Monthly Archives: September 2015

absence makes the ….

Sorry, again, fellow followers for my absence. After our fun week with Amee we thought things would go back to normal. “Normal”. Due to bad timing, last week found Gabriela and me alone for 8 days. For those who don’t know, my father lives with us which is a HUGE help for the day-to-day things that I (try) to get done. And Gabi loves her afternoon naps with him so I can get dinner together. AND the husband was out of town for two weeks for work. Yikes.

Now I know thousands of women and men are single stay at home parents and this is something that is done everyday but when you are used to having that extra set of hands everyday, not having it really does make me appreciate all that my father does. We run 3 days a week and bike twice and while I get Gabi ready my father would get the stroller and/or her bike trailer and our bikes ready to go and on the Monte. Without him here, it’s all on me and let me tell you, I don’t know what is harder: actually doing the running or bike or getting the gear loaded! Whew!

Needless to say, our schedule has a been out of whack in terms of the baby sleeping, cooking, and just regular everyday things. So blogging has been furthest from my mind. Sorry gang!

I did, however, knock out a few batch cookings earlier in the week that included bolognese sauce (which i just sorta threw together with grated carrots and zucchini for some extra veggies) and quinoa and zucchini bites from Littlegrazers.com . I was really surprised by how yummy the quinoa bites turned out! And extra bonus: Gabriela (and Amee, the best friend) LOVED them! And they are a great source for protein so extra WIN! And then the week went down hill from there ending in getting dinner from our local pizza joint.

Speaking of pizza, as I am writing this (and Gabi is napping beautifully!!), I am prepping pizza for tonight. To begin, I have a variety of different tomatoes slow roasting in the oven. I try to start these as early as possible in the day because the longer you roast them (on the lowest oven setting possible) the natural sugars caramelize and you get a more deep and flavorful tomato bite. I wish I could say these came from my garden, but alas, only four of them did. This weather has been brutal on my veggies and I’m actually just waiting for the rest to dry and die off so I can plant again as we near winter cooler weather. Did I mention we’re reaching almost 90 degrees today with 75% humidity!!??!! NOTE: do not roast your tomatoes on aluminum foil as the acid interacts with the foil and you’ll get a tinny (is that a word? tin-ny) flavor. Instead, use parchment paper.

 

before…


 

After! Yum!

  
I’m trying to perfect my crust so I have dedicated myself to just using one master recipe (from Tuscan Gun) and tweaking that rather than using different ones. If you have any tips on how to get a great, crunchy yet chewy flavorful crust, please drop me a line! I’ll update how the pizza turned out tomorrow on my “I wonder wednesday” post.

So everything is sorta falling back to normal: the husband has returned home but the father is still out of town so it’s gabi and me time during the day and then daddy takes over (as he pours me a cocktail). Gabi has been trying to roll with things but she ended up having some tummy troubles earlier this week that is really unlike her. We have been blessed with no issues at all for almost 15 months so I figure we were due. Thankfully, she is all good now and back to her bubbly, REGULAR self! 

 

checking out her new golden books from her tia amee

 
I am freaking out though because I have the Mujer Brava 25 mile bike race and 10k running race on October 10th and training alone has not been my strongest suit, especially pushing a 20 pound baby and a 20 (?) pound jogging stroller. But that’s ok– I’m committed and looking forward to it!

Please check back as for more posts as I get back my groove back and please check me out on Facebook!

Cheers!

Ps- check out my fellow blogger friend  over at GoingDad who just got back from a stay-at-home-DAD’s convention! How cool is that!? And just so you know, dad’s don’t babysit! 😉

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I wonder wednesday…

I had a former colleague/friend post this article a few weeks ago on facebook about women using the word ‘just’ and how damaging it could be. As the author states, ‘It hit me that there was something about the word I didn’t like. It was a “permission” word – a warm-up to a request, an apology for interrupting, a shy knock on the door before asking: “Can I get something I need from you?”’ Apparently male colleagues didn’t use it as much. So Leanse banned the word. 

I admit, I use the word quite often and I never thought about it that way. I even start sentences with that blasted 4-letter word: ‘just so you know…’

But after reading that article and listening to conversations I realized that stay at home mom’s and dad’s sometimes use it to describe their social status: ‘I’m just a SAHM/D’. And I know I’ve done it!

I wonder when that became ok to make what we do seem not as important as maybe running a corporation, being a professional, etc etc. 

