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!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Days 7-9 of Funemployment

I swear that this fills like a thousand years ago.....but days 7-9 of funemployment were really just last week. There has been so much going on that it feels like eons ago!

So last Monday the husband and I slept in. It was his first day of funemployment so we had to aprovechar the occasion. Once we got up, we took care of some stuff around the house and then Christian went to the supermarket to buy ingredients to make lunch while I went to the gym for Zumba. We made chop suey--mine was vegetarian and his had chicken. After lunch we made a trip to Homecenter, which is the equivalent of Home Depot here in Chile, to buy some things we needed for the move like packing tape, plastic to cover furniture, etc. In the evening, we watched a few episodes of House M.D. which is our "new" teleserie. Overall, it was a pretty chill day.

Tuesday had more in store--I had a dr. appt in the morning so I had to get up relatively early to get to the doctor by 9am. After the doc, I had a chiropractor appt and then I made lunch which was charquican vegetariano (pictures & recipe to come later). In the afternoon, we continued packing the apartment in anticipation of the move (which was to be later in the week) and then had once with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law who had traveled to Santiago to help us out in the move.

Wednesday we shipped off our bed to the person who had purchased it and kept on with the packing. The painter came by the apartment to give us a quote on how much it would be to paint and the owner of the apt along with a prospective renter also dropped by. In the afternoon, my other sister-in-law came with her boyfriend to take several things her and my mother-in-law had purchased to Rancagua. So basically we had lunch, loaded up the pick-up and car and off they went. I stayed at home with Dulcinea and the nana, to take care of the rest of the packing. In the evening, when Christian, Bernarda and Erica came back from Rancagua (with a yummy cake in tow), we ordered sushi for dinner and had cake as dessert.

There is nothing like ending a long day with this yummy pompadour cake...which we proceeded to eat for the next 2 days straight! Hahahaha...but more of that is to come!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Page for Favorite Restaurants

I've been wanting to create this page for a while now and I finally decided to just get started on it--a page dedicated to my favorite restaurants in all of Chile. When I say favorite, I mean the ones that I do (or would) go to repeatedly because I enjoy their food and service so much. I still need to add comments to the majority of the restaurants, but I figured it is nice to have the list with the link to their websites in the meantime!

If you want to check it out you can click here, or you can click on the linkbar above above where it says "Fave Food in Chile".


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Days 4-6 of Funemployment

(Me & Dulci on Saturday evening)

Friday, Saturday and Sunday marked days 4 through 6 of my funemployment but boy were they jam packed.

Friday morning was dedicated to updating the sale blog, sending out some reminder emails about our pending garage sale and getting ready for lunch. A group of ex-coworkers had invited me out to lunch since they weren't able to make it to my official despedida dinner. When they asked me where I wanted to go, I mentioned that pasta would be good. And lucky enough, Lorena knew of a picá in Barrio Italia called Da Noi Trattoria Ristorante. There were nine of us all together and we had a great three-hour lunch! From appetizers with pisco sours (or in my case a mango sour) to main dishes to desserts and tea. It was a very nice time and I greatly appreciate my colleagues taking the time out of their day to take me out to lunch! I definitely recommend Da Noi. It was very yummy fresh pasta and the mango sour was amazing! Here are a few pics from lunch:

(Antipasto Da Noi)

(Provoleta, basically melted cheese with EVOO & oregano)

(Panzotti with pomodoro sauce)

(L-R: Me, Andrés, Estela, Cecilia, Fabiola, Patricia, Héctor, Manuel & Lorena)

After lunch (I got home at 4pm) I started to scramble to get the house ready for our garage sale that was to go on Saturday and Sunday. There was a TON to do. The idea was to have all of the items for sale in our living/dining room as well as our bedroom (since our bed was still for sale and we had some clothes & shoes to sell too). That meant taking everything that was not to be sold out of those two rooms and leaving it in another room. In addition, in the 3rd bedroom, I had to group all of the items previously purchased by people, but not yet picked up, so that when they came by to pick up their items, everything was ready to go. Needless to say I was running around from room to room all afternoon and evening. Poor Dulci had no idea what was going on and kept following me all over. Finally when Christian got home, we went to eat at El Huerto, which is one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in all of Chile.

