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Finally found the perfect Christmas Tree !!!

Since my previous Christmas tree (I have a love for untraditional in this matter) died summer 2012 – I have searched for a new one… Today, 1.5 years later I finally found it!!!

So happy !

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La Tamalera

La Tamalera means the woman that makes Tamales. You may wonder what a Tamal is, but no reason to get impatient. I’ll get to that all throughout this post.

Tamales are one of the most time-honored Christmas traditions in Costa Rica. Like the rest of Latin America, tamales are a principal part of Christmas dinner. In Costa Rica, tamales are made from corn flour and are filled with many different ingredients, such as potato puree, rice, vegetables, garlic and onions, and shredded pork or chicken or beef, all wrapped in banana leaves and tied with string into squares, and boiled.

Christmas traditions in Costa Rica

After last nights party I slept in. Something that resulted in it being very warm already (26C) when I woke up. So… I decided to sleep some more.

When I woke up again it was already 1pm and Roshy y Mami had started making Tamales.

Roshy and I were put into the time lengthy job of cleaning the banana leaves so they were all clean of dust and other stuff, preparing them for using.

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Roxana washing Banana leaves

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Me washing Banana leaves

mami started cookinge the meat and the vegetables for the filling and the broth.

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Meat cooking and preparing for Tamales

Then we prepared the fillings.
We used Carrots, Prunes, Olives, Red bell peppers, Green peas, raisins and potatoes cut in stripes.
Not to forget:  For each tamal a peace of meat.

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Carrots prepared to be used as filling for Tamales

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Mami preparing La masa (the dough)

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How to fill a Tamal

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Mami filling tamales

Once the Tamales are filled, bundle them up two and two and put in a huge casserole for cooking. They now need 1-2 hours of cooking.

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Finished Tamales – Wrapped and ready for cooking

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Tamales cooking over open fire outside in the yard

Of course, this was a lot of work and a lot of effort inside today, however it was an excellent way to spend the day with my family and learn one of the most popular traditions for christmas.

And.. For dinner. Tamales.. Yummy :D

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Our Christmas Portal

For the full recipe to make Tamales go to my Recipe blog

Birthday Celebration with Sis

Tomorrow I fly down to Netherlands and tomorrow is also my birthday so today my sister came over after work for home cooked dinner and gift exchange and champagne :D

We had Herb Marinated Steak, Chanterelle Chili Mushroom stew and Corn Cubs for dinner with a lovely champagne.

We sat outside on the balcony enjoying a beautiful sunny day and we wanted to enjoy the last rest of summer. It was warm and nice and not a cloud to be seen.

After dinner we had the gift exchange and I got a nice backpack cooling bag from mom for hikes in the forest, a necklace and earrings from sister, and a book from mom. My dad had sent money (which is always good).

A very nice celebration of my day ! :D

Warning! Extra HOT!

 Due to my good friend Stevens visit in Oslo with his girlfriend Katrien I invited some of my friends over for a nice dinner party. One of my friends, Øyvind, was one of the guys Steven also met last time he came to visit 2 years ago.

We first started off with Snacks and drinks in the living room and one of the things I served was the Da Bomb Ghost Pepper Nuts that I bought in London during my last visit there. These nuts are covered in the Naga Jolokia – (the world’s hottest pepper)

Check here for a video of a guy eating the Naga Jolokia raw… HAHAHAHA.. Im soooo NOT doing this.

The guys (and some of the girls) had a great time trying out the hot nuts and laughing when our faces turned red and teary due to the hotness.

Then we moved in to the kitchen for dinner. I had made a home-made Lasagna. It was quite awesome, but one of my guests loves really hot food and I told him that due to respect for my other guests I could not add as much Chili as i normally would when f.ex him and I would have dinner by ourselves.

Hence I told him of my other spicy purchases in London. The Dave’s Gourmet Ghost Pepper Sauce and the Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Sauce  (from Dave’s Gourmet)- also made based on the Naga Joloika and Bhut Joloika peppers – called Ghost Peppers. The Label states – So Hot its spooky.

