Sunday, November 4, 2012

To Salsa, With Love

In eleven days, I will be on a real (!) honest-to-goodness vacation (!!) in PERU (!!!)

I haven't been out of the country for going on six years now.  I haven't gone anywhere for over a solid week (that wasn't home for the holidays) in just as long.  As they say:  It Is Time.

In part of my ongoing preparations for hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and Peru in general, I've learned a few things:

A) Trust the friendly folks at REI. They know their stuff.
B) I need to go to the famed La Mar restaurant in Lima for ceviche or I will never forgive myself, and
C) Be good at salsa dancing. I hear the Lima crowd doesn't mess around.

With salsa dancing on the brain, it was just a short hop and skip over to my first salsa love: the kind you eat. I'm sure there are no surprises with this one but I LOVE SALSA.  I swear, if you get me a nice bowl of salsa and some crispy tortilla chips, along with a margarita or Negra Modelo, I'll be your friend for life. Unfortunately, good salsa is hard to find here in DC, so those of us with salsa-inclined brains have learned to make our own. 

Inspired as I was by this post on Cup of Jo from Homesick Texan, I jazzed this Roasted Tomato Salsa up a bit.  With a thickness lent from toasted pepitas ground up with the salsa, as well as chipotle, smoked paprika, or smoked sea salt, this salsa is served warm (fresh from a good roasting of the veggies in the oven) and is usually gobbled up within the hour.  Every. Single. Time. I never get any leftover for the week! Next time I'm tripling the batch.

Somewhat smoky and spicy, this salsa has proven itself to be my go-to in the past several months. And while I might have mastered one salsa, it's time to get back to practicing the dancing kind or I'll face epic wallflower shame in the bars of Peru.  Photos and recipes to come, te prometo.

Photo from the Wikitravel page on Machu Picchu.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And Then a Hurricane Struck

Being based in DC, and due to the tendency for us to generally freak out during any sort of weather display, I'll admit that I didn't take Hurricane Sandy too seriously at first.  And yet I spent the afternoon (and evening, and night, and next morning) at a friend's because I was too chicken to go home in the 90 mph winds and rain.  No, I stayed inside.  The lights flickered and their apartment leaked enough to fill a few buckets of water.  Throughout the night and next morning we stayed glued to the television and watched as Hurricane Sandy barely scraped DC and discovered that it had instead saved it's horrible strength for New Jersey and New York.

I cannot believe the images I have seen coming out of New York City and the Jersey Shore these past few days.  I cannot.  I cannot believe the stories of loss and heroism that I have read today.  I cannot believe these things happened a few hours drive from where we were hunkered down, but I must.  The death toll continues to climb, and our neighbors are struggling to repair the damage done to their homes, communities, their very lives.  We must help our neighbors, despite what our eyes may not believe, and what our ears might not understand.  We must help our friends in need.  Whether you know them or not, they are our responsibility.

Please consider donating what you can to help recovery efforts.

UMCOR (The United Methodist Committee on Relief) has a top rating by Charity Navigator, and you can donate to their Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts here.

As always, there's the American Red Cross, who needs not only monetary donations, but hundreds of blood drives had been cancelled due to the hurricane and they could use all the help you can give.