I found beautiful fresh figs and large purple Italian plums this past week. Figs are a favorite since living in Playas, Ecuador. Our guardian would pick figs and bring a bag to our home when they were perfectly ripe, soft and sweet. I would cut them in half, wrap half a slice of bacon around it and bake it in the oven just until the bacon was crispy. That was a real treat. I can tolerate a Fig Newton, if there is nothing else in the house but unless you have had fresh ripe figs you have not lived.
I loved them so much and our friend Yusuf said I needed to plant a tree in the yard in San Clemente, Ecuador. Where was I going to fit another tree in the San Clemente yard? Well I found a tree and found a place for it and enjoyed a small harvest a few times from that tree. That is only one of the things I miss about San Clemente, but don’t get me started on that.
I made a shortbread crust, with flour, butter, sugar, dash of salt and vanilla and an egg. No rolling necessary as it was going to be a tart, free form and rustic. I cut up 6-7 figs and plums and arranged them on the pastry which I had placed on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baking liner, this will stick as the sweet juices ooze from the tart. Turned the edges up and baked it for about 15 minutes. The crust was wonderful and the fruit just so sweet and soft.
Joe planned a full day of fun for Valentine’s day. First we went to the Puntas Carretas Shopping mall. The building was once a prison but now it is a three story mall filled with high end shops and restaurants.
Way back when we were just kids I had a good friend, Shiela Adelman. We lived in South Florida at the time and Sheila had a exercise studio where I taught aerobics classes. Besides being a great exercise instructor she was also a great cook.
She would use chicken wings for this recipe, I love using skinless chicken legs and other times I would use boneless and skinless chicken thighs. Honestly the recipe will work with any cut of chicken.
Her recipe was just the ingredients, no quantities, so you can add additional amounts until you have this Sticky Asian BBQ sauce to your liking. This is how I make it now after years of tweaking it:Shiela’s Chicken Wing Sauce
1/2 C Ketchup
6 cloves of garlic crushed
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C honey darker in color is more flavorful to me
1/4 C soy sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt (taste before adding salt the ketchup and soy sauce may give it all the salt it needs)
2 small slices of fresh red pepper or a dash of red pepper flakes
Mix all the ingredients together until the sugar is melted. Put your chicken wings, thighs or legs in the mixture and allow to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Bake at 400 degrees F for 1 hour. The sauce should be thick and the chicken tender. Enjoy! Oh, and be sure to have a few napkins handy!
On Saturday we walked down to the Buceo Port as Joe was asking for fish. We got the salmon again, and just like the first time, it was fabulous.
All the fish looked good and even things like calamari, octopus and the mussels looked fresh and very appealing. Prices are in Uruguay Peso, convert to US Dollars by dividing the number on the card by .28. All of these prices are for a kilo which is a little over 2 pounds.
You can buy a whole fish or you can buy steaks or fillets.
There are two other stores including a store with local trinkets as well as a vegetable and fruit stand that carries spices, herbs, a few live herb plants and has a cooler with drinks.
A new addition from the other times we were there was a van backed up to the sidewalk and the back door opened. As you can see it had a variety of cheese, wine and salami.
Valentine’s evening the Montevideo Philharmonic Orchestra gave a free concert. It was held on the beach in the Pocitos neighborhood of Montevideo.
We got there just as the conductor was introduced. We did not think they would even have the performance as it had rained just a few hours earlier and the sky was still dark with clouds. This was the first performance for their new conductor Ligia Amadio, she was terrific! The music was wonderful, the dancers extremely talented and the audience very appreciative of this special performance. The theme was Latin rhythms and featured a dance troupe as well as Candombe drummers and Murga artists all part of the Carnaval scene here in Uruguay. Two Tango performances were featured and the orchestra even performed The Mambo tune from West Side Story.
The crowd gave the performers a well deserved standing ovation after about a 1 1/2 hour performance. It was a wonderful concert we are so thankful that we attended.
Joe just found this great article on the performance and translated it. Take a look:
Loving what you do, learning something new every day, working to have a good life, it all fits into our way of life. Before retirement we had time for so little, between work, taking care of a house, yard, Jennifer which was the best part…the days fell very short of hours, our lives were a constant rush here, rush there. Looking back I find it amazing that we accomplished as much as we did. So now I have the time to shop for the best quality in meats, vegetables and fruits. Taking my time and most of the time meal planning based on what is available.
We have been blessed to have lived in such abundant countries as the US, Panama, Ecuador and now Uruguay. Uruguay is known around the world for its delicious beef. I picked up a pound of tenderloin and found fresh beets with just perfect greens attached. That became our mid-day meal.
I cut the steaks into about 4 ounce portions, more than enough for Joe and I for our lunch. I brought water to a boil and after cleaning the greens cooked them in salted boiling water for just 2 minutes. When drained I added them to a frying pan that had a good glug of olive oil, chopped garlic, chopped shallots and chopped hot red pepper. Saute it for just a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and it was ready to serve. Dropped the steaks on a roaring hot frying pan and turned them in 3 minutes, cooking on the other side for just 2 minutes more. Set aside, top with a dab of butter, a sprinkling of chopped hot red peppers and we are ready.
Steak was tender, juicy and very flavorful. Loved the beet greens with their similar to mustard greens flavor they were a big hit. So next time when you see the leaves still on the beets, look for the freshest bunch and try this, you will get a nice addition to your next meal.