I was on a career path of being a professor; I was in graduate school; I worked and wrote for a local magazine. And now I’m ‘just‘ a stay at home mom?? Is what I’m doing now any less important or impactful as a career path? I think not. Maybe I’m trying to convince myself because sometimes I do feel that way. I guess with anything change happens within. So I will be changing my mindset and embrace that I am shaping and influencing one little girl to be anything she wants to be in her life. I hope to empower her and give her the confidence to go after her dreams and to never look back. I will instill in her to CARPE DIEM and for her to ‘…sound her barbaric YAWP from the rooftops of the world’ (Whitman). As one of my favorite poets so elegantly states, I hope that Gabriela will always remember, ‘…to strive, to seek, to find, and never to yield.’ (Tennyson)

My hat off to all the SAHM/D’s and all the mom’s and dad’s out there. Keep up the important work you’re all doing! 

My little climber already wanting to tackle the world.

Friendships 

Hey there, my friends! I apologize for the little hiatus the last week and a half. My best friend (since the 6th grade!) was in town last week visiting so I didn’t quite get around to my blog. 

We had a great visit and little Gabriela absolutely loved spending time with Tia Amee (who is also her godmother). It was so nice to just hang out and talk. 

  
 

Spending the day in San Juan at Barrachina restaurant


We’ve been friends since the 6th grade but there have been a few times where we lost touch with each other and eventually reconnected. Between various moves (me to Phx, back to StL, BACK to Phx, then to Dothan, and finally to PR; Amee from StL to Cupertino, CA), getting married, and finally children (my one to her three beautiful kids), our lives have been crazy and complicated but we always manage to touch base and catch up. Our conversations are sometimes few and far between but when we do talk I really feel connected to her. 

Mojitos at Achè Bar

This is her second visit to PR and she’s pretty committed to visiting at least once a year. That just makes my heart happy that she really enjoys spending time with us. And I guess it doesn’t hurt we live in a tropical island. 😉 We had a great ‘girl’s night’ while my dad watched Gabi and it just brought
back memories of what we used to do when we lived close to each other. It was a perfect night that capped a perfect visit of beach time, food, and a lot of conversation. 

 

Clmdo Restaurant in Isabela. Hands down one of my best meals yet on the island!

 
 

Amee said she wanted a lobster , so we got her a lobster from one of the fishing boats

 

Over the years my circle of friends have gotten smaller and now that I think about it, it was for the better. At 37 years old (yikes!) I think my values and what I truly feel and believe in have changed over the years. Some friends have evolved and fit into my little worldview and some have not. And that’s okay, too. I truly feel that everyone who has entered my life, however brief or for the long haul, has had an impact on who I am today and  I appreciate every single one of them. It doesn’t make them any less important. 
I’m in a new stage of my life, as a mother and living in a new-ish foreign place and I’m hoping to make friendships here that will also help me grow and widen my worldview. 

Amee is an amazing friend, mom, wife, woman that I really do look up to. This past week was exactly what I needed to refuel my engines. I cannot thank her enough for not only her visit but also her friendship. 

So if you’ve got a friend that you’ve been missing or have gotten out of touch with, reach out and say hello. 

Have a great Sunday, my friends. ❤️

 

circa 1995/96. Amee’s senior pics. We were such young pups.

  

2015 and still looking good! My ebony to her ivory. ☺️

 

A reflection…

Today marks the 14th anniversary of 9/11. I know lots of people are blogging and posting about this so I don’t want to dwell too much on it, except to say this real quick. 

I was thinking this morning: it seems like every generation has had a tragedy or event where you will always ‘remember where you were’ when so-and-so happened. Think about when president Kennedy was shot; the space shuttle Challenger exploding; the day the World Trade Center fell. I was 23 years old, working in a coffe shop in Clayton, Missouri when it came on the TV. It just didn’t seem real. That day/moment/feeling will always be with me. 

My heart goes out to all who have and are still affected by this tragedy. My one wish is that my daughter, Gabriela, will not, during her lifetime, have to ever answer the question, ‘where were you when…’ Instead, I hope that in her lifetime there will be more love, happiness, and peace and that’s what she’ll always remember. 

  

I Wonder Wednesday…

“Blades holds me under the faucet. The touch of his hands and the flowing water make my tail convulse deliciously. The tension grows unbearable. I feel precarious, as if I were about to fall for him again. A cluck of longing emerges from deep inside me. 

