I know, I know. It's been more than three weeks since we posted. Dash those thoughts of us going AWOL and lounging around on a remote tropical beach! We've had missionaries leaving and missionaries coming (1st week), Zone Leader Council (2nd week), and Zone Conference (this week). It's not like we're in charge of these three big events, just involved, and that coupled with our regular duties of bill paying, apartment contract writing, supply ordering, trips to the post office, piano lessons, English classes--there's no time to tell you about it. I've got to start making a list of the life snippets that are interesting so they will resurface in my memory when the world finally simmers down and I can think of blogging.
What we do is so ordinary most days, but it's never dull. If we ever experience a hint of boredom we can always venture out into the city to liven things up. (Surely thoughts from a twisted mind.) It happened today though; we'd worked all morning--watched a shower-is-on rain storm, visited with a few people who stopped in, went upstairs for lunch. We needed to get out for a bit, so why not make our post office run today instead of tomorrow?
Sometimes it's an easy trip.
I sat there enjoying Kevin's company (remember--we can see each other while we work in the office if we crane our necks, and the easiest way to get his attention is to pick up the phone and dial 15) for the first 15 minutes. Then it was big traffic and car-to-car salesmen at the stop lights. Our easy chat was over and we were both on high alert for weaving motorcycles and darting pedestrians. At the post office we found no line for the metered mail and a looong line for the packages. We go to three different windows to take care of our postal needs. I only had to get firm with one fellow who stood and watched me take postage money out of the little bag, then approached me in case I wanted to share what was left with him. DILI! And an firm look.
Kevin on the other hand was cooling his heals in the package line with six package cards. If only they were interested in his innovative ideas for increased efficiency! Really, his brain never quits, and most of the time his ideas are very good. Anyway, I took half the cards and went to the sub-line for small packages, a divide and conquer efficiency measure. He got his packages fast, and my part really needed his efficiency ideas.
The line compressed. I think the Filipinos were even uncomfortable at how close we were all standing, but nobody budged. It's an open air post office you know; no air conditioning to keep us all calm during our wait. Kevin took his packages to the car, then came back to wait for me. Our eyes met across the crowd. I have no doubt that mine rolled, (this is NOT a Filipino thing like raising your eyebrows is) and I mouthed, "I must be crazy", thinking that this little outing was my idea.
Back at the office we were greeted by the assistants and President and Sister Hansen who were finishing the last details to get out the door to Zone Conferences off island. Oh they are such fine folks! Those Assistants--Elder Curtis and Elder Deiparine are joys to work with. We couldn't ask for better neighbors, and they are kind, thoughtful and patient with us old folks in all our office details. President and Sister Hansen scurry around at such a rate that I don't even have a picture of them. Soon.
Elder Curtis and Elder Deiparine on the right, with Elder Nicoleta and Elder--oh dear--I can't think of his name. You know--the one with dark hair and eyes?
We spent last weekend in Bogo, but before we left town we hiked up to a new place. It's a left turn up the mountain a ways, then drive slowly, twisting and turning. Park, and you are ready for a magnificent walk. Our current hiking criteria is anything on a road, and please give us some elevation so we won't sauna to death. This one fit the bill to a tee. There was wind that almost made the air feel dry. What a sensory feast! Feel it on your skin, and hear it. Ahhh.
There are stands of giant bamboo that are nature's wind chimes. They creak and clack in a most musical way.
It was Kevin, Kaikai and me. Our walk took us up the mountain to a beautiful visita that we've promised to return to when we have time to sit and eat a little good food and not worry about what else has to be done that day.
On our way back down we met this goat named Fran. We've met plenty of goats since we got here, and I'm sorry to say that goats are the next feast or celebration. They are very easy to live with and care for since they will eat almost anything. Just tie them up where there are weeds or grass and they will be content until you return for them. Anyway, Fran. It was like she had a sense of us as human beings, and if she could talk she would have had something to say to us. Odd to have thoughts like this about a goat. Wouldn't you say she "wanted" her picture taken? There were two other goats who tried to join her, but she head butted them away and posed for me.
I swear she's smiling!
This is just a pier shot at 5:30 in the morning last weekend in Bogo. Looks like a lake, doesn't it? The water was so still it made us drool for thoughts of water skiing. None of that here though, just fishing.
Kevin and I have been mulling over the concept of balance lately. We keep seeking it--practicing it, having to practice it more. There is so much interesting stuff to do and experience here. Unfortunately our middle-aged bodies need enough rest. Gone are the days of burning the candle at both ends. I have balance thoughts about blogging too. I'd like to blog more often and shorter. I look at my entries and wonder if anyone reads something so long. Well, pick and choose and I'll see what I can do. No promises, but it might be like nibbling on the Philippines instead of huge meals.
Bye for now. We pray for you every day, and are grateful for your prayers in our behalf.
Time for a new recipe--Steamed White Fish & Veggies
This is our favorite Sunday dinner; quick, nutritious, delicious!
