Sunday, July 31, 2011

Black Bean Burgers!

In the third week of June, I joined Wendy for my first cooking class in Alta Verapaz. Wendy hadn’t actually tried the recipe before, so she stayed late at the co-op with me one night and we tried them out to work out any glitches in advance. The Guatemalans who were passing by on their way home all thought we were insane for having a meal without tortillas (honestly, we didn’t have buns, either – the bean patties were pretty much the whole menu). Wendy’s counterpart, Irma, was so concerned about our tortilla-less situation that she went and found someone making tortillas to give some to us. Even when we try to cook for ourselves we have people looking out for us.

I really liked the burgers, and they were a hit with both groups of women we taught the recipe.  So, I thought I’d share them with you.
The women mashed the beans on the same piedra de moler where they prep their corn dough for tortillas.  You can do it however you want, just get them kinda paste-y (not liquid).

The women don't seem to have cutting-boards, or consider them necessary.  They are pros with wielding knives mid air.

No spoons for mixing for them, either... just kneading with their hands.

Pans over an open fire... forks instead of spatulas.

Filomena showing off some of the burgers once cooked.

Black Beans (one can)
Oatmeal (3/4 cup)
Egg (one or two)
Garlic (3 small cloves)
Onion (one small onion, diced)
Carrot (1/2 cup shredded)
Bell Pepper (diced)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Oil (for sautéing)

Take half of beans and mash them into a paste, then add the other half.  Add the veggies and spices.  Scramble the egg and add.  Add oatmeal to reach desired consistency.  Form burger patties by hand… this takes some practice and the mixture sometimes needs some encouragement to stay together. 

Fry the patties in a small amount of oil in frying pan (just enough to keep it from sticking… this was a hard point to get across to the women).  Trying to flip the patties too soon may make them crumble apart.  They’ll still taste good, but will be harder to serve. 

All the proportions are guidelines only.  Trial and error is the best way to work out what combo makes things stick together best for you.  We haven’t tried radishes in there yet, but we bet they would be good in place of (or as well as) the carrots.  Also, for those of you who have access to them, I’m sure leeks would be delicious!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In Service Training

The second week in June found me travelling away from my brand spankin’ new site and toward the PC office for IST.  Luckily, my counterpart Andrés was coming with me, so we got to get to know one another and build our working relationship while we were at it. 

A little team building – we Volunteers and our Counterparts
Photo credit: Sara B
The first two days of training were with a Guatemalan counterpart that we brought from out sites, to work on non-formal education concepts as well as improving communication skills and setting expectations for the relationship.  The next two days were just us PCVs and we spent them building a greenhouse, planting a medicinal garden, and installing part of a water capture and irrigation system.  

Building the greenhouse.
Photo credit: Sara B

Friday, July 29, 2011

First Forays

One day early in June I went out to about a dozen different households with a few committee members in my cooperative (this was groundwork for two big projects my sitemate Wendy has going that I hope to help on… more details in a later post).  It was a nice little taste of getting outside the “town” of Chiyó (take that with a heaping spoonful of salt) and into the other communities.  Here are a few pics, courtesy of Wendy’s friend Thomas who was visiting from the states.
A shot of some representative sloping fields with corn growing in the foreground, with cardamom growing in the midfield. 

Sometimes you have to watch your head.
Sometimes you have to watch your feet.
Houses tend to be pretty isolated from one another, surrounded by crops.