Patti in Cozumel 1-25-2012
It is four in the afternoon of Wednesday the 23rd of January 2013, an overcast day punctuated by intermittent showers. Thunder storms are predicted for tomorrow. Looks like I will be sticking close to home.
I suspect I may have found the cause of the super sluggish sending and receiving of these reports I have been encountering. It was not all that old mail I waded my way through while deleting. There was no discernible difference between the before and after of that little project. I think it is the result of an inner email program conflict as a result of composing these daily reports right there on a regular email form.
Silly me, why did I not consider that. What was wrong with the old cut and paste procedure anyway. When I took note of the struggle taking place today I finally realized. Things had gotten pretty crazy. I was getting pop up noticed from my own computer saying things about actions I had taken while offline and saving drafts to a rescued file. Sure enough there were numerous partial drafts of the last couple of reports written. That was kind of odd as I had not even tried to send the one that went out today and the other was long gone. I thought it would be smart to start with a short one to myself. It said nothing more that ‘a test’. As I watched the utter confusion and read those pop up warnings it finally clicked.
As a point of fact and just so you know. Lately, once I finally got that first big daily report out of the machine I was able to send and receive normally. Why I thought it was the size of the given email is beyond me but that was the best I could come up with.
Now of course I think it was a result of working offline in my mail program. So, I am writing this in a new file I have opened in my word processor program. I will cut and past to an email when the time comes and see how it goes. If successful that will be swell. I can copy them from that file to the Hello file and then start a new one. Easy peasey, perhaps.
I am getting a little edgy. I am down to two tylenol and you know I did not go to Chedraui, nor will I until the weather clears. I will hold off on a San Francisco or Soriana run. They are close enough even if I have to go in a driving rain. I am going to see if I can manage without.
You are probably wondering if I bought that new iPod Touch. Yes I did. I got a red one like my little iPod shuffle. I ordered it to be engraved identical to my little shuffle too. PATTI. Nothing more. I feel I have done a little something for the world today. You may or may not be aware of the fact that a part of your Apple purchase when you choose the color red goes toward fighting aides in Africa. Yes indeed, I made a humanitarian gesture. I was on the brink of ordering the blue. I would have if the red had been unavailable as it sometimes is.
I picked up an email from Randy and Cheryl while I was down at the coffee place. Cheryl suggests I might like Isla de Mujeres as a possible next place to live. That thought had occurred to me too. It is much smaller that this island and still just a ferry ride to Cancun on the mainland. The research has begun.
Be advised. I did send off scads of pictures so my emissary will be posting those for me.
I did splurge at the bakery ladies little window. I brought a double brownie that is just short of heavenly. I have consumed one little strip so far. I will make it last. Some today, some tomorrow, and so on. A little at a time should not throw me into a sugar frenzy. Lets hope not anyway. In general the sweet things down here tend to contain a great deal less sugar than the ones up and over there.
Spaghetti is on the menu for the evening meal. I am reading a book set in County Kerry, Ireland. I believe I am in for yet another fun and action packed night at home. My favorite way to pass the time. No complaints here. I am just a little concerned about this neck problem. I wish I had a heating pad and some of that spray on pain aid stuff my mother gave me. Never mind, I am bucking up as I write this. I will be just fine.
It is only five but I think I am going to start the pasta water. Do not worry I have the colander with handle all laid out. I am going to give it a try right inside the other. It might work and it might not. On that note, I will be in the west of Ireland if anyone needs me.
I will leave you with this Irish proverb. If you hit my dog, you hit myself.
Good Thursday morning this 24th day of January in the year 2013 at nine o’clock in the morning. There was a patch of blue when I lifted the curtain to look out the window, craned my neck and caught a glimpse of that square of sky way up there above the planter between this apartment and the one next door. That is more blue sky than I saw all day yesterday. Looks like we will have to wait and see about those thunder storms.
My spaghetti turned out great. It was simple as could be. I kept it down to a bare minimum of ingredients. I cooked the pasta until almost done and then set the pan aside. I heated a bit of olive oil in the big sauté pan and then tossed in the thinly sliced mushrooms. I gave those a quick blast and then squirted in part of the container of the spaghetti sauce. While heating that through I drained the pasta and I am pleased to report my double colander idea worked like a charm. I dumped the drained pasta in the pan on top of the sauce, topped it with a little olive oil coating the spaghetti as best I could, then mixed it all together. It was just like the package promised. A quick wholesome meal that was not only different (by Mexican standards), delicious, and nutritious but loaded with antioxidants and so forth. Brought to me by those fine folks at Hunt’s and their more than 100 years of experience in the development and manufacture of tomato products. How could I have gone wrong? I shook some parmesan cheese on top and it was a toothsome treat.
