Culture and Psychology: WEEK 7 6/7/2018

There are problems in the whole world. Each region and part of the world has different problems that arise, but they are issues nonetheless. First-world problems usually are mental or stimulant problems. 3rd world problems are usually from physical or financial strain. First-world problems include mental illness, problems with technology, road rage, and solicitors. 3rd world problems include finding clean water, enough food for the next day, and being able to find enough money to survive. All of these are real issues and cause stress to the individual. The problems are just different.

I worked in an Eating Disorder treatment center for 5 years. The majority of our clients were from wealthy areas in the United States or Canada. These girls were dealing with mental illness, control issues, and trying to fit into a society that called for perfection. This is extremely hard stuff to navigate. They had great challenges in front of them, and most were able to reach a point of recovery where they could move forward in their daily life in their own home. There is hunger all over the world, but this is not an eating disorder. This type of hunger comes from poverty. In 3rd world countries, the people are in survival mode. There is no room to realize or worry about mental illness. Anorexia is almost nonexistent. There is hunger, but there is not a mental illness as a foundation. This is a physical problem for them.

This is only one example between psychological differences between cultures. What types of psychology differences come when someone is of a multicultural background. My husband reminded me that he has a lot of family that are Mexican-American. They don’t feel like they fit in in the United States and they don’t feel like they fit in in Mexico. This could be a reason why the depression rates are higher for Mexican-Americans than Mexicans. His cousins are told to go back to Mexico when they are in the states. They are told to go back to the USA when they are in Mexico. They never feel like they really belong.

We must keep an open mind when working with others from around the world. It is important to remember that experiences are different for all. Be mindful of what we complain about when we are in the presence of newly arrived people from 3rd world countries. Things that seem to be such an issue for us are major blessings for them.

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Cultural Differences in Emotional Expressiveness: WEEK 6 5/29/2018

Teaching English to students from different countries and cultures has been so fun. I have loved my job and my studies. Each morning as I begin my classes with my Chinese students I ask them a simple question: “How are you?” More often than not, I get the answer “I’m fine.” They give me this answer with a straight face. A few months ago, I noticed this emotional unresponsiveness. I decided to do an experiment at the beginning of each of my classes. I wanted to know if their “fine” answers were a cultural answer, or something that all students said because they didn’t have the vocabulary for different emotions. Each class that I teach is a half hour long and each has a different age group and efficiency level.  The ages range from 3-15 years old.

I began the experiment by showing each class different pictures of people showcasing different emotions. Sure enough, most of the students could identify the different emotions. The next week, I began to ask students “how do you feel” instead of “how are you”. At first, students continued to say fine. So I gave them options. This is where I showed them the pictures from the previous week and asked them if they felt what the picture showed. The students began to identify with the photos and answered accordingly. The following week was the big test. I was going to try to get the students to express and show the emotions spontaneously on their face. Most of the students responded with “happy”. So smiles and laughter were my goal. That week, I had the most successful classes that I’ve ever had in my teaching experience. Each of my classes went from straight-faced “fine” kids to giggling, jumping children.

As I think about those weeks, it reminds me that each human experiences emotions, but each cultural doesn’t express them outwardly. In our own teaching, one way that we can help our students show more emotion (if that is the goal), is by building rapport with them and showing them that the classroom is a safe place to “let loose”.asia-1202527_1920

(Picture from http://www.pixabay.com)

 

Mexican Mole Sauce with Chicken

Red Mole

As promised ladies and gents!

   Mole from the Motherland. This recipe is one that my suegra uses to celebrate anything that needs celebrating. And today is Jose and my 5 month anniversary so I think that is worth celebration. Bring on the mexican comfort food!

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I used frozen chicken because, well, that’s all that was in the store. So I thawed it and then boiled the chicken. As you boil it the water is made into broth. Do not throw this away because you will need it later on.

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We now get to the goods. CHILE! Use about 6 chile anchos. They need to be dry roasted. Wash them good and boil them until soft. I boiled mine for about 20 minutes. After they are boiled through them toss them in the blender with the water. You want to liquefy the chiles so blend them for a good long while. Once they are a smooth liquid strain them and put the remaining in a pot. The heat should be on about medium-low heat.

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Guess what comes next…chocolate!!! This recipe just gets better and better. Toss about 2 Tablespoons of chocolate into the liquid chile. Constantly stir until the chocolate is completely melted.

