Browsing: Food & Travel

Mexican Rice from Cocina Islena

February8

I was at an event this week and a person sitting opposite me wondered where she could find an authentic Mexican Rice recipe. I have made this one oodles of time and sent it off to her.

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The first meal I ever ate on Isla was decades ago at La Lomita. Where was yours?

We are off to the island in 14 sleeps and I am eagerly anticipating one of the many reasons we love the island so much and that is the food! When I come home I cook Mexican food to keep the memories and experiences vivid. It occurred to me than many persons on the Isla Mujeres’ Food page (that I moderate) would be interested in these recipes too, when they regretfully arrive home.

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So here we go:

Mexican Rice from Cocina Islena
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This is the way the Islenas make their rice. You can cook it ahead, then heat it thoroughly but gently, in a tightly covered pot for about fifteen minutes. Leftover rice can be heated in the same way the next day and it freezes well. To reheat, make a foil package with the rice and place still frozen, in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups rice
  • ⅓ cup oil (I use canola)
  • I large tomato (1/2 pound) chopped
  • 1 glove of garlic chopped
  • 3½ cups chicken broth
Instructions
  1. Wash and clean rice, taking out any stones that may be in the bag.
  2. Drain in a colander.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan.
  4. Stir in the rice until all the grains are well covered, then fry until a light golden colour, stirring and turning the rice over so it will cook evenly and not get too dark.
  5. This should take about 10 minutes and should be done over a high flame.
  6. In a blender, blend the tomato, onion and garlic until smooth.
  7. Add the vegetables to the fried rice, then continuing to cook over a high flame, stir and scrape the bottom of the pan until the mixture is dry.
  8. Add the broth and add salt as necessary then stir well.
  9. Cook over a medium flame, uncovered until the liquid has been absorbed and small air holes appear in the rice.
  10. Remove from flame and cover tightly, so that no steam can escape, for about 20 minutes and the rice continues to cook in its own steam.

The cookbook was originally a fund-raiser so I ask that each time you print or cook a recipe, please make a donation to one of Isla’s many worthwhile charities. I will do the same. Here are a couple of our favourites:

http://littleyellowschoolhouse.org/

https://islakids.org/

http://islaanimals.org/

https://www.islascholarships.com/

Kath’s quote: “Education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world”.-Nelson Mandela

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Love never fails.

 

Pan Seared Scallops in Lemon Caper Sauce

February4

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D and I love to cook together but we rarely get the opportunity. We have a wonderful division of tasks. D takes care of shoveling, laundry and garbage detail and I ensure the house is tidy and that supper is waiting for him when he is home from work. Sounds pretty tradition doesn’t it? It is and we love it this way.

We adore pan seared scallops and I was shocked to find such huge ones on for 30% off at Superstore (by the way…have you seen their fabulous new commercial?) We decided to go to a move Friday evening and have a popcorn supper so the scallops were waiting for us at the end of a busy Saturday. We had a number of plant based meals that week so I didn’t feel bad at serving an entrée with no veggies.

This is how we decided that it was supper time: D said “I am thirsty. I am going to pour us a glass of wine. Since we are wine-equipped why don’t we start on supper?”

We divided the tasks into two and I prepared the pasta portion while he seared the scallops. The dish was a keeper but so filling, we each left scallops and pasta in our bowl to have during the 3rd period of the Jet’s game when we typically get peckish.

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Pan Seared Scallops in Lemon Caper Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: International
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 large portions
 
A two step recipe best prepared by two cooks.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb jumbo scallops
  • grinder of rock salt
  • 2 T ish olive oil
  • 3 T ish butter
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 225 g spaghettini (we like the President's Choice brand in the white box)
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • ½ c sauvignon blanc wine
  • 1 c chicken broth42 T lemon juice2 T capers
  • 1 T parsley (I was out of fresh and used dry)
  • 1 c chopped roma tomatoes
  • ¼ c ish parmesan
Instructions
  1. Scallops:
  2. Dry scallops really well with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a skillet over high heat until the oil begins to slightly smoke.
  5. Place scallops with tongs into pan without crowding.
  6. Cook the scallops without moving them about 3 min.
  7. Add 1 T butter to pan, turn the scallops and brown on the second side about 90 sec.
  8. Turn off heat and hold.
  9. Pasta:
  10. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  11. Select another pan and cook garlic on medium heat in 1 T butter, about 1 min.
  12. Increase heat and add wine.
  13. Cook until wine is reduced by half about 3 mins.
  14. Add chicken stock, lemon juice, capers and increase heat again. Cook until sauce is reduced to half (approximately 8-10 minutes).
  15. Turn off heat and another 1 T of butter.
  16. Drain pasta and add to sauce.
  17. Add parsley and tomatoes and toss all.
  18. Place scallops on pasta and top with grated parmesan.

