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24 July, 2015

My New Kitchen in Cuenca

Posted in : ABOUT ME on by : cjremmers

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find Reflecting on the sacrifices and the adjustments that we have had to make, and everyone knows that I love my kitchen and all the gadgets that I have collected over the years, and my many plates and dishes to present my food,  well I have a new perspective on all that now.  I feel like my new kitchen in Cuenca is well stocked, I have the pots and pans I need, but I do miss cooking in certain pots and pans, like my cast iron skillets or my enameled pots.   I make do and I find that I really don’t need them.   It was just nice having them and using them whenever I wanted, it added a little something to my kitchen.  I do like my new kitchen it has charm and is quaint and ambiance, which is very important to me since I choose to spend a lot of time there.  I’m a little behind, or a lot behind in posting recipes.  I still have a lot of editing to do and recipes to test, so I am going to focus on that, and maybe because we have been a little under the weather this week.  I will post a few more articles under Notes from Clarita, as a part of adapting to Cuenca and to my new kitchen. 

buy fildena with paypal When we first arrived I had the hardest time making my most simple dish that I had perfected many, many years ago.  Rice!  I couldn’t believe that my rice would come out soggy and mushy or still very undercooked.  It sure played a number on my self-esteem.  For weeks this happened, I would buy bag after bag of what is called aged rice, which looks a little yellow, and a plain white rice, but still they all came out the same.  Technique was the problem.  We are at a higher altitude and that effects my rice, it wasn’t me after all.  Well it was that I just had to understand a little science (not my thing).  Water boils at a lower temperature because of the altitude and requires a little more water because it takes a little longer to cook.  So rather than 20 minutes it’s more like 25 to 30 minutes.  I’m not much of a baker, although I do like to make bread and pizza dough and the altitude effects that too, so I had to do the research and adjust the ingredients.  It is all according to the altitude, for example you do only minor adjustments for 2000-5000 feet and more adjustments for 5000-7000 feet and so on. 

We don’t eat out often, we didn’t when we were in Texas and it continues to be that way.  When we eat with friends, that is how we learn about the Ecuadorian Cuisine.  In my opinion, and hope to not offend any Ecuadorian, the food is a little bland.  But that is only to take into account the few dishes I’ve eaten (disclaimer).  Maybe because the Mexican side of me, which has influenced how I have eaten all my life, has a lot more spices and heat to my food.  Also cheese is not a big thing here, which I still don’t understand why because there are plenty of cows and goats here.  There is the typical fresh cheese, and that’s OK.  They try to make cheese for the extranjeros (foreigners) but it’s only OK too.  Maybe that will account for some of the weight we’ve lost!  The country tries to rely on their own resources so there are not too many imported products.  Whatever imported products there are, well you can imagine the price, at least double of what they cost in the States.  Also the country is concerned for the health of its citizens.  They produce products we are familiar with, for example soy sauce, but they are low in sodium only.   You know how I love sodium, so a small bottle and that is how they sell it here, doesn’t last so long for me.  You can buy Kikkoman but low sodium only for a lot more money, so it’s not worth it.  Most meats sold are lean, even a good rib eye has hardly any fat.   So you have to know who butchers them and so far I don’t know who to go to.   Some friends know but in reality I don’t seem to miss the fat so much, I just add a little lard which you can purchase in the Mercado (markets).  

So, for sure, Mexican products are not that readily available.  It’s hard to find my dried chiles, thank goodness I thought to bring some.  Some of the things I really miss are tomatillos, poblanos, habaneros, crema, cheeses of all kind, my pickled jalapeños, fresh corn and flour tortillas, and I’m sure a lot more things that I can’t think of at the moment.  Something they do seem to have is jalapeños, and I am happy about that, it gives me many opportunities to improvise for not having poblanos.  I will show you in some recipes how I improvise for the lack of some ingredients.  As a result of a lack of certain things, I have had to learn to make them from scratch.  I will be sharing those recipes too.  

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