Thanksgiving Dinner – with a crock pot!

thanksgiving-casa-smallCooking in Mexico has had its challenges and cooking scalloped potatoes in a crock pot was a great experience! I did a trial run a few days earlier but the potatoes were kind of crunchy, and the flavor was so-so.

What I’ve discovered in shopping in our local grocery stores is that there’s no sour cream! There’s a version that’s called “crema” but it isn’t really sour cream – more like moderately thick, bland tasting cream.

So for my Thanksgiving work-around, I tweaked my recipe. I researched crock pot recipes online and ended up making a roux with milk (and no sour cream). Then layered the sliced potatoes, diced onions and cream sauce. After cooking for 8 hours on slow, they were great! The crowd cleaned them out! (See my crock pot on the buffet table!)

Even though Mexico doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, the Casa puts on a traditional American style spread every year with about 50 people.

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We had traditional turkey with all the trimmings and pecan and pumpkin pies with whipped cream. As they say – a great time was had by all!

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Rage in Mexico over missing 43 students

4-marchers-smMexico is raging.  “They were taken alive! We want them back alive!”

The “disappearance” of 43 student teachers has enraged this country as nothing before. Last evening, the major boulevards in Mexico City were closed off to cars as over 120,000 people marched to the Zocolo (center of the city where there is a huge open plaza and the seat of government is located).

Curious about what was happening only a few blocks from our Casa, Don and I caught up with the throngs of marchers – all wearing black and carrying signs “Fuera Peña” (the President) or  placards with the pictures of the 43 student teachers.

In conversations with many friends, we’ve discovered that the people are overwhelmingly angry at corruption, inefficiency and a seemingly lack of fair justice. The case of the missing students revolves around alleged narco gangs infiltration/control of the police and mayor of the city where this event occurred. Even though 10s of 1,000s of Mexicans have “disappeared” over the past few years, this singular event has been “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

The huge march and demonstration last night occurred on Mexico’s Revolution Day. A good friend of ours privately told us “maybe Mexico needs another Revolution”.  Strong words.  Strong and raw emotions.

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Watch your step!

traffic-lights-smallAfter español class today I was walking up to Wal-Mart, my mind a million miles away, when I was about to walk across Alvarado – a very busy major street and intersection!

Woa – I almost got sideswiped by a taxi!

My mistake?  I was looking at the green pedestrian walk light across the street – forgetting that it’s not necessarily unusual to see the signal lights mis-matched to each other in Mexico City!

Closely look at this photo (click on image) and you’ll see the traffic’s moving on Alvarado (corner of Puente de Alvarado and Arriaga near the Monument to the Revolution), the pedestrian green signal is lit across the street, and a poor guy is stuck in the middle of the street!

You learn quickly to watch your step down here, like don’t walk into puddles on the sidewalk – it may be a one foot (or more) hole – as a young, hapless woman from our Casa learned the hard way a couple of months ago!

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A somber tragedy in our español class

ofrenda-group-smallWhen we celebrated the birthday of our Profesor Andrés recently, we knew that the older daughter of the Mom from Russia (who was still in Russia and coming soon to Mexico) had become gravely ill with pneumonia.

If you look at our last post, you’ll see the brother and sister in the photo are somber.

With deep sorrow we learned Sima passed away.  Sima was only 28 years old.

Because our class had been learning about the Mexican tradition of the “Day of the Dead” (Día de Muerto), on Wednesday the class built an “ofrenda” here in the Casa to commemorate her life.

ofrenda-symbols-smallMany of the “cosas” (things) that are placed on the memorial have strong symbolism in the Mexican culture.  For example, the bread on the plate has been crafted and baked to show or represent different aspects of life.

The photo of Sima shows her dancing in the full youth and vigor of life.

But what has perhaps been most difficult is the fact that the family could not be with their daughter and sister at her passing, or to be present for the burial.

A service in a local church here in Mexico City was held and we were privileged to have been invited.  Afterward, new friends (from Argentina) invited us over to celebrate Sima’s life with delicious Russian food.

ofrenda-leslie-smallIt’s been a difficult season…

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