Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eat Me Pie

Enough is enough.  It's time for chocolate, people.  I love to eat cacao in the form of springform creations and TH worships me when I feed him a sweet layered dessert, so it was time to give Vivian a workout.  Here's what happened the other night after a glass of sangria.

I greased a 6-inch springform with coconut oil and then patted in the crust recipe linked below.  (I really like this recipe because it is yummy and fairly light.

Pure 2 Raw's Chocolate Coconut Crust

On top of the crust I added a layer of sliced strawberries,

followed by a luscious:

Rich Chocolate Ganache
1 cup cacao
1 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
Blend above ingredients until smooth, then pour on top of the strawberries and freeze.

The next layer was a whipped topping posted on Sunny Raw Kitchen mixed with caramel sauce.  
For the linked whipped topping recipe I substituted:
  • macadamia nuts for cashews
  • coconut nectar for agave
  • sunflower lecithin for soy lecithin
(I forgot to take a picture of this layer). I let this topping sit overnight in the fridge, and then spread a thick layer of it on top of the ganache. The next layer was:   

Yum Caramel Sauce
5 dates, soaked + soak water (place dates in a one cup measuring cup and add water to brim)
1 cup raw almond butter
1/4 cup coconut nectar (or sweetener of choice)
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/8 cup melted coconut oil (added after everything else has blended)

After that came Chocolate Buckwheat Crunchies from Sweetly Raw's Ulimate Ice Cream Cake e-book.  

To top everything off I added another layer of strawberries, and another layer of cream swirled with a bit of caramel.  I froze the pie overnight, and learned that you should let it thaw quite a while before serving so the whipped topping regains its creamy consistency.

We had friends from Switzerland (of Swiss chocolate fame) staying with us and they loved it! It actually didn't last very long. 

I hope you are having a lovely August!  I have been quite busy with school preparations, guests, hiking, etc, and expect more of the same in the future.  I think my blogging will be set aside until we slide into our normal winter routine.

Enjoy the end of summer!  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Best Party Snack Ever!

This might not be very healthy (especially for all of you folks who abstain from adult bevvies), but it sure was enjoyable.  Background info:  when I hit the grocery store I pack my trunk with kale so I can indulge in my addiction:  kale chips.  The other day I was googling new-to-me kale chip recipes.  I decided to try out a Dill Pickle recipe from the Rawtarian.  Y.U.M.  These were tasty.  Now I am excited to peruse this awesome website for more exciting recipes.

*One note: next time (and there will be a next time) I will decrease the salt by half.  

Naturally, because I am such a health fanatic,  I paired my kale chips with a glass of sangria.  TH and I had a fabulous night in Panama that started with a jug of fruity goodness and we were super excited to make a vat when we came home.  So, no, technically I don't know if this is the best party snack ever, but if I were to have a party, I'm sure the guests would enjoy dill pickle kale chips and sangria.  

I randomly threw this together, but the end result was delicious and packed a real punch.  This is kind-of-sort-of what I did:

1 bottle of red wine
hearty splash of brandy
hearty splash of triple sec
hearty splash of orange-mango juice
juice of two limes
chopped apples, oranges, kiwis, strawberries (or whatever you want)
Mix everything together and let the flavors marinate overnight in the fridge. 

So, maybe I will have a party and share my snacks.  Or maybe TH and I will continue to fight over the crispy-pickly treats and the boozy fruit.  

Question:  Do you have a go-to party recipe (for real parties or pretend parties, either is fine)?  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Curry Guacamole, Jicama Fries, and an Oven Fire

I miss this:

My first mission after a tropical vacation is to spend a massive amount of money on produce.  I always feel like I'm going to get the shakes if I'm not surrounded by a plethora of fruits.  (TH knows this all too well and busies himself elsewhere when I'm forking over the Visa at the check stand.)  Amongst my overflowing cart this time were pineapples, avocados, and limes.  I decided to combine them all in a guacamole, and thinking back on my flavorful Ceviche-Seviche experience, I kicked it up a notch by adding curry.  I thought the result was interesting, and pretty tasty on cucumber slices.

Curry Guacamole
1/2 cup diced pineapple
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
2 avocados, smooshed
2 cloves garlic, diced
juice of one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
hot sauce to taste

I used hot sauce purchased in Bocas del Toro.  Don't you love the packaging?

Unfortunately the jicama I sliced up for the guacamole was not tasty at all.  That's the risk you take in buying jicama in Alaska.  I decided to be resourceful and use it in an alternate way.  I tossed the slices in 1/8 cup melted coconut oil, and liberal shakes of sea salt, garlic powder, and cayenne.  I baked the slices at 400 degrees for about an hour, flipping once.  They turned out pretty good!  I bet they would be absolutely delicious when made with a tasty jicama.  

One warning- I accidentally dropped some melted coconut oil in the base of the oven and started a fire!  It went out after a water dousing, but it was a little bit scary.  Ooops! 

Question:  Have you ever caught anything on fire in the kitchen? 

