Saturday, May 31, 2008

Platanos Maduros en Caldero

So, I tried the plantain recipe last night. It turned out very yummy, sweet, and not-so-healthy. :) However, it wasn't as simple as I thought (it will be next time, now that I know what to do). Here was my experience:

Platanos Maduros en Caldero (Sweet Plantains in a cauldron)
2-3 T butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 whole cloves
2 overripe (in between yellow and black), soft platanos (plantain), peeled and cut in half crosswise

  • Melt butter in skillet. Easy enough. And I actually used real butter (a rarity due to the price)
  • Sprinkle with sugar. Cook until sugar is almost dissolved. I thought it was dissolved and ran to get the other ingredients. Then the sugar burned. Oops...
  • I repeated the first two steps. (Grrr... I wasted some sugar and butter) This time, I had everything ready.
  • Add cinnamon stick, cloves, platanos, and water. As soon as I did this, some sugar hardened. Oops, maybe I poured the water in too quickly? But then it melted and turned out ok. Next time I may use warm water.
  • Cook over medium heat turning frequently until a thick syrup forms and platanos take on a glazed brown appearance, approximately 15-20 minutes. Serves 4. Of course, it didn't take this long, as most things don't with our "budget" propane stove.
Next time I may actually use a more yellow plantain and not one quite as ripe.
Here are the pics:



After adding spices.

Finished product

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grilled Fruit (and more)

Yes, I know it sounds strange. But it tastes really good. Over at The Natural Mommy, Beth is having a summer dessert recipe swap. So, I thought (with the help of my husband, the grill master) that I would post an easy grilled dessert, especially easy if you're already grilling. We usually put the fruit on the grill when we take the supper part off the grill.

Grilled Platanos
-Buy a few sweet plantains (yellow or blackish). I have been able to find plantains at Jewel while visiting the States. The blacker, the sweeter and less starchy. Or, buy some green ones and wait for them to ripen. You can probably use bananas as a substitute.
-Heat grill to medium
-Throw the plantain on the grill whole.
-Grill until plantain is very soft, turning halfway through (about 10 minutes).
-Cut in two lengthwise, leaving the halves in the peel. Serve with butter if desired. (Please don't eat the peel; eat the platano out of the peel)

Grilled Pineapple
-Buy a pineapple
-Cut off the rind
-Cut into circles (here the pineapples are sweet enough to eat the core)
-Grill on each side for 3-4 min on well oiled grates


And here's a bonus- a recipe from my Dominican cook book that I haven't actually tried but sounds amazing:

Platanos Maduros en Caldero (Sweet Plantains in a cauldron)
2-3 T butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 whole cloves
2 overripe (mostly black), soft platanos (plantain), peeled and cut in half crosswise

Melt butter in skillet. Sprinkle with sugar. Cook until sugar is almost dissolved. Add cinnamon stick, cloves, platanos, and water. Cook over medium heat turning frequently until a thick syrup forms and platanos take on a glazed brown appearance, approximately 15-20 minutes. Serves 4.

I think I'll actually make this tonight. Yum, yum! I bet you could also substitute with bananas for this as well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Computer help

I have a few computer related questions and I would appreciate any ideas. :)
1) The light in our laptop screen has gone out. The laptop is only 3 years old, so this is quite frustrating. Is there any way of repairing it? If not, what else can we do? If we should buy a new laptop, any ideas on an affordable laptop that will actually last? (ours is a Dell Inspiron 600m)

2) Because I'm teaching English to three boys, I joined an ESL worksheet maker site. However, I've been having problems printing the worksheets. The worksheets are too wide and long, even when I shrink them (it just shrinks the area shown, so the right side is cut off and the bottom is still on a separate page, no matter how small I make it). I tried changing lots of different settings, including suggestions from the contact person. I even tried changing it to a PDF, and it still cuts off the side and puts the bottom on a separate page. . Any ideas?

Any help is appreciated!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Water baby

Here are the pictures of the water baby. Unfortunately, some of them have been randomly turned (they were fine when I viewed them in Windows Explorer). Enjoy! :) And a happy Memorial Day to all of you who are celebrating it (we had Corpus Cristi day, so it all evens out). ;)

Happy Boy!

Making new friends

Family Shot

Giving Mommy a kiss

Daddy trying to feed Jeremiah as he's falling asleep...

Crawling in the water

Discovering the pringles can

Hmmm... these ingredients don't look very healthy...

Having fun

Saying "Goodbye" is always hard to do

Meet more people- visit Beth's page for Meet-and-Greet Monday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Dominican Mothers' day, and a thank you to the little Dominican-born boy who has made me a mother. :)

We've been busy; Part II

Yesterday, while in the middle of working outside, we found out that some JCS friends of ours (Amanda and Reuben) had their baby! She is absolutely precious. :)

Welcome to the world, Emma Jean!


