"We anticipate that the 2014 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have below-average activity compared with the 1981-2010 climatology. It appears quite likely that an El Niño of at least moderate strength will develop this summer and fall. In addition, the tropical Atlantic has anomalously cooled over the past few months. We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean. Despite the quiet forecast, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They are reminded to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much or how little activity is predicted. "
Last year was uneventful and this year could be as well but always best to be prepared. Extra water for drinking and flushing, canned and dried foods...the usual survival stuff. The only prep I'm putting off for a little bit is a generator. There's time as the worst of our hurricane season doesn't normally start until August. I've also given some contemplation to emergency evacuation routes. No, we still don't have a chariot and evacuating on a bike just isn't feasible so we plan on staying no matter what. For everyone else who might want to evacuate there is only one main road out of Chetumal...well, one that can handle significant traffic and leads to inland safety. All the other roads that that leave town just lead to various flood prone areas. The three local schools are hurricane shelters and our house, like so many others around here, will sustain major winds without a problem. As well, we have a "hurricane room" of sorts where we and the animals can hunker down away from doors and windows if necessary.
Today is Palm Sunday and the start of two weeks of Easter vacation/spring break for the schools. Lots of Mexican and Belizean tourists will be in town so my time on the waterfront will likely be minimized. Just as well, need to save money for the new porch screening.
Ah yes, the porch. Well, that project is coming along well. I need a few more sheets of plywood to finish various areas, some trim and but two walls left to do. Oh and the screens. Can't forget the screens. For the two remaining walls, I'm just waiting on the aluminium screen doors so I can build walls around them. Easier to do it that way than hoping to fabricate a door to fit an opening. I had a young man build two short walls to support a large basin/sink. The 150 pesos he charged wouldn't have covered the pain relievers I would have needed had I done it myself. And it was professionally done. Everything plumb and perfectly aligned. Super job.
This is the final week of puppies in nosotros casa (our house). In fact, they should all be gone by midweek after their trip to the vet on Tuesday. Wifey will be very much relieved I know. She's done a yeoman's job caring for those little beasts. We may even try to find a home for the momma as Joey and Catherine haven't quite hit it off. Poor Amy, the self-appointed nanny, will miss those pups I'm sure.
The lime apocalypse continues to make the news and prices have continued to climb. We're up to 45 pesos per kilo (US$1.50/lb) but then, we're closer to the groves. Rather than rub it in (haha) I will offer up a recipe I promised a while back that needs citrus but doesn't require limes and is Maya in origin, Cochinita Pibil. It's a local Sunday morning favorite and folk leaving church will stop by the preferred provider and pick up healthy portions to go.
Cochinata means "baby pig" so get yourself a nice suckling pig. OK, loin or shoulder will work just as well but then you'll have to call it "puerco pibil". Just be careful you don't cook it too well... Then you'll have to find some bitter Seville oranges. None of that either? OK, sweet orange mixed with grapefruit, lemon, or vinegar (yes, you could use limes but there's a shortage, remember?). Then you'll need some achiote (annatto) seeds. That should be easy to find. Finally, you'll need to dig a hole. Pibil means "buried" and that's how real pibil is prepared. Wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a pit. No pit? OK, I guess the oven will work. What? No banana leaves either? Good grief...
Here's a recipe for Cochinata Pibil from the book, Wahaca - Mexican Cooking at Home
For the marinade:
1 tsp allspice berries
2 tsp ground cumin seeds
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp peppercorns
100g achiote paste
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
large bunch of fresh oregano or 1tsp dried oregano
3 fresh bay leaves
2 tbsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of 6 oranges
For the pork:
3kg neck of pork, (or loin, or shoulder...) cut into a few large pieces
1 habañero or Scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
pink pickled onions, sliced.
Step 1:To make the marinade, warm the spices in a dry frying pan for a few minutes then grind to a fine powder. Place in a blender with the achiote, vinegar, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and olive oil and pulse to start breaking up the achiote.
Slowly pour in the orange juice with the motor running to get a smooth paste. Pour about two-thirds of the marinade over the pork, ensuring it is thoroughly coated. Refrigerate overnight.
Freeze the remaining marinade or keep it fresh for a week in the fridge (and try it with something else, like barbecued chicken).
Step 2: Preheat oven to 130C/266F/gas 1. Transfer the pork and its marinade to a large casserole dish and add chopped chilli and butter. Bring to a simmer, cover with foil and a tight-fitting lid and cook slowly for 3-4 hours until the pork is soft and falling apart. Serve chunks of pork in deep bowls with rice or steamed potatoes, lots of sauce and piles of pink pickled onions on top.