New Favorite · Nicaragua

Iced Vanilla Latte, please

Remember when we used to have a plain cup of coffee brewed in our Mr. Coffee machine or percolator?  Coffee was typically Folgers, always hot, and if it cooled, you nuked it in the microwave. God forbid, I would EVER drink iced coffee, or so I thought.

I clearly remember when my perception of coffee changed…twice.  In the 1980-1990s I traveled on business to Seattle quite frequently and small, gourmet coffee shops and trucks were everywhere.  Seattle was the hot-bed of gourmet coffee yet to hit my home in the Mile-High City.  (Thinking back…why didn’t I invest in Starbucks?)

Ordering a coffee was far beyond the typical ‘I’ll have a cup of coffee, black to go’. Now there were terms like tall, grande, venti, Americano, espresso, skinny, Macciato, half-caf, blends, etc., etc., etc..  It was an anxious moment when I tried to figure out what to order without embarrassing myself. I can still imagine the people in line behind me rolling their eyes at this out-of-state novice.  Despite my initial fumbling, I started experimenting with difference blends, flavors, iced coffees and loved it!

My second perception occurred when I traveled to Finca Esperanza Verde, a coffee plantation in Nicaragua, in 2012.  My ‘cup of Joe’ would never be the same as documented in my 6/12/12 Fork-Lore post. My daily iced latte is simple:  One packet of Starbuck’s Via, a packet of Stevia with 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Stir.  Add cold water to the cup, stir.  Pour contents over a large glass full of ice.  Top with about 1/4 cup of Almond Milk and stir again.  Add a splash of vanilla or cinnamon to taste. My easy version of an Iced Latte!

Starback Via Vanilla Latte

When my daughter and fellow blogger, Megan, asked me to join her to make Iced Vanilla Latte I jumped at the chance to 1) spend time with my daughter and 2) make (and drink!) my favorite summer morning picker-upper.  Our recipe follows and I’ve enjoyed our creation for the past two days. Megan’s blog, Lifeloveandgarlic, also features the Iced Vanilla Latte AND includes a Seattle’s Best give-away.  Check it out!

EASY PEASY ICED VANILLA LATTE

2 tbsp. vanilla simple syrup (see recipe below)
1/3 cup whole milk coffee ice cubes (see directions below)
Seattle’s Best Level 4, Medium-Roast Coffee brewed (we used 3.5 scoops for a pot)

  • Fill your cup (or fancy tumbler) with coffee ice cubes.
  • Pour simple syrup and whole milk into the bottom of the cup
  • Fill the rest of the cup with your coffee of choice. Stir!
  • Voila! Enjoy a delicious, easy and perfect drink for summer mornings. *This is the simple syrup, which actually looks like coffee. The brown sugar + vanilla give it the darker hue. 

Vanilla Simple Syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
Pinch of cinnamon
4 tbsp. vanilla extract

  • Put both sugars, water and pinch of cinnamon in a pot over medium heat. Bring to boil.
  • Pull the pot off the stove and pour the vanilla into the syrup. Allow to cool. You’re done!
  • Note: Don’t be alarmed that your syrup is quite dark in hue (almost coffee colored). The brown sugar/vanilla have that effect – it’s perfectly normal.

Coffee Ice Cubes

  • Take your left over coffee and pour it in your ice cube tray and freeze! They’re perfect for cooling down your coffee without watering it down!

 

Family Favorites · Gluten Free · Losers! · My Roots · New Favorite · New Traditions · Nicaragua · Skinny · Uncategorized · Vegan · Vegetarian

Happy 1st Birthday Fork-Lore.com!

HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY FORK-LORE.COM!

Fork-Lore 1st Birthday

One year ago I launched Fork-Lore.com as a way to share family traditions and new recipes.  Little did I know one year ago how much I would enjoy posting and sharing recipes, family stories and photos.

This past year, I learned and solidified my beliefs that:

  • It’s hard to remember to photograph food and cooking steps, especially when you’re really into the cooking process (also known as being easily distracted)
  • I need a new, fancy schmancy camera so my photographs are more appealing (and I get a new, much-wanted toy)
  • Older people CAN blog…come on baby-boomers, get out there!

