fruit

rainy season: things I'm loving

local tropical summer fruit (clockwise from top): a yellow pitaya (dragon fruit), mamay (kind of tastes like baked sweet potato, and it's great pureed in muffins), limes from the yard, sapote from a tree on our street (tastes like a soft smokey caramel pear).

the coconuts from the yard: fresh coconut water, fresh coconut meat, fresh coconut milk, rustic bowls made from the shells. next to try: coconut popsicles

mirando las tormentas. watching storms come in. and checking to see what's heading our way - and loving when the big ones veer away from here

this simple and inspiring site

cuando alguien corrige mi español - when someone corrects my Spanish :)

(both photos from Crispin - gracias por compartir!)

What are you grateful for today?

Mexican Grapefruit

Mexican Grapefruit

Hola amigos! Made it though my first hot steamy Mexican summer - it was intense. On the property we were housesitting, we reveled in a tropical garden harvest of sweet bananas, amazing papayas, fragrant limes, and wonderful coconuts. Talk about perks!

It has just started getting cooler now, and grapefruits are appearing in the markets again. My favorite way to enjoy one is to prepare it like this:

Mexican Grapefruit

With a serrated knife, slice it in half and cut around the inside of the peel and through the center segment membranes (this makes it easier to eat with a spoon). Sprinkle the following over both pieces, approximately:

1 tsp (or more) of muscavado sugar
2 tsp (or more) of fine tequila (I like Cazadores reposado)
salt to taste

Enjoy! And make sure to drink the juice left in the bowl. :)

Nomadic Foodie


Just can't get enough: fresh tropical fruit at the Campeche market. Photo by Crispin.

¡Hola amigos! Just wanted to let you all know where I'm at: currently in Canada, enjoying the beautiful summer produce, and then heading back down to Mexico for the winter. My posts will be super-sporadic for the next several months, as I'm in transit - traveling around the continent in a caravan of one with my sweetheart. Hoping I'll get the chance to share some travel pics and recipes while on the road... Thanks for all your comments and great feedback!

xo Patty

Me Encanta Horchata

I'm back on the grid! Living in a little Mexican town, on a tropical lake, with a lovely fresh produce market, in a sweet little casa with wifi and a gear-laden kitchen. Soy muy afortunada. The jungle was awesome, but I was ready to move on. The rainy season is just starting, which means even more bugs, and I was getting eaten alive out there. Serves me right. ;)

There's so much that I've learned, and so much I want to share...

One amazing drink I discovered is an elixir of the gods called horchata. Every now and then, I'd see vendors at the side of the street selling it, and wonder what it was. Really, I wasn't that curious because the name didn't sound that appetizing. I even noticed it in the grocery stores, as a thick white substance sold in bottles. I ignored it, since to me it looked like mayonnaise or something creamy, yuk. One day, I noticed a bottle in an otherwise empty fridge of a kitchen palapa where we were staying. I picked it up and read the ingredients, which were: rice, sugar, water, almond, cinnamon, vanilla. What?! That sounds awesome... The directions said to mix some of this syrup with water, and enjoy over ice. I tried it. ¡Fantastico!

I learned that Mexican horchata is basically a sweet aromatic rice milk, usually made with raw rice and flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla, served on ice. Originally from Spain, it's traditionally made with tigernuts (chufas), so Spanish horchata probably tastes quite different than Mexican horchata. It's also made with ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, or barley. I'd love to try all the differnet kinds.

Mexican horchata makes a great drink on it's own, or spiked with rum. I like adding horchata syrup to coffee or black tea as a dairy-free creamer/sweetener - or mixed with hot fresh ginger tea. Adding a teaspoon or two of concentrate to an agua de fruta (fruit blended with water), or smoothie is awesome too. Here is one of my favourite combos:

Recipe: Papaya Horchata Smoothie

Generally, the commercial horchata concentrates you can find here are mega-sweet, so I recommend using a lot less than the directions call for. You can find the concentrate in most grocery stores down here, the quality varies and different brands have different ingredient ratios, and some are less sweet. Of course, it's best to make your own! This rice and almond Yucatecan horchata recipe sounds awesome.

