Gallo Pinto: How to Make Rice and Beans, Central American Style

 

So I rave about Gallo Pinto, a central¬†American style of making rice and beans. I learned how to make it while I studied abroad in Costa Rica as I paid for some cooking lessons during my last month. I didn’t go into study abroad even liking beans, but now I am tolerant enough that I make Gallo Pinto for myself several times a year. After the last time I made it for an event, an end of the year work party for a job at my¬†school, I had several requests for the recipe and how to make it. So here it is, kids.

Let’s Cook.

Ingredients:

‚áíVegteables: Onion, Bell Pepper, Corn
‚áíRice (Must be cooked the day/night before and allowed to ‘dry out’ in the fridge)
‚áíKetchup
‚áíWorchester Sauce or Soy Sauce (Salsa Lizano is the actual ingredient you want, but these are adequate substitutes as Salsa Lizano is a bit hard to find)
‚áíHalf a Can of Red or Black Beans (About a Cup if you want to make them fresh)
⇒Chicken Flavor Bullion Cubes/Seasoning Packet (To Make your Gallo Pinto Vegan and Dairy Free, use Vegetable Bullion Cubes/Packets)
‚áíFresh Cilantro

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The ideal finished product should look something like this.

How To Make It:

  1. Turn a Skillet/Saucepan (Cast Iron if possible) onto medium heat.
  2. Place Oil in the Skillet and place the Chopped Vegetables in the Pan. Sautee until the vegetables are tender and start to Brown.
  3. Next, Add the Beans and either some of the salt/water from the can, or add some water if you are using fresh beans.
  4. Add a squirt of Ketchup, a Squirt of Your Worchester/Soy Sauce (Like a Tablespoon of each if you need more exact measurements), and either two cubes or two packets of flavoring. Mix in the seasoning.
  5. Let the beans cook occasionally stirring until they are soft (you can easily cut them in two with a fork) and the bean water juice has begun to thicken.
  6. Mix in your rice. I don’t have an exact number here for you, but put in enough that there is a good bean to vegetable¬†to rice ratio, but not so much that the rice is overflowing out of your pan. It might take you a while to figure how much this is, but that’s¬†okay.
  7. Continue mixing/stirring in the rice with the bean/veggie mixture until it has seemingly absorbed the bean juice.
  8. At this time stir in your finely chopped cilantro (preferably with as little stem as possible) if you want until well blended. If not, skip to next step.
  9. Turn off the burner and remove from heat.
  10. Eat as much as you can. Save the rest for tomorrow.
  11. To reheat, place in a microwave after sprinkling water on the Gallo Pinto. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then an additional 30 seconds.
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GALLO PINTO MAKES ME HAPPY. AND IT WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY TOO.

Refraction of Summer

It has been brought to my attention by Sim, that I haven’t written at all in some time now. I know I have been delinquent. I have sat down and tried to write posts but they just haven’t felt right and well, why right if you aren’t sure what to say or feel.

So I will start where I left off. The end of the school year and the start of summer.

The end was agonizing and stressful and by the end, I was such an emotional mess I was relieved to leave. I was thrilled to be home with my dogs, to sleep, and ¬†to be alone and away from people, something that you don’t really realize until you live with strangers and in a dorm.¬†Summer for once seemed like it was going to be a rejuvenating experience.

In some ways it was. I recharged for the school year. I was able to relax and indulge in my love of reading which resulted in my impressive feat of completing 25 books. I spent time with my dogs. I cut my hair short again.

In other ways,¬†it wasn’t. My arthritis¬†flared mildly, and I was in an almost constant state of exhaustion or achiness. I felt incredibly isolated and lonely at times, unable to connect. Without schoolwork to occupy me, my mind sometimes crumbles into an emotional inconsistency and habit of hyper-analysis.

