Friday, October 31, 2008

Craning the Water Tank

Wrong Place

So if you've been a reader here for a little while, you probably already know that we seem to have issues with water at the construction project. Not that we don't have water, thank goodness we do! It's just that all construction relating to water doesn't seem to go very smoothly.

Case in point. The Elevated Water Tank.

First was a long debate through several countries, over time zones and many, many opinions about how big it should be. We eventually settled on 15,000 cubic meters. Enough for a city of 500 children and their support staff, but not a lot extra.

We decided on this because once we have 500 children and everyone else, we really should have another well in case something happens to the first one, like the pump breaking down.

So the well itself took a loooooooong time.

And the elevated water tank was supposed to be finished in 45 days (according to the lovely Microsoft Project timeline put together by the company), the end date falling at the beginning of September.

Well that didn't exactly happen.

First it was stuck at the border (it's parts were fabricated in Honduras, it would be like having an international border for everything manufactured outside of Washington state.

Then that delay caused us to be in the middle of the worse part of the rainy season when they were trying to solder. And last, but not least, the crane came out, put up the support structure, and proceeded to get stuck in the mud so that it couldn't life the tank.

Back of Crane

We have, however, reached that happy day where weather related delays are behind us (both because most of those activities are done and because the weather is starting to get nicer.

Crane Tagline Wrap

And, while it's been a somewhat stressful time since the first children move from the island in a month and a half, the company, Imnsa Argo, has been responsive to all our concerns and good to work with. Phew!


So now we're onto the next stage! We're currently working for approval from NPH International to begin the next phase of 3 or 4 houses!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ginger Pumpkin Souffle

Pumpkin Souffle

On my recent trip to the US, a friend gave me a little treasure to bring back to Nicaragua, a beautiful can of pumpkin. Needless to say, pumpkins are not plentiful around here and I haven't had this flavor for two years!

So I thought long and hard about how I would use this precious commodity well and eventually decided on 'Ginger Pumpkin Souffle' from Epicurious.

Soooo creamy, so good, so embodies the taste of fall.

A few notes -

Top it with dulce de leche and you won't be sorry.

It calls for 3/4 cup sugar, but in the actual directions call for it two times, so you actually need 1 1/2 cups of sugar.

It calls for soymilk, I used reguar, no problem.


1 1/2 cups unsweetened soymilk, not low- or no-fat
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup solid-pack canned pumpkin
8 large egg whites


Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 8 6-ounce ramekins. In medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, bring soy milk to boil. Add ginger, remove pan from heat, cover, and let steep 30 minutes. Strain soy milk, discarding ginger, and set aside.

In large nonreactive bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 6 tablespoons of sugar. Whisk in flour until well combined. Gradually add hot milk, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Return yolk mixture to saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until custard boils and thickens enough to coat back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl, whisk in pumpkin purée, and set aside.

Using electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites until foamy and slightly opaque. With mixer running, add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into pumpkin mixture to lighten, then add mixture to remaining whites, folding in gently but thoroughly. Spoon batter into ramekins, filling almost to top, and lightly run finger around inside rim to create a "moat." Place ramekins in large baking pan. Place baking pan on middle oven rack and add hot water around ramekins to depth of 1 inch. Bake until soufflés have risen well above rim and tops are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Note: Silk brand soy milk, available in most supermarkets, is recommended for its rich, fresh flavor and creamy consistency.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We've Got a Lot of Work to Do!

Sanpopo Marching

So we're getting back to work!

What? We weren't working?

Ok, well we were always working, but over the last month, we were just finishing up jobs that we had already started, like a temporary school and kitchen for the 80 kids moving into the four houses in December. But now we can start the next houses!

All because NPH's National Director had a meeting with the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega yesterday. Well, him and many many other people.

You see, for the last several months, the government of Nicaragua has been talking about non-profits being the center of money laundering in Nicaragua. NPH received notice about two months ago that we would be audited (along with lots of other non-profits). And about a month ago, it was announced that street children would go to foster homes and all other children's homes would be shut down (and here at NPH we stopped making contracts for future construction work).

Remaking an cow feed shelter into a four classroom school

Apparently that was a miscommunication.

In the meeting, the Sandanistas announced that they would not be shutting down all of the orphanages in the country, but that with teamwork and financial transparency we would continue on together.

So we're getting back to work!

Closing up the fire stove to funnel smoke outside (and it's being painted)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hypercolor Capitol

Hypercolor Capitol
Photo taken on a little trip in October

One week to go, are you ready?

Monday, October 27, 2008

When Life Hands You Limes

Make Limonada! Seriously! It sounds cheesy, but sooooo good.

Cut Limes

Just grab a bunch of limes from your tree.

Peel them (it makes the juice less bitter).

For every 1/2 cup lime juice, add: 1/8 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water.

Notes: squeeze through a sieve or cheesecloth to keep seeds out.

Peeling Limes

Enjoy in front of your favorite volcano!

Toasting by the Volcano

Friday, October 24, 2008

Longer Nights

Early Winter Nights

Winter is coming. The last ferry sails through the darkness.

But it's still hot.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Rainy rainy rainy season. Today we've got the tail of a tropical depression swinging through and so everything gets soaked: the ground, the plants, the dogs, you, the roof (which then starts to leak for the first time ever).

It's this time of year, these last few months, that everything grows like crazy preparing for the months of hot and humid air.

wading through weeds
Gunther fights his way through the baby-elephant-eye-high grasses that have grown up covering a dirt road in the last six months.

This leads to pruning season, it is generally any time before the end of the rainy season. Pruning here, I think, would generally be considered something along the lines of chopping in less fruitful climes.

Here, it's just getting things a little under control, because soon, they'll be back with a vengeance!

Chop, chop, chop!