Monday, September 28, 2020

Pumpkin: So Poor and Yet So Rich

Pumpkin: So Poor and Yet So Rich

Pumpkin CalabazaAmong vegetables, it's one of the most nutritious and rich in vitamins, particularly A, and has great detoxifying, diuretic and antioxidant powers. In addition, it's very versatile, since it can be the main ingredient of soups, stews, desserts and an endless number of recipes. At the same time, pumpkins have very few calories and are among the most economical foods.

Pumpkins,known as calabaza, auyama or zapallo in Latin America, have been known throughout the Americas and Europe for many centuries. Apparently, the first British explorers to land on the coast of North America were amazed by the great variety of gourds grown by the natives. And although pumpkins are members of the zucchini family (which Europeans already knew), apparently the different varieties of squashes native to this side of the Atlantic had never been seen in the Old Continent until they were sent over from American soil.

Pumpkins belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes cantaloupe, cucumber and balsam pear or bitter melon.

When you buy pumpkins, always choose those with clean skin, free of blotches, and avoid those that are too soft and ripe, since they rot quickly. Pick the heaviest in relation to their size, since they offer a larger eatable section. The best way to preserve them is to keep them in the refrigerator or in a cool place.

Whencut and cooked, they must be eaten within one or two days. Figure that, on average, 1 lb of pumpkin, with the peel removed, cut and cooked, yields two cups.

As a rule of thumb, figure about 8 ounces per person.

The rounder and flatter ones are best for desserts, such as the classic pumpkin pie, while the longer ones are perfect to eat plain or as a side dish to meat, fish or cheese.

Below is a recipe for a delicious cake in which pumpkins are the star:

Special Pumpkin Cake


2 tsp. granulated sugar

2 cups of unsifted flour

2 tsp. baking powder

tsp. salt

1 cup of confectioners' sugar

1 cup of soft butter

4 large eggs

tsp. vanilla extract

tsp. almond extract

2 cups grated pumpkin


1. Butter a round baking pan. Sprinkle it with granulated sugar to cover the inside of the pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In another large bowl, with an electric hand mixer, whip the confectioners' sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, while still beating. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.

4. Preheat the over to 350° F.

5. Blending slowly, add the flour mix to the butter and eggs. Continue mixing slowly until the batter is smooth. Now add the grated pumpkin. Spoon the mix into the pan.

6. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out totally dry.

7. Remove the cake from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes over a rack. Then get it out of the pan over the same rack to continue to cool down. Finally, place it on a serving plate and garnish it as you like with more confectioners' sugar.

Yields about 10 portions

Related Articles

Puerto Rican Coquito Recipe
Puerto Rican Coffee
Savory Puerto Rican Meat Dishes
Pumpkin: So Poor and Yet So Rich
5 Must-Have Traditional Puerto Rican Dishes
Puerto Rican Recipes - Puerto Rican Food
Preserving our traditional Puerto Rican cuisine
Piragua - Puerto Rico Piragua
Introduction to Arroz con Gandules
Pasteles de Masa - Pasteles Recipe



Friday, September 25, 2020

Finger Foods

Finger Foods

by E. Garriga

Bacalaíto and fried porkThere is no greater pleasure than to eat a delicious fritter such as bacalaítos (codfish fritters), o a piece of dulce de coco (coconut candy squares) you long for using your hands or remembering a scrumptious arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) cooked over a make-shift stove of three stones heated with coal or wood! I remember as a child visiting family in the countryside in Moca, Puerto Rico, and the best arroz con gandules we ate using our fingers. People would often say to eat “hasta chuparse los dedos,” meaning absolutely delicious when it was made over charcoal or wood sticks. The host would say “you don´t need a fork and a knife to enjoy this!” During those days people did not worry about bacteria, they just enjoyed the food. That was a different generation. Today we have to wash our hands thoroughly due to our contaminated environment. Many would regard eating with their fingers as having bad table manners.

