Monday, March 30, 2015

Costa Rica - Part Two


One of our favourite meals in Costa Rica was this chicken dish made in our outdoor kitchen, on the gas stove. The pictures are dark and that's because at Casa Arenosa the sun set at 6 p.m. sharp and we cooked by solar lights and candlelight. The kitchen was well equipped and we enjoyed
making delicious meals - after which we soon turned in for the night
(in our meshed-in beds by 9 p.m. and up by 5:45 a.m. - it was all good)!


Our travel mates Karen and Ron preparing this wonderful meal!



Recipe:
1 Red Onion - thinly sliced
1 Cups fresh pineapple - cut into bite sized chunks
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
4 - 6 Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts

Rub for Chicken:
1 Tbsp. Flour
2 tsp. Chili Powder
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Cayenne

Saute onion slices in oil.
Add the pineapple chunks and cook till softened - set aside.
Combine the rub ingredients and rub chicken breasts - coating well.
Brown the chicken in skillet - 3 minutes/side until browned.
Add the pineapple and onions back into the skillet with the chicken,
cover and simmer for 5 minutes on each side.

Serve over rice or couscous.


The outdoor dining room surrounded by the night sounds of secedes and jungle noises!! Perfect.


After leaving this beautiful place we travelled 
back along the coast, spending a bit of time on the vast beaches of
Playa Uvita
before travelling inland and up, up into the
Cerre de la Meurte (Peak of Death) Mountains
via the Inter-American Highway.
There were breathtaking views and 
low hanging clouds - beautiful!








As we travelled along this high ridge
(elevation 11,300 feet)
the temperature changed dramatically from sea level.
It was cool and refreshing with
beautiful vistas and hair pin turns.







We arrived safely to our destination 
Trogan Lodge, San Gerardo de Dota after a dramatic 
rapid decent down tight hair pin turns,
in spite of our not so reliable vehicle ......
the brakes failed as soon as we reached the bottom parking lot!
Our faces told the story of how thankful we were to have been "protected"
by many angels on this leg of our trip!


If you ever go to this area you must stay at this amazing lodge.
The crisp mountain air, the beautiful waterfalls, fresh water brook, moss covered trails,
trout filled ponds, hydroponic greenhouses, humming birds, rare birds, lush gardens,
zip lines (nope - we didn't), hot water bottles for your cozy beds,
delicious dining, etc. are just a few reasons why!


That's us way at the top of the water fall!


Hmmm - wonder if I could do this to our barn hill at home?


Last, but certainly not least, we got up very early
to find the famous and resplendent Quetzal!!!!

There he is with his very long tail feeding in the avocado tree (do you see the avocados?)
Isn't he gorgeous?!









We were not the only ones who saw him - lol!

It was SOOOO worth it.










It was time to say good-bye to this "wonder"ful part of our planet

but we will never forget this fantastic trip with dear friends.

On the kitchen table was a warm welcome home from our neighbours who checked into the house while we galavanted in Costa Rica. The best neighbours ever!




Till next time ......... still holding on to the warm memories and delicious foods of Costa Rica! PURA VIDA!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Warm Memories...

.... of unthawing in Costa Rica!!

We escaped the frigid temperatures in the minus 20C something to the plus 30s!
What a wonderful get-away - two glorious weeks with dear friends.

There were crocodiles (that looked like cement statues), Howler Monkeys, Sloths, Toucans, Capuchin Monkeys and majestic Scarlet Macaws - amazing!



We landed in San Jose and travelled south to Jaco where we met up with our dear friends Ron and Karen.
From there we went to Manuel Antonio and stayed at the beautiful Costa Verde where the Capuchin  monkeys came to visit right on our porch. We were right in the tropical forest - the energy and jungle sounds will warm me for a long time!








Dominical was like stepping back to the 60's with crowds of surfers, camping on the beach, dreadlocks, handmade jewellery, Jeeps and Land Cruisers. The beach was swarming with hippies/young folk - incredible!
Later we found ourselves relaxing in our little cabana at the Eco-Resort Villas Rio Mar, another step back in time - loved this.








