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Friday, November 11, 2016

A Short Review of Beer: Pacifico

Hello readers!

Sorry things have been dead around here for the past few months. There's been alot going on in my life. I'll get the details written out at some point when I have the time and energy.

Since today was my birthday (yes, it really is), one of the goodies I got was a mix-n-match six pack of beers. I picked out a few that I'd seen and wanted to try out, including this classic Mexican beer, Pacifico. My husband had told me about this beer as he'd drank it in Mexico when he was working there in the early '90s as part of a group that built night clubs (discotecas, as they're called in Spanish) along the eastern shores of the Sea of Cortez (AKA Gulf of California) in Sonora and Sinaloa. It was not his favorite beer, but it was better than drinking the water when something was needed to wash down the bags of boiled shrimp purchased from roadside vendors.

Got a new phone for my birthday. This is one of the ways I tested out the new camera on it


Like many Mexican beers, Pacifico goes back to the beginning of the 20th Century. Based out of the city of Mazatlan, the brewery, like many others from around this time period, was started by German immigrants who brought beer making skills and techniques with them from Europe. Their brewery, Cerveceria del Pacifico, got its name from Mazatlan's location as a Pacific port city and bears the city's lighthouse rock as part of its logo. The style of the beer is classified as a pilsner-style lager, according to the company's website.

What makes Pacifico stand out among the many Mexican beers that made their way into American bars and liquor stores was that it was introduced to the US by a group of surfers from southern California who took a surfing trip to Mexico in the 1970s and upon discovering the local brew in Mazatlan, they brought several cases with them back to California. Needless to say, it was a different time and Pacifico beer was well received in this country.

As for the beer itself, Pacifico has a light taste and a clear gold color. It's not watery, however. There is some body to it. The alcohol content is also pretty low, around 4.5%. It's a good hot-weather beer and something you can enjoy with boiled shrimp, tacos, barbecue, etc because of its mild taste.

Even though my husband didn't care much for it, I rather enjoyed Pacifico. While Grupo Modelo is not my favorite brewing company in Mexico (they make the infamous Coronas and Negro Modelo beers), they did alright when they consolidated and got Cerveceria del Pacifico. I will definitely be buying this again.

As always, please enjoy responsibly.

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Picture of the Day

Here's some cuteness to start off the month of September

We recently came into a haul of baby clothes from our friend. Her daughter had outgrown the clothes, so we inherited them. Our friend brought them over when she came by on Monday, and our toddler daughter was intrigued by the headbands. So, we just had to put it on her!

A flower child in bloom


Needless to say, it didn't stay on very long. Rubber bands, barrettes, headbands, nothing keeps my kid's hair out of her face! My mother keeps nagging us to trim her bangs, but I don't want to. Her curls are too cute to cut!

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Cheating Death

Good evening!

Let me start off this post by thanking God that I am alive to write it. Saturday, I had a brush with death and I still can't fully wrap my head around what happened.

I'm watchin' you...

It all started on Friday when my hubby and I went to visit our friend to provide emotional support and act as witnesses because Child Protective Services was invading her house on totally bogus charges made by a former acquaintance. He contacted CPS and made up outrageous claims to get back at her for getting rid of his stuff which he had dropped off at her house and refused to come back and pick it up when she told him to (he also texted and emailed her what he was going to do, so there are legal grounds for prosecution against him for this too). Thankfully, our good deed worked and the CPS caseworker closed the case. After the caseworker left, my husband took our friend to get some cigarettes and she accidentally left her phone in the car. None of us realized that she'd done this, and it wasn't until we got home and I was cleaning out the cupholder when I saw it was there. Since it was getting dark and my hubby had to change out the grommet on the gas tank (it was very worn and leaked fuel every time we filled the tank more than halfway), I figured we'd go by her house the next day and drop it off before going to Confession. It was her only working phone and I didn't want her to be stuck without it for long.

Saturday was spent doing housework and working on the car (the gas tank was fixed, but that damned electrical short has returned!). We were aiming to go to our friend's home first and then to Confession in the evening, but first we had to stop and get gas. My husband and I observed that the tank itself was in good condition (there was not a spot of rust or perforation anywhere inside that tank when I looked into it as my husband was replacing the grommet the previous day), and he wanted to see how much gas it held when completely filled. The screen at the pump read 24 gallons when my husband had to manually stop the pump because the tank was overfilling. He was thrilled because that meant our cholomobile's gas tank was a full-size tank appropriate to a C-body Mopar (they ranged in size from 23-26 gallons)!

And that was when all hell broke loose.

