Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Rest of the Family Has To Eat...

At the moment, I only have room in my new tummy for 1/2C of food and I can only eat pureed foods...Gerber & Beechnut stock just went up!  Even though I can't eat, it doesn't mean I am going to neglect Mi Gringito. I mean, I'm sure he wouldn't mind eating D'Angelo's every night...pero then he'd grow to be as large as I am and we'd go broke quicker than we already are!

Tonight's supper was adapted from a recipe that I got from one of Lisa Lillien's cookbook's Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet. I wouldn't say that her recipes single-handedly helped me lose my pre-op weight -- but she was an enormous part! Reader's, if you are interested in low-calorie yet yummy food, I totally recommend ANY of her cookbooks, her website, as well as watching her show on Cooking Channel!

Itty-Bitty Turkey & Veggie Loaves
Recipe adapted from Hungry Girl

Ingredients

  • 1.25 lbs Raw Ground Turkey (I used Italian Seasoned)
  • 1 12oz Bag Broccoli Cole Slaw
  • 1 Tsp Dried Onion Flakes
  • 2 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4C Ketchup (also a bit more for garnish)
  • 1/2C Fat-Free Liquid Egg Substitute (or 2 eggs)
  • 1/2C Quick Cooking Oats


Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray (I use a 12 cup brownie pan -- I like the shape!)
  • Roughly chop the broccoli slaw and place in a large bowl



  • Add the onion flakes, garlic powder, salt, ketchup, egg substitute and quick cooking oats



  • Mix well



  • Add the turkey and mix well



  • Using a large spoon, fill the cups with the mixture




  • Add a small dollop of ketchup on all of the mini loaves



  • Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it stand for five minutes.

I almost stuck a loaf in the blender so I could eat it too!


Depending on your appetite, this recipe can serve from three to six people...Los Suegros eat two a piece, I used to eat three and Mi Gringito has eaten anywhere between three and five of these! I like this recipe because once I can have real food, I will be able to have one of the loaves as a meal! Score for me!!

I baked sweet potato fries as a side dish, but I've also been known to make this with more steamed veggies, mashed potatoes or basically anything you would have with regular meat-loaf.


And for dessert...I've scoured high and low for this since I first heard of it and FINALLY found it...

Buen Provecho, Mis Amigos! Let me know if you try it out!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ch-ch-changes! - A Brave New World and Appreciating Your Loved Ones

It's been a while reader's, hasn't it?

I sit here at 4 in the afternoon, sipping on some ice-water as the sun sets.  Whoa, what? Sun setting at 4? Yes...like everyone (except Hawaii & Arizona) in the US, we "fell backwards" this Sunday...days are getting shorter and Christmas music is blaring at the stores.  Did you hear that we got snow? In OCTOBER? Just in time for a visit from Mami...la pobre. I was so worried that once the white stuff started falling from the sky she was going to cut her visit short and never visit me again.  Apparently she liked it, though.  I told her I was glad porque cuando ella este vieja y decrepita, it's either a home or living with me up here!

Mami didn't come for leisure this time, though.  She came to nurse me back to health.

Readers, I made the ultimate decision with my life and body. I have been considered overweight since I was a toddler and have been obese my entire adult life.  

On October 25, 2011, I underwent Gastric Bypass Surgery.

This was not an easy nor quick decision.  No way, no how.  The first time I considered surgery, I was 24 and already taking medicine to control my blood pressure. I didn't even research it at all because the company I worked for switched insurances and the representative said flat-out that the procedure was not a covered benefit. I considered it again when I was 27. I was now at least 50lbs heavier than the first time. I went to an information session with Mami and began the initial process. I then got the phone call: the procedure was not a covered benefit. I tried to finance it on my own and was not approved.  Ever since then, I still tried on my own to lose weight and would be able to drop 15 or 20lbs on any given try and then gain it all right back up again. I think I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to be heavy my whole life and that I might possibly never be healthy enough to bear a child for Mi Gringito.  That killed me inside.

Fast forward to living here. After six months of torture, I decided to quit my job. Mi Gringito was making a decent wage so I knew I could at least take a month or two off and look for a job closer to home and possibly less stressful. I still needed insurance coverage, so Mi Gringito added me to his insurance policy and what do I find as I am reading the Certificate of Coverage? Yes. Bariatric Surgery was a covered benefit. I hooted & hollered and danced a jig. I spoke with my PCP and he was all for it. I did my research and found a great program only about a half hour's drive away. 