On a more serious note:

  • I truly appreciate the modern conveniences in my kitchen and greatly admire the women that went before me, cooking amazing meals with very few tools.
  • Cooking and sharing a meal with those you love, isn’t just about loving to eat.  It’s about the joy of sharing the moment and the meal with those close to you.
  • Traditions are important.  Build upon the traditions in your family and create new ones.

Thank you to all that have followed me this past year and I hope that you will continue to follow and share on my blog.  I’d love to hear more about your traditions and memories.

Let us eat cake!

New Favorite · Nicaragua

Tres Leches Cake…delicioso!

Tres Leches (Three Milk) Cake was not on my radar screen until 8-10 years ago.  A friend served it for the Holidays and I was instantly in love!  When my sister and I traveled to Puerto Rico a few years ago, we couldn’t get enough of it!

On my way home from Nicaragua several weeks ago, I wasn’t ready to let go of the cuisine and was happy to discover Tres Leches at the Miami airport.  It was good, but not of the quality I truly wanted to experience.

Once home in Colorado, I had to make it from scratch.  It tasted wonderful, but not the most beautiful presentation I’ve ever seen.  Oh well, I’m more about the taste, especially when fresh strawberries graced the top of each serving.

TRES LECHES CAKE

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking pan.
  • In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
  • Use an electric mixer to beat egg whites, in a large bowl, until forming soft peaks.
  • Add sugar a bit at a time and beat until well mixed.
  • Add egg yolks one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each egg yolk is added.
  • Continue beating and add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk.
  • Mix very well then add the remaining flour, milk and vanilla extract.  Assure all are mixed well together.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.  Use a toothpick, fork, or skewer to poke several holes in the cake.

THREE MILK SYRUP:

Three Milk Syrup

12 ounce can evaporated milk
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

  • Mix the evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream together until well blended.  Pour over top of prepared cake.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.
Pouring Three Milk Syrup over Cake

I served the cake without the following frosting but with strawberries.  Just in case you are more of a frosting person, here it is:

FROSTING:

1 cup cold whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  • Before serving the cake, whip together the cream, sugar and vanilla in a chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Spread frosting over cake.  Cut into squares and service.  Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
Nicaragua

The dogs of Nicaragua

Being a dog in Nicaragua can be a good and a bad thing.  Most of them run free, wandering the streets of the small towns or countryside without a care in the world. But many of them also are in need of vet care, food, and boundaries.

Coming from a long line of dog lovers, I HAD to take pictures of the many dogs that crossed my path.  I thought about a calendar highlighting a dog each month, but will settle to share these little darlin’s with you on my blog.

Just say AAAWWW and then scroll to the bottom for more information on how to help our canine friends!

Nicaraguan Farm Watch Dog…Watching what…I don’t know

Yes, Maam there are fleas in Nicaragua!

Beggar Dog outside Granada…quite the performer!

An afternoon out with the boy at the local gaming pavillion

While these dogs appear to have a wonderful, carefree life, many of these have health issues, suffer from malnutrition, and over-population. I chose to take photos of the healthier dogs, but we saw many dogs that were suffering.  For more information on how to help, visit the WorldVets website.

 

 

 

Nicaragua

Nicaragua: Jamaican Apples (aka Jamaican Otaheiti Apple) and Hiking from San Ramon

Jamaican Apples (aka Otaheiti Apple) remind me of a red pear with the core of an avocado and the texture of an apple.  Our hostess, Neyda, had a tree of them in her backyard and her helper, David, obliged our request to try one.  He scampered up the tree to fetch a few for us to try.  In Nicaragua, the fruits are eaten ripe, with or without the skin. It is sometimes eaten unripe with salt and vinegar or lime juice.

David Climbing for Jamaican Apple
Jamaican Apples
Jamaican Apple halved

Today we would also enjoy a day hike from San Ramon out into the country.  It was a beautiful day for a hike. Everyone walks, uphill, downhill, all around.  If you need to go far, you hop on a bus or hitch a ride.  If you need to market or buy something, you carry it.