The mother's day favors turned out nicely. I put tissue paper around candles, included a verse about being lights in the world, and found a poem about mothers. I translated it with the help of Google translator, changed some things (the translator can only do so much), and had a few friends check it over.
Mother's night out

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We've been busy

Wow, the end of this week was quite busy. Thursday was Corpus Cristi day so, once again, Daniel had a day off from school. We went with Leah, Dylan, and Christy E. to the pool, and met up with some other JCS staff. Jeremiah had an absolute ball (and it wasn't so bad for us either ;) )! Pics of the "water baby" will come soon.
Friday I spent the day grocery shopping, made lunch for Jer and me, prepared for tutoring, tutored, and then spent time working on Daniel's father's day gift so it could be ordered on time (shhh...don't tell him), and decorations/favors for a mother's day outing tonight for the woman at the Arc (Dominican Mother's Day is this Sunday). In the evening we went to a Pig Roast/ Graduation party up at Escuela Caribe.
Today we've been spending time outside in the glorious hot sunshine gardening. We ordered a truck load of dirt (literally a truck-load) and planted tomatoes, beans, cilantro, dill, fennel, lettuce, various flowers, etc... We'll see what grows. I'm also hoping to plant some squash and transplant some mint and forget-me-knots.
So, as a result of all this, the blogging's been sparse and the dishes haven't been done. Although it may just have to do with the fact that the weather's gorgeous...

Our pile of dirt
The veggie garden (the chicken wire is to keep out the dog)

And did we mention that we ran out of cooking gas? This was the alternative...

And this is what Jeremiah did while we worked.

Yes he ate all of it (banana, whole-wheat/oat bread, and roasted pepper) and an extra half of a banana than what's shown. Of course, this was only lunch. For breakfast he had two pancakes and a quarter of a mango (only 1 pancake less than what daddy had). And he still nurses 6-7 times a day. We have a good eater!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Not much

So, I haven't posted much lately. Due to our "extended weekend" (Thursday and Friday were holidays because of the election) I enjoyed extra time with Daniel and Jer. I haven't had anything interesting to write about, and I've been having fun playing with Jeremiah, playing with/training the dog, and working outside (watering plants, getting our garden ready to plant, etc.) It's been hot weather and I'm thankful that our house is much cooler than the previous one. Hopefully I'll be able to post some pictures of Jeremiah later on (as I know that is what everyone really wants to see). ;)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

And the winner is...

As predicted, Leonel Fernandez has won his third victory as president. His first and second term were not consecutive, so this is only his second "consecutive" term, as serving three consecutive terms is currently unconstitutional (though I have read he wants to change the constitution to get rid of term limits).
It was very interesting to follow the elections last night. I followed via Dr1.com which had an election forum. It was helpful and I learned way more about Dominican politics in one day than I had learned from my 3 years here previously. It is sad to see how corrupt the elections and politics are here, though not surprising. I heard numerous accounts of buying votes (on both sides) and buying cedulas (government ID cards used in voting) so people could vote numerous times for one candidate.
So, is this good or bad? I have no idea. From what I read, many people (As in the 60% that didn't vote for him) are just glad that the PRD (white party) isn't ruling the country. The PRD was at one time the main party in the country, and the economy went downhill during one PRD president's time in office, though I won't pretend to know the cause. However, from what I hear, there are still many skeptical about Leonel (presidents here are called by their first name). Anyway, there's still a lot I don't understand. But it was fascinating to see it all at work.
Now just to figure out the U.S. elections... ;)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Election Day!

Today's the day! Which means we're just around the house not doing too much (except lots of making of food that we don't really need like cherry crisps, cinnamon rolls, etc.).
Dr1.com has dedicated their news articles today to information on the election. The winner needs 50%+1 vote to win. If there is no winner, then there is a second round with the top two candidates later. Based on polls, the current president is predicted to win. There has also been talk of changing the constitution so that a president can run 3 terms (the majority of the legislature is PLD, same as the current president). It will be interesting to watch how things unfold...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mommy Freak-out Momment

I just had a mommy freak-out momment. My heart is still beating quickly. I look over at my 9 month old, playing with the doggy leash (who left that out?...oops) and see something black in his mouth. I immediatly assume that it's part of the black binding on the (cheap) leash that is coming off. I jump up to pull it out of his mouth and discover that...
It was a big juicy millipede. Maybe dead? Maybe mostly dead? Either way, it did not belong in my child's mouth! Thankfully, it was still whole. I know, I know... it will only get worse. But I just can't quite get over the fact that my son almost ate a millipede!

