Monthly Archives: July 2015

I wonder Wednesday…

Yes, I know it’s Thursday but I’ve had this idea popping in and out of my head and I figure if I don’t get it out there before too long my mommy-brain will eventually forgot about it. Is anyone else still suffering from mommy (or daddy) brain? I was really hoping I’d get my marbles together eventually but *damn* if I’m still not all with it. I really am a smart person, I promise. ☺️

Dinner??

Ugh. So it’s Sunday afternoon. I’m chilling in the hammock.  With a very bad, bad pedicure (read: it’s been WEEKS since I did my nails) and I haven’t cooked since Thursday! GASP!

 
I don’t know what it is. We did the shrimps on the beach on Thursday and then fended for ourselves for dinner.  And then Friday was (awesome) sandwiches from a local place. And it just went downhill from there. 

Yesterday we roadtripped to the south end of the island to check out a sunflower farm and got some awesome pics of Gabriela. Albeit I have a defunct camera lens right now. Gggrrrr. We had lunch out there so by the time we got back home, fed Gabi, put her down for a nap, we were all wiped out so again, it was a fend for yourself night. 

   
 We started Sunday off with a (late) 6 mile bike ride, which knocked out the little one after we got home. My dad and I lounged watching the final stage of Le Tour De France (yea Froome!!) while the little one and the husband snoozed. 

And then it hit me: I haven’t thought of dinner for tonight! And what’s worse: I’m so not in the mood to do ANYTHING! So, while I lay in my hammock, I’m sorta kicking myself because I haven’t cooked a meal this. Whole. Weekend. Double ugh. 

And yet, that’s ok. As awful as I think I feel I have a great husband and dad (who lives with us) who really don’t expect much. And that’s not a dig. These are ‘I’ll have eggs or a PB&J’ bunch of guys so a home cooked meal is golden to them. I just get down on myself, which I’m sure is not a good thing. 

Gabriela still has her home cooked meals and us adults (over)indulge in other delights. Everyone needs a weekend off right , right? Right?? 

I’ll be back at it tomorrow so stay tuned for some actual food on the blog! In the meantime, this was our awesome lunch from Carlito’s yesterday in Guanica: camarones al ajillo and carne frito. YUM! And some more Gabi pics! Happy Sunday!

 

the husband is a tostones guy while I’m an amarillos gal ( savory vs sweet)

 
   
   
   

and someone came to join me in the hammock! ❤️

 

Beach Thursday Series

#3

What a difference a week makes! The winds are calm and the beach is CROWDED! Thankfully we get here early enough to 1. Avoid the bad sun time and 2. Snag the prime spot under the palms. 

 

daydreaming…

 
Gabi is FINALLY snoozing away after being awake and cooperative for the last 4 hours. I think she’s finally getting the whole ‘I really can play by myself without having a breakdown ‘ thing. It is very much appreciated. 

So what’s cooking, you may ask? Today we are doing shrimps! Unbelievably it’s very hard to find not only fresh shrimp (or certain seafood) it’s usually pretty expensive. We do go to the local fish guy to get whole snapper and lobster when we feel like indulging but it’s not the same as the markets in the upper 50. When we find frozen shrimps on sale we stock up. Then go back for more. Right now I have about 9 bags of shrimp in the freezer chest. Score! 

I can’t just do regular grilled shrimp; I need to step it up a notch so I recently came across this recipe from Andrew Zimmern and I just had to try it. 

Here in PR there’s a special local cheese that is fried and served with a guava-style dip, which is amazing. I found some guava paste the other day so I thought this would be a perfect accompaniment . The recipe calls for a jelly but the paste actually worked pretty well and it thickened up just fine. 

 

can anything be better?

  

finished pinchos de camarones

 
Today was absolutely perfect. The weather and wind were cooperative; people loved smiling and cooing with Gabriela; Gabi had an amazing time floating in the ‘ocean’; our pinchos turned out great. Can anything be better? Life. Is. Good! 

 

gabriela in her ocean a few months ago. such a water baby!


Ps- I’ll be adding a ‘Beach Fare’ page to showcase all the yummy recipes I have used during our beach outings. Stay tuned! 
(Please excuse my fuzzy pics. I’ll be slowly making my way into taking much more professional pics since 99% of mine are from my iPhone. )

Baby bites and a road to Tuscany

hello. My name is Jennefer and I’m addicted to the food network. And the cooking channel. And cookbooks. Lots of cookbooks. And really big, complicated, intricate, long cooking meals (hello, Julia Child). While this addiction results in some really, REALLY good food, I do get overwhelmed with ‘what’s for dinner?’  

