Friday, April 29, 2016

An Evening Visit






Last weekend we headed down to Boqueron to visit Susi and Henk again on their sailboat. Oh, to be a cruiser! They sure are having a good time in their retirement. We brought dinner and wine and had a lovely time. Pieter brought his pirate costume along (thank you, Brittney!) so he could so some pretend play on the boat. Juliana grabbed her Triceratops costume since dressing up seemed to be the thing to do (see her costume a year and a half ago - oh, she is so little at 2 1/2!) We all enjoyed a night out, something of a rarity for us. The kids love seeing the lights at night since most of the time they are already in bed when the city lights go on. We are really going to miss Susi and Henk when they sail west soon.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Snuggles with Daisy




This little doggie loves Juliana! Daisy is starting to settle down. She definitely did not have a very good life before she was dumped. She is very friendly with the kids and starting to warm up to me. She just shakes if Ben walks into the room. Maybe because he was there at the zoo when they pulled her out of the cage? Or more likely a man in her past life was pretty bad to her. Well, then maybe being dumped was the best thing that could happen to her. Because she is headed to a home full of love for little doggies!

Monday, April 25, 2016

He Loves Her


Lucia has an adoring brother.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Baby-Land





Oh, she loves her toys! It seems that Lucia is growing and changing right before my eyes. Now that I know how quick life goes from baby to naughty little child, I'm really savoring my time with Lucia. Oh, slow down a little bit, baby girl.

Baby-Land

Which is the way to Baby-land?
  Anyone can tell;
    Up one flight,
    To your right;
  Please ring the bell.

What can you see in Baby-land?
  Little folks in white —
    Downy heads,
    Cradle-beds,
  Faces pure and bright!

What do they do in Baby-land?
  Dream and wake and play,
    Laugh and crow,
    Shout and grow;
  Jolly times have they!

What do they say in Baby-land?
  Why, the oddest things;
    Might as well
    Try to tell
  What a birdie sings!

Who is the Queen of Baby-land?
  Mother kind and sweet;
    And her love,
    Born above,
  Guides the little feet.

~ George Cooper

Stevenson, Burton Egbert. 
New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1956. Print.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Daisy




Ben came home from work on Wednesday saying that he saw a cute, little dog running around the entrance of the zoo. It had been dumped and was scared and wondering how it ended up there.  On Thursday morning we tried to catch it, but it was so scared it wouldn't come near us. The guards saw us and immediately came over and said they would try to catch it if we wanted it. They said this happens often and they have to bring the dogs over to the shelter in town, which is crowded. The dogs have a time limit there. So, the guards were pretty happy we showed some interest in this little dog and wanted our phone number. We weren't sure anything would happen. Ben said, "Well, I thought we found a little dog for your sister." When Deb was here last year she saw lots of dogs that needed to be adopted. We just hadn't found the right one until now.

Well, we got a call Friday morning at 7:30. They had live trapped her. Ben and the kids hopped into the car and went to down to pick her up. The zookeepers had to get out the big leather gloves to transfer her from the cage into our carrier. She was so scared she was growling and bitting. Ben came home, dropped the cage off and headed to work. We brought her to the vet and sat around waiting, Puerto Rican style, for about two hours. The tech asked me what her name was for their records. Name? I just picked this little doggie up off the street. Daisy came to mind. Finally, Melanie, our vet, got to see the little dog. In the end, she is just a very scared, little ten month old chihuahua mix in heat. We left her at the vet for the weekend to have surgery while we figure out how to take care of her over the next couple weeks before she flies to New Hampshire to her new home.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Vanilla Bean Cardamon Mango Jam




Ben seems to be picking these mangoes faster than I can deal with them. He is so good at checking the boxes for ripe ones and then spends some time peeling and cutting them up for me. One big mixing bowl full will make about 12 cups of pureed mango. He makes quick work of the box to produce a bowl full. I throw it into the fridge and make plans for the morning while Lucia is sleeping. Then I get to choose my new concoction. Yesterday it was Vanilla Bean Cardamon Mango Jam. Oh, so good. I scraped the vanilla bean seeds into the jam and then chopped up the pod into inch size pieces. Each jar got a piece. That will give it a stronger vanilla flavor over time as it sits in the pantry.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rum Spiced Mangoes




Before moving to Puerto Rico I preserved a lot of fruit. I loved canning peaches and especially liked making Brandy Spiced Peaches. It is a little jar of delight to pour over your waffles in the dead of winter. I've transferred a lot of these peach recipes over to the mango. With our mango tree bursting with fruit this year, I have been busy. Today I made both Brandy Spiced Mangoes and, of course, being in Puerto Rico, Rum Spiced Mangoes. 