Man Carrying a bunch of bananas

As we walked, we saw what appeared to be ordinary fences from local wood.  The fascinating thing is the wood/branches are cut and simply put in the grow and they grow into trees/hedges for the property.  (never would happen in Colorado!)

Grow a fence post!

After our hike, local craft fair, and two more wonderful meals with Neyda, we were off to a farewell concert and dancing in the park.  It was a wonderful week with many unforgettable, enriching moments.  Now it was time to return to reality but with memories that I will cherish.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua: Nacatamals!

Nacatamals are a Nicaraguan specialty, similar to a tamal.  This evening we would have the opportunity to make Nacatamals as well as have a feast with our travel companions and hosts.

Nacatamals are prepared in homes in rural communities and often sold to neighbors on Saturdays. Our master chefs  this evening are sisters that prepare Nacatamals for sale in the community.  Nacatamals are traditional for special occasions and served to demonstrate hospitality to friends and visitors. Nacatamals are a full meal and are traditionally served with Nicaraguan coffee. These are quite different from the tamales I have enjoyed for many years.

We each made our own Nacatamal but due to the long cooking time, our creations were to be enjoyed (or tolerated) by the locals the next day. We were served perfect Nacatamals made by our hostesses that morning. They were flavorful and, oh, so filling.

My sister-in-law and her husband, and other travel companions have made them at home with great success.  One day, I too, will try, but today I will just enjoy the memory.

Banana Leaves for the Nacatamals
Add base of masa and seasoned chicken leg
Add uncooked rice and sliced potatoes
Add Condiments
Condiments: Mint, Capers/Olives, Peppers, Tomatoes, Raisins
Rolling and Sealing the Nacatamal
Tying the Nacatamal
Steamed Nacatamal
Steamed Nacatamal

NACATAMALS

Masa (Dough)

  • Masa harina — 6 cups
  • Lard or shortening — 1 cup
  • Salt — 1 tablespoon
  • Sour orange juice (see variations) — 1/2 cup
  • Chicken stock or broth — 4-5 cups

Filling

  • Pork butt, cubed — 3 pounds
  • Salt and pepper — to season
  • Rice, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes — 3/4 cup
  • Potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds — 1/2 pound
  • Onion, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds — 1
  • Bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds — 2
  • Tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds — 2
  • Mint — 1 bunch

