Cookie Baking – Christmas 2015

It would not seem like Christmas without just a few of our favorites – cookies and a Christmas tree. So last Monday I made all the batters for several types of cookies and Tuesday it was marathon baking.

On Monday I did sneak in a few batches of the bar cookies and baked the Black Bottom Cookie Bar and Triple Layer Cookie Bar.

12.21 (11)I also made something I have never tried before. These are made with vanilla cookies on the bottom, covered in caramel, baked and then topped with chocolate chips sprinkled with chopped nuts.  Fast and easy and the kids will love them. All chocolaty and sweet.

12.21 (10)Then I made Crane House Pumpkin Breads.

12.21 (14)Here are some of the batters chilling in the refrigerator. These are the Cherry Nut Cookies in the foreground and the Italian Cookies in the background.

12.21 (13)Here are the final cookie trays ready to go

12.26.2015It was a very Merry Christmas.

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Coconut Cream Pie – Yum!

Saw a great photo on Facebook one day last week. The pie looked so good I just had to attempt it. Recipe below.

IMG_2330IMG_2331IMG_2335Coconut Cream Pie

FILLING

  • 4 T white sugar
  • 5 T flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 C milk
  • 3 lg egg yolks (slightly beaten – set the whites aside for the meringue)
  • 1 C shredded coconut (used dessicated coconut which does not contain additional sugar)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t coconut extract

Combine sugar, flour and salt in a double boiler. Add milk, and egg yolks. Cook in double boiler until filling is thick approximately 10 minutes. Stir in coconut, vanilla and coconut extract.  Set aside to cool.

CRUST

  • 1 1/2 C cookie crumbs (I used coco cookies)
  • 4 T butter melted
  • 1 whole egg
  • 4 T white sugar

Mix melted butter, egg and sugar into the cookie crumbs. Press into the bottom of a pie pan, push up the sides. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10-20 minutes. You want the crust to be pretty hard when you bring it out. Set aside to cool.

MERINGUE

  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 T white sugar
  • 1/4 C dessicated coconut

Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl, beat with a hand mixer until soft peak stage, add one tablespoon of sugar at a time and beat until well incorporated.

After the crust is cool, pour filling into crust, top with meringue and put under the broiler for just a few minutes to brown lightly.  Keep a close eye on it, as you can see I did get it a bit too brown….but it still was darn good. Enjoy!

 

The Coconut Man

The weather has been absolutely beautiful for the past several weeks but both Saturday and Sunday were overcast and I even put on a light sweater in the early evening because the breeze off the ocean was darn cool for me.  We have spent several afternoons a week at the beach just watching the waves, enjoying the fresh sea air and letting our minds clear.  Today I did my running in the morning with laundry pick up, a stop at two different pharmacies, a trip into the bank and then on to Tia for some bottled water, wine, coffee and a very small food order. Then I told Joe I was going to cook up some fresh crab cakes and we were heading for the beach.

Most days we see one of several vendors that sell the fresh coconuts. We gulp down the coco water and then he will cut out the fresh sweet coconut meat for Joe and I to share.

This gentlemen told me he was 89 years old, still walking the beach each day. He is mentally 100% I wish I was as spry as he is. He introduced me to his son who also sells the fresh coconuts along with Dad every day on the Playas beach.  I hope I am able to walk the beach each day when I am 70 God willing, can’t even imagine being 89.

First Aid for my Coconut Palms

For months I continued to procrastinate on re-potting my two coconut palms. The pots I had them in were just a tiny bit bigger than the actually coconut and when I potted them I knew it was a mistake, but they survived. This week I purchased huge rubber pots and finally moved them. The pots were inexpensive at $7 a piece. I came across a man behind the mercado with a small plant stand who also sells potting soil. It is the lightest potting soil I have ever seen. Mostly ground leaves, not twigs or pine cones like some that I have purchased in the past. A 40 lb feed sack was $3. I could not resist purchasing four herb plants including two types of basil, local oregano and mint. Before the afternoon was over I had re-potted the two palms, one flowing vine (that I am not sure is going to make it) and all four herb plants.

And while I was at the store that sells plastic items I found one of those wooden beach chairs that Joe loves so. When I delivered it to Joe you would have thought I had given him a million dollars. We do have simple tastes these days and the smallest kindness goes a long way.

My plants actually looked better in just a few days. It is not necessary to plant herbs here as fresh herbs are very inexpensive and plentiful at the mercado as well as the grocery stores but having my own mint in the back yard whenever I want to make a mojito or add a few leaves to a  salad really makes me happy.

Adding to my plant treasure my friend Miguel came by a few days ago with four hot pepper plants.

Now I will allow the palm trees to settle in and then I will fertilize the heck out of them to see what they really can do…

New Bakery

Right next door to Pizza Piccola a young man has put in a bakery. Yesterday we strolled by while taking our laundry in and he had some really yummy looking items. We bought one of the coconut pastries (the center of which has a rich creamy filling), the red one, I’m sure it is some sort of fruit will be our breakfast treat in the morning and two hard rolls for our steak sandwiches this evening (my $2.80/lb.  leftover lomo fino (tenderloin) from  Friday nights dinner was perfect on these rolls with a bit of spicy horseradish sauce). The pastries are .25 cents each while the rolls were .10 each.

He had a great looking cake right on the top shelf but I fell in love with the coconut pastry and just could not justify a slice of the cake also.

One of the days we had pizza we stopped and he had made a pineapple cake. It was about 5 inches tall with a beautiful layer of chopped pineapple so we got a slice to share and it was excellent. The one thing that we have noticed is that,  like the Mexican pastries we found in Atlanta,  Ecuadorian pastries are not full of sugar with sugary icings, filled with sugary fillings – they taste great without putting tons of sugar in them –  and these taste pretty darn good!

This store is located one block off the malecon directly behind the big Pinguino Ice Cream store. Drop by and buy a few items to try.