Another Episode of Little House On The Costa

Some days I feel like I am living the part of Caroline Ingalls in Little House On The Prairie. I am not complaining – it is a unique and wonderful feeling, bringing me back to a simpler time. I can remember my Mother and Grandmother canning pickles, plums, apple sauce and even meat. Memories of my father butchering a cow or pig and all the adults cutting up the meat, making sausages, packaging the meat in white butcher paper and labeling them for the huge freezer my parents had in the basement. Looking back, it was a wonderful time. My father and mother were proud of their accomplishments, storing foods for many months for a growing family that required a great deal of food on a limited budget.

kowalczyk (241)

Above are the first four of us with Dad, missing is Mom who is taking the picture I’m sure and not yet born John Jr. and Lori Ann.

Here in Ecuador we are basically going back in time, very few processed foods are available and if you can find them at the big supermarkets they are expensive and the varieties are very limited. So to make our lives better we do many things from scratch an example is canning hot peppers, mango jam and assorted pickles and even sauerkraut, which I made this past week.

San Clemente 1.28.2013 002

My latest is grinding my own pork for sausage and beef for hamburg. I purchased over 5 lbs of res lomo fino (beef tenderloin) last Saturday, I honestly think it was still warm from the cow. I have learned to wrap these tenderloins in clean kitchen towels and place them on a wire rack on the lowest point in the refrigerator for several days to allow the meat to dry out a bit and age. This has worked wonders for the tenderness and taste of the beef. After a few days of aging, I got out my trusted ceramic knife (a gift from Joe purchased from the states) a good cutting board and started the task of cleaning the meat for steaks and chopped meat for hamburg. It is a labor of love, done because it is important to have good food, prepared with love. It took me over two hours to complete the task, package my treasures and cleaning up. On Thursday I purchased 5 lbs of pork tenderloin and put a dry rub on it and placed it in a plastic bag back in the refrigerator overnight, the next morning it was already in the oven wrapped in triple thickness of tin foil for a 4 hour marathon. It emerged tender, juicy and extremely tasty. The following is the recipe for the dry rub and the BBQ sauce to go with it.

Pork Dry Rub

  • 4 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons natural meat tenderizer
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt or 1/2 tablespoon crushed celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mix together and apply to pork. Rub into the meat and allow to season overnight in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Southern Vinegar BBQ Sauce

  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

Mix the first ten ingredients together, stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, allow to cool for several minutes. Blend vinegar and basil in blender until basil is pulverized. Stir vinegar mixture into other ingredients and allow to cool completely, refrigerate.

It was actually fun preparing these things from scratch. Living in Ecuador can be daunting to some folks, our attitude is what else have we got to do with our time. Having that attitude towards any job makes the job less tedious and more rewarding.

Shrimp Roll Supreme

My fish guy delivered fresh shrimp to my gate yesterday morning, 10 to a pound, heads-on beauties. I asked Joe what he thought of a Shrimp Roll sandwich and he jumped on board the seafood train bound for shrimp nirvana.

San Clemente 1.20.2012 002

San Clemente 1.20.2012 003

San Clemente 1.20.2012 004

Shrimp Roll Supreme

  • 4 fresh rolls
  • 8 oz. cooked shrimp cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. prepared mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped, diced green pepper
  • fresh cilantro
  • sliced avocado
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cilantro and green pepper. Fold in shrimp. Cut roll and place avocado on the roll first add shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil in the oven at 400 degrees for about 4 minutes until lightly browned on top. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
NOTE: You may want to try crab meat instead of shrimp and try substituting grated cheddar cheese instead of Parmesan for a flavor difference.  It was decadent!

San Clemente 1.20.2012 006

Served with homemade bread and butter pickles. Excellent!

Look! Pork and Fish On The Doorstep


Yesterday the young men who deliver pork and beef to our neighborhood stopped with a beautiful rack of pork ribs. I just could not resist and made these beauties for Joe last night. One word of caution, do not allow anyone to chop up your pork or goat using a machete or ax, this just splinters the bone and you end up having to pick out tiny bits of bone before you can prepare. This was pretty tricky for me to get into my biggest pot.

$2.50 a pound was expensive when I can buy tenderloin of pork from these same guys for that, so I will need to discuss this with these guys next Thursday when they come by.

Also this week the fish guy riding his bike with a 5 gal bucket precariously balanced on the bar sold me two pounds of these beautiful fillets for $4.

In looking for something different to do I decided to make Asian Fish Balls. What a great idea. Here is the recipe for those of you who need a change from the same old fish dish. This recipe comes from

Asian Fish Balls

Serves 4 as a main course, 6-8 as an appetizer

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds white fish, such as largemouth bass, catfish or bluegill
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or Worcestershire
  • 3 small hot chiles, minced (you can use less if you want, we like it spicy)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced lemongrass or lime zest (I used both)
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (I did not have fresh so I used fresh dill it worked well)
  • 1 egg (I used 2 eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (you can use regular flour, too), plus more for dusting (I did not use this at all)
  • Oil for frying
  • Lime wedges to serve
  1. Chop the fish into small pieces and put in a food processor. (I left the fish a bit chunky, it had a nicer consistency to me)
  2. Beat the egg and put it into the processor.
  3. Put everything else into the food processor and buzz into a paste. You want it pretty smooth, but not totally pureed. The reason you chop all these ingredients before putting into a food processor is because if you don’t some things will be a pulp by the time others will be broken down enough to use in the fish ball.
  4. Put a cup of flour into the bowl (this was not in the list of ingredients above and I did not use it – was not necessary)
  5. Get your oil hot over medium-high heat in a deep-fryer or a high-sided pot. Don’t fill the pot more than halfway full. What kind of oil? I use canola or peanut oil. You can reuse this oil a half-dozen times if you strain it through cheesecloth after you’ve finished and let the oil cool. (I used corn oil and threw it out, I don’t reuse oil that I fried fish in ever)
  6. Once the oil is approaching 350 degrees, start making your fish balls. Grab enough of the mixture to make a fish ball about the size of a ping pong ball and dust it in the rice flour. (did not dust)
  7. Fry the fish cakes a few at a time so the oil temperature doesn’t drop too much. Cook at least 5 minutes, and up to eight — you’re looking for golden brown.
  8. Drain the fish balls on a wire rack set over a paper towel.
  9. Serve with lime wedges and a cold beer.

Joe made a dipping sauce as follows:

1/2 C White Vinegar

2 packets of Splenda (you can use sugar if preferred)

1 t grated fresh ginger,

1 T onion

1 t carrot

Hot pepper vinegar to taste, dash of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of sweet and sour sauce.

This made a little bit over a half a cup. He just guessed at the quantities but it came out excellent and was a wonderful accompaniment to this dish. We ate the leftovers the next afternoon as a snack and they were actually great cold with the sauce splashed over them.