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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mango delight

Twenty years ago Rose planted mango seeds, from which three or four trees have been allowed to grow.

It's the mango season here now, and they are plentiful in the stores and on the streets.  Our trees have excelled themselves, and every flat surface in and around our house is covered in big, fat mangos.

Our mangos are the best.  No exaggeration.  I have eaten a great many over the last twenty-three years and no mangos commercially available are as good, flavourful and juicy as those from one of our trees. They have thinner seeds, too, which means more of the weight is edible flesh.  You will notice from the photos that our mangos do not necessarily have the clear  yellow colour the commercially grown product usually has.  I don't know how the growers get them that way, but our dull skins do not detract in any way from their eating qualities

They have to be harvested carefully as if they are allowed to fall they get damaged, and left on the trees the fruit bats enjoy them.  Fortunately Sonny Lopez, our part-time helper, is small, strong and agile and can go up the trees as necessary to bring the mangos down.  He can then take a big bag of them home for himself and his family, and Rose has to give away as many as possible as fast as possible.


We have known Sonny for almost twenty three years and he has has been a great help to us in many ways, building and maintaining much of our house and willing to do almost anything.  He has never learned to read paper plans, which has been a slight disadvantage but since I can read them easily it doesn't matter much.  During the  years I spent building and sailing boats here, he was a frequent companion in my trips to other islands, besides being a great help in the boat-building process.  For a number of years we employed Sonny full time, but he began to develop other interests and take on social and community duties - elder in his church and president of a local association, plus a small business of his own - so the arrangement morphed into part time.  It's enough, as it happens, as we have no big projects in hand now.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Yogurt making

I happen to be very fond of yogurt.  None is available in this town, so I have tried various methods of making my own.  We can easily get through a litre of yogurt every day between the three of us, as we like to use it in cooking.

The first try I used powdered filled milk ("Alaska" brand) with some skimmed milk powder added.  I mixed it in water, about 1.5 litres, heated it to 180 deg F, and after letting it cool to 115 deg I added a teaspoon of Lactopafi (a kind of horrible health drink we can buy here), which I was hoping might contain suitable live bacilli.  I transferred all to a clean vacuum flask and after about eight hours I opened it to find and enjoy some excellent yogurt!  I was surprised.

I made another successful batch, and yet another using Yakult as a starter, but then things began to go wrong and I could never duplicate my first attempts successfully.  Instead of yogurt, I got cheesy curds and whey.

After three unsuccessful attempts, I gave up and decided to buy a yogurt maker.  I chose "Easiyo", and it came with a packet of milk powder and starter mixed.

This device is very simple and consists of an external insulating container, into which you pour boiling water.  You mix the powder with water to one litre in a separate inner container, which is closed tight and lowered part way into the hot water, then the lid is put on the external container and after 8 to 12 hours (8 hours for me, our climate is warm) there you have your yummy yogurt.  Couldn't be simpler.

The next day I made another batch from Alaska powder, skim milk and a spoonful of the first batch for starter.  That was successful, too.

I will just go on using previous batches as starters until that stops working, then I will try Yakult again.  If that doesn't work I will just buy another ready-mixed packet from the original vendor.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Done it again: woke after two or three hours sleep with "The Whistling Gypsy Rover" running through my mind.  I like the little story.  Wasn't long before the record was changed for "The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies," a song whose melody I prefer but whose words I had to get out of bed and go online to check.

Three gypsies stood at the castle gate, they sang so high, they sang so low.
The lady sate in her chamber late, her heart it melted away like snow.

They sang so sweet, they sang so shrill, at last her tears began to flow
And she laid down her silken gown, her golden rings and all her show.

She plucked off her high-heeled shoes, a-made of Spanish leather-O
She would in the street in her bare, bare feet all out in the wind and weather-O.

Saddle to me my milk white steed and go and fetch me my pony-O
That I may ride and seek my bride who’s gone with the wraggle taggle gypsies-O!

He rode high and he rode low, he rode through woods and copses-O
Until he came to a open field and there he espied his a-lady-O.

“What makes you leave your house and land, your golden treasures to forgo?
What makes you leave your new wedded lord, to follow the wraggle taggle gypsies-O?”

“What care I for my house and land? What care I for my treasures-O?
What care I for my new wedded lord? I’m off with the wraggle taggle gypsies-O!”

“Last night you slept on a goose-feathered bed, with the sheet turned down so bravely-O.
Tonight you'll sleep in a cold open field along with the wraggle taggle gypsies-O!”

“What care I for a goose-feathered bed with the sheet turned down so bravely-O?
Tonight I’ll sleep in a cold open field along with the wraggle taggle gypsies-O!”


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