I managed to save some spaghetti for my lunch today. I put some of those nice Peruvian beans to soak so they will be the backbone of the evening meal. Perhaps another minestrone sort of soup. I have a piece of cabbage, onion, garlic, a tomato, and some macaroni. Top that with some more of the parmesan and I will be in business. If the weather holds and I happen to make it to Chedraui I could get some of that fabulous veg bread to eat with it. Oh yes! If not I have a couple of different kinds of local crackers should the mood strike. Oh wow! I can almost taste a little sandwich with the veg bread and sharp cheddar cheese. Let me stick my head out and check that sky again. Um hum, still some blue out there. I would be blowing the budget with tylenol and cheese both but what the heck I only spent 45 pesos/$3.56 yesterday and cheese is an excellent source of protein along with its other attributes. Now watch, I will hike over there and they will have sold out of all the sharp cheddar. No, I refuse to even joke about such a serious matter. Think positive, that is my motto.
Last night I finished my visit to the west of Ireland not turning out the light until I had read the last page. Then I switched over to and reclined in my sleeping hammock and waited for sleep to overtake me. It took its own sweet time. I began to wonder if it was another waning gibbous moon. Minus a handy dandy gadget I was unable to quickly ascertain the exact stage in order to further my research.
It is half past ten now or half ten as they would say in Ireland. I have been poking around and am just now heating the water for my second cup. I will get the shower water going next. Then we will see what the day holds in store for me.
Vale is running almost as late as my exercise buddies. I lost track of what day she was due here at ten o’clock in the morning but it must be coming up on a week ago. Let me take a peak just for fun. Very interesting. The boys are two weeks late today and Vale is one week late. And that is just the way it is here in the land of mañana but maybe I should stop scheduling meetings for Thursdays. Those do not seem to be working out so well. I guess I will eventually go check on Vale if she does not come looking for me first.
Boy was I spaced or what. I have been standing right here at the counter typing away while my coffee water boiled. I could smell it and thought, oh good the shower water will be ready soon. Shortly before eleven I reached for my cup and was surprised to find it empty. I looked up at the stove and only then did it dawn on me that it was not the shower water heating up over there. Looks like I will be a little later in leaving the house than I had anticipated.
There is no way in the world I am putting on a backpack until I have dosed up good with some tylenol. That means if I hit some wifi today it will not be until later. First things first. Then too I have yet to determine if this ten dollar backpack is waterproof or not. For safeties sake I have been enclosing this marvelous but rapidly becoming antiquated machine in one of my kayak dry bags. I have a plastic bag in there too just in case. If I do make an afternoon run today and one of those predicted thunderstorms materializes I will ideally, be just fine. I am not interested in conducting any tests with my live laptop though. Some kind of test dummy would preferable. I will hold off on that until my neck and shoulders are back to normal. Best to leave this baby right here in the house than run the risk of ruin.
Well I guess the water is ready and if I do not make a move I will still be standing right here.
It is shortly past noon now. I am having a plan B lunch. It seemed like a good idea to pressure cook the beans while my hair dries. Then it seemed like an impossibility to heat the spaghetti at the same time. Rather than delay my departure any further I flipped from Italian to Spanish lunch. I made a plate of crackers and cream cheese with little bite sized pieces of Spanish chorizo with pickled cucumbers and onions on the side. Um um, good!
I was thinking that if I ever find any chili powder I can make those chili beans I have been craving. You are probably thinking, what is she talking about find some chili powder I thought she was in Mexico. Well yes, and no. Yes I am , and no it is not that part of Mexico. They do sell pinto beans here but the bean of choice is the black. The usual dried legume selection consists of black, pinto, peruvian, an occasional small white one bean, garbanzo, tiny brown lentils, and the rare split green pea. That about covers it. If I ever see any red beans I will snap them right up. In the grain department we have slight variety of choice in white only rice and the occasional cracked wheat. They just got the latter in at Soriana and I may make tabouli one day if the supply lasts that long. We can thank the early Lebanese immigrants for the lentil, garbanzo, and cracked wheat. This area was not much of a melting pot so the influences were limited.
