Thursday, March 26, 2015

Warm Memories...

.... of unthawing in Costa Rica!!

We escaped the frigid temperatures in the minus 20C something to the plus 30s!
What a wonderful get-away - two glorious weeks with dear friends.

There were crocodiles (that looked like cement statues), Howler Monkeys, Sloths, Toucans, Capuchin Monkeys and majestic Scarlet Macaws - amazing!



We landed in San Jose and travelled south to Jaco where we met up with our dear friends Ron and Karen.
From there we went to Manuel Antonio and stayed at the beautiful Costa Verde where the Capuchin  monkeys came to visit right on our porch. We were right in the tropical forest - the energy and jungle sounds will warm me for a long time!








Dominical was like stepping back to the 60's with crowds of surfers, camping on the beach, dreadlocks, handmade jewellery, Jeeps and Land Cruisers. The beach was swarming with hippies/young folk - incredible!
Later we found ourselves relaxing in our little cabana at the Eco-Resort Villas Rio Mar, another step back in time - loved this.








Next we made our way over rough gravel roads and through river bottoms to the Southern tip of the Osa Peninsula in the Southwestern part of Costa Rica. We stayed here for 7 days in our amazing "off the grid" beach house - Casa Arenosa - with the jungle all around us - it was heaven!






What an adventure this was ....









Sunrises on "our" beach!


There was much relaxation, cooking, picture taking and restful sleeping to the sound of booming waves, at this beautiful beach house. Also many hikes to seemingly tops of mountains and back down again. I don't think I've ever sweated/glowed so much in my life!
Thank goodness for the cool plunge pool - we used it many times a day.


My friend Karen is a great cook and we enjoyed some delicious meals (more on that and a recipe later) made on our gas stove in the outdoor kitchen!  We savoured the flavours of pineapple, chicken, mango, salsa, fish tacos, good wine etc. by candlelight in the outdoor dining room - PURA VIDA!


The Coffee Sock!

Ron made the coffee every morning - delicious!
























Casa Arenosa was extraordinary...


Every day several pairs of Scarlet Macaws came for a visit on the beach,
we always ran for our cameras and tried to capture the perfect picture of these beautiful, noisy birds.
Did you know that Macaws mate for life?



More of our Costa Rica adventures to come ......
Oh, and a great pineapple chicken recipe too.

Till next time ...... I am writing this post as I "glow" in our back porch sauna and as the newly arrived Robins hop about in the frozen grass and the Canada Geese fly in formation overhead. Soon it will be warm here too.












Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring is Springing

There is Spring in the air!
Long sunny, cold, and crisp days
are such a welcome after the deep freezes of January and February!

The maple trees are tapped and the sap is running,
Maple Syrup production is in full swing in these parts!


Next Saturday, March 28th, is the annual famous
What a "sweet" day that is .....

It's that time of year when my mother always
made her delicious "Fetkucha" to dip into that golden syrup.
I made a half batch because I was so hungry for this treat
(even though it is NOT on my plan to eat leaner - ugh!)
But I did make a half batch after-all .....

This is a very old recipe that was handed down to my mom
from her aunt Maria.
My sister, Evelyn, has adapted/perfected the recipe
and I followed her instructions.

Mom’s Doughnuts (Fetkucha)

This recipe makes approx. 3 doz. medium sized "donuts".
2 eggs – beaten in large bowl
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup sour cream - (Evelyn uses 1 Cup Whipping Cream mixed with 1 Tbsp. vinegar)
1 cup butter milk - (Evelyn uses 1 Cup Milk mixed with 1 Tbsp. vinegar) - I actually had some buttermilk so I used that instead.
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder - heaping
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
4 – 5 Cups flour (enough to make a soft dough - not too stiff).






Dump dough onto floured counter and pat down/roll to about  ¼“  thick (do not overwork dough).
Tip: Chill before rolling out (Evelyn never chills it).







Cut into approx. 3” X 2” rectangles or diamonds with a slit in the middle.  Mom used a fluted pastry cutter wheel to cut these shapes.




Deep fry in ½ - 3/4" of oil/fat until browned, turning once.  Evelyn used her electric fry pan and so did I.  Drain on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet.





Mom used her big deep cast iron pan and made sure no “little ones” were running around because of the danger of the hot fat splattering or being spilled.











By the way, my sister Evelyn is a fantastic cook
and her married name is Cook - how about that!
I have 3 sisters and they are all amazing cooks. 
We learned so much from our dear mom - if only I had paid more attention
to some of the details - but that's another story.

These "maple syrup donuts" are delicious dunked into that
sweet syrup and when they have large bubble holes - even better
because you can spoon the syrup right into the holes before taking a bite.

A delicious, once a year, sweet treat!!



Maple syrup is a favourite for pancakes, served on ice-cream,
baked on salmon, sweetener in baking, and so much more.

A true sign that Spring is Springing!



Till next time ........... I hope that Spring has Sprung where you are?






Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spud Stacks

I found a fun potato recipe that would be a great side
for any meal.

Just had to share it .... plus I use any excuse I can get to warm up the oven
these sooooo cold days!!!





2-3 large Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes - peeled and sliced very thin 
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 Cup Cheese (I used Asiago) plus some for sprinkling on top.





Grease muffin tins or small ramekins
Melt butter with oil and seasonings - stir in the grated cheese
Place sliced potatoes in a bowl and pour the melted butter mixture overtop.
With hands gently work the potatoes and butter to coat slices.
Stack the potato slices into a greased muffin tin or greased ramekins - this recipe made 4 stacks but you could triple the recipe and make 12 stacks to fit your muffin tin.
Sprinkle more cheese on top and bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes or until nicely browned and crispy.
Allow them to set for 5 minutes and then gently remove from tins with a spoon.






Till next time ............ how are keeping warm these days (or maybe you are somewhere warm and wonderful). I wonder if the Robins will arrive on time next week - Spring must be just around the corner - right?