Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Favorite Peace Corps Recipes

Those of you who know me know that I love food. And that presented a problem in Honduras, because there is very limited range of not only prepared foods but also ingredients available for purchase. Here are some of my favorite recipes, made from ingredients that are easy to procure in any medium-sized town:

Chocolate Rum Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix
2 chocolate pudding cups
4 eggs
1/4 C water
1/2 C Rum (or more)
1/2 C Chopped Walnuts (optional)

1/2 C (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 C sugar
1/4 C Rum (or more)
1/4 C Water

Preheat oven to about 325F. Grease cake pan. Place walnuts in the bottom of the pan. Mix cake mix, pudding, eggs, water, and rum. Pour batter into the pan. Bake at 325F for 50-60 minutes, until skewer or knife comes out clean.

Glaze: Combine butter, sugar, rum, and water in saucepan over low/medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Pour immediately over still-warm cake.

Lemon Bars

1/3 C butter or margarine
1/4 C sugar
1 C flour

3 eggs
3/4 C sugar
3 Tbs. flour
3 tsp. lemon zest
5 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Mix crust ingredients with a fork until crumbly. Press into an ungreased 8"x8" pan. Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, combine filling ingredients and mix well. Pour over baked crust. Bake 20 minutes more at 350F or until center is set. Cool before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (if you can get it).

Cold-Brewed Coffee

Mix: 2 parts coffee grounds to 9 parts water. (e.g. 1/3 C coffee to 1 1/2 C water.) Let sit overnight. Strain out grounds and pour over ice. Coffee comes out very stong, so dilute with water to taste (for me, that's about 1 part water to 4 parts coffee).

Pizza Crust (from PCV Annie Gingerich)

1 C warm water
1 pkg (2 tsp) yeast (levadura)
1/2 tsp salt
3 to 3 1/2 C flour
2 Tbs olive oil

Combine water, yeast and 1 1/2 C flour. Mix well. Add oil, salt, and rest of flour. Knead for 5 minutes. Let rest in oiled bowl covered with damp cloth for 1 hour.

P.S. Quesillo is a great substitute for mozzarella in Honduras. Freeze it ahead of time for easier shredding.

Fruit Pancakes (adapted from my friend Andrea's recipe)

1 1/2 C flour
1/4 C oats (avena)
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 Tbs oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 1/4 C soft fruit (for example, sliced banana, ripe mango, or strawberries)

Mix flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix milk, oil egg, and egg white until well mixed. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Heat griddle (a comal works great) over high heat with 1 Tbs oil. Once griddle is hot, reduce heat to Med-High. Pour 1/2 ladle of batter onto griddle, and top with 4-5 pieces of sliced fruit. When pancake has bubbles, flip and cook until both sides are brown.

Serve with butter/margarina and honey.

Bean Burgers

2+ C cooked beans, drained and blended. (I use 1 or 2 bags of frijoles licuados.)
1 lb. tomatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
1 can corn
1-2 C other cooked veggies of choice (optional)
1 small can jalapenos (optional)
2 eggs
1/3 C flour
1 C oats
2 tsp salt

Sautee onion and garlic, then add tomato and other veggies. Cook until tomatoes are a bit soft. In a blender, put beans, veggies, corn, jalapenos, eggs, and salt. Blend until smoothish. Pour mixture into a bowl, and stir in flour and oats. Desired consistency is like a thick pancake batter. Place a couple spoonfuls onto a hot oiled comal and shape it into a patty. Cook until it forms a brown crust on each side.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

COS Survey

Before leaving the country, COSing volunteers fill out a "COS Survey" which is published in Alli No Mas, the PC-Honduras volunteer e-zine. Here's my survey.

