Pizza Amour

Today is the first time that I have had some time all to myself in the middle of the day in forever.  The five oldest went to Miss Jasmine’s house for an end of the school year party and Aimee is taking her afternoon nap.  I may have indulged in the last piece of chocolate cake, without even sharing.  Ahh…

While enrolled in education courses at what is now Missouri State University in Springfield, MO, it was quite common to hear my professors tell us students that teachers do not teach for the money.  They weren’t lying.  Then came the opportunity to be a campus minister for the Wesley Foundation in Joplin, MO at Missouri Southern State University.  The pay took a turn for the worse.  Finally, God returned our family to Haiti to serve as missionaries.  We were definitely not climbing the ladder of worldly success, which was never very high on our priority list anyway.  The succession of these  life events is making it difficult for me to wrap my mind around why we are trying to get our pizzeria off the ground.  Do I feel like we are doing what God is leading us to do?  Yes, but I have no idea for the why, which is ok.

For over a year, we have been talking about opening a restaurant. Originally we thought we were heading towards a Mexican restaurant in Haiti (which if someone would ever do that, I would definitely be there!).  I am not sure how to explain this, but pizza makes us feel normal.  Just like a big plate of rice and beans makes a Haitian feel at home, pizza does the same for us.  Unfortunately there are not a lot of choices when it comes to pizza in Haiti, so we started making it at home.  My husband starting inviting guests over for pizza.  People started requesting pizza on their return trips.  We held a wedding and pizza reception at our house.  Pizza Amour it is!

Already we have hosted a few groups of short term mission teams, served some customers in our front yard seating area, and have sold quite a few take-out orders to those passing by our house.  I never dreamed of moving to Haiti to start a pizzeria, but as weird as it sounds, it seems quite natural.  In case there is a question, yes, Eric is still working for Operation Blessing as the acting national director of Haiti.  We are only making pizzas on the weekends and for special group requests!

Many thanks to Jadon Salvant for helping us with our logo!


Pizza Love

One of the Haitian Operation Blessing employees was married last Saturday.  We had the privilege of having the wedding at our house, along with the challenge of preparing pizzas for 60 ish people for the reception.  Our friends, Scott and April Salvant agreed to keep our children for the day so the the house could stay clean and I didn’t have to worry about getting 6 kids ready for a wedding and preparing 15 pizzas!

Hannah Hamilton and Brett Murray are working here in Haiti over in Fonds Parisian. They came early on Saturday and I had wonderful unexpected help for the pizza preparation and serving.  They are amazing!

Thank you Brett and Hannah for all of your help!  Hannah is still recovering from malaria.  Pray for her complete recovery!

We worked hard throughout the early afternoon and I went upstairs to grab a quick shower before the wedding/pizza baking. I came back downstairs to discover they had taken my couch outside on the sidewalk for the bride and groom to sit on.  I sure would have swept under the couch had I known they were going to use it!  Eric was Martial’s best man for the wedding.  Ironically, the maid of honor sat between the bride and groom on the couch.

Yep, that's my couch right there on the sidewalk!

The day was a success, Martial was married and the guests loved the pizza.  Additionally, Eric and I have fallen in Pizza Love, we are now working diligently to take our pizza quality up to the next level.

Sausage Making

One great benefit from butchering your own pig is deciding on how you want to use the meat.  Our next pig, assuming there will be another one, we will definitely make sure to grind more of the pork to make our own sausages and brats.  In fact, we will probably use both shoulders for sausage making instead of brining.

That meat grinding attachment for the Kitchen Aid that I thought I would never use came in handy for grinding the pork.  We used a lot of the ground pork as pizza topping, Sausage and Red Bean Stew, and also to make these amazing Hot Italian Sausages, and brats.  Unfortunately, I think we have already used all of it!

Eric was in charge of the sausage making.  I cannot say that I am jealous about that, either.  He started by cleaning the small intestines.  Ironically, he learned the most from a blog of a missionary in Africa who was doing the same thing!

After “harvesting” the intestines from the pig’s insides, I (Eric writing here) handed them over to some ladies standing nearby to clean for me; they had offered to do it for a small fee, and I was glad to let them!  Haitians normally just cook them in soups, but I had sausage making plans!

I brought home a bucket of pig intestines to hopefully turn into some great brats, but didn’t know a lot of the process.  It seems the art of homemade sausage is almost lost in this day and age…but thanks to the internet I found some helpful hints.  You can’t just use the intestines as they are…they walls are about 1/8 ” thick and really slimy.  To turn intestines into sausage casing requires a lot of scraping, after several hours of soaking in salt water to help clean them.

