Viche

What great neighbors we have. This afternoon our neighbor Paola brought us a huge bowl of viche. This batch was made with lobster, shrimp, choclo (corn), small plantain balls and the most wonderful broth made with peanuts. Of course she did provide rice as well.  It is out of this world and Paola is one of the best cooks I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

IMG_2153We eat like royalty here. Between the kindness of our neighbors like Paola and the bounty we can buy right at our door we are blessed.

We have a new fruta and verdura vendor who has started to come by on Friday mornings. Today he had strawberries, black and red grapes, granny smith apples as well as gala apples and pears, passion fruit, mora, naranjilla just to name a few. He had corn, peas, small and large lima beans as well as fresh fava beans, carrots, red onions, green onions, cauliflower, broccoli, two types of potatoes, iceberg lettuce and cilantro.  Next week I will take a photo of his truck and him and his wife.

Feeling very blessed…

Panna Cotta

IMG_2110I tried making Panna Cotta with the Kefir instead of buttermilk and it works great and tastes wonderful. Not just an every day dessert, it’s nice enough to share with company. Turn the cups out onto a dessert plate add a sprig of mint or slice strawberries and it is fancy enough for guests.

Panna Cotta
2 T of cold water
1 1/2 t powder gelatin

1 C cream
1/2 C sugar
2 C buttermilk or Kefir
2 t vanilla extract

Put gelatin and 2 tablespoons of water into a small bowl to soften for 5 minutes. Pour cream into a saucepan with sugar heat just to melt sugar, remove from heat. Add softened gelatin and stir to be sure it is incorporated. Add kefir and vanilla extract. Pour into small pudding cups and refrigerate. Yum!

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Kefir

While living in Panama, I was given a gift of Kefir Grains. I did not know anything about kefir at the time but decided to try it. What a wonderful yogurt type drink it makes. I think it is more flavorful than anything you buy in the store. First I guess I need to explain that kefir is a probiotic beverage. I have purchased two types of grains: milk kefir grains and water kefir grains.The milk kefir grains can be used with cow milk, goat milk or coconut milk. The water kefir grains can be used with sugar-water, juice or coconut water but more on water kefir when I start working with that in a few weeks.

Kefir grains consist of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship. The term “kefir grains” describes the look of the culture only – it is not a grain at all.

San Clemente 8.18b.2013 002I purchased these grains from a company in the US and had a friend bring them with her when she visited the states last month. They come in a dehydrated state and need to be rehydrated with milk to work properly.

Kefir 8.11.2013 008 I have a supply of raw milk delivered to my door three times a week. For .60 cents I buy a quart of beautiful full fat milk that I have used for making puddings in the past. Now I am using it for my kefir. It will take up to 8 attempts to get my grains really producing. Right now I am only making one cup at a time to get the grains to multiply. Once they start to multiply I will have more grains than needed and will eventually be able to share with friends and neighbors.

Kefir 8.11.2013 011The result, using one cup of kefir with a half pint of fresh frozen strawberries, was two dessert dishes of almost soft-serve consistency. No sugar added just the fresh frozen berries with the tart kefir…it was a hit.

Deliveries To Our Door

What a wonderful treat to have so many things delivered right to our door. First thing, I mean before 7am every morning, the Pan Man comes by on his bike to deliver hot fresh rolls.

These beauties are .10 cents each and still warm from the oven!

Next comes the many gentlemen delivering fresh veggies and fruits.

                                                                                         There is a man riding/pushing a trike and several others in small pickups that come through our neighborhood several days each week.  Today when he came by he had these melons called Melon Criolla for .50 cents each. They are sweet and delicious.

This morning this young man and his assistant had watermelon, melon, oranges, mandarina, red onion, potatoes, yucca, scallions, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and a few more items that I can’t remember. He even had homemade butter, peanut butter and chopped peanuts along with fresh queso.

Now these were happy guys. I bought 2 lbs of tomatoes, one cucumber and three large avocados for $2.

Some of the trucks go by so fast that I do not have enough time to stop them to see what they are selling. As you can see these folks were already at the end of our street before I got this photo.

Next comes the water guy. He delivers the 5 gal containers of drinking water for $1 a bottle and he comes by every day except Sunday. He has a small tienda downtown, where he sells many food and household items.  Everyone loves to pose while getting their picture taken, even the guy working on the roof of our house was yelling at the water guy. What a lovely feeling. These folks are so kind to allow me to do this….

There is also a fellow who comes by on his motorbike each morning selling choclo (corn used in soups etc)

I like this corn but right now I am doing very little cooking as we have not purchased our refrigerator as yet and this house comes with an oven stove combo but no refrigerator…well eating out for a few weeks is like taking a vacation and Manabi has the best food ever. They make so many great dishes my favorite happens to be viche. This is a soup made with a peanut base…oh I could eat it every day….but that’s another post…….

This is what I bought today from the above guys. Strawberries called Frutilla were $1 per pound, three large golden passion fruit for $1, large pineapple for $1.50 and four apples for $1. Guess what we are having for dinner tonight?

It may take me two weeks to finalize this post as I have been gathering pictures as I see folks pass as well as trying to visit with each of these vendors to see what they are selling each time they pass. Yesterday, I bought the two pounds of strawberries. We had a great fruit salad last evening for dinner but I still had strawberries left over and we do not have a refrigerator so this morning do or die, one way or the other the berries needed to go!  I made jam and it is wonderful. A bit of water, one packet of Sweet n Low (because I have no idea where my sugar is in all these boxes) and the balance of the berries.

This morning, besides the regulars, a man on a motorbike with huge plastic jugs on the back delivered fresh milk. I have no refrigerator and not even a nice container to collect this milk but I still bought a quart for .50 cents. I have tried it and it tastes pretty creamy but can’t get Joe to take a taste. This would be great when making puddings and cream pies because it is so rich but just drinking it reminds me of when my Dad had cows and we had fresh milk direct from the cow…how good is that? Well I bought a pound of rice, a package of white sugar, Joe found my bag of raisins and my cinnamon so we had rice pudding, it was rich and creamy.

A guy selling fresh chicken drove by this morning allowing me to take a peek inside the basket attached to the back of his motorbike.  Can’t imagine why I would go into town to shop for anything if this is a typical weeks’ worth of vendors.

We have the big truck that delivers beer and soda. His delivery day seems to be Tuesday and his truck is so big that they need to have someone run along the rails of the truck to be sure that the wire connecting us to our internet is not pulled off the bamboo poll in our yard across the street. How the driver saw that itty bitty white line I will never know. There are several small trucks that deliver toilet paper, plastic items,  clothes hampers, some glassware, clothes pins like little general stores on wheels. Freddy (our Maestro) called it SuperMaxi Taxi!

A truck came by that picks up used items. It is not the garbage truck just a small truck. Today it had bed springs and some other metal items, I will ask Gina exactly what this is all about, what he charges or pays. Kind of a scrap metal guy?

Now the garbage truck that we were told comes on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays has shown up on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday so who really knows their schedule! But they pass right by my gate.

There is also a tienda located at the end of our street and this family has an array of items from laundry detergent to chocolate cookies for sale. And did I mention cold cerveza?

When I made the rice pudding this past week I shared some with my new friends in the tienda, the next time I went in to buy a few things, I left with 4 beautiful red peppers as a regalo. I just love these people!!!

And today Freddie came by with this huge papaya just look at it next to an apple, again this was a regalo…I have never gotten so many gifts in my life.

We will need to share this with the neighbors tomorrow because Joe and I cannot eat that much papaya in one day…