I'd eventually like to concoct my own horchatas, like: almond honey horchata, sugar-free brown rice horchata, sesame ginger horchata, chocolate spice horhchata, maple walnut horchata, agave jicama horchata... and of course, a traditional Spanish horchata de chufa.

The little bit of reasearch I did revealed some fascinating history, and that people are very passionate about this drink. I'd love to learn more - please share your horchata info, recipes and links - gracias!

Thanks for the pic Crispin!

¡Bienvenidos a la jungla!


Every day, we devour stellar tropical fruit salads made with fresh local pineapple, papaya, bananas, mangos - or whatever's in season.

Greetings from the jungle! I'm in a little cafe with wifi in town right now, and have 5 minutes to post this, so here goes. I'm having a fantastic time and learning so much about nature in the tropics, and how to live off the grid here in Mexico. Cooking with all the fresh local ingredients is a joy. I've even managed to bake-up some sweet healthy treats in the frying pan - stay tuned for Steamed Banana Cakes with Chocolate Black Bean Paste... It's fun being creative and resourceful out here.

¡Disfruta! (Enjoy!)
Patty


La cocina. (The kitchen). We managed to borrow most of the wares, including the "fridge" and gas stove from generous neighbours who had extra stuff.


Vanilla custard rice pudding with papaya pan-seared in butter with freshly toasted pepitas.

Plums, Pears & Blackberries


A pretty plum tree full of ripe fruit.

I'm so excited about all the fresh fruit that's in season! Here are some great recipes from around the web that celebrate late summer's bounty:

Frangipane Style Plum Tart Recipe
The local plums are in, and here's a beautiful way to enjoy them - in a lovely almond cream tart. (Adi makes wonderful treats with fresh fruit.)

Pear-berry Crisp With Lavender Topping Recipe
This lovely crisp made with blackberries, raspberries, and pears sounds amazing. (The recipe calls for all purpose flour, but I think it would work with a whole flour, light spelt flour, or a gluten-free mix - crisps and crumbles aren't too fussy.) I have lavender growing on my deck that's ready for this aromatic treat...

Roasted Plums with Greek Yogurt
What an elegant way to let the plums speak for themselves - I'm totally going to make this. The lightly carmelized fruit is topped with toasted hazelnuts, and I'm sure other nuts like almonds or walnuts would be delicious as well. I might get fancy and sprinkle the tiniest bit of cardamom or cinnamon on top before baking. You can also make this simple desert with pears. Bonus: This one's quick and easy to make + light and healthy!



The last of the late summer blackberries. (Both of these photos were taken in Switzerland last summer, while staying on the Vulliens farm.)

Happy healthy baking :)

Spiced Peach & Almond Crumble

It's peach season here in Ontario, and I just scored a load of juicy, fragrant, ripe, local peaches from my neighbours - thanks Blair! Here's one of my favourite ways to enjoy the bounty - this one's for you Marisa!

Recipe: Spiced Peach & Almond Crumble

Health notes: Besides being super-yummy, this crumble is wheat-free, gluten-free (if you use gluten-free oats), egg-free, and optionally dairy-free and vegan. It's sweet, but not as super-sweet as most crumble and crisp recipes - and you have the option of using natural sugars.

Avocado Shakes & Smoothies for St. Patty's Day

Happy St. Patrick's day! And now for some festive green fare :-) Here are some great sounding recipes for natural green shakes and smoothies made with avocados:

Avocado Smoothie - Great healthy all fruit recipe.
Avocado - Banana Shake - I love the sounds of this avocado-banana-yogurt combo.
Brazilian Avocado Shake - One could use milk and sugar substitutes in this delicious shake - I'm thinking almond milk and agave syrup, mmm...
Bravocado! Shake - This shake is sweetened with honey, and sounds absolutely divine. (Warning: loud music plays when you're on this page.)
Vietnamese Avocado Shake - Classic.
Avocado Shake with Boba - Similar to the classic Vietnamese shake, but with big tapioca pearls - fun!

