miércoles, 29 de septiembre de 2010

pesto hummus

Yet another delicious solution to a lack of ingredients!
On the pesto front, I have managed to whip up several alternative varieties, including using almonds, and more recently, cashews in replace of pine nuts. so yum and so easy.
Hummus is another favorite of mine whose ingredients are difficult to procure around here. one time i did locate tahini, the traditional basis of this Middle Eastern spread and days of hummus indulgence followed. otherwise, i have resorted to making a hummus-like dip with simply garbanzo beans and accompanying flavors.
Then finally, the obvious combination hit me:
Pesto Hummus!

Garbanzo beans provide the protein-rich foundation. i use dry beans, soaked overnight, then cooked until  tender in the pressure cooker (only about 10 minutes).

The big flavor comes from as much fresh basil as you can get your hands on
Blend the garbanzos first, adding enough water and olive oil for a creamy consistency. then add your basil, a few cloves of garlic, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.

There you  have it! While not really a true version of either, my hybrid creation is a hearty hummus dip with rich pesto flavor, ready to smear onto a veggie sandwich or to serve as a chip dip.
 ¡Buen provecho!

viernes, 17 de septiembre de 2010

Butterfly Eye

I went for a garden stroll yesterday afternoon, just after a hard rain shower. in the post-storm stillness, the only sounds were my rainboots splashing in fresh puddles and the residual drippity drip from the trees. i had intended to photograph the leaf-cutter ants and their latest conquest amongst our coffee bushes, when i got the sense that someone was watching me. indeed, something had its "eye" on me!
Califo memnon
Owl butterflies thoroughly enchant me. They are not the type to flutter about and mingle in the garden sunshine, rather they prefer dark shady corners and dusk, thus magnifying the intensity of their camouflage. it is rare to see them rest for even a moment, so happening upon this one with camera in hand was a special treat!

A bit further along, I encountered one our most ubiquitous butterfly species, identifiable by its bright red on black wings. Crimson-patched Longwings have been a favorite of mine ever since I recognized them in the rainforest exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
Heliconius erato

I recently learned that Crimson-patched Longwing caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of passionflowers. que bueno that i've just planted two different varieties in the garden!

Still assuming I was on leaf-cutter ant hunt, I didn't scan the wildflowers along the trail for winged activity. Yet, directly in my path, hovering low over the wet earth, maybe dipping her probiscus to taste a fresh rain drop, this gorgeous creature beckoned my attention. it seemed i had inadvertently acquired butterfly eye!
Siproeta stelenes, commonly known as the Malachite

With this realization, I sharpened my gaze and noticed, they were everywhere! The quiet aftermath of rainstorm is exactly the time for butterfly chasing.

Not sure what type this one is....

Glasswing butterfly, Greta oto
yes! you can actually see THROUGH their wings!!

Banded Peacock or Fatima, Anartia fatima

See with your butterfly eye

martes, 7 de septiembre de 2010


Introducing yet another fruta de paraíso: STARFRUIT! or carambola.
And again, it is one I happened to discover growing right here on the farm. what a great surprise!
Averrhoa carambola
grow in tropical and semi-tropical regions all over the world, including Florida which is where I first encountered this mysterious star-shaped treat.
Nicaraguans call it melacoton, although by official english translation this word means peach. There are no fresh peaches here, so i guess it's a point not worth quibbling over. Melacoton are not a super common fruit here, and mainly make appearances in tangy fresh juices. The flavor is more sour than sweet, even when the fruit is ripe and yellow.
Luckily this nondescript little tree caught my eye the other day and I was drawn to investigate what interesting shapes dangled from its scraggly branches.
Though somewhat waxy in appearance, the outside skin of carambola is edible and quite tender. For juices the entire fruit is either mashed up or blended into a puree with water. and of course, Nicas add the usual "spoonful" of sugar to sweeten the deal.
If you are a fan of tart and sour, like me, you may also enjoy simply snacking on starfruit. I love its firm crunchy texture and snappy burst of juice inside, which consequently delivers a healthy dose of vitamin C and antioxidants.
Shine on!