Thursday, March 31, 2011

Salida Pedogógica

Many of the schools here (at least the wealthier, private schools) integrate into their curriculum a class trip. Beginning in second grade, they go to difference parts of the country, which they have studied (geography, history, culture, etc).

This was a tradition that we were not accustomed to. Our children have spent a few nights away at a nearby Mennonite church camp, usually huddled with their closest friends, but they have never taken a trip without us. Last year both Lydia and Andy decided NOT to go because they were still adjusting and making friends it is just felt all to uncertain.

This year, after much deliberation, Andy decided to go with his class to the Eje Cafetero region of Colombia, or the "coffee region." There, they visited parks, museums, and learned the entire process of coffee production. He was gone for four nights and five days. They went by bus, slept in a hotel, and were supervised by two of their teachers.

There were some rough nights of homesickness, but overall, Andy really enjoyed his trip, he learned a lot, he bonded with his classmates in a new way, and he was able to come home and write a really spectacular report about his whole experience (which I would have posted, except it is written in Spanish.)

He did NOT, however, brush his teeth the entire time he was gone.


Sunday, March 20, 2011


Many parts of Colombia rely on plantains as a regular part of their diet. They are high in vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. We have learned to eat plantains in many different ways. At first, the kids did not like them, but now we eat them regularly.

Roasted plantains might be served plain, or stuffed with cheese and bocadillo (guayaba paste). They may be sliced thin and fried. There is plantain soup, and packaged "chips" like we have for potatoes. Some recipes call for green plantains and some for ripe ones, and you can buy chips in each form as well. The green ones are very bitter and good with salt, and the ripe ones sweeten up really nicely when cooked.

One of our favorites is called "Patacones." The first time we had these, we were in Armenia and they were smashed very, very thin, fried, and served with trout on top. It is a very common food in the coastal regions as well.

Our friend Roberto, who grew up on the coast agreed to come over and show us how to make these ourselves. His wife Shalom came and helped us with the accompaniments as well. It was so nice to have them in our home and share this incredible food with them.

We used green plantains.

Roberto peeled them, and cut them up diagonally.

Then he fried them in oil for a long time until they softened up.

When they were soft, we smashed them in an oiled plastic bag, and then fried them again.

They were deliciously crispy and salty.

Shalom helped us learn how to make a tomato accompaniment called guiso or hogau. It is made with onions, tomatoes, and red peppers and in the form of a chunky salsa, which can be made spicy or not (but normally is not).

I had put a pork loin in the crock pot all day to roast, and we also had guacamole, limes, costaño cheese, and the guiso. It was a spectacular meal, with spectacular company, and it reminded me of why some people in my family have a tendency to swear when food tastes so good. It was definitely swear-worthy.

Thank you, Shalom and Roberto for sharing this gift with us.

My bubble fairy

Breakfast at Ciclovia

We enjoyed a nice breakfast at ciclovia this morning, which included...

fruit salad

crispy empanadas (chicken or beef) with spicy aji

fresh squeezed mandarin juice

mango viche, which is sour, green mango with sweetened condensed milk and sprinkles

salpicon, which is a mixture of banana, mango, papaya, melon, and strawberries in papaya juice.

Mall jumping