As my husband was pumping air into the rear air shocks, he saw to his horror that the fuel line had ruptured on the car! Gasoline was spilling onto the concrete and if the leak wasn't stopped, the scene could get deadly in a hurry. My husband got under the car and stuck his finger in the leak to stop it while I ran into the store with the baby in one arm and a 5 gallon bucket in the other to fill with water and wash off the gasoline that was now dousing my husband. One of the assistants in the gas station also came to our aid by filling up the bucket with water and pouring it on my husband, getting me the number to a local cab company so I could call and get a ride to the nearby auto parts store to get replacement fuel line, and calling the fire department to help contain and manage the highly flammable mess.

Kaboom!


Fortunately, the cab arrived at the gas station within 10 minutes and transported the baby and I to the auto parts store. The cabbie was kind enough to wait for me in the parking lot while the boy at the register cut me a foot of replacement fuel line (Even though I had part of the original line with me for reference, I would later discover the line the teenage boy at the store sold me was the wrong size, but I didn't realize it until much later after we got home). The fire department was just leaving when I came back and paid the cabbie for his service. They had sprayed my husband down with a soapy foam mixture to wash the gasoline off of him. His clothes were ruined and he sustained first degree chemical burns on parts of his back (gasoline is a corrosive solvent!), but the situation was under control. The gas station's manager threw some sandy substance onto the ground to absorb the water and gas mixture, and my husband put the new fuel line in place. Once it was attached, we went straight home. Our visit to our friend would have to wait till Sunday. After we got home, my husband checked the vent lines of the tank and saw that they were leaking too, but this time, the situation was not as critical. The leaking vent lines were replaced, but it was mostly just overflow from an overfilled gas tank.

As we were driving home, my husband explained to me the gravity of what had just happened. Since gasoline is so flammable (and people are notorious about not following the anti-smoking instructions posted at gas stations), and here he was doused in the stuff, a careless customer who was smoking or talking on a cellphone could have set off a spark which not only would have turned my husband into a human torch, but also turned our car into a gasoline-filled bomb. The baby and I could very easily have been caught in the blazing inferno, as well as other customers and their cars. The fire department would have been dealing with casualties and alot of destruction. In fact, just before they left, the firemen thanked my husband for his quick thinking to get under the car and plug the line before calling them because his action had saved lives and property.

Angels watchin' over me


I used to wonder about how I'd react when faced with my own mortality. Would I be indifferent? Would I fight back or cry? Would I be relieved to finally cross over the threshold so few return from? Well, here I was, one spark away from meeting God face to face, and I was...numb. I'd been so hopped up on adrenaline, racing to get the replacement fuel line and water all while toting the baby in one arm, that the idea that I might die because of the gas fumes igniting didn't even register on my radar. Even now, a few days later, I still can't believe how close I came to meeting a grisly end. And, that was without anything actually happening. My guardian angel was working overtime to make sure nothing happened to us, or anyone else.

As for our friend's phone, we got it back to her on Sunday afternoon before we went to church. She was freaked out when I told her how close we came to getting barbecued on Saturday evening at the gas station because of the ruptured fuel line. Unfortunately, she couldn't come to church with us, but she was glad to see we were ok and to have her phone back.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Experiment

Happy Sunday, dear readers.

Success! You CAN mix meat and veggies in a pita!



Last night, I decided to try something new. I knew I was gonna make a pita, but I wasn't sure how it would turn out. The reason for this doubt was because I was making pita with both meat and vegetable filling. While meat, vegetable, as well as cheese are common pita fillings, I've never seen meat and vegetable combined in a pita filling before. I had ground beef and spinach, and I wanted to use that for my pita.

Unsure, if anyone else had made a meat and spinach pita, I consulted the oracle known as Google for help finding a recipe. There was nothing in English, and when I searched the Serbian-language net, I did find one recipe for meat and spinach pita from Montenegro. I thank God for giving me the inspiration to watch cooking tutorials in Serbian because even though I've never been particularly proficient in the language, I now could read and follow a recipe in a language other than my dominant English. I looked at the ingredient list and though I had almost all the ingredients the recipe called for, I did not have sour cream. No matter, I would substitute a cup of milk instead.

There was one other novelty I was trying out with this pita. While at the swap meet a few weeks ago, I bought a 10x10 Corningware casserole baking dish with a lid. I'd washed it and was now ready to test it out with my pita. I intended to make the pita on my barbecue after the resounding success of my most recent attempt, but a summer storm blew through and not only put the kaibosh on that plan, but it cooled down the temperature enough to where I could run the oven inside and not turn my home into a furnace.

Using my handy dandy cast iron pan, I browned the meat, onion, and garlic. For spices, I added salt, pepper, a dusting of paprika, and a pinch of turmeric to enhance the flavor of the beef. I added the spinach last, but not before roughly chopping it. In the last pita I made using spinach filling, I didn't alter the spinach and I didn't like the way it lay for the filling. I decided to try the chopped spinach to see how well it lay in the filling. All this went into my mixing bowl filled with milk and beaten eggs.

