Saturday, December 22, 2007

Adventures in High Altitude Cooking: Green Bean Casserole

This edition of Hight Altitude Cooking is about a typical North American holiday dish: The Green Bean Casserole. Here's how I went about creating this dish in the Andean city of Cusco.

1. Volunteer to make green bean casserole for the missionary community Thanksgiving because it's your favorite dish.
2. Discover that not only do they not have canned mushroom soup in Cusco but that French's Fried Onions cannot be found either.
3. Determine that it can indeed be accomplished without these modern North American conveniences!
4. Create your own fried onions in the following steps:

Number 1: slice onions very thinly and soak in milk

Number 2: dip or roll in flour

Number 3: deep fry the floury onions

Number 4: enjoy a fried onion that looks and tastes very much like the canned variety

5. Clean, cut and cook fresh green beans.
6. Mix beans with dry packets of mushroom soup, milk cream and milk (all the while hoping that you have the amounts correct).
7. Mix in some of your fried onions.
8. Fill a casserole dish, cook and cover with more of your labor-intensive onions 10 minutes before it's done.
9. Enjoy your green bean casserole and enjoy the comments of missionary kids who said it was their favorite dish!

Side Note: after cooking the casserole the mushroom thickened way more than I expected. Next time I'll use more milk than cream.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Celebrating Peruvian November Holidays

The first two days of November started with holidays! They do celebrate Halloween here but it's a little different than in the states. One thing that is different is that instead of going to homes, the kids go to stores looking for candy! Another difference is that they don't say "Trick or Treat" but "Halloween." The downtown was packed with kids trying to get candy out of business owners. I don't think I would like Halloween very much if I was a business owner!!

The holidays in November meant that we had the first two days off from school. The first day was the day of the dead and it was celebrated by eating pork and fancy breads in the shapes of horses and dolls. I actually didn't eat any pork that day but some delicious Peruvian chicken in Urubamba.

The second was a very long day (I think it was officially the Day of the Living) that started out with a teacher in service at the Shultz house. Our time together was mainly focused on discussing whether dictation was helpful in the classroom (it's very much overused here in Peru) and talking about our Christmas program. We ended our time together by watching "Facing the Giants."

After that many of us headed over to the TECHADO that was happening at the San Jeronimo church. A Techado is a literally a "Roofing" and it was just that! The second and third floors in the church were finished and it was time to put in the cement roof. This was a process that included lots of hands: mixing the cement, carrying or hoisting it to the third floor and pouring it. Of course we girls couldn't really help with the lugging of cement but we did help by cleaning up the second floor (it was covered with sawdust, wood scraps, nails and trash). That was a very exciting and tiring job that took a couple of hours!!!

The next thing that I did was go to a local "fair" with some of the other teachers. There were several rides that were maybe not that impressive but it was fun anyway. The greatest part was that the girl that I was riding with kind of freaked out and I had to keep assuring her that we would be okay: "It's okay! You are in the Lord's hands. He's gonna take care of you!" It was so funny!!

The night ended by a return to the church where the men were still working. When they finally stopped, we sat down and ate a special meal called: Chiriuchu. This meal is very interested because it is made up of a pile of various things, served cold:

1. a peice of chicken
2. a peice of cuy (guinea pig)
3. a pancake like bread
4. a peice of sausage
5. a peice of cheese
6. a seaweed like substance
7. fish eggs (not caviar - fish eggs)
8. toasted peices of corn

I got to help with the assembling process in the kitchen. It was so much fun to watch the ladies get so into piling on each item. It wasn't a bad dish (not necesarily good to eat at 9 pm) and I think the only thing I really didn't like was the fish eggs (not so much the taste but the texture and sense of popping when you ate it).

It was definitely a very interesting and exciting way to welcome in November!!

Blog Clog

Hi Friends! You may have noticed my sad lack of blog posts within the last two months. This was the result of busyness and emotional turmoil. Don't worry! Things are getting better and I have more time. We just had our end of year program at school yesterday! Last week was spent in organizing my room, cleaning glue and paint off chairs, tables and desks. It's hard to believe that the school year is over!!! What a fun adventure!

In any case, we are officially in our summer break right now. Classes don't start up again in March. yay! That means that I shall have time to update my blog. There should be several blog entries coming so don't miss any.

I'll leave you with my favorite quote of the year from one of my students.

"Este Miss Carrie es loca. Baila sin musica!"
(That Miss Carrie is crazy, she dances without music)

- Carlos Daniel, 5 yr old class - said to Miss Wendy (the Spanish kindergarten teacher)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Lucre Church!!!

In October the Mennonite church in Lucre celebrated its 17th Anniversary!!! That makes it the oldest Mennonite church in Peru. I had the privilige of joining in with their Sunday morning service. The service started with ponché for all who arrived early enough. Ponche is a breakfast drink made from haba beans. I know it sounds strange to drink beans but it really just tasted like watery oatmeal and I liked it.

Several members of the church got together to create a special worship team for the event. They really did a great job singing the typical Quechua type of worship songs! At one point Pastor Alloy got up and talked about how a church anniversary really was a great time to celebrate and that we should celebrate just like at a wedding or birthday. Then everyone from the worship team can down and went to the congregation to give hugs, say "happy anniversary" and put confetti on their heads. There was so much confetti all over the place!! What fun! Part of the morning as well was that John Kreider (who was there in the very beginning of the church) preached a short sermon. Four of the missionary daughters: Hannah, Destiny, Oriana and Bethany did a special dance that they had come up with themselves. It was a wonderful morning!