Katrien, Øyvind and Steven with the Insanity Sauce

So, Øyvind started off with the Insanity Sauce – all brave and none of us had the slightest idea on how hot this sauce was.. Yeah sure… The name Insanity Sauce should have kept us warned – but at the same time who really believes that it is this hot? Hahaha. The second Øyvind had swallowed his first drop of the Insanity Sauce his face went tomato red and he started sweating – for the joy of all the people around the table. He served again and soon started asking for drinks and paper to wipe of the sweat. I gave in – I had to try. I dipped the fork into a drop of the sauce and thankfully I didnt serve as much as Øyvind, but it was insanely hot. Then Jon gave it a try and then Steven opened the Ghost Pepper Sauce. We had so many good laughs due to the weird facial expressions during this dinner due to all the hot spices. 

Madeleine, Gibbs and Jon

Of course after all the fun we started reading the warnings on the bottles and had even more fun.

The Insanity Sauce
The original Hottest Sauce in the Universe!
A great cooking ingredient for sauces, soups and stews.
Also, strips waxed floors and removes driveway grease stains. ENJOY!

The Ghost Pepper
:
So Hot its Spooky!
This is a delicious addition to most any food, but especially sauces, meat, and ethnic foods.
It is also a great industrial cleaner and grease remover.

Both bottles had this
WARNING! on them:
Use this product one drop at a time. Keep away from eyes, pets and children. Not for people with heart/respiratory problems. Shake well and refrigerate after opening.

So what we were eating was things that could be used for stipping waxed floors, cleaning driveway grease stains and being an industrial cleaner. NICE JOB!
More laughs ! We had lots of wine with this meal and of course due to this we had a lot more fun :D 

For dessert we had home made raspberry chocolate chip brownies with strawberry Ice cream :D Yummy :D

It was a great night!

Kitchen table

Today I have ordered a kitchen table and chairs !! Woohoo..

It sure took me forever to decide – but  I had to make sure I was going to stay happy with my decicion over time – hence I had to make sure I chose a table that I was going to be happy with a long time.

The table I have chosen is from Skeidar and it will arrive in about 3 weeks time. Possibly in perfect time for the move-in party!

My new kitchen table will arrive in 3 weeks time

Spring Optimism

Flowers reminding me that Spring is NOT far away

I am sick and tired of winter, cold wind, snow and other things related to winter!

Some spring signs are showing though, the snow has started to melt some places, days are again finally longer than the nights and birds are returning to spend the summer in the north…

However, despite this being one of the hardest winters in many years (both temperature wise, lenght, loosing my job and a depression I went through)…

I must admit that this winter has had some positive sides to it.

  • I did learn to snowboard
  • I have almost finished refurbishing my apartment
  • I found a new job which I love

None of which makes me long less for spring though…

So, I decided to start spring all by myself today – I went to the flower shop and got lots of flowers for outside decorations and started planting and decorating my veranda !!
At least this way I feel a bit more that spring has arrived.

It looks really nice now.
I feel very happy with the change :D

In addition to this daylight saving changes to summertime tonight and that sure will be great !!!

Project Guestroom – Done sanding the floor !!

THIS IS  A DAY I HAVE LOOKED FWD TO WITH GREAT ANTICIPATION ! 

I have finished the job of sanding the floor in the guestroom !! I’m inmensely proud of myself (!) and the results are flattering !

Last night I went to Maxbo (the do-it-yourself store) to rent a floor sanding machine (actually 2, 1 huge one for the main part of the floor and 1 small one for the corners). However due to the huge amount of noise the machine made I could not work last night and had to wait to start until today.

I have hacked and hammered on the restpieces of the glue for almost 2 months now and last night my Couchsurfing friend, Maikel, and I finished hacking enough to rent the machines to do the rest.

Problem is that these machines get very hot while working and hence old glue and leftovers will melt with the fast process and the sandpapers can start burning. Not the best option :D

I still have to oil and enamel, but… that job’s just a piece of cake compared to the task I finished today !