Monday, July 19, 2010

Kitchen Islands - My Design and Juan's Work

If I don't get this published soon, it will *never* make it out! So, short and sweet - I finally got around to getting some kitchen "islands" (counters, whatever) made! My kitchen has a space for an electric stove, which I do not use, and so I have had this gaping, unusable hole! And, on the other side of the kitchen, I had my gas stove (which I certainly *do* use), but it had no counter space around it - and showed off, to *no* advantage, my gas tanks :-(.

So, I contracted with the talented fellow, Juan, who remodeled my neighbor's house. I measured and drew the design, he checked my work, we discussed materials, etc. Then he built the counters and brought them to our house for the final tiling. Then! What fun! I got to play around with the colors and lay out the design. When I had doubts, he weighed in - good advice always. We had several tries here and there, and reluctantly threw out a few details because we just couldn't get them to work with everything else. But, I ended up with artwork! And it's *usable* art! (and tee hee, yipee - he did all the work!)

Here's the wheeled unit that fits into the electric stove hole - I can store root vegetables on the shelf, and I can use it to serve cafecito or buffet dinners in the other room (and now I can even stop worrying about trying to find a coffee set that is patterned, and get an easy-to-find white set).

This shows the bottom shelf better:

These are the two small counters that cover up my gas canisters.

Close up - I will probably put wheels on this one to make it easier to get in and out when changing the gas tank.

This one was a lot harder to figure out than I expected! It is not rectangular because I need room to maneuver - the door is on the right, and the fridge is next to that.

It's a hard feeling to describe, but I like it that I have something useful and (especially important in a rental) something that will go with me if/when we move. But most of all, I like it that I have something that lifts my spirits in the kitchen.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tropical Heat

I just added this link to a Heat Index Calculator (thanks Danny!) - it's now in the "Useful Links" section on the side. Coming from a fairly dry part of the world, I never really thought much about humidity and the effects of wet air before. It seemed strange when people would exclaim about "85 degrees, and *85%* humidity!" I had no concept of what that felt like - how was that substantially different than just 85 degrees?

Hmmm - well! Since moving to the tropics, I have definitely seen what all the fuss is about! Humidity makes a difference. Still, it's funny when people say it "feels like" 120 degrees. Really, it "feels like" 90 degrees and 87% humidity. But then you realize it's all about the warnings - be careful of heat stroke, stay out of the heat, etc. I definitely took advantage of the cool pool when the heat and humidity spiked :-).

The thing I would like to see is some way to relate to cooler temperatures with high humidity. For example, in rainy season, my area very often is 70 degrees, with the humidity at 75% - that doesn't feel hotter, it feels clammy - aka yucky!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Asian Groceries to Your Door

If you enjoy Asian cooking, you will *love* "Super Sony" in San José! It is an Asian market *full* of delightful foods - prepared sauces, spices, dried mushrooms, interesting candies, umpteen types of rice, wasabi, fresh eggplant, tofu, soy cheeses...

If you need chopsticks, steamers, soup spoons, or whatever, they have that too. Oh! and an *enormous* wok! at *least* a yard in diameter - c75.000 and it's yours!

For my friends living in Costa Rica who can't (or just don't want to) get into San José often, this joy will take your grocery list via phone or email, and send your goodies to you - anywhere in the country! While you would probably want to make at least a first trip in to see what is possible, all you need to do* for deliveries is:
1) call or email your list (English or Spanish) to Carolina:
carolina REMOVE_THIS [at] supersony [dot] com
2) they will reply with a price and date available, and money transfer info
3) transfer money to them
4) wait for you goodies to arrive!

* my caveat - I haven't done this, since I live near enough (and don't need stuff that often)

To get there, go 350 m South of the National Theatre on Calle 3. It's on the left, between Ave 8 and Ave 10.

I went today, and this evening's dinner was a fabulous Chicken and Veggies in Garlic Black Bean Sauce - to die for!

Green Mango Chicken

When I made Mango Chicken once, a Tica was surprised that I had used ripe mango - and I thought, "hmmm, I wonder what the alternative would be..."
Well, I finally decided to try it - Green Mango Chicken - it is *very* different! But still good :-)

Green Mango Chicken

Saute in a large pan:
- Butter
- Soy oil
- 1 large green mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped
- cubed chicken
- enough water for sauce
- handful of celery
- handful of green onion
- 1/2 handful of culantro
- dash of garam masala
- dash of garlic
- dash of black pepper
- a lot of ginger
- diced green beans

Serve over rice.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sabana Estadio Bus - San Jose

I had a short day of school yesterday, so I took a long-anticipated scouting trip on the Sabana Estadio bus! It took about an hour, and I saw part of San Jose that I haven't seen much of before, including a nice view of the new stadium being built.
I just missed a bus at 11:05, but caught one at 11:10 - I'm not sure if that says anything conclusive about the schedule, though. That was across the street from the National Gymnasium, and in front of the Libreria Universal (Sabana Sur). At 11:25, we stopped in downtown San Jose, in front of the Banco Popular, across the avenida from the National Theatre. Turned out this was the terminal (marked w/ a double cross on the map below), and we all had to get off the bus. I hopped on the next outgoing bus, and we rounded the caja and headed West. We were back at the east end of La Sabana park by 11:55, and passed the stadium a couple of minutes after noon. (I think) because this was noon, my bus took an alternate route (marked by "A" on the map), and bypassed the Libreria Universal at 12:12.
By 12:32, I was back at the Banco Popular terminal, and headed downtown to meet Rick for lunch :-).

After all this time, thinking that we were missing out on a perfect bus route, it was actually nice to know that we weren't really missing much. But it is still good to know a new route!
(oh yeah, one ride = c160, or about 30 cents)