Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Friday, July 31, 2009

To market, to market, to buy fresh mole (mow-lay!)

We went to the market today in search of mole verde (MOW-lay). Hahaha, I have a list of food items that I am trying to gather and bring home since we have the car. The collection is mounting in my bedroom and it looks like a restaurant could be opened at any moment! Sea salt, orange blossom honey, pink pinenuts, chia seeds, etc. The woman who cleans the house is from Oaxaca, and told us which market has the best moles, so we were off. For those who have not tried mole, it is basically a sauce that is made from grinding seeds/nuts, chiles, spices, and sometimes chocolate. When you buy it as a paste, you reconstitute it with chicken stock and then serve it on chicken, pork, or turkey. Most times it is spicey, but it can even be a little sweet. The famous places in Mexico to eat mole are Puebla (mole poblano), and Oaxaca (many kinds). The first picture is of different moles, and then the different chiles they use:

Here is some fresh canela (cinnamon):

Lots of beans and legumes:

Yummy piloncillo! Piloncillo is basically UNrefined sugar- very sweet and caramelly. When they cut the sugar cane, the juice that comes out is boiled and then poured into molds to harden. People here regard it as healthier because it is unrefined. I don't know if it is exactly "healthy" (it is sugar!) but it definitely tastes better than regular sugar!

So the mole we bought was mole almendrado (a mixture of almonds, chocolate, chiles, and I'm not sure what else) and mole verde (a mixture of pumpkin seeds, greens, epazote, chiles, and more). I will let you know how our chicken in mole verde comes out!
Here is the fruit stand across from the mole stand:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cooking and Enjoying Family

Yum, whole fish backed in salt!!! We cook kind-of elaborately every day for "lunch," which in Mexico is usually around 2 (although in this house we usually eat lunch around 5, which really is more like dinner, but anyway, it works for everyone). I am getting so many amazing recipes from Tonio's mom!!! Simple, healthy, delicious dishes that I can't wait to try. While we were cooking, Tio Mayo came over (T's brother) and played with the kids. There is something about Mario that makes Maya giggle, flirt, and run away everytime she sees him. So cute!

In Search Of....

Tonio, we looked EVERYWHERE for the eucalyptus honey you asked us for, even driving to the lago by your high school- to no avail. They don't make it anymore! We did get you some orange blossom honey that tastes good but I know it's not the same! For those of you not familiar with the abundant types of honey- depending on what flowers the bees use to produce the honey, the honey has a slightly different taste and color.
You can read about honey's natural healing powers here:
In Mexico it is used if you have a cold or sore throat, for it's antibacterial property on wounds, and on burns to increase healing time and reduce scarring. Here we are at the honey shop:
Maya fell asleep for a bit:
Adorable Inaki!!!

Mexico City: View to and from Camp

I thought I would show you some pictures of our 15 minute drive to and from day camp. Mexico City aka Mexico DF (DF= Distrito Federal, kind-of like Washington DC) is one of the oldest and largest cities in the world. The population is between 22 and 25 million depending on who you ask, though some people in the city say this does not count migrant workers, homeless people, or families that live in temporary/make-shift houses. No matter how you look at it, it's huge. Because it is built on several fault lines, there are not a lot of highrises (though this is changing as architectural technology designs skyscrapers that are more resistant to earthquakes). In the Aztec times, Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) was a floating city built with Venice-like canals on an island in Lake Texcoco. Some canals still exist at present-day Xochimilco (where we will be celebrating Tonio's birthday next week- look for pictures!) This water was later pumped out, but this depletion of water beneath the city is causing it to sink: the city has sunk 30 feet in the last century. As evidence, you can see the stairs they build UP to the Angel de la Independencia as the ground around it sinks, or the huge Cathedral in the Zocalo slanting as it "floats" on huge marble slabs.


