Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sunday share day

Wow! Can you believe it’s already Sunday! This was a pretty good week here on the island. But really (and this may be a humble brag) is there ever really a BAD week on the island?

We were carless for a few days (we are a one car familia so I drive the husband if we want the car) so my father and I got lots done in the house. Everything is pretty much set-up but there’s of things that need hanging and it’s not as simple as one may think. The house here are made of concrete. Concrete. So if you want to hang anything, say a calendar on the wall? You have to drill a hole using a masonry drill. Oh yea. So what may take less than 5 minutes stateside to hang something could take about 20-30 mins here on the island. But at least it gives my dad a chance to use power tools.

Speaking of power tools…we got a coco friiiiiiiiio from the back of a guys pickup truck today and my father decided we should crack it open and get the flesh out. Mind you, we do not own a machete (yet) so he whipped out the trusty ole dremmel. It took some persistence (and coconut flying everywhere) but alas, he cracked it open. Only in PR, right?

breaking into the coco.

breaking into the coco.

We also checked out a new restaurant that opened the other day, TBC. It’s a husband and wife duo from DC and yea, this may definitely become a regular breakfast (and perhaps lunch) spot for us. The colors of the place were bright and lively and the atmosphere was kicked back and relaxed. Oh, and the food was oh-so-good! Gabriela even got dolled up for the occasion of her first brunch out!

Daddy and Gabriela

Daddy and Gabriela

My cooking plan during the week kinda went off without a hitch. I was making pork chops with an apple and onion sauté and unfortunately the apples were not as sweet as I was hoping. It was from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s cookbook and while it wasn’t what I thought it should taste like, it was still pretty good (recipe to follow shortly). I also tackled a _50 shades of chicken_ recipe that I had to alter because of course I didn’t read throughout the whole thing (read through the WHOLE recipe before you start, people). So while the recipe called for a whole chicken, I used chicken thighs and it still turned out well. Delectable. Scrumptious. Ok- I’m just trying to fit the whole 50 Shades word usage here. Friday was pizza Friday from a pizza joint by the hubby’s work that we absolutely LOVE! Next Friday we’ll be trying out a food truck (aka as a guaguita in PR) so stay tuned for that review!

We capped off the week with a beach visit that I had read about from a fellow blogger at Island Canes, Mar Chiquita. We took the scenic way out there via Route 2 and went through many a small towns. It was quite interesting checking out the different little bits of Northern Puerto Rico. The beach was perfect. A clear blue water “pool” surrounded by rocks gave the feel of being out far in the water (the floor drops way deep pretty quickly) complete with medium waves and rock formations under the water, but you’re in the safety of the enclosure. The husband was much braver than me and snorkeled out close to the opening to the ocean and he said it was pretty cool.

With the baby we didn’t stay too terribly long but long enough to try out the guaguita “el saber del norte”. We indulged in some pina coladas, alcapurrias, and empanadillas. A small chunk of change for some huge yummy flavors!

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oh! and probably the BIGGEST share of the week was my drastic need for a new hairdo! I have naturally curly hair that is thick and long (well, shoulder length is pretty long for me) and takes FOREVER to dry. Recently i’ve been wearing a ponytail because 1. it’s too hard to blow dry my hair for 15+mins with a sleeping baby in the next room and 2. I no longer own a blowdryer, that I knew I needed a change. So to go along with the “new chapter” in our lives, I thought I’d start fresh and hack off the hair. WOW! how incredibly light and freeing this new do feels! I’ll be posting some better pics of it soon but I’m still working out the whole “holy crap my hair is short” phase of things.

Meal planning for next week. Trying out a different grocery store for hopefully a better selection of meats. That might actually help with the quality of this FOOD blog if I actually COOK something!

What’s for dinner tonight? Chicken wings with a soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, red pepper flake, and a garlic sorta marinade. Happy sunday night football!

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back in the saddle, er, KITCHEN, again!

so it’s been a long, long while since i’ve been cooking again. It’s quite different really finding ingredients here in Puerto Rico so I’ve been having a hard time trying to figure out what to make. Needless to say i’ve been leaning towards the old standby of chicken. And chicken. I’m hoping to ask around and see if there is a place to procure some yummy beef and pork. Hopefully. Soon.