After the service the men started a line and brought in: FOOD!!! The first part of our special meal was a soup with all sorts of things (not to mention chuño-freeze dried potato and sheep guts). It really tasted quite good considering the contents. The main dish was sheep meat, a spaghetti noodle salad and two potatos. The meal was complete with a cup of chicha morada (a drink made from purple corn - yes, drinking corn! It's true and it really is not so bad). Let me tell you I was SO FULL by the end of this meal!! What a great way to celebrate a CHURCH'S BIRTHDAY!!!

Yummy Sheep Gut Soup!
Notice the sheep guts and the black chuño (freeze dried potatoes)!!
Our lunch - our very big plate of lunch.
Who knew that a drink from boiled corn could be good??!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Knitting Emergency!!!!

Okay so maybe it's not exactly an emergency. I just started knitting a fun combo scarf using plain black scarf intermingled with some fancy fur. The current problem is that I only have one skein of my fancy fur and I've realized that I don't have enough. I can't buy fancy fur here in Peru. Perhaps it exists in Lima but I'm in Cusco and not Lima. So, I'm wondering if someone could buy some for me and mail it to me in an envelope? My address is: Carrie Kleinschmidt, Apartado 708, Cusco, PERU

If someone is going to do that, could you please let me know. Otherwise I may have to take another scarf apart and think of some other creative idea. :0) thanks!

Here's a picture of the yarn. It's Fancy Fur, Color Number #254 Stained Glass!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


As a school we celebrated Columbus Day with a field day! It was a day where students, parents and teachers participated in many different kinds of games and enjoyed a picnic lunch together. There were 4 teams made up of a mix of kids and parents from different grades and teachers. I was a part of the green team and we had a grandmother and little baby as a part of our team. Unfortunately the red team beat our socks off but we had a fun time with the different relays: broom and ball, transfer the water, transfer the child and transfer the water balloon. We also played a game of futbol (soccer) with a huge ball and a water balloon toss game. There was also a few rounds of Shark & Guppies were there were two or three kids who were it (sharks) and the rest of the kids (the guppies) running across the field trying to escape. The best part was when the parents played this game...they were pretty competitive.

Despite the fact that the day was overcast, we didn't have any rain. Here the sun is so strong that sometimes you are very grateful for the cloud cover!!! After our morning of games, we handed out prizes (lollipops for first place and candies for the other teams) and sat down for lunch. Some of the moms had prepared a meal that was available for a fee. The meal was bbq chicken, a potato, a sweet potato, a sweet plantain and salad. It was very yummy!!

Overall it was a very fun day spent with the kids and parents and quite a break from our normal routine.

Broom and Ball Relay

Transfer the Child Relay

Sharks & Guppies
A tired shark...
Run Guppies Run!!
The parents have their turn at Sharks & Guppies!

Water Balloon Toss


My 4 yr. old student, Suney with her mom, Nilda.

Profesora Ruth is ready with her water balloon! Watch out!

Miss Carrie and two of her 4 yr. olds: Flor & Lizet.

Camioneta? Cambimeta? Caminame?

On Saturday the 6th of October a fun outing was planned for the youth of the San Jeronimo church. There isn't what you would consider a youth group in the Mennonite church any longer. Now the youth meet in separate youth cells and only are all together in once-in-a-while occasions like the event of October 6. Since I'm an unmarried person I'm still considered a JOVEN (youth) here. I'm not sure what I think about that since I'm no longer in my twenties but I guess I'll let it make me feel YOUNG!!!

So ever since the talk about this event which happened to be a hike started I've had trouble pronouncing the Spanish word for hike which is caminata. Many times "camioneta" would come out of my mouth which means van, light truck or station wagon. Can you imagine trying to say "hike" and saying "station wagon" instead?? I don't know what my problem was with the word but it was so bad that I just tried to avoid saying it altogether. Thankfully our camioneta is over and I can now breathe easy until the next hike (which may be a sketching hike with some artist friends...doesn't that sound like fun??).

We had about 20 youth come out for the hike that bright Saturday morning when we took the bus from Cusco to Chinchero. We hiked from Chinchero to Huayllabamba on an ancient Incan trail. No, it wasn't THE famous INCA TRAIL but it was an ancient path that we followed. Doesn't it sound nifty to say "we walked an ancient path"??? Anywhoo, we passed by ruins and rivers and streams and mountains. At one point I felt like I was Much-Afraid from "Hinds Feet on High Places" trying to find her way on rocky precipes. Well, it wasn't that high or rough terrain. In fact we were going downwards for most of the hike. What gorgeous mountain views!!! I don't know if I'll ever get tired of the scenery around here. We had quite a dispersal of different age people in our group but I hiked mostly with Alicia and Marisol some older gals who are more along my "wavelength." It was a very nice day and we ended it by taking public transportation to Urubamba and eating lunch in the park there.

Enjoy the pictures!!

Wendy, Uri, Alicia and Marisol are ready to start our hike in Chinchero!

The whole group!!!

The ancient path we traveled.

Part of the Sacred River (of course, we were in the Sacred Valley you know....)