Friday, July 29, 2011

San Blas/Kuna Yala

For our last stint in Panama we flew and boated to Yandup in the Kuna Yala province. Here is the tiny island we stayed on, from the window of our even tinier airplane:

The Kuna Yala (also known as San Blas) includes 365 islands that are run by the Kunas.  The Kunas won their independence from Panama in 1930, and continue many of their traditional practices today.  No foreigner can own land in the region, which is amazing as I'm sure the Kuna have been offered millions for real estate in this exquisite environment.  There are no hotels or high rises; the only accomodations offered are in Kuna-owned traditional formats.  Our room (solar powered lights and fan available at night):

Every morning the Kuna men head out in dugout canoes to fish and lobster hunt.  It was so peaceful to rise from bed and sit on our porch, watching the men head to work. 

The only motor (or any loud noise) we heard during our stay was on the boat owned by our lodge, which shuttled us about to isolated islands.  Here are a few of the beaches we visited:

Our lodge (Yandup Island Lodge), also took us to visit the nearest Kuna community.  It was fascinating to see a village so removed from modern conveniences, self-sufficient and full of pride and joy.

Question:  What modern convenience would you hate to give up?  (Vitamix for me!)  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bocas del Toro

After our jungle lodge stay, we returned to Isla Colon for four nights.  We stayed in a cute little casita (Saigoncito 1), that was more in our price range ($45/night).

Free bikes came with our rental, so we spent many sweaty hours biking around the island, in search of beaches, seafood, and coconuts.  

The best part of our stay was our rendezvous with great travel friends, who we'd met on a previous trip to Nicaragua.

In Bocas, you can hire inexpensive water taxis to take you to other islands, beaches, and over the water restaurants.  It's low season right now, and it's not difficult to find a secluded, tranquil beach.  

Although Bocas Town is a bustling tourist location, many Ngobe-Bugle people still live in traditional homes, using dugout canoes as transportation.   

Question: What do you put on horrible insect bites to soothe the itch? (TH told me to ask this question....)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jungle Lodge Continued

Although we left the lodge four days ago,  I wanted to share a few more pictures from the experience.

path down the hill

I didn't take pictures of the dinners we were fed, as they were cande-lit communal affairs (I didn't want to be obtrusive AND end up with dark pictures).    Most days we were on excursions and the lodge would pack us a lunch, but on our last day we ate a noontime meal together.

Quiche (eggs from the farm, which I ate) stuffed with veggies, yucca salad, beets, avocados.  Afterwards we tried something called the miracle fruit, which came off a tree in the farm.

We sucked on a lime wedge to verify it was sour, then ate the small red fruit slowly, coating our tongue and spitting out the seed.  Afterwards we ate the limes again, but this time they tasted like key lime pie, or super sweet limeaide.  It was incredible.  Everything we ate for about an hour afterwards was uber sweet.  It was so much fun!  We heard there is a man in NYC who hosts tasting parties with the miracle fruit.   That would be a blast. 

After our jungle lodge time TH said he didn't care if he ever saw a sloth again.  I guess they aren't the most titillating of wildlife to view, but I still thought they were cute.  

One afternoon, after doing lots of this:  

it started to rain really hard.  We had big curtains we could pull closed when we had sideways rain to keep our room semi dry.  I pulled a curtain, and when I did something big landed on my head.  After having a little scream and panic session I discovered a bat on the floor.  

I thought it was dead, but when I gently nudged it over the edge with our creature-sweeper broom (supplied by the lodge for times just like this) it flew away!  It had been sleeping, and didn't wake up when it fell on my head or the floor.  I decided bats are much cuter when they are not nestled in my hair.

We have been enjoying our beach time on Bocas del Toro, which I hope to blog about before long.  We leave by ferry and bus today, back down the Pacific Coast to Panama City.  We will then fly out to the San Blas Islands, which are independently owned by an indigenous group called the Kuna.  I'm excited. 

Question:  Have you ever tried the "miracle fruit"? 

Monday, July 18, 2011

La Loma Jungle Lodge

We've just returned from four nights at La Loma Jungle Lodge on Bastimentos Island in Bocas del Toro.  Our raised cabin was open on three sides, with mosquito netting around the beds.  There was no electricity, which was really nice, as we had lots of time to focus on our natural environment.

outdoor shower

The cacophony of noises which surrounded us day and night was unreal.  We listened to layers upon layers of birds, insects, and frogs.  It was almost impossible to separate a particular noise individually.  Our wildlife viewing included sloths, giant tree iguanas, hundreds of birds, bats, frogs, lizards, snakes, and crazy insects.  My favorite were these cute little red frogs, which are slightly poisonous.  

This stay was the big splurge of our trip, at $100 a night per person.  The price included all of our meals, for which most of the ingredients were grown on site.  The lodge also ran a chocolate farm, which meant that we enjoyed many fabulous cacao/coconut milk desserts.  

cacao pods

One of my favorite new fruits, the biriba:

It's very sweet and rich, like a creamy custard.  Mmmmm.  

A jungle hike:

Notice how drenched in sweat I was.  The humidity in the jungle is intense!  Excellent toxin removal.

Question:  What's the weather like in your neck of the woods?