I figured out I’m okay at writing poetry.¬†I took an online poetry class for my major and in the process of producing some material, I realized that I have a lot of things that I need to emotionally process, that I had convinced myself I didn’t need to. As upsetting as it was, it was also soothing to pour everything raw onto the page.

My jobs at home were the same as always, and the tedium didn’t drive me insane. Rather it was the creepy men who forced undesired attention and comments on me while I had to avert my eyes from their profane¬†leers, trying not to scream or become physically ill. People are shitty, people are shitty.

However, my job working at a writing camp this summer helped me solidify confidence in what I want to do (writing and teaching), and it was one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. I feel ever more confident about this choice, but at times I still do worry and have uncontrollable moments of stress over whether I am making the right decision and if I am truly following my heart and what feels right.

School has resumed. Already I am drowning in readings. In fact, I should probably be doing some right now. I feel conflicted about how I feel about my classes. As an anal organizer, I need to know the assignments when they are due and the specific parameters. This semester I have several professors that only give out short term schedules a month or so at a time.

In fact, my stress is already going so high through the roof I’ve¬†been in a low to moderate flare since class started. The other day I couldn’t open my bottle of Motrin and I cried. I hated my body. I felt awful that I was never grateful for my good health. My medicine¬†upsets my stomach and I now have to be conscientious of not only what I eat (which is a problem for me because I love food so much) but how much I sleep even the physical activity I do. It makes me feel older than I am. It makes me angry. I try to bear it with grace and dignity but how can you when you never know when you are going to cry over your Motrin bottle?

But on a more positive note, I have discovered the magic of compression gloves. They make it so that I can function and wearing them the other day I was almost ready to weep with joy for I couldn’t remember the last time my hands felt that good. We must delight in the miracles anyway that we can.

 

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Will this food make me flare up tomorrow? Probably. Will I eat it anyways? Probably.

 

21 on a Tuesday

It is hard to comprehend that I am am turning 21 on Tuesday. And no, I will not be drinking. Yes, you read that right. No alcohol for moi.

No, I have had it before and in fact love my mixed drinks and wine (so tasty). I just have finally made the proactive choice to not drink at this point in my life, for a couple of different reasons.

  1. I need my liver uninhibited. I dread the possibility that my current RA meds will become ineffective for any number of reasons and the next strongest stuff takes a toll on the liver, so I would like to keep it as healthy as possible.
  2. I like being in control. When I drink, I lose fine motor control, like everyone else. But I am incredibly upset by the fact that I have to think really hard about not slurring my words and what it is I am saying. I get stressed by the fact there is so much I cannot have control over, so intentionally putting myself in a situation where I lose control my faculties even a little bit is enough to send me weeping.
  3. I don’t like how sad it makes me. As someone who deals with depression and sadness alcohol is literally a horrible idea. Its a downer which makes it even a worse experience when I suddenly become a weeping mess. Not to mention I cannot emotionally bring myself to physically function the next day.
  4. There is a medical history of addiction in my family, and with this I have chosen to follow my parents choice to refrain from alcohol, and refrain from exposing myself to that possibility.
  5. I just don’t want to. Yeah its tasty sometimes, but in my opinion it isn’t that fun.

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For my birthday, unlike last year, I won’t be doing anything exciting. I am going to lunch with my parents, working, going to class, and then I have an honor society induction that evening. I’ll have a lot of homework to do and a paper to work on. And I don’t have a car, and my friends are really to busy to do anything. That makes me a little sad, but I guess I just have to cope with that.¬†A lot of people don’t understand how important my birthday or celebrating it is to me, because its about managing to make it another year despite everything. So I guess I will celebrate it on my own, just like last year. And that wasn’t so bad. At least I’ll get a real birthday treat this year, not a brownie flavored protein bar. Ice Cream, here I come!

In other news, I have figured out my class schedule for next year, and will be registering in two weeks. I should get into everything I need. Hopefully. I mean ¬†I will be a senior…even though I will be in Ithaca an extra semester. And besides, I’m am preregistered for most of those classes so its really just one that I actually need to worry about.

