Friday, 21 October 2011

Chile, Land Of Charm

I posted this on Corrugated City last year, but for some reason not here on Colchaguino. It's a fantastic video from 1937 titled, "Chile, Land of Charm" and well worth a watch, if only for lines such as this one about Alameda in Santiago, "Where the younger set of the city enjoy the simple pleasure of promenading."

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Another Construction Update

Things are moving along pretty quickly with the house- the first layer of cement stucco is being slapped on over the steel mesh and the new part of the house is taking shape.

It's so hard to see how a house is going to look when it's just the foundations in place. Last week, before they started to lay the brick walls, the new part looked tiny. Now it looks more like I imagined when I designed it. Another couple of weeks and we'll start putting the roof back on.

And here's some more puppy fun. You have to wait till the end to see who the boss of this family is.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Country House Advances

So the work on the is advancing pretty rapidly, even though from the following photos you might think otherwise...

We took the roof off the other day, saving the tiles and the original beams, of course. The tiles will be re-used for the roof and the beams will be recycled into various other structures, including tables, chicken coops and compost heaps (the original beams are too short for the new roof, which is why they're not being used for that purpose). Everything we take out will be re-used for something.

Once the roof was off, the workers started putting in place the steel mesh and re-bar, which will reinforce the adobe walls. The walls survived the earthquake with barely a scratch, which is pretty incredible- most adobe structures in Colchagua collapsed. The mesh will then be plastered with a thick layer of cement.

The rubble is from the original, separate kitchen that didn't survive the earthquake- we knocked down what was left and rescued all the materials from it.

The foundations for the 45m2 extension are also being laid at the moment and the pillars will be concreted next week I would imagine. The total house size will be about 140m2.

Work on the electrical system will start next week too and the plumber should be coming as well to start installing drains and other plumbing stuff.

The fruit trees I planted 3 weeks ago are now all coming into bloom, which is good to see. I also planted 20 raspberry plants, which have started to flower, and 10 blueberry bushes, 5 of them being 3 years old already and with about 2 kilos of berries that will be ripe in a couple of months. Assuming the birds don't eat them, of course.

The rest of the land is uncultivated at the moment and I'm thinking of leaving it that way. The Spring wild-flowers (otherwise known as weeds to most people) are beautiful and I don't think I want the hassle of cultivating one hectare commercially- it's a huge amount of work for very little money. I might put in a pond and attract the wild ducks that live in the area (there are ducklings swimming up and down the irrigation canals at the moment).

And, finally, here are a couple of gratuitous puppy shots. All three dogs love what will be their new home.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


After my trip to the beach in Ecuador, I was inspired to make the Ecuadorian version of ceviche. I love Peruvian Ceviche but have never been able to make anything that tastes as good as the ones you get in restaurants- I have a suspicion that they all add MSG to the marinade.

My first attempt at the Ecuadorian version was, I will smugly admit, very impressive. I'd even go as far to say it was as good as the one I had at the beach last week.

It's very easy to make and you can get all the ingredients easily at the supermarket. You'll need:

-3 tomatoes
-About a quarter of a kilo of prawns
-One and a half red onions
-3 or 4 crushed cloves of garlic
-A few lemons (limones de pica if you can get them)
-Tomato ketchup

1. Chop up half an onion into little pieces and the crushed garlic and put them in a saucepan with a litre of water, bring to the boil and then add the prawns for about 5 minutes. Add a bit of salt and crushed black pepper.

2. Chop up the rest of the onion into half rings, add a little ground pepper and add about half a cup of lemon juice, then leave it for 5 minutes.

3. Strain the prawns, onions & garlic but keep the water.

4. Mash 2 tomatoes and chop up the other one.

5. Add all the ingredients together, squirt in a bit of ketchup, mustard and vegetable oil- about a heaped table spoon of each. Then add a little under a cup of the prawn water (wait till it's cooled down a bit). Stick in a bit more ground pepper and a little more salt. Finally chop up the cilantro and add as much as you like (I love the stuff so probably put in more then strictly necessary). Stir it all around.

6. Eat (it serves 2 or 3 people).

Next Ecuadorian culinary challenge- menestras, a rather tasty lentil based side dish. Seco de chivo is the long term plan. I need to find a goat first, though.