“Suddenly we can’t help ourselves, and his long-fingered hands are all over me. ‘I want to cook you,’ he whispers. ‘Whole.’ Oh my. I’m heating from the inside out.”

Did I get your attention? No, I’m not thinking about penning raunchy, steamy novels. This is actually an excerpt from the cookbook 50 Shades of Chicken, which is a spin-off of the _50 Shades of Grey_ series that were ever so popular a few years ago. Being that we’re all friends here, in full disclosure, I must admit that yes, I did succumb and read all three books. In about 3 days. My poor husband even ran to the bookstore to get the 2nd and 3rd books. And I just have to say that my mother in law’s MOTHER and her best friend pretty much told me I HAD to read it. Gotta listen to your elders, right??!!??

While it was cheesy with no plot and at times made me blush, it did hold my attention and it was entertaining. In some weird ‘I-can’t-believe-I’m – a-16th/17th century- lit major-who- just-read-a-trendy-awfully-written-series. ‘. Hey, we all need an escape. And a shower. 

Anyway, so after the popularity of the series emerged, there were all sorts of 50 Shades spin-offs. Leave it to my husband to find the one about chicken. Gotta love that man. 

So the recipe that the above excerpt is from is called ‘plain vanilla chicken’. Get it?? But DAMN! If this isn’t one of the best roast chickens ever! You “Fill your hand with butter and gently slide your fingers beneath the skin of the breast, slathering the butter on the flesh as you go. Work your ways to the thighs.”. The butter is a combination of brandy, vanilla extract, and sugar and it just melts into the flesh, resulting in a slightly vanilla perfumed breast that is oh so tender. I know, sugar. Vanilla. Brandy. But trust me. 

And the SAUCE that results from the butter and chicken is absolutely divine that you really need some bread to sop it all up. 

So I wonder…when did food get ‘sexy’? Or has it? People on blogs/in person/etc. go on about how pleasurable their food is. Pictures are taken of dishes (Yep, totally guilty) and there’s the common phrase of ‘food porn’ that floats around social media. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m totally on board looking at beautiful dishes that are put together like artwork. I’m in awe of the intricate working of recipes. But how did it all happen? When did food, which in the simplest form is supposed to nourish our bodies, become something much more? And is that even really a bad thing? 

I’m thinking not. 

So I’ll continue to be in awe of all the foodie pics on Instagram and even strive myself to show off my own food porn. 

And I just gotta say that as corny as this cookbook is, there’s a lot of really good, flavorful recipes in it. Good food with a bit of entertainment. I wonder what could be so wrong with that. 

Bon appetit!

Ps- and of course I didn’t take pics of my food ( I like other people’s food to photograph) here’s the stock photo and one of lil Gabi who turned 14 months old today! What?!?

 

pic from the book. but yours will so look like this!


   

I Wonder Wednesday 

(I wonder… if I will ever actually post this on a WEDNESDAY) 🙂

So it’s been unusually hot (from what I’ve been told by the locals) these last few months. Plus we’ve been getting the dry air and sand storms from the Sahara so it just seems like the air is stagnant. Now I’m no stranger to a hot environment: I’ve lived in Phoenix for about 5 years, grew up in the heat and humidity in St. Louis, and experienced the southern humidity in Alabama. But all these places have something in common that is lacking in Puerto Rico…

AIR CONDITIONING

Yep. I’d guesstimate that upwards of about 75% of the houses here (including ours) do not have air conditioning. We have a whole lot of windows instead! Word round the campfire is that 1. Electricity is crazy expensive here and 2. They don’t do central air but rather individual units that are mounted to a wall so you’d need one for every room and those aren’t cheap. Plus factor in the cost of electricity. 

We knew this coming here but we (foolishly) thought ‘oh we’re in an island. There’ll be breezes and we’ll have the tropical wind blowing through our hair.’  Yea, right. While a majority of our windows do face the windward side and we do in fact get fabulous breezes, it’s still hot! 

But it’s slowly getting bearable. At times. Now the kitchen, well that’s another matter. There’s only 4 windows and it’s closed off so there’s not really a flow of air. It gets a bit stifling in there. But does that hinder me from using the oven, doing long roasts, or whipping up big meals? Nope. Sacrifice, I say. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with. 

We do, however, have lots of ceiling fans and ground fans. And of course we have a portable air conditioner in Gabi’s room (and my dad’s room for when she hangs out with him) and that really does keep us cool. I’m working on getting one for every room but the husband hasn’t gotten on board on yet. Lol. 

