The very talkative addition to the bestiary, Joey, has taught Khan that howling is OK. And so, when Joey gets an urge to sing, Khan chimes in. Yes, Khan. He who only used to howl in his sleep with a very haunting wail that scares the bejeezus out of sleepers at 2AM. Annie follows suit albeit soto voce. Then, if it goes on long enough, the neighbor's dog joins the chorus. All that is missing are the fire trucks screaming down the street.
Met a pleasant couple yesterday in Chedraui (local supermarket) who stopped me to ask if I spoke English. Terry and Penny recently moved to Chetumal and are renting a 2-bedroom, fully furnished apt for US$550/month plus electricity (water & gas are covered). Not bad for an in-city apartment, in a new building near the University Hospital. They're happy.
Someone is throwing edible trash over the fence at night. Not every night but enough that I'm concerned they may be trying to "turn" the dogs by feeding them. Not an uncommon technique by thieves. A little paranoia is a good thing.
The plomero arrived! A leaky faucet that required removing tiles and drilling into concrete to replace the entire unit. As well, a somewhat unstable toilet needed attention. I should have been better prepared for sticker shock. Less than 5 hours after starting, two new faucets soldered in, re-bedded in cement, and an exceptionally stable toilet unit for 620 pesos (US$47.75) plus parts.
I ran out of my favorite coffee and due to circumstances, opted for a package of Blazon from the local supermarket. Expensive, good, but not near as tasty as what I can get from my local supplier/coffee roaster at Frescoffee on Avenida Veracruz. A considerable savings at 200 pesos per kilo (US$7/lb) and ground just the way I like it!
Everything is for sale in Mexico. Talk to anyone on the street, in the store, the taxi driver...and either they have or know someone who is selling something. Anything. Houses, land, motor vehicles, real/fake archeological "treasures". and a whole bunch of stuff that is probably stolen or otherwise illegal. Of course, I'm a gringo. It's well known gringos are rich.
My Spanish improves by the day though I think I still occasionally invent words or find myself throwing in the occasional French bon mot or two because it just seemed to fit at the time and flowed naturally. I haven't been diligent with my Spanish courses just more slowly learning via immersion. Except when I meet another gringo, then it's back to English. My metric for improvement? The occasions of quizzical looks and shrugged shoulders steadily decrease. When I can tell a joke in Spanish, I'll know I've arrived!
Today I'm making a very simple dish that has the house smelling so good. I'm using my cast iron Dutch Oven for this though I suppose a crock pot would work as well. HOWEVER... It seems the Dutch Oven was not quite as large as I thought so I'm cooking this is two sessions. First the mirepoix and browned chicken, then the potatoes to thicken the stew and an unexpected ingredient for an extra touch of flavor.
Papi's Chicken Stew
1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
1 ltr chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine (plus a galssful for the chef)
2 large onions, chopped coarsely
2 stalks of celery, chopped coarsely
6-8 carrots, 1/2 inch slices (I like carrots. Typically mirepoix is 2:1:1 Onions, carrots, celery)
5 or 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 TBS black peppercorns
Pinch of powdered Nutmeg
Pinch of Cumin
2 tsp Marjoram, Oregano, Tarragon (mixed)
2 TSP fresh basil leaves
Salt to taste
1 large MacIntosh apple, peeled, cored, and chopped coarsely (There's nothing stopping you from leaving the skin on the apple. It's roughage. And nutrients.)
Brown chicken, reserve. Cook mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) and garlic over high heat to brown a few pieces. Only turn once or twice during cooking. That charred stuff is all flavor! Deglaze with white wine. Add chicken pieces, peppercorns, nutmeg, cumin, and stock. Add salt to taste. Bring to boil then cover reduce heat to low. Cook until chicken is tender. Remove chicken pieces and add potatoes and apples. Cook until potatoes are almost done. Add remaining spices, fresh basil, chicken pieces, and add salt as necessary (potatoes will have absorbed a lot of it), then simmer 10 minutes more until potatoes are tender. Yeah, that easy.
Note 1: If you want a little thicker stock you have a couple of options.but the easiest in my book is to take some of the potatoes out, mash them, and return them to the stock.
Note 2: One liter of stock may seem like a lot and it certainly won't all be used up in that first meal. After the chicken is consumed, I pulverized the lot and now have a delicious potage that only requires adding a touch of real cream or creme fraiche!.