Friday, February 2, 2007

The Greatest Places on Earth!!!

I'm taking you on another trip today, and this one I'm sure you will enjoy too.

How about Machu Picchu??? Sounds like something you could eat doesn't it?? LOL

Come on, grab your coffee and coat, let's head out.


Machu Picchu is a city located high in the Andes Mountains in modern Peru. It lies 43 miles northwest of Cuzco at the top of a ridge, hiding it from the Urabamba gorge below. The ridge is between a block of highland and the massive Huaynac Picchu, around which the Urubamba River takes a sharp bend. The surrounding area is covered in dense bush, some of it covering Pre-Colombian cultivation terraces.

Machu Picchu (which means "manly peak") was most likely a royal estate and religious retreat. It was built between 1460 and 1470 AD by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, an Incan ruler. The city has an altitude of 8,000 feet, and is high above the Urubamba River canyon cloud forest, so it likely did not have any administrative, military or commercial use. After Pachacuti’s death, Machu Picchu became the property of his allus, or kinship group, which was responsible for it’s maintenance, administration, and any new construction.

The Incas planted crops such as potatoes and maize at Machu Picchu. To get the highest yield possible, they used advanced terracing and irrigation methods to reduce erosion and increase the area available for cultivation. However, it probably did not produce a large enough surplus to export agricultural products to Cuzco, the Incan capital.

One of Machu Picchu's primary functions was that of astronomical observatory. The Intihuatana stone (meaning 'Hitching Post of the Sun') has been shown to be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and other significant celestial periods. The Intihuatana (also called the Saywa or Sukhanka stone) is designed to hitch the sun at the two equinoxes, not at the solstice (as is stated in some tourist literature and new-age books).

At midday on March 21st and September 21st, the sun stands almost directly above the pillar, creating no shadow at all. At this precise moment the sun "sits with all his might upon the pillar" and is for a moment "tied" to the rock. At these periods, the Incas held ceremonies at the stone in which they "tied the sun" to halt its northward movement in the sky. There is also an Intihuatana alignment with the December solstice (the summer solstice of the southern hemisphere), when at sunset the sun sinks behind Pumasillo (the Puma's claw), the most sacred mountain of the western Vilcabamba range, but the shrine itself is primarily equinoctial.

Few people outside the Inca’s closest retainers were actually aware of Machu Picchu’s existence. Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, the smallpox spread ahead of them. Fifty percent of the population had been killed by the disease by 1527. The government began to fail, part of the empire seceded and it fell into civil war. So by the time Pizarro, the Inca’s conquerer, arrived in Cuzco in 1532, Machu Picchu was already forgotten.


Virtual Tour:
Credit goes to Valpard for posting this beautiful video on Youtube


Arroz con Pollo
Serves 4


2 tbsp Fresh Coriander (cilantro)
2fl.oz. Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper
4 boneless Chicken Breasts, skinned
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Onion, finely chopped
12oz Long Grain Rice
20fl.oz. fresh Chicken Stock
4oz Frozen Green Peas
2 Jalapeno Chili Peppers, cut into very thin strips


1. Place the coriander in a blender together with 120ml/4fl.oz. of Water and process until quite smooth. Pass through a wide meshed strainer to remove the excess water and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the chicken, garlic and onion and fry over a medium heat for about 20 minutes, turning from time to time, until the chicken just cooked.

3. Add the reserved blended coriander and the stock and bring to the boil, stirring well.

4. Add the rice and chilies and cook over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes until liquid is almost completely absorbed.

5. Add the peas and continue to cook over low heat for a further 5-10 minutes or until the rice is cooked. This is traditionally served with the chicken completely covered by the rice.

Leche Asada (8-10 servings)

Variations of this can be found all over Latin America.

* 1 can of sweetened, condensed milk
* 1 can of evaporated milk
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 8 eggs, beaten
* 1/4 cup water

Mix the condensed milk, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, the vanilla, and eggs.

In a saucepan dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 1/4 cup of water, heat carefully until it becomes syrupy and slightly tan.

Pour the caramel in a glass baking dish and pour the milk mixture on top.

Take a slightly larger glass dish and fill halfway with water. Place the dish with the milk mixture inside the larger dish and cover everything with aluminium foil. Cook in a 400-degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until the custard is completely cooked. (In Spanish this method of cooking is called baño maría.)

Serve slightly chilled.


scribbit said...

Oh how I've always wanted to go there. It's on my list of places to visit before I die.

Susanne said...

That first picture of the stairs in the hillside is amazing. Just beautiful!

Your recipes sound marvelous.

Morning Glory said...

I've known people who have been there, but I've only seen pictures. Fascinating place and it truly would be quite a trip to take.

It always amazes me how these places get built on high places like this!

Michelle said...

it's so neat of you to do this and take the time to find the pictures and recipes from different places!

Mommy Dearest said...

What a great idea - loved the tour!

Jill said...

I love the third picture, the whole place is beautiful.

I am really glad you added the recipe for Arroz con Pollo, I love it!

Thanks for taking us on this wonderful trip, Sandra, I really enjoyed learning more about this beautiful place!

Hub said...

Spectacular!! Thanks for another trip! A very intriguing place and the pictures were breathtaking.

- Andrea

PamperingBeki said...

Mmmm, that custard sounds DELISH!!


Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

What a great post idea! Way to go Sandra. That was wonderful. :)

Those recipes sound so yummy too. :)

Air Force Family said...

Wow! Machu Picchu is a beautiful place! I'll have to add that to my list of places I want to see someday. Thank you for the trip, I really needed it!
The recipes sound de-lish!


Christina said...

Wow this place is beautiful and the recipe looks good too.

Kelli said...

What a beautiful place! I enjoyed the tour, Sandra! That custard looks soooo good!

onangelwings said...

I loved the machu picchu pictures. I have see so few of them...thanks for researching and posting them.

Sarah said...

I saw a programme about this place it is fascinating! How wonderful. Hugs

valpardfilms said...

Thanks for your interest about my Machu Picchu video , I hope you have seen my second video about this fabulous city :

Best regards