Microwaves and Monkeys in Panama City

By: Smith Schwartz |

In case you were wondering, here is the view from my ‘office’ here in Panama. We’re crashing with a friend of ours who lives here, and just down the street from his house is a cute little cafe and store called, well, The Country Store. It’s got great food and like most places in Panama, inexpensive prices. I hang out here most of the day noshing on ceviche and sipping freshly squeezed tropical juices, and it’s really rare for la cuenta to be over six dollars.

Working with such a fantastic view is not without a few occupational hazards.

But, before you think our lives on the road are all champagne and caviar, here’s a little glimpse into a ‘making it work’ moment. Our current living situation is quite the bachelor pad. So while an oven and range technically exist, they are never used and are not even hooked up to a gas line. Because we don’t have a home of our own and we live out of suitcases, I’m always determined to nest a bit and cooking is a big part of that for me. So, I’ve been experimenting with the microwave and toaster oven, and I’ve come up with a pretty good routine here.

This is a variation in my very famous egg-bean recipe. Anyone who’s ever had this knows it’s one of the world’s finest dishes. So the next time you find yourself wanting a hearty meal but you only have access to dorm-like facilities, take a shot at this:

In a bowl, combine 1 can rinsed beans, a handful of chopped jalepeƱos and onions, salsa verde, salt and pepper.

Mix together, microwave for 6-8 minutes in 2 minute intervals, stirring and smashing the beans inbetween set.

Spread beans on tortilla chips, add chopped tomatoes and shredded cheeese.

Toast in toaster oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray. I made this meal in far less than 30 minutes and I didn’t even need to use my husky voice.