Let It Rise.

A few weeks back, this gluten-free girl got her hands covered in the dreaded glutinous mixture. And it was awesome.

I had been visiting a small community where we built improved ovens, doing follow-up with the families. A sweet family invited me for a bowl of soup (hello, deliciousness) and then pulled out about thirty pounds of dough from their kitchen, ready to roll and bake. I kindly invited myself to stay and help. Yep, that happened.

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Breadmaking is quite the process here. Besides going into town (half hour away) to buy ingredients, you then have to mix together (by hand) thirty pounds of dough. The dough is then run through a mill of sorts, that this family constructed (pictured above).

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Then, you cover your hands in oil, roll the dough into small balls and set to rise for about 10 minutes.

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Then, each ball is made into a specific type of bread. We made three different types that day: relleno, simple and pico.

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Doña Lillian showing me how to make pico.

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Pictured below is the sweet bread that is filled with a sugar/flour/coloring mixture.

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While the family is waiting to make some adjustments to their improved oven, they continue using their traditional oven, pictured below. This beast gets preheated for about an hour before all the wood is taken out and the dough put in.

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And what would a blog post be without some pictures of the cuties I got to hang out with while baking?!

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Sharing an ice-cream treat.

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Squishy faces.

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This little lady wasn’t too sure about the little chick.

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Such a doll.

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What I loved most about bread day, was the community. The whole family helped, neighbors came by to lend a hand, and a little glutinous community formed around the kitchen table. Pretty incredible.

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Gettin’ Veggie With It.

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Oh, the perks of living two blocks from a daily, open-air market!

This was my morning purchase the other day, a huge back of fresh amazingness from a couple different vendors.

Those are oranges, limes, bananas, plantains, tomatoes, green beans, cilantro, radish, green pepper and chilies.

The best part?

Only 70 cordobas, or about $3 for the whole lot.

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A Five Minute Life Update.

MidSeptember 2012 007

If you and I had five minutes to chat, here’s what I would tell you:

It rained last night in my site for the first time in 5 months. A sweeter sound has never been heard.

Every other minute of the day is mid-90s and crazy strong wind that causes dust storms. I have eye infections galore due to the crud that travels with the dust and into my eyes every time I open them. Regardless of how often I sweep and mop (multiple times a day is my normal routine), there is still an inch of dust coating my floors, books, clothes.

Mangoes are coming into season. Watermelon is delicious, as is the cantaloupe I bought today. Avocados are making their appearance in the market again after a long absence. Well worth the 20 cord splurge. Green peppers are now huge and amazingly delicious, and only cost 5 cords.

My site mate made my week by making me a morning iced coffee to start a long day. And it was amazing. My recycled Gatorade bottles now have a steady job of chilling full of chocolately-coffee goodness in my family’s fridge to be waiting for me in the morning.

I only had three guys ask for my phone number this week. And only one of them was a student!

I spent today rechecking in with various contacts in the community since I don’t have classes Fridays. Besides visiting the superintendent, I even snuck in a visit to the NGO in town that has air-conditioning and purified water. Sweet bliss. I ended my day by showing up at my friends’ house and begging to chinear (snuggle) with their one month old baby boy. Between baby snuggles and being named ‘Tia Kacie’, this lady left with a very happy heart. I have strict instructions to come back every day and am happy to oblige.

There has been a lot of death and random violence in my community in the last two weeks. Between a horrid car accident I saw in Managua last weekend and one that happened right outside my community on Wednesday, no less than 11 people have been killed in the last 5 days. At one of my schools, a fight broke out between a couple students and ended up with 16 students fighting and somehow beating up an old man in the central park. I saw another car/motorcycle accident this morning in town. Thankfully the driver was okay, just nursing some cuts on the side of the road, where the local business owner had provided him with some bowls of water to wash up, his motorcycle laying sprawled in the middle of street. During a break in classes on Wednesday, I had to notify the vice-principal about another fight at a different school this week, and she called the police to come handle it. Too much.

I may have broken out into a really embarrassing celebration dance on the sidewalk in the center of town today when I caught the quesillo lady 30 seconds before she was leaving. She not only unpacked all of her stuff to make me a fresh quesillo, but gave me double cheese. For free. Best. Day. Ever.

I bought a basil plant in Managua two weekends ago and a planter to put it in last weekend in Caterina. I finally planted it today and words do not even begin to express how happy it makes me to see that little plant when I come home.

I have started working out more frequently, even going on 6 AM runs. If you know me, you know the level of stress required to get me out of bed that early and to go exercise is high. Very high.

I am trying hard to remember to be gentle with myself. These have been a couple rough, stressful weeks. And I need to remember to breathe, to give myself some grace, and to loosen up a bit. Life is going to go on.

“But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that move-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of use will ever experience.”

~ Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

A Quesillo Party!

I tend to talk about it with as much passion as an incredibly good-looking, outdoorsy, hipster man.

And my Nica friends have caught on to my love\obsession.

What is it?

Quesillo!

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As a ‘welcome back to Nicaragua’ treat, my friends from our English conversation group threw a Quesillo Party for me!

Quesillo is an amazing Nicaraguan food: mozzeralla-esque cheese, cream, a bit of salt, and a huge serving of onion-vinegar relish, all rolled into a tortilla, and eaten out of a plastic bag.

Uh-mazing.

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My friend Aura making our homemade quesillos.

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My friend Jasser and his beautiful wife.

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´Nacho´, Freddy and Aura.

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Jasser practicing his modeling skills.

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The youngest member of our group, 14 year-old Jose.

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Relaxing in the cool evening air before class starts.

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My friend Adolfo and I.

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Thankful for friends who love celebrating and good food!

Breakfast?

I´m recovering from a nasty ´bout of food poisoning after eating some incredibly delicious goat meat at my host grandmother’s house (puking in your abuela’s front yard? not a good look on anyone) and thought what better time to share a little food tidbit?!

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I found this beauty in the Masaya market a few weeks back and was assured by the vendor that you can eat every single part of it and it is all delicious.

Who wants some pig head for breakfast?

Sitka & Spruce.

As my Christmas gift, my brother and sister-in-law not only came up to Seattle for a couple nights, but took me out on the town for an incredible dinner. My sister-in-law Ashley is a great writer and has published a cookbook, and she and my brother are both great cooks. Everything food-wise they have introduced me to has been excellent and this evening’s selection was no different!

The second we walked into Melrose Market, I was in love.

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The Market itself has a floral shop, cheese shop, meat shop, Homegrown restaurant, a cute home store, and bar. But tucked into the back corner of the building is this gem:

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Sitka & Spruce.

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I love the open, community-style seating, refurbished warehouse, exposed brick and beautiful wood. Lots of little details, natural finishes, and just a really welcoming atmoshpere.

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They recommend doing family style, so we ordered a bunch of wine and different dishes to share.

We started with this carrot, potato, and fava bean leaf salad.

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A little something lovely to drink.

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Melt-in-your-mouth scallops with a beautiful sauce and garnishes.

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Roasted lamb, onion and cabbage. Not normally a lamb-fan, but this was phenomenal.

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Thanks, Jake & Ashley, for a wonderful night out!