The Hayes Zoo
- to know God and use our entire lives in service to Him.
- to stand in the gap through prayer, giving and service to viable ministries in Latin America.
- to be transparent helpers of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, using our resources and skills that through the Holy Spirit, we might encourage and equip those who have less.
- to share a living perspective from Latin America to our churches, friends and family in the states and beyond.
Friday, February 26, 2010
I. love. this. chili. Honestly we found them occasionally in the north of Mexico while we were in Madera and Chihuahua and I did the happy dance in the store whenever that happened. More common up there are the Chilacas. (Anaheims in English) While I love those chilies too - they tend to be more spicy with an edgy flavor. Great for Alan, Riley and I; hard on the girls.
So we come to the wonderful world of middle ground.
I found Poblanos first while we were in language school in Chihuahua. One of my teachers LOVED to cook so several of our classes took place in grocery stores - worked great for me because obviously, that's where I live some times too.
They have a really lovely mild flavor with all the chili taste but not as much of the heat. They are a rich dark evergreen color that just screams luxury. Except when they turn red. Then they beg to be eaten by people who want some heat along with their chili. I regularly have them in my fridge because they are a fabulous 'side' to anything we eat.
Chili Rellenos are a family favorite but they. are. so. much. work. I will admit that I have yet to make them since we got back to Mexico. BBBBBAAAAAADDDDDDDDDD wife. So I have a cheater recipe. Chili Rellenos for dummies if you will. I'll save that for another post after I actually *do* it so I can put up pictures. :)
Our other favorite 'side' is as follows - Rajas de Chili. Raja in Spanish, translates basically 'strips'....
First you roast your chilies. Any skillet will do but my comal makes them taste oh, so, fabulous. :) See that smoke? I always cook with smoke. It's a seasoning in our house....truly.
Now, when you're roasting REALLY spicy chilies, we've found at some point the air becomes quite thick with spice. We have been known to hang out outside during this process.
Can you see that RED chili there in the middle??? THAT one is gonna be Alan and mine. Spicy. Color isn't always an indicator but I could smell the spice on it before I started.
Now you can see them starting to turn. The outsides get all black and charred. This is a good thing.
Another 5 to 10 minutes rotating them to get all edges good and roasted. I've learned to pick chilies that are fairly symmetrical. I learned that the hard way as roasting a really funky shaped, folded over chili all the way usually involves finger burns.
When completely roasted; place in a plastic bag. You're going to steam those babies. Mmmm....
Now tuck in all the edges, flip the bag over and go do something else for a while. In my case this wound up being two days but I wouldn't recommend that.
Now the peeling process I didn't get a picture of. There wasn't a kiddo handy. Sorry. It's messy - vale la pena. (but it's worth it!) You basically just rub off the charred portion and are left with a lovely, albeit wilty looking chili. Then I just tear them into strips by hand. I am not a perfectionist in all things. You wind up with this...
From here you have a million and one options. Soups, salad toppings, straight; but I like to add grilled onions, garlic, and crema.
I served this particular epic event over lime soaked Tilapia. It was fabulous. The Tilapia was a bit too mild though so thank goodness we had that chili to add more flavor. Yum.
Everyone begged for more. Sweet success, thankyouverymuch Mr. Chili Poblano....
When you come to visit, know that your plate is all ready.
Friday, February 19, 2010
I hear that this particular product is all the rage in the states and since I have local access to some of these things, my fellow partner in 'natural living' crime said she'd play too.
Coconut Oil. "Hey, I live in the land of coconuts! I can be really green and buy them locally and make my own!", says the ditzy brunette. Then drags her friend and her family along for the ride....
We found them in the market - after much searching and a bit of praying because frankly, we were all hyped to do it NOW.
Then the production began...and what a production it was.
No cooking project is complete without them. Did you know that this was the. very. first. time. Jamie had EVER used a power tool? She worked it like a pro. QVC, she's ready anytime.
Of course laughing hysterically and power tools can be a bit of a scary combination...
...so us girls moved on to another job and we let Alan keep his tools intact and well managed.
Draining off the 'water' after the hole is drilled.
Busting into the drained coconut so we can get the meat out. WHACK!!
Then chipping away the 'meat' from the shell. No sharp knives were used. Remember what I said about laughing and power tools. I consider sharp knives a power tool these days.
These two kept getting great big chunks of coconut out with one swipe. I got shards. Really though, it evened out in the end.
Even Riley got in on the action.
See??? Riley is very impressed.
Now take all those chunks/shards of coconut meat, mix them with some of the coconut water and throw it into your best power tool of all that you can use laughing or not...the VITA MIX. It did an amazing job. Shameless plug. I LOVE my VitaMix. Blend those things 'till it's all combined and no large bits of coconut remain.
Strain REALLY well with little strainer.
