Sunday, November 27, 2011

Birthday

A big deal? Yes, my birthday is always a big deal. It is a reminder of different times. It is when I remember how my Dad was so happy that he filled my Mom's hospital room with flowers, that he published a note in the newspaper thanking the medical staff that help me and my Mom that night. He also congratulated the other women that gave birth that night, they all had boys by the way. It is a time when I remember how I would go say Feliz Cumpleaños Tata! and he would answer back "a ti tambien niña" (to you too little girl) (even when I was over 20).
Those times are gone and this year I can't even celebrate with my family. I can't get my Mom to make me my favorite meal or a yummy cheesecake. I'm a little homesick and sad to not have them or my best friends with me. This year it doesn't feel like a big deal, it feels like any other day going to the lab, being a little sick on top of that. And it sucks! Oh well, I guess I can't expect anyone to be as excited about it as me. Is time to realize I'm not turning 5. Reality...checked!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Enchiladas de Mole

Talking about food the other day with my friends Jenn, Genie and Claire I thought I should post my recipe for enchiladas de mole here so everyone can see it and hopefully make it. I must confess first that I cheat when making mole and use flask one...just like 99% of Mexicans who make mole :-P. Making mole from scratch is absolute insanity as it's made with over 17 ingredients that range from several types of peppers, tortillas, different kinds of nut and, of course, chocolate. Lets start with the cheating recipe:

First I boil chicken breasts in water with some cilantro, onion and chicken bouillon. Note, you only use part of the cilantro but don't let the rest go to waste, you can divide it up, put it in ziploc bags and freeze it, it will be perfect for another time you are doing chicken soup or more mole ;-). Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked take the breasts and shred them. Filter out the onion and the cilantro but keep the broth! You might want to wait for a while to shred the chicken if you are doing it by hand, it's hot!

You need 2 very key ingredients, first of all the Mole paste; I use Mole Doña Maria. It usually comes in a glass with an aluminum lid. The second one is Chocolate Abuelita (Ibarra is also good), not only the best chocolate for hot cocoa but absolutely necessary for a good mole. On a frying pan pour about a cup and a half of the chicken broth at medium heat. Add 1/2 tablet of chocolate Abuelita (I have never done it with cocoa and I don't think it will work because this particular chocolate adds thickness to the sauce on top of the awesome flavor). Add 2-3 spoons of the mole paste, the amount depends on how thick you want your sauce, for enchiladas is preferable that the sauce is thick so it stays on the tortillas better. Keep moving the broth with the ingredients on it until the past and the chocolate dissolve making the sauce. I usually cook with no salt or very little and in this case none as the past has enough for me but you might want to try if it's good for you.


Once the sauce has a good consistency leave it boiling at the lowest heat you can. In another frying pan add vegetable oil (olive oil would ruin the flavor) and heat it up to high heat. Take a corn tortilla (I do not approve of substitutions here) and "pass" it through the hot oil. Here it depends on how much you want to fry the tortilla, I like them just a tad crispy but don't let them become tostadas or you won't be able to roll them. Once the tortilla is slightly fried on both sides pass it through the mole sauce. I don't flip over the tortilla because that tends to make them rip. Instead I do one side and take a little bit of the sauce and put it on the inside part of the tortilla. Add some shredded chicken (don't forget to warm it up if it's already cold) to one end of the tortilla and roll it up. Add some cheese, in Mexico I would use queso fresco (a crumbly cheese) but here I use mozzarella, you can also add raw onions and sour cream (not a fan of the latter so I skip it). Repeat the process for however many enchiladas you want and listo!



You can accompany the enchiladas with Mexican rice. Mole sauce is very versatile, if you don't want enchiladas you can just pour it on top of cooked chicken or use it as a bbq kind of thing for shredded beef. On top of rice and add some lime juice to it is fabulous! Some people don't bother with using chicken broth to make mole and use just water but I think that's too much cheating :-P. I find both mole and chocolate abuelita on every supermarket here but that might be because I'm so close to Mexico anyway. Check the biggest supermarket near you for a hispanic-food section and you will probably find both ingredients there. If you absolutely don't find them then there's Amazon, yep they have them, I checked ;-). I hope some or all of you make the recipe and let me know how it went and, of course, how it tasted!

