Monday, June 28, 2010

How to find info on this blog

Some visiters have asked about museums and restaurants here in Cuenca.

You can easily find our 'take'...  do a 'search' with your key words through the 'search the blog' window on the left hand entries will come right up.

Be sure to check the other blogs, too...lots of great info.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 25, 2010

One more cooking class...New Orleans!

We sure have been enjoying these classes!  Lots of good info on techniques, ingredients and where to find, very good recipes...  We like the company, too! 

Last night's theme was 'New Orleans'.......  gumbo, potato salad, a shrimp dish, cornbread and a bread pudding with lemon sauce.  All very delicious!

Here's a picture of the class, just getting ready to dig in...starting on the left, and going around the table...Nancy, Chuck, Holly, teacher Leslie, Brian, Nancy (Rich took the picture.)  Mary, Leslie's helper, is in the background.

The cornbread was cooked in a cast iron skillet with bacon bits...  The plate on the right is a shrimp 'salad', with a wonderful sauce...Chicken/sausage gumbo (stew) is in the bowls...not spicy hot, but you can always add peppers or hot sauce to 'hop up the heat'.  Way good!

No okra in the gumbo, a good thing (for some of us who don't appreciate it).  We don't think you can find okra here in the markets...not that we've looked...

The potato salad, especially good with the gumbo, has a green onion dressing.

Another wonderful time with good food and good friends...and we learned a thing or 2, too!
If you go back in our blog, you will see pics of previous classes...and Leslie's email if you want to sign up for a class.  Highly recommended!


A couple more fun pics to share...

More bouquets of gorgeous flowers!  All from the flower market, just about every kind available...roses, glads, lilies...

We're still blown away by the beauty and the choices!

We walked to town with Nancy yesterday...not a Sunday walk and you could definitely tell the difference!  During the week, there is more traffic, more noise, more pollution.

You know how you can get the 'feeling' you're being watched?  Well, we did and looked up...We saw just the cutest doggie up on a roof!  He was busy checking us out.

Not sure how he got up there...but, he seemed just fine and very sure-footed on the roof tile.

You never know what you'll see on those walks to downtown...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Linda's Birthday Party and Sunday

We were delighted to help celebrate Linda's Birthday at the California Kitchen.

It was a potluck...and the food was all delicious.  There are some VERY good cooks here in Cuenca!

Brian's famous pate!

Chuck's Scotch Eggs! 

And, a whole lot more...  smoked chicken, salads, Barbara's pineapple salsa, our veggie lasagna...2 big tables full of gourmet snacks, all just yummy.

Happy Birthday, Linda!  Best Wishes and lots of happiness for you!


We were soooo happy to see Nancy back in Cuenca!  On Sunday, we walked to town for breakfast.

We took a different route.  Chuck had shown us this route earlier while Nancy was traveling, so we wanted to share it with her, too.  Fairly empty streets, but it was still early morning.

There was a crowd doing...something...that we had to watch for a few minutes.  We finally decided it was an exercise program of some sort.  There were also other events around the City promoting fitness.

Here's our version...

It's still cold here and it rained and Rich got this next picture from the porch.  Still pretty, even in the rain.

A chilly, clear night with City lights, another picture from the porch.

We're going into the winter season here, as our friends and family in the North are going into the summer. 

Happy Solstice!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cooking Class -- Appetizers

We did it again...another cooking class with Leslie and friends.  This time it was 'appetizers' with Brian, Chuck, Barbara and Howard.  Lots of fun!

Leslie showed us how to make the most delicious treats!  Here's Leslie, cooking Scotch Eggs.  These are hardboiled eggs inside sausage, for those who haven't had the joy of eating these!  British Pub Food, but these are 'gourmet' version.

Hard to choose our favorites, but the Scotch Eggs (with tiny quail eggs!) were right up there on the top of the faves.

Also on the cooking/eating agenda:  cucumber 'cups' stuffed with crab salad, carrot dip (with cumin, ginger, honey, topped with feta and black olives), stuffed grapes (with pistachio nuts and goat cheese), very tasty cheese crackers...  The 2nd pic shows the sliced Scotch Eggs and a pineapple salsa, served with plantain chips.
One more (no picture) is an Italian bonconcini, a '3 layer sandwich' on skewers...  Sliced baguette with melted mozzarella cheese and basil leaves, and a butter/olive oil sauce with anchovies, capers, lemon...yummy!

Wow, what a feast!

We have another class scheduled next week...stay tuned for 'New Orleans'.

If you'd like more information or to schedule a class (Leslie has several to choose from), you can contact her direct at

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bits to Share...Just 'life'

Here are little bits of news and info to share...

We've been dealing with some 'stuff' on the new rentals...all we're still on schedule.  The vendor work is progressing very well!  This week is a biggie for deliveries of linens, shades and furniture (more on that later).  Elevator doors are installed!

