Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chile Habanero

Pictured above is a typical branch of the habañero chile that our former tenant Nacho planted several months ago.  It seems to have about 30 chiles growing in various stages at any given time.  Most everyone is familiar with the habañero chile, especially those who live in the Yucatán, where most of the crop is grown.  I've noticed that many Mexicans who aren't Yucatecan shy away from it, saying it's just too hot.  Evidently we habañero eating residents of the area like to sweat, because if we're not sweating to 100+°F air temperatures, we're sweating through our cochinita or lechón taquitos loaded with fresh salsa.  I am, anyway.

On my daily revision of the edible plants in the garden, I noticed the chile below on the same plant pictured above.  It skipped orange and turned itself the brightest red.  Our know-it-all store owner on the corner told me it is a hybrid habañero, and that I should be sure to plant the red seeds.  When I looked up habañeros, they come in more colors than I'd imagined.  I've seen green, yellow and orange habañeros, but never bright red.  One type of habañero is called Red Savina and is much hotter than a regular one. I got tired of researching my harvested habañero, so the bottom line is it could just be a red habañero or it could be the hottest one on the bush. 

I just decided to quit horsing around....I bit into it.  It tastes like a delicious sweet red capsicum!  It is leaving just a hint of heat on my lips, but nothing like a regular habañero....the orange ones have been hot!! hot!! hot!! This sweet red one will be the perfect addition to the potato salad I plan to make when 'la banda' is finished with their dinner.

Meanwhile the larger Guatemalan chile bush is still spitting out little red bombs by the hundreds.  I have to harvest at least once a week.  I've managed to dehydrate the first batch and grind them.  I like to mix the fresh ground red pepper with black peppercorns, allowing me to spice up food to my liking without making anyone else suffer.  I like my pepper hot.   These pictured below are sort of like chile máax - in Mayan, which is chile tepín, or is it piquín? Since no one has been certain what this chile is, I call them Huehuetenango Cherry Bombs! 

Back in 1912 William Scoville created a scale rating the heat of chiles.  Below is a partial list of chiles and their ratings.

Scoville rating   -    Type of pepper

15,000,000–16,000,000 Pure capsaicin
8,600,000–9,100,000 Various capsaicinoids (e.g., homocapsaicin, homodihydrocapsaicin, nordihydrocapsaicin)

5,000,000–5,300,000 Law Enforcement Grade pepper spray, FN 303 irritant ammunition

855,000–1,075,000 Naga Jolokia (ghost chili)

350,000–580,000 Red Savina habanero

100,000–350,000 Guntur Chilli, Habanero chili,Scotch Bonnet Pepper,Datil pepper, Rocoto, African Birdseye, Madame Jeanette, Jamaican Hot Pepper

50,000–100,000 Bird's eye chili/Thai Pepper/Indian Pepper, Malagueta Pepper, Chiltepin Pepper, Pequin Pepper

30,000–50,000 Cayenne Pepper, Ají pepper, Tabasco pepper, Cumari pepper (Capsicum Chinese)

10,000–23,000 Serrano Pepper

2,500–8,000 Jalapeño Pepper, Guajillo pepper, New Mexican varieties of Anaheim pepper, Paprika (Hungarian wax pepper), Tabasco Sauce

500–2,500 Anaheim pepper, Poblano Pepper, Rocotillo Pepper, Peppadew

100–500 Pimento, Peperoncini

0   No significant heat,     Bell pepper, Aji dulce

Enough about chiles.  The pitaya plant willing its way over the wall flowered again.  The last flowering, a month ago, as beautiful as it was, was fruitless.  We had so much rain the never had a chance.  It's a cactus, after all.  These three look like they may have potential.  After last week's deluge, the rainy afternoons have subsided for now. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ropero Closers

What the heck?
It's a ropero closer, Mokito!

When a friend of mine moved away from Mérida, she gifted me the above ropero (armoire).  She gave me keys for it, but not the actual keys for THIS ropero.  One side is locked shut, and the other side doesn't close at all.  It swings open.  I thought I'd use my macrame skills to create a ropero closer.  The first one I made fell apart before I got the photo taken, and the dreamweaver replacement below might have been made after too long a day of macrame-ing..  I might have to change it again. 

