Yucca empanada recipe.

I have to remind you in this post that I am not a writer, and that I’m an english learner. So, in the same way you’ll notice that this is not a recipe by a professional cook. Nevertheless, I had to try writing my version of this recipe below because I simply love it and I need to practice my kitchen/cooking vocabulary.

This is for more or less 12 empanadas.

Ingredients:
☝ 1 Kg. or 2 lbs. of yucca
✌ 1/2 cup of pre-cooked white corn meal (that kind of flour ground from maize that we mostly use to make arepas).
👌 Sugar and salt as you like. I like it salty with a hint of sweetness. So I use 1 spoon of salt and 1 spoon of sugar or papelón (which is much healthier crude brown sugar).
👐 Your favorite salty filling (It could be cheese, chicken, ground beef, ham, sauteed vegetables, combinations of them, your imagination is the limit.)

Preparation:
1.🔪Peel and cut into little pieces the yucca.
2.🔥Put the pieces and the salt in boling water until they are soft enough to easily smash them.
3. 🍴 Smash the yucca while it’s hot on plate, and then put it into a bowl.
4. 👋 When it isn’t hot but warm, add the corn flour and the sugar, and knead it for 5minutes.
5. ✊Put a ball that fits in your fist over one plastic sheet and cover it with another.
6. 🍳 Press it with something plain and heavy to get it flat until you have 5-mm-thick dough, and remove the top plastic sheet.
7.🐓🐴🐖🐟🍆 🍠Put one or two spoons of your filling ingredient in the middle.
8.↪ Fold it with the help of the plastic sheet to have a semicircle and cut it with a bowl to seal the edge.
9. 🔥Deep fry it.
👏 Enjoy it!

They are crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside and gluten free. I am so sorry I don’t have a good picture to show you.

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Dark diary

Day 1

4:30pm. I was taking a nap and the sound of the fridge turning off woke me up. I thought “Great! With the pile of work I have on, subjects of my course to cover, and they have to cut the electricity now.” I decided to stay in bed and chat with my friends until it come back.

6:30pm. I was wonder how long it was going to be this time to know if I had to forget about work for the rest of the day. So I opened twitter, and this is when I found out this time was special. I tried to reach my family (who live on a island) by phone but I couldn’t.

10:30pm. My phone was dead but I was sort of satisfied because I could help a friend that is out of the country to contact with her mom and sent messages to my family saying that I was fine. Then all I could do was rest and save my powerbank, which was half charged, for real emergencies.

Day 2.
10:30am. I started worrying about the food in my fridge. It was time to decide what to to do about it, and for that I needed to check The News. As soon as I turned on my phone with the powerbank, I received a call from an unkown number. It was a superwoman that I know and she said “Mija we are going to pick you up. You stay with us, ok?”

From now in this story I’m gonna call them “auntie” and “sister” because they are the aunt and sister of one of my best friend. Even though he had left the country they always kept inviting me to eat with them time to time. The telephone companies of their phones were out of service. They borrowed a phone with almost no battery left, and if I wouldn’t have turned on my phone just in time they would waste that charge in vain, and my story would be way sader. So this was the first miracle.

2:00pm. They hadn’t talk to anybody in the island yet, so we reached them by my phone and they got bad news. Two kids close to them had an accident that morning. It made everything worse as they couldn’t know how bad it was for hours. But later that night we contacted them again and we knew they were hurt but safe.

4:30pm. First 24h without electricity. I really thought that I was going to spend the day with them, and I would be at home by this time. We checked twitter again with an old nokia that I have. Its showed three twits at a time. Hospital colapsing, people whose lives hanged on a machine were either dead or scared to death, Doctors busy bumping air manually to the lungs of babies that should have been in incubators; whilist politics were blaming each other (as always). There was nothing certain about what was happening, why we didn’t have electricity, and how long it was going to take to recover it.

11:30pm. We went to bed after planing how to save the food we had stored in our frezzers because if something is a sin in Venezuela is throwing damaged food away in front of so many people starving. You have to either save it or give it away before it get ruined.

Day 3.
8:30am. All we are from the same island, so they use to bring with them a lot of fish because here, in the mainland, you cannot find the same variety and quality of fish. They have food for two for a month or so. We were cooking all of it and using all the techniques we knew to conserve it when I saw a light coming from the ceiling and then we heard the fridge motor starting to run.

10:00am. We conected the phones, ate breakfast, saved the rest of the food, and went out to buy water. When we arrived to stablishment, the man said that the electricity was just cut again, so we could pay only in cash. As cash is really scarce here, we didn’t buy it and save the little cash we had for something more critical because we did have water for one day more.

3:00pm. After lunch we retake our initial plan for that day. We went searching for ice, as the same as every single person in the city were doing too. We asked here and there until a woman told us “I think there is ice two blocks down this street.” Indeed the woman was right but there was line to get it with people even from other cities. We heard that someone said that the ones paying with cash didn’t have to make the line. We looked at each other and have the same thought. This is that critical case.