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The next thing you need to mix up is the bread mix. In the blender add 1 tomato, 1/2 an onion, 2 small cloves of garlic, bread (about 2 slices worth), about 6-8 Ritz crackers, and a small amount of a cinnamon stick. WARNING: If you put too much cinnamon, your mole with be disgusting. Seriously so horrible. Take my word for it…In the photo of the cinnamon stick above, do you see the top of the side of my pointer finger? That is ALL you want. Combine all of these items in the blender. Add about 1 1/4 liter of the chicken stock that came from boiling the chicken. This will help it to not be a bread smoothie.

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Strain the mixture after it is liquified. Add this bread soup into the chile in the pot.

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Stir well

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Here’s a tip: keep stirring while the mole is on the burner. You do not want ANY curdles in your mole. That’s gross. So stir and take off the burner while you make the bread soup, or you can do as my suegra does and have a helper stir the mole while you get everything else ready. It makes for good family bonding time too!

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The last spice you want to add to the mole is pepper and gloves. Make sure that they are whole peppercorns and cloves. Use 3 peppers and 2 cloves. Anymore, they will overpower the mole. You want to mash them up. I didn’t have a stone bowl and hammer thing…I have no idea what those are called…but I do have giant rocks around my house. So I took the little bag of solid spice and smashed it like crazy with a rock on our concrete floor. This is a great way to get any extra anger or frustration out!

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Remember the chicken? Shred it with those fingers of yours, or a fork, and toss the shredded chicken into the mole. And you’re ready to serve!!

What’s mole without tortillas! But also don’t forget the rice! (I did…Luckily there is a real Mexican in our household who will let me know when we are missing something for a traditional meal.) So cook up some rice, put a spoonful in your mole and enjoy with some nice warm tortillas!

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Provecho!!!

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Our Garden: Radishes

ADVENTURE CLUB I went outside today and saw that our radishes were all bursting from the ground, ready to be picked. We had tons! I got to thinking. What are radishes even good for? So I did some research and found so many benefits that I think radishes will be a common ingredient for us now! Not to mention we have hundreds growing… There were so many benefits! Who would’ve thought so much good could come from this tiny vegetable.

1. Gives you Glowing Skin

2. Cancer Fighting- especially Colon Cancer

3. Constipation

4. Urinary Tract Issues. Radishes clean and clear our your liver and kidneys. They cleanse the whole tract so you have no more crazy infections goin on down there.

5. Boosts Immune System

One thing I love about Mexicans is that they use EVERYTHING. They use every part of a plant, an animal, etc. So I also needed to find out if we could eat the leaves and live. Turns out that YES you can eat the leaves, in fact, you should! They are the most nutrient dense part of the plant.So don’t throw them away!

I’ve listed a few things here that I found:

1. Helps Rheumatism: mix the extract of the leaves with the same amount of sugar. Add a tiny bit of water and you will have a paste. Rub this on your soar knee joints from the disease and this will soothe the pain and decrease swelling.

2. Prevents Diabetes

3. Contains TONS of Vitamin C

4. High in Fiber…you know what this means!!! It helps you poo! No more constipation!

5. Iron, Calcium, and Folic Acid

They are so good for you!!!

So I had to think of an amazing dish for Comida so that they wouldn’t all go bad. As I looked on the shelf I had a brilliant idea of what to make and thought I would share it with all of you.

You’ll need:

  • radishes (of course)
  • Zucchini
  • vegetable oil
  • lentils
  • salt
  • oregano
  • tomatoes
  • tortillas

First you’ll want to wash the lentils. There are some types of lentils that need to be soaked for a time before cooking, but I’m not really a fan. So we just use plain ‘ol brown lentils here in Mexico.

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Wash em good. Then place them in a pot with some hot water. Let them boil for a while until they are cooked through

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Next, I washed the radishes from our yard and diced them. Make sure you save the leaves. You will be using them in the next step. Saute the radishes with some vegetable oil until they are nice and soft.

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Rinse off the leaves and chop them up like you would cilantro. Here we need to soak our leafy foods with a couple drops of disinfectant. After is soaks for about 10 minutes then strain the leaves in a colander.

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Then just pop them in the boiling lentils so they can cook for a little while! This will get rid of the bitter, leafy taste.

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Let them boil for about 10 minutes together and then strain the water out of the pot. Then set them aside so they can cool down a bit.IMG_1226

While the radishes are cooking, wash and slice the zucchini. These also came from our garden!!

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Saute these babies in a little bit of veg oil and season with salt and oregano.