Yet, hands are the most important tools in handling food. Since ancient times people have used their fingers to eat. Even today there are cultures in many parts of the world where people eat with their fingers as a daily routine. Closer to home, many restaurants serve dishes that require using our fingers. Some provide towels for guests to clean their hands before eating. Other places entice diners put their hands together over a bowl in the center of the table and pour water all at once. A recent article in The New York Times (1/18/2012, p. D3) notes that more and more restaurants encourage using hands instead of silverware. The article mentions Julie Sahni, instructor and cookbook author, raised in India and who says, "eating with hands evokes great emotion . . . inspires affection, sympathy and tenderness.” Other chefs encourage eating with their hands in the belief that it enhances the link between food and sensory decline due to protocols at upscale dining places. Many restaurants place a container with forks and knives in the center of the table for those who prefer those utensils.

However, in Western culture there are other rules to follow at the table, informally or not. We use fork, knife and a spoon in a formal setting but use our fingers to eat certain foods in a more casual one.

So, what do we eat with our fingers? Here is a sampling:

barbecued ribs

breads, bagels



chips and dips



corn on the cob


fried chicken

fried chicken wings

fritters such as alcapurrias, almojábanas, arañitas de plátanos, arepitas,

bacalaítos, empanadillas, pastelillos, sorullitos, tostones*






some desserts such as dulce de coco, marrayos

some snacks, tapas, canapés, cocktail appetizers

Clearly, when a dish has sauce or is liquid it’s more practical to use a spoon. Sometimes we have a dilemma regarding what utensil to use, especially with desserts. The spoon makes sense for soft desserts such as flanes (custards), helados (ice cream) or any dessert accompanied with a syrup. The fork is normally used for cakes and fruits. Sometimes, when a cake has or is served with ice cream, then a spoon suits the need. When in doubt, follow your hostess, who’s sure to provide the requisite utensil in the hope that she knows what to use. ¡Enjoy!

*The fritter recipes can be found in Sabrosuras Boricuas and Homestyle Puerto Rican Cooking cookbooks, sold at

E. Garriga is the Author ofSabrosuras BoricuasandHomestyle PuertoRican Cookingcookbooks and is a frequent contributor at

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Las Dunas Beach Apartments Vacation Rentals


Las Dunas Beach Apartments Vacation Rentals

8 Units Available - 2 BR, 1 BR and Studios

Call for Great Discounts 305-321-0217


Las Dunas Apartments
Las Dunas Apartments
Jobos Beach Puerto Rico 
Jobos Beach Puerto Rico
Snorkeling Las Dunas Jobos Beach Puerto Rico Snorkeling Las Dunas Jobos Beach Puerto Rico
Cave Exploring Las Dunas 
Cave Exploring Las Dunas
Surfing Jobos Beach Surfing Jobos Beach
Las Dunas Beach Apartments Dining Area Las Dunas Beach Apartments Dining Area
Las Dunas Beach Apartments Bed Room
Bed Room with Balcony View
]Horseback Riding Las Dunas Jobos Beach Puerto Rico 
Horseback Riding Las Dunas Jobos Beach Puerto Rico

Location: Isabela, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, Caribbean (Caribbean) View Map

Accommodations:  8 Apartments Available - 2 Bedroom, 1 bedroom and Studio Apartments available

Quiet area, very private, short & long term rentals

Amenities: new kitchen, new bathroom, fully  furnished, sheets and towels, kitchenware, washer and dryer, fans in each room, air conditioned, Internet, small pets OK. World Class Surf capita,  horsebackriding, golf, tennis,  windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing classes. Saand dunes stretch for 10 miles, 11 minutes from local airport. located near Rincon close to Villa Montana and Shacks Beach.

Vacation Rental Features

  • Amenities
    • Washing Machine
    • Air-Conditioning
    • Linens Provided
    • Clothes Dryer
  • Beds
    • Sleep Sofa /Futon
    • Queen
  • Entertainment
    • Satellite Or Cable
  • Kitchen
    • Cooking Utensils
    • Refrigerator
    • Microwave
    • Full Kitchen
  • Outdoor Features
    • Deck/Patio
    • Balcony
  • View/Location
    • Beach View
  • Communications
    • Wireless Broadband
  • Suitability
    • Non Smoking Only
    • Pets Considered
    • Handicapped Accessible (May Have Limitations)
    • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Activities

Check us out on Facebbook

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The “Puerto Ricanization” of Central Florida

The “Puerto Ricanization” of Central Florida

Florida Puerto RicansCentral Florida has become a hot bed of Puerto Rican immigration and migration.  Florida now boasts nearly 850,000 Puerto Ricans in the state, which account for 18% of the nation’s entire Puerto Rican population.  The population growth of Puerto Ricans has made it one of the largest ethnic groups in Florida, second only to Cubans.  The area of highest Puerto Rican density in Florida is Orlando and Kissimmee, however some of the oldest Puerto Rican roots in the state are grounded in the Tampa Bay region.  If you’re coming to Florida looking for authentic Puerto Rican culture, skip on Orlando and Disney, take care of the Budget car rental, and drive over to Tampa Bay.