I attended their information session and was totally excited.  That was in early February. I met with the staff at the Obesity Treatment Center and that's when I was given the whammy.  This was NOT going to be a walk in the park. Due to my insurance, I would have to undergo six months of medical appointments not including the initial appointment. I also had to lose 8% of my current body weight, attend at least two pre-operative information sessions at the hospital, attend a six week behavioral course, see an exercise physiologist, a nutritionist, pass a psychological evaluation, so a sleep study and whatever other loop they deemed necessary BEFORE I got an appointment to meet with the surgeon. I felt deflated, but I stuck to it.  Six months later, I surpassed my 8% goal by a whole 5lbs and was able to schedule with the surgeon.

Being the internet freak that I am, I set to research online and came across a web forum for bariatric patients. Thinner Times was made by a surgeon to help people pre & post-op. This site helped me more than I can express.  I also read a book titled The Emotional First Aid Kit: A Practical Guide To Life After Bariatric Surgery. Being informed is the greatest tool anyone can have!

The rest happened so quickly it seems. I met with her in September and she scheduled me for October. I met with the nutritionist two weeks before surgery and was put on a 1000 calorie diet until surgery. The day before I was on clear liquids only (possibly the most miserable day of my life so far).

I was in the hospital for less than 48 hours. Mami arrived the day after I got home and I swear, dear readers, if it weren't for her & Mi Gringito, I would've gone nuts. Don't get me wrong. I was rarely in pain. I was hurting more because I was forced to sleep on my back and ended up pinching a nerve on my shoulder.  Poor Mami had to massage my shoulders almost every night.  She never once complained. Mi Gringito would have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to walk me to the bathroom.  He never once complained. I would cry about the most absurd things such as not being able to load the dishwasher or do my laundry. All Mami would say is, "That's what I'm here for, Babygirl..." Then I would cry because I knew she was leaving soon.  I think I begged her to quit her job and stay with me - Le dije que Papi could come and visit her periodically. No go. I've always loved my mother and I always knew she would take a bullet for me but the reality is much more impacting than theory. Her selflessness means more to me than I can possibly ever express to her. Same goes for Mi Gringito. They are, after all, two of my favorite people in the whole wide world!

She's been gone for a few days now and I'm still standing! I can now sleep on my stomach (PRAISE JESUS!) and I am very independent. I tire quickly, but that is to be expected and I am trying to not over do it. I've been to the mall three times since my surgery and they seem to frown down on that sort of activity. The surgeon's office reprimanded me and told me to cool it. So, I went to Macy's after that appointment.

Life goes on. 

I will eventually be able to eat normal food again (I was just promoted to pureed foods today). Let me tell you, after two weeks of strained cream soup and yogurt, those jars of baby food tasted like heaven!

I happily cooked Mi Gringito his supper tonight, baked him a batch of Christmas cookies and I feel like a million bucks.

I also feel inspired.  Now that I have to eat smaller portions, focus on protein before anything and still watch what I eat, I have decided to tackle the task of converting my favorite dishes into bariatric friendly foods. 

Oh the possibilities!



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Autumn - food, foliage & wardrobe...

Front of La Casa all ready for the season


It's official.

As of 5:05am last Friday, we are in the Autumn season!  The weather? Well, I think its running a bit on Cuban time -- it must be my influence! Ha! I look forward to wearing long sleeve shirts in the coming days.  My "Fall Uniform" consists of an argyle long-sleeved blouse, a pair of jeans and a pair of fleece-lined wool mary-janes. I LOVE those shoes so much, I actually bought three pair so that I could always match!
Sadly, they don't sell them anymore so I have to take extra care of them!

What Autumn means to me is BAKING SEASON! I swear, the leaves begin to change and all I can think about is legally changing my name to Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart or Julia Child -- maybe a mix, like Julia Crockwart. Hrm, that name surely doesn't sound appetizing, but I digress!

Anyhoodles, today I made my first of many confections for the season.  I will not lie to you, readers - this is surely not a from-scratch recipe.  Sure, I might possibly have scratched my head as I opened the box containing the mix, but that's as much scratch as this gets!

