Monday, March 23, 2015
I don't often set out to make specific recipes, usually preferring to gather inspiration from a variety of recipes and make use of what I have. However, I was intrigued enough by this soup I came across on the Wednesday Chef to go out and buy the special ingredients needed. It's a simple potato soup that becomes a flavorful vegetarian tortilla soup by adding chipotle chiles in adobo, avocado, lime juice and crushed tortilla chips. It definitely lived up to the hype.
I'd never used chipotle chiles in adobo sauce before. Chipotle chiles are actually smoked jalapeños, and they are often marinated in adobo sauce, a blend of vinegar, garlic, tomato, paprika and other spices. They come in a little can, and since the recipe only calls for one or two chiles (we used one and a half), what to do with the rest? I chopped them up and divided them in an ice cube tray to freeze. Now I have several frozen cubes of chiles stored away that can easily be thrown into soups, stew, beans, etc. I'm already thinking of pulled beef with the smoky heat of adobo and chipotle served alongside parsnip mash or cornbread. Not to mention more of this soup. We are visiting Evan's parents right now in Florida, taking a break from the winter that never seems to end, so we will probably still be all about soups when we return.
A few changes I did make to the original recipe: I subbed in rutabaga for a third of the potatoes, since I ran out of potatoes and had extra rutabaga in my fridge. To keep it vegetarian, I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. I also added a cup of cooked lentils at the end, at the same time as the corn, to add protein to this otherwise carb-heavy dish. We found this soup to be so rich and tasty on its own, that we left off the shredded cheese, but you might decide otherwise. You can find the original recipe for Amelia Morris' corn, chile and potato soup over on The Wednesday Chef.
Monday, March 16, 2015
It's been over a month since we returned from our trip to Costa Rica. People liked to ask if it was a delayed honeymoon, since that is becoming more common these days. However, I maintain that even though the trip we took right after our wedding was short and fairly local (to the Berkshires), it definitely felt like a honeymoon, as we were still basking in the newness of being married. Instead, I call this our First Married Trip, and it was amazing. Evan and I have both been to Costa Rica before, and we had always wanted to go together.
I faced my fears and flew in a 12-person plane.
Saladero Ecolodge is down there in one of those coves on the Golfo Dulce
The view from our cabin
The banana garden at Saladero
Pathways lined by pineapple plants
For happy hour, head to the main house for to enjoy chips and salsa and cold beers while indulging in the one hour of internet availability. Watch the daily evening storm clouds roll in and multicolored sunsets descend over the gulf. Eat a communal dinner and delicious coconut desserts with the other guests to the glow of solar lanterns. Retreat to our cabin to play cards or do crossword puzzles and read before bed. Wake up and repeat for several luxurious days.
The whole experience felt like a good balance of indulging and relaxing, but in a healthy way. Because we were able to get out in the forest and water most days, we saw a lot of birds, fish and other wildlife (see our 40+ species identification list below). I haven't typically been as into birding as Evan, but even I got into the act, since I was the one who spotted the howler monkeys and an owl.
Evan seeing what he could see in Piedras Blancas National Park
Enjoying the hammock grove
Snorkeling at the nearby coral beach
Evan caught a fish on his very first cast, and then of course none after that.
Sunsets over the Golfo Dulce
Early morning river tour
Kayaking through one of the world's oldest mangrove forests
White faced capuchin monkey
Mottled owl at Finca Rosa Blanca
I then took Evan to Finca Rosa Blanca, a Rainforest Alliance certified coffee farm and luxury hotel. I had taken their coffee tour on my work trip to Costa Rica three years ago and knew Evan would love it. The tour is very informative not just about how they grow their coffee sustainably, but also about the general process of coffee from cherry to cup. It was an unexpected splurge to stay overnight, but we took full advantage by staying more than 24 hours to enjoy the pool, grounds, and open-air lounge area, before returning for one more night at a budget hotel in Alajuela.
The main lodge at Finca Rosa Blanca
Our private patio at Finca Rosa Blanca, overlooking the San Jose valley
Organic coffee farm at Finca Rosa Blanca
Our last morning in Costa Rica felt like bittersweet deja vu. There we were having breakfast in the courtyard of the same hotel as our first morning there, again preparing to head off to the airport, but this time to end our journey instead of to begin it.
Hotel Los Volcanes, our first and our last morning in Costa Rica
(Mostly spotted at Saladero Eco Lodge)
Birds and Mammals
Yellow-headed caracara / laughing falcon?
Magnificent Frigate bird
White hawk (hunting from limb)
Blue morpho butterfly
Hummingbird (one of the hermits)
Little blue heron
Boat-billed flycatcher or great kiskadee
White-eared ground sparrow
Panamic sgt. Major
Cortez rainbow wrasse (male and female)
Cortez angel fish
Green moray eel
3-banded butterfly fish