Category Archives: Food

Some butterflies are gray…

graybutterfly

And although they are gray, they are as incredibly beautiful as those extremely colorful ones you see most often… this is a beautifully captured photo from Tom Murray I found at: http://www.pbase.com/tmurray74.

So…. haven’t been online with my blog for almost a year… and as I look back on the ‘why’s’ of that a gray butterfly came to mind. I wasn’t as vivacious, as motivated to communicate with others as I was with myself. But, it’s all good, right? Turns out that way every time… I moved three times within this last year and that plumb wore me out! And in each place I didn’t have a reliable internet connection…. but… NOW I DO!!!! Yippee, I’m Back!

I’ve been to central markets (centro mercados) where you could find almost anything you were looking for. Every mid-sized town has an indoor mercado where the fruits and veggies are enticing and endless:

centromercadoveggies

 

And to outdoor markets, called Ferias, where the focus on organic is paramount:

feria-verde-de-aranjuez

I’ve been on Visa Runs to Grenada Nicaragua four times and let me tell you, I enjoy it there much more than Panama, although it’s just as hot, if not hotter.

So, I’ve been busy expanding my horizons, but primarily my time has been spent babysitting my youngest granddaughter who is an absolute pistol, and experiencing the elder granddaughter emerge with her hormones and all that jazz that accompanies a young lady developing… yikes galore! Still, throughout all this downtime I’ve had from you faithful friends, I continue to live in a small barrio with roads like this:

santabarbararoad

And vistas like this everywhere:

barva

I continue to love this country every single day and wake up at 5:30 am, after most ticos have awakened, to watch the sun fill the valley behind my apartment, and the cows being delivered for the day to chomp down the chaff therein.

One of the reasons I think I’ve had this downtime was to discover a little knack for painting… purely whimsical representations:

pineappleposter14birdposter14butterflyposter14

And to develop a deeper relationship and understanding of my Journey process, of which you can find more information here.

So, I’m alive and very well and living in a 3-bedroom typical tico apartment two blocks from my kids and on the main drag between barrios, with a store next door and a Cafe Britt Outlet store across the street…. room for you to stay a coupla days… so, come on down and I’ll show you around! More to come…

 

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And You Thot All Recipes Were Created Equal…

Recipe_Box_LgThere are all kinds of recipes – for food, for life, for fun, for focus, for the heart…

I’ve come across a couple of opportunities recently where I’ve used different interpretations to reflect it’s meaning….

The first thing that comes to mind probably for most of us of course, is food…

So, here’s a food recipe for you that will tickle your taste buds. You can eat this salad as a side, put it between two pieces of buttered baguette, or add snap peas, walnuts and edamame, which is my favorite iteration… here’s a pic, you can find the recipe at: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Carrot-salad-with-balsamic-dressing-323350

carrotswithbalsamic

The next iteration of the word ‘recipe’ is one that tickled my funny bone… and could be entitled ‘A Recipe For Bewilderment’

EvangelineonKuntaAnd, hopefully not ‘A Recipe For Disaster!’

Thirdly, there is the amalgam of experience that could be encapsulated as a ‘Recipe For The Heart.’ This type of experience has often looked like this for me:

recipeurduTrying to decipher this part of my life has been mystifying cuz I’m not all that traditional by nature and certainly not by inclination… a 60’s kinda gal, independent. Walking into my house is like being inside a kaleidoscope. My house isn’t quite the Volkswagen traveling bus of those good ole days, but parts of those days still reside for me… I still miss Jim Morrison of The Doors… I enjoyed the Age of Aquarius. I continue to be a bit (LOL!) of an anarchist with sprinklings of the mystic. So there hasn’t been alot of room in me to consider compromising any portion of my identity assumed as a bra-burning radical of that age. Imagine my attempt to acquit myself successfully in a prim apron. It never happened for me.. I never crossed that divide… Until I moved to Costa Rica, and discovered ….  a recipe for family…