Here are a couple of healthy green smoothies I enjoy regularly - sans avocado:

Magic Green Smoothie - Spirulina makes it stimulating, mineral-rich, and super-green.
Green Ginger Pineapple Smoothie - Super raw detox smoothie - great for alkalizing your system. Refreshing and delicious + packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and enzymes.

To cap things off, here's a strong vibrant-green antioxidant-rich cocktail: Matcha Martini

Enjoy :-)

Panforte

Panforte cross-section
a chocolate version of the famous Italian fruitcake: Panforte

Yes - it's the holiday season. I've been busy making super-rich frighteningly tasty treats including my own version of the amazing sweet/spicy/chewy/bitter/nutty Italian cake/confection panforte (aka Sienna cake).

Some inspiring recipes for panforte:

I've read slightly different historical accounts of panforte - here's the Wikipedia's most recent write-up:

"Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembling fruitcake or Lebkuchen. It may date back to 13th century Siena, in Italy's Tuscany region. Documents from 1205 show that Panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax or tithe which was due on the seventh of February that year. Literally, Panforte means "strong bread" which refers to the spicy flavour. The original name of Panforte was "panpepato" (pepper bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake. There are references to the Crusaders carrying Panforte, a durable confection, with them on their quests."

Currently there are many shops in Italy producing Panforte, each recipe being their jealously guarded interpretation of the original confection and packaged in distinctive wrapping. Usually a small wedge is served with coffee or a dessert wine after a meal, though some enjoy it with their coffee at breakfast."

(more history here)

ps - panforte is really really sweet so consume in moderation ;-)

A Versatile Classic ~ Healthy Banana Bread

banana bread touch test

What classic baked good is easy to make, delicious, nutritious, yeast-free, portable, and can use up all sorts of bits floating in your pantry? You guessed it ;-)

I often make variations of these basic, easy, healthy banana bread recipes:
Healthy Banana Bread and Easy Gluten-free Banana Bread

Wonderfully versatile, banana bread can incorporate just about any nut (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts...), seed (pepitas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy-seeds...), fruit (figs, dates, apricots, berries...), flour (wheat, rice, spelt, barley...), sweetener (honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, fruit concentrate, marmalade/preserves, sucanat, stevia...), spice (cinnamon, nutmeg...) chocolate (chips, baker's chocolate, bars - dark, medium, or white), carob chips, extracts (vanilla, almond, lemon, orange...), or booze (rum, Kahlua, Grand Marnier...).

Tips for delicious and healthy banana bread variations:

nuts: use 1/2-1c. nut combos like pecans and walnuts are great. chop up large nuts
seeds (use up to): 1Tbsp poppyseeds, 2Tbsp sesame seeds, 1/4c sunflour seeds or pepitas
booze: 1-2Tbsp
extracts: 1/4tsp lemon/orange, 1/2tsp almond, up to 1Tbsp vanilla
sugar: 1/2c of sweetener/sugar (brown sugar, sucanat, fruit juice concentrate, honey, maple syrup, preserves...) is enough to make a sweet tasty bread. (I use as little as 1/4c.) try sweetener combinations like: 1/4c honey, 2Tbsp orange marmalade, 2Tbsp brown sugar
chocolate: 1/2c is great. you can, of course, use more or less (1/4c-1c)
mixing tip: coat chocolate and dried fruit with flower before mixing in to prevent it from sticking to the pan

*Bonus: a great way to use up all those over-ripe bananas!

UPDATE: Some new variations:

Chocolate Fractal Banana Bread: Gorgeous, delicious and marbled with chocolate.
Super-Healthy Banana Bread: Multi-grain, whole-grain and wonderfully spiced: gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and flavorful with no unnecessary sugar or fat.