Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Isla Mujeres 2013-Day 4, Part 1

April2

Today’s post will be more of a pictorial than a literary accounting.  Day four started with another colourful walk around Centro.  I get such a kick out of the way Islanders use colour to freshen and preserve their homes.  The salty sea air must take its toll after a while and regular paint touch ups seem to be a fairly regular occurrence.  Interestingly, the painters don’t seem to enjoy the clean up (neither do I) but they have discovered an easy solution-they simply abandon their rollers, brushes and paint trays where they completed the task.  I have seen this occur a number of times in some of the most scenic places on the island.   There is a stretch on the uninhabited west border of the airport property along Rueda Medina, where you can spot discarded paint gear amongst the tropical plants.

I wondered if this variety of colours were planned or if there was a sale on small cans of paint.

Isn’t this house, fresh and clean looking?

And I love, the peeling turquoise paint on this corrugated metal wall!

The sky had cleared and made way for another beach day but the humidity was a little higher and there was no breeze.  I attempted to spend some time with the gang at North Beach but just couldn’t mange staying put.  I was craving the breeze of Playa Sol.  So I packed up and relocated around the corner.

This solitary palm was the perfect place for me to plunk my stuff and I quite obviously had the beach to myself.

Or did I?  There was a constant stream of beach vendors getting a work out, trudging through the gorgeous white sand.

Turns out that the Islanders selling their beach ware wasn’t my only company.  At one point, I looked up from my book to see my brother in law paddling by in his kayak.  He has a inflatable type that he can easily transport wherever he goes.  He and Sister #2 like to stay on the southeast end of the island and by the time I spied him, he had paddled a considerable distance.  He still intended to navigate around the northwest point of the island to visit the family assembled on north beach.

Then, of course, he had the long ride home.  When I saw him later that evening, he confessed that once he got out into the bay, the breeze, the waves and the wake from the ferries crossing back and forth, gave him more of a work out than he had bargained for.

Well I suppose 20+ photos is enough for one post.  Stayed tuned (soon, I promise) for the rest of Day Four.

Kath’s quote: “One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is time alone with God.”-Unknown

Love-that is all.

 

Easter Treats

March28

Just in case you need some suggestions for your last minute preparations for the weekend.  Here are Lori’s Mom’s Easter Nests.

No-Bake Easter Bake Cookies
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c sugar
  • 5 T cocoa
  • ½ c milk
  • ½ c margarine
  • 3 c of quick oats
  • 1 c coconut (I use the unsweetened one… otherwise these are a little too sweet for my liking)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • ¼ t salt
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar and cocoa in a saucepan.
  2. Add milk slowly. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Bring to a boil, add margarine and oats stirring briskly. Cook for 1 – 3 minutes stirring constantly. (3 minutes was the magic number for me — no more or it gets a little hard)
  4. Remove from heat. Add coconut, vanilla and salt.
  5. Let the mixture cool a bit at room temperature so that you can handle it to make the nests (about 10 – 15 minutes).
  6. Using a spoon, scoop a ball of the mixture onto wax paper. Press in the middle to form a nest. Add 2 or 3 mini eggs.
  7. Refrigerate. These also freeze well!

These are Sister #3’s Easter cupcakes.

She uses a cake mix (white cake with pastel colour confetti sprinkles inside) and a butter cream (1/2 c butter, 1/2 c shortening, whipped with 4 c icing sugar and two T milk) and adds lots of sprinkles and treats.

If you are looking for a fun twist to an Easter Egg hunt, think about including Two Hens and a Rooster from the World Vision Canada Gift Catalogue at worldvision.ca/gifts. This will provide a family with nutritious eggs and income.  What a great moment to teach your kids about helping others. Simply donate the gift online and print the e-card (or select the card to be mailed to you) and hide it with the chocolate the Easter Bunny leaves (he won’t mind, promise).

Kath’s quote: “Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”  Clarence W. Hall

Love-that is all.

The Price is Wrong

March27

On Easter Sunday I depart for Thompson to teach courses in culinary and hospitality.  Thompson, (I am embarrassed to admit) is the furthest north that I have ever been. I understand that the north is breathtaking and yet even though it is perched on my doorstep, I have yet to explore it.

