Lessons from the kitchen, part 2

I have been reflecting on lifestyle commitments for myself as I think towards transitioning back to the U.S. One area that has always been important to me is food/hospitality. As I record these lessons from my kitchen in Nicaragua, I want them to serve as a reminder to myself to keep it simple.


Shank family at our dining room table! Back when we still had 6 bowls and 6 spoons...

Shank family at our dining room table! Back when we still had 6 bowls and 6 spoons…

  • Don’t be so uptight when having people over
  • Nobody cares that you don’t have matching plates, silverware, cups
  • Fighting the dust/dirt battle is useless. You will lose
  • Go ahead, spill things on my floor! I can just mop it up
  • Make people welcome when they come in – offer them cold water. If you’re having 20 people over at a time, this could mean that all you do is fill water cups, wash said cups, fill up water jugs and rotate them in your fridge.
  • Ice = gold. Don’t depend on your neighbor having ice to sell you on a hot Sunday afternoon. Start making ice at least the day before. As soon as your 2 ice trays are hard, dump into another container and repeat.


Cooking mango chicken curry with mom

Cooking mango chicken curry with mom

  • Eat fresh (not canned) food
  • Recipe calls for 1 14oz. can of tomatoes? Chop them yourself! How about a bag of shredded cabbage? Shred it yourself! 
  • Think about packaging. Don’t buy it if the package is bigger than the product itself
  • Reuse the packaging that you do buy. Broccoli comes in plastic wrap? Use it to wrap up your leftovers. Empty glass pickle jar? Use it to store your chia seeds. Empty jelly jar? Hello new drinking glass.
  • Think hard before throwing away food. People literally dig through your trash.
  • Eat seasonally. Even in Nicaragua where it is hot year-round, it is definitely in the “scorching hot” season right now, which means cold foods and drinks top the list.


Recipes we are enjoying right now:

Cold-brewed iced coffee

200 grams (a bit under 1/2 a pound) of ground coffee
4 liters (quarts) of water

Dump the coffee into a large container with a lid. Pour the water in, making sure all the coffee gets wet. Stir. Cover and let sit on your counter overnight. In the morning, strain your coffee through a filter or cheesecloth. Store in a pitcher in your fridge. To drink: Pour into your cup, add a splash of milk and a few ice cubes.

Adam’s Gazpacho

5 med. tomato
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1 green pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
onion and garlic (optional)

Wash and roughly chop all the vegetables. Put them all in the blender. Blend and add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Best served chilled. Other serving options: dice a little bit of each vegetable to serve on top; serve with grilled cheese croutons (make a grilled cheese sandwich and cut into squares).

Taco Pasta 

(this recipe kind of goes against what I was saying about not using packaged foods, but it is an easy and delicious occasional variation to rice and beans.)

small bag of pasta
2 c. cooked beans
small can of corn
small can of salsa
cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4c. cream cheese
1/2c. shredded cheese

Boil the pasta according to directions. Drain. Set aside. Drain and rinse the canned corn. In the same pot where you boiled the pasta, add the beans and corn to heat. Add the salsa, spices, sour cream, cream cheese, and shredded cheese. Stir until combined. Add the pasta and stir.
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be served HOT OR COLD!

Explore posts in the same categories: Marisa

One Comment on “Lessons from the kitchen, part 2”

  1. Cheryl Says:

    i really enjoyed this blog. Recipes sound great and i might have to try making Adam’s gazpacho

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