Speaking of which, did I ever tell you why the imported straight from Holland edam cheese is so redly available here? I would really prefer some reference material but short of that I will tell you what I remember. It goes something like this. Way back in the 1800’s or so a ship ran aground on one of the reefs off the coast. Or maybe there was a storm, they lost steerage and ran up on a beach. Maybe it was pirates that got um, these waters were thick with them for awhile there. I could continue to speculate but I will not. The end result was, a ship full of edam cheese bound for elsewhere ended up here instead. The people liked it very much. They developed a taste for it which created a demand. It has been considered a delicacy ever since. If someone really likes you they may give you one for Christmas, not an uncommon gift. Should you find yourself in this part of the world and if you are lucky, you may encounter a stuffed cheese on a menu or more likely as a daily special. If you do please order it immediately. You will not be sorry. They take one of those $30 US and I do not exaggerate, grapefruit sized balls of cheese and turn it into a culinary masterpiece.
Why don’t I give you the recipe I used when I made it in my little garden apartment in Alameda. That will save me further description and allow you to reproduce it in the privacy of your own home and at your leisure, should you feel so inclined. I will remind you that the olives are green. The sweet chili is the small wrinkly bell so use one of those instead. The closest you will come with the xcatic chili will be a hungarian wax. Try cheesecloth for steaming the filled cheese. Armed with that knowledge you should be good to go.
Recipe for Queso Relleno
1 Edam cheese with middle scooped out
¾ k. ground pork
For the stuffing:
1 chopped onion
1 crushed garlic clove
4 tbs. lard
1 chopped sweet chile
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
¼ cup vinegar
50 grs olives
50 grs raisins
3 tbs. capers
400 grs tomatoes
3 chopped hard boiled eggs
Fry the onion in the lard, add the garlic, sweet chile, the meat, and then everything else.
Fill the cheese with this mixture and cover with a cloth, then steam it to soften the cheese.
K’óol (white sauce)
1 lt. chicken broth
1 bunch epazote
50 g olives
20 g capers
3 tbs. flour
Add the epazote, olives, and capers to the broth. On the side, dilute the flour in a little water, and add to the broth little by little, stirring constantly. Add the salt and a little oil. Keep on low heat.
½ kg tomatoes
1 chile xcatik
2 tsp. consomme
Blend the tomatoes with a little water, the onion and the chile. Fry this mixture with the epazote. Season with the consomme and the salt. Simmer uncovered at low heat, stirring until thick, approx. 30 min.
Serve the stuffed cheese with the 2 sauces on top.
So, there you are let me know how it turns out. I myself am turning off the burner under the beans and hitting the trail.
I rolled back in about four o’clock bearing treasures. I decided to stop at Mega first to see what they had in the way of Tylenol. Oh my goodness, they had not only twenty caplet bottles but also fifty and one hundred. Wowzer! The one hundred cost 212 and the fifty 82. Guess which one I got. You know it, they could not fool me with that one. Nor did I have that kind of peso power behind me. They also had a little packet of ground chili. No details. For 4.48 pesos I could not go wrong, so I bought that too.
When I got over to Chedraui I happened to pass by a sale table on the fringes of the produce area. They had stacks of different sizes of those clear plastic hinged sort of boxes like you are likely to see in a produce department in the land of my birth but less seldom here. Everything was 5 pesos. The one that caught my eye was filled with those fabulous Spanish chilies that my brother Spike/Philip and I so enjoy when dining al fresco at the Market Bar in The City. I snatched them right up. The first half package are about ready to come out of the pan. I just tasted one and they ‘are them’ and I have a couple dozen. My brother knows I will be through them in nothing flat. Oh happy day!
Double wow! I just cut up some sharp cheddar and tossed it right in the bowl with the chilies. They taste great together. You can not begin to imagine what a popping burst of flavor sharp cheddar can impart when you have not experienced it for months. I am also embarrassed to say I am down to the last three of the first dozen chilies. I love these things.
I scored big time but they did not have the bread. I asked and they said, oh the rustic bread, no sorry. So I got a bread twist with cheese and sesame seeds and a biscuit with cheese. The biscuit is not even a distant cousin of that basic staple of the deep south and so good when topped with gravy. I will take a picture.
I am going to put the soup together then make a quick Soriana run. I need limes and mineral water and those are key items in this household. First I am pleased to report that the first dozen chilies sated me and I will be able to save the rest for casual snacking.
