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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Zygopetalum Orchid

Last year, I bought a number of orchids from someone who was leaving Costa Rica. None had tags so I had to wait until they flowered before being able to identify them, although I was able to guess from the leaves what they most probably were.

Here is my zygopetalum orchid which has just finished flowering. It is mounted on a slab and normally hangs on our orange tree where it thrives under dappled light. I brought it up to the patio so we could enjoy watching the flowers unfold. They only lasted a few days but the scent was lovely - a spicy odor - and they attracted big bees.

I had a zygo in my orchid collection in Vancouver. The flowers were similar. If I have misidentified this orchid, please let me know.

A few days before flowers opened.
Opened flower.


Big bee (on left) headed to the flower.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lime Cake

Recently, I purchased a lime cake mix. I just assumed the instructions would be in Spanish, which I could have read, but it turned out to be a cake mix from Portugal.

No problem - I went to my trusty iTranslate app and learned what milk and eggs are in Portuguese. I was a bit stymied by one instruction which told me "to shave". Shave what, I do not know. Anyway, I plowed ahead and substituted lime juice for one of the three eggs called for in the instructions because I like strong lime and lemon flavors. Found a round cake pan in the kitchen supplies included in our rental house (thanks, Kathleen!).

My friend and neighbor, Rose Mary, brought me back an oven thermometer and a box of parchment paper on her last trip to Texas. I finally know what the temperature is in our little oven when it is set to "bake" and "high" and both settings are pretty accurate for baking and so on. The parchment paper is so handy to have. I priced a box of it here and it was around $20!

Into the oven went our cake, baking for about 40 minutes. It came out a bit lopsided - I think I had the pan set too far to one side. Oh well, at least it did rise. I made a lime icing, using lots of lime juice. After piercing holes in the cake, I iced it. I pierced the holes so the lime icing could sink into the cake and add even more lime taste.

Limes here in Costa Rica are plentiful all year around and are inexpensive so there is no reason not to have them as a constant in my kitchen.

Here are some photos of my cooking endeavors today:


The cake mix.
Finished product - Top Chef quality. Hey, I even put lime peel on top.
Listing a bit to port.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chinatown, San José, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, June 10, 2014, the informal Atenas Men's Club organized a bus trip to San José to have lunch at Restaurant Dragon Oriental and then shopping at the Asian stores. This time, ladies were included. I was on the bus, so I passed the "ladies" qualification.

Our group gathered at the central park in Atenas at 10:00 am and away we went. Our bus was an air conditioned tourist type vehicle with a personable driver (they are always really nice). I brought a small cooler with me in case I purchased frozen dim sum, which I was hoping to do.

We ran into some road paving delays, but nothing serious, and lots of time had been allowed to include any such eventualities.

Restaurant Dragon Oriental is located on Avenida 2 between Calles 7 and 9 (200 meters east of CAJA) on the second story of the building, and there is an Asian mercado below. The hours are 11:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Our group filled up three very large round tables. Those of you familiar with Asian dim sum restaurants know what that looks like. The table tops here spun around a la Lazy Susan style. I asked to see the dim sum menu but was stymied by the Chinese symbols and the Spanish words so we ended up ordering from the regular menu which had English translations. Also, the prices had been blacked out on the dim sum menu so we didn't know what anything cost.

We decided on Szechwan prawns and Peking duck. Both were very good although the Peking duck was different then what we are familiar with. It did not come with pancakes in which to wrap the duck pieces and green onions which are used to brush the hoisin sauce on the duck. Instead, it was served with steamed rice and an excellent sauce. Portions are very large and we had lots left over for take away.

In addition, we each ordered a Tsing Tao Chinese beer. Big bottle but low alcohol content - nice and cold though. Service was friendly.

Lunch over, everyone headed off to do some shopping. I splurged on different frozen dim sum items, some condiments, a bamboo steamer, sticky rice wrapped in leaves, kitchen towels and so on.

While waiting on the street with another lady from our group for our bus home to arrive, we were approached by a group of businessmen - Asian and Tico - I suppose in their mid-50's. They chatted us up, asked where we were from - and one Tico said to me, in English, "Are you married?". I had spied Lance approaching us and pointed at him and said, "Si, mi esposo!". My bold Costa Rican friend said "Never mind!" and we were all laughing.

Nothing like a little ego boost to end an excellent day.

Many thanks to Tony for organizing this event. Unfortunately, he was unable to join us so further thanks go to his lovely wife, Rose Mary, for taking up the reins and to my husband, Lance, for helping out also.

Monday, June 9, 2014

My Art Studio

Here is a photo of my year 'round, outdoor art studio - another advantage of living here. My subject this time is two oxen that were in last year's annual Atenas, Costa Rica, oxcart parade. The support is canvas on stretchers and I am using acrylic paints.

This is my own reference photo: