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Posts Tagged ‘Karen’

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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A Day at the Beach

Jillian, Karen and I decided to take a break from the busy streets of Port-au-Prince and trekked out to Jacmel for two days to stay at our friend’s beach house.  Jacmel is on the southern coast, a three hour drive snaking through the mountains of Haiti, a tough feat considering you are avoiding roadblocks created by fresh landslides along the way.

We were also driving an old Nissan Sentra, which is by far the WORST car to drive in Haiti, ever.  Let’s just say it’s a good thing they don’t inspect the bottom of the cars at AVIS when you return them, as Haiti now has little pieces of our rental car scattered all over it.  And while many of the buildings in Jacmel were affected by the earthquake too, it was nice to stay somewhere where there was no rubble, no traffic, and just total relaxation.

We spent almost all our time at the beach.  The water was the perfect temperature, the sun wasn’t too hot, and the sand felt great between your toes.  As you can see above, we set up a table on the sand in the shade of the coconut trees, and had breakfast delivered to us from a nearby restaurant.  It was close to perfection.

There are actually two houses on the property, each with two bedrooms.  They both sit about 50 yards from the beach, and you open the windows of each room to a view of the ocean.  It even came with a dog, which we named Samantha, who protected us from all Haitian by barking at them, which was actually slightly awkward.

And as you all know already, you can’t travel anywhere in Haiti without throngs of children surrounding you.  At the beach, there is a group of about 5 kids that just hang out on the property, and right when you are walking from the house to the beach with a hand full of snacks and beer, they ask you for food because they’re hungry.  At this point you can’t tell them you don’t have anything, because that would be a blatant lie, and if you don’t give them food you kinda look like a jerk as you’re having a luxurious beach vacation.

I think they know this, and it works.  They got food, and then came back for more, and more, and more…  But it was actually really frustrating, as I personally had hoped that going to the beach would be an escape from these situations.  I actually didn’t need a break from the rubble, I wanted a break from the begging, and apparently there is no avoiding it.

But the children did actually come in handy, as they have the skill and agility to climb up these huge coconut trees to get you coconuts.  I guess you can’t hate them for that (except they charge you for it…).

Other than that, the trip was perfect.  We ate a dinner of lobster and fresh fish with plantains, and played pinochle under the stars on the beach.  But most importantly we got to spend some much needed time with Karen, and it was really wonderful having her here.  Jillian finds solace in Karen in a way that is unmatchable, so it’s been nice to have this slice of home here in Haiti.  Cheers, Karen!!!

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We went on another World Concern site visit today with Jillian and her mom, Karen, who is in town for the week!  But another day in the communities means another group of adorable children, and this boy in particular made it a point to try and scare us.  The entire time he followed our group through the crowded neighborhood, and around every corner he would jump in front of us and yell: “ROAR!!!”  It was ridiculously cute.

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