My local grocery store has these huge wooden bins right by the entrance with sale items.  Last Fall, one of the features was Pillsbury Quick Bread for $1. I was curious and grabbed a pumpkin as well as an apple crumble one.  Hell, it's a buck.  If it ended up tasting God-awful, I felt that there wasn't going to be much of a loss there. I made the pumpkin bread and added some cranberries and I think the loaf might've lasted half a day.

This morning over a cup of coffee, I asked La Suegra if she remembered that bread I had made.  Her response was, "Mmmmmmm!". That was all the encouragement I needed to grab all the necessary ingredients and start baking at 6:00am.  Have I mentioned readers, that I wake up every morning to make Mi Gringito his breakfast and that Wednesdays are his early days? Yes, this dormilona is up at 4:15am every Wednesday to ensure that he is properly fed before he goes off to do what he does. By 6:00am, I had already showered and eaten breakfast and was on my second cup of pumpkin spice coffee so I was revved.

I didn't eat the cranberry-pumpkin bread last time for two reasons: 1) In general, I don't much care for cranberries, and 2) I honestly don't need the extra calories (hence why I added an ingredient I don't like!). This time, though, I wanted to do something a little different so I rummaged through the cupboards and I came across a bag of crystallized ginger.  Now, I'm new to ginger on anything other than Sushi. I actually just ate a ginger snap for the first time about two years ago and fell in love! I wondered what kind of flavor combination that could possibly make and figured, much like last year, if it tasted crappy, it only cost me a buck! I consulted with La Suegra and she almost started jumping up and down. I took that as a good sign.  She then turned to me and said, "If you want, you can use this."

Readers, the heavens opened and I heard the melodic hum of the angels when my eyes rested on what she was handing to me. It was a chopping set that I had no clue she had.  I've lived with her for almost two years and I swear, she pulls out a new & cool gadget almost daily! I was also a bit peeved that I hadn't known about this one until now.

Ginger Pumpkin Bread


Ingredients

  • 1 box Pillsbury Quick Bread - Pumpkin
  • 1 C Water
  • 3 Tbsp Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 C Chopped crystallized ginger


Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spray bottom of a loaf pan with cooking spray (I use Baker's Joy).
  • In a large bowl, combine the box mix, water, oil & eggs. Stir 50 strokes.



  • Add the chopped ginger and stir for 15 more strokes, until mix looks well blended.


Do you hear the Angels singing?



  • Pour into the greased pan.



  • Baking time varies on the size of pan you use. 

8x4-inch loaf pan: 45 to 55 min
9x5-inch loaf pan: 40 to 50 min
3 (3x5-inch) loaf pans: 35 to 45 min


  • Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife or metal spatula and remove from pan. Voila!


You can eat it as is or put a slice in the toaster.  You can also try a variation of this by adding 1/2C of any chopped dried fruit or nuts. Let me know if you try it out as well as which method you prefer! Hasta la proxima!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thirty - A Look Back to Birthdays Past

In honor of turning thirty earlier this month, I have decided that  I will pay tribute to birthdays past -- mere memories, some more vivid than others.

I have a relatively good memory (cuando me conviene) and have the ability to remember waaaaaaaaaay back. Sure, pictures help to jog this old noggin, but I can sometimes remember more vividly than others.

For instance, I can remember my 8th (or was it 9th) birthday where we had a piñata and my very pregnant Madrina and my mom's very pregnant friend, Snoopy battled over candy with such fervor that they both fell on top of me. Near death experience. At this same party, one Papi's cousins decided it would be a total gag to rub frosting all over my face. I sure as heck didn't think so and have the pictures of me bawling to prove it.  I also wasn't too fond of said person because he thought it oh so funny to flip his eyelids inside out and scare the Bejeezus out of me - frequently.  This guy was supposed to be one of the adults, right? Twenty plus years later, I'm still hesitant to be near him lest he do it again and then think: he was un mojon in his twenties -- what the hell did I expect?

I remember all through middle and high school being envious of the kids who had birthdays during the school year.  They'd show up to school and all their friends would bring them a balloon.  By the days end, they could probably float away given the right gust of wind.  Being a Summer baby, I never really had this opportunity. Sure, we'd always take a vacation somewhere -- Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Disney or just the beach.  But all I wanted was those stupid balloons so I could flash my so-called popularity.  They were the feathers to my peacock.

