Sunday, May 11, 2008

Adventures in High Altitude Cooking: Greenhouse Root Beer

I'm pretty sure root beer is a North American thing and I'm convinced that homemade rootbeer is something the Amish make quite regularly.

Well, I'm not Amish and I'm not even in North America right now where root beer is available. Fortunately, I'm an adventurous soul who is not swayed by the unavailability of things. If you are lacking root beer, just make some. Here's the story of my root beer making adventure.

Step 1: Pull out that bottle of root beer extract that has been sitting in your cupboard for (most likely) years and years. In the past, some Pennsylvanian missionary brought that extract over carefully packaged in their belongings with the hope of making their favorite carbonated beverage some day on foreign soil. Unfortunately they never got the chance and you have inherited their precious botttle of root beer exhilir.

The special root beer extract.

Step 2: Use your handy dandy spigoted water container (normally used to hold spare water in the bathroom in case you ever have a water crisis) to mix together 9 cups of sugar, 5 gallons of water and one bottle of root beer extract.

Mix, mix, mix!

Step 3: Dissolve 1/2 tsp of yeast in 2 cups of warm water and mix with the container of very obviously root beer smelling mixture.

Step 4: Bottle and contain the root beer mixture. Unfortunately, we did not have lots of available bottles so we decided to borrow the buckets we were storing our rice and sugar in. We filled up 2 buckets, two liter bottles and four small water bottles with our root beer mixture.

Step 5: Find a warm place to store the root beer. There's no heat in Peru and it's starting to get cold so what could we do for a warm spot. Thankfully we had just had a small greenhouse built in our backyard. So, in with the lettuce, tomato and broccoli went our root beer mixture.

Our root beer!

Step 6: Wait. You have to let the root beer sit for at least 6 days. (we were trying to make the root beer for a missionary birthday celebration and had exactly 6 days!)

Bethany observes the strange root beer distillery!

Step 7: On Day 6 you take your root beer out and try it! You realize that despite 9 cups of sugar, it is not sweet enough. But it's too late to add sugar, so you take it to the party hoping that most people will have floats that incorporate sugary ice cream.

Setp 8: Enjoy your root beer float!!! Ahhhhh.....

end note: the root beer experiment certainly has not ended yet. After several weeks, I decided to try again with the root beer. I added more sugar and yeast and transferred from buckets (that are not really airtight) to bottles with twisty tops. We'll see how this round turns out!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Why working with kids keeps me laughing!

Here are some of the funny quotes and things that my kids at school have been up to:

One day I was wearing a plaid jacket and red beret combo and one of the little girls in my class asked me why I was dressed like that. Reynaldo promptly replied, "it's because she's from Argentina!" I don't know where the Argentinian thing came from but he still insists upon it sometimes.

We were learning "O" words and one of them was the word, OTTER. Since otters are more of a North American animal most of the kids had never heard of them. So, of course I had to tell them the name in Spanish which is NUTRIA. Once during the course of our class one little boy asked: "what is this animal called in Spanish?" "Nutria" I said. "And in Quechua?" he asked. I was very dubious as to whether there actually was a word for otter in Quechua but sure enough a few days later my roommate said that she was with some friends looking at a book and there was a picture of an otter with its name in Quechua: Qoa!! Who would have thunk it?

One little boy, Jared was out of school for several days and finally showed up at school. That day he was very cuddly and gave me all sorts of hugs and rubbed himself up against me. I asked him what he was doing and he said: "I'm trying to give you my fever!" Thanks a lot!

We were "cooking" (really just mixing) up oatmeal cookies in my 5 year old class and I had no desire to get flour all over my jacket. So I took it off so that I could simply be in my t-shirt. Something about me taking off my jacket caused quite a reaction with my kids. Maybe it was my blindly white bare arms or just the fact that they hardly see anyone in short sleeves. Ana Sofia exclamed: "Without shame! And in front of her students!!"

Finally, another little glimpse into to the character of Reynaldo. One day, I was bending over trying to fix the pencil sharpener (a constant problem because the kids come with already sharp pencils and jam them into the sharpener, leaving their point behind). The next thing I know Reynaldo is rubbing his face on my shirt. Do you know what he was doing? Using me as his human Kleenex!! Ugh….

That's me teacher/human kleenex!!!