Friday, November 28, 2014

Flour Gorditas


Ingredients:

2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
3/4 c lukewarm milk (2 percent is fine)
2 tbs shortening



Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and shortening. With your hands, mix the ingredients, incorporating the shortening into the flour.


Stir in milk and oil until combined. 


Pour mixture onto the counter top (it will be dry and crumbly at first, but after kneading, it will come together) and knead until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes.)


Return kneaded dough to bowl, cover and let sit for 30 minutes (this is to let the gluten relax, the dough will NOT rise.) Cut large dough ball into 8-10 pieces.


Roll out small dough balls thin and at least 8-10 inch wide with a rolling pin (The dough will shrink once placed on the griddle.)


Preheat a pancake griddle, (comal) or a large skillet to medium high heat.

If you don't have a gordita presser, you can use a small sauce pan filled with some water to press the gorditas down.












Cook for about 2 - 3 minutes on each side. As soon as the gorditas are ready, i will cut them open. With a small knife, dip it in some water and start cutting your gorditas open. Slice about half way around the gordita to create a pocket.


Roast your favorite peppers, peel and cut them up.

Add your favorite grated cheese and melt it in a pan with the cut up roasted peppers.

Spoon the pepper and cheese mixture into the pocket of the gordita.

You can stuff taco meat into them or anything you like.

The most popular gordita filling in Mexico is the ground beef or pork with the red pepper sauce the one I used for the Chicken Tamales.






My favorite gordita filling is roasted poblano peppers and mozzarella cheese mmm good.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mennonite Curiosity



As George attempted to explain the meaning of bear with me, with no success whatsoever, there was a knock at the door. On his way to answer the door, he pulled his fingers through his hair again. I could tell he was so frustrated that he was tempted to swear. I could almost see the F’s flying around above his head but he was trying so hard to keep it under control around me.

He opened the door and it was Bree. She was all happy and in a good mood. She had a new piercing again, this time on her tongue.  As George was making dinner, Bree and I looked through his CDs and I found my favorite one: Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. I had heard a few of the songs on my alarm clock radio and I loved them. I had planned to buy that CD after I bought a VCR.

She asked if I would like to listen to that one and I said, “Yes!” She put it on. George came into the living room with a beer for Bree. He looked surprised that I had chosen that CD.

“I figured you would only listen to, church music or something,” George said.

Bree rolled her eyes, shook her head at him and said, “George, you shouldn’t always say what you think.”

“Ahh shit, I know, sorry Anna. Okay, let’s eat!” He said.

He made Mr. Doodles with cheese whiz and hot dog slices in it. George said, “This is my favorite, I hope you like it.”

Bree gave him a really strange look and said, “Really, George? This is your favorite? That’s bullshit.”

He just smiled and grabbed his fork. I bowed my head and put my hands together and in my head said the High German prayer that I memorized when I was two or three years old. When I was finished, I looked up and caught them looking at each other and then looking at me. I felt really awkward.

It reminded me of when I was little and our neighbour’s kids in Mexico used to come over to play house. We would all sit around a little table to have, pretend faspa. My sisters and I would say our prayer and because they didn’t know what to do, they just counted to ten in Spanish. They only knew a few words of Low German and they spoke Spanish because their dad was native Mexican.

Bree asked, “What language do you say it in and how often do you say it?”

George looked at Bree and shook his head.

I told him that it was okay and I would try my best to explain it. I said, “But I think it is going to go just like earlier when you tried to explain the meaning of, how to bear with someone!”

Bree gave George a strange look again. They both started laughing and then Bree asked, “What are you talking about, Anna?”

“I have no idea,” I answered and began telling her that I say a prayer before and after a meal, when I go to bed, and when I wake up in the morning.  I say them all in High German. I knew all four by memory ever since I could remember and that it was something I had done my whole life.

Bree asked, “So you don’t tell God how you feel or about a thing that you wish for? You tell him the same thing every time you pray?”

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“Yes, I think so. Well, all four of them are different. The one I say before a meal is different from the one I say after a meal,” I answered.

“So you speak Low German and High German?” Bree asked.

“Well, sort of. Where I grew up, we spoke Low German but all the books that we learned from, like the Bible, the Testament, the catechism, prayer and song books, were written in High German,” I answered.

Bree slowly rolled her eyes toward George to look at him without turning her head and he just smiled and said, “Okay, that’s enough questions for now. Let’s eat.”  Bree was so confused and curious and I could tell she had a lot more questions.   

I grabbed my fork and took a bite but I had a really hard time swallowing it. 

“It’s okay, Anna. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it,” George said.

I told him it was good but I just wasn’t that hungry. I took a few more really small bites but I just couldn’t eat any more. It was the grossest food I had ever tasted. I would never tell him that but it didn’t help that the knot-in-my-stomach feeling was coming back again.

I got up and said, “I am gonna go home. Maybe Hilary will call me to say I can come back to work soon.” 

Bree rolled her eyes again and said, “You are still waiting for him to call you? Anna, you shouldn’t be working. You should be going to school.” 

I wondered how her eyes were still in her head after all that eye-rolling she did in such a short period of time.

