Wednesday, May 30, 2007

13. Cooking Class (5/30/07)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Still one more activity for the day, starting at 4:30 PM. We followed the covered walkway from the Lodge to the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center. This community center is sponsored/funded by the Selva Verde Lodge. It provides the only library in the area, daycare, English classes to the community, and environmental education classes to the community and visitors.
Tonight the locals were going to teach our group to make patacones (fried plantains) and guacamole. Grant, a volunteer from Canada, acted as translator for Maria. We were working in a covered-patio kitchen.
(Photo by Linda)
First we covered our hands with oil so that the sticky raw plantains did not stick to our fingers. We started with green plantains, cutting off the ends and making a slit in the skin down one side in order to peel it off. We cut the plantain into one-inch pieces.
Softening the pieces of plantain
The pieces were fried in hot oil (can use soy or sunflower oil) until lightly golden brown (no more than three minutes), removed, and drained.
Next we took small plates and used them to flatten the plantain pieces on cutting boards, until about one-quarter inch thick.
Flattening the plantain
These "chips" were then fried in the hot oil until they floated to the top,
Frying the plantain chips
then removed, drained, and salted.
Now for the guacamole!
The ingredients
Brynne with her avocado
First we had to peel the avocados, by cutting it in half around the seed, popping out the pit/seed and scooping the avocado out of the skin, keeping it as whole as possible. The avocados were NOT mashed, rather, coarsely chopped.
Pitted avocados
The various ingredients were passed out to be chopped, sliced, and diced.
Each person had something to cut up
(Photo by Linda)
With 16 avocados we used one large tomato, one large onion, one large red pepper, several stalks of celery, and a bunch of cilantro.
The fixings
Four limes were halved and the juice squeezed over the chopped onion and stirred in.
Maria is in charge
The onion mixture was added to the avocado pieces and mixed well. Next the red pepper, celery, and cilantro were mixed in. The chopped tomato was the last ingredient added, except for the salt to taste.
Maria's son sneaks a lick of salt!
Guacamole and patacones - ready to eat!
Many thanks to Susan for taking notes and e-mailing us the recipes!
(Photo by Linda)
The group enjoyed this hearty appetizer before dinner, and for some, this was dinner! We took a peek in the Learning Center library which also displayed arts and crafts of the local people. The items were for sale, and everyone found something to purchase. In fact, several of us had space in our suitcases to bring donations from the U.S. (of office and craft supplies), that were handed over tonight.
On the way back to Selva Verde Lodge, a frog jumped on Jerry Anne. We got a photo - looks like a Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii). (Thanks, Susan!)
Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii)
Dinner was vegetable cream soup, salad, baked fish or beefsteak in tomato sauce, rice, white beans, boiled chayote, and spinach souffle.
After we had returned to our room, Jerry came to get us to look at two Red-eyed Tree Frogs (Agalychnis callidryas). Very cool! They spend the day up in the tree and are active at night. They lay their eggs on leaves that are located over water, so that when the tadpoles emerge they fall into the water.
Next: Plants of Costa Rica.

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