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D at the stove in Charlottetown.

We had not had scallops since our sojourn to PEI last September. Coincidentally, that evening we arranged a meet up with those friends our first night on Isla Mujeres where alas, there are no scallops.

D poured another glass of wine and we sat down to our HNIC pre-game dinner.

Kath’s quote: “Close your eyes,” he had said to her. “Food demands complete submission.” And then he placed a perfect scallop in her mouth. “Do you taste the sea?” Delphine did. Not just the salt of the sea but the very air of the moment that the shell was pulled from the sand. “A storm, perhaps. There is a dark edge to the sweetness of the meat.” N.M. Kelby, White Truffles in Winter    Just reserved it on line from my library. I LOVE culinary fiction!

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Love never fails.

The Little French Bistro by Nina George

January31

If you are from Canada or been on social media lately, you cannot help but know that we are in a deep freeze right now. You can still buy some local produce like beets, carrots and potatoes but that’s pretty much it. We are well stocked with beef, pork and chicken right now but our fish and seafood supplies are dismal ,not just in our freezer but in the grocery store freezers as well.

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Portugal

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Isla Mujeres

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Prince Edward Island

Fresh fish and seafood is one of the many reasons why D and I love to travel. Last year In Portugal, Isla Mujeres, Mexico and Prince Edward Island we ate fresh fish at as many meals as possible.

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Tuscany

This year we have booked Tuscany. On our last journey there, we we overjoyed with the fish.

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I recently read The Little French Bistro by Nina George. It was a great read but I was especially fascinated by this excerpt:

“He had lectured Marianne on the importance of food and its effects on the soul, even though he knew that she barely understood a word. He talked about how he loved to shop and how true gastronomy began with hunting down the freshest, choicest produce. He spent his days off in low season visiting distilleries and mussel farms, or strolling along the Avon and Belen rivers or around the Bay of Morbidhan to find patient retired anglers reeling in wild fish.  These men still understood the rhythms of Brittany’s coastline. They knew that they had to be there at the right time, according to the dictates of moon and tides. High and low tide arrived a little earlier every day-two to four minutes earlier-and so they needed to be as swift and stealthy as foxes to catch the best moment for the fish to bite.”

Chapter 15, page 91

Boy do we have a lot to learn about fish!

Kath’s quote:“Fish, to taste right, must swim three times -in water, in butter, and in wine.” -Polish proverb

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Love never fails.

 

Christmas Letter 2018

December9

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The Christmas season is upon us. As I speak Doug is roasting his 4th or 5th turkey for an event that he caters each year at this time. Our first Christmas of 2018 was in November celebrating with Doug’s co-workers at Petals West. He loves the hustle and bustle of his work and is already sourcing roses for Valentine’s Day!

My second Christmas was with my precious sisters earlier this week. We celebrated early because Kimberley and Michael are leaving soon for a six week visit in Australia to visit Danielle, Dylan and Dylan’s family. Our third Christmas will be Monday evening with the dinner that Doug is preparing for. At the end of the evening we light white tapers and sing Silent Night with the dinner guests.

We started the new year of 2018 in a flurry, taking down the Christmas tree on Boxing Day because we flew to Mesa, Arizona a day later. I went with Jer, Jen and the girls, Bekah and Seb and Grandma Jean. Doug and Kate arrived on the weekend.

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Doug found us a great condo where a Christmas tree was still up when we arrived. The occasion was the wedding of Doug’s nephew Justin.  All the Grisims were together for a rehearsal dinner on Friday Dec 28th and then the beautiful wedding the following day. The venue reminded me of a Tuscan villa and not surprisingly the food was fabulous. The next evening Doug, his Mom and siblings with a couple of nephews and nieces thrown in for good measure celebrated New Year’s Eve together, an event that has not occurred in a very long time.

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I arrived back home in enough time to throw a load of laundry in the washing machine and repack my suitcase because Doug and I were off to Portugal with good friends. Unfortunately the good friends did not make the trip due to unforeseen circumstances. In spite of missing them and feeling sheepish about it all, Doug and I had a wonderful time staying right on a beach in the Algarve.

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We took an overnight trip to Seville, Spain but otherwise stayed along the southern coast.

