Tuesday, October 27, 2009

L's Kitchen - Spicy West Indian Ullama Soup

With the Ullama Squash you brought us, we made the soup recipe I mentioned - and was it ever good!!! Spicy, flavorful, inexpensive and easy to make and only 66 calories per serving. We followed the recipe (below) with two of our usual additions: more garlic and more habaneros!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

An Examination of Cucumbers


Ah, Cucs. For me they are kind of like radishes, I like them, but never know what to do with them except to throw them sliced onto salads (yawn) or Greek tomato and cucumber salad with feta, cucumber sandwiches with cream or goat cheese and for Japanese Cucumber Salad, recipe below.  I guess that is a pretty good start, but I was wanting to know more about my cucs.

So I went through all of the cookbooks, magazines and online blogs and discovered a few new ideas for using the ordinary cucumber in the kitchen.

I really like cold soup. I have only had a couple of cold soups before, an avocado soup in Mexico that was amazing and I make a couple styles of Spanish Gazpacho. My usual thinking is that soup is supposed to be hot and cucumbers do not sound very...well satisfying as a blended cold soup...watery comes to mind. But I was surprised how delicious

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Panamanian "Rojo" Lemons a.k.a Seville or Bitter Oranges

One of the first things that you figure out when vegetable and fruit shopping in Panama is that the lemons are orange and the oranges are yellow. After getting past the color issue and doing some experimenting, I have to say that in most ways I prefer the Panamanian Lemons or sometimes called Rojos or Limon Chino. Technically, they are Seville Oranges or sometimes called Bitter Oranges.

They are amazingly juicy, very easy to squeeze and have a nice strong lemon flavor. They do not seem to have as much acid as Persian (Yellow) Lemons. I have to admit, I am a bit of a hog with them. I simply can not wait until they are in full season. They are vital in my everyday cooking as well as in homemade sauces, especially for Orange Marmalade, which is made from this type of Orange, not ordinary eating Oranges.

We also use them for drinks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

White Sage - Let's Clear the Air!

I assume that most people do not understand what exactly White Sage is and what it is used for. It is not a culinary herb, like regular Garden Sage. Generally, it is used dried, as Incense.

White Sage or Broadleaf Sage is considered to be a sacred plant to many American Indians and magical to others. When dried and burned in small amounts around the house or just around your current area, it is claimed to clean the air, eliminate negativity and bad vibrations, offer protection from malicious and evil spirits and maybe even complaining husbands.

I am not sure how many of these claims are true or not. I am sure, that for it to work in these magical

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Ullama Jungle

It has taken me a while to exactly figure out what was the strange winter squash that is growing in my squash patch. One day Curt gave a lift to a local woman and she gave him some squash seed as a payment/gift. I assumed that they were pumpkin seed. I had planted a row of various squashes, delicata, butternut, spaghetti, acorn and this other seed. Well, this seed grew into a jungle and overtook most of my other squashes as well as climbing the passion fruit vines and the coffee trees! Have you seen that movie Jumanji, where the jungle.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Braised Tuscan Kale by Guest Poster: Sandra Cripe


Here is a great recipe that was shared by Sandra Cripe, a local Palmirena! She was really excited to tell me about this recipe and since I have had a TON of questions about how to prepare Tuscan Kale, this could not have been a more perfect recipe to start. Thanks Sandra for your enthusiasm and sharing your cooking knowledge.

Braised Kale by Sandra Cripe

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Edamame: The Healthy Beer Snack


If you are not familiar with Edamame, You really should try them out. Edamame or soy bean pods have so much going for them that I don't quite know where to start. I have just finished gorging myself on a huge bowl of them that was supposed to be an appetizer, but now, I guess it was dinner, as well as inspiration. Instead feeling heavy and guilty over a huge bowl of chips and cheesy bean dip or, my personal favorite, My Chicken Liver Pate with crackers and Swedish Mustard Dill Sauce, I feel light on my feet, healthy and very satisfied.