My arthritis flared up last week and it was really frustrating. I think the stress of everything right now is not sitting well with it, so I have put myself back on my 81mg aspirin routine and it seems to be doing just fine. I definitely will never again be taking an 18 credit semester. It works when you are only taking 100 and maybe some 200 level classes, but with upper level classes? Forget it.

There is a month left of school, and I can totally make it. I think.

What Is College?

As I find myself sprawling on my dorm room floor shoveling goldfish down my mouth by the handful, coming down from another verge of hysterical crying, I find myself asking: Is this what college is?

Is it a series of emotional breakdowns always on the horizon, an “objects may be closer than they appear” attached?

Is it cursing the institution for not understanding that 250 sheets of print credits while it sounds like enough is nowhere near enough for literally every single major?

Is it wondering why the fuck girls who wear eyeliner to exercise class? Are smudgey eyes in vogue these days? Should I at least give them credit for caring enough about their appearance to throw on a line of black/brown/peacock blue?

Is it getting stuck on shitty dates and having to split the bill last second and watching a days worth of meager wages vanish in thin air?

Is it feeling confident, and then getting a few lower grades than expected and suddenly having an existential crisis about it?

Is it missing your dogs so painfully and realizing that you cannot function without a dog, or really someone, who loves you so constantly and completely in your life close by?

Is it realizing that you have to fight for yourself, to learn how to advocate for you, to literally get even just a few more pennies for your education?

Having to constantly feel like you have to prove yourself?

Is it the panic of wondering ‘will I graduate on time’? The terror of ‘how can I afford this’? The fear of ‘what will I do if xyz don’t work out’?

How about cramming 4 major papers into a week?

Yes.

BUTT

Its also spontaneous late night romps with your friends in your room.

Spontaneously going to poetry readings and faculty lectures.

Bonding over shitty dinning hall food with people you barely know.

Learning awesome, amazing, mind boggling, downright crazy stuff on the daily.

Realizing you won’t get it all done. That no one does. And hey, its okay.

Growing as a person and an individual.

Realizing that you are awesome, and getting your ass kicked to the next level of awesome because you are awesome and capable of nothing but awesomeness.

Sleep is not for the weak. But if needed is optional for a few days of each semester if used responsibly.

Its realizing teachers are human too.

Its learning that even on the shittiest days when the universe is kicking you while you are down that you can get back up and do it all again.

It is finally understanding what it is you want to do and achieve in the world.

That this, what ever you want to call this, is beautiful.

 

 

The Mother of Tarzan and a Dog Named Lettuce

So it has been way too long since I last wrote. A lot has happened in the past two weeks. So I guess I will just get started.

Semana Santa was wonderful. I had an amazing week. My flights to and from Osa went smoothly, and I didn’t crash, burn, and die. So that is always a plus. The airport in Osa is tiny, I was expecting that. But I could hardly contain a giggle as to how small it actually was.

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Yupp. That is literally it.

I was supposed to me a taxi driver to take me up the mountain to the place I was going, but the Canadian couple that runs the place was in town, so they picked me up. Up the mountain. The road reminded me a lot of the road to Monteverde in terms of its condition, but this time I wasn’t as worried about plunging off the side of the cliff to my death. I was greeted by the three dogs (Foxy, Dolly, and Letchuga), and settled into my cozy little tent. I am a sucker for getting away in nature and love the idea of camping, but I am such a spoiled old lady when it comes to sleeping on hard places. I would have sore hips and arms in Mexico when the mattress was too hard or too thin. The bed was excellent, and I was way to excited to be living in a tent for a week.

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The crib.

The food was amazing. The best food I have consistently had in Costa Rica. I was getting a lot closer to the amount of fruits and vegetables I like to eat, and I got to try something tasty and new everyday. The best tomatoes I have had in quite some time. Also, Costa Rica has deepened my appreciation of bananas. It was hot and humid, low 90s every day and only a slight reprieve in the shade. But I got used to it. There is something nice about the heat. It makes you take the day a bit slower, and its nice to slow down sometimes.