Elections!

No, I am not talking about the heated primaries or upcoming November elections. As important as they are, right now (as in, at this current moment), other elections are more directly impacting Daniel and me.

This Friday is the presidential election for the Dominican Republic. In many ways, this has a bigger effect on the D.R. than the U.S. elections have on the U.S. Why? Well...



1) Campaigning


Ok, so presidents in the States campaign. A lot. It's the same here. But, the campaigning is VERY different. Each party has a color. You see the parties' colors everywhere. I don't even know the names of the parties. I know them as: the white party, the purple party, and the red party. Currently, the national government is purple. Our local government is red. Everyone here is passionate about their party. There are few swing votes. Politics is brutal. (In the States, some may see crumpling up a picture of the opposition, throwing it on the ground and trampling on it a little over the top, at least for a presidential candidate). They have politial rallies that stop traffic, as lines of cars and pickups drive through packed to the max with people. Colored trucks with huge speakers drive around regularly blasting the "theme song" for that particular candidate for all to hear. Daniel and I are very glad we moved; our last house was above a purple party office and in the center of town where more of these trucks frequent. They also do things like give away free gas. Which of course blocks more traffic as there are long lines for free gas.

2) No school

Everyone goes to their hometown to vote. Because so many people are traveling, we have no school on Friday. Or Thursday (for more traveling, and in case of riots).

3) Traveling

Once again, everyone must go to their home town to vote, so lots of traveling.

4) Strikes and Riots

Yes, riots can occur in the States. But, they are not usually "scheduled." Scheduled "strikes" are legal here, and illegal riots are common too (luckily, not as common here in Jarabacoa). Strikes/Riots include fun things like burning tires in the road, nails in the road, road blockades, etc.

5)Nation Wide curfew

Friday night there's a curfew of 6:00 to keep people off the streets.

6) Family Connections=danger

Anyone related to/involved in politics can be in danger. We have a student related to the current president, and they have armed gaurds around their house right now. We know someone who was kidnapped last election because she was distantly related to the president and was with his niece at the time.

7) Corruption

Yes, politics in the U.S. has it's share of corruption. However,

The D.R. was 99 out of 163 countries surveyed in a 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index. (The United States was 20, Haiti was 163). See here and here.



For more news on the Dominican election, see here.

For more information on the current president, see here.

For more info on Dominican gov/politocs, see here.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Two Special Announcements

The first announcement is that Daniel is finished with grad school! Yay! He just recently turned in his last assignment- a semester long project that his professor said was, "exemplary work." I'm very excited for him.



The second announcement is that Jeremiah is 9 months old (yesterday). So it may not sound like a big deal, but I can't believe how much he's growing. He's not a baby anymore. He just recently started eating finger foods. He's eaten O cereal, and whole-wheat banana pancakes (without the syrup, of course). He loves eating! He also enjoys crawling and standing. He'll even crawl over to me when I'm working in the kitchen and use my legs to pull himself up. Here a picture and video of the "big boy."


This is especially for the grandparents- just pretend he's crawling onto your lap. :)


video

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Higher Calling

Sorry this is so long, it has been stirring inside my heart for many weeks, and I want to share it. I hope that it will be an encouragement to some of you!

I greatly enjoyed teaching my first two years down here. I loved interacting with the students as well as the staff. And I felt like I was doing something worthwhile. The change to a full time mom (with some tutoring on the side) has been difficult. It means that I don’t see adults often. It means that I don’t go out often (we have no car, so it makes going far difficult). We are blessed to have a great small group and I walk with some other women 1-2 times a week, so God has provided me with fellowship throughout the week. However, I still sometimes have this nagging feeling that I’m missing something. After all, isn’t a missionary supposed to be out helping all the poor children, meeting all the neighbors, able to speak the language fluently, etc…?
And so I take care of Jeremiah, tutor some, and pray for opportunities to serve, , yet still these questions keep coming to my mind, “Am I doing enough? Am I enough?”

And then I realize that I’ve struggled with these questions all of my life. Even before I was a full-time mother. The problem is, we, as humans, are so quick to think that our identity- who we are- is found in what we do. I teach; therefore I’m a teacher. I work at a bank; therefore I’m a banker. I take care of my children; therefore I’m a mother. Of course, those things are true. But, they are not the foundation of who we are.
I’ve been reading the book Captivating. I’ve enjoyed reading it, but what has really been helpful is the guided journal I’ve been doing along side of it that forces me to take a hard look inside myself. Through it, God’s been teaching me:
-I am dearly loved by him.
-In Christ, I am enough!
-God has amply supplied me so I can make a difference.
-Everyone’s calling- the way we make a difference- is different.

