Where in the world are we?

Where in the World are We?

21 April 2008

Baker, Baker, Bake Me A ...

We know you've been wondering what's been happening with our experiments in the kitchen, so as a follow-up to our previous post we thought we'd share some photos of our baking adventures. It's almost become a tertiary project at this point, we have been baking all sorts of treats to have healthy snacks, breads, and save money since these things are pretty expensive 'round here.

The bread trials turned out well, Ginnie did make nice moist loaves and learned the trick to staying soft is to freeze any slices not being used right away - just thaw them the day you need them and they are ready to go. Despite getting the bread just the way we like it, we had been working on alternatives in the meantime, and due to their ease, we have stuck with them! So, Anthony makes up some fabulous pita bread each week and we use it for lunches - it's the perfect size and because he uses wheat flour, they are healthy, too. Plus, they are perfect for making homemade pita chips. He has also been making his own Indian Naan bread, and though he does not have the special oven, it still comes out pretty delicious and is perfect with stir fries and curries.

Gettin' fancy with bread making
Pita to go along with Ant's minestrone soup
Anthony's Garlic Parmesan Pita Chips
Naan bread with an eggplant stir-fry
We made English Muffins, too!

The Fabulous Rolled Oat!
We were buying granola, but it's pricey and sometimes a little soggy, so Ginnie started making her own granola each week with old fashioned rolled oats. It's so delicious and easy to make, saves us tons of money and is a perfect after school snack with yogurt or just some milk.

Fresh-cooked granola

The next step from homemade granola is, naturally, granola bars. Despite not being labeled for individual sale, single servings of granola bars are sold for anywhere between $1.10 and $1.75, so it's costly to have them as a regular healthier snack option. Ginnie did her research once again and put together a really simple and yummy granola bar recipe. They are so good and versatile - we can add penaut butter, dried fruits, nuts, as desired. Since we control the ingredients, we don't have to watch the sodium content and we know exactly what we are getting and that they are healthy!

These are cinnamon-raisin granola bars - delish!

Another step from the granola bar is a granola-based jam snack that has a little softer consistency and reminds us of nutri-grain bars, so they are our own version and definitely healthier. Really, those bars may taste great, but looking at the ingredients list shows it's just a cookie with some oats and maybe a few other grains in there. Our homemade bars have much less sugar and are really soft and have the perfect amount of jam for flavoring. So yummy and a perfect little morning treat!

Tropical fruit jam oat grain bars

We had the best banana muffin in Antigua, so when we came home, Ginnie was back to work looking for a banana muffin recipe. She found some and came up with a banana oat muffin that she bakes as muffin tops since we do not have a muffin tray and it would really be silly to buy one since the point of all this homemade goodness is to save money (and to be sure we are eating healthy things). The muffin tops are so good, they go nicely with a bowl of cereal!

Perfect banana-oat muffin tops

There's Always Room for Pizza!
We cannot give up our pizza and Anthony's dough is the best! His mixture of whole wheat flour and honey makes the dough perfect and it cooks up great with any toppings we come up with. We had to share a new favorite - cheeseburger pizza! Inspired by a pizza made at the White House, Anthony put together a pizza with ground soy meat, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, pickles, and ketchup! It tastes just like a cheddar burger and is a major favorite. It may sound strange, but when you consider that ketchup is a tomato sauce, it's really not that different - and the nice thing is that the local ketchup is not loaded with corn syrup like those at home, so it's not so sweet and sugary.

You just have to try it!

Other Random Good Eats
Recently we have discovered a pop tart shortage in these parts. Not that we ate them frequently, but now and then a pop tart is nice, expecially on longer bus rides for some reason. This was probably a good thing so we weren't eating the sugars and things, but one day we were inspired! We adapted the recipe to use whole wheat flour and Ginnie created her own brown sugar cinnamon mixture and we have our own homemade pop tarts! The way they cook makes them perfect for eating cool or after toasting. They brown a little once they are toasted, just like pop tarts, and we can put any of our own fillings we want in them so we are not limited.

We also had to start making our own pasta considering the high cost of good-tasting pasta (Ronzoni is over $6!). Plus, the less expensive okay-tasting brand we found had some bug infestation problems. Homemade pasta dough is so easy to make and Anthony is getting pretty good at cutting it thin since we don't have a pasta maker. It tastes so good with our homemade tofu no-meat balls and with other spaghetti creations.

Pasta drying before being cooked
Just the ideal treat for a Sunday morning

As you can see, we keep pretty busy with this baking project, but it's well worth it when we can enjoy our own homemade treats. The question is, will we keep this up when we return to life in the states?

20 April 2008

Way Down South

During the week of April 7th we took our first trip to the southern district of Toledo. On Monday, we hopped on the James Bus for the 6.5 hour ride to the village of Big Falls, where we stayed the night with Rachel. Rachel showed us the beautiful views of the Maya Mountains and took us to visit the other Big Falls PCV, Mike Norbeck. We had a delicious dinner of stewed beans and rice with chicken at Coleman's and enjoyed a night in the village.

Rachel & Ginnie overlooking the country-side

Just hanging out on Norbeck's porch before dinner

The next morning, Ginnie joined Rachel at school to do some resource sharing and experience a village school. She helped with reading groups and picked up some great ideas to bring back to Trinity. After the morning session, we headed back to the house where Anthony and I gathered our things to head down to the district town of Punta Gorda.

Anthony waiting for the bus on the Southern Highway in Big Falls

Punta Gorda is a quiet little seaside town where there are a number of volunteers working on several projects. The drive into town is really pretty as the bus rounds a corner and the sea is to the left and a nice colorful sign welcomes you to PG. We got off the bus by the big primary school, St. Peter Claver, and immediately ran into Carrie on her way back to school from lunch. We also saw Mica and then headed to see John at home, where we dropped off our bags and John took us for a lee tour of town. We had a nice lunch and got to see the center of town and returned to the school to visit with Carrie and see their amazing library. It was built into an old water storage tank years ago by a PCV. It's a really creative use of space and a nice big area with many books and space for children to sit and do work.

We were able to see the other PG PCV's who were in town when we went to Marianne's for another dinner of stewed beans and rice. The next day we joined Mica at her school, St. Benedicts, and gathered even more resources and ideas to bring back to the city. We definitely made the most of our school visit tour so we can share ideas with our teachers and add to our work in the education project.

The rest of our time in PG was devoted to enjoying the seaside and catching up with our friends. We spent our third night with Mike and Carrie and were treated to Mike's homemade pizza - as you know, we always enjoy pizza.

Our last day in town was Anthony's birthday, so we spent it at a nice, quiet pool and enjoyed a little downtime and relaxation before heading to the the village of Forest Home where we would spend two days in training for serving as Peer Support Counselors.

Tree by the sea

Birthday morning breakfast
Clock tower in town

Our training took place at The Novitiate Nazareth, a very nice retreat center that is a convent (aka nunnery by some locals). The nuns made us very delicious meals and we enjoyed the beautiful grounds and peaceful environment.

Paths are lined with beaded stones
A walk on the grounds before another fabulous dinner
Images of the church

We discovered a fun feature of our camera when Catherine, who has the same model, showed it to us so we decided to play around with it. Here are some of the results.

cool soft drinks