Soup is in the pan and I am tired. To heck with the Soriana run. I have enough of those basic stables to hold me until tomorrow. I am going to recline in one of my hammocks.
Good midmorning this Friday the 25th of January 2013 at ten o’clock. I slept well and awoke to one of those stand at the gate and shout visitors. Not my visitor mind you. It served as an excellent wake up call. I had actually been up closer to four than five. I thought it was morning, yes it is that light in this area of the fish bowl. Luckily I looked at the clock before I brushed my teeth. It was blissfully silent so I turned off the white noise machine and went back to sleep. I may have slept through the call from the gate had I not done so. Hard to say.
I will tell you that I have been remiss in my monitoring of the moped variety parked outside this front door. I realized as much when I got home yesterday and noticed the current model was half and half, silver in the back and red in the front. So, to date we have silver, red, and silver/red. Now if I narrow it down to distinguishing characteristics we may be able to determine if these are in fact the same silver, red, and silver/red, or a variety there of. All in a days work. This detecting can be an interesting business.
It was a very good thing that I decided to pass on the trip to Soriana. That delayed but massive cloudburst passed over about the time I would have been there browsing the isles. It hovered overhead for quite some time too. When I can hear a hard rain on the roof way down here on the lower level you can bet it is really coming down. A nice time to be tucked in, warm and dry.
I enjoyed my soup last night. Good thing too because I have three small containers of it in the fridge. I also have a dozen chilies ready to eat when the urge comes upon me. This morning I was wondering why I did not save one for propagation purposes. Silly me. If I find myself back over at Chedraui before they sell the last few containers I will rectify the situation. They may or may not carry them regularly. The full price would have been close to 60 pesos and that puts it into the luxury category under my current economic circumstances.
A plant or few of them in my garden would be heavenly. I am likely to have one of those again one of these day, gardens I mean. You probably noticed I have never mentioned actually planting anything in this little interior plot right outside my door. Well, it is not really very nice soil. It is a bit of a catchall for rubbish. The minute I got a nice plant in there the kids or their ball would land on it. I will be away for too long when I go to California. At least those are some of the excuses I have given myself. Are they good valid concerns or should I just do it. Hard to say. Once the disillusionment set in the idea just sort of fell by the wayside.
There is still a glimmer, a spark of desire to spend more time living on this island. I could move away from this neighborhood and down toward the waterfront. I have begun to consider this area the belly of the beast and if that is the case the little park would be the belly button.
It is an entirely different atmosphere as you near the water. I can leave this apartment and walk straight down 4th. I start out in this working class neighborhood and end up in a quaint, old but hip seaside village. It is, on this particular street, a mere six short blocks before you arrive at the blue waters of the Caribbean. Half way there you crest a very slight rise and in front of you at the end of the street is the ocean. The sidewalks become brick and the buildings ooze character. Interesting little restaurants worthy of any international resort destination are sprinkled around the area.
It is only a few blocks but a world away from here. I like it down there and beach or no it would be a good place to spend some time. It feels vibrant down there even when there are not many people about. It is kind of a nook between the cruise ship hordes and the northern hotel zone.
I went into a shopping center on a corner. It was a big two story affair with a very high end look to it. Once through the door I transformed myself into a just browsing tourist. The entire building housed jewelry and fine watch stores. On the second level one can watch the jewelers at work or dine at the restaurant. It is a Jewish restaurant with a little packaged foods area beside the reception desk. If you are in need of matzo crackers that would be the place to go. I looked at the menu and the majority of the dishes were the same as you would find on any other menu around here. I can only assume they are kosher. Why would I think that? Because you see not only is the complex full of jewelry stores but diamonds, diamonds, and more diamonds. I now understand the group or two of Hasidic Jews I have seen here on the island.
All those high dollar jewelry stores strung along Melgar (the avenue running along the water) would account for the heavy police patrols even without all the tourists to protect. All the better jewelry stores have their own security guards posted at the front door. Many fully suited up in bulletproof vest, weapon in hand.
