Tuesday, April 28, 2020

4-28-2020 Quarantine Cooking Part 2

Thick cut (baked) sweet potato fries with a creamy/smoky/spicy dipping sauce.

Pao de Queijo, a Brazilian cheese bread that is naturally gluten free because it is made with tapioca flour or cassava flour.
We were introduced to these last summer in L.A. and I (Cara) am a little obsessed with them now.  At first I figured I was
going to suffer for eating bread, but they were soooo delicious. Then I discovered they were gluten free, and that opened up
a whole new world. I ate them every chance I got and vowed to try to make them. There are different ways to make these,
and since I don't currently have a muffin pan I used the heated milk method, which makes a thicker dough that you can drop
in balls onto a baking sheet. I made these once before using tapioca flour as the recipe calls for, and they were very good -
not as light and airy as the ones we had in California, but still good. This time I tried using cassava flour. They are even
denser and darker in color, but still good. They are chewy, garlicky, cheesy little bites of heaven.
Update: Since making these I have found a muffin pan, so next time I will use the other method (and tapioca flour) because
it sounds like they will turn out lighter (less dense) and more like what I experience in L.A. 

Zucchini tots - yum! I have a recipe for zucchini fritters that are really good. However, I wanted something healthier (not pan
fried like the fritters), so I did the alternate recommendation and made them into tots and baked them in the oven. Very good
- I will likely make these again.

Veggie lasagna made with gluten free green lentil pasta - delicious! I made this in the toaster oven so I didn't heat the house
up any more with the big oven. It's in the 90s every day now, after all.

Cheesy garlic butter potatoes - first time making these this way. They were decent, but took way longer than I expected.

Beans and cheese pupusas with curtido - everything turned out pretty well for my first time making these. The pupusas were
great with some garlic pepper hot sauce and lots of curtido. Pretty cheap and easy to make - I would try these again.

As of yesterday we are still at 18 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and now 6 have recovered. Two weeks with no new
confirmed cases!  They are voting now, though, to extend the State of Emergency for another two months.  They could
soften the regulations and start opening things up during that time, but we'll just have to wait and see.  Clarification of the
new laws will come on Thursday or Friday. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

4-20-2020 Cooking Under Quarantine & More

Okay, there is obviously not much fun stuff going on here to report about, so here is the view from our bedroom window.
Can't complain - that's the sea you see through the trees.  Things could be much worse.  ;)

We are fairly well stocked with food, and I (Cara) have been experimenting in the kitchen. So, I guess you'll be seeing lots of food pics for the foreseeable future (vegetarian and gluten free, of course).  I have to work with what I've got, so I often change the recipes on the fly.  I recently made my first gluten free banana bread, but I forgot to take pictures.

Creamy cornbread casserole - yummy.

These are some tasty quinoa patties.  They look a little darker than the recipe because I used buckwheat flour instead of
bread crumbs (to make them gluten free).  I also added a bunch of herbs and spices, and they turned out really well. 

Homemade vegan sausages and "pancrepes" we'll call them - I thinned them out so they are thinner than pancakes, but
thicker than crepes, and still nicely pliable so I can roll up the sausages in them. I used a gluten free pancake mix, but used
sesame oil instead of olive oil, and added turmeric, smoked paprika and cayenne for some zing.  

Asian slaw with a sesame oil dressing.

The asian slaw, along with sesame oil seasoned rice noodles, black sesame seeds, and sweet Thai basil, made for a nice
filling for some Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls. The peanut sauce is homemade too.  We both really love this dish.

Risotto Cakes made with leftover veggie risotto. I coated them with gluten free flour, then eggs, then almond meal (instead
of bread crumbs), then pan fried them. They are messy to make, but good.

Just to mix things up a little, here's a random photo from before the quarantine - a sheep at the basketball court, definitely an
unusual sighting.

The other day Cara went for an 8+ mile socially distanced power walk with a friend. Eric took a short walk in town. This is a
photo he took at the public pier (that was damaged in a storm last fall). You can barely see someone in a dory (like a canoe)
in the distance. He/she is probably fishing to feed the family because that's about the only reason one is legally allowed out
there under the quarantine laws.

We got a home improvement project done today - yay! We removed the frame from the broken
down old screen door that never fully shut anyway. Then we installed the new screen that has
magnets down the middle, so it automatically closes after you when you go through it. Now we
can leave the door open for some breeze (much needed now that it's in the 90s) without letting in
all the flies.  :)  It works great, and we got it for only $1 at a garage sale in the States - woohoo!

A view from Cara's power walk this morning. The sea was dead calm, and it was hazy so you could hardly see the horizon.
Apparently this is because there are wildfires in western Belize, and the wind has been blowing from that direction.

