Monday, November 07, 2011

foodie adventures in our backyard

In case you haven't heard, and since most of the people who read this blog are my family and they have heard, but in case you haven't we are creating a cookbook based on family recipes. It will be updated for today's cook and filled with shortcuts, tips and cheater specials - cause there's nothing like making comfort food in 20 minutes or less! But of course to do a cookbook, you have to do lots of testing.

so this weekend we were testing our 'cowboy chili rolls' so I needed to find spring roll wrappers and I needed the special kind that are really crispy.. After a short consultation with the family spring roll experts (Jojo and Cindy) the hubby and I trekked over to an asian market waaaay on the other side of town. It's called Tri's Market and was completely awesome. A foodie's paradise...however there were a few things I still can't figure out how they might cook...

Like: fresh duck heads:

Or chicken feet:

They had an impressive fish market and good prices on various meat cuts I'm not all that familiar with....
We found some wonderful Bok Choy, a whole slew of unusual mushrooms and a hot Asian chili sauce that I had in a Mongolian restaurant in a Casino once but that I hadn't been able to find anywhere. It was a fabulous outing and I'm sure I will be back frequently.

I did get my spring roll wrappers and we are finalizing the recipe for the Chili rolls - just working on the dipping sauces now. I'll keep you updated on the progress and maybe even post a recipe or two alone the way! I also hear there is an African market somewhere in town so I plan to search it out and see what interesting things it offers too.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

On the Way Home

Our last day at sea was pretty uneventful...I watched the Lincoln Lawyer and Rio. Hey, its what was on. I really liked the Lincoln Lawyer  but then again I like most Matthew Mcconaughey movies. I have to say I like Rio, right up until the end when they just slapped a happy ending on the thing. Storytelling has really gone in the dumper is all I can say! There was a cold front that came through as we steamed up the coast of Florida and the sea was really choppy. I like that of course, but there were a lot of people who can't deal with a little extra swagger on the boat! I'm looking forward to seeing my doggy when I get home. All in all it was a great time though I may have to take a vacation from my vacation if we keep doing jungle hikes!

Mom's HOME!!!

Eatin Turtle

So we’re floating toward Grand Cayman this morning and laying in bed. I say, “you know it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if we just blew off the beach today.” He says, “You know I was hoping you would say that cause I’ve had about enough of that tropical sun!” So we didn’t go on our excursion. We did get off the boat and roam around town. We found a little restaurant called ‘Paradise’ down a ways from the shopping area. It sits on the water and allows people to snorkel right from their deck. We sat and watched people snorkel and ate a bite of lunch. They had sea turtle on the menu among other things. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Grand Cayman, they actually farm green sea turtles as a source of food. Literally tens of thousands of turtles nest there so its been a source of food since people have lived on the islands. It just seems bizarre to us because in the US if you so much as touch a sea turtle, you will be arrested for some kind of animal welfare foul. Anyway I wanted to try it. They had a burger and they had soup. The soup seemed more tame so I went that direction. It was actually pretty good. Much like your normal beef stew. The turtle meat was like a cross between beef and pork and was a little fatty so more like pork I’d say. It definitely did not taste like chicken!

I really just wanted to try it so I did and it was fine. We also shared a chicken wrap which was very good – and yes it tasted like chicken! We puttered around then got back on the boat and napped again. I was glad we didn’t go to the beach as it was an oppressively hot day and I wouldn’t have lasted 20 minutes!

Staying In

So today we stopped at Isla Rhotan, Honduras. Unless you want to rent a car or go on an excursion, there is nothing to do here but shop - which is my least favorite activity. So I bought a Christmas ornament and got back on the boat – Kevin didn’t even get off. We had decided to take a day off and rest and with everyone else off the boat we had it mostly to ourselves. We learned a long time ago that it’s the best time to use the pools and whirlpools as you feel like you are all by yourselves. We suited up and went to the back pool which is the adults only pool and there were only a very few people. The clouds covered the sun on and off and we swam in the pool, used the whirlpool and enjoyed various fruity drinks.
Actually I didn’t do as good a job as I should have with the sunscreen and did get a little more red than I would have liked. A sunburn can make me sick really easily and tomorrow we are supposed to be on Seven Mile beach in Grand Cayman so we’ll see.

We did go up and eat at the supper club which was nice.

Cave Tubing & Tacos

We had to leave right at 8 am for the tour in Belize – we are going cave tubing!! I’m a little concerned as we are both out of shape and now definitely middle aged. I hope we can keep up as I hear it’s a little bit physical. Belize is interesting. It used to be called British Honduras but became its own country in the early 70s. I was surprised that there are only 312000 people in the whole country and they have the highest literacy rate in Central American at 93 percent. 

