Pizza night in the bush…Finding ingredients isn’t easy…

We were thrilled to have spotted these elephants on the Crocodile River from the Marloth Park side of the fence separating us from Kruger.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Our goal is to take a photo of increasing numbers of bushbabies on the platform at night as they gently share the little cup of yogurt.  We’ve seen as many as a dozen flying through the trees, and this photo of four on the platform is our record so far. We’ll continue to try for more.

As much as dinner guests enjoy eating traditional South Africa food, we’ve found our guests like experiencing something new and different. As a result of most of our dinner parties, we tend to make more traditional American dishes. 

Last night’s guests of Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken especially found the prospect of eating Americanized pizza appealing. Although we still made it low carb, grain, sugar, and starch free, we made our usual pizzas with a bit of a twist which including three pizzas:

We counted 30 to 35 elephants.

1.  Sausage, mushrooms, olives, onions, and cheese – Tom’s favorite
2.  Pepperoni, mushroom, onions, olives, and cheese
3.  Chicken Thai pizza, a copycat recipe from California Pizza Kitchen, a favorite of mine and Kathy’s.

We made three large pizzas, enough for everyone to try some of each if they so chose. The first problem we had was a lack of the proper type of a third pan. The second problem was,  where would we find pepperoni? The third problem was, where would we find the necessary ingredients to make the copycat recipe located here

It’s interesting to watch their interactions.

Keep in mind. I made a loose version of the above recipe to make it suitable for gluten-free for several of us in the group.  Plus, the sugary additions as shown in the recipe were modified to suit the wheat-free, sugar-free, and starch-free options. It was a bit complicated. But, somehow, I figured it out.

As for the pan, we headed to Marlothi Center yesterday morning and found an excellent pan at the hardware store that even included a rack for future use. That was quite a find.  

As for the pepperoni, we headed to the Butchery in the same little shopping center and found salami that tasted somewhat like pepperoni, although the sliced rounds were much larger.

There were numerous babies in the parade.

Surprisingly, I found a combination of four ingredients at the Bush Center mini-mart to compensate for making the sauce. After tasting proved to be perfect, tasting precise as spicy peanut sauce should taste. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

The chopping and dicing and cheese grating all by hand took almost all day. In my old life, I had a food processor and could have shredded the imported mozzarella cheese and vegetables in a matter of minutes, not hours. But that was then, and this is now.

Tom grated all the cheeses while I cut the vegetables, cooked and diced the chicken, and sliced the three different types of sausages. Then, I cut everything for the side salad. 

Had we arrived a short while earlier, most likely we’d have seen them enter the Crocodile River.

On Friday, I made the dessert.  Knowing none of our guests were into big desserts after a big meal, I made low carb fudge and low carb almond bark, a nice little treat after a big dinner with coffee or a glass of wine. 

As it turned out, recently, I’d given up dairy in an attempt to improve my gastrointestinal issue. After three days without any form of dairy, I’m greatly improved. We’ll see if this continues to improve. Wouldn’t that be something if, all along, my issue was exacerbated by a dairy intolerance?

After a while, they began moving back up the hill in Kruger National Park and out of sight.

As a result, last night, I ate no pizza. Instead, I made myself a plate with all the toppings on the Thai pizza with only a tiny portion of that tasty sauce on a bed of steamed cauliflower and green beans. Wow! That was almost as good as the pizza would have been.

We had a wonderful evening as expected. Tomorrow, Monday, we’re meeting up with the four of them for what Don describes as a “special surprise in the bush.” It will be fun to see what he has in store for all of us! We’ll all bring our favorite “happy hour” beverages when we meet before dark.

A lone elephant grazing in the bush.

This morning, our new friend Kerstine (pronounced cast-teen) stopped by for an enjoyable visit, having walked on this beautiful day from her home many blocks away. It was nice to see her again.

Marta returned from her one-week holiday, and we welcomed her with many hugs and warm welcomes. It was nice to have her back. She lives on the property in a little house in the side yard. 

The ages of many of the elephants varied from months-old infants to decades-old matriarchs.

She offered to clean today, but we’d done a great job cleaning up after last night. She insisted on making the bed which, with the busy morning, I hadn’t yet tackled.

Today will be a low-key day. Tom will have his leftover sausage pizza while I make chicken liver and onion stuffed portabella mushrooms with roasted vegetables on the side for my dinner. Of course, on this perfect weather day, we’ll be on the veranda, well into the evening.

Soon, they began their ascent up the hill.

In our old lives, we have headed to Costco to purchase a new laptop. Tom is still having trouble with his monitor but has figured out a workaround, for now, a vice grip at the edge of the monitor, which makes it stay on. We’ll see how that goes over the long haul.

But, like making the pizza, particular adaptations must be made in this life.

May your day be uncomplicated!

Photo from one year ago today, June 3, 2017:

One year ago, we celebrated grandson Vincent’s grade school graduation at Benihana, a popular local Asian Teppanyaki restaurant in Minneapolis. It was a fun day. More photos coming will follow with our other grandchildren as we spent six weeks in Minnesota last year at this time. For more details, please click here.

Gorgeous flowers…Budgeting this way of life…Comfort food recipe for a low carb diet…

Lipstick palm in the yard. The owners, Bev and Sam have these on the grounds of their fabulous home in Kauai Hawaii which formerly was a botanical garden.  This wonderful couple certainly understands how to create beauty and balance in home design and landscaping.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This is the first blackbird we’ve seen in the tree nearest the veranda.

Based on our budgetary restrictions due to the recent payments on the Ponant Antarctica cruise with the final payment paid a few days ago, we’ve had to limit our spending over this past year as described in this post and others.

