.  

I know my blog is supposed to be about life in Mexico.  But right now, this is my life in Mexico.