Then realize there is more than one way to skin a cat and grab the new, never been washed in local water with local soap flour sack dishtowel and squeeze the rest of the cream out.
Many hands make the work load lighter. And get all the cream out...
Here's some of the pulp we were left with. This will be added into granola, cereals, breads...whatever. It's not bad tasting and there's good fiber in there....right?
Coconut CREAM!!!! 10 coconuts worth right there. YUM - and if I'd realized what would happen later we'd have stopped here but...live and learn. It's a good motto to have.
Cooking it stage one....
a good 10 minutes later....
Then another 10 minutes (ish) it burned. Badly. Nasty -and for all that we got about 2 Tablespoons of burned coconut oil. Gol dernit.
So we googled a bit more and found the 'unrefined' way to do it. Put it in a jar and wait for it to separate and the oil to rise to the top. MUCH easier.
Day 1 - late evening...
Day 2 it's looking scarier and still no oil.
Day 3 morning right before....
I threw it out. Eeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww..............
COCONUT OIL????!!!!! WHERE ARE YOU????
Your new Spanish word for the day. Guacala = GROSS.
We've now found a place we can buy it for a fraction of the.....mess. At least we had a good time in the process and found a great way to make coconut cream.
'till next time...
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Usually our mail sits at the stateside spot until there is a team that is coming this direction and is willing to be the modern day pony express for us. That and the fact that mailing packages here can wind up costing a fortune - on the US side and then again on the foreign side. Ugh - can you say 'DUTIES'?
We've only gotten actual, in the hand, foreign addressed mail 3 times in our time outside the US. One was a Christmas card we got in time for Valentine's day, another was a package from a friend who knows how to stuff a box and use the apartado (foreign PO box) of a close friend, and now....
THIS came last Friday!
It only took 3 1/2 weeks and $7 usd.
I know of another package in transit. This one apparently has chocolate in it so we'll see if it makes it here intact.
Thank you Jim and Elaine - we LOVE the calendar!!
Friday, February 12, 2010
I'm supposed to have some really cool, ethnic, authentic food item to show you.
I don't. Oops.
I do have one little thing.....
Sing with me now...."ONE - singular sensation...."
This is the only piece of chocolate in my house. That's not because I ate the rest of the bag either. The teacher was giving these out at a class I was at recently. I confess to eating the other two kisses I got.
I'm obviously going to need to get with it in order to be prepared for Valentine's day. This kind of chocolate is too expensive here though, sigh - I'll be going with a steak for Alan to show him how much I love him.
Here's hoping you have a better chocolate stash than I do. :)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
One of my personal goals this year is to develop a more interactive (active) prayer life. Frankly, this should be a forgone conclusion but, as in lots of things, the squeaky wheel is the one that gets oiled and sometimes I gasp when I realize it's been d.a.y.s. since my prayers were anything more than the "Thank you Jesus for this day and this food" or the "Help me survive." variety. No wonder everything was off.
I wonder if I'm alone in this?
THEN I remembered that I had this great little 'prayer guide' another missionary friend gave me eons ago stuffed into the blog somewhere.
"Now where is that thing....???"
*dig*, *dig*, *dig*; *shuffle*, *shuffle*, *shuffle*
"How can we pray for you?" is a question we get asked frequently -and with good reason. Prayer is the sustaining layer for us and a way that any and all can participate in our ministry.
I am using this guide (have I mentioned that I'm the type of person who likes a list?) to pray for my family, my co-workers, and my friends (with the adjustments needed) and thought I would put this list into a post, out from under the back corner of the blog clutter, to share with you...just in case you're a list person and would like to know how you can be part of what we do too.
Prayers for you...
Day 1: Relationship w/ God
- Loving and studying God’s word
- Strong prayer life
- Being filled with the Holy Spirit and yielded to Him
- Maturing Spiritually
- Progress over personal sin
Day 2: Physical and Emotional Needs
- Good Health
- Safety in danger
- Protection against loneliness
- Protection against depression
- Protection against discouragement
Day 3: Family Relationships
- Alan and Faith
- Riley, Janelle, and Natalie
- That our family would be a light and example of a godly marriage and family, not for our own purposes but for God’s glory
Day 4: Language/Cultural
- Continued acquisition of Spanish
- For fluency
- For cultural adaptation and understanding
- For a growing love for Mexicans
Day 5: Effective Ministry
- Boldness and open doors
- Prepared Hearts and openness
- Energy, wisdom, and discernment
- Financial support
- For future direction
Day 6: Team Relationships
- Other missionaries
- With pastors and teachers
- Government – National and Local
- Visas/paperwork; open doors
- Our relationships with nationals
Friday, February 5, 2010
A bunch of basil!!! It is smelling up my kitchen beautifully and will be made into pesto (!!!!!) once the smell fades. The bunch of basil cost 5 pesos (50 cents mas o menos)
A bunch of guayabas...or in English - guavas. They were about 20 pesos ($2 usd - roughly). THESE smell delightful but that is difficult to descibe on paper. They and the basil are the olfactory delights of my kitchen this week.