I said, “No, I really want to work so I can buy a VCR and that CD that is playing right now.”

George said, “You know what, Anna? I can make you a tape of that CD if you like it so much. I will do it tonight and you can come over in the morning and pick it up. I’m not going to work tomorrow. I have to leave to go to court at eleven so, if you come between nine and ten, it will be ready.”

Bree rolled her eyes again and said, “Really, George, you are going to make her a tape?”

“Yes! Yes, I am! What’s wrong with that?”

She laughed and said, “Oh, George, you are such a weirdo.” 

I wondered what the heck weirdo meant? But I wasn’t even going to ask. By that time, I had gotten a big headache from all that learning.

While walking through the hallway to my apartment, I was thinking how nice it was to know Bree and George. They made me laugh and kept my mind off the fact that I didn’t have a job again, at least for a little while. I just had to smile when I thought of them. I felt happy.

When I got home I had one message but it was not from Hilary. It was from Mark but I forced myself to just think about the fun time I had that night while I was getting ready for bed. Click here to continue reading my story.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Those Mexican Mennonites!


Continued from Sad Skinny Mennonite

I was working at the embroidery place and doing my best to follow the nurse’s orders after my visit to the walk-in clinic. I was just starting to eat a bit more, was feeling better, and was dreaming about buying that VCR again. Then it happened, again. At the end of my shift I heard my name being called, “Anna Wall to the office. Anna Wall, please come to the office.”

There it was again. My heart dropped to the floor and I couldn’t breathe and it felt like no time had passed and it was Hilary’s office all over again. I was told that they were letting me go. This time there was no hope of being called back like Hilary had told me. I was done. They told me to get my stuff and go.

On my walk home, I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what had happened. I thought I was doing great.  They said I was doing a good job. I was so disappointed. I thought that maybe I should stop dreaming about buying a VCR because it just seemed to bring me bad luck. Maybe I was not supposed to buy one?

I stopped on the sidewalk at a highway overpass and looked down. The cars were flying by and everyone was in a hurry to get somewhere except me. What was I going to do now, sitting around again, thinking about everything day after day? I thought if this is it, this will be a long life. If I live as long as my grandma did, I have forty-four years left, since she died at the age of sixty-three.

The question crossed my mind, “Would that be a high enough drop if I jumped off?” But, as I stood there looking down, images of my mom’s face popped into my mind when she told me not to think so much and not so far ahead. I thought, “At this very minute, I have to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other and keep going until I get off the overpass.” If I could do that, what else might I be able to do?

Before I knew it, I was back at my apartment. I took off my shoes, got a glass of water and sat down on the floor and drank it. I decided to take my mom’s advice and stop thinking so much, especially about the forty-four years I was thinking ahead. That was really hard for me. I just finished that thought and then I started thinking again!

I thought, “How the heck am I supposed to stop thinking when I have no one to talk to?” Or, I could just start talking to myself but, either way, I knew everything that was going on in my head had to come out one way or another.  If I could talk about it to a person who would talk back, then maybe I would learn English faster and find the answer to what I was supposed to do next.

I went to check my mail box to see if I had received a letter from my mom and there was George checking his mail. When he saw me, he said, “Hey, Anna, good to see you! How was the clinic visit?”

I started telling him but then I felt him thinking, “This is going to take a looong time!” Just as I finished that thought, he said, “Why don’t you come to my place and you can tell me all about it while I make us something to eat?”

I thought, oba nee, Anna, don’t do it! But, the other side of my brain thought, “Here is my chance! I can stop thinking and start talking!”

He could tell I was hesitant and said, “It’s okay, Bree is coming over too in a while.” So, I walked beside him through the hallway to his place, nervous as heck, hoping no one would see me and call my mom to tell her I was once again walking with a man with long hair and tattoos.

He opened the door to let me go in first. It smelled odd in there. One wall was completely covered in a strange, yet beautiful, drawing of a woman who was covered only by her long hair. He had a big fish tank, a pond with turtles in it, and a huge glass box with lizards in it. It was really dark. Everything was black except for the carpet and some of the walls which were grey.

His place was clean, neat, and cozy with all the pillows on the sofa but it was still a bit scary. He had a few fearsome looking statues that looked like wolves with big bat wings. I had never seen anything like it before. He noticed that I was staring at them, so he explained that they were gargoyles. He started telling me about them, but he lost me at the word gargoyle.

He said, “Have a seat and make yourself at home. You want something to drink? Pop, juice, a beer?”

“I will have some water, thanks.”

He went and got a glass of water from the kitchen and said, “Tell me how it went at the clinic. Is everything okay with you?” I told him what the nurse told me: To eat three times a day, not to be alone so much, talk to people and make friends.

He said any time I wanted to talk I could call him or come over to his place to practice my English. He promised he wouldn’t laugh at me. I told him that I got laid off again and he said, “Ah, shit, no way. Did they at least pay you then?” 

“No, they didn’t say anything about paying me,” I replied.

George told me that he always thought there was something “fishy” about that place and I thought, “Fish?” Now I find out they have fish too! I never saw the bear she talked about but maybe they feed the fish to the bears. Then I caught myself thinking too much again and told myself to stop it! I didn’t even ask George about the fish or bears they may have at that place.