Assembly

  • Banana leaves, hard spine removed and cut into 10×10-inch rectangles — 12 pieces OR
  • Aluminum foil, cut into 10×10-inch rectangles — 12 pieces
  • METHOD
  • Place the masa harina, lard or shortening and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend on a low speed to incorporate the fat into the masa harina and give it a mealy texture. You may have to do this and the next step in two batches if your mixer bowl is not large enough to hold all the ingredients without overflowing.
  • With the mixer still on low speed, add the sour orange juice and enough chicken stock to make a soft, moist dough. It should be a little firmer than mashed potatoes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes to incorporate some air into the masa and make it fluffier. Cover the bowl and set the masa aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • Season the pork with salt and pepper. Drain the rice. Assemble all of your filling ingredients and assembly items on a large table or work surface. Gather family and friends to help in an assembly line.
  • Lay out a banana leaf square with the smooth side up. Place 1 cup of the masa in the middle of the banana leaf and, using wetted hands, spread it out a little. Put about 1/2 cup of pork on top of the masa and sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons of rice over the pork. Lay 1 or 2 slices of potato on top of the pork and then top with 1 or 2 pieces of onion, 1 or 2 pieces of pepper and a slice of tomato. Top it all off with a few mint leaves.
  • Fold the top edge of the banana leaf down over the filling. Bring the bottom edge of the banana leaf up over this. Then fold in both sides to make a rectangular package. Be careful not to wrap it too tightly or the filling will squeeze out. Flip the package over so it is seam side down.
  • Set the tamal in the middle of an aluminum foil square and wrap it up tightly the same way you wrapped up the banana leaf. Set aside and repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 10 to 12 nacatamales in total.
  • Add 2 or 3 inches of water to a tamalera or pot large enough to hold all the nacatamales. (You may have to use two pots if you don’t have one big enough to hold the nacatamales in one batch.) Place a rack in the bottom or toss in enough wadded up aluminum foil to hold the nacatamales mostly out of the water. Add thenacatamales and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover tightly, reduce heat to low and steam for 3 to 4 hours. Add more water as needed to keep the pot from boiling dry.
  • Remove the nacatamales from the pot, take off their aluminum foil covering and serve hot. Each diner opens the banana leaf on his or her own nacatamal before eating.
  • Masa Variations: This recipe uses masa made from masa harina flour. If you can find fresh masa, definitely use that instead. The flavor and texture will be better. A variety of ingredients can be added to the masa do give it more flavor. Substitute milk for some or all of the chicken stock. Add some chopped, cooked bacon, along with its fat. Add a cup or two of mashed potatoes to the dough. Mix in some chopped and sautéed onions, garlic or chile peppers.
  • Meat Variations: Use chicken instead of pork. For more flavor, season the meat with some sour orange juice, ground achiote or paprika, cumin and minced garlic.
  • Filling Variations: Many recipes call for adding a few green olives and raisins or prunes to the filling. Other ingredients sometimes added are capers, sliced hot chiles and even pickles.
  • Vegetarian Nacatamales: eliminate meat, use butter, shortening or vegetable oil instead of lard and water or milk instead of chicken stock. You won’t find many Nicaraguans who will even touch this version.
  • Wrapping: Banana leaves can be found in the frozen section of many Latino and Asian markets. If they aren’t available in your area, you can use a double layer of aluminum foil alone. You won’t get the extra flavor the banana leaves add though. In Central America, nacatamales are usually wrapped in banana leaves alone and tied like a package with twine or the spines from the banana leaves.
  • Sour Orange Substitute: If you can’t find sour orange (naranja agria) juice, substitute the juice of 1 orange and 2 limes.

Recipe from http://www.whats4eats.com/breads/nacatamales-recipe

Nicaragua

Nicaragua: Second Day in San Ramon

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man/woman healthy, wealthy (maybe) and wise. We were advised to bring ear plugs for our stay in San Ramon because truly the cocks crow at dawn…and sometimes in the middle of the night.  I rather enjoyed it, reminding me of the many years on the Iowa farm. Neyda, again prepared a wonderful breakfast for us including fried plantains, pinto gallo, fresh avocado, watermelon, with fresh pineapple juice.  It was sooo good.

Breakfast Day Two San Ramon

Next we were off to Los Pipitos: Center for Children With Disabilities.  My generous travel group delivered supplies for the center.  Los Pipitos works to change local perceptions of children with disabilities and provide children with services.  For more information on Los Pipitos as well as other health care initiatives from Sister Cities of San Ramon (SCSRN), visit http://san-ramon.org/what_we_do/health-care.

Los Pipitos

Next we were off to visit a local entrepreneurship supported by SCSRN, paper-making by local women.  The women utilize discarded paper making beautiful paper and crafts for sale.

Paper Making in San Ramon
Finished Paper Made in San Ramon

After our tour the women sold blank paper in addition to beautiful handmade books, bookmarks, and cards.

Handmade Paper Crafts from San Ramon

Guess what!  It’s time to eat again.  Neyda served fresh tortillas, beets, rice, yucca, peppers and onions.  It’s so interesting to experience the local foods and traditions.

Lunch Day Two

Next we were off to experience another entrepreneurship of jewelry making. The locals make gorgeous jewelry from the local seeds that are beautiful in their own right. We had the opportunity to design and make our own jewelry.  My masterpiece is shown below. Tomorrow we will attend a local craft fair and be able to purchase pieces from local artisans.

Jewelry Making from Local Seeds

Siesta!  The hammock was calling me (although entry was not so graceful) and read Sarah’s Key, on the docket for my next book club discussion.  While the storyline of the book is anything but relaxing, I thought it would be fun to take a picture reading the book in paradise to send to my book club buddies.

