Monday, October 28, 2013

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip | Dip con Alcachofas y Espinaca Caliente

This is not a cooking blog, but I always get requests for this recipe so I decided to post it here so I can just share the link next time.

This is my go to recipe for potlocks or parties - people LOVE it.  I made a double recipe for a party we went to yesterday and it was GONE in just a few minutes!


Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

This is my adapted version of this recipe.

1 (8oz) block of cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mantequilla (or sour cream, if you don't live in Honduras)
1 cup of shredded Italian blend cheese
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
salt and pepper
1 (14 oz) can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1-2 cups of fresh, chopped spinach (I tend to put at least 2 cups, sometimes more!)
1/2 cup of Italian blend shredded cheese for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, mantequilla, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.  When thoroughly mixed, add in the artichoke hearts and spinach.

Transfer the mixture to a glass baking dish, and sprinkle with the 1/2 cup of additional cheese.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.

-This recipes doubles or triples well.  I almost always make it doubled in a 9x13 dish, because we even like it heated up the next day. :)
-I'ved tried this with jalapeños in it, and also with shredded chicken.  It tastes awesome with both.

Ahora, en español para mis amigas que no hablan ingles, o para uds. que quieren pasar la receta a su trabajadora. ;)

Dip de Alcachofas y Espinaca Caliente

1 (8oz) bloque de queso crema, temperatura ambiente
1/4 taza mantequilla
1 taza queso italiano, rayado
2 dientes de ajo, picados
sal y pimienta
1 (14 oz) lata de corazones de alcachofas, colados y picados
1 o 2 tazas espinaca, picada
1/2 taza queso italiano, rayado para poner encima

Encender horno a 350 F.  En un plato hondo, mezclar queso crema, mantequilla, queso, ajo, sal y pimienta.  Agregue la espinaca y alcachofas.

Trasladar la mezcla a un Pyrex, y poner la 1/2 taza de queso encima.  Hornear 25 minutos, o hasta que este dorado.

-Puede hacer la receta doble o triple.  Yo casi siempre la hago doble en un pyrex de 9x13.
-He hecho esta receta con jalapeños y tambien con pedacitos de pollo.  Es muy rico con los dos! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

8 things you should be thankful for if you live in the US of A

1. Clean running water
I hope you know that most of the earth's population doesn't have access to clean drinking water.  It doesn't really register until you realize that the water in your toilet is cleaner than the water that comes from my faucet.

2. Water (in general)
We have running water, and I'd venture to say that most of the people in metropolitan areas in Honduras have plumbing/running water in their homes.  (I can't say the same for rural maid I had told me they still didn't have plumbing/electricity in the village where she's from...) But it's not always reliable.  In Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras) water is a luxury!  Where we used to live the water came on maybe 3 days per week during rainy season, and once every TEN DAYS during dry season.  In order to have water 24 hours a day, people that can afford it have cisterns/storage tanks for water.  When the city water comes on, it fills the cistern/tanks so you have a back up for whenever the water goes off.  (And oh, the glorious sound of the water filling the cistern...I swear every time I heard it I heard angels singing...) If you have one of those, you also have to have an electric water pump to pump the water into the house.  No electricity? water. 

3.  Reliable utilities
Speaking of no electricity...  In the 2 cities where I've lived in Honduras, electricity in my houses have gone out a few times a month for a few hours each time (with the exception of when the last president was ousted from office in 2009 and it was off for DAYS).  No biggie compared to other places in Honduras where it goes out for hours every single day.  Also?  It's super expensive. 

4. Central heating/AC
This isn't for the reason you think it is!  It's nice to have a climate controlled environment to live in, but I miss having a CENTRAL system for air filtration!  You won't believe how fast the dusts collects in my house without filtering the air!

5.  Security/safety
Are you aware that I live in the "most dangerous" city in the world?  (Read about it here.) Highest homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants.  Higher than Juarez, Mexico people.  Honestly, I feel like I'm not at risk for homicide though...those are almost always targeted killings of people involved in 1. Politics, 2. Narcotrafficking, or 3. Journalism (and publishing true stories that no one wants known!).  We're not involved in any of those things.  Kidnapping, armed robbery, carjacking, being mugged, however...those are all real threats and I am scared and constantly aware of my surroundings every time I leave my house. 

6. Police
The police in the US are your friends (most of them, at least).  They want to help and protect their citizens.  Here?  Corrupt doesn't even begin to describe it.  The corruption within the police department goes so deep and wide that I don't know if it can ever be fixed without firing every.single.person and starting over again.  (For examples and stories read La Gringa's article here.  Make sure you read the related articles listed at the end.)

