Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cooking and Other Fun!

The first few weeks after anchoring here in beautiful La Paz have been busier than expected. I took a cooking class with four other women cruisers in the home of Claudia Davidson which was loads of fun. She is the owner/chef of one of our breakfast/lunch favorites, Casa Trece, and a few days before the class, we met for lunch with her to plan a menu.  

Menu planning at Casa Trece....oh, what to cook?

Claudia chopping away in her cucina.

Then on the morning of the class, she took us on a shopping trip to buy all the ingredients.  This included buying chicken from the nuns (!), stopping at a very popular tortilla factory, and finally hitting her favorite Mexican grocery - WalMart!  She prefers that because prices are posted for things - something not done in the large Mexican groceries.  

Down a dirt road, into the churchyard, and voila'- a nun in the
window selling chicken!   Seriously!!
Claudia does her best to request "deboned" breasts, but no luck.

Impossible to get a "head on" shot because the parking area was filled.

One very hot, very fast operation here!  Off camera, a worker pinches off a hunk of dough from a huge mound and tosses it into a machine that turns out walnut-size balls. The guy in the background runs those through a press to flatten them into circles, then tosses those to the woman in front who cooks them.  She throws them (bare-handed!) onto the screen cooling racks on her right, flips the current batch over, then grabs the hot ones on her right and tosses them to the second cooling tray on her left.  Another guy off camera stacks and wraps them in paper by the dozen. Several minutes later, we are sold packages which are still almost too hot to hold of the "best ever" flour tortillas!

Claudia made three different dishes with ground beef , a chicken with chipotle cream sauce and two salsas (red and green).  It was all easy and  delicious.  After the first few dishes, she brought out the Tequila and that's where my recipe notes turned a bit fuzzy!  I did succeed, however, in making her albondigas soup the following week, and it was terrific. We hope to rally for another class on fish later this spring - where to buy the freshest fish and how to cook them Mexican-style.
Green salsa made in her lovely molcajete - I need one now!

How about this for some yummy "Sopa de Albondigas"? 
Can you tell we enjoyed the class?  Maybe the Tequila helped?!

We were also fortunate enough to attend a benefit concert at Claudia's restaurant, which only seats 30, given by John Davidson, her father-in-law.  What a treat that was!  If you don't know who John is, Google him.  He was a popular singer/entertainer in the 60's and 70's and had is own variety show for a few years. But many may remember him best as a guest celebrity, then host, of Hollywood Squares with a reputation as being the all-time best bluffer.  He recently turned 70 but still performs. He was super-friendly, posing for photos and talking with everyone afterward.  He used to own a 90-foot wooden sailboat - thus, he was interested in our boat and asked lots of questions.  He's a proud grandfather and hopes to buy a home here - they already have one in Florida where his other set of grandchildren live.  Happy man and happy music with a still wonderful voice!
A passionate man with a beautiful guitar.

Hmmm...must have been a b/w dress code!
Hmmm…what else?  We have been shopping at the local grocery several times now - Aramburo (roll that off your tongue!) and can find almost everything we want.  It's referred to as the "cow" store because there is a huge black and white cow figure above the door.  However, my farmboy spouse recognized immediately that the cow is actually a "bull" and wonders how to correct this misconception which is completely engrained in the community?  Sorry we don't have a photo of this yet...will have to rectify that, I guess.

No sharp cheddar cheese, but otherwise, our tummies are very happy.  We have sampled the local cuisine at several small restaurants and found a couple that we especially enjoyed - if not the food, at least the atmosphere.  Most have outdoor or open air seating of some kind, so it's very reminiscent of Albuquerque, which we still miss.  There are at least five restaurants named "Rancho Viejo", and a cabbie warned us off two of them, saying "Cena es muy terrible", or something like that - our Spanish is still lacking - so I'm sure that since we have no idea where he explained that those two are, so we'll probably find them both by mistake!

A typical day here starts at 7:30 drinking coffee and listening to a half hour of "news and other conversation" on our "audio lifeline" - the VHF radio - as related by one of the cruisers, Bill on "Wandering Puffin".  He must spend hours each day reading stories online to keep up!  Then at 8 am sharp, many different volunteers take turns hosting the local "cruisers' net" which has a set menu:  medical or other emergency traffic first, tides and weather, announcements, requests for local assistance or other information and finally swaps & trades.  We have breakfast during this half hour - usually eggs, oatmeal or dry cereal with yogurt - yum. Many cruisers chime in as needed throughout the program to share announcements, ask for help of some kind, or offer their items up for trade.

