Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Word about Butter without Salt...

So lesson # 14526

Do not buy a package of butter without salt on a 104 degree day and think it will make it back to your house after an hour bus ride in Paraguay. It WILL melt all over you, the bus, and possibly someones metal roofing material. For anyone who doesn´t know, butter which contains salt is supposed to keep its shape longer - but without - well, might as well rub it all over your skin while in the 120 degree heat index of an oven, I mean bus...

So I got back from Asuncion the other day after a 5 day excursion. I must give props to my good friend, Katherine, who sent me the most wonderful Christmas gift, which I just got. It was a blue blanket just like Linus´s from Peanuts. Plus a crapton of shea body butter which must´ve contained salt, cause it DIDN´T melt. She also send me some winter slippers and hand creams. I am going to be PAMPERED this winter.

I also got gifts from my mom, which included ingredients to make green bean casserole, Kraft maccaroni and cheese, Peter Pan Peanut Butter, and Pumpkin Spice Nescafe! Yum Yum Yum! I can´t wait to put it all in my belly! I also received my camera, in which I will start taking pictures immediately as soon as I buy batteries today. My dad (as you may have read on the last post) sent me a DVD player in which to occupy my cold winter days sipping mate and rolled up in my new blue blanket. I have yet to get it, as I left the day before it arrived in the Peace Corps office. I might make a special trip here in a couple weeks just to go get it! Hooray! My Aunt Paula has been making appearances as well, by sending me tons of cards no matter what the occasion is! Sometimes, it´s just to tell me about Casey´s football team, or her winning her power lifting contest, cause she´s my new Aunt Conan!

So, If you´re looking for items to drop into the mail to your favorite PCV, here is a short list of all things Lilu:
  • sugar free Kool Aid
  • Burned DVDs
  • hard copies of photos (to hang up in my house)
  • tea
  • burned music CDs
  • candy that won´t melt
  • yarn (I´m knitting again, but yarn is hard to come by here)
  • magazines or used books
  • deck of uno cards
  • dominos
  • johnny depp stickers (there´s gotta some out there SOMEWHERE)
  • anything fun that will pick me up on a blue day
  • a letter from you ;) (that´s schoo schweeet!)
Other than that, just moving into my house, and fixing the place up. I bought a 5 gallon bucket the other day that will enable me to transport water from the neighbor´s house over to mine. I will be able to have water at my house even if it´s not running. I also made a hand washing despenser our of an old 2 liter bottle, string, and a stick. I´ll have to take a photo of it to show everyone, but I really did feel like MacGyver when I was making it.

I also submitted a trivia page in our quarterly newsletter. Let´s hope people like it. I tried it out on a few folks in the ole PC office while there, and I´m a little nervous. I included such trivia questions as:

  1. What was Rod Stewart´s profession before he became a singer?
  2. From where does ¨the Whole Nine Yards¨ originate?
  3. What country did McDonald´s build a special snowmobile drive thru?
  4. How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?
  5. What ¨Muscles from Brussels¨martial arts actor starred in Breakin´in 1984?

I had about 15, and I got most of them from old triva and quiz blogs in my archives. I know, I cheated a little bit. But they all came from my depths of useless knowlege and most people only knew 1 or 2 of the answers. Can it be possible that Peace Corps Volunteers didn´t play bar trivia as much as the rest of us? Could they have been reading books on developing countries and conflict/resolution? Nah......

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A word about Tortillas

Well, I have found my new favorite food here in Paraguay.

The tortillas.

Why wouldn´t they be everyone´s favorite? Like everything down here, they are fried. But unlike everything fried, I actually enjoy this treat!

So it´s basically flour, egg, milk, and salt mixed together to make the batter. Some people (as seen below) add other ingredients such as onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. Oddly enough, I find that a little lettuce and onion make all the difference. But out in the campo where I´ll be spending my 2 years, most people don´t add a thing.

I am slowly learning to make these new fangled tortillas on a fogon. A fogon is the type of stove they cook on here. It is an open flamed type of range with an oven built into the side. Most people think of them like those stone pizza ovens - but that´s if yr real fancy-like....

This isn´t the best photo - but until I can upload some better ones, it gives you the idea of what cooking over open flame is like. Except there is a lot more smoke! I´m also learning to make cheese and milk cows. I think I´ll be ready to open up my own dairy/landscaping company when I get back to the US. Think it will fly?

I know some of you are also saying, 'Uh, since when did Cassie start eating onions?' Well, as onions are sometimes the only veggie I get, and it's either bland pasta with a side of mandioca (basically a potato) - I choose onions.

I'm also eating quite a bit of chipa. I didn't like it at first, but now i find it's pretty darn good right out of the tatakua (the brick ovens that everyone has in their yards).

This fabulous photo (i found online because i still don't have a camera, mom ;D ) shows the chipa bread they make with pig fat, mandioca flour, ground corn, eggs, and anis. They roll it into donuts and place them in the brick ovens on banana leaves. After only about 5-10 minutes, they are ready to be taken out and eaten! Yum!!!! It's a dry bread thats chewie in the inside - that at first I didn't like at all. But now, I think it's a darn good schnack on bus rides and sitting in front of my house.

I hope to get my camera in the mail soon from my mom, so I can start taking photos of my house and my community. Then you can see the REAL Cassie Paraguayan Peace Corp Volunteer!