Saturday, September 11, 2010

Honduran Holidays, Crazy Cooking and Weird Weather

Kristen says...

September 11th. I hope everyone takes a minute today to hug the ones they love, and to remember those who lost and were lost on 9/11/01. Thanks to all those who are fighting the War on Terror...your sacrifice is appreciated.

I was surprised that it was September 11 today--had I been in the US, I would have been reminded that it was coming up on a daily basis. I think last year we even did a moment of silence or something at school. Of course, this year the day is on a Saturday, and so we would not have done anything at school, but still, I wouldn't have been surprised, halfway through the day, to realize to stop and remember that day...

As a transplant to Honduras, this week has been full of September 15, or Honduras' Dia de la Independencia (think July 4th, United Staters). Actually, pretty much the whole month of September is a celebration, because the country declared independence on the 15th, but received the official acceptance on, I believe, the 28th. We had an all-school celebration for Flag Day on Sept 1, and then yesterday, our Independence celebration.

We have spent HOURS over the last week at school getting ready for this. Each class was given some part of the country to represent by building a parade float. My homeroom class, 6th grade, was given Comayagua, a city and department (similar to the US States) between here (Teguc) and San Pedro Sula. Here is the float:
The kids worked really hard on it, building factories, billboards, roadside fruit stands (and the road), the Montagua (Tegucigalpan Soccer Team) practice field, and making wood-shaving "rugs" similar to those made in religious festivals in the cities. The large church in the background was made by a parent, but really made a difference in the float.

The celebration was great, full of student-led presentations, Honduran songs and dances, and some speeches. We were also served Honduran foods...yum!!

Of course, one of the best things about it was that we had just a half day of school, and are off on a break through the 15th!That wasn't the only excitement we had at school this past week...on Thursday afternoon I was working on my grades (Quarter 1 grades were due yesterday before we left for the break) when a loud thunderstorm hit the school.

This in itself isn't surprising--it rains at least once every day here, and often in the mid-afternoon. This particular thunderstorm was different, though...louder, and closer-sounding than any other. The elementary schoolers were actually outside for the first few claps, and they all screamed every time one hit. I was surprised the teachers didn't call them in sooner than they did.

They eventually got all the little ones inside, and within 5 minutes the rain came. It was rain, but it sounded different...harder. It sounded like hail! I had my back to the windows, so I didn't see it start, but I could hear it coming down. I went outside and watched as the precipitation turned from a hard rain to a hard hail.

Here is a video...
(it's kind of loud, so you may want to turn down your speakers...oh, and please ignore the dumb things I say...I was a little over-excited, I think!)

and a few pictures to prove it.

We had hail! (the coin is a 20 Centavo coin, about the size of a dime)

(and a flood at school afterwards!)
When I haven't been battling the elements or celebrating Honduran holidays, I have been cooking! Chris plays poker every Thursday with a group of Honduran friends (an excellent way to practice his Spanish, and fun for him to get out, too. The best part is they don't play for money, so it's all in good fun! The only rule is that whoever loses first has to host the game the following week...and guess who lost two weeks in a row... :)

So we had a group of 10 guys over two Thursdays in a row...of course I had to cook wonderful, US dishes. I didn't really mean to turn this blog into a cooking show-and-tell, but since it's what I'm doing a lot of...I thought I would share.

The first week (last week) I made beef and egg noodles...well, Chris made the beef, I made the noodles. I used my Grandma's recipe, and had to do a double-batch because Chris wanted them to be short and thick rather than long and skinny. (I thought I had pictures of this, but apparently not...sorry.)

Egg noodles aren't hard to make, but they are time have to mix the "batter," roll out the noodles, cut them, then let them dry. Since mine were short-fatties, I just left them out all night, but they were still kind of wet when I cooked them. They turned out pretty well, though.

This past Thursday we hosted again, and we decided on pigs in a blanket (hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls). Chris suggested them because they are an easy thing to make...well, they're easy in the States where Pillsbury and your local grocery store provides you with delicious, pre-made rolls. Here, you can get them, but it's quite expensive...more than $5.00/package. So I decided to make them the old-fashioned way, from scratch.

I was talking about this with a fellow teacher, and she sent me a variety of recipes for crescent rolls. (I actually have an awesome recipe from my aunt, but unfortunately, like all my other recipes, it is in my book in the States). I don't know where she got it from, or whose it is, but this is the recipe I used:
  • 2 Tbsp. dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
Basically you put the yeast and water together to rise, then melt the butter and add the milk, then let that cool a bit, add the sugar, salt, and eggs to the foamy yeast, then start mixing in the flour until you can't mix any more.

Then you let the dough rise for a bit (it didn't rise too well, but well enough), then roll out half of it and cut it like a pizza:

Then you take the dogs and, beginning from the fat end of the triangle, roll them up tight. If you run out of hot dogs you can also just make delicious, buttery crescent rolls. Just butter one of the sides, roll them up, and tuck in the edges:

You have to let them rise for an hourish, then you bake them at 400° for 10-12 minutes:

or until they are golden-brown on top:

Serve with ketchup or mustard, or just eat plain. They are soooo good!! (Well, I assume they are good, I didn't get to eat any because the guys had them all.) You can also tuck 1/3 of a Kraft American cheese slice next to the "pig" inside the blanket if you so choose.

Anyway, that is what has been keeping me busy that I have some yeast in the house, I'm going to have to do more baking...I'll keep you posted, if you're interested :)

Happy Independence Day, Hondurans!! :)

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