In an attempt to organize and declutter my kitchen world, I’ve gone back to meal planning and the weekends are normally when I try to get lots of cooking done and my week in line (this is also when I do bulk batches of things like the husbands burritos that I freeze). My wonderful husband takes on baby Gabi (wait- can I still call her ‘baby’ now that she’s a year old??) so I have hours of cooking time. Yes, I get excited! I also get a chance to strap on my rain boots and work on the garden as well. Thank you husband!

 

how i roll. yep. no shame. 😉

 
So this past weekend I went to town. We had Gabi’s one year appt and she’s a little under weight so I’ve been looking into recipes to help bulk her up. I whipped up these  Tuna and sweet potato bites, which Gabi loved loved loved. Score! And to help give her more veggies, and use up the leftover sweet potato, I made these Zucchini bites. I didn’t add the onion, though, and I added some fresh thyme to this and thyme and dill to the tuna bites. Yum-o! Sorry- no pics. 😦

But the piece de résistance of the weekend had to be the porchetta I roasted on Sunday. As the opening of this post states, I love cooking shows and I recently have become obsessed with a fan of the show _Extra Virgin_ on the cooking channel. Their food always looks amazing and everything is so fresh and local. Check it out! It follows the couple from their homes in Brooklyn, LA, and beautiful Tuscany. I think I just live vicariously through them! 

The other day Gabriele made this Porchetta Sandwich and I knew I had to try it. I used an 8 pound picnic roast that is used for a classic pernil dish so I actually had to cut the bone out. This was a first and I think I did a pretty good at not mangling the meat too much! Although rolling it back up took a little creativity on how I tied it.  

mmmmm pork!


The house smelled AMAZING for the 5 hours that it roasted, low and slow. I also detached the thick fat cap, roasted it separately, and made a little chicharrón for my dad. He was in heaven. 

 

crispy chicharrón

 
The sandwiches turned out great and it was a perfect dinner to end the weekend (with lots of leftovers for carnitas, burritos, and perhaps some posole??). Total win!

 

the finished beauty

  

puerto rican bread, porchetta, cheese, with carmelized onions and green peppers

  

PS- did I mention that I just HAD to buy their cookbook?? Sssshhhh…don’t tell the husband. But I bought it for my Kindle, which he’s been bugging me to start using, so that’s perfectly acceptable, right? At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 😉

PSS- you can now follow me on Facebook! Click the link on the right to like My Kitchen Musings! Bon appetit ! 

Beach Thursday deux 

it’s Thursday so that means…. BEACH THURSDAY! I wish I could come up with something more catchy but that’s all I got. 

 

our ‘SPOT’. gabi digs the view.


Once again we’re alone on the beach, which is a pretty good thing in our book, but I think it’s because the locals are staying inside because of some crazy weather this morning. In the span of about 40 minutes it went from a relatively calm, sunny day to cloudy with some rain sprinkles then back to sunny with winds at least 20 mph. I’m currently crunchy sand between my teeth. 
 

wind whipping her hair around

 

We’re still in the ‘hold me while I nap’ phase so that’s not the best pic of her with her squishy face and all. But you can clearly see the wind in the hair and the sand stuck to her face. I had to turn my back to the wind and put a towel behind me to block out the sand gusts. How can this child sleep through ALL this and still not be able to nap by herself. Wonders never cease. 

If you just joined the blog my father and I have just started experimenting bring a little propane hibachi/camping grill with us to whip up some pinchos (or kebobs). Last week was chicken. This week…BEEF! Churrasco, actually, which is pretty much skirt steak (but much cheaper island side). I’m thinking though that it may be a challenge grilling today!

I used this recipe from Marcela Valladolid, with, of course, some modifications. I didn’t use any orange slices but instead used lime zest and fresh squeezed lime juice. I also chunked the red onion rather than slicing so I could use them in the pincho. And of course I added cilantro and a bit of olive oil. I am intrigued how the beer will work in this though. 

before grilling

Well, I’m sorry to say that the wind won out and we abandoned our beach day around 11-ish. But that wasn’t going to stop our grilling adventure! My father set up the grill on our patio and we went to town! That marinade ROCKED! And it was so much easier grilling when the wind wasn’t gusting all around! 