Next we made our way over rough gravel roads and through river bottoms to the Southern tip of the Osa Peninsula in the Southwestern part of Costa Rica. We stayed here for 7 days in our amazing "off the grid" beach house - Casa Arenosa - with the jungle all around us - it was heaven!






What an adventure this was ....









Sunrises on "our" beach!


There was much relaxation, cooking, picture taking and restful sleeping to the sound of booming waves, at this beautiful beach house. Also many hikes to seemingly tops of mountains and back down again. I don't think I've ever sweated/glowed so much in my life!
Thank goodness for the cool plunge pool - we used it many times a day.


My friend Karen is a great cook and we enjoyed some delicious meals (more on that and a recipe later) made on our gas stove in the outdoor kitchen!  We savoured the flavours of pineapple, chicken, mango, salsa, fish tacos, good wine etc. by candlelight in the outdoor dining room - PURA VIDA!


The Coffee Sock!

Ron made the coffee every morning - delicious!
























Casa Arenosa was extraordinary...


Every day several pairs of Scarlet Macaws came for a visit on the beach,
we always ran for our cameras and tried to capture the perfect picture of these beautiful, noisy birds.
Did you know that Macaws mate for life?



More of our Costa Rica adventures to come ......
Oh, and a great pineapple chicken recipe too.

Till next time ...... I am writing this post as I "glow" in our back porch sauna and as the newly arrived Robins hop about in the frozen grass and the Canada Geese fly in formation overhead. Soon it will be warm here too.












Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring is Springing

There is Spring in the air!
Long sunny, cold, and crisp days
are such a welcome after the deep freezes of January and February!

The maple trees are tapped and the sap is running,
Maple Syrup production is in full swing in these parts!


Next Saturday, March 28th, is the annual famous
What a "sweet" day that is .....

It's that time of year when my mother always
made her delicious "Fetkucha" to dip into that golden syrup.
I made a half batch because I was so hungry for this treat
(even though it is NOT on my plan to eat leaner - ugh!)
But I did make a half batch after-all .....

This is a very old recipe that was handed down to my mom
from her aunt Maria.
My sister, Evelyn, has adapted/perfected the recipe
and I followed her instructions.

Mom’s Doughnuts (Fetkucha)

This recipe makes approx. 3 doz. medium sized "donuts".
2 eggs – beaten in large bowl
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup sour cream - (Evelyn uses 1 Cup Whipping Cream mixed with 1 Tbsp. vinegar)
1 cup butter milk - (Evelyn uses 1 Cup Milk mixed with 1 Tbsp. vinegar) - I actually had some buttermilk so I used that instead.
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder - heaping
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
4 – 5 Cups flour (enough to make a soft dough - not too stiff).






Dump dough onto floured counter and pat down/roll to about  ¼“  thick (do not overwork dough).
Tip: Chill before rolling out (Evelyn never chills it).







Cut into approx. 3” X 2” rectangles or diamonds with a slit in the middle.  Mom used a fluted pastry cutter wheel to cut these shapes.




Deep fry in ½ - 3/4" of oil/fat until browned, turning once.  Evelyn used her electric fry pan and so did I.  Drain on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet.





Mom used her big deep cast iron pan and made sure no “little ones” were running around because of the danger of the hot fat splattering or being spilled.











By the way, my sister Evelyn is a fantastic cook
and her married name is Cook - how about that!
I have 3 sisters and they are all amazing cooks. 
We learned so much from our dear mom - if only I had paid more attention
to some of the details - but that's another story.

These "maple syrup donuts" are delicious dunked into that
sweet syrup and when they have large bubble holes - even better
because you can spoon the syrup right into the holes before taking a bite.

A delicious, once a year, sweet treat!!



Maple syrup is a favourite for pancakes, served on ice-cream,
baked on salmon, sweetener in baking, and so much more.

A true sign that Spring is Springing!



Till next time ........... I hope that Spring has Sprung where you are?