About Me

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Hello! Welcome to my online travel-food-life journal/virtual scrapbook. I am a poet, playwright, journalist, editor and basic jack-of-all-trades writer. I was born in El Salvador and raised in Minnesota. I have just returned home from a year and a half in South Africa.

27 February 2012

The Lost Posts: Head Turners

I LOVE South African signs, graffiti, menu options and product names.

There are head turners around every corner.  I mean when was the last time you saw an official sign with the word "poo" on it?  It's particularly impressive given that you'll then see something that sounds like you're in Victorian England, such as the one denouncing "Untoward behaviour."

There's the pizza menu options, including bacon and banana.  Uh huh.

There's the Telefunken televisions; the Kgalagadi signs that are basically saying, "no whining;" the straightforward "you're gonna die if you walk out here" kind of signs; the threats of imminent plumbing work ...

Then there's all the "West Side" stuff!  As a girl who grew up on the West Side of St. Paul, I'm always delighted to see it, even if here it means more like Western Cape ...

There's my favorite sign in the history of the word requesting a little peace and quiet for reproducing ostriches ...

And the newspaper headlines!  Every day new posters are put up all over the city with that day's most sensationalist headlines.  They're winners, lemme tell you!

And last but not least is the sweetest piece of graffiti I've ever seen.  Just a simple little "I ♥ Cape Town."

I concur friend, I concur. 

23 February 2012

The Lost Posts: Mystery Grapes

I don't know why I never posted this, because it's just amazeballs:


I had to buy these, for I have many questions:

Has El Salvador's climate recently become Mediterranean instead of Tropical?

Have El Salvador's jungles been cleared in lieu of vineyards? 

Is this a new Egyptian-Salvadoran grape-growing scheme?

Are Salvadoran grapes the new "it" thing?

Have South African label-makers been recently put on a crack-heavy diet?

So many questions, so few chances for a logical answer ...

20 February 2012

The Lost Posts: The Night of the Wild Cats

Google be willing, as you read this, I will be far away from my computer ... at Kruger National Park!

Aaron's parents and his sister are here for 3 weeks!  One week we're spending at Kruger National Park, another week we're going to spend driving across the country, and the last week we're gonna spend in the Western Cape and Cape Town.

So needless to say I'm gonna be wicked busy.  I was going to just not post, but then I figured I'd put up some "lost posts" ... a couple of posts that I prepared and that for one reason or another I never made live, and then a few other posts where I had the pictures all ready but didn't write up the posts.  I'm preparing these ahead of time and hoping that I've figured out this whole thing so that they post while we're gone.

The first of these "lost postings" I wrote on May 6th of last year, right when I had first arrived in South Africa.  I wrote it up quick and meant to post it as a funny thing while we were at the archeological dig in Mossel Bay.  But then the unthinkable happened and our beloved Mickey had to be put down

For a long time I didn't even want to re-read this.  But I did recently and I figured that it gives you a good idea of how much I adore my cats and how very special Mickey was.


So, we have 3 cats at home:

Hi, I'm Mick.  I'm a fun-loving rouge in a dashing black-and-white tuxedo.  I'm a devilishly handsome, sometimes loud charmer who's always ready for a little mischief.  True, I may have some digestive issues, but I'll make up for it by playing fetch and refusing to leave your side.  Also, I have ADD and separation anxiety syndrome.

What up?  Name's Bela.  Yeah, I'm cute.  Tell me something I don't know.  Look, don't you be messing with me.  I came from the streets and I done never forgot the streets.  You get on my bad side and I'm gonna have to cut you Motherf***er.  Now, rub my belly and don't talk!

<<Yawn>>  I'm Miles.  I'm fat.  I'm fluffy.  I'm sweet.  I sleep.  I head-butt you when I want to lay on your chest and snuggle.  I have a pretty singing voice and enjoy windowsills and round sinks.  Nighty night.

UM, I miss them, can you tell?

So yeah.  That's for context.

Now, our story turns to a dark and stormy night ...

We're sitting in our apartment when we hear the ear-splitting sounds of multiple cats crying in our apartment corridor (we're on the 8th floor).

