Buche de Noele

Buche de Noel

My Steve was born on Christmas Day and since I love all things French, I decide long ago that his birthday cake would be a Buche de Noel – his middle name is even Noel. I don’t think I ever asked him if there was some other kind of cake he preferred or even if he liked chocolate cake. A buche it is.
When we lived up north, I had a several successful attempts. Over the years, I’ve learned to make an acceptable genoise and a pretty good ganache. Whipped cream, butter, and dark chocolate, how can you go wrong?  I’ve even carried the cake to other family members’ homes with few problems.
But baking in Costa Rica is a whole different animal.  First, there’s no such thing here as “heavy” cream for whipping. There’s only ultra-processed cream-like liquid in a tetra pak.  I don’t think it has any butter fat in it. I do my best by getting it really cold.  I even chill the metal bowl and the beaters. But it’s 85 degrees in my kitchen on Christmas Day and nothing stays cold for long.  With the oven on, I just have to take my pants off, wishing I was 25 again and that someone might appreciate this view.  Every year, as I struggle to get the mousse to firm up and the ganache to stay on the rolled cake, I beg to Steve to shoot me if I even threaten to try it again next year.

Mine didn't even look this good.

Mine didn’t even look this good.

Yesterday, we rigged up a support system of ice and wedges in the Styrofoam cooler – pre-chilled, of course – to transport what should be a simple dessert to the dinner venue.  I cringed with shame as I set the mess on the table in front of my friends. But after tasting it, they raved and begged me to make it again next year.  Really, how can you go wrong with dark chocolate, butter and cream?  Maybe I’ll just put it in a bowl next year with a dozen spoons for passing.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I have been keeping this Ponsettia alive in a planter for several years now.  It lives most of the year on a shady terrace.  When I move it into the sun, the leaves turn green but timing is everything.  Last year it was too hot and all the leaves fell off.  This year, with late rains and cooler weather, it’s still pretty green with only 10 days to go.  But I think it’s beautiful in all it’s variations.

Happy holidays, however you celebrate.

Peace!

Hoffman's woodpecker

Hoffman’s woodpecker

The Bolseros (Orioles) were late today, beaten by the Hoffman’s Woodpecker.

Social Flycatcher

Social Flycatcher

Each morning a parade of birds stops by our bamboo to survey the neighborhood and make a plan for the day.

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From the Voice of Guanacaste, this is the best thing I’ve read about what all those people are doing on the beach at Ostional during a turtle Arrival (Arribada).  It says that, in a big Arribada, many of the eggs are destroyed by other turtles “over-digging”.  When 251,000 turtles try to lay their eggs on the same stretch of beach within a few days, it’s bound to happen.  So harvesting during the first 3 days doesn’t have a big impact on overall survival.  Caring for the nests and cleaning the beach, however, does have an impact, a positive one.

http://www.vozdeguanacaste.com/en/gallery/turtle-eggs-ostionals-subsidy

What the article doesn’t explain is how SINAC assesses the market and who the buyers are.  Even so, if you run the numbers, you can quickly see that a large Arribada like we saw in September produces a $40 share for each of the 230 members.  Seems like a labor of love to me.  More important, perhaps, to turtle survival is to stop polluting the oceans.

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