We’d decided that our time in Costa Rica, Buenos Aires and upcoming in Africa would give us time to restock our coffers for future tours and spending.  Had we not booked the upcoming the back-to-back 30-night South American cruise at a cost of  US $8,388 (CRC 4,802,886) plus the Antarctica cruise at US $34,500 (CRC 19,804,208) totaling US $42,888 (CRC 24,557,245), we’d have been able to spend more on tours and rental cars.

Also, we’re budgeting for spending in Africa for safaris and tours that inspired us to return for an extended visit.  We’d missed so much the first time when we became obsessed with staying in Marloth Park living among the animals. 

These Hydrangeas in the courtyard are exquisite.
As for the South American 30-night back-to-back sailing on November 23rd, US Thanksgiving Day we’re using this cruise as a means of transportation to get us to Buenos Aires and also to spend 30-days visiting more new (to us) ports of call and sailing through the Panama Canal for the second time.  How enjoyable this will be!

As a result of this budget-tightening, we’ve found other ways to embrace our time in lovely Costa Rica.  We’ve already done quite a bit of sightseeing as you’ve seen from our photos.  

But, we’ve also focused on making the very most of our time at this exquisite villa by bird watching.  It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve managed to do close to if not more than 10,000 steps a day on my FitBit by running from one edge of the property to another to get photos of the stunning birds that grace us with their daily visits.

Impatiens are commonly used in shady areas.
Regardless of what we’re doing, when we hear a new bird sound, we immediately dash from one area to another, hoping to be able to take a photo of the latest visitor. 

Many local residents have lived here for years with extraordinary experiences of seeing many more species than we have in our short time here in Atenas.  But, that doesn’t diminish the joy we’ve had in hearing and seeing what we have thus far.

As for the remainder of our time in Costa Rica, we revel in the tremendous enjoyment in planning, preparing and dining on special meals befitting our way of eating.  Many tourists without dietary restrictions are able to dine out frequently.  Based on my extensive list of restricted foods, dining out in the casual restaurants in Atenas has not been a good option.

Gorgeous purple hydrangeas growing in the center courtyard.

Instead, we focus on making meals which include variety and we never hesitate to try new recipes.  The Internet provides a wealth of low carb recipes befitting my way of eating, many of which we’ve modified to our tastes and my restrictions.

Yesterday, we made a recipe we particularly love that we found last year and made for the first time in Penguin Tasmania. While in Penguin we mentioned we were trying this recipe but failed to post it when we became sidetrack with the other wonders of Penguin.

After a few modifications and making this recipe with enough to last for three meals, last night our mouths were in “taste bud frenzy” over the deliciousness of this dish.  I’ll admit it does take to prepare this recipe, at least an hour for all the steps but a few steps can be eliminated as I’ve indicated below reducing the time by half.  Thirty minutes of prep time for three or four night’s dinner is ideal for us.  

Or, if one prefers, the meal can be divided into the eight servings by freezing additional portions for future meals.  This is great for busy working folks and most likely is the perfect “comfort food” cold winter options.  Since we never live in cold climates, we’re enjoying it in tropical climates!

Here’s the photo and recipe with easier options in parenthesis:

One of three pans of last night’s dinner of Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie.  Recipe follows.  (We couldn’t find the correct sized tin foil pans to use.  Instead, we used three baking pans.  But the recipe is better baked in individual serving pans since it tends to fall apart when scooping it out from larger pans).

Jess’s Low Carb, Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pies

0 ratinYield: 8 – 10 Pot Pies
Serving Size: 1 Pot Pie
For the pot pie filling
·         6 T. butter or organic coconut oil
·         1 cup onion, diced
·         1 cup celery, sliced
·         1 cup cooked carrots, diced (can use frozen)
·         1 cup cooked green beans, diced (can use frozen)
·         6 cloves garlic, minced (can use already minced)
·         salt and pepper, to taste
·      24 oz. cooked chicken, cubed small (can purchase already roasted or cubed cooked chicken)
·         1.5 cups full fat coconut milk, unsweetened
·         1 cup organic chicken stock
·         4 T. Dijon mustard
·         1.5 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
·         1 cup frozen peas
For the dough
·         3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
·         6 T cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
·         1.5 cup almond flour
·         2 large eggs
·         2 tsp garlic powder
·         2 tsp onion powder
·         1 tsp Italian seasoning
·        2 tsp sea salt
·         1 tsp black pepper
For the pot pie filling
1.   Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and a little salt and pepper to the pan. Sauté until the vegetables are soft.
2.   Add the chicken to the pan and sauté until it’s cooked through.
3.   Add the coconut cream, chicken stock, and Dijon mustard to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
4.   Mix in the cheese until melted.
5.   Stir in peas.
6.   Divide the mixture into 8 (or 10 depending on preferred portion size) separate tin foil bread or pie pans for individual servings.  These freeze well when wrapped in foil or plastic and can be defrosted overnight in the fridge and baked as described below for individual servings.
For the dough
7.   Preheat oven to 375°
8.   In a large mixing bowl, combine mozzarella cheese and cream cheese. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir to combine and microwave 1 additional minute.
9.   Mix in almond flour, egg, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, sea salt and black pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. If it gets stringy or is not quite melted enough, put it back in for another 30 seconds.

10. Make the dough into clumpy balls and top each of the eight pans with the clumpy balls, fairly close to one another.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Per serving – net Carbs – 11g
Have a safe and fulfilling day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 15, 2016:

Tom and I dressed for a Hindu holiday in traditional Balinese attire.  For more photos please click here.