When we last visited Manta and on earlier trips we stayed at the Oro Verde Hotel and really fell in love with the area. So when we made the decision to take an extended vacation to Manta we wanted a place on the beach but in the Murcielago area. We found a wonderful Realtor Elena of MantaHome – she showed us this lovely apartment on the 5th floor of a small building and we were hooked. We moved in on the 15th of January and have been exploring old haunts as well as finding new places to visit.
One of our favorite walks takes us to the malecon where you can enjoy a great lunch or dinner, walk on the beach at all times of the day or night (this area has a police substation and constant police patrols for your peace of mind). The malecon has kiosks where you can buy many items including clay figurines, books in Spanish, hand-made earrings, clothes, hats and even get a refreshing agua de coco as well as our favorite coffee Cafe de Pacoche from local family Eunice Jacome and her son Diego. This is where we discovered this exceptional coffee.
When Joe and I have traveled in the past and stayed in hotels, we end up longing for a bit more, so having a fully furnished apartment works so much better for us. I do love a fancy hotel but after just a few days the routine of leaving the room for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with allowing the staff cleaning time starts to get on my nerves. Here if we decide not to leave the condo at all we can do that easily. Being in a bigger city allows for easy access to taxis. more options for dining and much more entertainment available. It’s just a nice change of pace from the small town for a bit.This is the view from our balcony.
It would not seem like Christmas without just a few of our favorites – cookies and a Christmas tree. So last Monday I made all the batters for several types of cookies and Tuesday it was marathon baking.
On Monday I did sneak in a few batches of the bar cookies and baked the Black Bottom Cookie Bar and Triple Layer Cookie Bar.
I also made something I have never tried before. These are made with vanilla cookies on the bottom, covered in caramel, baked and then topped with chocolate chips sprinkled with chopped nuts. Fast and easy and the kids will love them. All chocolaty and sweet.
Then I made Crane House Pumpkin Breads.
Here are some of the batters chilling in the refrigerator. These are the Cherry Nut Cookies in the foreground and the Italian Cookies in the background.
Saw a great photo on Facebook one day last week. The pie looked so good I just had to attempt it. Recipe below.
Coconut Cream Pie
4 T white sugar
5 T flour (sifted)
1/2 t salt
2 C milk
3 lg egg yolks (slightly beaten – set the whites aside for the meringue)
1 C shredded coconut (used dessicated coconut which does not contain additional sugar)
1 t vanilla extract
1 t coconut extract
Combine sugar, flour and salt in a double boiler. Add milk, and egg yolks. Cook in double boiler until filling is thick approximately 10 minutes. Stir in coconut, vanilla and coconut extract. Set aside to cool.
1 1/2 C cookie crumbs (I used coco cookies)
4 T butter melted
1 whole egg
4 T white sugar
Mix melted butter, egg and sugar into the cookie crumbs. Press into the bottom of a pie pan, push up the sides. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10-20 minutes. You want the crust to be pretty hard when you bring it out. Set aside to cool.
3 egg whites
4 T white sugar
1/4 C dessicated coconut
Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl, beat with a hand mixer until soft peak stage, add one tablespoon of sugar at a time and beat until well incorporated.
After the crust is cool, pour filling into crust, top with meringue and put under the broiler for just a few minutes to brown lightly. Keep a close eye on it, as you can see I did get it a bit too brown….but it still was darn good. Enjoy!
While living in Panama, I was given a gift of Kefir Grains. I did not know anything about kefir at the time but decided to try it. What a wonderful yogurt type drink it makes. I think it is more flavorful than anything you buy in the store. First I guess I need to explain that kefir is a probiotic beverage. I have purchased two types of grains: milk kefir grains and water kefir grains.The milk kefir grains can be used with cow milk, goat milk or coconut milk. The water kefir grains can be used with sugar-water, juice or coconut water but more on water kefir when I start working with that in a few weeks.
Kefir grains consist of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship. The term “kefir grains” describes the look of the culture only – it is not a grain at all.