Once they are cooked through, scoop them out of the oil onto a toweled plate to get rid of excess oil and set aside.

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You don’t want your zucchinis to just taste like oil. That’s nasty.

Once the zucchinis and radish are cooked you are ready to put it all together. Combine the lentil mix, radishes, and zucchini into a bowl and mix together. I added fresh tomato for a little boost, but this part is totally up to you. Just sayin though…it is delicious.

    IMG_1229 What is a Mexican meal without tortillas? So heat em up baby!! IMG_1236 Serve your plate and keep the tortillas next. Make sure you got some agua fresca so go with it! Today we made agua de mango. So yummy! My favorite kind of agua fresca. photosd Like I said before, we have SO MANY radishes! Leave a comment and let me know what you do with radishes? Do you have an amazing recipe? What do you eat them with? I’d love to hear your ideas! -Ash

Banana Bread in Mexico

One of my favorite types of sweet bread is banana bread. I have searched and searched, but this little piece of heaven is not available anywhere here. The people are not aware that there is such a divine taste in this world. So I thought I would make a batch and share it with the Mexican world. Jose was the biggest fan. Since I’ve first made the bread, this has been pretty much a weekly happening in our home. We’ve also shared this with our neighbors and friends. This last Sunday morning we were in a rush out the door to catch the Combi to go to church. I hadn’t eaten so I grabbed the rest of the banana bread. It’s a good thing too. When we got to church we found that there was no bread for the sacrament. So our sacrament bread was banana bread that day. And PS this is OK. We were in a bind and didn’t want to spend money on Sunday. So…banana bread it was!

 I found the recipe on SimplyRecipes.com. This is definitely a keeper!

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1st preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Then you smash the bananas in a mixing bowl. If they are lumpy like above…that’s OK. Adds a little character to the bread!

Next is the butter! YUMMY!! Melt 1/3 cup of butter and mix it into the banana mush. I didn’t have a 1/3 cup butter so I used about 1/2 butter, 1/2 vegetable oil. Great substitute. IMG_4992

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Baking soda anyone? Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the bowl of love. Stir into to mush.

See this salt in my hand? DON’T ADD THIS MUCH!!! A pinch will do.

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Next comes the sugar. The recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, but today I used 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Oh wow did it turn out amazing! I recommend switchin up the sugar bit. Stir in the sugar with a fork. PS this whole recipe is stirred with a fork. No power tools needed.

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EGGS! We got em. One will be enough. Make sure to beat the egg in a separate dish before adding it to the mix. And also…I love this photo.

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Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Or if you speak Spanish…Vainilla. I love Mexico.

Flour ladies and gentlemen. So last time I used flour I was making Pizza with our little church family group of 10 people. One of the sisters got so confused by flower and flour. It took a good while and a good laugh to be able to explain to her the difference. Add 1 1/2 cups of FLOUR. Harina. And mix.

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For good measure you might as well add chocolate right? I suggest chocolate chips, but this picture says otherwise. These actually are chocolate chips, I promise. They just melted a little because it is so freakin hot here. I put them in the fridge to reform and, well, they aren’t that pretty anymore. But they taste so good in the bread!

Pour your batter into a greased pan and stick it in the middle of your oven for the best distribution of heat.IMG_5009

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As I was growing up, my mom taught me the value of cleaning as you cook. It keeps your kitchen clean and saves so much time. So as I waited for the bread I cleaned the dishes. And, of course, licked the spoon. It’s your right of passage for cooking something for your family!!

 Also just want to give a shout out to the necklace around my neck. This is a piece made with love from Abuelito. He is 90 years old and still makes jewelry, weaves baskets and chairs. Always smiling that man is!IMG_5011           Now I know that you probably want to see the finished product. Am I right? Well…you can’t. I forgot to take a photo of it right out of the oven and Jose and I gobbled it up before I remembered to take a photo. So the end result is either left to your imagination or make this bread for yourself and you can send me photos of the end result.

Again this recipe is not mine so here is the link to where I got it…

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup of sugar (can easily use 3/4 cup, or drop it down to 1/2 cup if you want it less sweet)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Read more: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/#ixzz3YjimA2SH

Peace out!

Food Frenzy Friday

I have always loved Taco Bell. Those crunchy tacos…holy crap I could eat like 5 at a time. One of the items on the menu that always soothes my craving is a gordita.