7. Reliable emergency services
I never realized how amazing 911 is.  You call, and someone answers!  And then?  They send police!  And they arrive in minutes!  What a novelty.  Many years ago when Jose was in high school someone tried to break into their house.  They called 911 (199 in Honduras) and miraculously someone answered!  (Every time I've called....maybe 5 one EVER answered.)  But, they said they couldn't send anyone because they didn't have a car and if Jose and his family could send someone to pick them up.  Not kidding.  I couldn't make up these stories if I wanted to.

8.  Drywall
This one may seem silly to you.  But?  It's not easy drilling holes in concrete.  All of our interior/exterior walls are made of concrete.  Hanging pictures takes me FOREVER (probably because I'm a wimp and our drill kinda sucks).  But?  At least we have walls (and they are concrete, not adobe) and at least we have a drill.

I could go on and on and on....stable government, hospitals, medical care, plumbers that aren't all total idiots......Just remember....

"The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for..."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Library and the Museum Witch

Today's story starts a couple of weeks ago when I read that there is a library (a REAL library!) in San Pedro Sula, with a section full of children's books in English.  It's part of the Centro Cultural Sampedrano, located in el centro.

So, this morning Nicholas and I headed thataway... We found it easily, found parking right in front!, and didn't get mugged on the way I was already feeling confident as we walked through the front door.  The guard was very friendly.  Another small success!  He pointed us in the direction of the library, and when I turned around and saw it my heart skipped a beat.  A giant library (and by giant I mean a big room of books) behind a wall of glass with the words BIBLIOTECA printed above.  And I could just see it....Nicholas and I reading books on the floor, and oh, what's this?  Another mom and toddler also there reading books!  And, oh, you don't have any friends either?  Let's be best friends and have play dates and, OH, our husbands can be best friends too!
And then I heard records screeching and my dreams were crushed when the guard said, "Wait!  I don't think you can go in there with a baby!"

-"What do you mean?  He's seriously not allowed in?"
-"Well, you can go in and ask, but I don't think they'll accept you with a baby."

So in we went.  In the corner I spotted a shelf of children's books - in English! - PETER FREAKING RABBIT.  And then the librarian (who was not very librarian-like and much more witch-like) glared at my unwelcome toddler. 

-I whispered, "someone told me you have children's books here in English."
-"Yes, we do, but he can't come in.  Only children 6 and older are allowed,"  cackled the library witch.
-"Not ever?  You don't have story time or anything?"  And the library witch just shook her head.

And before I started crying, I turned around and walked out.  Tears were streaming down my face before I made it to the car.  I put Nicholas in his car seat and got in my own seat and cried and cried as I stared out the front window.  I was angry that I'd gotten my hopes up so much over a library, and angry that everyone in the building had looked at me so strangely entering a library with a toddler, and sad that whoever makes the library rules was so ignorant!  And sad, of course, that I don't know a single soul in this whole city!

I felt sorry for myself for a few minutes, wiped my face, and headed out of el centro.  We made our way out of the city towards a children's museum I had noticed a few days earlier.  We parked and walked towards the building.  The employees outside the "ticket office" glared at us and made us feel just as unwelcome as the library-witch.  We went in anyway. 

-"Good morning, I came to see what you have at the museum!" I said cheerfully.
-"We have a something-room and a something-exhibit and a something something something.  The entrance is so many lempiras.  But you can't come in.  We only accept groups of 10 people or more."

And I thought, "What is this?  An attempt to make me feel even worse that I know NO ONE here?!" 

-"Well, that's ok.  Do you have any workshops or classes that I could enroll my son in?"  "No," said the museum witch. 

And so I left.

And I got in the car and cried and cried again.  I drove home and called my husband and cried and cried some more.  Then I called my mom, crying, and she said, "well, I understand why you're upset.  But you know what?  Take charge of this, Hannah.  Start a group of moms.  Go out and find friends - just MAKE IT HAPPEN! Open your own darn library!" 

And that was all it took to empower me.  No more crying and feeling sorry for myself...I'm starting a group for expat/Honduran mommies in San Pedro Sula that want to make friends.  How will I find members if I don't know anyone?  I'm not sure yet.  hahaha  If you are my friend on Facebook, look for it soon. 

Oh, and no witches allowed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our first adventure

The other day Nicholas and I headed out in search of Cortitelas (fabric store).  Cortitelas has a nice website, and even offers a map to their 2 locations in San Pedro Sula.  We decided on the location that wasn't in el centro to make things easier.  I studied the maps and thought I had it figured it out, and off we went (with our iPhone of course - we would need that website and Google Maps!)

I bet you can guess that we got lost.  Really lost.  We drove around the entire downtown for 2 hours. 

(On the bright side, while we were "exploring" I found a Keymart and a Super Xtra (think Big Lots-type stores) as well as a ton of junk stores - all of which I pinned on my Google Maps for later.)

