Stuffed Cabbage with Farro, Mushrooms and Chicken Livers

Stuffed Cabbage with Farro, Mushrooms and Chicken Livers-2-10930

For once I’m going to disagree with my wife (really, this is a first).  Stuffed Cabbage with Farro, Mushrooms and Chicken Livers may not be quick, but it is easy.  One foot in front of the other, that’s it, then before you know it, you’re done.  Hey, if you were part of the road-happy hoards who made the Bicycle Spring Rolls this past summer then stuffing your own cabbage leaves will be a snap.  Crowds will acclaim you umami king–or queen,your choice–because of the amazing thing that happens when tomato and liver and dried mushrooms meet, especially in a beautiful package.  There’s an olfactory tug of war in your brain as it tries to discern whether what you’re tasting is sweet or savory.  It doesn’t matter.  Trust me on this, it tastes good.

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Casado – the Blue Zone lunch

Lunch in the Blue Zone - Casado-1

We’re back on course to the next Blue Zone* – the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica!  Casado – the married man’s lunch is our take on a Nicoyan central meal of the day, protein and salad along with a foundation of black beans and rice seasoned with a particular Costa Rican twist.

The Nicoya Peninisula is a 80-mile long thumb of land that juts into the Pacific from the northwest corner of Costa Rica.  Among a certain type of backpacking tourist the peninsula is famous for its many beaches which ring the coastline.  But the Blue Zone of the Nicoya Penisula does not include the coast – it is the interior, home of large national parks, still quite rural, and with many inhabitants living traditional lifestyles either as independent farmers or as sedentary agricultural workers finding employment on larger farms, and raising corn, beans, and other vegetables (including two forms of taro) in their own family plots.  Until recently the Nicoya Peninsula was relatively isolated, reachable only by ferry until 2003, which saw the opening of the Taiwan Friendship Bridge.

At first glance the Nicoyan diet may not seem that remarkable–rice, beans and tortillas–along with a lot of fruit. But at 60 a Costa Rican man has about twice the chance of reaching 90 as one from the U.S., and this from a country whose medical budget is about 15% of that of the U.S. Nicoyans are some of the healthiest, most long-lived people on the planent. Say hello to Casado – beans and rice with all the fixings.

Avocado Salad with Pikliz

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Jody and I both love condiments, the more unfamiliar the better.  Every year we have to do a major refrigerator purge because the long term residents have moved off the door or the impractical skinny shelf into the space reserved for more temporary tenants like leftovers or fresh …