Saturday we woke up early and while I finished prepping the house, Christian went to the farmer's market for some fresh bread, farm fresh eggs and some fruit. Everything was laid out for the sale, although we were missing price tags at first. Then Christian went out and got some post-it notes which solved that issue and definitely helped sales! We had also printed up signs about our garage sale to put outside the apartment building and surprisingly we got several visitors from those signs. Everyone else who came were people who we are connected to in some way shape or form. Saturday until about 2:30pm-ish was quite busy and then after that it died down. Luckily we had bought some hummus to bring home with us from El Huerto on Friday night and that was pretty much our lunch. We still stayed around the apartment until 6pm--I read on my kindle and Christian was on his Ipad2. After 6pm we took down the signs and relaxed a bit. We had no food in the house so we ended up going out for dinner. We wanted to go to Vietnam Discovery since we have heard so many good things about it, but it was packed and I couldn't get a reservation. So we ended up going to El Ciudadano, which was a good option since I had been craving some pizza. Plus I wanted to make sure we ate at El Ciudadano before we leave Chile because I think it is a great little restaurant! We had a nice bottle of white wine to accompany our dinner and it was a great night to close out the busy day.

(Our appetizer of fried fish & calamari, called Frito Mixto)

(Christian with this crab ravioli dish.)

(My pizza which had arugula, mushrooms and cheese.)

(Our yummy dessert called "El Ciudadano", basically a brownie, vanilla ice cream and a caramel whisky sauce!)

Sunday we got up and got ready for the garage sale, but the morning started off quite slow despite the fact that we hung up the sign on the sidewalk again. It was nice to have a slower morning though because it let us catch up on stuff we needed to do. Around mid-day people started to stop by and come pick up things and we finally were able to sell the bed! That was one of two of the large items we still had available going into the garage sale weekend, since all the other big items had been sold during the previous 2 weeks of internet sales. The one large thing we have left is the stove, but I would much rather that the stove is left than the bed. Beds are just hard to store whereas stoves are not as hard. Luckily my suegra has a storage unit at her apartment in Santiago where we will be able to put the stove until it sells.

Between the visits on Sunday afternoon, I made some pumpkin bars to take with us to our friend Brittany's apartment to watch the fútbol game. Chile was playing in the Copa América against Venezuela, but unfortunately they lost. I am not a big soccer fan, or sports fan, in general, but I do like the social aspect of the games. So I am all for getting together for games and having snacks and whatnot. It was fun to hang out with Brittany and her pololo Hugo. After Chile lost, we headed home with Dulcinea and watched some House MD. We are on season 2 and trying to catch up to the current season, which I think is already season 7.

And that was our weekend in a nutshell. I am SO happy with how well our garage and blog sale went! We sold probably about 90% of the things we put up for sale....and everything that is left (besides the stove) are small items. We will have some other things to sell right before we leave, but they are things we are still using right now so I am not counting them in the 90%. The plan is to put this money aside and use it for the household things we will need to buy when we get a place of our own in the U.S.

I liked having a garage sale in my house. It reminded me of when I used to help my grandparents with their garage sales when I was little. This was Christian's first experience with a garage sale...he kept laughing at me when we were trying to price the items and how I carried around the money in the front pocket of my hoodie. I had a little purse to put the money in, just like when I was a kid and we had those banking bags with the zipper!

How was your weekend?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What is a Chilean Completo? Let Anthony Bourdain explain...

I came across this video via a new blog/really cool project that I found and just had to share. It explains and shows quite well what is a Chilean completo. And as a bonus, Heather, Vuko, Chris and I visited the same local in Viña in February after a night on the town. Although I should note that none of us actually at a completo. I had a cheese sandwich and everyone else a churrasco.

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.