Belize Covid-19 Update: As of yesterday there have been 762 tests done (159 more than my last update), and
still only 18 known positive cases (no new ones - yay). Plus, the first two cases are now testing negative and
they never had severe symptoms. It's great that Belize is doing social interaction mapping of those infected. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

4-14-2020 Covid-19 and Quarantine Update for Belize

So, there was initially some conflicting information out there about what exactly the quarantine (now extended from 14 to 21 days) meant. At first, it looked like people were not allowed to exercise by walking, jogging or running in the mornings anymore. However, that appears to be false. Yay - we enjoy and need our morning walks (for exercise, sanity and vitamin D)! It also appears that take-out and delivery from restaurants is allowed, although we aren't using that convenience, and most are closed in our village anyway. The buses have indeed stopped running, and there is no traveling between districts and cities/towns/villages except for very limited reasons and workers.

There are lots of regulations about which businesses can be open and when, but that doesn't really affect us much. However, on Sundays almost everything is shut down now - no stores are open, and you basically can't be outside your yard unless it's an emergency. That's fine - we can handle one day a week with no walk.

As of yesterday, there are now 18 confirmed cases in Belize. Basically, there were 3 cases imported from
the U.S. by citizens returning to Belize. The rest of the cases were acquired through contact with these
initial infected. This nice graphic shows the status of testing and cases in Belize's 6 districts. (We are in
the district second from the bottom on the right, with 23 negative tests and 0 positive tests). This is in a
country with a population of a little under 400,000.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

4-11-2020 Nationwide Quarantine in Belize

It was indeed 5 am to 8 am (only 3 hours each day) that one was allowed to go out to exercise. We have been naturally
getting up earlier anyway, so we have been taking advantage of that and taking walks. Cara even met up with a friend one
morning for an appropriately socially distanced walk on the beach. 

The walk was nice, but it was weird seeing the resorts all closed up and nobody out on the beach. 

However, as of this morning, and as a result of mapping exercises, there are now 13 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Belize, and two of those infected have died. Three of the new cases were found as a result of the mapping exercises, and all three of those people were asymptomatic. So, starting at 8 pm tonight the entire country is under a 14 day quarantine (by law). That means no traveling between districts is allowed. All transportation (buses, taxis, etc.) throughout the country has been suspended. No take out or delivery is allowed anywhere  The only reason anyone can be outside now (between 5 am and 8 pm) is to get groceries, go to the pharmacy, get fuel for your personal vehicle, or go to a bank, and all of these businesses have very limited hours. Again, people found violating these laws are subject to arrest. Naturally, we are staying inside.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

4-7-2020 Covid-19 Update for Belize

There are currently 7 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Belize (out of 268 people tested), and one of those people died Sunday. Don't let the numbers fool you, though. There are likely many more cases in the country, but there is not widespread testing. In fact, the wife of the man who died posted about their situation (on Facebook here), and her husband was denied testing at two clinics in San Ignacio before he was finally tested in Belmopan, then later transferred (in critical condition) to the hospital in Belize City. They are doing social mapping of the infected, though, and those mapped are getting tested, so that is good.

Belize may not be testing a lot, but they are otherwise taking things seriously. The country is in a nationwide state of emergency. Schools are all closed. Restaurants and bars are closed, though a few restaurants are open for take out only. Most government offices are closed. Non essential businesses are closed. All events are cancelled. The rum distillery is now making hand sanitizer, although it's not available in our village yet. Borders are closed except for returning Belizeans. Airports are closed except for cargo. No gatherings are allowed, and people must stay at least 3 feet apart. A curfew is in effect - nobody is allowed outside between the hours of 8 pm and 5 am. During the day you are basically only allowed out to walk your dogs, get money, go to the grocery, or go to the pharmacy. They have suspended all mail service. They have postponed the need to get your monthly immigration stamp (people will have to back pay once immigration is open again). You are also only allowed out to exercise (walking, jogging or running) between 5 am and 8 am - no joy bike riding or swimming in the ocean allowed. (However, it is up for debate as to whether that was a typo and they meant 5 am to 8 pm - we'll see.)  So far over 300 people (5 in our village) have been arrested for breaking the curfew and/or social distancing rules, and that is punishable by 2 years in jail or a $5,000 BZD ($2,500 USD) fine! Needless to say, we are following the rules and staying home.

When Cara does go to the store she wears a homemade mask (4 layers of 2 different types of
fabric). The good kinds of masks (as well as hand sanitizer) are not available in the village.
She also uses Clorox wipes on everything she touches in the store, as well as to wipe everything
down that enters the house. Grocery shopping used to be a lot more fun - now it's an exhausting
pain in the butt!