So, I’m heading to my old standby favorites this week for our dinners. Tonight I am making some good ole spaghetti and meatballs. Yum comfort food. Tomorrow I’ll be hitting up my 50 Shades of Chicken cookbook and then finishing the week of with Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Feeding Men and Boys. Classics.

So being that I am getting back into the swing of things, I’m stealing an idea from this month’s _Food Network Magazine_. They have started a new column highlighting a celebrity chef’s cook book library. The first “chef” is non other than my girl Ina Garten. Her library is amazing. She built a whole room just for her books. And cake stands. I love Ina. So in the spirit of getting back in the saddle, celebrating the new Food Network piece, I thought I’d share my (little) cookbook library. Please bear in mind that we have just moved so my collection has downsized. Dramatically. But I think it was a good thing because these just represent my all-time favorite books. So I hope you enjoy these next few months as I dive back into my cooking and maybe one of these will grace your bookshelves.

Have a favorite cookbook? Send it my way! Be sure to check me out on Facebook

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Family, friends, food, and (f)beach

Last week was a crazy and fun week. My best friend, Amee, (who I’ve known since the 6th grade) and my cousin, Nancy, and her son, tony, came for a visit. It was all rather coincidental that they came to visit in the same week, which made it a bit overwhelming but an absolute blast!

Cooking for a crowd can be daunting but I’ve hit an old standby that I just love making: arroz con pollo (chicken with rice). There’s nothing fancy to this dish but it’s very hearty and feeds a group of 3 men and two ladies. And it’s also comforting: I remember my mother making it and so it always brings back memories of her.

So the whole group was together Tuesday so we headed to El Platanal for dinner. Yum! The food was simply prepared so the natural flavors of the beef, seafood, and plantains (of course we had to get some mofungo) shined. Aside from the great food it was just nice to have everyone together at the dinner table. Did I mention the mojitos were amazing!!

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So we spent a few days galavanting around checking out the beaches. We started out at playa Sardinia, headed over to crash boat, and finished off with one surfing at Jobos Beach. We haven’t been here long but we’ve seen the beaches on various occasions and it still awes me how incredibly beautiful it is. The different colors of the water; the various swells and crashes of the waves; and the scenery that surrounds the water. Our guests also enjoyed the simple splendor of it all.

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The week was called off by some homemade pernil. I love love love making this recipe, a variation of this Sunny Anderson recipe. Because we were going to be gone for the day beachside, I decided to start off the pork in the slow cooker abs then finish it off in the oven. I could have just left it in the slow cooker and be done with it, but you HAVE to have the crispy skin, or chicharron, to go along with it. So off into the oven it went for about another hour and so and the skin came out golden and crispy. Such an easy dish that yields not only a huge amount of food but also is oh so good! I paired the pernil with arroz con habichuelas, and tostones. Everyone gobbled it up.

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The house is quiet now. The extra beds are out away and everything has been cleaned up and I smile because it truly was great having my people come for a visit. It’s one thing for a friend to say, yea- I’ll come visit but when they actually do, it truly is a testament to the friendship and I couldn’t be more touched that Amee, Nancy, and Tony took time from their uber busy schedules to come see our new life and to also meet baby Gabriela. It really made me realize how precious my friendships are. So go call up that friend that you’ve been meaning to, share a hug, or it back and remember fond memories that you may have. You’ll see how it can revitalize your soul!

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Oh baby, baby.

So I’m sitting here in the dark. One arm cradling Gabriela. Trying not to make any sudden movements because she’s got a bad case of the ‘babies’ today! I brag and brag about how wonderful she is: sleeping through our 12 hr flight from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico; our multiple trips between housing and our house; and dealing with these warm ass Puerto Rican days.

Well today, she just wanted to remind us that indeed she is a baby and we’ve had it easy. And it really began three days ago when she hadn’t pooped all day. Did you know that exclusively breast fed babies, aka EBF (there’s even a Facebook group) can go up to 14 days without pooping!?!? Now that just doesn’t seem right. But gabi didn’t go until today: 3 days!

So maybe she was just ticked off that she didn’t have her normal 4+ poops a day and she just wanted to make it known. Or maybe she’s just being a baby.

