Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I feel like I'll never catch up on all the fun I've been having in funemployment if I keep taking week-long (or longer) breaks from blogging! There has just been so much going on. Tons of trámites.....which I have yet to even detail so that anyone else moving from Chile knows what needs to be done, we had a friend visiting for a week, and now we are packing up to head to Viña for the rest of our time in Chile before moving back to the States. On top of that, there is the whole job search and big secret project (yet to be revealed) that we are both working on. Oh and of course getting in some travel--we are going to Easter Island at the end of the month!--and planning our three going away parties (one in Viña, one in Rancagua and a big one in Santiago).

So in a nutshell, funemployment has been busy, but a good--make that GREAT--busy! I really want to do some recaps so that I can remember what an awesome time our last months in Chile have been. Plus I still want to write about our trips to San Pedro de Atacama and Buenos Aires--and soon the Easter Island trip too!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vegetarian Charquicán Recipe

On Day 8 of funemployment, I mentioned that I made charquicán vegetariano for lunch and that I would be posting the recipe and pictures. Well today is Wednesday and I used to post recipes on Wednesdays…so let’s get down to business!

I am taking these measurements from a Lider Express recipe that I have, however it is all relative to your tastes. I typically throw in more zapallo than I do potatoes, even though the recipe calls for half & half.

Charquicán is typically made with beef, however in my version, I use lentils to represent the ground beef. It is a very typical Chilean dish, served mostly in the winter as it will warm you right up when the temperatures are cold.

Vegetarian Charquicán

1/2 to 3/4 cup dried small brown lentils (depending on how much you like lentils)
2 tbsp EVOO
1/2 onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped in cubes
1/2 tsp. paprika
500 grams potatoes, peeled & cubed
500 grams zapallo, peeled & cubed (zapallo is a type of pumpkin widely used in Chile, it looks like the picture here—in any case I think any orange pumpkin would do, just not canned pumpkin)
1 cup frozen peas (optional depending on how much you like or dislike peas such as Christian)
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen green beans
2 carrots, chopped in small cubes
Merquén (which is a Chilean spice, you could use red pepper flakes in the US)
Salt & pepper
1 cup of the water used to boil the potatoes & zapallo
Parsley for garnish (optional too)

Boil the lentils in abundant water for approximately 20 minutes, or until done. I don’t add salt or any other seasonings. Drain and set aside once they are ready.

In a pan, add the EVOO over medium heat. Add in the onion and sautée for about 2 minutes. Add in the diced garlic and continue to sautée for 1 minute more. Finally, add in the red bell pepper along with some salt & pepper. Continue to cook until the bell pepper has softened. Once it is done, turn off the flame. This is what we will refer to as the pino, which is what it is normally called when it has meat in it for empanadas.

In a large pot, put the potatoes & zapallo to boil in enough water that all the pieces are covered within the pot. Boil over medium heat until you can stick a fork in both the potato and zapallo easily. At this point, add in the carrots, and other frozen vegetables. Boil for at least 5 minutes more so that these vegetables cook. Once they are ready, set aside 1 cup of the boiled water for future use. Drain the rest of the water. Mash the potatoes & zapallo to a chunky consistency. Add in the spices (paprika, salt & pepper, merquén, oregano, & cumin) to taste and mix in the pino. Then add in your lentils to the mixture. I added in the majority and mixed them around and then when I plated the charquicán, I sprinkled some lentils on top. You can also garnish it with parsley on top too.

Serve hot (if need be, reheat the plates in the microwave).

¡Buen provecho!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Days 10-13 of Fun Employment:

Thursday, day 10, was quite busy in the morning, but ended up more chill in the afternoon. I had another doctor appt early in the morning-at 10am which is now considered "early" in my funemployment state. They were running behind though so they didn't end up seeing me until 10:45am....good thing I had my notepad with me because I started brainstorming restaurants to add to my favorite foods page. Once I finished there, I passed by a cute little tea store in the Mall Panoramico to buy a gift for our nana, who would have her last day with us the following week. As it turns out, she had really liked a Rooibos Chai Herbal tea that my dear friend Staci had given me on my trip back home in March. So I was on the lookout for a similar type tea to give to my nana. I went to Zoe, and although I couldn't find a rooibos tea, I did find a Green Chai tea. After picking out her gift, I headed back home and got ready for lunch that was planned with some ex-coworkers. One of these ex-coworkers had left the company at the end of 2010 and I hadn't seen him since. The other two ex-coworkers were my boss and another jefa on the team when I left earlier this month. We went to Baco, which is a French restaurant in Providencia that has an awesome wine menu.

Most of the menu included something with meat, however I asked for a Spinach & Cheese Quiche (Quiche Olivia as it was called). Everyone else asked for the filete a la pimienta (peppered steak), all cooked at different points. Then JJ decided to order a bottle of red wine to go with lunch.....to which I partook more than I probably should have!

(The four of us at the end of lunch.)

After another 3 hour lunch, I arrived home with puras ganas de dormir. And so I did....I took a 3 hour nap before getting up to have another once (a typical Chilean mealtime in the early evening) with B&E (my MIL & SIL), including more pompadour cake.

Friday brought about lots of movement: I had to drop off a radio that I had sold to an ex-coworker, then I had to go sign my finiquito (the document stating I am ok with my last paycheck and terminating my employment contract, which is signed in front of a notary), and right after, I went to Zumba class at the gym. In the afternoon, I had to continue packing up the house because on Saturday morning at 9am the mover was coming to move the boxes into its truck. Christian, on the other hand, had a soccer game to go play, so I was home with Dulcinea going crazy packing boxes upon boxes upon boxes and going through a million papers. To be fair, he had done stuff earlier in the day when I was off running my errands and going to the gym, so it was only fair that he had time to go play soccer with friends. Around 7pm, I started to take a break because my back was killing me, and Dulci and I just hung out in front of the gas stove to stay warm (I’ve previously discussed Dulci’s affinity for the gas stove in a different post). Once Christian got home, we went over to my mother-in-law's apartment in Recoleta for once and to drop off Dulcinea and then went back home to sleep. We figured it would be better if Dulci stayed in the other apartment that evening so that she wouldn't be in the way during the move on Saturday morning.

