Flips (46) Picks (42) Clicks (28) Chicks (19) Digs (19) Trips (18)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Costa Rica - Pura Vida!

Costa Rica!
Here we come!
A team of Methodist mission minded people, 30 in all, going on down to Costa Rica.
Our team wore bright green shirts on the flight down.
I think they saw us coming.

This is the Methodist Center where we stayed all week.
Our gracious hosts, Dorabas and David were, well, gracious.
We slept and ate most of our meals here.

Brownie, the dog, was the first to greet us.
Brownie was my go to guy when I missed my little barkers
that were left at home.

Chapel in the center of the grounds at the Methodist Center.

First look at the construction site where we would be working all week.
Tuetal Sur Methodist Church.
This is the back of the church (on the left) and the education center.
The ramp, also on the left, was the reason our family attended the trip.
Daddio saw the ramp and said, "We are going there."
It was slightly scary and unstable.

Greeting Pastor Victor's wife, Gracia.
Lovely lady who cooked for us and allowed us to invade her home.

Church bus.
I love old vans.
The VW is my favorite, but this one is right up there.
I was not really taking pics of the van, though.
I was amazed by the coffee plants that peak over the fence.
Coffee plants are everywhere.
I love coffee.
I love Costa Rica.
I love Costa Rican coffee.

A trip through town left us with our mouths open because of the electrical lines.
We were thinking that this is pretty scary.
Pastor Victor says they have a lot of power outages.

Bus nap.
First day in Costa Rica proved a little much for 2Groovydude.
He couldn't take it anymore.

Daddio and Mike.
Meeting of the minds in the church doorway.
I don't know if they are keeping people in or out.

Wow, beautiful vegetation, coffee plants, of course, and mountains in the background.

Next stop, coffee plantation!
Oh, yeah!
My heaven on earth.
I actually learned some things, too.

But first things first.
We had lunch on a banana leaf.
I'm pretty sure I have never eaten off a banana leaf before.
I felt the need to share.

Daddio, after his banana leaf plate lunch.
He looks happy.
We drank tons of coffee samples also.
We were very talkative on the tour.

Daddio and 2Groovydude soaking up the culture.
Every place is open air and the temperatures were perfect.
60 degrees at night and around 80 degrees during the day.
My kind of weather.

Doka coffee plantation is the main supplier for Starbucks.
Did I mention the feeling of being in heaven?
Oh yeah, but I will mention it again.

Omar? I think that was his name, anyway, this is our tour guide,
who taught us all about the coffee from seed to cup.
I like the cup part best.

So, yes, this is not a coffee plant.
It is a banana plant.
They provide water and keep the pests off the coffee.
Thank you, banana plant.

View from Doka dining room.

Bags of coffee just lying around.
Could you pull the truck around, please, so I can load it with coffee?
Oh, wait, we don't have our truck here.
I did load up with plenty to bring home.
Don't worry.

2Groovydude was very amazed at the bird of paradise flowers.
He's a smart boy.

2Groovydude also tanked up on plenty of coffee.
(I thought he would never go to sleep.)
What can you do? 
We were at a coffee plantation.

More bananas? Plantains?  I'm not sure I can tell the difference.
They just grow everywhere.
We are not in Oklahoma, Toto.

Okay, back to the mission.
I volunteered for cooking duty.
Gracia and some local ladies cooked for us and we helped out.
After the first couple of days, they asked if we would like to cook an American meal.
My friend, Susan, above, said yes.
Susan gets all the credit for the menu ideas and all the hard work.
I was just hanging around trying not to cut myself.
So here is our food.
BBQ Chicken


Corn Salad

Peach Dump Cake
Susan cooked the cake at the Methodist Center as we did not have access to an oven at the church site.

So, that was easy, not!
First of all, we had a little trouble with our fire for the chicken.
Luckily, Laurie and Carol, below, came to the rescue and cooked and fanned flames until
perfect chicken appeared.
It turned out wonderful.

Second, we did not know how expensive cheese was in Costa Rica.
Just the cheese for our Mac-n-Cheese was $80.
Oh, my!
Anyway, we got some raised eyebrows from the locals, but when it was all done, they loved it.