We're really getting into 'tea time'!  We bought some fresh chamomile at the market recently and made some tea...Our dentist suggested using it as a mouthwash to help heal some little sore places, as Rich had his dentures adjusted.  Worked like a charm and sure beats a conventional medicine.  We're always surprised and delighted that dentists, as well as doctors, suggest more home-made, herbal remedies.

This tea can also help with itchy skin (use topically) , sleepless nights and is so much more calming than another cup of coffee.  At the markets, look for bunches of flowers that look like little white daisies with a yellow center. Google for pictures and tea recipes.

Your tea will look like:

Speaking of 'flowers', aren't these beautiful!  Rich brought home MANY flowers a couple days ago and we created several bouquets.  The pretty flowers on the left of the photo are gifts from friends...

Rich also brought home some of the best tangerines!  If you're in Cuenca, it's tangerine season...the wheelbarrow vendors in town have the best ones. 

Some days it definitely feels (and looks) like winter here..........chilly (some nights are downright cold!), rainy, drizzly...

Soup weather!  Lots of good soup in Cuenca.  Nothing like a good, hot soup to warm the bones.  Every restaurant offers soup on the menu...just about every kind.  Rich really likes a fish/onion soup when he's out and about in the mornings.  Reminds him of the Asian soups in SF.  (With hot sauce, it's pretty close to Vietnamese 'fish-eye' soup, he says.)  Perks him right up.  Nancy prefers the potato soups.  Always good...usually served with avocado and cheese. 

We've made soup at home, too.  Easy and the veggies are very fresh in the markets.  You can find commercial broth powder in the markets and at SuperMaxi, but they usually contain MSG and other stuff.  Easy to make your own broth...whole chickens come with all the parts...or you can buy just the parts at the markets.

We've gotten some questions from folks headed our way, asking about what to pack...We tell them to come prepared for 'weather' snow, but chilly and some rain, and some sun.  Pack clothes to layer, a light jacket, a rain/sun hat.  No need for beach wear, so you can replace those short pants and flip-flops for warmer clothing.  (Actually, shorts are not normal attire, in any season,  in Cuenca...think conservative dress, neat, clean and stylish. Jeans in good condition are just fine.)   Bring good walking shoes, sunglasses and your favorite sunscreen, too.  We're glad we brought flannel robes and sweats and wool sox for lounging at home.  Most (warm sweater, umbrellas, sunglasses, hats, unscreen, etc) can be bought here, too. 

It feels colder this year, at this time, than last.  We've added another blanket to the bed and we pull on our wool fingerless gloves if we're sitting up reading in bed.  Brrr!

We've talked with several expats who are frustrated and worried with the delays in getting their shipping containers to Cuenca.  Some containers, apparently, have been either sitting in customs for weeks or have been delayed 'somewhere' in transit.  Not sure of reasons.  Folks have been complaining of the 'nightmare', the 'time wasting' of trying to track down their stuff, the worry over maybe theft and broken items when the container does finally arrive (and they all seem to eventually come in).  One gal, just the other day, told us that if she'd known about all the angst, she wouldn't have even considered a container.  Life's too short!  So much worry!  Not good!

We sympathize, we really do...and we're so happy we decided to not go with the container option.  We moved here with suitcases only.  Just about everything we owned in the USA got either sold or given away before we left and we've re-bought here.  Worked just fine for us, but it's a personal decision.  (We did pay overweight charges on the luggage, but not as expensive as a shipping container!  And, no worries!) 

One of the main reasons we decided against a container was that we really didn't know if we were going to be happy in Cuenca, or even Ecuador, for the longer term.  Who really knows until you're here for awhile?  We knew we'd have choices, but we didn't know if we'd eventually choose urban or country, apartment or house, furnished or non...We also didn't really know if the altitude would be a problem for us.  We figured that shipping a container of goods might make us less mobile, if we decided to move on.  We wanted to keep it simple.

We also knew that most everything we would need can be bought here.  Our first trip to Ecuador (to visit Bob and Rox at the coast) was an eye-opener, in terms of available goods and services...  At the time, Bob and Rox had begun outfitting their house with lovely furniture, kitchen stuff, linens and they had hired workers for some remarkable, first class, we knew it was all possible without all the 'stuff' coming via container.  Gave us hope.

In our minds, it pretty much came down to this:  All we really needed was each other...and as many suitcases as we could manage!  We still laugh about some of the things that we did pack in those suitcases...we have yet to wear some of the clothes and, why oh why, did we bring a kitchen timer???  (Yes, you can buy them here.)

We don't have any container advice ...just, do your homework and bring lots of patience if you decide to go the container route.  An attorney who specializes in customs/immigration could be an option, too.

We have some more cooking classes scheduled ......stay tuned..........and Nancy W returns to Cuenca soon!  We're really excited about that and look forward to the next few Sunday walks as a 4-some, once again.