Day 12 brought about a very early start—up at 7am to finish preparing everything so that when the moving truck arrived at 9:30am all we had to do was take it all out to the truck. The original moving truck that my mother-in-law had booked was under the environmental driving restriction on Saturday and obviously couldn’t drive….so she found us a different guy all within minutes and basically the process was only delayed from 9am to 9:30am—time that we certainly needed. Once the truck came, with my sister-in-law in tow, the four of us (truck driver, Christian, Erica & me) started making various trips to get everything into the truck. Then Christian went with the moving truck and I drove our car to the apartment in Recoleta that my MIL owns. The reason we needed a moving truck in the first place is that our old bed, the dining room table (which belongs to Bernarda), and some other items needed to be moved to this apartment in Recoleta (in addition to our 6 or 7 suitcases filled with stuff as well as all of our food and other kitchen stuff that we haven't sold). It is a tiny one-bedroom which is perfect for when B&E need to come to Santiago to go to the doctor at La Universidad de Chile. We, however, ended up still have a ton of stuff despite our garage sale….and so the poor little apartment was stuffed full by the end of the move. We even filled up the previously empty storage unit. The move ended around 10:30 or 11am which is quite quick in reality. After that, we organized as much as we could with 4 adults and 1 dog in the apartment—which is to say that we basically put everything we didn’t need in the storage unit and stacked up everything else we did need in the bedroom & living room.

Next on the agenda was making some lunch. Bernarda had gone to La Vega (since we are a mere 3 blocks from it) in the morning to buy the items necessary for some chop suey. While we were moving and organizing, she was slicing and dicing all the vegetables to be cooked. Christian had to go run an errand before lunch and so he stopped to get some chicken for the carnivorous version of the chop suey. Once he got back, we feasted and it was delicious! Chop suey is seriously such an easy dish to put together. All the work is in chopping up the veggies, but cooking it all (especially without chicken) takes mere minutes! After lunch, we started to organize anything else that we could. I put the towels and sheets on a shelf that B&E had cleared out for us in the closet. We started to put away the kitchen items which were in several boxes.

In the evening, we wanted to treat B&E to a nice dinner out as a way to show our appreciation for all of their help and willingness. We decided to go to El Caramaño, which is our favorite Chilean-food restaurant (as you can see here).

It is located in Bellavista (a barrio within Santiago), on the street called Purísima.

It has all of the typical Chilean dishes, which are always delicious and relatively inexpensive for a Santiago restaurant.

(Me & Chris)

(Bernarda & Erica)

We started off with their yummy homemade bread & sopaipillas with pebre and Christian, Bernarda & Erica enjoyed some machas a la parmesana as well (I didn't get a pic of the machas, but here is one & a recipe if you want to check them out).

We ordered a 1.5 liter jug of borgoña to drink, which is red wine mixed with strawberries and sugar. I absolutely love El Caramaño’s borgoña and had about 3 glasses of it….and still wanted more which is probably why I don't have a picture of it--I drank it too quickly! Hahahaha!

For our main dishes we had the following:

Christian & Bernarda—Pastel de Jaiba, which is like a crab casserole dish basically filled with crab meat, onion, garlic, bead crumbs, butter, paprika, oregano and parmesan cheese (here is a recipe if you are interested).

Erica—Pollo al Trauco y Papas Fritas, which is a special chicken dish, but I don’t remember exactly what they cooked her chicken with. She had some French fries as a side dish.

Me—Ensalada Gran Caramaño y Papas Salteadas, which was a huge salad with red lettuce, watercress (P.S. I freaking love these in salads), sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and olives (which I proceeded to take out since I don't like olives-except for the green ones with the pimiento center). I threw on some balsamic vinegar and a bit of EVOO and mmmmm down the pipes it went! I had some sautéed potatoes as a side dish.

At the end of dinner, El Caramaño treated us to a bajativo on the house. Bajativos are digestifs in English, which are small shots of alcohol typically taken after a meal to aid in digestion. Christian had mint, I had amaretto and B&E had chamomile.

After such a nice meal, all we could do was come home and go to bed. We were all exhausted and having our bellies full just made us even sleepier. But not before a quick group picture:

Sunday, day 13, was a very simple day. Christian took B&E and Dulci back to Viña in the old car so that the car could be left there while we are using the parking space at the Recoleta apartment. I stayed home and worked on organizing, downsizing clothes, repacking suitcases, etc. We decided to send Dulci out to Viña with B&E for several reasons: 1. this apartment is super small and with all of our stuff it was already too small for 2 adults, let alone a dog too; 2. she has more room to run around in Viña as my in-laws’ apartment is much bigger; 3. we had too many errands to do which would have meant leaving her alone at home for very long stretches of time so either we would have been rushed in our errands or she would have suffered; and 4. she won’t ever be left alone in Viña because even if B&E have to leave, Papi Lucho (my FIL) is always home to be with her. It has been kind of weird not to have her around, but I know she is better off in Viña, being spoiled by the grandparents and tía. And to be honest, it has been a nice break just being with Christian alone. I’ll have to keep that in mind when we have a human kid, hopefully my Mom will like spoiling both human & dog children as much as Bernarda does! Hahaha!

Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.