Hammock Reading in San Ramon

After my siesta, we were ready to experience Nacatamals, a Nicaraguan dish similar to a tamale.  Can’t wait for another experience to make (and eat) a local delight!

Related Links:

https://fork-lore.com/2012/03/23/plantains-not-an-ordinary-banana/

http://san-ramon.org/what_we_do/health-care

Nicaragua

Nicaragua: Hello San Ramon!

We arrived in San Ramon around lunch. The FEV guides, walked us to our host family homes where we would stay for the next three days. The walk through the village of San Ramon was enlightening with people working, people walking, children playing, and the sound of music and nature everywhere.

Roommate, Sally, and I were the last stop, staying with our wonderful hostess Neyda and her daughter Gabriella.  After a warm welcome and a quick opportunity to drop our bags in our own Cabana, we sat down for lunch.  Neyda prepared a wonderful meal of chicken, cabbage salad, fresh tortillas, tomatoes, radishes and star fruit from her garden!

Lunch with Neyda

Neyda’s backyard was a haven for wonderful fruit, today showing the star fruit, passion fruit, and mango.  I wish I could grow these in Colorado!

Star Fruit in Neyda’s back yard
Passion Fruit
Fresh Mango

After lunch, it was time for our walking tour of San Ramon, visiting the church, parks, etc.  After another wonderful dinner, we were off to the community library for a welcome ceremony with local dancers.

San Ramon Welcome Ceremony

Another wonderful day and experience.  Tomorrow we will observe paper making, jewelry making, and local cuisine.

Nicaragua

Good-Bye FEV…on our way to San Ramon, Nicaragua

Saying good-bye to our new friends at Finca Esperanza Verde (FEV) was sad.  The staff made our stay so memorable and wonderful.  After a delightful breakfast of fresh banana bread and jam with a slice of French toast, the staff gathered to say good-bye to our group.

Last Breakfast at FEV

FEV Staff says good-bye

Next we gathered our things and were off to visit a rural, primary school on our way to San Ramon.  The truck was parked and we hiked up a steep dirt path to the top of the hill to the school.  It was muddy, full of ruts and the path the children take each and every day to their school.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the community leader, the teacher, as well as several students and their families.  Again, it was their summer break, but they took time out of their day to greet us.

Visiting Rural Primary School in Nicaragua

The children were so sweet and well-behaved.  The classroom, while barren in comparison to U.S. classrooms, had many of the same characteristics of classrooms around the world.

Classroom in Nicaraguan Rural Primary School

I noticed immediately that they weren’t enough desks for all of the children and many of the desks were broken, with the seat intact but the writing desk was long gone.  I asked about help for this school, specifically, and my donation was guided to the Sister Communities of San Ramon, website www.san-ramon.org which has helped build 6 rural primary schools in San Ramon, as well as supporting healthcare, water projects, environment preservation, etc.

After a delightful morning, we were ready for the hike down, grabbing a fresh orange for nourishment.  Back in the trucks, we’re off for San Ramon to meet our guest host families and become acquainted in the community.

Family Favorites · My Roots · Nicaragua

Guest Post: Nicaraguan Cocoa Beans + Gamma’s Fudge Recipe = New Nicaraguan Tradition?

My sister-in-law, Betty, gets all the credit for making my trip to Nicaragua a reality. Betty has kindly shared the following information about her Mother’s (Gamma’s) Fudge Recipe and her introduction of the recipe to Nicaraguan families in San Ramon, using local, ground cocoa beans.
Cocoa Beans in Nicaragua

