Rainy October in the Panama highlands. Foggy mornings. Cool nights. Soggy garden paths. Time to make soups and stews in the crock pot. I’m thinking for tonight some local grass fed beef with onions, sweet potatoes, herbs and red wine. Yum.
It’s also orange harvest season, so pots of marmalades are continually simmering on the stove and god! the perfume is exquisite. I’m lashing out this season and trying all manner of exotic marmalade and jam combinations. Orange-ginger. Orange-chipotle. Orange-cranberry. Orange-tree tomato-cabernet. Orange-coffee-rum. That last one? Well, it triggered a whole raft of other possibilities, so now I have bottles and bottles of Pirate Juice (rum-ginger-coffee-habanero liqueur), Panama Panacea (orange-coffee-rum liqueur), and Cordially Yours, Panama (orange-rum liqueur), all happily curing away in preparation for the 2nd Zapadora Flea Market in December.
(Hats off to Dianne for her inspirational energy. “Well, what about this? And this? And we could try this!” and to my friend Emily, for the gift of the many, many oranges, and for recommending the book, The Flavor Thesaurus.
Truly, it’s amazing the possibilities that can come from a small number of ingredients, or what you can do with a small amount of money, or how you can creatively use a small space. One of the great lessons of living in Panama has been, “less is more.”
I came across an interesting video today on the internet. Designer Graham Hill talks about downsizing, life editing, being happier with less stuff. I can relate. Ten years ago I lived in a three story, 3000 square foot house with attic and garage that was absolutely jammed packed with stuff. My stuff. My husband’s stuff. My children’s stuff. The stuff accumulated or inherited from dead relatives. Boxes of stuff. Closets of stuff. Whole rooms that no one ever entered filled with stuff no one ever used. When I moved to Panama, I went through a frenzy of shedding…boxes to Goodwill, truck loads to the dump, garage sales… . It was fantastic and I wanted to just keep on divesting, but my husband, a certifiable pack rat, who at age 60 was still carting around boxes of his undergraduate term papers, resisted and we ended up bringing a 20 foot container of furniture and stuff with us—that we then had to put into storage. When we separated 5 years ago, I moved into a 600 square foot hobbit cottage…leaving lots of stuff behind, but still feeling overrun with boxes and trunks and cartons. Now, the hobbit house is a bit bigger—about 800 square feet—and I have once again gotten “light”. I have given away, thrown away, or sold a huge amount of more stuff–and I can’t even tell you now what most of it was. The only leftover clutter belongs to my daughter, and she’s on notice that in one year, this will all go away as well. It’s been 6 years. If she doesn’t know what’s in those boxes, she clearly can live without it.
You can watch Graham Hill’s video here.
Less is More.
What’s in your box? (No peeking!).
I am shocked at the people who come down here to the cloud forest of Panama and build MacMansions—just because they can. Two people rattling around in a 4000+ square foot house with 30 foot cathedral ceilings. I have friends who joke that they have to call their partners on their cell phones when they are in opposite parts of their house. Who needs it?
I used to have a kitchen 4 times the size of my current tiny, one-person turn around space and I turned out some great food there. I loved that kitchen. But you know what? Today, I am still turning out great, creative food in a quarter of the space…and I love this kitchen, too.
So. I’m thinking about an orange-rhubarb marmalade (the rhubarb in the garden is very happy with its life!). And an orange-onion-mustard seed compote to serve with roast pork. And, just maybe, an orange-beetroot combo. Any other suggestions?