From the port, it was an hour and fifteen minute bus ride to the site. Mostly is was this type of scenery but the last 20 minutes or so was big time jungle. Then we suited up: inner tube, check! Helmut, check! Life Vest, check! Watershoes, check! Bug spray – ummm, well you remember the Prevacid? I think I left the bug spray sitting beside it so we’re just going to have to run the gauntlet of mosquitos!

 Hi ho, hi ho, its hiking through the jungle we go! Actually I was expecting the jungle to be hotter. As a veteran of jungles in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Panama, Costa Rica and other rather steamy locations, this one was pretty pleasant. Not too hot – until you are suited up in all that gear!! And why can’t anyone make a life vest that circulates air?? 

We waded through the water coming out of the mouth of this giant cave. The water was crystal clear and very cold which was something to look forward to after our hike! There are no animals other than some very tame fish because the big bad reptiles thankfully don’t like cold water. Anyway we slogged across the river then up the opposite bank which entailed climbing three flights of stairs. That was the hardest part of the hike which was very mild. The trail was wide and easy to navigate and had very few inclines at all so no big deal. Its just that you sweat off about ten pounds carrying the gear!

Of course once you reach the entrance to the cave and plop on your butt in the inner tube, that cold water feels great. Its like a cool lazy river flowing through these caves. We all had headlamps attached to our helmets and they gave us light as we floated through the caves. Pretty awesome. After about an hour we ended right where we started. They had cooked some great chicken tacos all homemade and they were great. We did way better than I thought we would for being so out of shape and had no problem at all. And we didn’t get eaten alive by the mosquitoes, though a big swarm followed us all the way through the jungle!
Of course when we got back to the boat we took a looooong nap – that heat really takes it out of you!

Ahhhh, Mexico.

Don’t you just love Mexico? The people are great. They actually want you to have a good time and they have a great attitude – much better than some of the Caribbean islands who barely care whether you’re there or not. We went straight from the boat over to the next pier where we boarded the catamaran to take us to Passion Island. It was a 45 minute ride so its quite a ways. When we got there it was gorgeous!!

White sand a beach that literally stretched for miles. There is no development around it so it was the few little buildings, beach chairs and natural dunes. Very awesome. We came with about 80 people and had the place to ourselves for the first hour or two – it felt almost deserted. 

 Except for the excellent staff who had a fruity drink or cup of beer ready every time we turned around. The ticket was all inclusive so it was all you could drink and all you could eat. The lunch was very good – chicken grilled outside and homemade guacamole with chips was our favorite but they had salad and fruit and fish and lots of other stuff. Even when the next tender showed with more people there were still less than 150 total and lots of beach so it was the least crowded beach I’ve ever been on – and a great value for $70.
There was also lots of shade which I really liked so I didn’t get too toasted. I hopped in the water several times and there was a light breeze so it was really nice – reminded me of Hawaii with the cool water and constant breeze. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. 

Once back on the boat we took a long nap and then had dinner with Trina and Eric again. We are looking forward to tomorrow as we have a very active excursion planned!

Sailing on the Ocean Blue

Today is a great day at sea! Calm water and beautiful blue – tidy bowl blue in fact. I’m always amazed at how blue the gulf water is compared to other oceans – even the Caribbean is a much darker shade and not near as pretty.

Today we spent exploring the boat and finding everything. I was so proud of myself for packing my Prevacid (the new tummy wonderdrug) so I could eat virtually anything I wanted. And I did yesterday – I mixed various liquors, fruity drinks, wine, cokes and various other things…so this morning imagine my disappointment to find that I had packed the EMPTY bottle of pills instead of the new full one! Obviously my mind was already on vacation as I packed. So I’ll have to take it easier and drink lots of milk (booooo).

I played poker today with a variety of peeps from all over but mostly from Tampa Bay. There are a lot of older people on this cruises versus what you get on the boats that go from the other side of Florida. I was shocked that by midnight the casino was almost deserted and the nightclubs were empty…which is fine by me but not what you see on the bigger boats where they go until 3 am or so.

I know everyone is looking forward to Cozumel tomorrow as are we. This time instead of just doing some shopping, we decided to book an all day excursion to Passion Island – where they film the Corona commercials. I just hope there is some shade because getting sunburned at the first stop will mean disaster for the other since they are all back to back. We will see how it goes.