I grabbed a plastic auto body Bondo scraper from a box of car stuff I had laying around, and got to scraping.  I probably wasted several feet of casing trying to figure out how much pressure to apply, should it be right side in or right side out, etc.  Just when I thought I had really ruined one piece, I held it up and realized it was exactly what it was supposed to look like!  The prepared casings are paper thin, just a very thin membrane, but incredibly tough!  I was able to fill them with water to see their shape…perfect brat shape!

Eric scraping the intestines

A Proud Moment

Our meat grinder did not have the sausage stuffer attachment, so that was another hurdle to overcome.  I looked around at some pvc supplies I had laying around, and within 30 minutes or so of cutting, gluing, and filing, I had a workable attachment for the meat grinder.

Eric's Sausage Making Attachment

It was a pretty easy process from that point…just mix all the spices and ground pork, and stuff it into the casings I had just made.   It was pretty fun twisting the links after every six inches or so, it definitely takes practice.  Each sausage has to be twisted the opposite direction as the previous brat so they hold their shape.  It was definitely a rewarding adventure!  I absolutely love the spicy Italian sausages I made!

Here Piggy

Living in Haiti has afforded many different experiences that we never would have experienced had we stayed in good ol’ Missouri. One of which was the purchase of a pig!  We bought a piglet up in Fort Jacques in May of 2009.  Just after Thanksgiving of 2011, Eric had Macron (our piggy) butchered.  We learned all sorts of things through the process. In addition to an education, we have reaped the benefits of fresh pork in our freezer!

Way back seven years ago (or so?) when I received my Kitchen Aid from Eric’s mom for my birthday (for which, I am forever grateful!), Eric wanted to get the meat grinder attachment to go with it.  I wasn’t really sure why we would ever need it.  Apparently, he knew something I didn’t know.  And that pressure cooker that Eric’s grandma gave us 11 years ago was used for the first time with this pig, too.  I sure am glad that we decided to bring that pressure cooker with us to Haiti.

The story begins with Christa running down to the pig pit everyday to give food and water to Macron, a job she mostly enjoyed (especially when her daddy helped her).

Hannah with Macron, (more than) full grown

More to come about the Pig Adventures in the next few days…

Sipping Hot Tea

Today was the perfect day to sip hot tea all day long with my mom and dad.  The sound of the snow plow woke me this morning.  I jumped out of bed to see what the racket was all about.  Funny how I am used to the neighbor’s rooster waking me up in Port-au-Prince.  I really thought someone was dragging their trashcan to the end of their driveway.  Snow fell all morning around here which afforded a day of baking and cooking for my parents.

Just over a year ago, I really started seeking out information on nutrition and the role food plays in the health of myself and my family.  I switched from white flour and pasta to whole wheat, white rice to brown rice, and from using vegetable oil to coconut oil or butter.  As soon as I arrived in St. Louis (after a nice splurge of Mexican food 🙂 ) I started researching good healthy food that would be the very best for my mom and her fight against stage 4 ovarian cancer.  I took my first trip to the Whole Foods Market and then a couple days later to Trader Joe’s.  We stocked up the refrigerator full of kale, leeks, endive, bok choy, cauliflower, peppers and onions.  We have Brazil nuts, coconut oil, whole wheat, plums, and talapia.   I am still learning a lot about nutrition and its role in our lives.  I have been having fun looking up recipes and cooking with my dad.  I am proud of my mom and her willingness to eat what we are fixing for her.  We made some cauliflower soup and multigrain bread.  My dad even took seconds on the soup!

Healthy eating is a journey.  It is never too late to begin. I still have so far to go.  I am glad sipping hot tea is considered a healthy activity, especially in St. Louis in the winter!

Haitian Marinad

I have written about Miss Jasmine before.  She is our school morning nanny for Aimee and Callie and also teaches Christa and Hannah French four days a week.  Sometimes Miss Jasmine likes to spice it up in French class (especially when the students are feeling a little overwhelmed and frustrated about French!).

One of their favorite activities is to make “marinad” which is fried dough.  I love it that Jasmine teaches the kids French but I really love it that they get to learn Haitian culture and how to make Haitian food.  Marinad is a snack food that is typically sold on the street to passersby who need a little bite to eat.  When Eric and I lived in Port-de-Paix, he always bought marinad outside of the gate of the school to help him make it to lunch time.

First you mince some garlic together with some salt and pepper.  Dissolve Maggi (or chicken bouilion) in some water.  Mix in all of the spices and water with a couple of cups of flour and a teaspoon of baking powder. I understand that my measurements are quite vague, but I wasn’t with them while they were preparing the dough!  Add enough flour/water until a soft dough forms.  Heat up some oil in a skillet and drop spoonfuls into the grease.  Fry, turning after a few minutes.

