23 February 2016

Hibiscus sabdariffa, the drink

     Now I can drink hibiscus tea in Virginia. It's pricey in local Richmond stores, but I brought a pound back from Managua and that should keep me going until my next trip to False Bluff - where we now grow it.
     There are a lot of recipes and a lot of different ways of making the drink. I take the easiest and quickest route which is simply to boil the flowers about three minutes and then let them steep...fifteen minutes or so.  I often add ginger to either the hot drink or the cold; and sweeten to taste. 

     The drink looks like a good red wine or port. But reading articles, even serious ones, indicate hibiscus tea's good for lots of things. For instance, various studies show hibiscus sabdariffa is very high in antioxidants, that it has slight antibacterial effects and potential as a chemopreventative agent against tumor promotion. 
     In a study presented to the American Heart Association in 2008, researchers found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea a day lowered blood pressure by as much as 13.2 percent in pre- and mildly hypertensive adults. Researchers have a few possible explanations for this. Hibiscus is a natural diuretic, it opens the arteries, and it may act as a natural angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, meaning that it slows the release of hormones that constrict blood vessels. 
     Hibiscus tea is not just another pretty face.

16 February 2016

Hibiscus sabdariffa

     During my very first trip to Nicaragua I had a beautiful and tasty drink called 'hibiscus tea.' The color of red wine, the 'tea' is good hot or cold, but I couldn't find it again - until recently. Though neither the plant nor the flower look like the hibiscus plants and flowers I'm used to, the hibiscus sabdariffa is, indeed, in the hibiscus family.
     The plant is considered an annual in the area where False Bluff is, which is unusual for things that grow down here...like, I've got a hot pepper plant that's two years old that still bears like crazy and has a trunk like a small tree. 
     But the sabdariffa grows really fast and the flower blossoms are ready to harvest in a matter of months. Then it reseeds like crazy, starting the cycle all over again. In fact the plant produces harvestable flowers so fast going to try it in my Virginia garden next season.
     The tea made from an infusion of the plant's dried flowers is spectacular. The plant and its blooms are pretty boring.

This is an internet photo of the flowers because none of the plants at False Bluff were blooming when I was taking pictures.

09 February 2016

movistar's pretty effective advertising

     There are a lot of neighborhoods in Bluefields, each with a different name:  Old Bank, Central, Beholden, Santa Rosa, Tres Cruces, Loma Fresca, Pancasan, and the list goes on.
     'movistar' recently put signs up at several 'boundary' spots for each, naming the neighborhood while advertising itself. The signs are nice. 
     And for the uninitiated, knowing what neighborhood you're in is always good.

P.S.  For those who might not already know, 'neighborhood' in Spanish is 'barrio.'

03 February 2016

Claro and movistar

     ...are cell phone providers.  These two companies provide cell phone and other services all over Central (and South) America.  They are the two providers in Bluefields and like cell phone providers everywhere, there are Claro and movistar outlets all over town. 
     Most every phone customer prepays...and something these two companies do that I've certainly not seen in Virginia are special offers that get you extra minutes. For instance, in the photos below note that Claro's offering "6X" the number of minutes you pay for and movistar's offer is for "X5."  
     These deals are usually one day only and they work like this: if you are willing to buy, for instance, the equivalent of $20.00 USD (U.S. dollars) worth of minutes at Claro on the day the "6X" is offered, you get the number of minutes that six times $20.00 would buy you on a day the deal's not not the table.
     The "X" figure changes up or down as does the amount of money you have to spend to be able to take advantage of the offer - but what the hell - deal days are always good.