The car ride will lead you along the I-4 corridor where 350,000 Puerto Ricans currently reside.  There are 135,000 Puerto Ricans in the Tampa Bay area, which comprises 28% of the entire Hispanic/Latino population in Tampa Bay.  The Tampa-St. Petersburg region has perhaps the oldest Puerto Rican community in Florida, dating back to the 19th century when Ybor City in Tampa was in its heyday as a cigar manufacturing, commercial center.  If you plan to come to Tampa Bay for a genuine Puerto Rican experience, come in December.

Not only is the weather spectacular in the bay area in winter, but Tampa has lovely Puerto Rican “parrandas.”  Parrandas are the Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling, when a large group of friends gather together to surprise another friend.  Parranderos not only sing traditional Puerto Rican Christmas songs called “aguilandos” but they also frequently play instruments, such as tamborines, guitar, guiro, and maracas among others.  The parrandas usually start around 10 p.m. when the group arrives to a house, serenades the owner, and is invited in for drinks and refreshments.  The group grows and they leave for another house, and this can last until 3 or 4a.m.  For the luckiest parranderos, they can enjoy traditional Puerto Rican favorites like coconut flavored pudding, rice with pigeon peas, pig and Puerto Rican coconut rum, as well as other favorites from the island.  The biggest days to be in Tampa are December 24- Noche Buena (Christmas Eve); December 25 Navidad (Christmas Day); December 31 Despedida de Año.  Of course no Latino holiday season would be complete without el Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day) on January 6th, which is the favorite of Latino children around the world. Check out Rancho Las Palmas of Tampa, at 5909 Hartford Street as they host Puerto Rican Parranda Navideña Sunday.  After your holiday parties are over, take some time to explore more of the Puerto Rican gastronomy in the bay area.

Probably the most famous Puerto Rican restaurant is La Casona at 5709 N. Armenia in Tampa.  Reviewers on their facebook page describe it as “absolutely the best Puerto Rican food in Tampa” and “best mofongo north of San Juan, best pollo salteado ever.”  This should provide good reason to go there.  Other favorites are masitas (fried pork pieces) and the camarones a la casona con pan (sautéed shrimp in butter and spices with bread).  If you are looking for something earthier and without frills, go to Mi Pueblo Cafeteria.

Mi Pueblo Cafeteria is located at 1910 N. Lincoln Ave. in Tampa.  The food is inexpensive, but many people consider it to be one of the finest examples of genuine Puerto Rican food in the region, right next to La Casona.  Mi Pueblo Cafeteria serves up all the tradition Puerto Rican favorites: lamb, beans, sweet plantains, stewed beef, shredded pork, and stewed shrimp.  The restaurant has a very friendly staff and welcoming family environment.  Lastly, if you’re up for a road trip, consider eating at Casa de Caguas.

Cruise over the Sunshine Skyway to Bradenton, Florida and find Casa de Caguas 1714 14th St. West.  Like most Puerto Rican restaurants, Casa de Caguas has a friendly, family environment.  They also serve all the traditional favorites from mofongo to pork.  The other fare on the menu includes:  jibarito, pastalon, alcapurias, bacalaito, and empanadillas.  You can quench your thirst with native Puerto Rican sangria as well as Puerto Rican Medalla Light, while enjoying the feast.  Casa de Caguas also makes a variety of other Caribbean specialties that are made to order.  The bridges between the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and Florida continue to grow.

Although Jacksonville is the #1 commercial port for Puerto Rican shipping, Tampa is working to improve relations with the Caribbean island.  A concerted effort has been made over recent years, including events in Tampa that seek to nurture business ties between Tampa and Puerto Rico. Close ties and relations continue to flourish in the area as Medical Card System Inc., a health services company in Puerto Rico, recently appointed Jim O’Drobinak as chief executive officer.  Mr. O’Drobinak lives in the Tampa Bay area and previously worked for Gorman Health Group and Universal Health Care.