In the mean time, a friend of our family has made me aware of a movement and an event that she and a working group are spearheading.  Brilliantly titled “The Price is Wrong” it sheds light on the issue that food security is a basic human need and right but in the north that right is negatively impaired by a number of factors that can be altered.  Since this is my brief exposure to this issue, I do not want to risk misrepresenting the facts and defer you to this press release that I received last evening.

 The Price is WRONG: Confronting Food Insecurity in Northern Canada
WINNIPEG- Southern city dwellers are appalled by the high price and availability of food in Canada’s northern and remote communities. On Monday, April 1st 2013 beginning at 11:30 a.m. university students, Northern and Southern Canadian residents, as well as guest speakers Tina Keeper and John Fox will be gathering at the newly opened Neechi Commons (865 Main Street) to share personal experiences, showcase real food prices, petition the Federal Government, and roundance in protest. A theatrical game show will also be incorporated with visual representation of the issue. Northern and remote communities in Canada are more likely to be food insecure due to inflated food prices and cost of transportation than those located in Southern Canada, and which are close to large city centers. This need not be the case. Communities can be self-sufficient and food secure based on the abundance of wild/country foods. Close proximity to roads and large city centers allows communities increased food security only in that they have dependency on corporate food supplies and agribusiness, and not necessarily food self-sufficiency. Therefore, we are petitioning the federal government to remove many of the systemic barriers in place that limit a community’s ability (particularly those in the North) to be food secure and to have food sovereignty. Currently, Northern and remote communities are forced to be dependant on corporate monopolies to supply their food. For instance, there is a lack of subsidization for local country food hunted by local community members. Additionally, “public health” restrictions do not allow for local country foods to be widely provided in the Northern communities (specifically in the public institutions such as schools and hospitals). We agree with the statement made by Food Secure Canada in their Food Sovereignty in Rural and Remote Communities discussion paper: “The capacity of remote communities to harvest and trade (locally or regionally) their own traditional food (including fish, game, berries, etc.) is undermined by the current regulatory system. This system inadvertently makes these communities dependent upon the long distance import of less-healthy market food in exchange for natural resource extraction” (Food Secure Canada)

In my mind, the timing of this event is no coincidence.  In our family Easter is acknowledged as a time of resurrected life, rebirth an reawakening.   Many of us will assemble this Sunday for a time of feasting.  The sharing of an abundant table is a tradition that transcends many cultures-life is celebrated with food so that life itself can continue and thrive!  But there are people in our own province and our own country that do not have the opportunity to break bread with their loved ones.  This is a wrong that can be made right.  I encourage you to learn more by checking out these resources: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Price-Is-Wrong-Confronting-Food-Insecurity-in-Northern-Canada/313161272146564?ref=notif&notif_t=page_new_likes

https://www.facebook.com/events/352415714877244/

Kath’s quote: “It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it; and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied; and it is all one.”- M. F. K. Fisher

Love-that is all.

Tio’s Mexican Restaurant and Bar

March26

I spotted Tio’s Mexican Restaurant as I was heading south on St. Mary’s Rd. (754 to be exact). one afternoon and made a mental note to put it on my “must try” list.  Unfortunately, my list is very long and there are only so many times that I can justify going out for dinner.  But, if a new friend suggests that we meet at a restaurant that she thinks that I would enjoy, the decision is made for me.  I just had to go out again, didn’t I?

Even though the sun is changing locations in the sky and sticking around for longer in the evening, it is still not spring time in Winnipeg.  This, I believe is the perfect time to savour the tastes that remind you of warm places like Mexico!  For me, the combination of tomatoes, limes and cilantro transport me to a place and time where the sun is warm and always shining.

It was cold and blustery, the night that we met, but the tidy and cheerful décor was warm and inviting. The helpful server was truly glad to take care of us and shared her stories of warm places that she has traveled to.  Dinner started with chips and salsa and we ordered guacamole just for good measure.

Tio’s makes their guacamole to order only when avocadoes are in season, which I think bodes well for their commitment to quality.  We agreed that the recipe needed a little bit more zing so we added a pinch of salt and more lime juice.

My supper mate chose the Combination Plate and was cheerfully accommodated when she requested a mix of chicken and beef items, instead of one or the other.  Her platter of a beef burrito, chicken taco and chicken enchilada came with a cheese quesadilla, Mexican rice and re-fried beans.

I went with the Shrimp Tacos and both of us had to take leftovers home for lunch the following day.  The next time we meet for chips and salsa again, it will be in Mexico (I am counting the sleeps)!