Here's the lesson. It's way more informative than I could ever be.
They are a standard addition to our smoothies although Riley prefers to eat them straight. It's basically like an apple only smaller. He also likes the little teeny green ones. Hard and eecckkk - s.o.u.r. Normally you eat the entire thing, rind and all - it's texture is similar to a melon with a softer inside where the pulp and seeds are. The seeds tend to be a bit of a pain (kind of like chewing on a bb) but with the VitaMix we get the majority of them whipped in to shape. Most juice places in the area strain the juice through a sieve to get rid of them but I'd rather use them.
We are getting a varied stock here lately. As in I never know which color I'm going to get when I cut it open. LAST week they were a gorgeous pink/orange color inside with the bright yellow rind (Did I run and get the camera like a good blogger???? Nope.). THIS week I cut them open to find....
Life is like a box of guayabas.......you never know......
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Plus, it's easier to talk about food any day. Especially for a woman.
Since that mode won't last for long because,frankly, my recipe repetoire and the varied food options are almost at their end - we'll just jump into the nitty gritty with both feet shall we?
Wait though, here's the kicker: How do I acknowlege and communicate to you how wonderful this is without acknowledging how hard that was?
What comes to your mind when I say the word 'desert'? I think I know - because I used to think the same thing. Usually the word 'desert' is associated with the following:
cactus; nasty poky things they are
reptiles of vile nature
little to no green
lack of vegetation
In looking up the word desert, I found roots in the Spanish language coming from Latin (of course) that insinuate the original meaning:
an abandoned place (noun)...or to abandon (verb).
For years I've heard people talking of a spiritual desert. It's connotation is always of feeling limp, dried up, deserted, or a celestial silent treatment of sorts. It was good imagery especially for someone who grew up in the rich green and lush Pacific Northwest. Desert = dead, right? Not in my case.
Who would have thought moving to the desert would fill the reservoirs of my soul?
I will never again be able to connect those two images in my mind - desert and abandoned. For me - this desert has been the place of rest and renewal; not abandonment. A place where God has shown me that he can and does lead us over and through the hard years and sets our feet upon the high places. A place where there is amazing beauty to be caught now that my eyes are ready to see it.
We've spent the last 4 years in hard places. Yet God has been there too, of course. Sometimes it's difficult to put into words the strain of the day, but you know, that's all relative. I hope that through our writings in this blog that we've been able to lift you up to the windows of this shop called 'living internationally as normal people called to be missionaries' to peek inside.
To give eyes to see the people we long to serve.
To give smells to the places we live.
To show you the work you partner in with us through your
prayers, finances, emails and phone calls.
Lately as we've been praying about our futures in ministry outside our passport country or inside it, we've had a chance to take big, long, deep breaths of beautiful, dry, crisp desert air. I will tell you that this desert of Mitla, Oaxaca has been like a fountain of blessing for me.
Some days I've wondered why God has brought us here -because. it. seems. so. wonderful. The aroma of rightness is almost breath-taking. There is a sense of 'coming home' that we've all had in being back in Mexico. There is an excitement in being part of helping with the work here. There is a rest for me personally, in layers of stressors that have evaporated. There is blessing overflowing in the form of housing, friends, provision, just to name a few, and options. Options folks. We have options here.
I will say it seems incredible to me that some of our friends have blazed the trail through difficult years and we're just doing the easy job of reaping the benefits of their experience and knowledge. Some times I feel a bit guilty about that - most days I just thank GOD repeatedly. Mostly, because I was at the point of not being able to function the hard way anymore. How's that for a spiritual confession? I just didn't wanna.
I am thankful for the hard years but I'm beyond thankful for a break from them. The energy and enthusiasm we had in setting out on this adventure God called us to (4 1/2 years ago!) were great boosters over those first few months of culture shock and what-not. The knowlege and peace that surpassed our understanding carried us over change after change, culture stress (they are two different animals folks) and times where things didn't make sense on paper. The firm resolution to serve until He calls us clearly back is sustaining us even now. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
It has also helped bring the blessings into a focus sharper than I am used to and it leaves me at a loss for words some days.
So if you are finding yourself in a strange and unexpected desert, be it a 'normal looking' one or not - take heart from someone who's been there and done that and lived to blog about it. God is faithful even when we are faithless. He doesn't change although we do. He loves and provides even when it doesn't look like it in our worldy eyes. He knows the future even when our planning doesn't work out. He does bring us through those hard days and pours out the fountains of blessing which really, are only a glimpse of what is to come...