3musketeersWhich has subsequently relaxed my vigilance in support of anarchy, and opened up possibilities for so many more iterations of sharing and community that had been outside of my experience. The raw sensuousness of this country of Costa Rica is evidenced in so many subtle (well, yeah, sometimes not so subtle) ways here. The way people dress (or don’t). The way people honor and respect nature. The way laughter drifts through the mountains on Saturday nights… or the sound of construction workers singing while they’re putting up a house.. In so many ways the closeness, the unconditional play amongst generational family gatherings.  Just sitting in the park and watching dads playing hide and seek with their kids – so much authentic joy… it’s all just melted the emotional defenses I’d utilized while in the US to protect my need to be separate. It’s pretty impossible to be separate here. It’s a small country and it’s a different kind of lack of privacy. It’s about community here. It seems the Costa Rican recipe for joy and meaning lies within the family.

As a woman living in a fairly small tico community I am known as a loca gringa due to my single status. I’ve been here for almost two years and even the taxi drivers and the girls in the bakery ask me why I continue to be alone… How can you live without love? How can you sleep alone at night? Initially I felt kinda insulted, but the longer I’ve experienced this culture, the more I understand where these friendly questions come from. The warmth, the joy, the relaxed atmosphere got me…

recipeinspired to consider the possibility that sharing might be an adventure I’d enjoy, a far horizon I just might achieve.

 

So I decided to welcome the possibility of a …

recipeforlove

into my life… and met an Aquarian of the Aquarian Age!

 

A tall Viking-looking guy who could easily grace the cover of a romance novel. While I’m not sure at this point if he’s a marauder looking for hostages, or a friendly guy looking for a companion, the fact that this culture has melted my defenses to this reality of potential enjoyment is something akin to miraculous. And I have Costa Rica, it’s people, and my family to thank.

So… I leave you a final Recipe, and a wish for each of you reading this – that you find your heart filled with more and more love.

recipehood

 

 

A Quick Tour of Beaches…

Jaco beyond the rocky shore

Jaco beyond the rocky shore

Last weekend I went to the beach and the weather cooperated in the midst of the rainy season…. which is actually a misnomer because during the rainy or green season the world is lush and breathtaking and it usually only rains for an hour or two in the afternoons, so the mornings and late afternoons are brilliant, sparkling and not to be missed.

I’d booked a tour with my friend Roberto, who does tours all over the country. He’s a gentleman with a fantastic sense of humor and gracious sensibiilty. If you need help creating an itinerary, or a pickup from the airport and/or transfers throughout the country, you couldn’t do better. And he speaks English fluently!

Tour Captain Roberto (roberto76543@yahoo.com)

Tour Captain Roberto (roberto76543@yahoo.com)

We were supposed to meet up early and go to Quepos, but my bus connections were slower than usual so I missed the first bus, the second bus was sold out standing room only and packed to the gills, so I waited for the third bus, which got me into Jaco too late to go as far as Quepos from Jaco within the time we had. So we went to Esterillos instead…

Esterillos beach - miles of beach and no one there

Esterillos beach – miles of beach and no one there

I took the pictures in this post and if you don’t agree this is a wonderful vision, then you’re not a tropical person… Esterillos comes in three different locations, actually and this place was the first we visited. It’s MILES of beach… deserted beach. It gets really busy during countrywide vacations when Tico families arrive to camp along the beachfront, and during surfing competitions. This is a pretty good place to surf if you know what you’re doing. The breaks are long here.

