It’s always raining in Quito. There’s a thunderstorm at least 3-4 afternoons a week. When I’m leaving school at 1:40 I just pray that it holds off until I get home. Sometimes, although my school is only a ten minute drive further north than my house, it’ll be sunny overhead when classes end and pouring when I get off the bus. That’s a fun walk from the bus stop home. Today though, it held off enough for me to go a run before lunch. That’s the first time that’s happened in a while. And coming uphill, I could tell. (I like to tell myself part of the reason it’s more difficult is that there’s less oxygen this high up). But when we ran in gym a few weeks back I was the first girl finished and I think the only girl who ran without stopping… It doesn’t seem as though the majority of Ecuadorians work out like we do in the states.
Monday I was off from school (I don’t think you know how happy this made me), and went with my host family to Tabacundo, about an hour north of the city (of course it took us an additional half hour just to get out of Quito, and that was without any traffic). My paternal host grandparents grew up on farms right outside of the town, abuela above the city, abuelo below. They’ve divided their property into parcels for each of their children. My host parents built a house on one of their pieces seven years ago, and my host sister and I came to accompany them as they did landlord-esque things.
See the snow peeking up over the top of the clouds? The mountain is called Cayambe, the third tallest in Ecuador at 18,996 ft., and an active volcano. It lies directly on the equator at 15,387 ft.
I am extremely glad to be living in Quito, because if I’d been placed in a small town for this year I probably would have ended up shooting my brains out (oh wait, I support stricter gun laws. Scratch that). But I’m from the country. Yes, our house is in the village and surrounded by neighbors, but the majority of land on the peninsula I call home is devoted to agriculture. And not more than two minutes from my front door is the bay. I find living in the city stifling at times. It’s always noisy, there’s traffic all the time except for midnight, it’s sprawling, and there isn’t much green.
So on the rare occasion that I get to leave Quito I appreciate it immensely. Of course the Andes are extremely different from what I’m accustomed to, but the farm did remind me a bit of summer in Vermont (I’ve spent a part of almost every August since I can remember in the Green Mountains of the Northeast Kingdom). And differences are one of the things I came here for.
Such as, food. Before coming to Ecuador, I knew that the food was going to be different. That I wouldn’t be able to find some things, and that there would be other options that we don’t have in the states. Another plus for living in Quito, I’ve been pleasantly surprised a few times by ingredients that I have been able to find that my friends in other Ecuadorian cities haven’t- basil and peanut butter being but two. I’ve also been extremely frustrated times that I search four different Super Maxis for an ingredient and still can’t find it. Canned pumpkin and applesauce are two of those staples that don’t seem to exist here.
But with a bit more time and effort, I have been able to bake with those ingredients, I just have to make them myself first. Apples here are about 5-7 for a dollar, so I’ve been able to make homemade applesauce for cheaper than I can purchase it in the states.
When I first decided to make applesauce we didn’t have any lemons in the house, just oranges. And it was pouring (big surprise) so I didn’t feel like walking to the market around the corner. But citrus is citrus, right? At first I just made traditional applesauce, only with oranges. Couldn’t really taste much of a difference. The second time around I decided that making the orange flavor more prominent might taste kinda good. And it did. So here, you have two options for applesauce. A traditional version that’s more suitable for baking (or just eating. I mean, it’s APPLES. Eat as much as you want). And one that stands on its own as a dessert.
Hint: the original version will be featured in upcoming recipes. Of course, if you live in a place that has applesauce on grocery store shelves, you don’t really need to bother with that- so make the citrus version instead.
- 3 1/2 cups of peeled, cored, and cubed apples (about 4 smallish ones, I used Royal Gala)
- 1/2 cup water
- (for traditional applesauce: one teaspoon lemon juice)
- zest of 1 orange (1 tbsp + 3/4 tsp, approx.)
- juice of 1 orange (5 tbsp)
- a few shakes of cinnamon
After the apples are peeled, cored (if you don’t have an apple corer just cut the apple into quarters then cut out the inner edges) and cubed, add to a small pot over medium heat with the 1/2 cup water and lemon juice. If you’re making traditional applesauce stop here, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water is gone, about 20 minutes. Then let cool 5 minutes and blend till smooth.
If you’re going for the orange, leave out the lemon juice. Zest an entire orange- I used the small section of a cheese grater for this- and add to the pot. Then squeeze the juice from the same orange, scoop out the seeds with a fork, and add the juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is gone, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool five minutes. Then spoon it all into the blender and blend till smooth. Makes approx. 1 cup of applesauce.