So many times, we are guilted into thinking we should be doing more. We see someone who is being used in amazing ways by God, and we think that we are not doing enough. Or, we may feel convicted by God to do something, and become passionate about something, and then assume that everyone else should do it and be passionate about it. The important thing is that we fulfill the calling that God has called us to (not someone else’s calling). It may mean staying home full time with your children and home schooling them. Or it may mean teaching in a public school and sending your children there. Or going overseas to plant churches. Or working in a business. Instead of looking to what others are doing for direction, we need to look to Christ. This is not an excuse to decide that God has called you to sit at home and watch TV all day, every day. Rather, it is the freedom to do what He’s called you to do without feeling like you need to do more.

Learning this has freed me so much to take more joy in staying home. I love being home with Jeremiah, but the guilty feelings that would pop up frustrated me (not that they won’t still pop up from time to time, but now I know I don’t have to listen to them!).
Another thing that has freed me is the reminder that my identity is not in motherhood or as a housewife. Those are very high callings. But, they are not the highest calling. First and foremost, I am a daughter of God. I am His. He has bought me with his blood and I have given my life to Him And when I remember this, and realize that I can be who I am and don’t need to try to be someone else, I am freed to love my husband and son more deeply than if I tried to be a mother and wife first. Embrace the free love of Christ and don’t be afraid to be who He’s called you to be!
I'll end this with one of my favorite verses:

Eph 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Monday, May 05, 2008

T's 7-layered dip



We wanted to make something taco-salad-like. We had corn tortillas that I was going to cut up and bake to make chips . I was going to use leftover already soaked black beans to throw together a salsa. And we had pre-soaked and frozen brown beans to make into refried beans. While brainstorming, we decided to throw it all together into one mega dip. This is what we came up with:

Layered in a bread pan (or use a small casserole dish if you have one):
Serves 2 (or more if you make more of it ;) )
Layer 1: yummy, healthy, homemade refried beans (we used this recipe loosely and left off the cilantro until layer #7)
Layer 2: Cheddar and Mozz cheese shredded; you don't need much (it melted into the refried beans)
Layer 3: Torn iceberg lettuce
Layer 4: Bean Salsa (half "can" black beans, tomatoes, half red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1/4-1/2 cup cilantro, juice of one lime, 1 chipotle pepper (from the canned chipotle peppers in adobe sauce; we always have an open can in our freezer that we use; ) the addition of the peppers was Daniel's brilliant idea, as we had no chili peppers and I wanted it spicy
Layer 5: more cheese (once again, you don't need to use much, but you can if you want :) )
Layer 6: chopped green onions
Layer 7: cilantro

And there you have it. It was super yummy with the tortilla chips. I could have eaten the whole thing. With a spoon.
Save any extra bean salsa for tortilla chips as well.

Spinning (and random pics of Jer)

Random pics of Jeremiah:
(btw, he squints his eyes whenever he sees the camera, even if we're not taking a picture)
What a big boy!
Showing off his cute outfit
Crawling with Daddy
Awwww...

And now for the spinning:

video

Jeremiah has found a new activity he enjoys: spinning. He'll spin around and around in circles, giggling. Of course, as soon as we got out the camera, he stopped. But he at least spun one circle for us to show. And the noise he is making is a happy noise. :)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Anchors in the Storm

After two weeks of various activities (one week at Kermes, and one week visiting The Ark’s monthly church service), we were able to attend our regular church, Nueve Vida. Because our pastor is currently visiting the States for a conference (our pastor is an American missionary who has lived here at least 35 years, is married to a Dominican, and preaches in Spanish), the director of the Ark spoke. He speaks clearly, but very quickly, so it was difficult for me to keep up with the whole message, but I’ll share what I understood.
The passage was from Acts 27, when the apostle Paul was being taken to Rome as a prisoner on a ship. The ship encountered fierce storms and the crew lost all hope. Paul, however, encouraged them to hope in God, as he had received assurance that they would all be saved. At one point in the story, the sailors throw anchors into the sea so they would not be crashed against the waves. The speaker used this story to describe how the church, in the midst of the storms of this world, should stand firm. He described 4 anchors that we, as Christians should have:
1) Communion with Christ through prayer
2) The Word of God
3) Confidence and Faith in God
4) Unity and Communion with fellow believers
Paul was a great example of standing firm in the midst of the storm. His faith in Christ and His Word gave him hope; God sent an angel to assure him that they would be saved (he clearly had communion with God!). However, Paul still needed the help of the others in the ship. And he was humble enough to admit it.

We cannot do it on our own; we need anchors.