Esterillos beach, looking the other way

Esterillos beach, looking the other way

With a gleam in his eyes Roberto told me he wanted to show me The Mermaid of Esterillos, a very prestigious sight as it was only second to the mermaid found in one of the Netherland countries. He was very excited to show it to me. So, we drove for about a half hour or so, taking turns onto dirt roads and climbing and descending potholed sections with chickens in the way and macaws flying overhead, parrots screeching and the smell of salt air wafting around us, and ended up here:

My first introduction to the mermaid in Osterillos

My first introduction to the mermaid in Esterillos

Roberto had gone on and on about this mermaid and how excited he was to show it to me. How important it was to the community and a sight to behold and remember forever…. and this was IT? I have to admit that my first impulse was to hit the guy for tricking me into this seeming ridiculousness, but he just didn’t get it, he was so proud of the mermaid that I just couldn’t say ‘you’ve got to be kidding me, right?’  Well…. actually I did clowningly hit him on the arm and let him know I got the joke. ‘Since we’re here, let’s take a look at the beach,’ he said, so we parked and got out of the car and turned to the beach…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd there she was.

Evidently there was a sculptor who lived with his family here in town. He sculpted out of natural rock in the location in which it was found. He was working on a huge sculpture further down the beach when one day his daughter, who was around 16 or so, died in an accident. His way of grieving and honoring her was to create this sculpture of her. Her face is distinctive as it’s a true rendition of her beauty in life. Originally it was plated in brass and filled with concrete. Very impressive and poignant.

Me with the mermaid in Esterillos.

Me with the mermaid in Esterillos .Last look at Esterillos before going back up north to Herradura and Los Suenos Resort:

Where's the pilot?

Where’s the pilot?

Although the beach had lots of beautiful white sand, it was pocked with tidepools and rocky outcroppings easily walked along. Many hermit crabs and plant life and little fishes in the tide pools. There was even one large enough to accommodate a family who was using it like a swimming pool… which it was. The beauty of this part of the coast was incredible. The little burgs adjacent to the ocean were very very low key. But remember, these two spots were rural compared to the third Esterillos that had many hotels, bars and restaurants. We were in Esterillos West (I think… might have been East) and Esterillos Center.

Next we went to Los Suenos Resort and let me tell ya, it was a resort you could find almost anywhere in the world. It was put together like a village and was on rolling hills that went right into the bay. Very picturesque, very populated with wealthy people. Everything was top notch looking, including the harbor which catered to many many largish boats with on-board captains who saw their owners a couple of times a year… what a life, huh?

Los Suenos Harbor

Los Suenos Harbor

And then to Herradura Beach, which is on the other side of the bay from Los Suenos. Herradura is populated mainly by Ticos who work at resorts or hotels in Jaco and Los Suenos, or those who prefer the less glitzy access to the beauty of the area. We had lunch at a soda immediately across from the local beach lined with palm trees. It’s a safe place to swim, no undertow, no surfing; the bus stop is right there, and the food was delicious and very reasonably priced.

Herradura Beach

Herradura Beach

Another look at the beach before heading back to Jaco..

Herradura beach with Los Suenos across the bay

Herradura beach with Los Suenos across the bay

I’d built a blog for Roberto to advertise his tours of the country (robertoscostaricatours.wordpress.com) and invited him to come over to Hotel Catalina to review how to utilize it the next day. After meeting and shopping for lunch items we arrived back at the hotel and were told he couldn’t stay because the hotel didn’t allow guests or visitors on the property (!) Alas, that ends my enchantment with this hotel which is a real shame cuz I loved staying there, but as I’m making friends and wanting to share time with them there in Jaco, it’s just not a fit that works for management or for me… so, I must discover another wonderful place in Jaco to enjoy relaxing, and rejoicing, in paradise.

Early, early morning in Jaco... saying goodbye to Hotel Catalino

Early, early morning in Jaco… saying goodbye to Hotel Catalina

Birthdays and Facebook Fatigue…

bbqbigpicLook at all those smiles… we had a marvelous birthday celebration for everyone in the family who had a birthday in July… I’m one! Here are two of the others… Laura, my daughter in law, and Alejandra who is married to Laura’s brother.

bbqcakeThe family came to my house for a barbeque. The weather held up, there was lots of good food, the kids running around having fun, and I felt a smile throughout my body as the day went on. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate with such a large group. As the kids get older maybe we’ll see some futbol out on the front lawn…. hope hope hope. It was so weird watching the US vs Costa Rica last night on tv… I’m just getting into futbol and really enjoying it.. the time just flies by… it reminds me of a game of chess, except in motion.