Golden Fried Marinad

Callie likes to call them “sea turtles” because that is what they look like to my little three-year-old.  They are best served hot with some Haitian piklis.

I have to say that I think these taste a lot like Long John Silver’s batter..Maybe we have just discovered their recipe.

Haitian Thanksgiving

We now have spent four Thanksgivings in Haiti.  We moved the week of Thanksgiving in 2008.  At that time, we were living at the New Hope Haiti Mission.  And since every Thursday they have had a big, goat soup with a lot of huge vegetables all cooked together (in Creole, Boullion), that is what we ate our first Thanksgiving in Haiti.

The next Thanksgiving, we decided to have a huge Thanksgiving feast, the best we could come up with.  We shopped long and hard at the Caribbean supermarket (which went down in the 2010 earthquake) to find the things we needed.  Our Haitian friends, Jean Claubert and Louizanie Belton came over to join in with our festivities.  Louizanie prepared diri djon djon (rice with mushrooms) at our house.  While I watched her prepare the delicious Haitian dish, I noticed that everything was fresh, real, and whole.  The rice, the beans, the coconut, the green onions, the mushroom were all very natural while I opened cans of green beans, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes.  It was at that moment that I realized that what I thought was cooking a homemade Thanksgiving was really just opening and dumping and mixing.

This realization led  me on a challenge to really learn to cook.  Many times here in Haiti we cannot find the things we want at the grocery or the price is so outrageous that we refuse to pay.  Instead of doing without, we have learned to make what we need.  It has been a fun adventure and we continue on this path of using what is available to get what we need/want.

This year, the only thing we had to use that was canned were the sweet potatoes. Unfortunately, we cannot find that traditional sweet potato variety here in Haiti.  Eric really wanted my mom’s sweet potato souffle, so we had to settle for canned yams.  Sure there were some random cans thrown in the mix here and there, but overall, I thought it all turned out pretty fresh.  I even made my first pumpkin pie all the way from scratch.  Definitely, the way to go!

The winner of the most beautiful dish was my mother-in-law’s cranberry salad.

The absolute freshest part of dinner had to be the TURKEY!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from the Lotz Family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti!!

Painting and Funnel Cakes

Hannah Grace was the one who chose to make funnel cakes last Wednesday.  I love funnel cakes!  They take me back to the days of Silver Dollar City when I was a kid.  I am pretty certain we smelled a lot more funnel cakes than we actually ate, but I remember our whole family digging in together for a sweet, tasty treat.  That smell in my nose and that taste on my tongue takes me right back to those carefree days of riding rides, watching the glass blowers in awe, and smelling the sawdust of the woodworkers.  (and waiting for my mom to hurry up and stop looking at all the things we weren’t allowed to touch!) When Hannah said she wanted to make funnel cakes for our Wednesday Tea Party, she didn’t have to ask twice.  We found a funnel cake recipe that was simple and delicious. We poured the batter into an empty honey bear and then squeezed it into the hot oil.  It worked perfectly. Topped with a little bit of powdered sugar, they tasted every bit as good as Silver Dollar City’s (and a lot cheaper!).

Hannah's Funnel Cake!

On Wednesdays, I try to work some art into our day. My mom sent down a bunch of paint-by-numbers for my kids to do.  What can I say?  We are all beginners!  Last Wednesday, the kiddos painted while I read out loud to them.  The girls lasted for two hours!  They boys grew tired after the first hour, but made some really good progress on their paintings.

Hannah and Christa working dilligently.

Jetty's Clown Fish

Wilson's Panda

Since last Wednesday, Christa finished her painting.  I think she did an excellent job!

Good Job, Lotzie!

The Little Red Hen

Sometimes I feel like the Little Red Hen because I have this song in my head from when my big girls were little… “Who will help me grind this wheat, grind this wheat, grind this wheat?  Who will help me grind this wheat?  ‘Not I,’ each animal said.”

Actually I am really excited because I have a new grain mill.  I am excited to join the wheat grinding extremists out there!  I am also looking for opportunities to use my grinder for other grains as well.  I really need some good suggestions!  Until then, I will focus my attention on wheat and continue to develop a great love for whole wheat baked goods.

Yea! There she is!

Wheat to Flour

And really, it is super easy to grind the wheat, I don’t even need any help.

Mexican Pizza

Because sometimes you just need some Taco Bell…

Homemade Mexican Pizza

But, darn it, there just isn’t one nearby..

Corn tortillas (brought back from the States by my favorite husband) fried.  Topped with shredded chicken, another corn tortilla, homemade refried beans, cheddar, black olives, tomotoes, and a dollop of sour cream.  Deliciousness.

Kind of like Taco Bell, only a lot better.