Bed, Bagels and Beyond

Bed: An update about the ongoing bed situation: If you have been keeping track of the beds we have had to sleep in - it's reminiscent of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The first bed at the hotel was way too hard. The second bed at the bed & breakfast was a little better - see the B & B post. And the third bed at the apartment is just right!

bed at apartment.jpg

We have been sleeping a lot better and are very thankful for the special bed the landlord arranged for us to use.

Bagels: Mark likes to have a bagel every morning (and me too) and sometimes at lunch (with peanut butter) if he's having a fruit smoothie. Seems nice and easy to accommodate? Not so much. They really don't have a concept of bagels in Costa Rica. The ones we bought at the store resembled bagels but the consistency was way off. So, I (Tina) decided to try, for the first time, to make them from scratch. I found a recipe online and it seemed pretty simple. We went to the store and went on a scavenger hunt for all the ingredients. Of course every label is in Spanish so we had to pull out the translation dictionary to figure it out - instant yeast, bread flour, etc. Found the instant yeast - YAY! They didn't have bread flour, so I had to opt for wheat flour. We made our trek back to the apartment and with excitement I broke out the goods and went to work.

Back on Maui I had the luxury of a nice bread machine to mix and knead the dough for me. It also had the convenience of allowing the dough to rise right inside the unit.  Here in Costa Rica, it's all by hand, done the old fashion way. As I mixed the ingredients, I hoped that I didn't get the water temperature too hot or too cool for the yeast.  The yeast are picky little fellows that like it "just right". Who does that reminder you of? :-)  I really wish I had all my baking gadgets (like a thermometer) - it makes life a lot easier! I mixed the dough and got ready to knead  - 15 minutes. That doesn't seem like a long time, but to manually push and turn a lump of dough for 15 minutes seems like forever when you're doing it. So, I thought, what can I do to occupy my mind while performing this tedious task. Ah Ha! My I-Pod. I pulled it out, picked some aerobic music, plugged those ear phones in and pushed play.  I was keeping to the beat of the music while pushing and kneading my bagels to be. That 15 minutes didn't seem too bad after all! I do have to say I felt the soreness in my arms and shoulders the next day! Who thought making bagels would be a good workout. ;-)

Another challenge was to find something to put the dough in to allow it to rise. The only "mixing bowl" we have found is plastic. We still haven't been able to find a glass or ceramic bowl large enough to mix ingredients in.  The plastic one wasn't going to work, so I looked around at what we did have available - a rice cooker. What? Yep, I saw that the pot inside the rice cooker was Teflon coated - perfect. I oiled that up, drop the dough inside, put plastic wrap over the top, surrounded it in a bath towel and put it in the oven (not turned on) away from any drafts. This turned out to be a perfect solution. After two hours the dough had risen and I was ready to make the bagels.

The next step was to divide the dough and shape the rings. Next, I had to boil water and drop those pre-made rings in for a couple minutes each. They floated to the top, I flipped them over for another minute and lifted them out onto the cookie sheet. Final step - bake for 20 minutes.

They came out great! The consistency is not too chewy and not too dense. The batch yields about 9 bagels. I know it seems like a lot of work for 9 bagels, but it's worth it to make my hubby happy and have something that you can't buy readily in the stores here. The picture below shows one bagel flipped over to see the bottom. Baked to a nice golden brown.

Beyond: Most of my family and friends know how I love to bake. So, I decide to go "beyond" bagels and try muffins. At Wal-mart we opted to buy the muffin tin with six extra large cups vs the 12 regular cups. Why? Because the 12 cup muffin tin was twice as expensive. Not having my cook books, I found a pineapple muffin recipe very easily online. I used fresh pineapple (pina - in Spanish) instead of canned because fresh is almost always better. The oven here is also different, labeled in Spanish and in Celsius not Fahrenheit. Fortunately, the recipe gave me the Celsius number I needed to turn the dial to. After 30 minutes my creation was done. Oh, how the apartment smelled like a bakery - mmmmm! The muffins came out perfect and very tasty. So tasty in fact, I decide to give them away as gifts to our new friends - our landlord (Alphonso), his secretary (Andrea) and Rosario, the woman at the fresh market who sold us the pineapple I had used to make the muffins.

You only see 5 because I ate one before I took the picture. I had to make sure they were acceptable!

You only see 5 because I ate one before I took the picture. I had to make sure they were acceptable!

Who knows what else lies "beyond" to bake in our cute little apartamento!

Posted by Tina