Monday, March 3, 2008

The Yard is our Supermercado...Finally Some Green!

Why there isn't much green or colorful food in the supermarket I do not understand! It probably goes far back to when most food needed to be preserved for storage purposes and fresh food couldn't be found other than roots (which store in the ground). The salted dried cod is an interesting thing - kind of an ordeal to do all the rinsing and rinsing and boiling and rinsing required before simmering it in tomato sauce with spices. All the tinned meats are mildly entertaining and name a root and it is here. We have been here a little over four months and after a couple months I realized this lack of green and planted some zucchini. Unlike what the packet says, it quickly germinated and set flowers I never saw. One day I have a couple leaves and the next I have mini zucchinis! They were finger length the day before I harvested them! I also planted these tomatoes from seed!!! So with conditions like this I do not understand why these things aren't more available. By the way, tomatoes are around $6 a pound...papayas on the other hand are like 75 cents a pound and can weigh 6 pounds easily. Pulling off to the side of the road gets you free mangoes (and free grass if you are a horse owner). This is the first harvest!

This looks like a poinsettia but...things are not what it seems. This is yuca which is a harvestable root that you boil and then saute with onions and garlic. Cook it all the way or it will kill you (cyanide). This is the one vegetable I don't want crunchy.
This is our up and coming parcha (passion fruit) supply line. I was very surprised at how much I love this fruit. I'm expecting to see flowers soon, even though it hasn't been in for a month yet. We have 5 vines! I am looking forward to passion fruit ice cubes and juice and little cakes etc.
There are lots of different odd roots with different names here. Everything has a different name depending on who you are talking to which makes things hard. Roots we have are apio, name ( which we just tried and were surprised by), yuca/cassava, calabaza (tropical pumpkin - I am growing this), and I think this thing in our yard is something called malengi (my spelling is wrong but I think it is a taro). Before I dig it and eat it I will have my neighbor friend Amparo check it out. I want to grow potatoes, specifically the batata amarilla, but can't find seed potatoes or seeds or starts so I may have to chuck one in the ground and see what happens! With potatoes the batata amarilla looks like a russet but when you eat it is tastes like a sweet potato but has the texture of a baking potato and it is white like a bake potato. A nice surprise.
The mystery of bananas and plantanos continues...these are a nice bunch of guineos manos on the dwarf banana trees. They are plump and will soon ripen at the same time (we need a dehydrator).I have a monstrously tasty banana cake recipe that is superb.These are plantanos which are like bananas only you don't want to eat them raw because they taste chalky. They have to be cooked. If you cook them as platanos verde (green) you can make tostones by frying them, smashing them flat and refrying them - tasty. Tonight we sliced them and fried them as platanos amarillos (yellow) and made a pinon or a sort of lasagna out of them. When you fry them they are deliciously sweet! Or I should say wickedly sweet and yummy. Platonos can be baked, fried, sauteed. boiled etc -- platanos, breadfruit and all the other roots are all very versatile starches.

Another thing from the yard that went into the pinon was recau. When we first got here and I mowed and the overpowering smell of cilantro wafted through the air and I thought I was imagining it. I later found out that I have recau (which is kind of like cilantro, and also called culantro, but really is different than cilantro) growing in the lawn. So here's a picture of it.

Here is cilantro I started from seed (top) and recau from the lawn (broad leaf plant) You use them the same way but the recau is stronger and kind of easier to deal with.

Bananas? They don't exist here - there are guineos (bananas) and platanos. These are platanos that made our pinon.

Here's a photo of a pinon that kind of shows the platanos used as "noodles" with the middle being ground beef, onions, sofrito, tomato sauce, peppers (don't get me started on pepper types), and egg to hold it together. I was surprised there weren't olives (aceitunas) in it and I will add some next time for a little bit of tang to offset the sweet platanos!
So that's part of the supermarket. We try to eat at least three things from the yard a day and it isn't hard. We have corazons, oranges, recau, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash in the next day or two, beans will be blooming soon. Platanos, bananas, soursop are still here and oranges and avocados and mangoes are all blooming and setting fruit! I have more tomato seed, watermelon, pumpkin, basil, mint is started, peppers (poblano, aji dulce, and a green cooking pepper - no not a bell pepper) are started as well. I may just chuck a few vegetable pieces into the ground and see how that works!

Finally, we still have the sea as supplimentary food. This monster was 5 and 3/4 inches across the carapace (legal is 3 1/2). We bbq'd the tail and boiled the rest and had a couple nice meals out of it. Jeff is holding this monster for all to see - a very exciting "catch" for him!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm moving to PR in July. I do
know that the big supermarkets have
almost everything we have here in
NJ. You have to go shopping in the
big markets. Better yet go to
San Sabastin on Friday. Its a flea
market. They sell a little of every
thing there. Cant wait to be there