Name: Raphael Crawford-Marks
Site: Trujillo, Colón
Project: Health
Nicknames: Rafa, Justin Timberlake
Biggest Accomplishment: The Viviendo Positivamente Manual and TOT.
Biggest Disappointment: Failing to get the Trujillo support group to be as strong and organized as it could/should be.
Biggest Regret: Not doing enough, not always being fully engaged.
Defining PC Moment: Neighborhood kids calling out “Rafa!” when I walk down the street.
Things you will miss most: Warm nights, siestas, live punta shows at Nunu’s, drinking guifiti on the beach, doing yoga and dinámicas with the support group, having cipotes run errands for me, hiking to waterfalls, sunsets over the Caribbean, being special.
Things you will miss least: Burning trash, lack of initiative, corruption.
Biggest Irony: Most aid and development projects foster dependence and corruption, thus screwing things up even more.
Worst Illness: Rhabdomyolysis. It’s scary when your piss comes out dark brown.
Biggest Freak-out: Figuring out what to do after Peace Corps.
Biggest fear during PC: Having my corpse show up on the evening news.
Most useful things I brought: Yoga mat, laptop, and Spanish skills.
Least useful things I brought: Business casual clothing.
Favorite activity I did when bored: Cook, read, lie in my hammock.
Weirdest thing I did when bored: Fed mosquitoes to ants, then fed ants to spiders.
Favorite Hondureñismo: A la zumba marumba.
Greatest lie I told at my site: Peace Corps requires/doesn’t allow _________________________.
Favorite Honduran inquiry: ¿Que pedos?Best Honduran gesture: The finger wag.
Favorite CD/song during my service: Podcasts - This American Life, Fresh Air, RadioLab, Scientific American, Science Friday, The NewsHour.
Favorite books during service: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.
Favorite Honduran fashion: Rocking out with the panza out.
Best jalón: Savá to Trujillo when there was a bus strike and it was after dark.
Worst jalón: Siguat to Ceiba in the paila of a truck. 5 hours of relentless sun. Despite slathering on sunscreen and wearing a hat, I was badly burned and dehydrated when we arrived.
Best bus ride: Teguz-Ceiba on the day I came down with bacterial dysentery. The bus driver stopped the bus immediately and a fat honduran dude let me use his (very clean) latrine. Crisis averted.
Worst bus ride: Trujillo-Juticalpa. Dust, heat, leg cramping, body odor...for 9 hours.
Favorite food: Baleada con huevo as prepared by my neighbor Sandra.
Worst thing I ate: Iguana egg.
Worst thing I smelled: Bloated dog carcass.
Stupidest thing I did in the past 2 years: Did so many bicep curls that I gave myself rhabdomyolysis.
Untrue fact told to you as an undeniable truth: God created the Earth and all its creatures 8000 years ago and evolutionists are going to Hell.
You know you’ve been in Honduras too long when: You regularly lie to avoid even small confrontations.
I never thought I would: Eat so much fried chicken.
If I had to do it all over again I: Would take more risks.
Favorite Aralen dream: There was an epic one that involved submarines, surfing and supermodels and was set to a rockin’ soundtrack.
Favorite Ropa Americana t-shirt: “Will drink beer for sex” worn by a bolo walking with his mujer.
Best habit acquired: Is it possible to acquire good habits here?
Worst habit acquired: All of them.
Things you missed most from the U.S.: Family and friends, San Francisco, good food, climbing and biking, baseball, good conversation, initiative, competence, relatively low levels of corruption in business and government.
Things you missed least from the U.S.: That uniquely American mix of ignorance and arrogance.
Things you wish you’d known when you signed up: Nothing, all the important stuff has to be figured out as you go along.
Best advice for new PCVs: The best and worst parts of service are things you don’t expect.
Contact email: raphael dot crawfordmarks at gmail dot com

Last Week in Trujillo

I have 7 days left in Trujillo. It's hard to believe I'm going to be leaving so soon. Some of you may be wondering why I'm leaving Trujillo next week if I'm not flying home until May 1st. Good question. Because of trainings and other activities I have planned in April, there won't be any spare time to spend in Trujillo.

So my last month in Honduras will be spent as a vagabond volunteer, sleeping on couches and in hotel rooms in the different towns and cities where we will be doing trainings. I'm kind of looking forward to it. The workload and constant movement will distract me from the sadness of leaving what has become my home, and hopefully will make the transition easier. We shall see.

Viviendo Positivamente Training

Last month I facilitated a 3-day training of support group leaders that's been in development over the last 6 months or so. This was the first full test of the training curriculum, and overall it was a great success.

Developing this training has been my main project for quite some time. Thoughout the course of my service, I've noticed that one of the greatest needs for PLWHA isn't simply to find motivated people to organize and run support groups, but motivated people with the appropriate skills to organize and run support groups. The Honduran education system is very lousy, so the most basic organization, planning, and communication skills simply aren't acquired by the vast majority of the population. This training is intended to be a small step toward meeting that need.

With funds from a PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) grant, Mary and I trained support group leaders from four municipalities in Colón: Trujillo, Santa Rosa de Aguán, Limón, and Tocoa. The response was very positive, but we also got some good feedback that has helped us improve the curriculum for future trainings.

Getting Hondu-12 and Hondu-14 health volunteers trained and Honduran institutions to buy into the methodology will be my focus from now until I leave on May 1. We have three more trainings planned in April, including one in Tegucigalpa with support group leaders from all over the country. If all goes according to plan, we'll leave behind a proven training curriculum for support group leaders that can be implemented not only by Peace Corps Volunteers but also by Hondurans. If that happens, then there's at least one project I point to that has achieved the elusive goal of sustainability.