There was a fairly recent article in the newspaper suggesting all the businesses employ their own security guards as the police were being spread a bit thin with the rise in crime. I mentioned the other day about the police patrolling fairly regularly in this neighborhood. Well, let me tell you it does not compare to that waterfront area we are talking about. They are not only more prominent there as they patrol the streets in their pickup trucks, but there is one standing in the back rifle at the ready. When I took my long exploratory walk to the north the other day I witnessed a good example of their effectiveness and interest in maintaining a nice environment for those peso spending visitors on which the island depends. A very drunk fellow was sitting on the bench that is part of the seawall. He slurred a hello as I passed on my way north. On my return he was sound asleep/passed out in the same spot. Within moments a municipal police truck pulled over and when I last looked were picking him up and moving him out. That sort of thing does not happen in my neighborhood. I am pretty sure he could have laid here all day and into the night. Although I often wonder how the federal police got there so quick when I had my mishap. Ah, the mysteries of life.
Hum, I wonder what the sky looks like up there today. I got real lucky yesterday. I was caught in a light tropical shower as I was leaving Chedraui. It continued pelting me with great big wide spaced drops until I made my turn at the main plaza.
What I can see looks kind of solid grey. I would like to go over to the coffee place and send this so that will be my first goal of the day. Subject to change naturally. I also think it might be about time I look Vale up. Even if, hey what am I saying, lets give the benefit of the doubt. Since she is taking morning and evening classes and then earning some money in the late afternoon helping out a relative of the BF I will need to time my visit. Come to think of it I could just wait until tomorrow when there is no school. All righty then I postponed that quite nicely.
BTW that biscuit was pretty interesting. I detected no cheese in it (or the twist) so I would wager it was a matter of mislabeling. The dough had a distinct flavor of uncooked biscuit dough. Not half bad and you know, I think some gravy might go nicely with them. Something to keep in mind next time I have a package of bacon in the fridge. These biscuits are readily available so it would not be like trying to pair my sharp cheddar and the rustic veg bread.
I am heating the last of the spaghetti while I wait for my hair to dry. There is not much but I can always move on to soup to fill any remaining gaps. I guess I should make some more spaghetti while that open container of sauce if fresh. I am almost out of parmesan but I can always splurge for some more. It lasts a long time and perks up many a dish.
While thinking of food I realize I forgot to tell you about the dried beans I saw at Mega yesterday. They were so pretty. At first I thought they were those red beans I have been wanting. When I got close I saw they were speckled and quite purple. They are called flor de mayo, same as the plumeria. I was not about to lug them home but I am going to look for them in Soriana or San Francisco.
I have moved on to the soup. I just opened that little packet of ground chili and sprinkled some on top. If it is not cayenne I do not know what it is. That is fine by me as I had been wishing for some. I also got a soup shot as I realized I had neglected to photograph it last night. Ah yes, as I make my way into the bowl I can say this is some spicy chili. If you foolishly put a good spoon full of this stuff in your batch of beans you would be in for a real surprise. I will remember to sprinkle it more sparingly in future.
Speaking of moving, my mystery moped neighbors may be doing just that. The silver and red is backed up to my door and they are moving out the furniture. So much for that entertaining research project/handy alarm clock.
I am on to the cheddar cheese and chili dessert plate now. It is every bit as good as yesterday. I threw in a sliced Chiapas banana for contrast and potassium. You are what you eat!
Maybe I will experiment with some of the other chilies available at the markets. I really should be familiar with all the subtleties of flavor. I could roast up a couple of each in the manner I prepared these. What a great way to figure out what dishes they might be best suited to. Back in Cabo I pan roasted serranos and those long skinny dried red ones for snacking on. One of the chilies here is a green version of the latter. I think they may hail from the Vera Cruz area. I have eaten plenty of jalapeños done that way, they are always good.
As I was dressing this morning in the same travel shorts I have been wearing most days, I decided to really take advantage of them. I am stuck on these because of their pockets. There is no good reason I can think of not to use one of those pockets for my camera. It is about time I carefully record some more exterior images for yours and my viewing pleasure. I could actually show you what that lower neighborhood looks like. I use the word lower loosely as this island is almost as flat as a pancake, more in a directional sense, and there is that slight little rise. You could of course hop on Google Maps, enter my address, switch to street view, and virtually cruise right on down the street all the way to the water. Should you do so I suggest you then make a right turn in the direction of the Looks Like Bermuda/although I have never actually been there, part of the island.
A small bowl of spaghetti, a small bowl of soup, eight chilies, two slices of cheddar cheese, and one small Chiapas banana under the belt and time to get going. It is a quarter to two, a fine hour for the coffee place. Hard to say but I think there is a sunny glow to the light filtering down to the center walk way. Until next time then.
YS, YD, YM, YA