4:30pm. 48hours of the blackout with just 1hour and a half of break. We got the ice and had to split up because I had my own food to save. As I use to store food just for me for 15 days maximum, It wasn’t a big deal for me. I did a big soup with all portions of chicken, meat and cooked grains that had in my freezer; and most of my vegetables.

6:30pm. I ate and went out to give away the rest, and I didn’t have to go so far. I found an old lady from my building that hadn’t eaten hot food in two days because her kitchen was electric. She was in her way for a “sharing” that my neighbours had set up for other people in the same conditions (I didn’t know about it because I wasn’t there). I gave it to her and she told me she was so happy that she wasn’t going empty handy now.

9:00pm. I went to bed thinking about Venezuelans. While ones make themselves feel better under the saying “Mientras unos lloran, otros venden pañuelos” because they believe that overpricing ice, water, gas, or selling 10minutes of a phone charge for $5 makes them smarter; others are all willing to help and give away as much as they have during the worst condition. Like that lady that could stay in her floor (4th) and eat all of the food I gave her, which would be reasonable considereing her legs difficulties. But instead she was excited for going uptairs to the 12th floor to share it.

Day 4.
9:00am. I made “Empanadas de yuca” for breakfast, and went to share with my neighbours from the same floor and saved some for auntie and sister.

10:30am. I always have my front door closed. But I was returning from my neighbour’s and just wanted grab my phone and contact my balckout partners to comeback with them, but our plan didn’t cover this part. We forgot their phone lines were dead. That only mine was working. I kept trying walking in circles nearby the door when I saw by edge of my left eye someone going down stairs in the hallway outside that walked like sister. Then I cameback and saw her wondering there and I shout her name. As I am the one that use to visit them, she wasn’t sure which was my apartment in a bulding of 88. This was the second miracle.

4:30pm. 72 hours without electricity with a break that then seemed to had last just 5minutes. We went searching for more ice for the food they could saved and oil for the car. There were not ice anywhere and lines for oil were of hundreds of cars. We made the line in a station service far from us, but it was worth the travel because it have way fewer cars.

6:30pm. Sister had loved my “Empanadas de yuca,” so she ask me to prepare more for dinner and we shared with their neighbours.

9:00pm.
We were in bed and talked for hours. For our luck, auntie is one of the funniest people that I’ve ever known. So sister and I didn’t lack entertainment. She amused us with crazy stories of her and her friends in college until we fell asleep.

Day 5.

1:00am. The light of the bulb above me burnt my eyes although I had them closed. I was dizzy, so I crawled not fully awake yet to the outlet to conect my powerbank. Someone yelled “Llegó la luz” and one by one windows started to bright. I would say there were 15 windows shining when everything went black again. It only lasted 10 minutes.

1:42am. We were still awake, but we couldn’t even talk. We all were just too mad, frustrated, worried, and emotionally exahusted to sleep. I was desparate to recall all the coincidences that kept my head above the water, and I said aloud “Tomorrow with the first light of the sun, I gonna include in my daily writing all the miracles that we experienced so far.” Believe it or not, as soon as I finished that line, the light came back to the room. I have auntie and sister as witnesses. It was as if GOD have said “Finally you have a good idea, go ahead now”.

Apart from the two that I mentioned, there were other little things that were key for us to solve problems. For example,

My phone battery is damaged, so it use to turn off when I am use it at its 80% of charge. But one time that we were out of the apartment and it was at its 30% we received a call that lead us to recharge water. Also, it let us to make a call at its 20% to know about the children that had had the accident.

Another miracle was that we had the visit of an old neighbour that didn’t live in the block anymore, and went there to check on us. It happens to be that he knew the place to recharge oil without a long line and took us there.

Also there was the fact that we had exactly the cash enough to buy two bags of ice and a minute later there they said they ran out of it.

Continue reading “Dark diary”

Pizza without cheese, love without kiss.

Some people may say that they cannot live without cheese and I was one of them. Thinking in that person, the person who I was then, I thought “well, by now I would have scroll over this reading because if this is something that would make me consider to quit cheese I do not want to read it”. But when I ponder the scars I could have not have, Gosh! I just feel selfish for not sharing this. I just hope that a stubborn head (as well as mine was) read it and use it, so I will go straight to the point.

By “leaving” cheese and all dairy products I got rid of pimples for good and I realize that I was not breathing as well as I could. Because of these two major reasons I sleep better, this in turn made my morning rutine pain free, and that is how it started a domino effect of good consequences that made my days brighter. Now it is up to you to keep reading.

Long story short, I have a rough puberty. My acne was so serious that I was used as lab rat of my doctor for testing new treatments. We succeeded enough for me putting clothes on with no pain most days of the month, and I accepted that that was the way my life was meant to be.

One day I woke up with a rash. I was told that it was an allergy and I had to figure out what was causing it. I had to eliminate a lot of food groups (almost everything) from my diet until the rdaysash would disappear, and then started to add one group in every week to find out my reaction to each one. It turned out that it was not originated for any food, but I did discover a few things about my body that I do love to be aware of now.

