Today’s Recipe: Ratatouille

This morning we woke to 40 degree weather with a wind of around 18 mph.  A good day for a warm and hearty stew recipe. I had all the ingredients for a wonderful Ratatouille so that is what I have made.

If you like zucchini and eggplant you will love this recipe. The cutting up of the veggies takes the most time, the cooking time is super fast and you end up with a very hearty meal.

Ratatouille

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 large green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into sticks
  • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 zucchini, cut into long sticks
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped including leaves
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (use better quality)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Parsley chopped for garnish

Use part of the olive oil to sauté the beef with the dry herbs. Set meat aside on a plate when almost cooked.  In the same pot add the balance of the olive oil and sauté the onions, celery and peppers for 2 minutes, add the balance of the veggies and cook just a few minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point you may need to add 1/4 cup of water but the veggies will release more of their own juices making more sauce. Add the ground beef and stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Check the tenderness of the veggies, they should hold their shape but be tender.  This is the time to make adjustments to the seasoning, adding salt or pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a grating of Parmesan cheese.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

This tastes even better the next day.  You can serve over a baked potato or rice to make a more filling meal.

This recipe is from Sandy Hill who we met in South Miami years ago.  We have lost contact over the years but this recipe has lasted the test of time.  Of course I have made several additions to make it my own but the basic recipe is the same as when Sandy had Joe and I over for dinner back in the late 70’s.

RedTec Informatica – I LOVE These Guys

Meet the guys from RedTec Informatica in Atlantida. From left to right Harry, Michael and Adrian.

 What a nice group of guys, what a good place to visit if you need anything for your computer, phone, tablet.  If they do not have it in stock they will order it and from my personal experience, in as little as one day you can have whatever you heart desires when it comes to technology available here in Uruguay.

They are a breath of fresh air, with a smile on their faces, a kind word and just the best service you can find anywhere.

The store is packed with some great technology that you cannot live without. It has been a good experience each and every time I go into their store.

The office located in downtown Atlantida at Calle 11 y 18, Edificio Portofino.  All three guys speak a bit of English and are not shy in speaking to you.  If you have questions you can email Michael at redtecinformatica@gmail.com or call the store at 4371-6456 or cell at 099 372 649. So far we have bought a few items from them and been very very happy. Joe has a new LeNovo tablet and I’m thinking about a new cellphone.

 

Feria One Block from the House

Every Thursday afternoon there is a feria (farmers market) set up one block from our house. It has seafood, cheese, meats, sausages, clothes, shoes, plants, cleaning supplies, garden items, you name it and it will likely be found on a table, or under a canopy or in a trailer.  I know that in Montevideo the residents of the street receive a tax incentive for having the farmers market in front of their homes each week and that it is a three-year commitment allowing the mercado to be on your street.

They sell grains and beans in quantity, plus all different types of herbs and spices.  Some places sell medicinal herbs as well.This stand had honey and home canned veggie mixes.Not a great deal of fruit this time of year.  But they did have three varieties of apples, bananas, pears, juice and eating oranges and plums.  One stand had beautiful strawberries but there were just too many people.These trailers have chilled display cases with cheeses, salami and other cold cut meats, they also have several varieties of olives.This market does not get totally set up until around 3pm. By 4pm it was packed with people. This week the variety of warm clothing was unbelievable – coats, hats, scarves, gloves, you name it and it was at the market.  Joe and I bought heavy wool socks and gloves along with some fruits and veggies for the week.  We also bought a variety pack of sweets, cookies and alfahores. It came out to 10 pesos a piece.  Not bad since we cut everything in half and share.Another trailer with cheese, salami and cold cuts. This one sells pet supplies. Makeup and nail polish anyone? I wanted all three of these cast iron pots.  Not exactly sure what to do with the one with legs… Now for all you Yerba Mate drinkers…I bought a dozen or so of the pansies.  Hopefully this afternoon I will get them into the planter on the front porch. Next time Joe requested that I take close up pictures so you could see the actual items and cost.  Hope you enjoyed the tour of our Thursday market. Joe also said the best part was eating the torta fritas that reminded him of hojaldras in Panama.

Yerba Maté

Yerba Maté (pronounced mah-teh) is not just tea, it is a way of life and a cultural tradition that you can see everywhere in Uruguay. From an office worker on his/her way to work to a gaucho – folks carry their mate cups called gourds, straws called bombilla and hot water thermos everywhere they go. Some even have a fancy leather carrying case just for their maté. Morning or evening it is always maté time.

While Joe and I were flying from Santiago Chile to Montevideo our plane had the entire Montevideo futbol team Cerro on it.  Many of the players had their maté essentials with them for the flight. That was the first time we had seen the complete set including the leather carrying case.

There is a process to making Yerba Maté the right way.  I am not in any way an expert but I have drunk it many times over the past several years but never in the gourd. I will tell you what I have read and heard about that process. First folks have their favorite brand of maté, they come in pretty large bags the size of a 5 lb sack of flour is the largest I have seen down to very small bags.