Edamame is not only delicious, but fun to eat....with beer! If you have not ever tried them in a Japanese restaurant....with a Kirin... as a before sushi appetizer, let me tell you how to enjoy them best....with beer. Being finger food,

Monday, May 11, 2009

Alone Time Musings


Sometimes the writing bug hits me hard, and then there are times like this.....blank. I started about 5 different entries today. I saved them for later on. They just didn't feel right. I took a nap. Let the dogs in the bed with me, Curt is on vacation in Contadora. The dogs and I deserve the treat of togetherness. They are German Shepards, brother and sister, Argos and Shiva, our kids. I had to change the sheets afterwards... not too smelly...but I felt a little itchy.

They are good watch dogs, not just for the house and property, but there are many times at night I know that Shiva, my girl-dog, is chasing critters away from the vegetables. They also let me know when the local cows have decided to come up the hill and have an attempted luncheon visit on my veggies.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Exploring South East Asian Cusine


It is very difficult here in Chiriqui to find ethnic inredients, at least the ones that are a little more obscure such as Rice Papers for Vietnamese Summer Rolls (I know it says Spring roll Wrappers) or Thai Pastes for real Thai cooking. I am constantly on the look out for good food finds. Although occasionally specialty items and ingredients pop up here and there in the local stores, you can not count on them to be there regularly. I found canned Hominy once in Super Baru, cleaned them out of all 2 cans they had. I haven't seen it since.

This week I will be trying to fill a void for Southeast Asian ingredients by making 2 new homemade Thai pastes as well experimenting with Rice Papers, Rice Noodles and Fish Sauce. I am planing to create other unique salsas, sauces and products that might be needed to really complete that special recipe (including the ones that I want to share with you), you know, those oddball ethnic

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Radishes Galore


I find it amazing just how fast radishes grow and just how fast they turn to woody crap! I would love to know how other people use them. I have never used them very much in my kitchen. Even though I really enjoy the flavors of horseradish, I could not figure out what to do with them besides slicing them up and serving them on top of a salad.

It was not until my friend Jennifer served up an amazing radish dip with croƻtons and veggie sticks at one of her parties that I gave radishes a second thought. The flavors were well melded with herbs and garlic, I think she used sour cream or cream cheese, anyway, the texture was creamy and rich, not watery. It was amazing! We devoured it! It really opened my mind

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lard: For Authentic Mexican Flavor


Believe it or not! This week's adventure on the farm is a Tub of Lard!

For those who are concerned with flavor when cooking authentic tasting Mexican food, lard is an essential ingredient. Lard is used to make both tortillas and tamales light and delicate. It has a very high smoke point which is very beneficial for deep frying chile rellenos, flautas, and flavorful homemade tortilla chips. Lard adds a richness and a delicious pork flavor that is essentially Mexican in flavor, especially in refried beans. And there is nothing like a mess of greens sauteed in Lard!

If you eat meat, you might want to consider lard as a cooking fat. Rendered pork fat is a traditional and naturally made oil for cooking. The fat is mostly monounsaturated and has 0 Trans fatty acids. It has less cholesterol than butter. It was a main fat/oil used by cooks before the invention of vegetable oil and hydrogenated fats such as Crisco. Traditionally, lard has been used

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hot Peppers


I am a huge fan of hot peppers. I can not imagine cooking with out them. Much to my surprise, Panamanians are not big fans of them. When I moved to Panama I could sometimes find Habaneros, but not often enough. Now I know that Panamanian food is not Mexican food, not by a long shot, but no hot peppers in the markets? I was dying for hot peppers and Tabasco Sauce was not cutting it.

Obviously out of necessity, peppers were the first crop planted in my garden. I started with JalapeƱos and Serranos. I have now expanded my varieties and plan on continuing to do so, there are so many varieties that have different flavors and uses.

Here is a quick list telling about the differences between the different kinds that I grow and how to use them. Many of the peppers are perennial and many die quickly when the rains come. I use so many that I am continuing to plant more and more out of fear of going without!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Epazote: The Secret Mexican Herb


My neighbors like to come over to see my garden and all of the different things that I grow. I can see in their eyes just how different my garden is from theirs. They really only recognize a few of the vegetables and herbs that I grow.

Our farm is 25 minutes out from downtown Boquete, my neighbors are all locals and also usually farmers; lovely and friendly people. They grow coffee, corn and beans and sometimes tomatoes. Not the herbs and vegetables that I grow, but when the ladies come over for a visit and wander through my garden, they all recognize epazote.

They know it as a medicine that cures