My thirteenth birthday had a hurricane looming so we didn't do anything special because we were too busy boarding up the windows.  We had ham steaks with pineapple and mashed potatoes and mom picked up the last cake at the grocery store (along with some canned goods & water). Good news was that the hurricane didn't hit.  Bad news: no party anyway.

My Quinces were everything I imagined and wanted at that time.  Blue, blue and more blue -- I even had the florists paint my flowers blue! I still remember that the boy that made my heart flutter at the time danced "Tainted Love" (my all-time favorite song) with me and that kept me on a high for weeks.  He never did call after that. Mami sat me down that day and had a talk with me.  No, not "The Talk" -- she said this:

"Don't rush in wanting to grow up.  It will come sooner than you think and the older you get, the quicker it will come.  You're fifteen now, next thing you know, you will be eighteen, then twenty-one, then twenty-five, then thirty!"

I thought she was full of shit.

My nineteenth birthday was full of sugar, cake, and Britney Spears & *NSYNC Karaoke.  There is video footage somewhere.

My twenty-first birthday was spent on a week long trip visiting the Magic Kingdom & Busch Gardens. On the actual day of my birthday, we were at Busch Gardens and I had told Papi that I wanted to buy my old man a beer.  I did -- I also bought myself one.  I didn't like it. I also remember that at exactly 10:44 am, as we were walking past some animal, Papi yelled, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" and spanked me so hard my teeth rattled and I think I even cried a bit.  Nine years later, I think my butt is still throbbing.  He had been waiting for at least ten minutes to do that, holding his breath and checking his watch every so often. I will pay him back someday.

On my twenty-sixth birthday, I woke up crying.  I don't know why and have since shed a tear at some point during that day -- never fails.  One of my best friends, Cocation, arrived at my job earlier than me and had decorated my entire office with balloons & streamers.  She then, along with my family, surprised me at Coyote Ugly that night for cake & drinks.  Its an interesting experience to have a strange woman pour a tequila shot in your mouth while she dances on top of a bar to "Pour Some Sugar On Me".  Yep, strike that one off the bucket list!

On my twenty-seventh birthday, Mami sat me down again.  "You're not a Spring chicken anymore.  You're closer to thirty than twenty-five." I, of course, cried. That was the first year that I heard the toll of the bell in my Vieja Clocktower. The only bright side was that I was engaged to a fabulous guy so at least I knew I wasn't going to be an old maid. My niece was also born six days later - what an awesome birthday gift!

Last year was a tough one.  It was the first time I have ever been away from my family.  They called all day and Mami made a Lechon Asado in my honor.  The only thing missing was me. I asked that they at least place a picture of me at the dinner table so it would seem that I was there. No one knew it was my birthday at my new job and my day just got worse and worse. Mi Gringito was working and it just plain sucked. Needless to say, I cried.

I decided I was going to change the pattern this year.  I refused to have a birthday cake (it also helped that it wasn't good for my diet!) and I also decided that I was going to treat this day like any other.  No fanfare, nothing.  My other best friend, Muffin, flew all the way from Iowa to spend the week with me and that was birthday gift enough. On the actual day of my birthday, we headed North to some outlet malls and just hung out -- we even saw a moose on the drive home! Forget that we were scared of random Indians popping out of the woods and standing in the middle of the road -- maybe the mushrooms in our supper were magical! So, finally, I did not cry on the day of my birthday!

I cried the following day.

I was in a rush because Mi Gringito had a job interview and I had lost all track of time. I was in the shower washing my hair when there was a knock on the bathroom door. Mi Gringito needed to use the bathroom and was asking permission to enter.  You'd think after nearly two years of marriage, he'd walk right in -- I do. I tell him OK and don't bother to turn around; I had more important things to attend to like the shampoo that was making its way into my eyes. All of a sudden, the shower door opens.  I turned around to see what he was thinking when I looked right at my mother's face.  SURPRISE! Mami had come to visit me like a ninja! She offered to scrub my back, I sobbed like a baby. Best. Birthday. Ever. I had my Mami and my Muffin with me for an entire week.  Muffin made me cinnamon rolls from scratch and got me the coolest pair of Sperry Top-Siders (I've always wanted a pair!). We hung out, drank wine, played dominoes. I also scored an "ñ" charm for my bracelet as well as a Kindle. Its going to be hard to top this one, I fear!