Without a doubt, central Florida and especially the Tampa Bay area is a hub for blossoming Puerto Rican culture.  With one of the largest concentrations of Puerto Ricans in the country, as well as extremely authentic culinary options and increasing business ties between Tampa Bay and Puerto Rico, there’s no reason to hesitate to come experience for yourself, Florida’s version of Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Top 5 Reasons to Retire in Puerto Rico


Top 5 Reasons to Retire in Puerto Rico

As people approach retirement age, many consider different options for where they want to live. In some cases, a move to a different part of the world may be a great option. One option that many are considering is a move to Puerto Rico. Here are the top five reasons to retire in Puerto Rico. But where ever you decide to retire make sure you have looked into assisted living communities. Here you can start designing healthy communities for senior citizens and find the right place for you.

The Weather

Puerto Rico

Weather is one of the components that makes Puerto Rico such an attractive destination for vacationers, and new retirees will enjoy the shift to warmer temperatures. After years of dealing with cooler weather, some people simply want to be able to dress how they would like in the morning without having to worry about needing additional layers during the day. Further, injuries are more common in cold locations, and many retirees will find that they simply do not want to risk a fall resulting from snowy weather.

Part of the United States

Although it seems like a foreign country in many ways, Puerto Rico is still part of the United States. Despite not being a state, the territory provides the same advantages of the United States. Visiting friends and relatives is easy, and dealing with taxes and payments from the government is straightforward. The legal protections one gains from living in the United States are still present, and retirees will be able to find others from the United States regardless of where they move on the island.

The Cost

As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico is somewhat isolated from the rest of the nation. Because of this, its cost of living has not yet matched that of the rest of the United States. As all retirees know, stretching money as far as possible is crucial to enjoying the best retirement possible; by moving the Puerto Rico, new retirees can instantly be able to afford far more than they would elsewhere in the United States.

The Culture

Photo of a —garita in el Morro Castle in San J... 
One of the best ways to combat the mental effects of aging is to challenge the brain. By moving to Puerto Rico, retirees will find an entirely new culture to learn about. Further, many who retire in Puerto Rico will want to spend some time learning Spanish. This provides a great way to challenge one's brain and fend of the effects of aging while enjoying a fun, dynamic culture. It is possible to stay in Puerto Rico while retaining one's standard activities, but most who make the move end up becoming enthralled with wanting to learn as much about the island's history and people as possible.

Choice of Lifestyles

Retirees have vastly different images of what they want their day-to-day lives to be like. Puerto Rico offers options to satisfy nearly all retirees. With nearly 2.5 million people in its metropolitan area, San Juan offers the big city experience that many retirees enjoy. Puerto Rico also offers isolated locations in small towns where retirees can enjoy the rural lifestyle that many long for. Those who prefer something in between these extremes will find plenty of options on the island.

Retirement should be the best time of one's life. By making wise decisions, retirees can ensure that their retirement matches want they have been looking forward to for years. For many, moving to Puerto Rico is the best way to enjoy retirement as much as possible.

Castillo de San Felipe del Morro

In San Juan stands colossally Puerto Rico’s most well known landmark, El Morro. In the 16th century this citadel foundation was laid to protect the capital and the Spanish fleet from seaborne attacks. With Puerto Rico positioned at the Western edge of the Caribbean, San Juan was one of the key frontier outposts of Spain’s lands and a guardian of the West Indies.

For first time visitors, this is a must see attraction.

Its full name is the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, and was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. For more than 400 years it has stood protecting the city – used beginning with Spanish conquistadores and ending with World War II. The fortress has seen its fair share of battles, but it has never fallen to a sea attack. However, in 1598, it fell once to the Earl of Cumberland when it was attacked by land.

Now, though, you’ll see people gathered to relax, sightsee and picnic.

El Morro Map

El Morro is made of six levels, staggered to incorporate passageways, storerooms, barracks and dungeons. Once you reach the top of it, you can gaze at spectacular ocean views. You can walk the same route solider once marched on around El Morro and fly kites.