Last Sunday's walk with Chuck began pretty early, with some chilly temps and a little drizzle.  Not enough wet for a hat or umbrella, but close.  Reminded us so much of San Francisco!  Perfect weather for a walk...not hot, no intense sun, some fog rolling over the mountains... After breakfast, we ran into friends (old and new) at the Park for a bit... 

For newcomers, remember many expats do end up at Parque Calderon late Sunday mornings.  Look around for the 'gringos'...  you can make new friends!  Often, there is music and entertainment in the Park on Sundays, too.

We loved watching all the 'posing' activity at the stuffed horses in the Park!  Looks like a family affair.  Love the big hats and the happy kids...(Friends back in Oregon will laugh...we had to remember our conversations of 'big hat, no cattle'!)

Here's a shot of road work on Av Bolivar...  runs from San Sebastian to San Blas (you can see the San Blas Church at the end of the road.) 

We hear that 4 different contracts were awarded on the road work...lots of folks at work, beautifying the City.  You can walk through the construction (at least we could if we wanted to on Sunday)...not sure when it will be all done.  We chose to skirt-around the work on our Sunday Walk.  We'll be watching the progress and we'll be excited to see it all done soon.

Awhile ago, a reader asked for a closer picture of the frigata birds from it is:

Hope everyone is having a good start to the week ahead.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Sweet" Sunday

Cuenca has been celebrating for the last few days.  Lots of fireworks and lots of candy!

Corpus Christi is a Church holiday...goes back to the 1500's in Cuenca when the Spanish arrived.  (The holiday is also known as Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Catholic Church.)  As the story goes, the Church created this holiday to replace the people's celebration of the June Solstice.

We did see many Church attendees on our Sunday walk with Chuck...but, here in Cuenca, Corpus Christi also means sweets...big-time!

Over a 100 vendor stalls wrap around the New Cathedral...all selling sweets of all kinds...candy, cakes, cookies.  (Lots of bees enjoying the sweets, too.)

Check it out:

Sunday, we 3 got an early morning start (we missed you, Nancy!)  We petted the neighborhood doggie (and gave him a treat).
For those who like the shopping can find at Fybeca...It's a nylon-type fabric, folds up very tiny for your pocket.  Several prints/colors available.

We had a bite and a cuppa at the Kookaburra Cafe, visiting with friends there.  Then headed to the Square for more visits with friends and, of course, had to buy some 'sweets' for later.  (The coconut/chocolate balls are very good!)

Chatting with Chuck at the Cafe:

Nancy and Donna enjoying the sunshine (love the hat!):

This next pic is of Fredi, one of our favorite doggies, making a new friend.

We like this pic, too...shows a variety of transportation at the Square...
skateboarders and a horse drawn carriage and a little one riding peacefully on Mom's back.

We hear fireworks will continue through this week at the Square.  (We've been enjoying them in our neighborhood, too)  When we asked how long the candy sale would last, we were told that the sale would continue until everything was all sold out!  Our blood sugar will never be the same.

Check out Rich's new hat. We made this purchase Sunday, too.  No flower purchases at the Flower Market this time, but we did get the hat.  (Sometimes you need a bit more than sunscreen, especially for the walks to town...) 
Thanks, Chuck, for the shopping tips!

Another enjoyable Sunday.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Liza's solo art show

We were absolutely delighted to attend the opening of a very special solo art exhibit, presented by the Mayor of Cuenca. 

Our friend, Liza, of micro-mosaic art fame, was feted by dignitaries and friends and art lovers...She and her husband/assistant, Larry, presented several art pieces.  The exhibit runs through the month of June.  (Free and open to the public.)

Here's a picture of the latest art (with Liza):

Liza and friends (and her art in the background):

At the building, there are also educational 'storybooks' of how the art is created, step-by-step.  Sample glass and tools and techniques are also exhibited.

We are so proud of Liza and Larry!  All the attention and kudos for the extraordinary art is so well deserved. A wonderful evening and a wonderful show.

See Liza's website for more info (link on the sidebar.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Welcome *Home*, Clarke and Brenda!

Yay!  Clarke and Brenda have arrived back in Cuenca!

Don't they look happy...relieved.......and exhausted!

We first met them when they visited almost a year ago.  They vowed to return 'for good'...and they did!

We watched their computer countdown, day by day, as they went through all the angst, joy and frustrations (actually, the whole range of emotions) most everyone goes through as you get the planning and packing done for the final move.  They did all that, and now they are here! 

We thought it'd be fun to take a walk down memory lane...
To revisit the link to the blog entry about the night we met, go to our blog archives, back to June 2009 for our visit to a Benihana-type restaurant with friends.

More fun pictures from last year's visit...not the best of pics, but you can tell we were having a great time!

Charlie, Brenda and Nancy...

Brenda and Clarke!

Bruce and Clarke...

Brenda/Clarke (and doggies):  We wish you the most happiness and the very best of times here in Cuenca...Guess what!  You're not in Kansas anymore! 

(Their blog is a link on the sidebar.)