Despite the one reminder, my little blog gets its fair share of visitors from around the world. Every continent save one is represented and a surprising number of countries where English is not the primary language. Intrigued at this I investigated and learned there are lost souls wandering the internet looking for some vicarious thrill. I know this to be true and welcome them all even if, shortly after landing here, they but beat their poor mouse in frustration and move on.
There is a 300 liter propane tank on the roof. It's not a terribly convenient location but seems to be the norm here. Our friend Rosa insisted that she had the number for the "only" proper gas company to service the tank and so, when the time came for a refill, we started to look for the number. There was no urgency when this back and forth started two months ago as I still had tens of liters of gas and we don't use that much with just the one stove. But now the flame was ebbing and I knew that I didn't really want all my food grilled over charcoal. I had listened to or read all the horror stories warning me to carefully check the meter as I was sure to be shorted, to call well before I was in dire straights as "their time" bears little semblance to even "island time", and so forth. Steeling myself for the experience I opened the Yellow pages and called the one company I was told was "the best of the bad". After quickly warning the receptionist of my marginal Spanish skills I told her I needed gas. A series of questions (with only a few repeated) led to answers and a comment that my Spanish wasn't so bad after all. Was she flirting or would they really bring a big truck, long hose, and a ladder?
Fully expecting a two or three day delay, I paid little attention to the traffic on the street until a large diesel engine idled outside the house long enough to attract the dogs. They didn't bark mind you, just sat attentive to something not normal happening outside the fence. There seems to be an invisible boundary about 4 feet outside the fence. Cross that boundary in our direction and the dogs will bark if you are a dog, cat, car, truck, or unknown person. (Horses on the other hand only have to be in sight to elicit a response.)
Corralling the beasts inside, I met the two workers and pointed out the location of the tank and they figured out the rest. One of them took the ladder and made his way up while I inquired of the other as to the price of gas. "6.74 pesos", he replied. (US$1.97/gal) Although the price varies by location it is fixed and public record so there's no cheating. When he asked how much I wanted I rounded up and started figuring the cost, more or less out loud apparently because when I said "7 pesos" he corrected me again stating "6.74 pesos". I signaled my understanding and, more to myself after that, did the math and counted the pesos in my pocket. "200 liters would be fine", I told him. I probably could have gone to 250 liters as I had enough money but I wasn't exactly sure how much was left in the tank and such tanks shouldn't be filled over 85% of capacity. The 55 or so liters wouldn't make that much difference at my current rate of usage.
The process of filling the tank went smoothly. Their ladder was a bit short for a two-story house but we have a rooftop patio over the first floor and so the ladder was moved up to access the upper roof. The hose followed, the meter zeroed, and the gas flowed.
Filling done, the hose came down and the worker climbed down to the first level roof. He moved the ladder down to ground level and saw Annie looking up at him. Despite her non-diet, she has a habit of squeezing through the burglar bars driven by her insane need to be with people. The worker, not knowing Annie, refused to come down from the roof. Quite understandable of course so I called Annie over, told her to lie down, and when he saw I had some form of control over the dog, climbed down the ladder yet made sure he walked out of the yard keeping the ladder between him and Annie. If they only knew how gentle she is. But it's good to be cautious when many dogs aren't as docile. "Be afraid. Be very afraid", I thought.
The other day I accompanied our friend Barry to Sam's Club, picked up some M&M's for friends in Belize and a few absolutely non-essential items I didn't know I needed, then enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Pasion Turq. The Comertme (pronounced Cho-Ker-Meh...yes, I know, don't ask) consisting of shaved shwarma over thin cripsy fries with a garlic yoghurt sauce/dip was delicious and the service was, as always, excellent.
While at Sam's Club I almost bought some of their coffee in a tin. I drink a fair amount of coffee and my usual, most excellent roast from Veracruz is hard to justify by the pot. So I thought, for the daily grind as it were, I would go with a substitute. Instead, I'm making some "Cold Brew Coffee" and shall see if that doesn't cut down a bit on the amount of beans I use.
Cold brew is simple: put the grounds in water and let it sit in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Filter and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or longer. When needed, dilute 1:1 with boiling water (or cold milk!) for a cup of less bitter and (up to 67%) less acidic coffee. When coffee is heated the chemistry changes and since the roaster went to so much trouble to get the chemistry right, well, we should do everything we can to brew a great batch. We shall see.
Remember the Creamed Mushrooms from a while back? Well, I cooked a variation on the theme the other day that was delicious and very filling when served with spaghetti.
Pancetta and Mushroom Cream Sauce
(All quantities are approximate...I was experimenting!)
1/3 cup diced Pancetta
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine (plus one full glass for the chef)
Dash of Nutmeg
1 cup Heavy Cream
Fry up Pancetta until just starting to brown. Add mushrooms and cook until they darken and sweat out some liquid. Add white wine and reduce until its almost all gone. Over low heat, add cream and stir. When cream is hot, add nutmeg and cheese, stirring until melted. Serve over favorite pasta!