In the 1500s, the Spanish set up a trading route to the New World. Using two fleets, the flota and the galeones, the Spanish would transport riches back home from the colonies and send out new supplies to equip settlers with the goods they needed.

Southeast of Puerto Rico, both fleets entered the Caribbean Sea, but followed different routes at different times of the year. The flota were ships smaller than the galeones, and focused on the transportation of goods such as hides, coffee, ginger, sugar, and other tropical good from Cuba, Veracruz, Mexico, and what is now the Dominican Republic. The larger galeones transported back to Spain from the New World pearls, silver, gold, and other valuable minerals.

Both fleets needed protection from strikes by armed ships. Together, they would caravan from Havana, Cuba, sailing up the eastern shore of Florida. Then, they would turn east across the Atlantic to return home to Spain. Their cargoes of raw materials and treasures from the New World would be left at Spanish ports, and then the crew would load their ships up with merchandise and supplies to carry back to the Spanish American colonies.

El Morro still stands today and is a symbol of pride and history for the country.

It is open every day from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. expect on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Adult tickets are $3. Children 15 and under get in free.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Activity Holidays in Puerto Rico


Activity Holidays in Puerto Rico

A popular Caribbean destination, the small island of Puerto Rico has plenty on offer. With its tropical climate, sandy beaches, colonial history and adventure activities, it is understandable why so many people visit this dream destination.

About Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an official US territory with the US dollar as its currency. Although many Puerto Ricans migrate to the US every year, there are millions of US mainland visitors who flock to visit the island. It is a self-governing commonwealth located in the Atlantic Ocean, in the north-eastern Caribbean. Puerto Rico is 35 miles wide and 100 miles long and is home to fewer than 4 million people. With English and Spanish as its main languages, the name Puerto Rico means 'rich port' in Spanish, although the local nickname is 'Island of Enchantment' or Isla del Encanto. It has a tropical climate with average temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees F.

Christopher Columbus arrived on the island in 1493 and claimed it as a Spanish outpost. The capital city, San Juan, was founded in 1521. The island is a cultural fusion of Spanish, African and Taino, with many local delicacies such as mofongo, which is mashed platanos stuffed with meat and lechon, roast suckling pig.

Old San Juan is a commercial and residential area, with over 400 restored 16th and 17th century colonial buildings. Best explored on foot, there are a number of Plazas that act as local meeting places and contain a number of historical monuments. The nearby El Morro fortress contains 18 ft thick walls and only fell once during its history.

The unofficial mascot of the island is the coqui, a small tree frog that is only found in Puerto Rico. Its 'ko-kee' sound can be heard across the island. It is also home to the largest single dish radio telescope in the world, responsible for the first asteroid images in history. Visitors can tour the telescope and its facility at Arecibo.

Beach Life and Sea Life

Puerto Rico is home to more than 300 beaches and off the coastline there are coral reefs and sea grass beds, favorite feeding spots for turtles. There are many other marine species in and around the waters of Puerto Rico, including sharks, barracuda and butterfly fish. Off the coast of Fajardo, the islets of Iacos, Loboc and Ratones are easily assessable by boat or catamaran and these islets offer some of the best snorkeling in the area.

Mona Island is one of the top ten diving sites in Puerto Rico. Although it takes around six hours to reach the island, experienced divers can swim with sharks or even humpback whales. La Parguera offers dive depths of between 50 ft and 1000 ft to the sea floor and it is also a popular spot in which to night dive. For those who prefer cold water diving, then consider other US destinations such as Alaska, where some of the best Alaska holidays are available for diving.

As well as diving and sailing, Puerto Rico is also popular for surfing activity holidays. Rincon is a surfer's paradise, remaining home to many who travelled to the Surfing World Championships there in 1968. Waves break between 2 ft and 25 ft, with the Tres Palmas being dubbed the 'temple' of big waves in the Caribbean.

Other Activities Available

Other ideas for adventure holidays include hang gliding, which offers the chance view the El Yunque rainforest, the only subtropical rainforest in the US. There are also ziplines, caving and rappelling activities. The island is popular destination for hikers and cyclists and there are also ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tours available.

Tom Brown writes regularly on activity holidays for a range of travel websites and blogs. As well as reviewing adventure holidays, Tom will also be reviewing the best Alaska holidays in his next article.