Here is a photo of the second one I made.  Merida Mikey loved my prototype and said his ropero doors swing open all the time too. So I made one for him and gave it to him this morning.  He sent me this photo of it on its new home. 

The first macrame project I started recently was new window pulls for the tall windows in the front living rooms.  The beads are those we found at the elderly Lenca Indian woman's home in La Calma, Honduras, and later painted.  When I first moved in I made pulls using plastic beads and thin wire and they didn't pass the test of time.  That inspired me to make new solid pulls out of strong jute-like material.  Below is an up close shot of the simple swirl knot and the colorful beads. 

Here's a pic of  the window wearing it's new ornament.  After making two of these the ropero closer idea occurred to me.  There are still more beads, so I think I will replace the tall ceiling fan extender the same style. 

Friday, September 10, 2010


This is an abomination. This guy reminds me of Peter Finch in that movie where he went nuts. This guy is close to losing it if he hasn't already.  And he is from Ohio....I'm ashamed. This kind of idiot thinking made me move away from the USA.  Check this out......

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The First Edible Dragonfruit

Here it is! The first pitaya we harvested from the plant growing over the wall from the neighbor's property. I'm not sure what kind of gardening this would be....YOU plant, I reap??? We have a tall ladder thanks to the cable guys, so Pablo climbed up and cut back the vine that was choking this poor pitaya plant.  It was so happy it gave us one fruit for starters.  It was delicious!

The fruit above was harvested(big harvest) on the 1st of September. A few flowers opened up over the first week of September.  I know I posted these kinds of photos last year when we had a few flowers....but this freak of nature that opens up for one night, then creates a wonderful fruit at its base amazes me.
This information quoted below I copied from a website called Foodlywise.  It descibes the health benefits of dragonfruit, more commonly known here as pitaya.  It's written in poor English, but the info is worthwhile.

"One special health benefit of dragon fruit which has been verified by the authors of this web site is the special dragon fruit health benefit that dragon fruit helps control levels of glucose blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes (and type 1 diabetes by some reports). This is one of the health benefits of pitaya fruit in addition to the pitaya fruit nutrient profile being full of dietary fiber and Vitamin C. The pitaya nutritional benefits even include a high level of pitaya fruit antioxidant levels. All these great dragon fruit nutrients make fresh dragon fruit or dried dragon fruit both great additions to a healthy diet - and you get the nutrition benefits of dragon fruit from the dried or fresh fruit just as well."

Here is the pitaya cactus reaching over to live on our side of the wall.  It had 13 flowers ready to open.  I kept my eye on them.  In this photo, they still have a couple days....

Voila!  What a great site to wake up to. They stay open for a day so the bees can do their thing, then they just disintegrate and fall off, leaving behind the green base which becomes your tasty dragonfruit.  I was surprised how tasty the fruit is.  Usually I stay away from food with little seeds, they all get stuck in my teeth and that annoys me.  But the flavor was light and sweet.  It is tasty when juiced, but it turns a funny gray color that isn't too appetizing. It would be nice with vodka. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

DUH, AH3N2, Hermine and Gaston

Alternate Title: Much Ado About Nothing

I used to be an overachiever.  I'd stay at work until it was all done or I was half blind.  I'd keep my house super clean, other than the miles of piles that follow me around and usually consist of half written notebooks.  I've never been one to lose a single minute of a single day by RELAXING.  I don't know how to relax, and that is one of my goals living learn to relax. The way I see it I can relax when my first pension and SS checks are deposited into my accounts and I don't have to worry about survival.  That will be in April of 2015...three years after the proposed end of the world. I feel like I am waiting for Godot.  It's not that I jumped the gun quitting my job and running away from Hawaii or anything....                

Now I find myself in a constant state of DUH.  I stare into space wondering what I should be doing.  Then I remember....check the emails, check the weather,bring the laundry down, wash some more and climb the pyramid stairs and hang it, straigthen up the kitchen, clean the cat boxes, clean the cat eating station, find some cat crunchies today, don't forget to go get the earrings (more on that later),  forget the farm, take the notebooks and get outside while it is still summer!  It is not as hot as our usual summer so I am not as inclined to live in the pool.  If I don't exert myself, I don't even start sweating!  This is definitely a different kind of summer in the Yucatán than my previous three.