 





What are some of your fond or not-so-fond memories of birthdays past?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Memi's Favorite: Abuela's Arroz Con Pollo A La Chorrera

Everyone has a favorite dish that they can seemingly eat day in and day out for the rest of their lives.  Mine has changed from time to time as I have grown and tried new things. But today, we are not going to discuss my favorite; we are going to delve into a dish that has made my sister's mouth water as far back as I can remember.

Abuela has always made Arroz con Pollo a La Chorrera to mark special occasions. Be it a birthday, anniversary or Easter Sunday -- the smells coming out of that kitchen and my sister's happy dances are key to those memories.

This weekend, I had the urge to recreate this delicious dish for Mi Gringito, Los Suegros and some of their friends. So what's a girl to do? I called Abuela and had a cooking consultation.  Readers, I do this frequently.  We gab about what's been going on since we last spoke as well as reminisce on dishes she has made me in the past.  I then ask her how she makes one of her many delectable dishes. "Mi Niña, tu sabes que yo lo hago todo de ojo" - Translation: "My little one, you know that I do it all by eye." Hence, no measurements.

So, after about an hour of back and forth here is the recipe I was able to conjure up:

Abuela's Arroz Con Pollo A La Chorrera
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or enough to cover the bottom of pan)
3 Large Boneless-Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Dried Oregano
1/4 C Sofrito (I buy the GOYA version)
2 12oz Bottles of Beer (I used Beck's since "La Llave" was Abuelo's beverage of choice)
1 12oz can of Tomato Sauce
2 14.5oz cans of Chicken Stock (I used a Low Sodium/Fat Free variety)
2 packets of GOYA Seasoning
2 C White Rice, uncooked
1 C frozen small peas, thawed
1 small jar of Pimentos
Tabasco Sauce, to taste

Directions

  • Season both sides of the breasts with the salt, pepper & oregano.
  • In a large heavy stock pot, heat olive oil and saute the sofrito until fragrant -- approximately one (1) minute on medium-high heat.
  • Sear the chicken breasts in the sofrito -- approximately one to two (1-2) minutes per side.
  • Add one bottle of beer and let cook for five (5) minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, GOYA seasoning and about one-half (1/2) tsp of salt. Stir to mix ingredients.
  • Add the rice, and stir again.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil by raising the heat to high.
  • Once boiling, reduce to low and cover.  Let simmer for thirty (30) minutes.
  • Add the second bottle of beer to the rice.
  • Cover again and continue to simmer for ten (10) minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Remove chicken from pot and set on a plate or cutting board.  Using two forks, shred the breasts.
  • Add the chicken, peas & pimentos back into the rice along with a dash (or two or three) of Tabasco sauce.  Mix well and let sit for about five (5) more minutes.


Viola!

I apologize for lack of pictures, but I do have the before and after.  Here's my question to you: do you think they liked it?

Before...

I think they were just being polite...


Sigh, I'm actually sad that there wasn't any leftovers.  It was such a hit that I can't wait to make it again.  Who knows -- I just might make it for Abuela when I go visit her in Miami next week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tradition vs. Convenience

Cuban coffee flows through my veins.  It's true! I swear!

When I moved away from Miami, I left my daily cafecito in the mid-afternoon.  That little pick me up that I totally took for granted -- gone! I still remember walking the mall on a freezing February afternoon and starting to sniff the air.  "Cafe!" I exclaimed to Mi Gringito. We happened to be walking past one of those gourmet coffee places and that smell could not be mistaken; the price on the other hand left a bad taste in my mouth.  $3.00 for a shot of espresso? Seriously? Some Hispanic in the Northeast is giggling his way to the bank at this very moment! I voiced my frustrations to Mami later that night during our daily text conversation.


Mami remedied this almost instantly by sending me a traditional cafetera in one of her care packages. She said that whenever I got the craving, I could just brew some myself. Awesome.  They sell espresso in the grocery stores (more on that later) so I didn't have to rely on care packages for that.