  1. Everytime I eat or drink any dairy product, I wake up the next morning with stuffy nose. And if do this for two days in a row I get a pimple.
  2. I can eat gluten, but it is way harder to digest than the rest of the food for my system.

I said “leaving” before because I did not wipe out these products from my life. GOD knows I love pizza and ice cream and I do not like the fake stuff. Instead, I have learned when and how much of them I can eat to enjoy them keeping their effects on me under control.

I strongly recommend doing this experiment to everybody. It requieres time and effort but believe me it is worth. Everybody, and I mean literally every single body is different. Doctors can guide you because they have studied our human body for a many years but they are not soothsayers, and maybe you are not a textbook case.

Do not be like the old me. Do not waste your life getting used to dealing with health issues that everybody clasifies as minor if they lessen the happiness of your days. Pay attention to your body and give it some love.

PS. In case that you wonder, my rash was the way of my body to shout out that I had to take the stress down a notch. So, restricting my diet only made it worse. But once I became conscious of it, it vanished.

Todo pasa por algo y lo mejor es lo que pasa.

Grandpa’s country

Photo by Argenis Rodriguez.

I am one of the few young people living in my building. It has 88 apartments, distributed on 14 floors and 4 penthouses. You can find on each floor an older living alone, a couple of grandparents, and the rest of the apartments empty. Just on a few you’ll see a young family, or a single. And if you enter and take a coffee with these last ones, you’ll know that they are in the process of getting their paperwork done to leave the country.

This is not a thing happening just in my building, it is like that in the other next to this. Also, my last two friends that left here told me that it’s the same in their buildings. Moreover, if you walk in the streets and pay attention you’ll notice the same stats for the ages of the people you will see.

This country has became in a giant care home, except that they take care of themselves. Instead of receiving visits, they learnt how to use skype or facetime. They cannot do much with their retirement payment, so they rely on an allowance from their children outside of the country.

These grandparents are incredible fighters. Apart from the fact that they manage to get 18 liter-bottles of water and their daily staples into buildings without elevator most of the time, they also go out in each protest to defend what they built and are attached to. They do not want to start from zero in another land like our youth. They planted a tree in this land, had a son here and had already started to write their books about this place.

They do not stay behind and be safe at home while others defend them. As long as they can walk and rise a flag, they would go in the front row alongside the others warriors of peace clinging to the hope of dying surrounded by their offsprings. The ones they raised and the ones they only know through a screen.

Food

Food is love.
Food is fuel.
Food is a peacemaker.
Food is an excuse to see you.

Some food can harm.
Some food can heal.
Some food gives you pleasure.
Some food gives you more years.

Your food is a reason to love you.
Your food shows me you care.
Your food represents you.
Your food can take you back in time and place.

My food says where I am from.
My food is my culture.
My food always spreads a message.
My food shapes my body and my posture.

A brief catch up.

Hey Diane! How are things going in Valencia (Venezuela) this 2019?

Mmm, let me wrap things up. So far: We have got an interim President, the one with a position that starts for “D” is “preparing for an attack,” an earthquake swarm is ongoing, and what was the other thing? Oh, right! Also, a meteorite impacted here yesterday when I was making dinner, it was kind of pretty.

Seriously, come visit sometime! You’ll never get bored here (I’m kidding, don’t you dare). Literally any unexpected sound, such as the doorbell or a car horn from outside, makes me jump. And my nocturnal bruxism is getting worse.

Anyways, despite everything this year has been somehow promesing.
I feel optimistic enough to bet that National History will be sort of fargo (the genre) film for my little nephew in the future. Without any doubt, it will be a bright future, because we passed through many “bottom lines” before, but this time it really feels like if we are getting closer and closer to The One, right? Right?

#VamosBien.

Things will also miss you.

One day you will be gone. Your bed would not embrace you anymore. Your mug would not feel your fingers, or your lips in the morning. Your fridge would not be your confidant at midnight. Your mirror will wonder “What happened to crazy-face? And your keys! Oh, your keys! Yeah, your keys. Who does not have a close relationship with he or her keys? It doesn’t matter how good a copy is, it never feels like yours, right?

Most people think about the hard time the people that love us will have when we are no longer here, but what about our things? In fact, the things that are close to us are the ones that will give your loved ones goosebumps when they touch them, and witness their crying when nobody else is in the room.

Each piece of clothing will be a memorie for them. Remember the last beach trip? The clothes that made you look so awkward that day will make them laugh at you again, but this time just for one second. And those pants that caused arguements every now and then, because you would never threw them away promesing that you would lose weight to fit in them. These would not be so funny because at the end you could not fill them up.

Sometimes those things will talk more about you than your friends, they really know you, they keep your secrets, oh boy! poor you if they could actually speak and explain their evidences. Your hair brush is the first one in tell you when you are starting to lose way more hair. And your toothbrush know you ate that sweet you were forbidden.

Your things will not be yours anymore, but they would be physical memories, the non-alive reminders of you that will comfort the ones who miss you.