Thursday, January 22, 2009

Costa Rican Mountain Sunset

From this mountain top site the ground fell away for endless acres as I scooched over the edge to snap this shot. Howler monkeys which I never saw howled below pack to pack.

Rancho View from Above the Clouds

I don't see anything like this where I reside Gulf of Mexico! We have nary a mountain in our L.A. (Lower Alabama) beach area!

The rancho we were visiting in Costa Rica sits atop one of the high mountains of the Nicoyan Penninsula. The property has views of the Golpho de Nicoya as well as the Pacific Ocean. We were above the clouds!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Orange Beach, Alabama Christmas Boat Parade Winners

Thanks to Captain Craig for a trip on the high seas and to the Orange Beach Chamber of Commerce for hosting such a FUN event!
And, we won, in the 32 foot and above power boat catagory!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fried green plantains

vegetable oil
green plantains
baggie or saran wrap
sea salt

Peel and slice green plantains in 2 inch sections.
Cook in hot vegetable oil, flipping once to soften.
Remove cooked plaintains, place on cutting board.
Wrap in plastic wrap and smash flat with your handy rock.
Place flat plantain sections back in hot oil and fry, flipping once until golden brown.
Sprinkle with sea salt

Serve with one of the salsa recipes below.

Tamale Salsa, cooked Columbian Variety

The following salsa or sauce mix is used in the making of the tamales below.

4 onions, thinly sliced
3 heads of garlic smashed with rock
3 to 4 cups water
1 large sweet or bell pepper, diced
1 chili pepper, diced
6 cubes Maggi de Pollo boullion
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine and cook to thicken in saucepan.

Mama Zeneida says this is a base for many "sauces", to make spagetti sauce, simply add tomatoes.

Tamale Recipe Columbian Style

The tamale recipe that follows took 2 days to prepare. Thus, I will spare you the paring, soaking boiling and straining of the dried corn kernels and will recommend using store bought Maseca, or Masa, found in the flour section of you grocery store. Just follow instructions on the bag.

Banana leaves
masa mix (for this you will need water or broth, 1 tsp. baking powder, 2/3 cup lard or crisco, 1/2 tsp. salt)
1 lb. partially cooked pork roast
1 lb. chicken pieces complete with bones
3 sliced potatoes
3 sliced carrots
string, twine or banana leaf vein

Begin by harvesting a dozen large banana leaves. Then, carefully draw them over a wood fire. Passing the leaves over the flame should soften the leaves without charring them. Any soot is to be wiped off with a damp cloth. Lay out 2 or 3 torn or cut sections of banana leaves (apx. 8 to 12 inch rectangles or squares). Overlap the pieces and get ready to fill.

On the center of the banana leaves place a large dollop of masa, a chunk of pork, a piece of uncooked chicken, a few potato slices and a few carrot slices. Add another dollop of masa and the onion salsa mixture. (recipe to follow)

When the filling has been placed, roll the banana leaves lengthwise, as if it were a burrito. Fold one end up, then hold with the folded end on the table while tapping the ingredients down. Fold top end down to make a packet which you will tie with sisal/string/banana leaf vein. Tie 2 packets together.

The packets must be boiled in a huge pot over a wood fire, or on your stove in a huge pot of boiling water. Boil for 2 hours!

After 2 hours, remove from boiling water and set out to cool slightly. Cut the string, open the banana leaves to reveal a wonderfully cooked meal.

Killer Columbian Salsa

While in Costa Rica, our host, Big Tom, thought we women folk would enjoy a Tico tamale tutorial. Well, we did enjoy it, but who knew it would take 2 days! Mama Zeneida is from Columbia but apparently the tamale making process is same or similar to the Costa Ricans', as is this cool but HOT salsa.

Mama Zeneida's Recipe for Killer Salsa

First, as pictured, grind 2 hot chili peppers with course sea salt. Use your favorite rock or other grinding apparatus.

Combine that seasoning with the following in a medium sized bowl.
1 huge tomato, diced small
1 onion, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro,chopped fine
1 garlic clove, diced
fresh ground pepper to taste
another large pinch of course salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup ketchup
1 lemon or limon squeezed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

If you can, let the mixture sit in the fridge to meld flavors.

This is fantastic atop fried green plantains!