Before the party, my granddaughter Lorelei came over and we made cookies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuch a cute cookie… both of them! HA!! And so photogenic… Here’s another shot of the decorated goodies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany were ‘left over’ at my house and I am sorry to report that they are now banashed into the gut of a newly 63 year old!! Loved every single bite.. but the party’s over, it’s time to go through sugar withdrawal and welcome the next 30 lb loss, while I learn the rules of futbol to replace my Facebook addiction.

Yes, sorry to say I now have too many friends on Facebook to leave it to an hour to peruse all the new posts… jeesh, too much of a good thing? Or time to cull the list of those who mysteriously have appeared as friends whom I’ve never heard of…

A Grocery List, A Recipe, and A Couple of Things I Forgot To Include…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was attempting to obliterate this painting with aqua over the top of something I wasn’t happy with when I stopped and realized maybe I had something here… In my daughter-in-law’s eyes it’s an underwater scene…

Here’s a recent grocery list of stuff that’ll last me a week (I already had eggs and some veggies, plus frozen homemade beans at home.
ring of sausage – $5.50
18oz jar of crunchy peanut butter – $5.82
pouch of strawberry jam – $1.84
Knorr Tortilla Soup Mix – $1.12
Quart of Carrot/Orange Juice – $1.50
medium block of cheddar cheese – $5.81
package of coconut cookies – $1
pouch of mozarrella cheese – $5.60
Dijon mustard – $3.50
4 bananas – $.30
3 large avacados – $3
3 medium tomatoes – $1.10
loaf of wheat bread – $3
pack of trident gum – $1.15

You can see with this grocery list that eating like a Costa Rican is much much cheaper than as a US expat!

Couple of observations I’d been meaning to add to one of these posts: Costa Rican citizens consider hot water a privilege – if you travel here be sure and ask if wherever you’re staying has hot water, and don’t be surprised to discover that the shower has an electrical switch that heats the cold water at the spigot before coming out warm enough to shower in.. they call them suicide showers here. The butterflies are out again! And this time they’re the brightest orange you’ve ever seen! Just incredible! Oh, and lastly, about that hot water issue – the dish detergent for washing dishes here has an extraordinary ability to make grease disappear – in cold water!

And for the final part of our post today… an easypeasy recipe!

Remember how I shared making Costa Rican red beans? (you had to soak them overnight, changing the water a couple of times; then put them in a slow cooker on high until they started to boil, turning them down to the warm setting for the next 5 hours; and finally adding lots of minced garlic and spicy sauces).

Okay, get that Knorr Tortilla Soup packet and follow directions, adding three cups of those red beans you made, heating up until ready to serve. Deliciosa!

A little bit of everything…

panamacitytoursI recently had an opportunity to travel through Panama after nine months in Costa Rica. I had absolutely NO idea that I missed the City, but coming over the mountains into Panama City was one of the biggest rushes I’ve had in my life aside from drug induced euphoria.  Just look at this downtown skyline. If you haven’t been to Panama City, I heartily encourage you to do so – not only to see how they’re building a new city and how they’re managing to do so while incorporating abject poverty alongside tree-lined avenues of condos and international banking institutions – but it’s in the middle of a country that’s primarily rustic with lotsa beaches and simple living. Granted, it’s hotter than hot and humid… but take my advice while there and check out Old Town where they’re restoring colonial buildings from hundreds of years ago. Lots to see and experience here. This was the first time I’d seen incredible poverty smack dab next to redevelopment projects. Hurt my heart.