One last thing, now that you bought a package of chocolate Abuelita make some hot cocoa! 1 liter of milk, a couple of sticks of cinnamon, one tablet of chocolate Abuelita and sugar to taste. I guarantee it will be one of the best hot cocoas you have ever had ;-). Provecho!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Butterfly trail #16

I guess that some of you guessed that this hike would be with someone special. Well, you were right. I had been seeing Colomriqueño (he is half Colombian-half Puerto Rican) for a couple of weeks and it was time to take him up to the mountain.

I pretty much decided for the both of us to take on Butterfly trail #16. I had read about it and wanted to try it. The page I use to log my hikes had amazing reviews for the trail and they did say that it was a hard climb in one direction. So, given the wimp climber I am, I thought that if we did it in the opposite direction it wouldn't be so bad, flawless logic right? wrong! Look at the picture on the left, that's the profile of the trail. It climbs down for about a mile and a half and then there's 2.7 miles up. The vertical change in those 2.7 miles is over 2 miles so you can guess how steep that was. Because of the climb people in HikeAZ recommended to shuttle 2 cars to do this trail. Meaning, leaving one car at the end of the trail (mine) and taking the other one to the trailhead (Colomriqueño's).

We started hiking at 10:30am. The first half was pretty awesome. So green, luscious and there were wildflowers and wildberries everywhere. I actually don't know if you can eat those and I didn't want to risk it. We came to a little spring, called Novio spring (btw novio means boyfriend in Spanish :-P). It didn't have much water but it had a good cliff to have lunch. I lost a bagel to the mountain for moving too fast, it fell of the cliff, I hope the fungi-eater beetles enjoy it. After our lunch we kept going and started climbing up and up and up. My heart started racing, I got out of breath and had to stop several times. It was pretty embarrassing given that it was the first time I hiked with Colomriqueño, I should have suggested an easy hike so he wouldn't see me like that. He was a trooper though, always checking on me and being patient when I had to stop and sit down because I was about to pass out. After half an hour we came to a sign marking where the trail divides to other trails, I took out my map to check where we were and I was not sure! Colomriqueño captured the precise moment when I was thinking we were lost. We looked at the map and figure out the way...up.

Colomriqueño is in much better shape than I am so he had no problem with the climb or the distance. My legs started giving up about a mile and a half from the end, it was painful and I was going very very slow. Around that time Colomriqueño asked me if I had the keys to my car in my backpack. I froze and realized that my brilliant idea of the 2 cars had just come crashing down on me. No, I didn't have the keys with me, I left them in his car, over 3 miles up the mountain. I had to sit down for a minute battling the urge to cry, I felt so stupid. Colomriqueño got a little bit upset (rightfully so) but calmed me down and said we would hitchhike a ride up the mountain to get his car and that we had to keep moving because there were clouds moving in and neither of us had rain gear (also thunderstorms up the mountain are very dangerous). He was right, I just had to shake it off and keep going. I knew from my research on the trail that we had to come to the summit of Mt Bigelow so when we got to a sign pointing towards it I thought that was the logic way to go. At that point a light rain had started falling so we had to hurry. After 200ft or so Colomriqueño realized that we had taken a wrong turn so we went back to the sign and figure out he was right. We found the right trail and went down to the road, right in front of a Ranger's Visitors Center. Colomriqueño ran down when he saw a couple of vans were about to leave the Visitors Center, it was our chance to get a ride. I tried following him fast and fell flat on my ass, jajajajajaja. I'm ok, it didn't hurt, I was going down on a steep slope so I wasn't too far from the ground anyway.

Colomriqueño talked to the people in the van and explained our dilemma. The driver was very nice and agreed to take us. It turned out she was transporting mentally-ill people so we had to ride on the back of the van. She apologized a lot for it but we really didn't care, all we wanted was to get the car not having to walk 3 miles up the mountain, after a hard hike, while it was raining. We finally made it up there and got the car. He dropped me off at my car and we drove down the mountain in between patches of really heavy rain. We were very lucky not to get caught in those while we were hiking.