Rum Spiced Mangoes
Mangoes, chopped roughly
Cinnamon sticks, broken up a bit
Whole Cloves
Whole Allspice
Rum
Citric Acid

I followed the cold pack method of canning fruit. 
  • Put chopped mango into your clean, hot jars, add a piece of cinnamon stick, a clove and two allspice balls. 
  • Pour in 1/2-1 shot of rum (or brandy) into the jar. 
  • I wasn't sure the mango was acidic enough, so I added 1/8-1/4 teaspoon citric acid per jar. 
  • Add water to the top, leaving head space. I have used simple syrups in the past, but now just use plain water. The water seems to sweeten up from the fruit as it sits. 
  • Boil in hot water bath for 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Catching the Moon




Lucia caught her toys for the first time last night!

To Catch a Moon Beam
I wait for Him,
I think He is shy,
He hangs out at twilight,
Dancing across the night sky.

Can you reach up and catch a moon beam in hopes it will stay?

Looking up,
Into Heavenly eyes
Super Nova's form,
As He smiles.

In northern lights,
The beauty within His soul is displayed.
My heart in orbit,
Skipping like a sonic boom!

His love is pure,
His face is bright,
He is the moon,
That lights my night.

Reaching up,
Plucking diamonds down,
I want to touch His vast galaxy,
Hold it within the palm of my hand.

Placing them in my pocket,
So, I may carry His love around.

Every night I watch from below,
Him dancing and placing each star in a row.

Casting moon beams,
Reflecting them out again
O' light of my soul.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Calabaza and White Bean Soup








We've been getting some wonderful ginger, turmeric and calabaza squash from Sana. A local friend also gets a box from Sana every week and posted a recipe for Calabaza White Bean Soup. Sounded lovely, so I gave it a try. I changed it up just a bit. I doubled the recipe because my squash was so huge. It made four 2-quart jars! Soup for dinner, soup for the freezer, soup for friends.

Calabaza and White Bean Soup
1 bag white beans (large or small)
1 calabaza, chopped (Puerto Rican squash)
1 lb carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
fresh grated ginger
fresh grated turmeric
cumin (seeds or ground)
chicken broth (optional)
  • Soak the beans over night. In the morning, drain and add fresh, filtered water. Cook until soft.
  • While the beans are cooking, chop up the calabaza and carrots. Toss on sheet with olive oil. Roast in oven at 400 degrees until soft (20-30 minutes).
  • Chop/grate ginger and turmeric. In large pot, sauté in olive oil. Add cumin seeds and chopped onion. Sauté until soft.
  • Add beans to the ginger pot (if too much liquid, drain and reserve to thin soup later). Add roasted vegetables. Add chicken broth, whatever amount you have on hand.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. I found with such a large batch, I needed to blend with this and then puree it again in the blender. That gave it a finer puree.
  • Serve with a drizzle of cream.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Vanilla Bean Mango Jam




The box of mangos continues to ripen. A batch of Vanilla Bean Mango Jam took care of quite a few. Oh, this is good stuff...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mango Tart


Mango Tart
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar (rapadura)
1 stick butter
1 package cream cheese
Agave syrup
2-3 Mangos
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a food processor, grind up oats to a flour consistency. Add in walnuts, salt and sugar. Blend until nuts are fine, but not butter consistency.
  • Cut up butter into 8 pieces, add to food processor. Blend until it comes together into a ball.
  • Press into pie plate or tart pan.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Cool crust
  • Whip cream cheese, add agave syrup to taste. Smooth into cool crust.
  • Cut mangos into thin slices. Layer on top.
  • Serve right away or refrigerate it.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Mango Ginger Jam





Pieter helped me make Mango Ginger Jam today. Mangos from across the street, ginger grown by Sana in Cabo Rojo. Oh, I love preserving food, especially when it is local. And even better when the fruit is free! These kids love their PB&Js so we go through a lot of jam in this house. Here's for making a stockpile for the coming year!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Picking Mangos with Papa








Oh, mango season is upon us! It is months early this year. I'm so glad since we missed it last year. Across the street there is a glorious piña mango tree. Most of the mangos that are planted across the city bare a small, golden mango with lots of fiber. There are so many mango trees that Mayagüez earned the name Ciudad del Mangó. The fruit of the piña mango tree has no comparison. Huge with very smooth texture, this mango is worth all the hard work of picking. We are picking them mostly green and letting them ripen indoors. And now to start using them in jam, smoothies, crisps, tarts...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sailing the Caribbean

















We have met the nicest folks that are sailing the Caribbean and have taken up residence in the bay at Boqueron since December. Susi and Henk will soon be sailing west, but in the meantime we got to visit their home on the water this morning. The kids LOVED it! We loved it! Juliana said the dingy ride out to the sailboat was the best part. I just love that water. What a beautiful, brilliant color.
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