Assembling the pita itself was actually much easier in this casserole dish than it was in the old recycled aluminum cinnamon roll tin I'd been using previously to bake pitas. The casserole dish is square, and the rectangular fillo dough sheets lay much better in that than in the round aluminum tin. I didn't even need to use that much oil to grease the fillo dough sheets between layers. Sure enough, the chopped spinach lay in the folds of fillo much better than they previously did. It wasn't until after I'd popped the pita into the oven that I realized I forgot to add the baking powder to the filling. To be fair, though, until recently, I had no idea that baking powder was used in pita filling. Growing up, nobody I knew used it. Baking powder helps the fillo dough puff up some, so that the pita isn't so dense.

After baking for about an hour or so until the top was a gorgeous golden brown color, it was time to answer the ultimate question: how did this pita turn out.

A better shot of the fillo and filling


The answer: delicious! The outsides were nice and crispy, the inside was nice and tender, and the filling wasn't too dense either! Having a dairy product in the filling definitely helps. Next time, though, I will add the baking powder. I may or may not use the sour cream too, given how satisfied I was with the milk, but if I get some, I'll use it just to see how it compares. But that casserole dish was a wonderful investment. For $10, I leveled up my pita baking to a whole new level. I don't have to be ghetto about my baking equipment anymore! Also, this pita confirmed that despite being somewhat rare, you CAN mix meat and vegetables in a pita filling, and it will come out tasting delicious.

I've almost gotten my pita making technique down pat. Thank you for bearing with me while I figure out how to make this classic dish from my ancestors.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

A Trip to the Dentist

It has been a long day, dear readers.

Today, we had to be up early because the baby had a dentist appointment. The pediatrician wanted her to see a dentist before her next checkup, so we contacted the local low-cost community dental clinic and got her appointment scheduled for today.

Gotta make sure my kid has strong teeth, just like my favorite baseball player from my late teen years, Carlos Quentin!


There weren't many people in the waiting room when we arrived, but because we were new patients, we had to arrive extra early to fill out the mountains of paperwork that come with that designation. I checked the baby in and was about halfway through filling out the paperwork when the baby was called in to be seen. I followed the hygienist to the suite while my hubby stayed behind to finish the paperwork.

Being a dentist's daughter, I'm no stranger to the dentist's office and chair. But, because my father was my dentist, I had very little exposure to what other dentists offices looked like. I was quite surprised how clean and orderly the dental suites were. My dad's office suddenly felt dingy and obsolete compared to this one. Then again, it's been years since I last saw my dad's office. I have no idea what he's done with it since. He's remodeled it once before.

We met the dentist, a kind Filipino who advised me to brush the baby's teeth twice a day instead of the once-daily night brushes I'd been doing and to limit her sugary juice and food intake, but otherwise her teeth looked good. The baby has never been into bottles and she wasn't real crazy about pacifiers, so that probably saved her mouth some serious damage in the long run. He gave the baby a quick brushing with some kiddie toothpaste and a quick fluoride treatment to strengthen her teeth. The dentist finished up the visit with some brushing instructions, a goodie bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, some floss sticks, and a sticker for the baby, who put up a loud squall as he did his work. After he left, the hygienist was kind enough to set up the next appointment six months from now.

Time for a boo-boo treaty! Not this Crapple pie, but something better!


After checking out, I went back to the waiting room with the baby to collect my husband and leave. We then went grocery shopping where we bought the baby some fruit for her being a good patient today.

And that was how I spent my Friday.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Success!

Hello everyone!

I reached a very important milestone yesterday on my journey to becoming a good cook. For the first time, I successfully baked a pita in my bbq! I made a meat pita because thanks to that damned power outage on Monday, the fillo dough and half-pack of ground beef were thawed out and needed to be eaten.

Mekike


I'd spent the morning making mekike, a kind of Serbian fried bread snack similar to a doughnut, using a Serbian-language recipe I borrowed from my favorite Serbian-language Youtube cook, Jelajelena Petrovic. However, I knew that for the pita, I was gonna have to cook it outside because I didn't feel like heating up the kitchen a second time to brown the meat. It took quite a bit longer to brown the meat on the grill than it would on the stove. I think it was my coals because this was the second time I was using them. I normally reuse coals when I barbecue because it stretches the supply of charcoal that I have, and out of a batch, I can usually get two or three grill sessions out of it before they're too spent to be used.

Though it was much better this time around than the last pita I tried baking on the bbq, there were a few minor mishaps with this pita. The first mishap was that I'd forgotten to add a spot of oil to my cast iron pan to fry the onions and garlic before adding the meat. I normally wouldn't forget this, but having one arm full of baby and the other holding my cast iron frying pan filled with meat, garlic, onion, and spices, it completely slipped my mind. Good thing the ground beef I was using was 80/20, so it wasn't too lean and there would be fat runoff from the cooking process.