It is 7800 ft above sea level (2400 meters), which is about a mile and a half up- I still sometimes get out of breath running up the stairs! When you land in Mexico City, the immensity boggles your mind- the valley between all of the volcanoes and mountains is blanketed with apartments and houses, with green patches, and long highways snaking through the cement cubes. The brightly colored houses are slowly crawling up the surrounding mountains, and have completely covered various peaks. On a clear day, the peaks of 2 well-known volcanoes can be seen: Popocatepetl and Itzacihuatl. The story that I have heard about these volcanos goes like this- Popocatepetl and Itzacihuatl were in love. Popo was an Aztec warrior who went off to fight some enemies, while Itza stayed behind and waited for him. A jealous person told Itza that he had died in the war, and Itza was so broken-hearted she laid down and died (they also call this mountain the sleeping woman). Then when Popo came back and saw that his lover was dead he knelt down by her body and also died. I haven't had my camera with me to capture the volcano image yet, but I will try to get a picture before I leave.


Here are some pictures on the way to day camp:

Almost to Tonio's house:

Tonio's street:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Frida Kahlo and Jaws!

Today was "Famous Person" Day at camp today- check out our little Jaws and Frida! The best part was walking up to Vivi's group and seeing her realize that her favorite counselor was also dressed as Frida!!! Vivi's jaw dropped as she pointed from her unibrow to her teacher's. It was great. Googling Frida and showing Vivi a picture of her with her pet monkey (cool!) helped to convince her to let me paint her face with my make-up. Neither of the kids knew who their "people" were; Tonito just knew he wanted to wear his hat (which he has not taken off since Sunday when we bought it, even sleeping in it), and Vivi wanted to be a princess.

Poor little Maya has been suffering from Montezuma's revenge for over a week. She is not feeling well, is in a bad mood, and just wants to hang out. Don't worry mom and Tonio- I am keeping her very hydrated and following the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Zacango Zoo, Metepec and Lunch in the Mountains

Today we caravanned (4 full minivans/SUVs) to the Zacango Zoo, about an hour from Mexico City: grandparents, great-grandma, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc:). On the way from the parking lot to the entrance, the kids found some animal hats that 'ito graciously got them- Tonito chose a tiburon (shark), Vivi got a delfin (dolphin), and Maya, a pink elefante! Sorry my accent marks are not working right now!

The drive was beautiful: out of the city and into heavily forested mountains. It's amazing for me to see cactuses next to pine and cypress trees (or even palm trees) because pines remind me of Minnesota, cactuses should be in the desert, and palm trees on the beach!? And yet here we are in the mountains!? Anyway, the zoo was lush with all of the above foliage, and the kids kept us busy running from animal to animal. Vivi even got to see her beloved lemurs!

Here's the whole group from the back left to right: ito, cousin Juan Enrique, cousin Mario Enrique, Aunt Tere, Uncle Mario, Tia Tere, cousin Mario Alfredo, Uncle Mario Alberto. In the middle left to right: cousin Natalia, great-grandma Tete, ita, Aunt Normita, Uncle Roberto, Tonito, Aunt Sandra. In the front left to right: cousin Abril with Inaki, Vivi, me with Maya. We were just missing a couple of cousins, and of course Tonio! Check out the repetition of the names:). Very Mexican, right mi amor?

For some adorable reason, Tonito became BEST friends with Juan Enrique (Tonio's cousin) and wouldn't let him go the whole day. He was carried, held his hand, rode on his shoulders, etc.

Above- see Tonito eating "fruit gazpacho"- cut up mango, jicama, and pineapple in orange juice, lime juice, salt, and we didn't add chile.

After our adventure at the zoo we had a little snack "Mommy! It's the same pink hair we ate on our field trip!"

We drove through Metepec and I snapped these pictures from the car. The first picture is a typical artesania from this area, the "Arbol de la Vida" (Tree of Life) with tiny clay figures attached to a tree. They can have either a Nativity scene in the middle, or Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, or just a celebration of God's creatures, etc.

We ate on the side of a mountain (I was too busy to take a picture, but trust me- picturesque!) at a little restaurant with it's own pond for you to fish out trouts for dinner that they would prepare steamed or fried with cilantro, limes, etc. Tonito, Maya and I each ordered a Tlacoyo (kind-of like a thick blue torilla filled with beans) topped with avocado, nopales (cactus), fresh cheese, red pepper, and cilantro. We all loved it! Vivi got Sopa Azteca, aka Torilla Soup. She wasn't thrilled about the cheese melting in the soup, but she did finish it!

After playing for a couple of hours and running around crazy like they owned the restaurant (well, we were the only patrons there), they all crashed in the car on the way home. The kids loved their hats so much they slept with them on:)----