I purchased these grains from a company in the US and had a friend bring them with her when she visited the states last month. They come in a dehydrated state and need to be rehydrated with milk to work properly.
I have a supply of raw milk delivered to my door three times a week. For .60 cents I buy a quart of beautiful full fat milk that I have used for making puddings in the past. Now I am using it for my kefir. It will take up to 8 attempts to get my grains really producing. Right now I am only making one cup at a time to get the grains to multiply. Once they start to multiply I will have more grains than needed and will eventually be able to share with friends and neighbors.
The result, using one cup of kefir with a half pint of fresh frozen strawberries, was two dessert dishes of almost soft-serve consistency. No sugar added just the fresh frozen berries with the tart kefir…it was a hit.
This is the young man who has started to deliver pan in the mornings and again comes back around 4pm with beautiful dessert rolls and cookies. Yesterdays selection of sweets was coconut covered, jelly topped and some that even looked like cinnamon or chocolate rolls.
I am not sure what is going to happen when school starts next month because this young man should be on his way to school at the exact time he is delivering to our neighborhood.
He is a very hard-working young person. And we so much appreciate him and his family doing this for San Clemente.
My Easter gift is this beautiful cookbook. A collection of 278 pages of recipes from all over Ecuador purchased this morning at my gate.
The first recipe that I will be trying will be encocado of either pescado or mariscos. I miss being able to enjoy this beautiful coconut milk recipe that is not available here in San Clemente. Encocado is an Esmeraldas specialty. We have found it in Salinas as well as Puerto Lopez but so far in our travels around this area the Manabí folks use mani (peanut butter) but encocado (coconut milk) is used further up the coast.
The weather has been absolutely beautiful for the past several weeks but both Saturday and Sunday were overcast and I even put on a light sweater in the early evening because the breeze off the ocean was darn cool for me. We have spent several afternoons a week at the beach just watching the waves, enjoying the fresh sea air and letting our minds clear. Today I did my running in the morning with laundry pick up, a stop at two different pharmacies, a trip into the bank and then on to Tia for some bottled water, wine, coffee and a very small food order. Then I told Joe I was going to cook up some fresh crab cakes and we were heading for the beach.
Most days we see one of several vendors that sell the fresh coconuts. We gulp down the coco water and then he will cut out the fresh sweet coconut meat for Joe and I to share.
This gentlemen told me he was 89 years old, still walking the beach each day. He is mentally 100% I wish I was as spry as he is. He introduced me to his son who also sells the fresh coconuts along with Dad every day on the Playas beach. I hope I am able to walk the beach each day when I am 70 God willing, can’t even imagine being 89.
I have a list of favorite cookie recipes that I’ve made for years. This one is really nice because it does not require a huge amount of work or time making individual cookies. Made in a baking pan and cut into individual bars, it’s a very rich cookie. Don’t cut the pieces big – a two to three bite cookie is the best size.
Triple Layer Cookie Bar
1/2 C butter
1 1/2 C Chocolate Animal Cookies
1 – 7 oz. package of flaked coconut – Coco Rallado
1 – 14 oz. can of condensed milk
1 – 12 oz. bar of Superior Chocolate
1/2 C creamy peanut butter – mani
Grease a 9 x 13 pan and dust with coco powder. Melt butter and mix with the crumbled cookies and press into bottom – if the crumbs are not coated with butter add a few more spoonfuls to make them stick together. Sprinkle the coconut evenly over the crumbs and press into cookie base. Pour the condensed milk over all to cover evenly.
Bake in a 325 f or 170 c – (I make it a bit higher) for about 25 minutes or until the edges are a golden brown. Let stand to cool 5 minutes.
While crust is cooling, in a sauce pan melt the chocolate and peanut butter together and pour over the cookie base to cover. Let cool completely.
From top left – Fresh Peanut Butter (Mani), Chocolate Animal Cookies (Galletas), Superior Chocolate Bar, Coconut (Coco Rallado) and Condensed Milk.
Everyone who love chocolate loves this cookie bar, it will go fast so hide a few for yourself!