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The weather wasn’t tropical but it was pleasant and I am happy whenever I can walk along a beach.

We celebrated Doug’s birthday in late January and then Sebastian’s and Josie’s second birthday in February. Bekah’s May date came next with Jen and I following close behind. July brought Kate’s celebration as well as Isabelle’s, who turned five. Jeremy takes up the rear with a September birth date.

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In May there will be another milestone to celebrate as Jer and Jen are rounding off their beautiful family with another baby at that time. We never tire of our role as grandparents. We adore the Wee Ones and find joy again in every little thing when we are with them.

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Late February and early March was our annual sojurn to Isla Mujeres.

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Along with lots of family and good friends we reconnect with each year, long-time friends Melinda and Richard spent most of a week with us and it was a special time.

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When our traveling days were curtailed for the early spring, we focused on another wonderful blessing to our family. Doug and I drove back and forth to the lake meeting with a cottage renovator and hauling bead board and flooring in the back of Doug’s truck. By May long weekend we were able to set beds up and even though it is not yet finished, we felt luxurious with all the space and rooms and beds for everyone! I was also able to ask some girlfriends out for the occasional weekend.

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We attended four wonderful weddings in the summer-two of them in the same family!

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The first three were young members at our church and the fourth was that of our nephew Bronson.

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Since I had been so sick the summer before, Doug gifted me with a summer do-over and I spent a couple of weeks all by myself out at Lester Beach. I cannot adequately express, how drawn I am to our special piece of heaven.

In August Kate and Doug flew to Toronto so that they could attend the Rogers Cup together. Kate’s fav tennis player didn’t make the finals but Doug’s Nadal did.

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Come September, we had the traveling bug again and taking advantage of cheap flights out east, we visited Charlottetown PEI for our first time. Both the hospitality of a friend we met on Isla and the quaintness of the island ensures that we will visit again in the future.

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Another trip to Toronto for the Food Bloggers Canada conference and extended stay with Richard and Melinda rounded out the fall. Thanksgiving was once again at the beautiful lake home of Kim and Michael.

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The first weekend of November Bekah, Seb, Doug and I took a road trip to Minneapolis. Doug found us an Air BnB in a neighbourhood we loved and we explored many of the breweries and restaurants. Doug’s brother Jim and fam met us for breakfast and then Jim met us again that evening at Surly, a favourite Minneapolis Brewery. Bekah and I went to a Idina Menzel and Josh Groban concert and Doug and I took in a Vikings game. We not only had “nose bleed” seats, we were in the very top section in the very last row! Since then, it seems like Christmas preparations began soon after, which brings me full circle.

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Going backwards for a moment, Kate graduated with her Masters Degree this spring and we used it as an excuse for a family party. Little Brown Jug where both Bekah and Jeremy are employed allowed us to throw the party there and it was a wonderful celebration.

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Jeremy is head brewer at LBJ and acknowledges the blessing of being employed in a career which he loves. Wife Jen has launched her own business and is a certified pre- and post-natal fitness instructor. In some classes the participants carry their babies in a front carrier, soon Jen will look just like them! They love their little house in Wolseley where Belle’s school is a short walk away and the park where I used to take the kids when they were toddlers is just down their street. Isabelle is a beautiful, sensitive and kind wee one who adores her little sister. Josie is a character who loves to tell long animated stories and always goes for the big laugh just like her Daddy.

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Bekah too loves her work as the General Manager of Little Brown Jug. Having gone to school for International Development Studies, she is surprised that she loves business the way she does. Sebastian’s workplace is in the same neighbourhood, he is on the front lines of Siloam Mission and has signed up for the Reserves! They too have a home in the west end and it is big enough for all of us and additional guests to stretch along one long table for this year’s Christmas dinner.

Kate is carefully considering her options for her career but is leaning towards a not-for-profit where she can serve the minority communities that she is so passionate about. The gang collects together at Life is Good (the name of our beach house) all summer and for Sunday suppers the rest of the year.

I am chugging along with my small business, always delighted when a new client approaches me. Each day holds a different set of tasks and I amazingly still absolutely love what I do.

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Doug and I are still devoted to our neighbourhood church and we host a small group in our home, a couple of times a month. They too make up our family.

If you are reading this, you are important and loved by Doug and I and we can never adequately express the gratitude that we have for our many friends and enormous families. Peace and Christmas blessings to you all.

Kath’s quote: “God bless us everyone!“- Charles Dickens

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Love never fails.