Then on Saturday I departed for Drake’s Bay for my adventure into Corcovado. First I took a taxi down the mountain, then another to Sierrpe. Then I got on a boat with the hotel owner. We drove through a series of mangroves or canals or rivers…I’m not really sure what to call them. But after about 40 minutes we came to the river mouth and the waves were huge for out tiny little boat. I will admit the possibility of dying felt very real, a lot more real than when i was on the tiny airplane. But by some miracle we survived. I saw a Turtle and a Dolphin on the way to the hotel.

I wasn’t terribly impressed by the place and found myself spraying bug spray around my bed in a hopes that the ants and cockroaches wouldn’t crawl into bed with me. It was another tent which I was totally fine with, but a tent is only effective if you shut it, something the management seemed to not consider. And the food wasn’t too hot, and the coffee? Literally the closest I have ever come to drinking straight up river mud. It was so thick and strong and dark I just couldn’t do it.

But, Corcovado made it all so totally worth it, a perfect birthday adventure. I rose early, and prepared. I was picked up at 6:00 am by boat and managed not to puke on the choppy hour ride on open ocean. The hike while exhausting and hot was so worth it. I saw lizards, all four types of monkeys in Costa Rica, toucans, Scarlett macaws, wild pigs, tapiers, a snoozing sloth, and others as well. I felt good. I was happy.

I have to Osa really is what made me fall completely in love with Costa Rica. Sure I liked it before, but it was my experience and what I saw and went in Osa that made me smitten. If I make it back to Costa Rica one day, that is where I am going.

I returned to the hotel around 2, this time a bit too seasick for my taste which soon dissipated after a nice shower. I talked to my family and ate a chocolate brownie protein bar for cake, seeing as the nearest store was an hour walk away. I relaxed, read, and turned in early.Of course I would treat myself to some dessert goodies tomorrow at the MusMani mini super.

The boat ride back I thought would kill me again, and my boat taxi was loaded to the brim. Seriously, there was no more room to sit and some guy even brought his bike on board. Shuffled back to the airport I waited to board and read. I slept on the plane ride back and took a taxi back home.

But I also switched host families. My host mom, the Thursday before I Ieft, fell on water leaking from the fridge in the kitchen. She broke her upper arm and injured her shoulder as well. Watching her for two days I knew that it was incredibly difficult for her to take care of herself, let alone be a host mom, so I decided to move to give her a restful and low stress recovery. My new host family is lovely and their dog Nuna reminds me so much of Ginger and Zoey.

I am ready for home, but I am still making the best of my stay here. I am keeping myself busy, exercising, applying to jobs, reading, and writing. I have decided to attend Ithaca in the fall, and I am starting to plan for that as well. I am going to have to work this summer. Hard and a lot. But in the end it will all pay off. The future is looking bright and everything is coming up roses.

Semana Santa and the end of being a teenager

So Holy week (or semana santa) kicks off on Sunday. While for the longest time I wasn¬īt sure what i was going to do or where I was going to go I have finally figured it out. So here it is.

I am flying to the Osa Peninsula, the southernmost peninsula in Costa Rica and on the Pacific side. The Osa has been described as on of the most geographically diverse places on Earth and is without doubt one of the more difficult places to get to in Costa Rica. Taking a public bus easily takes upwards of 6 hours, often 8 and private shuttles, well since they are often a set flat rate the cost one way would be ridiculous for me. So I am flying. I am a bit terrified because I know it is going to be a small ass plane and dear god small planes scare me shitless. Please excuse the strong language, just trying to illustrate the point. I get one checked bag that cannot exceed 30 pounds, a small carry on, and a no worries carry on item which I have already decided will be my camera. I think.