The second mishap was that I ran out of fillo sheets! I thought I'd have enough, but as it turned out, I didn't. My husband then informed me after I mentioned this that the half-pack of ground beef I'd cooked was two pounds, not one like I thought it was. Now, I know for sure that it's one pound of meat per one roll of fillo dough. My husband didn't mind it, though. He's not crazy about breading.

Finally, the third mishap had to do with the coals. Aside from the low heat level coming off of them when I was browning the meat, they actually went out during the baking process! When I went outside about 20 minutes after setting the pita to bake in the barbecue, I saw that the coals had gone out and so I had to take everything off the grill and light a fresh batch. Once this task was completed and everything was put back on the grill to bake, I'd intended to come back out 20 minutes later to check on the pita.

Except, I fell asleep.

I was feeling tired and thought I'd close my eyes for a few minutes to recharge, and wound up dozing off for an hour or so. When I woke back up and realized how long I'd been asleep, I suddenly remembered that I still had that pita on the bbq! I thought for sure it was gonna be an inedible hunk of charcoal, but to my great relief, I saw the nice golden crust of pita when I took the lid off the grill to have a look.

Taken the next day. Yes, I had to eat some of it. I couldn't resist my creation


While there was a bit of charcoal smoke flavor in the top layers of the pita, the dish actually tasted pretty well. The simple spices of paprika, salt, and pepper all blended nicely with the flavor of the fillo dough. It actually didn't come out that greasy either, despite my accidentally pouring glops of oil on the fillo and the bottom wasn't terribly burned either. It was nice and crispy on the outside while tender on the inside, like a good pita should be.

My meat pita from the inside. I ran out of fillo dough and basically did a giant meat dump on the last layer before covering it. It still tasted good, though.


Despite the few mishaps, I was so happy that my pita came out so well. Now, I can try baking something else. My family and I went to the swap meet tonight and I bought a small square casserole baking dish that was sorely needed (I was hoping to find a 9x13 baking dish, but no one had it. I did notice an awful lot of small crockpots, though). I think maybe I'll make lasagna next. My husband would like that, though I'm not sure how to get past the cheese hurdle(I don't like ricotta cheese and he can't eat melted cheese). Time to do a little research on this...

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Outage

Greetings everyone, I hope your day's been well.

Our August kicked off with a power outage. As I was cruising the net while the baby took her nap, the power suddenly went out! What was strange about it was that not all the trailer was out of power; the bathroom had power as did about half the kitchen. Naturally, I thought a fuse had blown. My husband was on his way home from a job, and when I sent him a message alerting him to what was going on before the deep-cycle battery on the server died and kicked me offline, he was not far from home. Since I'm quite inexperienced in dealing with electricity, I waited until he got home before opening up the electrical panel and checking the fuses. In the meantime, I plugged the bedroom fan into the bathroom outlet so that we could at least stay cool in there.

Zap! (pic found here)

After my husband finally got home, he checked the fuses and all seemed fine. It was when he checked the phases on the main in our lot that we discovered what was wrong. Our phase was ok, but the one from the power company was dead! After alerting the sleezy park management about the outage and checking with the neighbors (some had no power, some were partially powered like us, but most had power), we contacted the power company who informed us that there were no reported outages in the area. The power went out around 11:30AM, and save for some intermittent phase testing, wasn't fully restored until about 11PM. In the meantime, we had a small 800W alternator to power some fans, the fridge, and some of the computers so we weren't totally offline. But, I was largely offline because my computer's battery was out and my phone was barely charging from the weak power supply in the living room. The alternator also died for a bit because a plug wire had shorted out, but my husband was able to fix it and get it going again. Thank God for the monsoons because they cooled off the weather here, though it was quite humid.

Seriously, one of these days, the park is gonna look like this if the wiring issues aren't addressed. This outage isn't the first time we've experienced problems with the park's wiring, or other utilities for that matter.

What was the cause of this most inconvenient power outage? As it turned out, the wires feeding our part of the park were old aluminum wires (copper is the standard now and has been since the 1970s) which were NOT encased in any sort of protective pipe covering and had essentially broken apart from a massive short when a nearby leaking faucet eroded the insulation. Negligence combined with greed caused this problem. The sleezy park management has no problems taking rent money from tenants, but oh are they loath to spend anything on maintaining the park's infrastructure and prefer to cut corners on both materials and competent labor. 

My husband would periodically go up to where the park's main was (where the short had occurred) to check on the progress of the repairs, and make sure the handyman (he's a good neighbor of ours and has known us from a previous park we lived in) was ok. The handyman had to dig a hole around the broken live wires so the electrician could get to them and the only thing separating him from meeting God Almighty was a shovel with a fiberglass handle. Once the power was restored, we gave him a few beers in gratitude as he passed by our trailer on his way home.

And that was my Monday.