There have been a lot of new developments around here but, before I expand on that, I'd like to document this effort to make vanilla extract.
We eat pretty local living here in the rural jungle. Some of the local offerings are easy to incorporate into our diet and other offerings are exciting but a little intimidating. Vanilla extract seemed like a good place to start because I use a lot of vanilla when I bake and I use vanilla almost daily when I make almond milk.
One of the exciting things about making your own vanilla extract is that as the vanilla is used, one can top off the jar with more vodka and continue using the extract for a couple years!
These vanilla pods are organic and cost me $3 at the farmer's market. Place 3-4 pods in a jar and fill the jar with vodke. Wait two weeks before using your extract. After two weeks your jar should be a lusty brown color.
Just bottled. I will follow up on this in two weeks. In the meantime, I have cacao nuts on my kitchen shelf and I plan to have a go at making chocolate.
For people living in Costa Rica without residency, border runs are necessary every three months. I have met many people that have been living this way for years. In theory, one must remain out of Costa Rica for 72 hours, but this is rarely the case. In fact, it is not uncommon to walk into Nicaragua, enjoy a cup of coffee, and return to Costa Rica.
Honestly, I was dreading the border run. I have always wanted to explore Nicaragua but I imagined the circumstances were going to be different. We chose to visit Granada which turned out to be a lovely destination. What a charming city!
I felt as though everywhere I turned I saw beauty!
Robert had his first Coke ever (in Nicaragua, the Coke is made with real cane syrup unlike stateside where the Cokes are made with high fructose corn syrup crap).
This sums up how not fun it is to actually cross the border. See you in three months Nicaragua!
We recently explored the Reserva Biologica near to our house. It was splendid to say the least. What a find!
The entrance is kept by the Lagarta Lodge (above) which is a lovely place to retreat after a jungle hike for a cold beverage.
At this time, we must exit Costa Rica every three months and get our passports stamped. I cannot believe three months have flown by since we arrived. So, we are off to explore the city of Granada in Nicaragua.
On Easter, I thought I would bust out some fancy cupcakes to accompany brunch. Since everyone is a fan of Nutella, I thought vanilla cupcakes with nutella would be a hit. And, they were (no surprise).
I used Martha Stewart's vanilla cupcake recipe which makes 12 cupcakes. I then dropped a dollop of nutella onto the cupcake and with a toothpick, I swirled the nutella.
Once baked, the swirl sunk. I had to top the cupcakes with another dollop (which was fine).
The cupcakes did not last long.
On a side note, I found a use for the handful of pie dough I always have left over after I make a couple pies. Does this happen to anyone else??? It is enough dough to feel guilty about throwing out but not enough dough for another pie. So..... I made these mini pop tarts the next morning and they were delicious. I sprinkled cinamon and sugar in between the layers.
The region in which I live, Nicoya, is one of the Blue Zones
In 2009, the same organization ranked Costa Rica as the "greenest country in the world."
The government recently announced plans to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021
The president is a woman: Laura Chinchilla (BUT, it is disappointing to me that she opposes gay marriage)
In 1949, Costa Rica abolished its army.
Costa Rica offers exemplary and affordable healthcare (see HERE)
Costa Rica enjoys a literacy rate of 96% and the educational system is free
You can look forward to a detailed post about trash which is a big topic of discussion here in the jungle. With an outstanding organization like Nosara Recycles, I feel that anything is possible when a community is dedicated to the greater good. This ambitious group has set goals such as: Eliminate the use of all styrofoam in the town, a will come to you and collect cooking oils to be converted to bio fuel and public events that create no trash residue at all (to name a few projects on deck).
The subject of "Trash" should be on the table as an ongoing discussion we all have together, don't you agree?