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I’ve “gone native”! This past week, I made chicken stock from chicken feet. Here’s the problem, I can’t buy ready made stock at the grocery store. So I have to make my own, which I do all the time at home, however, at home, I use the bones from a whole roasted chicken, never chicken feet. Well that all changed! At the market, I bought chicken feet, $1 for a pound. When I told the vendor that this was my first time buying chicken feet for stock, she very kindly threw in a couple extras!

Thanks to google, I found out that I needed to pre boil the feet and then cut off the claws (gag!). And then let them simmer for 4 hours. I did it and the stock is really good. It’s been helpful to have on hand for some recipes. Soup is a huge staple here in the Andes of Ecuador. Stock makes everything taste better.

Couldn’t help but take some pictures. This experience showed me how far removed from my food I am in America. People handle their meat so differently here. In America, there is so much fear about what we eat and so many are timid when handling raw meat, myself included. 

Okay, here it is… the crazy “when in Ecuador” experience! Cuy or Guinea Pig is a traditional dish here in Ecuador but specific to the city we are currently in, Cuenca.

A family that we met last Sunday when we flew here from Quito invited us over for roasted cuy. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity, plus friends! Our friends, Monica and Gustav are so generous. Not only did they pick us up from our apartment, but they also made us an amazing meal of cuy, chicken, rice, potatoes, corn and salad.

The cuy… oh gosh, reflecting on it, I can’t believe I ate that! I would compare the meat to dark meat, but silkier (maybe because of the fat content). There isn’t a whole ton of meat on the cuy. I would guess that it weighed about 3 pounds. Conor and I were each served a hind quarter. And it’s eaten with your hands. I just can’t get the image of that little claw so close to my face out of my mind! The skin is really thick and difficult to eat. While it was roasting, we sampled the liver and that was actually really good.

Don’t get me wrong, the meat was tasty, or bien rico. However, it’s the getting my mind around eating something that is a pet, a rodent back home. Super glad I did it. Not biting at the bit to do it again!

Oh, I have to note that while the cuy was roasting over the charcoal, rain came. And to solve that problem, Gustav and Conor brought the grill into the house and opened a window. Not going to lie, my first thought was that we were going to die of carbon monoxide poisoning in Ecuador. It was fine, but the grill did go in and out of the house a few times! 

Also have to note, that when we asked our friends in Quito about cuy, they thought it was yucky to eat. So it’s definitely a regional dish! 

After lunch, our friends took us on a driving tour around Cuenca. They were seriously so generous to spend so much time with us!

Cuenca has a few different markets. We finally made our way to one on Thursday. Grocery shopping is tricky for a few reasons: first, we can only buy what we can carry. 2. There are different ingredients than from what I’m used to. 3. It takes a good chunk of time to walk to the Super-maxi or the market, buy the food and walk home. In Quito, I would often stop in at the market on our way home from school. That was really easy to do. Here, we have decided that on market days, we will eat a meal at the market while we are there. 

This market is three levels and as soon as we stepped foot onto the “food court” level, a couple of women were immediately holding out meat from their pigs in their bare hands, inviting us, kind of forcefully, to have a sample. After we sampled, I felt obligated to buy, and buying eliminated the decision making process. And so we ate pork, potatoes, corn, salad and juice. It was great! I love the market experience. Next time we go to the market, I want to spend more time checking out the venders set up outside of the market.

I’m gluten intolerant and so are my daughters. And honestly, traveling can be a bit of a pain with this difficulty. Fortunately, a lot of packages will list what common allergens they contain. But still… it would be easier if I could eat anything! 

It felt like heaven when we went to a place called, Muu Yogurt (a total hole in the wall, but apparently very popular as all the tables were filled), and bought yuca bread and yogurt. The yuca bread is so delicious. My friend, Brooke, made it for us in Texas right before we came to Ecuador. It’s $0.20 for one piece. And, it’s something I can make when I get home. I found a recipe! Yuca bread is made from tapioca flour, cheese, eggs and milk.

I love making homemade popsicles for my family. They’re inexpensive and I know what’s going in them. These chocolate popsicles are divine. Recipe —  — >

Chocolate Popsicles:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/8 water kefir
  • 1/4-1/3 cocoa powder
  • 1/4-1/3 maple syrup

Combine the coconut milk and kefir water. Let sit, loosely covered with a towel, on the counter for 12-24 hours. Whisk in the cocoa powder and the maple syrup. Pour into molds.

You can also make ice cream. For ice cream, I double the recipe and then use my ice cream maker to freeze it. It is so good! It’s creamy and a little bit tangy because it’s cultured. We all really enjoy these. Just one more reason to brew your own water kefir.