So, even after I got us to hike a really hard trail, lost us a couple of times, forgot the keys to the shuttle car and got us to ride in the back of a van full of crazies Colomriqueño said he had not had such a good hike in a long time. Isn't he awesome? Oh yeah, he is cute too...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunset trail

This past weekend a friend from New Mexico came to visit and we decided to go up to Mt. Lemmon for a hike. As promised I applied the Doodologist's tattoo so I would feel like Claire was also there with us.


Hiking with my friends was quite a different experience. They have a very different approach to it. I'm all about planning the trails I'll do, looking at maps and a compass, knowing the elevation change I can expect and the conditions of the trail. They just park somewhere, find a trail and follow it. I had 72Oz of water, 2 cheese sticks, a pear, some bread and a couple of sausages. They had 32Oz of water, combined, and nothing else. Of course I shared my food and we didn't do a super-hard or long trail so it wasn't so bad. Still, despite the fact that both of my friends have hiked before and one actually considers herself a hiker, they were not prepared. They both got a little dehydrated, for obvious reasons, at the end.

The good part about it was having someone to talk to all the way, to have the chance to be plain silly and to have lots of pictures with me in them.




You can guess from the title that the trail we did is called Sunset trail. Very different from the other 2 I have done on Mt. Lemmon. Very rocky, not much tree coverage due to an old fire. The same spectacular views, peace and serenity though. We also found a couple of cute creatures:

Can you see the tiny little Horny Toad? ------------------------->



The lizard posed for us and didn't run away until we took a few pictures of it ;-). We ended up drenched in sweat, tired but with a happy heart.





After the hike we went to a social event that my department has every time the football team plays in house. We first have a scientific discussion (yes, on Saturdays) and then we hang out, eat hotdogs and play with bean bags.

It was actually fun but I'm not willing to give away many of my Saturdays for it :-P. After the tailgating we went for dinner and I completely forgot to take pictures. It really sucks because after dinner I saw my sister who had an impromptu getaway in Tucson. I only hanged out with her for 1 hour or so but it was good, it makes me feel a little less home-sick ;-).

I'm already planning my next hike and it probably won't be a lonely one again but, I don't want to give that away just yet ;-).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Solo hike

One of the things I used to do with Germanman and that I enjoyed a lot was hiking. Now that he is gone I was not going to stop. So, I looked up the trail maps for Mount Lemmon, it's a mountain about 1h from Tucson where we can go to get away from the heat. I had only been there once before so I'm not familiar with the trails. I wanted to have planned what I was going to do so I could let people know about it and not end up like the guy in 127-hours, falling somewhere with no-one that knew where I was and when I was supposed to come back.

I decided to do a trial called Mint Spring, it had good reviews and was annotated as fairly easy. The thing was, I couldn't find the stupid headtrail so I did change the trail I was doing at the last minute but I knew the place was absolutely packed and I could get help if I needed it. I started a trail called Marshal Gulch, it's 1.2 miles long and follows a spring. It was very easy and I enjoyed a bunch of different wild flowers and a few pretty birds. It took me less than an hour to complete the trail, it ends in a saddle where 4 more trails start.

I knew about one of the trails, called Wilderness of Rocks because the German had considered doing it at some point. I knew it had really cool rock formations (ergo the name) but I saw on the map that it was very long (4 miles). I decided to go on it and if go back when I got tired. That angry guy on the right is the first rock formation on the trail. About 5 minutes into the trail I got to a huge flat rock and I couldn't see where the trail continued so I waited there for a couple of minutes until someone else came. It was a couple with their 11-12y old son, the kid knew the trail very well and pointed me in the right direction. Immediately after that the trail got very steep and rocky. I'm not a good climber so I knew that whatever distance I was going down I would have climb up on my way back. Because the trail is so rocky it was also very hard to follow it and after 20 minutes or so I decided that it was not a good idea for me to continue in it. I went back to the flat rock and had lunch there, with an amazing view of the canyon and the mountains. Lunch consisted of a bagel, 2 cheese sticks, 1 salami stick, a banana and a lot of water.