We’re in the tag end of the windy, hot season here in Costa Rica. It’s been very hot and humid these last couple of weeks – until I decided to leave off crooning to my month old granddaughter and make my way to do some shopping and head home. The heavens opened as we all gave a sigh of relief. The storm was a boon for the taxi drivers as the thunder and sheet lightening made all of us step to the side of a building under the eaves and attempt to wait it out. Rain in Costa Rica never lasts long, but it’s got a presence of it’s own when it decides to share time with us… and yesterday it decided to give us a huge reminder! Since I had four heavy bags of shopping to cart over a block from our front gate, there wasn’t a chance I could use an umbrella. Soaked to the skin I chuckled all the way into a hot shower in an attempt to ward off a teensy cold. Didn’t work. But it was amazing this morning to see the plants revitalized. They reminded me of how it feels to get into a roaringly good shower after a week of camping.

And… last but not least, I have another recipe for you!

Costa Rican Potato Salad

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Potatoes, of course, about 4 medium cooked, choppedGarlic cloves, about 5 minced
Snap peas, quartered
Large Tomato, chopped
Half a red onion, chopped
Small can of corn
To taste: a mixture of lemon pepper, chipotle sauce, garlic pepper tabasco sauce, linzano salsa and mayo.

Enjoy!

Warmin’ Up…

kiddiepool
The windy season is here, and even though it’s really warm (to me!) the cool breezes that come through about half the time with 20 mph winds up here in the hills are welcome! It’s in the mid-80’s now and will only get warmer for the next couple of months. I’ve heard that March is a killer month with the highest temperatures. I’d better get used to it, huh? Well…  I plan to… I plan to buy a kiddie pool to lay in with a spray bottle of cold water at my side, along with iced lemonade and my Nook. Maybe I’ll need a pillow, too, and if it gets wet in the pool, (wonderful!) that’ll be okay cuz it’ll cool off the back of my neck.

Don’t get me wrong… it’s my first summer or ‘high and dry’ season here in Costa Rica and I’m so so so happy to be here. Ya gotta realize, tho, that I’m from overcast-most-of-the-time Oregon where a 90 degree day makes quite a few people consider a hotel for the evening instead of sweltering at home. So, I’m gonna get used to the heat because I really have no alternative. If I were still in Oregon I’d go to the beach where it’s cooler…. here the beaches are on average ten degrees warmer than inland, with higher humidity. So…. the kiddie pool is going to be a necessity this first year in paradise.

There are positives to living in a warmer climate. Of course, seeing the sun every day is probably the primary aspect, but weight loss is a close second. This morning I put on a t-shirt the kids gave me six years ago for the first time. It’s a smaller sized XL. And my 16W pants are falling off now. Kind of a delightful outcome of changing environments so drastically.

It’s not only the warmth of the climate that has welcomed this change in weight, tho. It has as much to do with what I’m eating as well. Fresh foods. Nothing prepackaged or frozen – except for the Snickers and potato chips I allow myself once a month. Otherwise, I’m cooking all my meals or eating something that’s just been cooked from scratch. Makes a huge difference. Tastes WAY better, and since the basis of food here is beans, I’m getting the best protein available at least once a day. Check in with Dr. Oz, even he says eating beans once or twice a day will speed up the metabolism and lead to less reliance on other types of fats and proteins to fill up on. I do find that I’m not as hungry or hungry for something I can’t define very often.

So, here’s my gift to you today…

Hopelessly Delicious Costa Rican Hash
1/4 c diced red onion
2 diced cloves of garlic
1 tbs of Numar, margarine or butter
1 tbs of olive oil
heat to sizzling until onions start to wilt
add diced sausage – the kind that looks like polish sausage in a circle
heat for about 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds
add spices you want – I used 1/2 tsp Garlic and Pepper Tabasco Sauce and pepper
add a diced cooked potato, mix it up with the rest of the stuff in the pan
heat for about five minutes in order for the potato pieces to get a little browned
add a cup of cooked red beans with liquid
heat thoroughly, for about 2 minutes
enjoy!