We go out and find a bunch of baby kitties roaming around; they had gotten in through an open back door probably trying to get out of the rain and were scared and confused.

And I was all like, Baby Jesus, you heard my prayers!

We asked the security guards and it turns out they were little strays that live in the apartment complex's courtyard. 

They were pretty feral, but I wanted to bring each one of them into the apartment (after all, all 3 of our spoiled brats at home were rescues.)  But Aaron said something about getting kicked out for violating our lease and so SIGH ...

Here's Aaron after returning them outside:

I mean look, 4 black and whites and there was even a teeny black one (which I never managed to get a picture of.)

Right?  Right? 

I'm gonna steal one and put it in my purse!  Alternately, I better find the nearest SPCO-type organization and volunteer before the kitty-withdrawal gets any worse!

16 February 2012

Recipe: No-Knead Homemade Pizza

So remember how I went on a little baking tear once I found out about the No-Knead method?

Well from no-knead naan it was only a hop, skip and jump to No-Knead Pizza.

This is honestly the easiest and most delicious homemade pizza I’ve EVER made.  EVER.  EVER, EVER, EVER.


Is your mouth watering?  Yeah kids, and you know that I am no wonder baker.  If I can do it, you can do it!



1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon coarse (Kosher) salt
¼ teaspoon dry yeast
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 small can crushed tomatoes (or pureed tomatoes if you want your sauce perfectly smooth)
Favorite Italian herbs:  I like oregano and basil (I just sprinkle in to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh mozzarella *
Fresh basil *
Pitted olives *
Prosciutto *
Feta cheese
Goat Cheese

* This is the combo of toppings I used


First the crust:
In a medium to large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients with a fork till well blended.  Add the water and oil and mix quickly with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Mix just till all the ingredients are blended and you have no flour pockets.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 18-24 hours.

Now the sauce:
Slowly saute the garlic in the olive oil till soft and fragrant, but not browned at all.  Add the crushed tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper.  Turn your sauce down and let it simmer down, down, down till it is a nice, thick consistency (you don't want it watery because it will make your crust soggy.)

Preheat your oven as hot as it will go (in the 500F/260C range).

Take cookie (biscuit) sheet and oil it with ¼ tsp. olive oil.  Using rubber spatula, scrape risen dough onto the cookie sheet.  The pizza dough will be very wet and sticky – fear not!  Dust the top liberally with flour as well as your hands.  Press the dough out to cover the cookie sheet, adding more flour to your hands or the top of the dough as necessary.  Once the dough is flattened out, leave to rest for ½ hour or so (which is how long the oven will need to preheat.)

Once the oven is hot, put the pizza crust in (on the middle rack) for approximately 5  minutes, till “set” but not brown.  Take the pizza crust out of the oven.

Flip the crust over with a spatula (it should lift off the cookie sheet very easily) spread sauce on top (what was the bottom) and add your toppings.  Put pizza back in and bake until edges of crust are golden and cheese is bubbly and melting – from 5 to 8 minutes. 

Let it cool a bit once it comes out of the oven, cut and ... DEVOUR!

15 February 2012

The V&A Waterfront

When you Google "things to do in Cape Town," one of the first things that pops up is the V&A Waterfront (V&A stands for Victoria and Albert.) 

It's a huge food/shopping/entertainment complex at the foot of Table Mountain and right in the middle of Cape Town’s working harbor.  Aaron and I have been there many a time, and I thought it was about time to share some pictures!

At the heart of it is a huge mall with everything from grocery stores (all malls have grocery stores in South Africa) to cinemas to super high-end shops.  It's nice and all, but you know, it's a mall.

So I've just taken pictures of the things I find interesting in the area:  the beautiful old architecture, the modern ferris wheel, Nobel Square*, the huge, tacky Coca-Cola man, the harbor, the boats, the mountain and cityscape, the street performers and ... some adorable little friends!

* Nobel Square honors South Africa's four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates with larger-than-life sculptures.  The four Laureates are: Albert Lithuli (1960), Desmond Tutu (1984), FW de Klerk (1993) and Nelson Mandela (1993)

Here are pictures from another day ... and look who joined us: