Appreciating Nature's Gifts
APPRECIATING NATURE’S GIFTS, PLUS MY THIN FOCACCIA RECIPE
BY DEBY HOGUE • I wrote this article for Sixty and Me
It’s the rainy season here in Costa Rica and it makes me think of comfort food. There’s only one small problem – it’s hot out! It might be raining, but, the temperature is still in the 80’s.
So I’m dreaming of a hot bowl of soup. I love lentil soup with a dollop of pesto on top, or maybe a good vegetable soup. Oh and some bread to go along with it. Of course, I will be baking my own!
Now, I just need to make the perfect tray to go with it and I know just where to look for wood – the river.
At this time of the year, Chuck and I love to walk down to the river. It’s not far at all – maybe a 15 minute walk from our house. It’s where the river meets the ocean.
I love this place for it’s beauty and the ever changing landscape. Many different kinds of birds come to the jungles edge of the river to nest. I love the pelicans. Oh yes, there are crocodiles in this river. Many of the local men fish here and catch some awesome fish. I’m not sure what the crocodiles catch.
I am a scavenger. I love to find things on the shore of the river. A sea purse is one of my favorite things to find down here. The sea purse or Ojo de Bueyes, Eye of the Oxen as it’s called here in Costa Rica is really a drift seed and it’s so beautiful and shiny. It looks like a piece of wood.
Depending on the rainfall, there may be even more to find. Yesterday, we got 5 inches of rain in 24 hours, so there was plenty of stuff to rummage through down by the river.
My Favorite Find
I am always on the lookout for flat pieces of wood that I can carry home. Chuck hates it when I find a large piece – he doesn’t want to carry it!
So, now I just look for pieces that can be used for trays – bread trays or something I can use for serving food on. Chuck will have to get out the belt sander for this job.
I can do it. It’s heavy, but, it sure cleans up the wood that I find and makes it smooth. That said, I always have to get it to Chuck’s specifications. He’s a perfectionist, after all. Did I say it was heavy and hard to do? Well it is.
Sometimes I end up with a really nice serving tray. If the wood has been tumbled by the river and sanded by the ocean it can be perfect.
Here are the pictures of some of my found wood. The one on the right might have been a drawer front. I gave that one away with a loaf of sweet bread on it as a gift.
A New Addition to My World of Bread
I love this crisp Focaccia with Parmesan cheese, rosemary, red chili flakes, sea salt and fresh garlic on top. I placed it on my wood tray from the river.
A glass of wine or a cold beer is perfect with this Focaccia. I know because I made it for us to eat with our Eggplant Parmesan and we ended up eating it all before dinner was even ready. It was so good!
If you would like to give it a try, here’s my recipe.
A Recipe for Crisp and Thin Focaccia
1 1/4 Cups of flour
1/3 Cup semolina flour. I didn’t have this, so I just used 1/3 cup of more flour
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 Teaspoon of salt
1/4 Cup + 3 tablespoons of water
In a medium bowl mix the flour and salt. Then add the olive oil and water. Mix until almost combined.
Put the mixture on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth. Now form it into a ball, cover and let rest for 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. My oven only goes to 400 and it still worked.
Divide the dough into 5 balls, using your fingers. Then, use a rolling pin to make them flat and thin. They don’t have to be perfect… or even very round for that matter.
Place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or pizza pan. Now sprinkle on a little olive oil and whatever you like: parmesan cheese, chili flakes, sea salt, rosemary, basil and fresh chopped garlic.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden. Enjoy! This recipe is adapted from anItalianinmykitchen.com
What do you like to collect? Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share? Please join the conversation.
Deby Hogue knows a little about cooking and baking. On her blog Cooking in the Jungle, she is sharing her sweet life in the jungle of Costa Rica. Born and raised in California, Deby and her husband of 42 years built their “rancho” and retired to enjoy the ocean, nice food, beautiful people in their community and their family.