You put the dry Yerba Maté into your cup, add a small amount of hot water, not boiling, to wet the maté which activates it.  Allow about 30 seconds for the water to infuse the leaves. Fill the cup with more water and insert the straw called the bombilla. You do not move the bombilla once inserted, no stirring, no messing with the bombilla. If offered a cup of maté you would drink the entire cup, no stirring the straw and return to the owner. Sharing a cup of maté is a very common practice here.  Locals refill the cup until the thermos of hot water is empty. Using the maté grounds 4 or 5 times. And many restaurants will sell just hot water for your mate – there are even vending machines for just hot water.

Uruguayans as well as many Argentinians enjoy this tea all day long.  I have even heard stories that folks wake up early, have their maté and then go back to bed.

Below are just a few examples of the complete set being sold in the mall currently.

Now lets talk bombillas. Oh my, what a selection is available here. Most I have seen have been silver, with all different types of screens to stop the leaves from coming up the straw.

Just another cultural difference that we are learning about.

Plaza Matriz, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo

Another of our adventures took us to Plaza Matriz. You can see for yourself just how lovely this urban park is.

montevideo-2-1-24montevideo-2-1-12 montevideo-2-1-11

montevideo-2-1-23 montevideo-2-1-10Large leafed out trees surround this beautiful central fountain with benches just waiting for weary adventurers like Joe and I.  The park surrounded by buildings on all sides, shopping and restaurants on the bottom floors and probably a mix of apartment and offices above.   montevideo-2-1-8The Cathedral faces the park on one side.montevideo-2-1-6Several vendors even had tables set up with a mix of new items and used items for sale.  One table was filled with what looked to be antique silver from flatware to tea and coffee pots.montevideo-2-1-5The city has closed some of the streets leading into the park, allowing for pedestrian traffic to roam freely.

montevideo-2-1-9And a busker was playing music for our enjoyment.  And, how great for us, it was in English.  See video below.

 

Oh BOY! Salmon

A quick walk from our apartment we come to the port in Buceo, Montevideo. At the port there are several fishmongers, a small fruit and vegetable stand, a trinket shop as well as El Italian Restaurant.  Our first visit I saw the most beautiful salmon filet that looked fresh and I HAD TO HAVE IT.

montevideo-1-22-1The small fruit and veggie stand had some very nice green beans so that is what I bought to have with the salmon.

montevideo-1-22-5Most things here are sold by the kilo and that was not a problem with me because I was open for fresh fish for a few days in a row.

montevideo-1-22-8For lunch that day I made it with this outrageous Asian sauce.  It had soy sauce, fresh grated ginger, garlic, a few slices of hot red pepper for a nice punch, honey (sorry I miss Eva Honey, Eva is our neighbor in San Clemente and that is the most flavorful honey I have ever had) a grind of salt and a bit of pepper.  Heat that in a small sauce pan and top your sautéed salmon with it.  YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY

So we had two nice pieces for our next lunch, yes I can eat fish every day of the week.

montevideo-1-23-2I served the same sauce but a bit more ja ja as I love the sauce as much as the fish.  And I served it with a fresh salad and even added peach slices to the salad and made a yogurt dressing with a bit of honey and herbs and spice.

Well the salmon was a huge success and we will have it again very soon. One problem we really need to try more of the local fish as well. So we will see what I pick next.

PS I know this is farm raised in Chile. I know all about the antibiotics but honestly we just had to have it.  We will not be eating it every day so once in awhile I will take the plunge and have salmon….

Starting the Uruguay Residency Process

Before moving we did a great deal of soul-searching and researching (mostly Joe did a great deal of research on Uruguay while I did the research in getting our documents from the US and we both did the soul-searching) and found blog articles, pictures and much much more on the internet about Uruguay.  It was the same process we had done for previous moves and it has worked well for us.

We decided to use a law firm to handle our residency process as we did in the past.  We feel more comfortable with someone who knows the ins and outs of the migration laws instead of trying to handle it by ourselves or using a facilitator that only does it part-time.  We decided to use the firm Fischer and Schickendantz, and so far it has been an exceptionally good experience.  Dr. Juan Federico Fischer was our first contact and he explained the process, the documents needed and what the firm could and would do for us.  Then he turned us over to his support staff.

Over a 6 month period we gathered the documents needed from the states, submitted them back to the Secretary of State where each document originated and we waited for them to arrive.  It was torture, every one seemed to take longer than normal and we were 2 weeks away from our move date and finally received the last documents we were waiting for.  Helping through this process was EcuaAssist in Manta, Ecuador.  Adriana Rosado was a dream to work with and took away a great deal of the anxiety we were feeling over this paperwork.

Our first appointments for this process went better than expected.  Here in Uruguay you are required to go to a health clinic and receive a Health Card. As part of our check-up we were asked if we had ever had a tetanus shot, well I have but it was over 10 years ago and Joe had never had one, so we both got shots.  Because I have had it before I will need to have two more shots one within a month and one after a year.  Then we are both good for 10 years.  God willing we will live that long.

The photo below is of our attorneys office and the assistant that is working with us on our residency. Magdalene has been a treasure trove of information helping us way beyond her job requirements.  Because we are spending time waiting at appointments she gladly shares all her knowledge about the area.

montevideo-2-1-3We have been to Interpol for our background checks and met with migration at two different offices.  We will be able to pick up our cedulas on Wednesday.

Then we will be off to visit some of the other coast towns north of here. The adventure continues……