Corn salad, recipe provided by Frances, above, no problem and tasty.
Also above, Frances' daughter, Nicole.  Frances was one of our interpreters for the trip.

Somehow, I never got a good photo of Pastor Victor.
But he is behind Frances by the cooler.
(Look for him in my next post.)
In front of Victor are the ladies that cooked for us this week.
Gracia, Patricia, and Marielos.
Lovely ladies. So kind.

Bible school munchkins.
So cute!

So handsome and with bright and shiny faces.

Cutie pies!

Boys will be boys.
Just like home.

Now, can you believe this?
This replaced that old scary ramp I showed you at the beginning.
I had nothing to do with this, but our group was so proud of those who completed this tough project.
Yeah, team!

Daddio worked on an electrical project all week and they also finished it.
It was in the midnight hour, but finished.

My little Francini.
I wanted to take her home.
She was my buddy all week.
I will miss you, Francini!

What a trip!
We had a great time, worked hard, learned a little Spanish, and learned how great the people of Costa Rica can be.
I recommend it!

I know, there was a lot to cover in this post, but believe it or not, I have more!
Look for my Rain Forrest post next. 
And wet!
I just couldn't fit it all in one.
Also, some more mission pics to come.

Costa Rica - Pura Vida!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In A Pickle

Cucumber fans unite!
Well, if you would like to turn them into pickles, that is.
My favorite way to munch a cucumber.
Mmmm, the salty brine, the sweet and spicy.
Wow, I want some pickles!
First, of course, start with some cucumbers.
These are the small minis that come wrapped in a little package.

Gather up some pickling items.
I had no clue, but most of the stuff I already had in my pantry.
Just had to pick up those yummy pickling spices.
Mine came from Whole Foods.
My recipe donator (see below) got his at Williams Sonoma.
I tasted both and both were tasty, so go with what you can find.

So, I have never made pickles.
If you are like me, then this is a great way to start with refrigerator pickles.
Lulu's Cole gave me the recipe and I was able to sample before making.
That always makes a recipe worth trying, when you know it's good.
You, on the other hand, will just have to trust me.

Slice the cucumbers and salt then put in fridge for a couple of hours.
Rinse and lay them out on a kitchen towell to absorb some of the juices that the salt brings out.

Okay, this was fun, and looks so pretty on my tomato towell.
Photogenic cucumbers.

Add the pickling spices and other ingredients to vinegar
in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil.

Once they start to boil, then simmer on low to get out all those great flavors.
Smells good!

Add some cucumbers to prepared (washed) jars.
Cole makes his in one big jar, but I went with the four jelly size.
Add some of the liquid.
We are layering here.

I acquired some canning jars from Farmer Gibson.
He's our chicken farmer friend.
I don't know how he knew I needed them for pickles, but hey.

Bird's eye view, with another layer cucumbers.

More liquid and I added the cucumber and onion salad that was left over from the day before.
Onions pickled, that's good also.

Put the lids on and refrigerate immediately.
You can eat these delicious babies as soon as they cool.
No waiting around.
Good, because it's hard to wait.

Let me just say, crunchy, sweet, spicy, can't stop eating, once you start.

Thanks Cole for the recipe!

Details below.

Refrigerator Pickles

1 1/2 lbs. cucumbers, sliced (That's about two of the mini packages.)
3 cups vinegar (I used Apple Cider vinegar.)
3 cups sugar
2-3 T. pickling spices of your choice
1 Bay leaf
Pinch of crushed red pepper
4-5 Garlic cloves

Toss cucumbers in 1 1/2 t. of kosher salt,  Keep in fridge for 2-3 hours.  Rinse cucumbers to remove salt and pat dry.  (Lay out on the towell and use another towell to pat, like above.)

Bring vinegar, sugar, pickling spices, garlic, bay leaves and pepper to a boil.  Simmer very low for 15-20 minutes to steep.  Add layer of cucumbers to a huge jar.  Pour some liquid on top, then continue layering until you run out of cucumbers.

Refrigerate after sealing jar(s) and eat up!

Side note:  With the canning jars, the lids seal because you are putting the hot pickles in the fridge.  Cole uses one of those flip-top lid jars with the rubber seal.  So, go with what you got.  Hope you enjoy, mine are already gone.