La nena was coming close to a nap so I strapped her in and grilling ensued. It’s amazing how quick the strips cooked and the smell was amazing. The chicken was yummy but so far churrasco is leading the pinchos battle!

i never think she’s in the carrrier correctly but she started dozing off.

  

any tips to make her look more comfy??


 

my pinchos with habichuelos from a local carcineria

  

Ps- that’s a Don Q and coke. 

oh mama, really, gotta take a pic of my crazy hair?!?

    Chicken croquettes

    As you may have noticed, this blog is about food. And the beach. And Gabi. And our day to day. A smorgasbord of you will. So this post will be about two things near and dear to me: food and Gabi!

    From before she was born I had already decided that I was going to be making a majority of her food. I wish I could go 100% homemade but realistically I don’t think it’s feasible. For me at least. And since she was around 7 months I’ve been pureeing, roasting, and preparing  her ‘meals’. 

    I’m a little fanatical scouring pinterest and Instagram for new and exciting recipes and also seeing what momma’s and daddy’s are feeding their lil munchkins. And can I just say http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Toddler-On-Go-Cookbook/dp/1616284994WOW– this is going to be a generation of foodies! And can I also mention the fun gadgets/plates/mats/etc that are out there??!!?? 

    So I’ve been using this cookbook now that she’s older for more substantial meals and also foods that are more portable. It’s pretty good and so far the food has been yummy and Gabi seems excited about all the new flavors. (I must note that she sometimes eats what I make for the whole family, too.) 

    For some reason I’ve had croquettes on the brain and I’m sad to say that 1. I’ve never made them and 2. My toddler cookbook didn’t have a recipe for one. What? So off to the Internet I went. I didn’t use one specific recipe but rather a combo of a few with some modifications on my end. 

     

    not the most photogenic of foods


    I try to add in as much flavor as possible while trying to utilize as little salt as possible. For these I added in fresh thyme and tarragon from our garden. I also added some potatoes to give them more bulk. The next batch I’ll definitely substitute a sweet potato and maybe add in some shredded veggies such as zucchini or squash. To make them more healthful I baked them rather than frying them. 

     

    pre-baked goodness


    After forming the croquettes I refrigerated them for about 30 minutes to hold their shape better. I popped them in the oven for 45 minutes and then flipped on the broiler to give them a golden color. And they passed the Gabi (and my father’s) taste test! Success!
     

    post-baked yumminess!


    This definitely is going into our dinner rotation with new modifications!
    Nothing gives me more pleasure than watching Gabriela eat yummy and healthy meals that I make for her. Happiness really can come from feeding people. 

    Bon appetit! 

    1st birthday chalkboard pics…sneakpeek.

    Thursday beach day!

    we try to get out to the beach at least once a week and then again on the weekend with husband. Unfortunately the weekends haven’t quite worked out: it’s the summer so kids are off school and the beaches fill up fast. We’re the kinda the less the merrier kinda folk so we normally go early and head out before the crowds swell the beach. 

    We’ve been out of our routine the last month or so this is the first Thursday that we headed to ‘our’ beach: playa sardinera. It’s about 10 mins from our house abd there’s a little protected pool that we take Gabi into. Normally it’s pretty secluded but it’s filling up pretty quickly (I’m writing this beachside while la nena takes a snooze. The beach certainly wears out a chica)!

    We’ve got a pretty good location under two Palm trees that give a lot a shade but there’s still a spot of sunshine to layout and get some sun. Weekdays normally consist of my dad, la nena, and myself along with lots of gear: blankets, towels, portable playpen, toys, and libations. 

     

    gabriela’s portable pen with a perfect view!

     
    And we’ve since added to our list. If you saw my previous post, we were trying out our camping grill at the house the other day because my father got the grand idea of grilling on the beach. So the idea of having ‘pinchos’ was born. 

    Pinchos are the Puerto Rican version of kebobs. They’re sold on the sides of the road around town and at little guaguitas (food carts/trucks) around the more popular beaches. Grilling? Beachside? I’m all in!

