Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Oh the power of food

happy Friday my friends! I hope everyone is gearing up for this Halloween weekend! Gabi was only 16 weeks last year so we really didn’t do much but this year she has a quasi costume and we’ll walk our little neighborhood of 10 houses for some candy and then call it a day. The husband and I have a symphony date night at the new Lufthansa hangar and big papa (aka as my father) will have babysitting duties. But more on that later. I promise! 

Gabi has been fighting a cold this week so her sleep over the last few days have ranged from freaking awesome to Seriously. Go. To. Sleep. Last night was not a good one as she insisted in 1. Being cuddled in our bed (the husband is on nights do it was just her and me) and 2. Staying wide ass awake from 1am to 2.30am. So I got lots of facebook article reading done. And one of those was this fascinating article from the NY Times about this amazing lady who has been chronicling food, recipes, kitchen tools…anything from the medieval times to now. Mind you, this is still a work in progress and not very accessible to the masses (I don’t think) but it just sounds amazing! 

Basically the premise is to show why certain foods/recipes were created at that particular moment in history and what it says about that time. Which got me to wondering (and we can so piggy back this to the ‘ I wonder Wednesday’ that I missed) how so right on this brilliant woman is because food is such a huge part of our everyday lives. There’s a reason why we cook what we cook and why we don’t. And to chronicle it over a multitude of centuries, I think, sheds light on how we’ve evolved (or in some instances devolved. Is that a word?)

 

homemade pizza with buffalo mozzarela, fontina, proscuitto, oven roasted tomatoes, and green peppers

 
I know food is a huge part of my life and I’d like to think that certain dishes tell a story of where I came from, how I started, and where I want to go. I remember arroz con pollo and scrambled eggs with tuna growing up in my parents house; one of the best steaks I’ve ever had at a midnight dinner in St. Louis; pot luck dinners with my amazing friends in St. Louis and Phoenix; amazing steamed clams in Key West when the husband and I went for our honeymoon; fresh caught spiny lobsters from the depths of Puerto Rico grilled to perfection. These experiences are marked just as importantly as to WHAT we ate as to WHO we at them with and WHERE we ate them. 

 

our lil Linger Longer in the big blue waters of the Keys


 

spiny lobster. you’re not a cook until you’ve dispatched one, or a few of these. im just sayin. 😉

  
Food united people. Food is that universal language. Food feeds the soul. 

 

steamed clams with butter and bacon and raw oysters on the half shell. finally they’ve come to Puerto Rico!

 
So I’ll be back focusing on food and the joy it brings to our little world. 

  

Have a wonderful weekend!

Race weekend recap 

wow! Try saying that fast! There’s a torrential downpour happening right now and I’m hanging in our living room (the hammock spot is currently getting soaked) enjoying the most amazing breeze I’ve felt in a long long time. It’s almost on the verge of a chilly breeze, which never happens on this beautiful island. I figure it’s a perfect time to catch you all up on my past race weekend (about 2 weeks ago) EEECK! Guess better late than sorry, eh?

The weekend of October 9-12 I participated in the Mujer Brava event. It was a three day event that consisted of one activity per day: swim, bike, and run, respectively. This is perfect for someone who may want to try out the triathlon events but maybe hasn’t quite worked up to doing all three at the same race or someone who would just want to do one or two events. I used to triathlons back in my formative years (read: before motherhood) and while I’m eager to get back to it, I knew that there’s no way I could do the swim portion. It was almost 1 Mile long and the longest I’ve ever done was 3/4 of a mile, with training. So I opted for the bike and the run. Hers a bit of flashback from past races. 

   

yea, thats me over there in the orange cap 🙂


   
I unfortunately had a bad bad start to the bike: the night before I had a flat. After much patching it looked like things were looking up. No such luck. We were able to find a mechanic at the starting area who changed the tube and we kept out fingers crossed all was to go well. Again, no such luck. Around mile 7 of 25 I had another flat. Turns out I had a staple in my TIRE that was repeatedly puncturing my tube. After all that was taken care of, all was good. 

This bike event was probably one of the best moments I’ve experienced. There must’ve been over 300 women participating in the 4 different distances: 25, 45, 60, 80 miles. Each group went off at different times and then we all rendezvoused to bike the last 5 miles in together in a giant peloton. I got chills looking around me and seeing all these women together in our shirts taking over the streets of Old San Juan. There were people cheering for us on the sidewalks and outside on balconies and patios. The views alone of the city were breathtaking and then the comraderie was excellent. 

   

future mujer brava

    
 
Then the run on Monday. I originally planned on the 10k but I just wasn’t feeling it so I opted for the 5k. I wanted to have fun and I knew trying for the 10 I’d hate it so I was pretty ok missing that goal. And it was one of the best runs I’ve done! The route took us along the waterfront of Old San Juan and we even took in the sunrise. How magical it was to see the whole waterfront light up with an amazing display of golden colors. It was breathtaking. 

 

pre-race smiles

  

post race smiles and a medal!

 
Being it was the first year that they added the run they didn’t do placing a for each group but if they had, I would’ve placed 3rd! Yea! But I of course had to take advantage of the 1st place podium pic! 

