Ingredients and cooking:
My approach to cooking (and eating) is about balance: I’m enjoy eating fried foods occasionally, but if there’s way a make something taste just as good with healthier ingredients or cooking process then I’m all for it. I prefer small and not too sweet desserts, but there always an occasion for an exception. I like my plate of food to be colorful (in a natural way), so I use a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, and we usually have a salad to go with every meal. As a good Ecuadorian I am also a big fan of soups, they’re easy to make and can be very satisfying.
I like to use fresh, local, organic products are much as possible, I try to do this with as many products as I can, however there are certain ingredients needed to make South American dishes that are not grown or made locally (or anywhere close) so it’s isn’t always possible. I really wish someone would try growing tree tomatoes or yuca or naranjillas (lulos) in Washington (or even California) because my food would taste even better.
I learned to cook in the typical Latin way of “add a little of this and a little of that” so basically without precise measurements just instinct. I do my best to document the measurements and amounts for each recipe, but feel free to adjust for your tastes. If a recipe uses an ingredient that you dislike, then either try substituting it for another that you like, but please (if you don’t like onions) don’t leave a comment that you didn’t like the dish because it included that ingredient (onions). My recommendation is to always taste the food as you cook it and adjust the seasonings (salt, pepper, cumin, etc) as you go.
As a self-proclaimed carishina (quechua term to describe girls who aren’t the greatest at following domestic/kitchen rules and duties), I do take shortcuts when cooking, I don’t always follow “the rules”, and am constantly looking for ways to simplify a recipe as much as possible, without sacrificing taste and flavor. So, don’t judge.
Food safety and risky ingredients:
I assume that all vegetables, fruits, meat, seafood, etc has been cleaned properly before using so I don’t always specifically say “wash the tomatoes” because I think that it’s quite obvious. I also assume that you know that raw fish/seafood as well as raw egg whites can be dangerous and that you should avoid it if your doctor has told you so – same goes for any other medical/dietary restrictions.
Portions and nutritional information:
Most of the recipes are for about 4-6 people, when I cook for just the four of us, we usually have some leftovers, unless everyone is starving. I’ll try to specify in the recipes if the proportions I’m using are for a large party (10 plus people), but don’t always include this, so just ask if I omitted it. I don’t provide nutritional information, this is a personal blog and I don’t have the resources to provide how many calories are contained in each dish. Obviously dishes that are fried and have a lot of cheese and cream are going to be higher in fat and a basic salad with a lime dressing will have a lot less fat/calories. In general, you can tell by looking at the ingredients how “healthy” it is.
My version of a recipe vs your mom’s (or grandmother, aunt, cousin, neighbor, random restaurant) version of the same recipe:
I document my recipes based on my personal experience with that dish: where and when I ate it, who made it most memorable, etc. My recipes are seasoned according to my personal taste (and my family’s) and based on the ingredients that are available to me. Sometimes my recipe will be exactly what you expected and sometimes it might be very different. As mentioned above, always taste and season based on what you personally like – this is especially true if you’re a picky eater.
Ecuadorian food vs other Latin dishes:
I realize that there many similarities, and differences, between dishes in the different regions of Ecuador and other Latin American countries. I love to hear about these differences, but please do so in a respectful way – I won’t publish comments that insult the way my dish is prepared just because in a different region or different country it is done differently. There are many ways to prepare ceviche, there are many types of locros, cheese bread and patacones/tostones are known by different names in different countries – these are all things that I love about Latin American food. Even for very traditional dishes, there is always more than one way to prepare it. Food shouldn’t be boxed into only one right way of making a dish, it’s experimenting and trying new things, adapting to the ingredients we have available that allows food to evolve and become better. The influence of Inca, Maya and Aztec empires extended over many Latin American countries. Spain, Portugal and African countries influences can still be seen today in many Latin dishes. Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese, Iranian, Italian and other more recent (last hundred years) immigrants have also influenced Latin American food. This diversity is what makes our food great and it should unite us.
Grammatical stuff and my never-ending sentences:
I grew up writing mainly in Spanish so you will likely find some grammar mistakes in the recipes and stories. I have also been told that I write the way I talk, so please excuse the long never-ending sentences, just visualize me talking really fast and using my hands. I’m always open to improvements, so I don’t mind if any mistakes are pointed out – and will try to improve my writing. In fact if you compare older posts to newer ones, I have been trying to add more punctuation to my sentences.