George said he heard that they do this a lot. They hire people who don’t speak a lot of English and then fire them and never pay them.  He said, “Someone has to do something about this! If it’s okay with you, I will go there and tell them to f*@ing pay you for the work you did. Grrr, it pisses me off when people take advantage of … umm … other people.”

He caught himself before he described me in front of me. He wasn’t sure how to say it. He was very careful about the words he chose. I probably wouldn’t have understood even if he told me exactly what kind of “people category” he would put me into.

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When I worked at the factory, I often overheard parts of conversations where people were talking about “those people.” Those that came to Canada with a big van full of kids, just for the summer, to work on the fields and then go back to Mexico for the winter. I was one of those, but I came without a van full of them.

I told George that it was okay if he called me a Mexican Mennonite. I didn’t even know if that was right or not, but that is what people in Canada called us and they must know because they must have read about it somewhere. How could I be offended when I didn’t even know myself?

Back home, it was never clear either. I heard parts of conversations that suggested my great grandparents may have been born in Russia. All I knew was that I was born in Mexico and my grandparents were born in Canada. I knew that for sure because that was why I was able to become a Canadian Citizen.

The native Mexicans called us Mennonitas but we never referred to ourselves as Mennonites.  All I ever heard was, “Wie senne dietscha” which translates to “We are German” and that is why we live like this. I was not sure if I was Russian, Canadian, Mexican, or even a Mennonite.

I told George that it was okay with me if he went to the embroidery place for me. He got up and said, “Better yet, you are coming with me.”

I told George that I was scared to go there because I thought they had bears and they might let them out if we make them mad.

“Why do you think that?” he asked.

I told him that they told me to “Bear with them,” at the interview. He pulled his fingers through his hair, sighed for a minute and then said, “Trust me, Anna, they do not have bears.”  I thought, “This man knows everything!” Click here to continue reading my story.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sad Skinny Mennonite


Continued from Men-oh-Men!

I went to the walk-in clinic that George told me about. I asked the lady at the front desk if she wanted to see my SIN card.  She chuckled and said, “No, but I need to see your health card. What is the problem?” 

I explained, “Ahhh, I don’t know. My neighbour told me to come here because I’m losing my shape and I don’t feel hungry. I just feel nauseous all the time and I can’t sleep.” 

“Hmmm, take a number and have a seat. A nurse will be with you shortly,” She said.

I explained to the nurse how I was feeling, to the best of my ability. She asked me all kinds of questions I didn’t understand. I told her that I didn’t speak much English and that I was from Mexico. I got laid off from my job, I didn’t know how I would pay my rent, and I did not want to go back home to Mexico.

I told her that I thought I might have the same nerve problems that my grandfather did and that he hung himself. Some days I was really happy and other days I was extremely sad. I told her that I missed my family a lot, but that I had felt like this ever since I could remember, even while I was living at home.

Living at home, I didn’t worry about paying the rent or learning English but, rather, I worried about not being strong enough to live like all the Mennonite women had to in Mexico. I often thought about ending it before it even started.

She said, “Wow, ooookaaaay. Did you ever see a doctor about these nerve problems?” 

I told her that I had never really told anyone about this before, other than my mother, and she told me not to think so much, or so far ahead. She told me to just trust that my life would turn out as it was supposed to. I needed to just accept that and then I would be alright. I tried, but I just couldn’t do that.

The nurse told me that she didn’t have enough time that day but she wanted me to come back to tell her more about my nerve issues. She said she had never heard of this before but she was interested in learning more about it.

She took my blood pressure and a blood sample. I watched as the bottle filled with my blood and I almost fainted. She asked me to get up and step on the scale. When I got up, I had that same tingling, cold sensation I felt after Hilary told me he was letting me go and felt my knees go weak. The nurse caught me and held me up for a bit until it passed.

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I stepped on the scale long enough for her to write down my weight. It was 94 lbs. She asked how tall I was. I had no idea. All I knew is that I was taller than my mother and my older sister. She got out a measuring tape and that was the day I found out I was 170 cm tall.

She left the room and came back with a bag of chocolate cookies and a bottle of water and said, “Eat these while I go see my next patient and don’t get up. Stay sitting.” I said, “Okay.” Across from where I was sitting was a shelf full of books. I was tempted to get one and look at the pictures in it and thought how nice it would be if only I could read.

My Low German thoughts told me to just do what the nurse told me to do. I forced down a cookie and drank some water. When the nurse came back, she said, “You need to make sure that you eat at least three times a day. You are going through a lot and you should talk to someone who can help you figure it all out. In the meantime, when you feel sad, you can come back and talk to me.”

She said, “I think you should go to school to learn English, make friends, and go out and have fun.” 

She gave me sheets of paper with ESL classes and 24-hour help phone numbers I could call. She also gave me all kinds of pamphlets that had pictures of really skinny sad looking girls on them.

I thought, “What am I going to do with all this stuff?” I couldn’t read the pamphlets, or call any of the numbers she gave me. Even if I did, what would I say? I just took them and said, “Thank you.” Click here to continue reading my story.

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