Overall the two days were amazing, despite a few setbacks. It’s all a learning experience and I can’t wait till next year when I’ll do all three events. I think the biggest thing for me was that this was my first ‘race’ since moving to PR. And I’ve missed it. So I’m going to try extra hard to find more local races to participate in. Not only do I feel good because I am helping out good causes and charities but I also get a sense of achievement that you don’t get with just practice runs or bikes. I really do miss it. 

So on November 8 I have my half marathon and I’m sorry to report that I seem to have a strained hip flexor so the half is up in the air. I’ll be resting a few days and stretching and we’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed the pain will subside and I’ll be staring down 13.1 miles in 13 days! 

Sorry for the photo blast but I like to document. 

Have a great day and here’s a few more 😉

 

yep, goes waaaay back there

  

she could live in the water

  

mi familia there to support me

 

Juggling 

I can now see how actual juggling is so difficult: the concentration, coordination, and multitasking is utterly mind blowing and I’ve again encountered a less than stellar juggling act the past week.  

The husband was back last week from his trip but my father was still gone so juggling the house, gabriela (who I think is getting 4 more teeth), dinner, errands, and training was left to me. This isn’t a woe is me moment– I’m actually recalling loving this time right now. Not every moment, but a lot of them. 

I’m loving the quiet time I get when Gabi (miraculously) decides to take a nap in her crib (yes, I’m that mother who would cuddle her while she naps until she’s 18. I’m working on it). It’s just me in the house and it’s blissful. (Sorry dad, I love having you around but being alone ROCKS!). I’m able to just sit. And that’s all. Before I was always doing something: meal planning, cleaning, etc etc. but last week I just vegged a few times. Priceless. 

But it was still rough for a hours/days. Sometimes naps weren’t had at all and that sassy little chica ruled the roost. On those days, dinner was had out. And I’ve got a lovely husband who’ll be happy to dine out anytime. Thank you, husband. 

 

Gorgeous view overlooking Jobos Beach

  

Grilled shrimp with mango pico de gallo at La Vista Smokehouse


Overall it was a great week and we even took a drive out west to check out a new restaurant and the sunset. Unfortunately it was overcast and it actually rained – a lot – but being up in the mountain region was very refreshing. It’s amazing how green things are up there. What’s even MORE amazing is that we can get this different terrain/scenery by only driving 45 mins away from our house in any four directions. Puerto Rico surely is amazing! 

 

Casa Linda Restaurant overlooking the Anasco/Aguada valley. Rincon beachline in the background.

  

daddy- daughter giggles as the rain comes down.


So that pretty summed up our week. This week found my husband working nights for the next two months (ugh) but at least my father will be back on Saturday and the husband and Gabi get to spend a lot of quality time together during the day. Which has allowed me to make homemade chicken stock, which i doctored up by adding fresh herbs, carrots, and celery. But the way the recipe as written really does churn out a lovely stock. And I’ll be doing chicken pot pies for tonight, along with little mini ones to freeze for Gabriela. I haven’t found a recipe yet so I just might wing it. I’ll update you. 

 

chicken stock stash heading to the freezer.


So far the week has been pretty good. This weekend we’re off to San Juan for three days for the races so that’ll be a nice staycation ! 
Happy Tuesday, friends! And welcome to the new followers and thank you all for the likes!

 

my girl and me ❤️

 
 

 
 
 

I wonder wednesday…

I wonder…

…why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways?

Yea yea, pretty lame. But I can’t for the life of me think of anything I’m really wondering about. Maybe I should wonder about that! 

So anyway, on to other things (don’t worry, I’ll be sure to be wondering for next week!)…

Oh! The pizza! In case you missed my last post, I was doing homemade pizza using the pizza dough recipe from Tuscan Gun. This is the second time I’ve used the recipe and the initial attempt delivered a really great, crispy yet chewy crust. So I figured I’d give it another shot. 

Not sure what happened this time around but the dough ended up being a bit dry while it was mixing. I really think I should have added some more water but I didn’t want to alter the recipe. I wonder if cooking in a non air conditioned kitchen with 80%+ humidity had anything to do with it? I’ve read that heat and humidity can wreak havoc on baking and this is sorta baking so maybe?? If anyone knows please offer up some advice. 

I was worried that the dough would be too dry/thick that it wouldn’t proof/rise. I was wrong! That sucker plumped up like a champ! 

 

pre-proof

  

after two hours! score!

 

The next step is punching it down and letting it proof for one more hour. This is not a quick pizza crust so make sure you give yourself time to let it rise. 

And, of course, that’s where the pics ended. Ggrrr! What else goes on the pizza? Great question! I use buffalo mozzarella, the roasted tomatoes, grated fontina cheese, and vey thin proscuito de Parma. In Dothan, I would have also added figs but I cannot find them here. 

Overall, it turned out pretty tasty. The crust was a little suspect and I think it was because of it being a bit dry. It came out pretty thin and ended up being cracker crispy. Not too bad though.  

I’ll be giving it a whirl again in the next few weeks as I have the leftover dough in the freezer. How nice is it to go into the freezer and pull out some fresh dough. This is why I love to cook! At anytime I can go in to my freezer stash and pull something out that I know is fresh and healthy. Speaking of fresh and healthy, here’s the bolognese I made last week for our dinners as well as single servings for gabriela. Gotta love snack sized ziplocs!

   

  

  

 
Gotta end with a Gabriela pic!

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. ☺️

 

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.

 

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