In a large non-stick skillet layer the following: A thin layer of thick-slice onion rings and a few garlic cloves. This means you will still be able to see the bottom of the skillet but there are enough rings to hold your fillet off the direct heat.
Your fish fillet(s), rinsed. Give it a hearty lemon peppering, or use any other herbs or spices that suit you. Most white fish is mild so it will take on the flavors of what's cooked with it.
Sori sori to finish filling the skillet. Now don't run and hide because you don't have any idea what sori sori is! It' simply mixed vegetables that are stir fry compatible. You might be able to find it at your grocery store, a convenience item in the produce department, or you can cut up your own vegetables for these purposes, or those bags of frozen veggies would work too. Consider using bite-size anything, including winter squashes, eggplant, okra, celery, carrots, broccoli, more onions, mushrooms. Get the picture? Go ahead and fill up your skillet. It will be tasty.
Add a drizzle of olive oil or zesty Italian dressing, more seasoning if you wish, and you're ready for the burner. Start it on med-high until it's steaming then turn it to med-low. You didn't add any water, but the natural moisture in your fish and veggies should juice things up.
Check in 15-20 minutes. You want the veggies tender-crisp and the fish flakey.
Remove to a platter and serve with red or brown rice. Mmmm!
Bean and Bacon Soup
It's September tomorrow so you can reasonably think about cooking up a nice, cozy pot of soup--at least soon! We've done it from time to time also--just turned down the air conditioner and pretended it's was chilly autumn day!
This recipe is like delux Campbell's Bean & Bacon Soup. The dash of liquid smoke (find it in the spice aisle) it what makes it. We add a little milk for a creamy version, and make sure your beans are cooked until they're tender.
2 c. small white beans - soaked overnight 6 strips crispy fried bacon - minced 3 med. carrots - minced 3 med. stalks celery - minced 1/2 t. thyme 2 cloves minced garlic 4 oz. tomato paste 1 dash red pepper flakes 6 c. water, more if needed 1 T. wine vinegar few drops Liquid Smoke salt & peper to taste
Soak beans overnight and discard water. Place beans, water & bacon in a large kettle and simmer until beans are tender. Add remaining ingredients except for the salt and vinegar and simmer 30-60 minutes more. Add salt & vinegar. Puree 1-2 cups of soup and return to the pot. Mmmmm.
You need good bread to go with your Bean and Bacon Soup! This is a recipe for artisan bread that a good friend gave me. It is OUR bread here--there is no such thing as Philippine bread with substance, especially not whole grain. I bake it a couple of times a week and usually share part of the 12" round with missionaries.
You can use all white flour, all whole wheat, (I do 5 c. wheat, 1 c. white) or be creative and add some rye flour. Herbs are also very good--about 2 T. per batch. Italian Blend is good, dill seeds would be good (can't get them here--maybe I'll ask for some for Christmas), cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg would give this recipe a completely different face.
6 c. flour 1 t. yeast 2 t. salt 3 c. water
Mix these four ingredients together in a bowl with a lid. This part takes about 5 minutes. You don't knead it--just mix with a spoon or paddle until the flour is all incorporated. Cover and let rise for 10-12 hours. I usually mix it up first thing in the morning then bake it when we return from the office.
When it has risen for whatever time you allow (sometimes more, sometimes less--very flexible) dump it out onto a floured surface, coat it with flour and shape into a round. Put it on a tray or large plate and let it rise for 45-60 minutes. This step also takes 5 minutes or less. Once again, the rise time is flexible. I haven't made a single loaf that wasn't good, except for the one that I cremated because I forgot it.
When the 2nd rise time is approaching done, turn on the oven to 450. Put a large covered cassarole (I use a wok) in the oven to heat, including the lid. No need to grease. When it's good and hot (be careful now!) take it out of the oven and invert your bread loaf into it. You might think, ack! the pretty side is on the bottom! Don't worry. It will bake out just fine. Put the lid on and bake for 40-45 minutes. When you take it out of the oven it will slide easily onto a cooling rack.
Bean soup and whole wheat bread. You've just created a complete protein. Good job.
Asparagas, Red Pepper & Potato Salad
This is a GREAT recipe--a fresh, healthy twist to veggies! You can double it and use a single recipe of the dressing. 1 # new red potatoes 1 # asparagus pieces 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded 1/2 c. slivered red onion
Dressing: 5 T. spicy brown mustard 6 T. balsamic vinegar 1 1/2 T. brown sugar 3/4 t. kosher salt 1/4 t. black pepper 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced 6 T. olive oil Tabasco sauce
Scrub potatoes and cook in boiling salted water till tender. Cut into 3/4" cubes and put in a bowl. Steam asparagas (no tough pieces please!) until tender-crisp. Shock in cold water and add to potatoes. Cut red pepper into bite-size sticks and add to rest. Add red onion.
Mix up dressing by stirring all ingredients together, drizzling oil while you whisk constantly to make a creamy dressing. Add Tobasco sauce to your liking.
Drizzle dressing onto vegetables and stir to coat. Serve right away for best asparagas color.
Fresh green beans or broccoli work great in this salad also.