We drove and drove and drove.  At some point Nicholas fell asleep and then I didn't feel as rushed.  I started to just enjoy the adventure, and stopped paying attention to the street signs as much.  As I approached one stop light, I suddenly realized I needed to turn left, but because of the flow of traffic it seemed like it might be an illegal turn.  The light was about to turn red so I took advantage of the stop in traffic and went ahead and turned left anyway (I mean, that's what all the other Hondurans do, right?).  Immediately there was a motorcycle with 2 cops behind me honking for me to pull over.  GREAT, I thought.  I stopped right in the middle of the street and rolled down my window.

Officer 1, in Spanish: Do you know that turn you just made was illegal?
Me:  Yo no hablo español. (with the gringo accent way up!)
Officer 1: No habla español?
Me, in English:  What?
(Officer 1 looks at Officer 2 and smirks)
Officer 1, in very broken English:  Where are you from?
Me, in English:  OH you speak English!  I'm from Kentucky!  Can you help me find Cortitelas???
Officer 2, in Spanish: Do you have the papers for the vehicle??
Me, in English:  What??  My license?  Here's my license.
Officer 2, in Spanish to Officer 1: Just let her go, man.  She doesn't understand.
Officer 1: Looks at my license and says "cheque, que le vaya muy bien." (Ok, have a nice day!)

(I'm telling you, this works every time.  I will never speak Spanish to another police officer again!)

Afterwards I felt kind of guilty for lying - I really did break the law this time and they were just doing their jobs, never know when it could turn into a bribing situation (or something more dangerous!).  Also, I bumped into 2 cars on 2 different occasions and sped away (I was scared of having to get out of the car downtown!) so I guess I'm also guilty of hit and run.

After breaking the law 3 times (that I know of) I decided it was a sign to give up and go home.

The next day, we headed out to try again, and look what we found on the FIRST TRY...


The other day I *very randomly* decided I was going to make a pickled cabbage salad (the kind that goes on top of pupusas or Honduran enchiladas).  In Honduras we just call this repollo (cabbage). 

I couldn't find a decent recipe online, and no one posted any helpful replies to my request on Facebook, so I decided to wing it. (Warning...I'm just guessing on the amounts here, I didn't really measure when I made it)

1/2 small cabbage
1/2 large carrot
1/4 onion
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
2 teaspoons dried oregano
sprinkle of chili powder
salt and pepper

I don't have a food processor, so I cut the small head of cabbage into quarters, and then sliced it thin on my mandoline slicer.  I did the same with a white onion, then I shredded half of a large carrot.

I mixed it all in a bowl, and then added the other ingredients.

I put it in a plastic dish and left it in the fridge overnight.  We had it last night with homemade chicken enchiladas (not to be confused with Mexican enchiladas - these are more like tostadas).

My husband was hesitant to try it (I'm a good cook when I follow recipes, but not very good at making things up haha) but LOVED it and even asked for tacos with it for dinner tonight.  I call that SUCCESS!

It might not seem like a big deal, but I felt like I really accomplished something big with this recipe.  Maybe I'm even feeling brave enough to attempt homemade tortillas next....

Monday, August 13, 2012

From the last 2 weeks...

 helping mom pack

 adios casa 13!

 welcome to san pedro sula!

 the new home sweet home

 in the neighborhood park

 scorpions in sps are bigger :-/  oh joy

 109 freakin degree heat index. yuck

 i'm feelin ya brotha - it's the heat!

What I've learned so far...
-Google Maps, while often very helpful in navigating the city, is NOT a totally reliable means of finding places. Don't trust the Google location of the Copantl hotel, Emporio, or basically anywhere else downtown.
-It's. SO. Hot.  The A/C is a necessity 24 hours a day, and I am DREADING getting the electric bill.
-The heat has one advantage - who needs a dryer when your clothes dry on the line before the other load finishes washing?!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

BiG news!

(no, I'm not pregnant)

We are moving north to San Pedro Sula at the end of this month! 

Jose's company has asked us to relocate.  And while it's not the move I was hoping for (I was hoping for something a little more north, like the US!) we are still excited about this new adventure!

San Pedro Sula (SPS) is the industrial capital of Honduras, so it is a little more developed and MUCH more organized as a city.  It's only a 1-3 hour drive from ALL the good stuff - Copan Ruinas, the north coast, and Tegucigalpa.  And it's cheaper to fly in and out of there than it is in Tegus.  The part I am dreading is the HEAT.  Temps average in the 80's and 90's pretty much all year, but it's the humidity that's the killer.  Pretty much round the clock it feels like you could cut the air with a knife.  Thank goodness for A/C!

I won't be working (at least initially) so hopefully I'll have more time to get back to writing.  AND I'm sure there will be plenty of new adventures to write about - living and starting over again in a new city!!

Stay tuned!