For about five or ten minutes after the net ends, there is a mad scramble of radio traffic while cruisers hail each other to follow-up with the "swaps & trades" or to meet up or whatever.  A person can't sell goods here unless they are a Mexican citizen or licensed business owner, so the swaps are done for "coconuts", meaning money.  Interesting workaround, don't you think?

After that, we often head into the dinghy dock at Marina de La Paz where Club Cruceros, the Dock restaurant, a laundry and some small marine businesses are located.  We drop off our garbage and the laundry (done for us at $4/load including soap and folding!) while we join the coffee hour at the Club to soak up information from the other cruisers.  Some of them live here year round, others have been coming "in season" which is generally November through May for several years, and others are first-timers like us, so it's a lively mix.   
A tiny building with a really big heart!
Club Cruceros is where all we cruisers hang out, pick up our mail, drink coffee, trade books and movies,and "tell lies about how fast and how far we have sailed", according to one of the net hosts!  It's a tiny portable (hurricanes, you know!) building on the far end of the Marina de La Paz parking lot with a scrap of concrete in front where one can sit under a sunshade and enjoy the view of the water. (Side-note from Keith:  if they move this for hurricanes, what about all the boats sitting out in front of it?!)

Heading downhill from the grocery for some ice cream along the malecon.
After the coffee hour ends, we walk to the grocery, hardware or other stores as needed and usually fit lunch in somewhere along the way.  Most days we stop for ice cream at Steve and Lulu's favorite spot along the beach - La Fuente - or maybe we opt for a cookie a few doors beyond there in a little coffee shop where they have the best oatmeal raisin cookies ever.

Spectacular sunsets from our cockpit every night.
If we aren't going ashore, then it's just staying aboard to handle email, call home, read, play cards or hang out in the cockpit while watching the sea life around us.  Dolphins swim up really close, pelicans and other birds swoop all around, boats of all types are coming and going, beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Life truly is peaceful here, so y'all should come on down and hang out with us for a spell, ya hear?


  1. Good post, Kay. I see it didn't take you long to start hobnobbing with the celebrities. The best Mexican cheese we've found so far is Chihuahua. It comes in various sub-types: menonita, etc. We found one here in Mazatlán that's called "tipo Chester". Only seen it here, only at one store and, then, they didn't have all that much. But it tastes great (like a cross between mozzarella and cheddar. It's not sharp cheddar by any means but it's the tastiest cheese we've found so far. I'll e-mail you our "cheese-aging-plan" in case you decided to splurge on a brick of Tillamook at Chedraui. It turns mild and medium cheddar into excellent aged cheddar. Takes 6 months and you need some space to store it but it's really easy and works really well.


    1. Steve,
      would love to have your "cheese-aging plan", even though hilariously over morning coffee after 38 years of marriage, I just learned Keith really doesn't crave sharp cheddar like I do!

      Still enjoying your blog and continue sending friends your way (Jennifer M. is one).

      Terrific sunny, warm mild weather here - how is there? k

  2. Ahhhh.... the weather here is superb. Still cool enough in the evenings and nights for pleasant sleeping but nice and warm all day long.

    Here's the "cheese plan":
    Take a block of mild or medium cheddar. DON'T unwrap it, leave it in it's original wrapper. Wrap the cheese in two layers of newspaper and then wrap the whole bundle in a coat of aluminum foil. Mark a "harvest date" 6 months away on the outside of the package. Set aside in a cool, dark place. When the harvest date arrives, you'll have a block of sharp cheddar cheese. It even gets crumbly like sharp cheddar s supposed to, even though the cheese you start with is not crumbly at all.

    When we lived on land, we put a block away every month and then, after the initial 6 months passed, we had a block of aged cheddar every month.


  3. Hey, I remember John Davidson! He looks just the same, except for his hair color.
    This cruising community is already beginning to be small for us, and we haven't even started yet! So cool to 'meet' people who know other people we haven't met yet. Did you follow that?

  4. Yes, Little C....I did follow what you said above! Cruisers are an amazing subset of the earth's population and we are so happy to be part of it. You are making a smart choice to join in this terrific lifestyle.

  5. Here is a voice/note from your past. I see you two finally made it and how wonderful that is. I love your blog - it is like being there. I would love to be in your shoes or flip flops. I'll always cherish the time we all went to Catalina together - what a wonderful time. Don gave me your link and I am so happy he did. I have been wondering what happened to you both. You look the same - so happy and always smiling. Need some pics of the man though. Boat seems to be good for you all. Glad to see you two enjoying life on the seas. You are my heroes. Let me know how to get a hold of you. I'd come down and bring goodies or supplies. Your ole friend Tom Linville.

  6. Hey here is my email