After the hour flight I will be going to an organic farm up in the higher elevation. I will be volunteering and working there from sunday to saturday. I am super excited as my roomate J. has been teaching be about sustainability and agroecology practices for the past three months and I am excited to learn more. I am also thrilled that I am getting to volunteer and give back a little while I am here too. I am ¬īglamping¬ī while I am there, staying in a protected platform tent, and while I will be sharing a bathroom with the other visitors we will have wifi supposedly.

Then I am going to a hotel, I guess. Again, more glamping but right on the ocean and secluded. Part of my stay at the hotel includes a day excursion and hike in Corvocado. I. AM. SO. EXCITED. Corvocado is the one place that i really, really, have wanted to go to in Costa Rica. And I am hiking there on my birthday, so I guess that is pretty freaking cool. I have never spent a birthday really alone, as in I don¬īt know anyone around me. I have always been a secret birthday person, but as I have aged I have discovered I am a rarity. As I told a dear friend in an email last night, ¬®It’s always a milestone to me, especially because of the depression. I always tell myself ‘congrats Amanda, you have made it another year and you are still here alive and breathing. try not to forget life is beautiful.’¬® But seriously though, I am no longer going to be a teenager. I am sinking deeper into adulthood, and all of the delightful things that brings.

Oh and I don¬īt have to worry about food for the week. Both places provide me with three meals daily. Hoorah.

The college process is coming along. I have been accepted into all of my colleges so far including my top choice(I still dont have answers from two) and it is looking good. I am going to have to work my little but off this summer, and during the school year as well, but if I can pull it all off good, it will work out. How can it not? But already I have to think about GREs and what my next step is going to be after undergraduate. Its overwhelming because oh I don¬īt know I am transferring and it is confusing and stressful?

I have about one more month in Costa Rica. I am retaking Intermediate 1 next month, and I am relieved I am. It would have been too much to go on and I need to practice and solidify what I already know. One month to see everything, scrabble for souvenirs before squeezing everything into suitcases and heading home. Part of me is so ready to come home but at the same time part of me does¬īt want to leave. But that is life in the end and what can you do but live in the moment and embrace all there is to have?

Puttering Along

Its hard to believe that is has already been 3 months practically. In 6 weeks and one day I am going to be on a plane home. Yes, I am counting down. I have learned a lot here in Costa Rica and I have had a wonderful experience but it is time. I am ready to come home. Studying abroad has been wonderful, but at the same time a challenge, especially doing so in a developing nation.

Someone once commented to me how much healthier they eat in Costa Rica. I politely disagree. My stomach has been nothing but a confusing series of knots and I look forward to less fried things. They were okay for a while, but in the past week or so, my body has begun to tell me though my stomach “please, no more fried things”. I also really miss my milk. Yes they have milk in Costa Rica, but it isn’t milk. It tastes different and leaves a funny taste in your mouth.

I am exhausted. I physically cannot seem to get enough sleep. I have taken a nap in the afternoon 4 days so far this week. And they usually range from 40 minutes to 3 hours. And my hands specifically my fingers have been achy. I cannot tell if it is from the not so great food (eating crappy has made them hurt before), or if I am simply dis too much writing holding my pencil last week when I had my two tests.

I am however, excited to say that I will be spending Holy Week alone. I am volunteering on an Organic farm and then I am going to hike in Corvocado for a day, specifically my birthday if all goes well.

I think I might have to repeat Intermediate 1, not so much because I’m unable of passing the class but I don’t know if I could handle learning more grammar while sacrificing learning vocab and working on communication/speaking and writing skills. I would rather understand and practice then rush on and get in over my head.

This weekend I am going to Curu to see bio luminescence in the water. I am excited to see what that looks like. I am also excited to spend the weekend with some of my friends before they return home, their three months up.

While I am not feeling on top of the world, I am not feeling crushed by the weight of it. I am simply walking along, one step at a time, slowly and steadily, taking the time when possible to enjoy the little beauties along the way.