After my lunch I went back to the Marshall Gulch saddle and decided to go back taking the Aspen trail, it forms a loop with the Marshall Gulch trail so it would take me back to my car. The Aspen trail was considerably more difficult than Marshall Gulch, probably the reason why I didn't see anybody on the trail after I started it. The last people I saw, in the saddle, was a couple with their 1y old daughter riding on her Daddy's back. When I was 1h into the trail I thought I was close to the end so pulled out the map just to be sure, it was until then that I realized that the trail was actually 2.5 miles long, not the 1.5 miles I thought it was. There was nothing to do but keep going. I then realized just how quiet that place was and a sudden rush of loneliness came over me. I couldn't stop thinking about that couple with their baby. No, I haven't given up, I still want that. I want to hike with my husband while he carries our baby in his back. The feeling was very powerful and I had to stop for a minute and calm myself down, I was not going to cry in the middle of the woods...and I didn't. I kept on going. I had to focus on where I was stepping and how to get around fallen trees. There was a lot of overgrowth on the trail and at some point I started thinking I had lost the trail and was following a false trail because it was not maintained at all and I had not seen anyone in a long time. I panicked for a couple of minutes and decided that if by 3:00pm (it was around 1pm) I had not seen anyone of made it trough the end I would have to turn around and go back on Marshall Gulch trail.

Fortunately that wasn't necessary, at 1:45pm I saw the most beautiful thing my eyes saw today. No, it wasn't someone else. No, it wasn't my car. It was the restrooms by the parking lot, jajajajaja.

Someone told me that if you want to hike you have to do it on your own. Curiously though I didn't see anybody else hiking on their own. I saw a lot of couples, couples with kids and a 2 groups of elderly people hiking all together. One of the elderly women asked me if I was with 3 girls that were hiking in front of me. I said: "no, I'm all on my own". She said: "huh, well, have a good day". She was surprised by my answer. So, no, I don't think many people hike on their own. But, I will continue to do it...after I buy a compass.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

No more fairytales

I'm done believing in soulmates or in that concept of the almighty love. The one that makes us want to spend every waken moment with that other person. The one that thinks everything is perfect. The one that thinks you are perfect in every way. The one that blinds us.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe in love. I just don't believe I will ever find someone that loves me the way I described it above. Maybe that's ok though. I want someone that sees my faults and helps me improve on them. I want someone that despite being attracted to someone else doesn't act on it, because he would know that in doing so he could lose one of the best things that ever happened to him. Because he would know that in doing so he would hurt me and break me beyond repair. I want a friend who can talk to me about everything, from how boring his day was to what the future might hold if aliens come to Earth.

I want someone that holds my hand when we are walking on a slippery shore. I want someone that hugs me when I say I had a bad day. I want someone that hugs me for no reason. I want someone that kisses me because I said something funny. I want someone that kisses me just because. I want someone that wants to start a family with me but that would consider our relationship as a couple above the children, because children leave and then we would only have each other. I want someone that values me as a companion, a friend and a lover.

I guess I don't deserve any of that.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Noisy neighbors!

I'm currently staying at my complication's for a month or so. I sublet my apartment to help an incoming grad student (and to spend more time with the German, of course). The thing is, the back wall of his bedroom faces the backyard of a house. The house happens to be rented by a bunch of college students. You can see where I'm going right?

Well, they don't usually have loud music but, they built a half-pipe thingy and they skateboard on their yard every night. With the accompanying cheering and yelling. This usually goes on till 3-4 am...every fraking night!

Germanman talked to the landlord and in theory, he talked to the boys and they did keep their activities down for a few days but they have been at it again for the past 3-4 days. The German whistles and yells at them every night and we do use earplugs but it's still not enough. Do you guys think we should call the police? even though they don't have loud music?