Sunday, October 24, 2010

Eighteen times two . . .

. . . that's the amount of roses I got for my birthday!!! :)  Let me tell you how it happened . . . Bobby sent me 18 beautiful, long stem, multicolored roses on my birthday (19 October).  Once I followed all the "instructions" that came in the box (Fill a clean vase 3/4 full with fresh cool tap water and add 1 packet of flower food.  Cut 1 inch off the stems under running water and immediately place in vase), I captured the moment by taking several pictures of my roses . . . they looked absolutely gorgeous!  I decided I would leave the arrangement at the office, so I could enjoy it the rest of the week. :)

The next morning I couldn't believe what I saw . . . almost half of the flowers were wilted and the leaves were dry and brittle!!!  I was feeling so sad!!!  When I talked to Bobby around mid morning, I told him how glad I was I had taken pictures of my roses the day before because they were wilting already, even though the instructions said that the roses would fully bloom in 3-4 days.  "No way"Bobby said—"Take pictures and e-mail them to me so I can complain."  And so I did . . .

I hadn't had the flowers for even 24 hours and they looked terrible!!!

Bobby called me later that afternoon and told me that I would be getting a new arrangement by Friday!!! :)  When I got the box on Friday afternoon, I decided to take them straight home.  Again, I followed the instructions but, this time, I added ice cubes to the water . . . my flowers are still looking beautiful!!! :)

And . . . of course . . . I know this is my first posting since July, but there was a lot going on . . . a trip to Michigan, long hours at the office, the visit of a friend from Canada, family problems in Lima . . . and getting off my vegan diet.  In August, when I first went on vacation after starting my diet, I had a lovely time with Bobby . . . but being on the road at remote little towns or at his dad's house (in the woods) where I didn't have any access to vegan products, made it hard for me to keep my commitment.  I noticed that once you break the cycle, it's kind of hard to get back in track.  I've been trying my best to eat vegan certain days, but—for the most part—I've failed miserably!!! :(

Anyway . . . this time I'm just trying to relax and take things easier so that I don't get anxious! :)  Today I decided to make another Peruvian dish, "Papas a la Huancaína" (Potatoes in Huancaina Sauce or Potatoes Huancaina-Style), which I love!  This is a cold appetizer consisting of boiled potatoes covered in a spicy yellow sauce and comes from a region in the Andes called Huancayo.  The original recipe is vegetarian (with milk and cheese), but I modified it for a vegan version.  This is what I came up with:

"Papas a la Huancaína"

6 medium yukon gold potatoes
2 tbsp Aji Amarillo (yellow peppers) paste (found at any Latin store)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
4 saltine crackers, crushed
1-12.3 oz (349 g) package of firm Silken tofu
3/4 cup almond milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Botija olives (found at any Latin store) or other black olives (like Kalamata)

Wash the potatoes, peel them, slice them (half inch thick) and cook them in a pot of salted water until fork tender, but still firm.  Set aside and let them cool slightly.
Place aji amarillo paste, oil, garlic and saltine crackers in a blender and mix for 1-2 minutes.  Crumble tofu into small pieces and add it to the blender.  Pulse until combined.  While blending, slowly add the almond milk until the mixture reaches a thick, sauce-like consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Place 3-4 potato slices on a plate, pour sauce over and garnish with pitted black olives.  The sauce can be served chilled (which makes it thicken up nicely) or at room temperature.  Some people also garnish the plates with lettuce leaves, but I find that the sauce then gets into the crevices of the leaves and, since I don't eat the lettuce, it's kind of a waste of the yummy sauce!!! :)

Yields 3-4 servings