 

Minneapolis

November19

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We picked up Boo and the Frenchman right on schedule at 7 am. The early start time meant that if we got lost or ran into bad weather we could still be in the Twin Cities in plenty of time to make the concert we had secured tickets for way back in April. The sun wasn’t yet up but as we looked to the west and back from whence we came ie the north, we could see dark clouds and wondered if it were raining back home. Our second hint that there was bad weather up north was when a snow covered car pulled up along side of us. We didn’t know until later that day that the snow had fallen quite steadily back home in Winnipeg.

As I said though, the sun shone beautifully for us on our drive. We stopped for gas and D’s favourite Nut Goodies that aren’t terribly popular in Canada as well as a couple of rest stops for a pee break. I had packed sandwiches for the road so we didn’t need to stop for lunch. As a result we made amazing time and even had time to kill for our 3 pm check in time at our Air BnB. Boo had ordered some gifts for the Frenchman from the Duluth Trading Company for their recent anniversary. Her order was cancelled and so we decided to find the real deal and discovered one of their retail stores along our route in north Minneapolis.

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We knew we would be quite comfortable in our Seward Air BnB. There were two bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom with plenty of hot water, dining room, living room and a sun room.  The latter offered a great place to snuggle up to read or check out our social media accounts.

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For supper, we decided to head in the vicinity of the Xcel Centre in St. Paul where the concert was to take place. As we wondered around, we found a unique place called the Seventh St. Truck Park where we ogled at the delicious fare coming from the windows of a variety of food trucks. We ended up taking a seat at New Bohemia where there were a bevy of taps on hand with local, national and European beer on hand. They also had a house red wine to my delight.

We all decided against the “Best Wurst on Earth”, the guys indicating that they would indulge later that evening. Truth be told, with the abundance of food we ordered and a couple of more filling beers, on top of that, the guys were done their consumption for the evening, even if the wurst were the best. D and I split an order of delicious chicken fingers with a butter milk ranch dressing along with a side of wedge fries (from frozen) and a fresh cut order of Belgian fries that I had to have once I saw them trailing out of the New Bohemia Kitchen. It was hard to choose from the 10 dipping sauces offered but I finally decided upon the Pepper Jack Cheese Sauce.  We also were smitten with the Truffled Grilled Cheese Sandwich, that is until we tasted it. I couldn’t detect the truffle oil amidst the sautéed onions, which would have been no biggy if the grilled cheese was good but alas it was made with processed cheese a technicality that you never would have gotten away with in Canada.

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We walked across the street to the Xcel Centre for the concert as the fellas made their way to another watering hole. D actually switched to Sprite at some point as he was the Designated Driver for the evening.

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The concert commenced right at the strike of 8 featuring Idina Menzel as the opening act. I had been exposed to Idina through Boo who loved her way back when she starred in Rent on Broadway. Even though Idina was no longer headlining when Boo and I saw Rent together in New York. She did get to see Wicked that same trip but I am not sure whether Idina was still with that show either. Regardless, Boo knew her music well and as a result I did too as it would be playing in my car as I drove Boo back and forth to school for a number of years. More recently Idina was made familiar to me again when Disney cast her as the voice of Elsa in the hit movie frozen. As a result, another generation, that of the Wee Ones knew every word to Idina’s ballad of “Let it Go”. Menzel’s voice is just as powerful and her long legged body just as lithe in spite of the years that have past. All in all, a fabulous concert and so worthwhile the wait, the drive and the cost of admission.

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My favourite crooner Josh  Groban was the headliner that evening. This was my forth time seeing the singer live, having done so twice in Winnipeg (where I met him IRL) and once at an outdoor venue in Chicago. I hadn’t yet picked up his newest CD so was somewhat unfamiliar with his new renditions but the show was so beautifully assembled, adding old favourites like “You Raise Me Up” and “Per Te” as well as “Take Him Home” from his Stages album and the ballad that I want played at my Celebration of Life (hopefully not in the too near future)-“To Where You Are”. I get a kick out his quirky ways and humility; by the way he always gives credit to his teachers and folks who happened to be in the audience that evening.

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I was smitten all over again and felt so blessed to experience both performers with my youngest daughter.

We enjoyed a night cap together when we arrived “home” but it was an early evening as we were pooped from the early start and the long drive.

Kath’s quote: “When I am down, and o my soul, so weary. When troubles come and my heart burdened be. Then I am still and wait here in the silence, until you come and sit a while with me“.-Josh Groban

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Love never fails.

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