So I wonder…what did people do before air conditioning was invented? Did they complain or was it just the way it is? I guess I’m just spoiled having that LUXURY for all of my life that I seriously miss it. When we stay in a hotel I’m in heaven because of the A/C! Do you think you could ever live day in and day out with it? 

We’ve had a lot of trade-offs coming here and after completing our first year, they’ve all been worth!

Happy hump day (well Thursday now)!

 

Nice and chill in her own air conditioning.

 

One prep, two recipes + JULIA!

Happy last day of August! (or at least it was when I STARTED writing this post. Ooops) This was a fun month filled with lots of day adventures and checking out some new and awesome places around the island. I’ll be doing a quick wrap-up of our month in the next day or so to share our journey through the island! So stay tuned!

In the meantime, tropical storms Danny and Erika completely bypassed our fair island. I was hoping (not really HOPING) but looking forward to being rained in on Friday so I figured it would be a good time for a Julia recipe.  I deviated from chicken, although I wanted to finish off that chapter first, and instead checked out the beef section because my supermercado had a great selection of eye of round. 

I made Boeuf À La Mode (beef braised in red wine). Doesn’t it just sound so much better in French! This recipe called for a 24 hour marinade of the beef in a red wine, vegetable, and herb marinade. 24 whole hours. Talk about flavor! Unfortunately I was unable to locate (as prescribed by Julia) a cracked veal knuckle or a split calfs foot. I had to settle for a modified pork rind. What can you do, right?

After the 24 hrs, all that’s left is searing the beef and then adding in the marinade and braising it slowly for 3 hours. And can I just say- the house smelled AMAZING! To accompany the beef, julia suggests ‘quartered carrots braised in butter.’  BUTTER. it surely doesn’t get any better. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pics and it was gobbled up rather quickly by the husband and my father so I guess it was a hit! Back to chicken next week– maybe the classic coq au vain. Mmmmm… 

(Note- the recipe in the link was found online from finecooking.com. I have yet to find a lot of Julia’s recipes online and typing out 4 pages of a recipe just ain’t happening so I try to find blogs or sites that have it. I’m very thankful to these folks for doing the hard work of getting her recipes out there!)

I also filled up Gabi’s freezer stash today during one of her naps. It’s so nice having small bites around for when we head out on trips or need something quick to whip up. 

Gabi has been loving meatballs lately so I figured I’d whip up a batch. I had a huge packet of ground beef so I had the idea of knocking out two different recipes using similar ingredients to save time and get the most out of her nap time. 

Nothing like fresh herbs from my garden!

I used this recipe for the meatballs. I liked the idea of using quick cooking oats instead of bread crumbs. In fact, there’s an Ellie Krieger recipe I use for meatloaf that has the oats in it. Also  hiding the spinach (which Gabi is not quite a fan of) in the meatball is a great way to get those greens in her. 

 

Meatball prep


  

For some reason I was craving pasta so I thought I’d do some ravioli for la nena. While I wish I could say I rolled out my own dough for this, sadly I did not. But one day I will take on making my own pasta! Is anything better than fresh pasta? I think not!

Instead I cheated and used egg roll wrappers. The filling was somewhat similar to the meatballs but I omitted the oats and added ricotta for some ooey gooey cheesy goodness. I found that you can fit 4 raviolis on a sheet and after some trimming, they come out to a good size. 

not the best pic but you get the idea.

I did ravioli once before using wonton wrappers and it turned into a big gooey mess. Not quite sure what I did

but the wrappers just didn’t hold together.  I haven’t tried these out yet but I’m hoping for a better outcome. Fingers crossed. I’ll keep you posted. 

And to round out the evening I made a proscuito and fontina pizza with oven roasted tomatoes for dinner. I’m trying to perfect my pizza crust (it’s either too thin and crispy or too thick and gummy) so I’ve been going through lots of recipes. I used a recipe from Tuscan Gun (did I mention I’m obsessed with that show in the Cooking Channel?!?!) and I think it’s been the best tasting crust so far. It still didn’t have the texture I wanted and that’s what I’m still trying to figure out. But the guys liked it so again, I’ll take that as a win! Do you have a favorite pizza crust recipe? Any advice on how to achieve that perfect crust (I’m trying real hard to convince my father to build a pizza oven in the back yard. That’s practical, right? 😉)

 

its’s amazing how much dough tises and how light snd airy it is.

 
 

gotta have a Gabi pic! First time trying raspberries and she gobbled them all up!

 

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