Saturday, March 20, 2010

Another day in paradise

Rainy here is Bocas today. Probably for the better, my back got a little too much sun from snorkeling the other day (I know, it's tough being me).  Plus, it gives me time to update you on all the grub we've been enjoying. We arrived in Bocas del Toro, a little island town with a good mix of locals and tourists (and tourists turned locals), on Wednesday.  Thursday was spent on a boat tour of the islands, including Dolphin Bay and Zapatilla Cayes.  Dolphin bay felt slightly like a Disney ride as we sat in the boat and watched dolphins swim around us.  That got boring pretty quickly.  Zapatilla, on the other hand, would never get old. With beautiful beaches and crystal clear water (below), the pictures basically took themselves.

On Friday, we spent the day relaxing and reading.  I finished the book I was reading, Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, which I highly recommend to anyone who has the slightest interest in their health and well-being.  In the afternoon, we rented bikes and toured Bocas town, stopping for smoothies at Bocas Blends, a truck-turned-smoothie-stand near the main street. We enjoyed the Vitamin C Craze: pineapple and papaya blended with orange juice.  Simple, delicious, and refreshing.

We were a little thirsty... couldn't wait to take the picture before downing our smoothie.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Radio silence

I have to apologize in advance, I hopped a flight to Panama City leaving my blog and my very few, very dear readers behind.  Not quite sure what the internet connection will be from place to place, I am trying my darnedest to keep up with my food explorations.  The good news is, however, that I am also sampling the local fare, for which, quite frankly, I cannot offer any apologies.

Today my traveling partner and supportive friend, Laura, watched as I got a little camera happy when our ceviche arrived.  We ordered the ceviche camarones (shrimp), landing on our table in an oversized martini glass with a bed of lettuce and plantain chips.  Unlike any ceviche I've ever had, this one was creamy and mixed with corn, shredded cabbage, and chopped onions.  With a hint of lime and a spicyness that I couldn't quite pinpoint, I was surprised and pleased by the zesty, creative blend of flavors.

Tomorrow, we leave Panama City for Bocas del Toro, a series of islands on the Caribbean near the Costa Rican border. In other words, paradise.  I promise to eat up for you all while I'm there and be back soon with the latest dish (pun intended).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

School lunch, revisited

Growing up with a macrobiotic chef for a mother, school lunches were not my favorite time of day.  Every day, without fail, someone would ask me with a disgusted look on their face, "What are you eating?"  Too young to understand, let alone defend, the heath benefits of a vegan diet, I would simply shrug and proclaim, "I don't know, my mom packed it," and they would go back to eating their fluffy and somehow-never-soggy peanut butter and jelly on white bread and I would go back to eating my soba noodles with ginger and scallions.

But there was something I was always glad wasn't in my egg salad sandwich.  Yellow and mushy with way too much mayonnaise and a strange odor, presumably from sitting in an eight-year-old's locker for hours, I never understood how anyone could possibly eat an Egg Salad sandwich.  It was just so... eggy.

Well, years later and I figured it was time to overcome my fear of egg salad and maybe see why anyone would even want to attempt to eat it in the first place.  I perused through some recipes and came across some with avocado added.  Now you're speaking my language.  I could probably eat just about anything if avocado found its way in it.  So, after perfecting the technique of hard-boiling and egg (it's harder than it looks), I set out to make an egg salad that I would actually want to eat.

I knew I would be adding avocado, but I didn't want my egg salad to be oozing with mayonnaise, so I opted to add Greek yogurt instead.  Red onions were a must and celery was added for crunch.  A little mustard, some fresh parsley, salt, pepper, and lemon and voilĂ ! An egg salad sandwich I actually enjoyed!

Egg Salad

4 large organic eggs
2 stalks celery, washed and chopped
1/2 large red onion, diced
1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp Greek yogurt (or mayonnaise)
1 avocado, pitted and cut into chunks
little squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Place eggs in a pot and fill with enough cold water to cover eggs about an inch.  Add salt and cover with lid.  Over high heat, bring water to a boil.  Once the water reaches the point of boiling, turn off heat but leave pot on the stove, covered, for ten to twelve minutes.  Immediately after, place eggs in a bowl of ice water for three minutes to stop the cooking process.

While the eggs cool in the ice bath, in a separate bowl use a fork to mix red onion, avocado, parsley, lemon juice, celery, salt and pepper.  Crack and peel each egg and place in a separate mixing bowl.  Add the yogurt, mustard, salt and pepper until just mixed--you don't want the eggs to get mushy.
Add the onion and avocado mixture to the eggs and mix with a fork until desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

For a perfectly easy sandwich, place a bit of lettuce on a slice of toasted whole wheat bread and top with your new favorite egg salad, finish by making a sandwich with another slice of toast.

Serves 2-4, depending on size of sandwich.