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Is your mouth watering? Because mine totally is…

This morning we got to the suegras house early so that I could learn how to make some Mexican food with suegra. Just my luck, she was making gorditas (food, not actually little fat ladies). When she said this I got so excited. She got the masa de maiz (corn dough) and quickly showed me how to mold a ball into a thick looking pancake.

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This was not looking like Taco Bell’s version. My friends…taco bell is not real Mexican food. Don’t let them fool you. You  want to then take the dough and set it on a tortilla warmer on your stove. Just let it heat up and cook. You will be able to tell when to flip it when the sides are turning brown and the gordita no longer sticks to the warmer.

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After we heated up the dough on the stove, suegra took a pancake thing and cut to, but not through the top of the gordita.

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She then pointed to the beans, cream, salsa, and lettuce that were on the table and told me to fill it up to my heart’s desire. Ok Taco Bell…see ya. This was so delicious and so moist! The gordita bread seriously melts in your mouth. You can fill it up with whatever you want. Meat, cheese, beans, veggies, cactus paddles, whatever you want!

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Sometimes, Abuelito will make these with banana bread dough. He won’t cut them through to add stuffing, but just eat them flat like regular bread.

For reals this is the easiest recipe that I have found. We just went to the tortilleria and bought the dough. Add a little bit of water so it is a little sticky and mold away! Make sure that you are throwing the dough ball between both hands. The quicker the better. The ball will transform into a perfectly round, flat gordita.

I would suggest buying the masa already made. Even the mexican ladies here do that. You can go to your nearest Tortilleria and just ask for masa de maiz. They will know exactly what you need.

Enjoy your very own authentic Mexican Gorditas!

Les Presento al Mr. and Mrs. Martinez!!

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We’re married!!

Here in Mexico they don’t see religious ceremonies as legal, so we got married civilly first and then took our 3 hour journey to the LDS Temple in Guadalajara, Mexico. There we were sealed for time and through all eternity. I am so grateful that the sealing power is on the earth today. Now we have the opportunity to be together forever! What a wonderful experience it was to be in the temple with my parents and a few of my siblings. Also when we walked into the sealing room, there were some friends of Jose from Aguascalientes. They were in the temple that day randomly so they were able to come and witness the sealing. It was so nice to have someone there from Mexico.

Before the ceremony, I had a few minutes by myself in the bride’s room. I sat there and enjoyed the spirit of the temple. As I sat and pondered I thought of all those who couldn’t attend my wedding, but wanted to. I am so grateful for my loving family. For their love and support for Jose and I in this new adventure. I also thought of those who already passed on from this life. My mom in particular. Without getting too personal with the spiritual experiences I had in that room, I will say this…God allows for your loved ones who have died to join you on your own special occasions. I know that my mom was with me the in temple. I know that she loves Jose and is so happy for us. I also know that she enjoyed the reception later that night!

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Now that we’re married and my family has gone back to the states, real life begins! We are renting a little house in a small town with about 200 people in it. It is just a short distance away from Jose’s family. There we have a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a storage area. It’s small, but we love it. It is the perfect size for us. We are also so blessed because we have a nice piece of land on the side of the house where we can plant a  garden! The front yard has a few flowers and I am looking forward to planting more. The house is mostly blue. I am so in love with this house. My kitchen is yellow and has a window that looks out into the front garden. Right as you walk into the house there is a roofless hallway. Each night we get to see the stars right from our home. Seriously, it is so romantic. We have no internet, and have concrete floors, but we have each other and plenty of projects to keep us busy around the house.

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Tomorrow we start to teach English in the same house that we hold our church meetings in. So far we have 5 people who are in the class. I’m so excited to see how things grow. The school, the church, the garden, our family! All of it!

I want to keep a record through this blog for my family, but also I want to share experiences about being a gringa in the small town of Calvillo. Everyone has been so welcoming and loving! They help me with my Spanish and are so kind and patient. Today I made my first grocery list and as soon as mi esposo gets home we are going grocery shopping to stock up the fridge for a week. That part of my life I really want to include on here for readers. I want to share authentic Mexican recipes and the adventure of learning how to be a Mexican woman. Speaking of…here is a photo of my first dish I ever made for Jose…

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eggs with the nopales and tortillas. Nopales are cactus leaves that have the slivers shaved off. They are so amazing. Go on…tell me how good my cooking looks. Yummy! Ha! It was so bland. Luckily, Jose’s mom keep salt on hand because, man, we sure needed it!! Hopefully my cooking gets better…

Until next time! Do something today that stretches you!

Adios amigos!

Ash