Monday, February 21, 2011

Grocery shopping, recipes and foods: everything has changed!

There are a lot of foods I miss from the US.  So many of them are convenience items I think I took for granted all my life.  Convenient and cheap (especially if you could find them on sale and stock up!)  I’m a little jealous of all you ladies who buy like $100 of groceries for like $10.  There is no such thing as a sale here!  And while it is a 3rd world country, food is not cheap.  For example, eggs are plentiful, but they cost the equivalent of $3 US a dozen.  Things I took for granted in the US as readily available and cheap include:  cheese, sour cream, frozen veggies, bread, milk, eggs, lunchmeat, snacks, cream cheese, and anything with whole grains.  I’m sure there is more, but this is what comes to mind. 

I have recipes that include many of the items above.  I often have to make substitutions.  For example, I rarely can find sour cream.  When I do, it costs about $6 US for a 16 ounce container.  What I can find pretty regularly that I can substitute for sour cream is plain yogurt.  When I find it, I stock up on it because in comes in waves.  Right now I am almost out and can’t seem to find it anywhere.   The other end of the spectrum is, if I can find the item, I have to ask myself if it is worth it to purchase it as a treat for our family because it is often very expensive.  Sometimes I can find cheddar cheese.  An 8 ounce block is $5 US.  I will usually purchase this because homemade mac and cheese is a special treat for our family and reminds of us home.

There are some things I purchase differently than in the states.  I am very thankful and fortunate that we have a freezer.  When I buy beef, I usually purchase about 80 pounds.  It is likely butchered that day and a guy brings it in 5 gallon buckets to our house on a motorcycle.  Carline cuts it up in meal-sized pieces.  We inherited a heavy-duty meat grinder for the missionaries here before us, so Carline usually sets aside about 1/3 to 1/2 of the meat and grinds it.  I buy flour, sugar and rice by the sack (a sack that’s the size of what you would know as a potato sack.)   You can buy bread in town, but I find it to always be hard and stale.  Carline makes all our bread and it’s delicious!  Hence the need for a sack of flour!  Perhaps you remember this picture I took of bringing home a sack of flour:


I’ve tried my hand at making some things from scratch too!  My favorite is English Muffins.  I missed them so much from the states, they are such a nice treat to have.  Here is Drew posing with my last batch:


I tried my hand at making homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas and they turned out so yummy!  I can’t wait to make them again.  The recipe called for buttermilk.  I have learned to look items up and see if there are any substitutions.  Apparently if you add vinegar to milk you get buttermilk!  Anyway, here are those cinnamon rolls before the icing was added:


I’ve learned to make homemade pizza dough that rivals any in the US and homemade pizza sauce.  Yum!  I’ve figured out how to blanch and freeze broccoli so I could purchase it in large quantities while it was in season and enjoy it for months to come.

Life is different here.  I miss some foods and cringe at the cost of things that are so plentiful and cheap in the US.  But I’ve loved making my way here as well.  I’ve enjoyed finding ways to still enjoy things we love (like figure out how to make something from scratch or figure out substitutions for ingredients.)  I may just look thru some of my cookbooks and find out what I can try my hand at next!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

I wish I had a window into Braden’s mind…

I would love to know what goes thru Braden’s mind.  I look at him and think about how lucky he is to grow up here!  His experiences growing up are and will be completely different than mine.  His perspective on life and his worldview are being molded right now, as he learns to speak (two languages, which to him, is one big language) and as he interacts with the world around him.  Since we moved to Haiti before he turned two years old, I know he will know nothing other than this life.  His world is different in such a neat way.  It’s so much more adventurous!

The night before Rob takes a moto trip to visit a church, he usually sets out all his gear, since he usually leaves pretty early.  Braden loves to try it all on!











He loves being outside!  We really enjoying going to this area called Tet Simon.  It’s 2 big hills with cows and other animals grazing.  Rob and I like to go to see the sunset and the kids love to run across the hills, jumping over the cow “patties”.  These pics are a true example of Braden’s personality.  Don’t back up and step on the cow poop, Braden!









Every day transportation is much different for us here too.  No piling the kids in the minivan!  Here is how I usually transport all three kids.



Drew doesn’t usually ride like this—he just jumped on the side to pose for the picture.  He usually climbs on the back and holds on to me.




Braden loves climbing on the rocks and he loves his Daddy.








At 2 & 1/2, he understands two languages, is learning to speak 2 languages, gets to ride motorcycles and four-wheelers,  and plays outside all day.  What a great life!


He just walked by, looked at the picture of himself and Daddy and said, “Look, me chita la with Daddy on me rock!”  Haha!  I love his Crenglish!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Afternoon Tour at SEED

It’s been so hard to blog lately.  Sorry for the silence.  It’s not as if there is nothing going on!  There is plenty, but I find I often don’t have the words for what we are doing/experiencing.  I finally got some pics off of our camera, so I have a few posts to update you on what we’ve been up to as a family.

This afternoon, I took Drew and Tessa to SEED for a tour of their agronomy facilities.  Drew has been saying for over 8 months that he wants to be an agronomist when he grows up and it was our first chance to tour the fields and where they keep their animals.  SEED is a ministry that provides agronomy training to Haitians.  Students take classes to earn a degree and participate in all things agronomy.  Are you wondering what agronomy is?  Wikipedia had a great definition: Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, feed, fiber, and reclamation.  Here, it also involves animal husbandry as well.

SEED is where we purchase our eggs and milk.  I pick up my gallon of milk every Friday, fresh from the cow.   We pasteurize it at home.  We also get some beautiful produce!  The eggplant parmesan I showed Carline how make this past week was absolutely delicious thanks to the beautiful eggplant we bought from SEED.  Broccoli season is at it’s peak in January, so I bought a ton of it and froze it.  It’s been really nice to have romaine lettuce lately—we can normally only find iceberg in the market in town. They also raise broiler chickens.

Frantz Clotaire, the director of SEED, took us on our tour.  Tessa was most excited to see the animals.  Drew was most excited to see the fields.  Here Frantz helped Tessa pet, then hold this baby goat.  He also showed Drew how they formed the rows to plant beets.










We saw fields of rice, cabbage, carrots, beets, leeks, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, and eggplant.  We got to visit the nursery where the seedlings are started and stored until ready for planting.

IMG_7310We saw seedlings for broccoli, tomatoes, leeks, onions, beets, peppers, cabbage, papaya trees, & tropical cedar trees.







Then we went out to the fields to find one of the milk-producing cows.  This cow just had a calf a week ago and is a very good milk producer right now!  We watched Frantz move her to a better pasture and learned about the fields of elephant grass they produce for the cows (tall grass) and goats (short grass).  She was pretty happy to moved to a field full of elephant grass—she started eating right away!



Thank you Mr. Frantz for a fun and interesting afternoon!