October 28, 2009

What A Country!

Sometimes in this blog, it's easy for me to get too focused on the bizarre, annoying, and mind-baffling aspects of life in Costa Rica, and I forget to mention the things that make living here great.

Things like Coffee Flakes:

When you wander out of bed around 10 AM and slip into your Technicolor Dreamcoat, there's only one thing on your mind: "How's about we get a balanced breakfast into this-a here body, with as much coffee as possible!"

Well, with Coffee Flakes, you no longer have to pour both coffee and milk on your cornflakes, since the coffee's included, babies! So pull up a chair, get a place with a view of the Jumbo Atlas (since there's no newspaper delivery in Berlin) and pour yourself a big bowl of Coffee Flakes to start the day off right!

Your body will thank you.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 25, 2009

Some Pictures To Get Caught Up

I've been carrying around my little USB flash drive thing for a while now, and it's got some pictures that I meant to put up one time or another, but never had the chance. So, here are some selected pictures of what's been going on here recently:

This is a little flower/rock garden I made in the front of our house from rocks I dug up in the yard (while trying to flatten the dirt for the grass). We got those little bushes put in, too, by the same people who brought the sod. I was impressed, since it was only about 100 bucks for 360 of those little plants, and the people even planted them for us.

Back for Costa Rican Mother's Day (August 15th), we took Angela's mom and her sister Toni to Termales del Bosque, one of our favorite tourist spots. This is them enjoying a much-deserved froofy drink in the hot springs.

Also in August, we went to Colorado, but when we came back, we discovered that the drawers in our closet were all covered with mold on the bottom. It's hard to see here, but it was like salt and pepper mixed in with wasabi. Mold is depressing.

We also bought a couple dozen Costa Rican tamales recently when Berlín's community hall was broken into. Some thieves took the school's cooking supplies, so local mothers made and sold a bunch of tamales to pay to replace them. Why was the school in the community hall, you ask? Because the roof of the school blew off nearly a year ago in that fierce wind storm, and they've not gotten around to replacing it. Therefore, Berlín's school is back to one room, with plastic tarps dividing the grades. Dammit.

We bought a carrier to take our assorted cats to the vet, and for some reason Cucho loves to sleep there. Thus proving once and for all that Cucho is a moron.

My friend and ex-coworker Angie (or as I call her, "Fonseca Quiros," due to her last names) sent me this picture of us during a job fair. I'm the one on the right.

This is a nice plant called "rice and beans" due to its two flowers of different colors. On our trip to Limón during Annie's visit, a lady gave us a twig from the plant, and we put the twig in some water in our kitchen. A few months later, we have a beautiful plant.

When I was walking around Berlín the other day, there was fog everywhere except a little opening in the clouds, showing Puntarenas and the shining Gulf of Nicoya around it. Berlín is frustrating but beautiful at times.

Speaking of beautiful, here's an orchid that my mother-in-law Cecilia had growing on her back patio. It's strange, since it grows down, from the roots of the plant.

Nature's weird.

Well, thanks for reading. I'll be trying to get some more posts up later this week, but until then, hope this finds everyone in good health!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 20, 2009

Still Around

I realized I've not been on the internet in a week or two (when my students started complaining that I'd not gotten their emails). I should remedy that. I'll get some posts written ASAP. And I've almost finished the video game Fable, about 5 years after most people finished it, I realize...

In the meantime, enjoy this poster/calendar displaying Costa Rican meat cuts (taken at my sister-in-law Toni's house):

(First Rule of Blogging: Always keep an image like this on hand to post in a hurry, just in case times get busy)

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 10, 2009

Roberto Barquero, Where Art Thou?!

Costa Rica doesn't have the gameshow The Price is Right. That means that we also don't have the benefit of Bob Barker's daily message to control the pet population by getting our pets spayed or neutered.

In other words, we have another freaking cat.

And it's small. Like the others, this one just showed up at our place. It sucks to be an animal in Berlín, so we decided to take him/her/it in. Name pending, although I like "Steel Blue" or "Blue Steel," whichever one Zoolander called his "look."

Well, whatever. It's cute and friendly, at least.

Our full-time cat Cucho gave it his usual warm welcome that he gives to all newcomers: "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?"

More to come.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

400th Post!

That last post about miel de ayote was my 400th post on this blog! To celebrate, tonight we're gonna have a flash party (like a flash mob, but less prone to violence and more in the vein of partying down)! I'll be live blogging the event (with a delay of a few days until I get connected to the internet again)!
See you at the party, starting in T-minus 20 minutes!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

October 7, 2009

Costa Rican Cookin': Miel De Ayote

Hello again! We're back in the kitchen with another tasty recipe that's sure to get your mouth watering. Today we'll be observing my sister-in-law (and neighbor) Antonieta at work in her kitchen. If you remember my last post about chorreadas de elote, my intention was to get some more traditional recipes on here, but at the same time, to find ones that could be prepared outside of Costa Rica. I thought today's miel de ayote would be a good option, since ayote is related to squash and pumpkins. However, when I saw the procedure, I began to doubt that many of my readers would be trying this at home. In any case, I'll still give you the run-down, so you can do a bit of armchair (or deskchair) cooking:

First of all, you'll need to get an ayote or some type of pumpkin or squash. I think that ayotes are distinct from pumpkins and squash in that they're hard as hell (BYOMachete), and they have what appears to be a horrid skin disease on their outer shells:

This is the kind of thing that makes you want to turn around and walk back in the direction you came from. In any case, you gotta hack this bastard into some small chunks using a machete, an axe, or a big-ass knife.

Here's Toni showing the other reason I'm thinking this recipe may not work to well in the U.S.: tapa de dulce. This is basically a huge compressed chunk of sugar cane. Brown sugar would give you a similar taste, but it may not work the same. In any case, you have to chop and wash the tapa de dulce and add it to a pot with the ayote. That's how hard this sugar is: it fears neither water nor machete!

After accomodating the chunks of ayote (blistery side down) and dulce in the pot, you'll want to put it over your wood fired stove.

Mwa ha haaaa! Wait, you don't have a wood-fired stove? Oh crap. Well, this may also work on a regular stove, but I don't quite know how to do it.

Once on the stove, add about a half-cup of water. This may seem like precious little water, but somehow once the sugar melts and bubbles, it'll do just fine.

Partially cover, and wait about an hour or so.

Watch, observe, and wait by the fire, listening to the rain on the roof.

After about an hour, check on the pot. It should look like boiling Gremlins.

You can use a spoon to spread some of the syrup (miel) all over the ayote. That'll help it absorb the flavor.

Depending on what you've got, you can serve the ayote either hot or cold. If you've got a really thin-shelled ayote, you can theoretically eat the shell, but generally it's best scooped out and served without the shell. It's good with a bit of milk, cream, or ice cream.


In any case, I hope you liked this, and if anyone is brave enough to try this at home (or over a campfire somewhere), I'd love to hear from you!

Buen provecho!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook