No, not me! My oldest Sprout, "J.", recently got the opportunity of a lifetime, when my parents offered to take her with them on a Mission trip to Peru!
My parents go on volunteer trips all over the world, with Maranatha Volunteers International every year, and this year they decided to invite my J-Sprout along.
So March 30, a couple weeks ago - they took off for Peru.
Yes, I was slightly teary-eyed, because even though my NOT-so-little Sprout has been away from home many times, to camp and such, she's never been out of the COUNTRY - and so far away, for so long... I'm just glad she was with her Grandma and Grandpa!
They went to a small village near Peru's capitol city, Cuzco. I guess I shouldn't say "near", because after landing in Cuzco, they had a 5 hour bus ride over narrow mountain roads to get to their work location. Once there, they stayed for a week, building a medical clinic and a small church/meeting hall and piping in fresh water for the local people. My Sprout worked right alongside the adults; lifting bricks, mixing cement and hauling sand. Her grandparents (AND I!) were very proud of her!
After their week of volunteer work, J-Sprout and grandparents headed off for more 'tourist-y' activities like visiting Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca.
So, if you've read this far, this blog does have a 'food' point to it - and here it is: When returning from Lake Titicaca the tour group stopped in the town of Puno at a local restaurant.
My Mom, a L/O vegetarian, was fluent enough in Spanish to order a soup that they made up special just for her and my J-Sprout. (this place was pretty "tourist" oriented, so they catered to a lot of picky people and special needs). Better yet, when my Mom complimented the chef on the wonderful soup, he came out to their table and actually wrote down the recipe (in Spanish)!
Of course this recipe was one of my Sprout's favorite souviners from the trip and she had me make it her first week back. She said it was better at the restaurant (of course! ha!) but she did ask me to make it again just a couple days later, so she must like it. I know I sure did!
The soup uses already-cooked quinoa (a staple in Peru), and the vegetables are chopped very small, so it cooks very fast. Great way to use up leftovers, though when I make quinoa (I use my rice-cooker), there's rarely much in the way of leftovers.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped very small
1 large potato, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 ribs celery, cut very small
1 med. carrot or sweet potato, cut into very small cubes (or shredded, though it makes the soup look more "messy".) (The recipe said carrot, but my Mom, who dislikes carrots, swore it was more pale and starchy, like a sweet potato)
1-2 jalapeno peppers, to taste, seeded and minced
1 Tb. olive oil (original recipe uses butter - this is the only change I made to make it "vegan")
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 cups fresh spinach, thinly sliced
Salt, freshly ground pepper and hot sauce to taste
Place garlic, onion, potato, celery, carrot and jalapeno in a skillet with olive oil. Saute until vegetables start to get slightly tender.
While vegetables are sauteeing, bring water, tomato sauce and broth to a boil in a med. saucepan.
Add vegetables and cooked quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes are very soft. Add spinach and cook an additional 2 - 3 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings; add salt, pepper, hot sauce or whatever works for you.
And for those who have read this far and are still interested in the unique foods of South America, this is a GREAT blog: Vegan Findings in South America . They have some great photos too! Look at them since I haven't got mine uploaded yet.