————————————–

My Mother had a way with Hershey’s cocoa powder.  It was a cupboard staple, allowing a host of unique concoctions to be served in our family kitchen.  There was chocolate gravy, made in a skillet from a roux of flour, sugar, and cocoa powder laced with milk and butter.  It had a certain satin sheen when ready to be served for our before-school breakfast. Yikes!  There was also an ugly chocolate pie, made with cocoa powder, sugar and butter pats folded simply into pastry and baked.  Yum!  Nothing, however, competed with her five-ingredient fudge, ready in 20 minutes if one of the family developed an after-dinner sweet tooth.  We didn’t often have layered cakes or fruit pies, but we had fudge to die for.
Gamma’s Fudge in Nicaragua
Family legend says that during the Depression and the rationing of sugar, that the prized candy was coveted – so much so that a sad tale is told that while “beating the mixture” the sauce pan capsized into the dirty kitchen sink while Mother attended to a baby’s wailing – only to have the cry equaled by the disappointed older brother, Karl, who awaited the prized fudge.
Most of the family still loves Gamma’s Fudge, especially thinking of it and Buttermilk Fudge at Christmas-time when she carefully rationed it among families. I’ve made it for kids and grandkids.  I even made it with Nicaraguan women when we recently visited, with Cathy,  in the small town of San Ramon.  Processed chocolate candy is not affordable to the locals, so I taught three different households how to make fudge using their own ground cocoa beans, their local sugar and dairy and butter or margarine.  Thankfully, vanilla extract was for sale, a spoonful at a time, at one of the many tiny shops lining the four streets of San Ramon.  The fudge was a big hit – and I am hoping some were able to make it into a cottage industry – or maybe just into a new family tradition.
Teaching Fudge Making in one Nicarguan home
Teaching Fudge Making in a second Nicaraguan Home

GAMMA’S FUDGE (Spanish)

In a saucepan, combine:
2 C. sugar
1 C. milk
4 T. cocoa

Heat over medium-high heat, stirring to blend until the mixture reaches a boil. Then adjust heat to maintain a low boil. Check mixture frequently until it begins to thicken, but do not stir too vigorously as the mixture will turn grainy. After about 15 minutes, check to see if the mixture forms a ball when a teaspoonful is dropped into a glass or cool water. When you are sure the chocolate ball is forming and there is loss of brightness to the mixture, turn off heat, then add:
4 T. butter or margarine
1 T vanilla or vanilla extract
Hand beat the mixture within the tilted saucepan until it thickens and forms folds when dropped from spoon back into the mixture. When very hard to beat, pour the mixture on a plate that has been greased with a little margarine. Let stand for 30 minutes before cutting into 1-inch squares.

If for some reason the fudge does not harden, use the crumbles as chips in cookies or as sprinkles on top of ice cream. This recipe can also be used to make a fudge sauce when reheated with a little milk or cooking stopped before the mixture is at hard-stage.

Delicious!

DULCE DE AZUCAR DE GAMMA

Simple ingrediente de 5 Fudge

En una cacerola, combine
2 C. azúcar
1 taza de leche
4 T. cacao

  • Calienta a fuego medio-alto, revolviendo ocasionalmente para mezclar, hasta que la mezcla llegue a hervir. A continuación, ajuste de calor para mantener a fuego bajo, para comprobar si la mezcla de chocolate, cuando cayó en el agua, forma un grupo de bolas. Asegúrese de no mezclar con demasiada frecuencia, sin embargo, como se puede convertir en dulces granulada.
  • Cuando uno está seguro de que el chocolate es la combinación de una pelota, así como la pérdida de su brillo, apagar el fuego, añadir
    • 4 T. mantequilla o margarina
    • 1 T de vainilla o esencia de vainilla
  • Mano batir la mezcla hasta que espese y forma pliegues cuando se deja caer por cucharada de nuevo en su mezcla. Cuando muy difícil de batir, vierta la mezcla en una placa que ha sido untada con un poco de margarina.
  • Deje reposar durante 30 minutos, luego se corta en cuadrados de 1 pulgada.
  • Si por alguna razón no se endurecen, se derrumba como el uso de las cookies o en helados. También se podría utilizar como una salsa de recalentamiento con un poco de leche.

Sin embargo, esta consta de 5 ingredientes simples y la clave es cómo late el tiempo suficiente que sólo “establece” una vez que se vierte en el plato.

¡Delicioso!