    Living in Dothan, alabama for about 3 years, my husband and I made lots of trips to the Forgotten Coast in Florida but we’d normally only pack easy snacks and fresh made sandwiches. Now when we would primitive camp with Linger Longer I got more daring with our fare since we were pretty much on our own food wise. 

    linger longer at sunset

    nice little camp set up

      

    our primative camp site – st. george island, fl

     

    Today will be the first time trying out the grill, beachside, with 20mph gusts of wind. Good thing it’s propane so we don’t have to worry about any charcoal bits floating around causing problems. I’m doing pinchos de pollo (chicken) and I adapted this Recipe. I just focused on the marinade and also added fresh oregano from the garden. 

     

    our set-up

     
     

    this is how we roll


    All in all it turned out pretty yummy. Gabriela even enjoyed a few pieces. I need to make a few tweaks and also have to figure out how to contend the wind but it was a great first excursion. Can’t wait till next week!

    all smiles!

    Growing up,feeding men, and other stuff

    This week’s posts may get a little photo happy because my little baby girl is turning a year old on Friday! I know it’s very cliched, but it does really seem just like yesterday when she was my itty bitty newborn. These last (almost) 12 months have been one heck of a roller coaster that I can only imagine what the future will hold. But more on ‘looking back’ in a later post. But first, some newborn cuteness…

       

    around 24 hrs old. can she be any sweeter??

     

    With her bday coming up my mind has been swirling on memories, Bday ideas, and making a smash cake. I’m not a baker. My sister, Natalie, is our resident baker, along with my niece, Maya, so I’m a little nervous about this whole thing. But I figure it’s sugar, sweet, creamy, and messy so Gabi won’t be too critical of how it looks or tastes. So more on that to come, too!

    How tiny!

    With my mind occupied I haven’t been as faithful blogging. Going-dad gave me some great advice in that I shouldn’t try to push it; to just let it flow otherwise it’ll become ‘work’. Over the weekend I felt like I was just trying to pull something out of the air to write about that I actually got frustrated. So I decided to step back and really evaluate what I’m capable of doing. While everyday would be amazing, I just don’t think that’s me. So look for me a few times a week! 

      

    I am also slowly but surely going through my kitchen. Baby steps, right!?? I’ve decide, in an effort to maybe downsize my cookbook collection is pick a cookbook to cook for the week. If I find good things I’ll keep it. If I dont, then I’ll let it go. So I’m starting with Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Feeding men & boys. I figured I have two men to feed so this should be quite appropriate. So look forward to some recipes from here. But not tonight. 

      
     

    THE cookbooks

     
    Tonight…we’re trying out a portable grill. My dad, Gabi, and I go to the beach weekly and instead of buying food we figured we’d start grilling our own. The husband and I used to primitive camp in Dothan so we have a little propane grill that we’re going to try to utilize while beaching. So tonight is our trial run of some chicken pinchos (because no one wants to look like a fool trying to grill or set up a tent in 30 mph winds in the middle of the beach. People: practice at home!). So I recently received this link of Grilled chicken recipes and thought I’d try one a week. So tonight’s is a mix between a lemon and oregano marinade with the squash. 

    Ps. Soak your skewers so they don’t catch on fire. 

    Pss. One more. 

      

    Garden musings

    I once taught a freshman ‘exploratory’ course at ASU. Basically it was for incoming freshman who were undecided on their major. Sort of like an intro course to college, some introspective work, and some trips to career services and online ‘tests’ to see what they may be geared for. 

    Being an instructor I also took those tests so I knew what the students were in for. One of them was a 500 question ‘personality’ test that was supposed to tell you what your top career choices might be. Here were mine (and this is almost 7 years ago and I remember it clear as day): 1. Farmer 2. Lawyer 3. English professor. Interesting right? What’s funnier? I was a Lit major as an undergrad (studying 16/17th lit in grad school); I LOVE Law & Order (read: fanatical); and I love to garden. Farm, a bit far fetched. But yea, that’s what it said about me! Coincidentally, a large percentage of lawyers actually have a background in Literature. How cool, right!

    So I’ve always had my hands in dirt. I think I got it from my mother. Flowers are beautiful things and watching something grow that you’ve cultivated is quite fulfilling. Yes, I stole a bit of Voltaire there…cultivate your own garden. 