All I know is: my father is working on arranging furniture, my husband is out fetching dinner (no easy feat just yet), and I’m sitting in the dark with my darling little one. Inconvenient. Sure. Frustrating. Perhaps. But I figure there could be worse things. As long as she’s happy and comfy, I’m happy and comfy.

Let’s hope for a better day tomorrow!!

Let’s just hope my left arm works tomorrow.

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8 weeks!

I can’t believe how quickly time seems to be going by! Sweet Gabriela is 8 weeks old (she’ll be 2 months on the 10th). While 8 weeks may not be a long lifetime, I can think back to when she was just a little itty bitty newborn and how I thought she would stay that way forever. Boy was I wrong.

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But these 8 weeks have been amazing, filled with ups, downs, challenges, accomplishments, and wonderful wow moments.

These 8 weeks with baby included packing up a whole house, flying from Jacksonville to New York to Puerto Rico (yes, all one trip), and then unpacking a whole new house (which is still getting unpacked, slowly but surely).

Moving is a life event on it’s own but moving to an island with a newborn made this definitely a challenging life event; at least for me. And I must say, some moments of this event were not so pretty coming from my end. These last 8 weeks really showed me that yes, indeed, I can handle whatever life may throw at me! But that I also need to be more patient, more understanding, more open to not being such a control freak person, and most definitely more kind to my husband who is nothing short of amazing.

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We have accomplished so much these last 8 weeks and lil Gabi is growing and thriving in her new home. They say it takes a village to help raise a child and my little village here is helping raise such a perfect, beautiful little girl. Big thank you to my father, husband, and for all the love from family and friends far away— I really couldn’t have done these 8 weeks without you!

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So as these 8 weeks come to a close and my lil girl turns 2 moths old this week (along with her 2 month shots) I see myself practicing more kindness, compassion, and understanding.

These last few weeks seems like a blur so I’m hoping once the house is finally unpacked I’ll be able to sit back, look around, and really take in our great wonderful life here and continue to watch baby Gabriela grow and make incredible memories.

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PS— I’m writing this at 3.40 in the morning, on my iphone with one hand, while cuddling my little one with my other arm, running on not so much sleep, with a mini flashlight as a nightlight so that could explain why I’m feeling terribly sentimental and uncharacteristically sappy at the moment. ☺️

a week gone by…

So it’s been a week since we did the big move to Puerto Rico from our little town of Dothan, Alabama. I thought it was a culture shock going from Phoenix/St. Louis to Dothan but WOW! I think this one takes the cake!

It took us about a day or two to rest up from our marathon flight into Aguadilla and then it was time to head out and explore! Well, at least explore on a small scale. I’ll be compiling a list of all the restaurants/food trucks that we hit here so stay tuned for that. So far the food has been pretty darn good and authentic. Even the chinese and pizza we had a PR flair to it. We did happen to find a Lechonera close by and and it was everything we were expecting it to be: juicy and flavorful. There is a town southeast of us that have lechonerias from one end of town to the other…needless to say, this is on our list of must visits!

Pig. And avocado. And yuca. And pig. From Tropical BBQ & Lechonera.

Pig. And avocado. And yuca. And pig. From Tropical BBQ & Lechonera.

We also checked out two of the popular beaches here on the west side: Crash Boat and Jobos Beach. All I gotta say is BEAUTIFUL! We’ll of course be frequent-ing these establishments often just as soon as Gabi gets a little bigger but I do see mini trips in our very near future.

Crash Boat Beach

    Crash Boat Beach

Jobos Beach

Jobos Beach

The game plan was to take a few weeks and explore the island while we waited for our household belongings and car to be shipped. This way we didn’t have much to worry about while we shacked up on the Coast Guard Base. Have I ever mentioned how things never really go according to plan when it comes to our plans? We got the call on Monday that our container has made it’s arrival to San Juan and that it could be delivered within the next day. This was a week plus 1 day since it shipped; we were told it could take AT LEAST 3-4 weeks. Thankfully we had our fabulous house secured so the container arriving early was no big deal– just not expected. So the off-load happened on Wednesday and we will be moving into the house on Monday! We didn’t get the exploring we had wanted but at least we have our things and we can start putting our home together!

So that’s where we are at right now. Stay tuned!

 

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The Life of Jan

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