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Posts Tagged ‘Bryan and Sharon’

I have something I need to get off my chest: Jillian and I don’t just eat Cup o’ Noodles in Haiti everyday.  In fact, we have used the time that we have without a TV and other distractions to learn how to cook more.  And to be perfectly honest, we’ve gotten pretty good at making delicious food in the kitchen that we almost always want to eat.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to plunge into some stuffed peppers, and they were freakin’ delicious:

So when Jillian’s 24th birthday came around last Sunday, the one thing she really wanted to do was make some good, homemade, eats.  Karen was in town, so we at least had someone there to make sure we didn’t blow anything up.

The first thing Jillian wanted to make was homemade apple pie, with gourmet crust.  Neither Jillian, Karen, nor I had ever ventured into the crust making arena, so this was a learning experience for all.  One of the things you have to grapple with here is the lack of certain ingredients and/or, in this instance, supplies.  Making dough without a food processor is a messy endeavor, and it doesn’t always turn out the way you expect it to.  So while the crust wasn’t as perfect and beautiful as the boxed stuff you can get in the States, they made it work and the pie turned out awesome.

So now that desert was baking, we moved on to dinner.  Our friend Sharon had made some homemade pasta a couple weeks back and said it was shockingly easy, minus the tedious cutting of the noodles.  So as an early birthday present to me, Karen brought down a manual pasta maker to add fuel to our newly found culinary fire.

For those of you who have never made pasta before, it is (as Sharon said) ridiculously easy.  We decided to make pepper pasta, to spice things up a bit, and the ingredients included the following:

– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
– 3 large eggs, beaten
(Source: The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles)

That’s it!  It’s crazy!  But while the ingredients are surprisingly simple, the work that goes into making those ingredients into something you would eat is ENORMOUS.  It takes about 3-4 hours total to finish a pound of pasta.  But that’s why it’s fun, because once you get the finished product on the dinner table you can be truly proud of what you’ve accomplished.

So you may be disappointed to find out that there are no pictures of any of the finished products.  For some reason I have a problem with eating first, and then thinking about taking pictures later.  It’s a bad trait I have, especially in this particular situation.

But I can tell you that everything was delicious!  Jillian makes an amazing pasta dish with a fresh tomato, garlic, onion and olive oil sauce, mixed with fresh mozzarella.  This was paired with some garlic bread made with fresh garlic cooked in butter, and a nice glass of wine.  And with a small large piece of apple pie for desert, this birthday dinner was close to perfect.

While we’re no culinary geniuses, it’s nice to be able to make food that is not preprocessed and filled with preservatives.  And yes, we could buy pasta at the store, but I like the idea of being able to look at our time in Haiti as time we took to learn something new.  For instance, I learned that Jillian makes the weirdest faces when we cook!

Bon Appetit!

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We went for a little day trip to Crouix de Bouqet with our friends Bryan and Sharon last weekend, and on our way back to Port-au-Prince we decided to make a stop to see the puppies! It had been 2 weeks since we had last visit them, so we were excited to see six bundles of puppy joy prouncing around waiting to be taken home.

You see, a wopping 60% of you voted for us to bring home both a puppy and a kitty, and to be honest, that is exactly what we planned to do.  Maybe having both is not the smartest decision to make, but we were excited at the prospect of having a pair of fluff balls running aimlessly around our Ti Kay.

So when we entered the grounds to the World Food Program warehouse that held the puppies and met with their caretaker, we were shocked to hear that all the puppies had died.  BAM! That hits you like a ton of bricks, doesn’t it?  All six of the puppies, every last one of them, had died.  In fact, the last two had died earlier that day.

We looked at the caretaker in disbelief, “How could they all be dead?” we asked.  This was going to be our puppy!  We even chose a name for him: Sebastian (if he was a boy, of course).  He explained that they had all died in succession, each puppy getting the one next to him deathly ill until they all retired.  To me, this sounded ridiculous, he probably just wasn’t feeding her!  I mean, look at their mother:

But how would we ever really know.  Turns out there were actually nine puppies total, and three had died before we had even met the last six.  We sat there is disbelief.  I walked around to the opening of their little enclosure to make sure this guy wasn’t just messing with us, which would have been SO not cool, and sure enough it was empty.

So we walked out dejected by a turn of events that none of us had seen coming.  Not even JeanBa, who owned them, knew it had happened, as we had spoken to him that morning to ask if we could visit.  And so now what was a major decision for the Thorp family just days ago was one that had been made for us.  We won’t need to worry about assimilating our puppy with the other dogs in the complex.  We won’t have to worry about buying expensive puppy food.  And we won’t have to worry about transporting him back to the States.  There will be no puppy, and we have no say in the matter.

And while this can’t be blamed on “Haiti”, it’s reflective of how the way things here just don’t work according to plan.  In Haiti, huge dump-trucks break down in the middle of major thoroughfares and create miles of traffic for hours.  In Haiti, you can never rely on power coming on regularly.  In Haiti, you go to the grocery store and sometimes they have the staples you need, and sometimes they don’t.

And while many of these things happen and are completely manageable (and sometimes fun), the fact that these puppies died is a reminder that not all this stuff is cute, and that the cracks in the systems here aren’t just anecdotal.  We can ride around on Pinotage and see dozens of cars waiting at gas stations because there is a gas shortage, and be like “Man, Haiti is wild!”, but this seems to cut much deeper, in a way I wasn’t expecting. (BTW, our friend Bryan wrote a blog post about this which is totally worth reading HERE)

You live life in Haiti always one step from the edge.  At any moment things could change completely, for better or worse (probably for the worse), but most of it is doable.  The fact that there is traffic makes driving a motorcycle so much more interesting, as you can weave through the jam-packed streets and come out victorious on the other end, cutting your commute in half.  Not having power all the time causes you to find things to do that don’t need it, so Jillian and I are reading and cooking more.  As I tell people that visit here, Haiti makes every day interesting, which isn’t really a bad thing at all.  But when the puppies died it hurt, and all those other things don’t hurt.

In the end, I was probably hit a little harder than Jillian.  Because I was at home so much more, the puppy was likely to be my responsibility, so the big question was if I was ready for it.  I had decided I was, so I was excited to bring Sebastian home and teach him how to eat from Jillian’s Cup-o’-Noodles, and not mine.  But now we’ll stick to a cat (or cats…), which was probably the more responsible, and reasonable, decision in the first place.  It’s just a bummer that we can’t make that decision ourselves anymore, but I guess that’s just Haiti.

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