Post Script:  I obviously wrote this a little while ago because I have been to Isla and my tan has already washed itself down the shower drain.

Tio's Mexican Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Grilling is like sunbathing. Everyone knows it is bad for you but no one ever stops doing it.”-Laurie Colwin

Love-that is all.

Isla Mujeres 2013- Day 3, Rain Delay

March25

My cyber friends on the Isla message board often say  ” A rainy day on Isla, is still better than a fair day, anywhere else.”    This is pretty close to the truth for my time on the island and my enjoyment of it.  On this particular morning, it was a bit muggy and you could anticipate the rain.  But because we (the Royal “we” of those lucky enough to be on Isla), often watch rain storms over the sea, completely avoid the island and pour as soon as they make landfall over Cancun (te he, we are a smug lot sometimes), I was as optimistic as the rest of the beach babies that morning.

I had a lovely swim to eliminate the humidity and then was just getting comfortable to read my book.  When the rain came, I stood under a palm tree, quite sure that it would soon pass.  Sisters 2 and 3 were swimming in the ocean and decided, what the heck, no use coming out.  It reminded me of when they were little and we would all holiday at Grand Beach.  I am the eldest daughter and so hyper-responsible and I would anxiously watch them from the shore with my Mom, hoping that lightning was not part of the storm.  Back in present day, after we were completely drenched along with most of our things, we decided that the rain was not going to stop and began slogging down the streets of Centro carrying all of our wet stuff.  Once I got out of my wet suit, I was still content to mosey around town doing all that I love to do.

Often times, rainy days mean a visit to our friend Hortencia and her family.  She is our dress-maker friend that has a stall at the north-east corner of the local market.  We could shop at other stalls or on Medina or Hidalgo, but we have know Hortencia and her lovely growing family for eight years now and we really, really care about her, so we make a conscious decision to buy whatever we can with her.  This year, we got to spend two really special times with Hortencia outside of her stall at the market.  One was when she took her adorable grand-kids to north beach for swim and another when we had the distinct honour of being invited to her home for mole (these stories to follow).

The other person that we were intent on meeting up with on this day was Jackie.  Jackie is a foodie, also from Winnipeg, who discovered my blog and decided (without ever having been to the island) to book a month vacation at the Sailfish condos!  I was delighted to inaugurate another Islaholic but I was also hesitant.  It is hard to be objective about someplace that you love.  If she focused on the north winds, the smell of sewage in Centro and the piles of rubble that often seem to turn up on Isla, how will I bear it?  Well I can tell you that she loved Isla and I had no reason at all to be concerned.  Anyway, we had hoped to meet up with Jackie and her travel companions for an evening at El Varadero but we were concerned about dining on an partially exposed dock out in the rain, and so we postponed our get together for another day.

In the mean time, we wanted to ensure that we would find an inside table, without walking too far in the continued rain so we headed to Angelo’s for pizza. We are hearty stock from Winnipeg, knowing how to deal with the extreme cold but damp and chilled is a different story.   Sister #2 and her hubby were making the trip to Centro from punta sur in the pouring rain, on their scooter!

This me in my cropped pants and flip flops.  Sometimes there is no avoiding the puddles on Hidalgo, so I am prepared to wade through them.  Hey, if there is pizza at the end of my trek, I am prepared to do lots of things. 

I think that Angelo does an amazing job and not because I am one of those travellers who like to enjoy my favourite foods from home when I venture to a new place.  I think that Angelo does a great job when measured alongside Italian restaurants in Italy!  Dishes are always made from scratch, using fresh whole ingredients, they are blended with a light touch and the recipes let the natural flavours of tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil shine through.

Now I will not profess that every meal that I have eaten at Angelo’s (and there have been a great many of them) has met this same standard but his seafood pasta dishes are as delectable as ones that I have supped on, on the Italian Riveria (I am teaching a blogging course in Tuscany this October if you are interested in knowing more).

We almost all opted for pizza with the exception of one hearty eater who enjoyed both the Spaghetti Bolognaise and a pizza.

Ham and pina.

Sister #3 and Dona shared this one and still had enough to have it for lunch the next day on the beach.

Doesn’t this look good, right about now?

Kath’s quote: “The definitive recipe for any Italian dish has not yet appeared. We are still creating.” Luigi Barzini

Love-that is all.

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