I also find myself WAITING.  Today, I am waiting to see what Nacho, my Spanish renter in the front rooms, is going to do.  His plane leaves from Cancun tonight.  He was due to move out on the 2nd.  He isn't even packed.  Perhaps it would be a good idea for me to NOT leave the house today until he does, so I can talk to him about the extra days, the broken screen, and the numerous pairs of sheets and plastic containers his girlfriend cost me, get my keys back and wish him well. If he doesn't go back to Spain today, and needs another month to pack....then he can pay rent and I won't be waiting for that!

I'm waiting for LA BANDA (the guys) to leave for work this morning. They left a huge mess yesterday morning. Saturday night they played poker outside, and they left that mess too.  Pablo came down with a flu or cold this weekend, and requested a second pot of chicken soup.  Before I could use my kitchen, I had to clean up the kind of mess I had to grin and bear, hold my nose, and just bite the bullet until I could see the counter space again.  So I am staying in my room until they leave, hoping and praying they look around and realize they can't leave the house like this. 

I am waiting for La Banda's secretary to send us an email telling us we can move half of them up front for a little extra money, to make everyone comfortable and better accommodate their tools and supplies.  They have overtaken the entire property.  I stubbed my toe on some large steel thing that belongs on top of a 30 foot pole trying to get the phone to one of the guys.  It's not easy to housemother this many guys. Especially Mexican guys. I am generalizing here:  Mexican moms pick up after their boys and teach them absolutely nothing about housekeeping.  They all seem to know how to cook, though, and I find that interesting.  For someone who's not a mother, I sure have a lot of kids to take care of. 

I made the mistake of touching a basket of food, mostly bread, on the counter. It was hot.  HOT.  It was a package of old tortillas turning into penicillin. Did you know that process is a hot one?  Would it have spontaneously combusted everything on the counter had I waited?  That might be a good idea.  Ahhh...I hear the rattling of empty beer bottles now. I hope they are cleaning up. Unfortunately the one who DIDN'T make the mess is cleaning it up. Doesn't seem fair.  Oh now I hear the clinking of washing dishes. These are good sounds.  I might be willing to go out of my room after all.

Pablo may have had a touch of the new flu!  The A H3N2 flu.  The newspaper said it won't be as serious as the A H1N1 flu that scared off our tourists last year and caused a pandemic panic.  This one was first noticed in Australia and Europe.  We had one tenant arrive last week who'd been sick for over two weeks.  Pablo may have contracted it from him or he could have gotten it in the school, germ central.  If you feel achy all over, not sure if you are getting a cold, flu or just plain dying, it is likely this new illness. It's specialty, like its predecessor, is respiratory problems.  They just changed the law here and a prescription is needed for antibiotics.  Since medical care isn't always available, the folks here used ampicillin for any and all unknown ailments. Evidently they have built up too much resistance, so they took the antibiotics away from them. This comes at a time when the campesinos will be showing up with flu symptoms and have no recourse. 

It is cooler than usual this morning but super humid, which makes me cold. I checked the weather and the system to our west did form into tropical storm HERMINE.  I can't pronounce that one, so I am glad it is heading north and not east or we'd be eating hermine shit later today.  As it is, the areas it threatens don't need any more water; we see pictures of them wading through waist deep water in Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Tabasco on the news every day.  I don't think it's stopped raining there since the first storms rolled through and trashed Monterey back in late June.

The remnants of Gaston are about to enter the Caribbean, where the water temperature and conditions are perfect for tropical storm reformation. This is the first storm we will have to watch in the Yucatán.  The others have luckily headed north and toward open water.  September is prime hurricane season here because the water temperatures of the gulf  and the Caribbean are a toasty 87.8°F (31°F).  Life could get real interesting on 75th Street.  Well, time's a wastin'....time to monitor the movements around the house today, pick up the weekend trash, etc....¡que desmadre!