    It wasn’t until I lived in Dothan that I took the route of ‘farmer’. My patient husband built free standing veggie boxes so that I could plant tomatoes, herbs, okra, squash,cucumbers, and peppers- all from seed. And I loved every minute of caring and upkeep. I used to freak out a bit when we would take a weekend camping trip because I was afraid our sprinkler system would fail and they’d die of thirst. I know, roll your eyes. 

    said garden boxes with the sprinklers

    And then we moved to Puerto Rico with lots o lots of room! So I needed a garden. Instead of the hubby taking on the duty my father, who came over with us, was charged with the task. He dug out 8 ( to begin with which expanded to 12) squares for some square foot gardening. Good sport!

     

    gabi’s garden!


    We’ve come across some great times, and also some hard times with the garden. I’ve also learned a lot about trellising and going vertical, especially with the tomatoes. We’ve got 20-30 mph wind gusts here so making sure everything is staked and secured is a must. 

     

    newest addition: sturdy tomato ‘cages’

     
    I’ve recently encountered little critters that love to eat up my squash and zucchini buds. I’m on a third planting now and this time around I’ll be deploying eggshells to deter the snails and slugs, who I think are the culprits. 

    There has been a lot of trial and error. Good harvests and others not so good. But I keep coming back for more. And as Aubrey Hepburn says, ‘to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. ‘

     

    sunflowers for my sweet sunflower, Gabi

      

    multiple blooms!


     

    starting over. again.

       

    Schedules 

    Yea, I’m not so much a scheduler. Which is funny because I taught college courses for about three years while I was a grad student and I also was a tenth grade teacher of English and History. I have quite the storied life. And while these professions would, you’d think, lend themselves to being structured and scheduled, I must admit my best work was by my seat of my pants. 

    That went pretty much for my academic career (and professional as I also was a food reviewer for a local magazine where I lived before moving to PR). If I wasn’t right up to deadline I really wasn’t invested in the product I was putting out. I’d say this had good and bad qualities with it. I mean even to this day, it’s 9.05 pm and I’m just now getting around to blogging. Granted I’m dealing with sleep training that is failing and a baby that refused to nap today until 2 in the afternoon, but it’s still last minute. 

    Which brings me to scheduling and that beautiful baby who won’t sleep. 

    From the beginning I read books. Lots of books. Swaddling vs non swaddling. Paci vs no paci. Feeding on demand vs scheduled feedings. Attachment parenting vs ?? Can’t think of it. Co sleeping vs independent sleeping. And my head just exploded. 

    This is my first so of course I was scared s$&@less but thankfully being older (and I’d like to think wiser- ha!) I decided to just go with the flow. And it worked out great. Gabriela was (IS) a happy, engaged, pleasant, easy going baby. We could drive all around town (or Puerto Rico) and she’d just enjoy the ride. Living in Puerto Rico everyone wants to say hello and chat a bit and having a baby in tow added to that desire to converse and Gabi complied with coos and smiles, which just enchanted the locals. We loved/love it. 

    And her daytime naps? Awesome! If she was being held. Yes. We were those people. And we still are. And this week I have started ‘sleep training’ her – the gentle, no cry version- and it’s driving me bonkers. Plus I’m sure it’s not helping that her first molar is STILL creeping in. Devil teeth. 

    In doing this ‘training’ I’ve realized that we don’t really have a schedule. I could get very detailed about what ours days look like but that’ll be boring. Needless to say, everyday consisted of baby girl being held for her naps (which, just for the record, I absolutely LOVE it!). But productivity was low. Schedules and boundaries were needed. Hence the training started this week. 

    But things still don’t go according to plan. Like today. Sunshine was up at 6.30 and didn’t take her (held) nap until 2.00pm today. (I must note, however, that she did snooze a bit BY HERSELF. In her crib!) Which then led to a late dip in her pool, then a bath, and a feeding, which made everything way behind schedule. 

     

    still trying to figure out the whole napping thing. At least she’s asleep!

    Everything worked out how it should. I just have it in my head that certain things have to happen at certain times. And while that is true, I’m slowly beginning to realize that that’s not how I now live my life. So Gabi’s nap was late; her feeding was late; her bedtime was late. But she got to swim, and see moo cows, and I got to spend one on one time splashing around with my girl. 
    There’s a time and place for schedules. And there’s a time and place for letting  life unfold as it should. I’m looking to find that happy medium. 

    The downside today though: no real dinner. Instead, a Bagel with cream cheese. But still yum! 

    schedule revolves around me!

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