I don't know if it's this way throughout Mexico but the mail delivery leaves much to be desired. Yesterday, Saturday, 18 January, I received three pieces of mail: One from Illinois dated 11 November, one from Georgia postmarked 17 September, and one from Mexico City dated 3 January. The last was our phone/satellite bill that had a due date of the day before. I don't wait for the phone bill anymore as the due date is always the same and the cost varies little from month to month. I received word from Belize yesterday that a Christmas card arrived at our former residence. And it's only January! Chalk it up to a smaller country.
A few years ago when neighborhood watch groups were gaining a foothold in Belize I started a website called Belize Neighborhood Watch Coalition. The intent was provide a platform for the various neighborhood watch groups to share resources and information. It's a simple website with lots of good information for starting and running a watch group and safety/security information for individuals,families, homes,and businesses. Nether the Belize Government nor individual watch groups seemed interested in joining the site so I eventually opened it to the public from whom I received good feedback and many thanks. Being as I'm not in Belize much anymore, I've since transferred the site and operations to one of the neighborhood watch groups and they will own/operate from now on. I wish them well.
A second banana heart appeared on another plant this week so in a few months we'll be loaded down with tasty, sweet bananas. Time to gather up all those banana recipes but even with that I'm sure we'll be sharing "mucho plantanos dulces"!
Our local Walmart tends toward the expensive side which is a double whammy since Chetumal, as the capitol of Quintana Roo, is already known to be pricey. It didn't stop me yesterday when I went to pick up a few necessary items, succumbing to convenience instead of going to the market. You pay for that. I did remark the prices have gone up. As I reported earlier, the IVA or local tax, has increased from 11 to 16% to align the border States with the rest of Mexico. Unlike the USofA where taxable items are noted and the tax is calculated and added as a separate line item at the end of the receipt, here taxes are inputted to individual items (although the taxes paid is noted on the receipt it's not a separate line item). So a price increase was expected.
Now, when I shop I only buy two things: what I need and, sometimes, what I want, so I can't say how much prices increased except to note it was sometimes more than the 5% attributable to the tax increase. Here are some of the items, with prices, I purchased yesterday (all prices US$ at 13:1):
Lurpak Butter 1/2lb 3.34
Onions, white, lb 0.33
Flour, All Purpose, lb 1.96
Green Pepper , lb 1.36
Red Pepper, lb 1.67
Carrots, lb 0.42
Limes , lb 0.68
Tomatoes, lb 1.84
Potatoes, lb 0.72
Zucchini, lb 1.58
Eggplant, lb 2.76
Phila Cream Cheese, Pkg 1.26
Cream, Heavy , Pint 4.58
Tuna, filet, Can 1.54
Baguettes, 2 loaves 1.35
Negra Modelo Beer, 6pk 6.08
Cabernet Sauv, ltr 13.46
Sauvignon Blanc, ltr 6.30
Eggs, 12 1.87
EV Olive Oil, 1 qt 3.98
Again, these prices a tad higher than the local markets so I paid for the convenience of one-stop shopping. By the way, the only item not taxable on this list, per the receipt, is the flour.
Three Bills (taxes included):
Electric 368 KWH US$32.09 (0.087/KWH)
Water Minimum Rate 5.22
Phone/Internet/Satellite TV 88.61
Note: Phone package includes landline and cell; Internet ADSL 3MB d/l; Sat TV 3 rooms w/separate receivers, all movie package (even if I only have 1 TV...room for expansion)
I haven't cooked up any new recipes this week though the cold weather did lend itself to far more soups than I normally enjoy. As I've written before, inspiration comes from recipes on the internet as well as what foodstuffs might be on sale at the market. Yesterday I baked a couple of "quick breads" made with cinnamon and apples from a recipe I saw online. One loaf ended up a trade for a repair to my lawnmower. Love the underground economy, I do! The loaves were quite tasty I thought but the recipe needs tweaking so I'll hit that one again in a few days. Normally I eat about the same time I feed the dogs, late afternoon, and by 9PM I'm scouting out some sort of light, sweet snack. The quick breads with a small glass of milk are just the thing.
Here's a bit of fancy cooking that makes for an impressive side dish. It reads harder than it really is:
2.5 lbs potatoes, peeled
Kosher salt, to taste
Peel and square each potato into a rectangle. Slice potatoes lengthwise to 1⁄8" thickness and transfer to a bowl filled with cold water.
Set two heavy pans over 2 burners. Pour oil to a depth of 2" into both. Heat the first over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 320˚ and the second until a deep-fry thermometer reads 400˚.
Drain potatoes and pat very dry. Working in batches, add potatoes to the first pot and cook, maintaining a temperature of 275˚ (adding potatoes will cause temperature to drop) and flipping potatoes occasionally with a slotted spoon until they're blistered and translucent, about 5 minutes. Working in batches, transfer potatoes to the second pot and cook, flipping occasionally with a spoon and maintaining a temperature of 375˚, until potatoes are puffed and browned, about 5 minutes.
Season with salt and serve.