But here's the thing: I didn't learn to make cafe with one of those doohickeys...

We had a dual coffee maker for years in our house.  One side made American coffee and the other side made Espresso.  I can remember jumping for joy when it was my turn to make the cafe for my Abuelo -- heck, I even have a nice burn scar as almost like a trophy on my left hand for my efforts.

But I digress.

I've had this metal contraption in my possession for about a year and a half now and I think I've made espresso in it about five whole times.  Me. The person who in my early twenties would drink an entire colada at six in the morning so that I would have that peppy and perky smile at work.  Me. The person who thinks nothing of drinking a shot before bed because its an excellent night cap. Me. The person that as soon as I am picked up at the airport in Miami demands to be taken to the nearest cafeteria for a shot. What can I say? Soy vaga.

Anyhoo. My point is that just because I have certain tools does not mean I will use them.

My little story takes a bit of turn, though.

Mi Gringito loves caffeine.  Mi Gringito loves Dunkin' Donuts Coffee. He's known so well at the store by his job, that they only have to hear his voice to know his order: "Extra Large Hot, Extra Mocha, Extra Caramel with Skim only and a Turbo shot."


Mi Gringito is going to make us go broke with his consumption. I honestly think that he was absent from school on the day the vocabulary word was moderation.

He has a Dunkin' Donuts Card that has automatic replenishment so that he can indulge in his caffeine-laced beverage when he gets the craving. I don't care.  I was the one who got him the card and set up the account.  It makes my life easier and he's happy. The only problem, however, is this moderation thing that he knows nothing of. Once his card reaches a certain balance, it is set to replenish. I'm cool with that. I'm not cool with it replenishing three times in one week.

I had to do an intervention. I asked my loving husband what he got out of all that coffee? He mentioned that it tasted good and that it kept him energized and focused at work.  I asked him if he thought that maybe some espresso could have the same effect.  After all, he was paying and additional $1 (!!!) to add a shot to his coffee.  He responded, "Perhaps."

So last week I began an experiment. I wake up at 5am with him on the mornings he works anyway so why don't I use that awake time to productively make him his morning coffee (or fuel, like I like to call it)?

I used the cafetera every morning last week, but I don't know how I feel about it. It doesn't fit on my burner so I had to buy a metal thing to place under it and well, like I said earlier, I am vaga! What was I to do? Mi Gringito loves his morning cafe con leche and he has barely used his DD Card since I began the experiment. Heck, on the first morning he said, "Who needs Dunkin' Donuts?" as he gulped down the entire beverage in seconds.

Well, I did what any modern Cubanita might do: I went shopping for an espresso machine!



Now, I don't know if it's memory or nostalgia, but I swear that these machines were almost dirt cheap in Miami -- so you can imagine the hard time I was having when the least expensive I've come across is about $100. I was determined, though, and during yesterday's grocery run at Wal-Mart, I decided to check out the small appliance section.  I found a pretty decent machine made by Mr. Coffee for about $37. Not bad, if you ask me.

Today I made Mi Gringito his cafe con leche without even breaking a sweat. He even commented on how it tasted even better than the previous times (now I think he's just trying to sweeten me up!). So what if it isn't the traditional way on top of a stove? To me, this is the tradition: it was how I was taught and I'm not afraid of messing it up.

Now on to the subject of the actual espresso. This is something that kills me when I do groceries.  I mean seriously, how much is a cube of cafe in the stores in Miami? A little piece of me dies when I am paying nearly $4 for something I know is about $2 at Sedano's!

I went shopping the other day and was looking for some espresso and I get to the coffee aisle.  Not only do I have only three brands to choose from, they are all obscenely expensive in my opinion. I opted for the least expensive brand instead of going for what was tried and true.  I have never seen this brand before, but being called Cafe Caribe, it has to be good...right? Meh. When I got home, I Google'd the brand and came across this review. After brewing it, I can definitely agree with the author. Oh well.  Lesson learned. On this week's grocery trip, Mi Gringito walked to the coffee section and said, "Hey Babe...Pilon." Let's just say that I paid the $4 happily.


So, readers, I have two questions for you this time around: 1) What is better, tradition or convenience? and 2) Is it worth saving a few pennies if the product is not the same quality?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Seasons Come & Seasons Go

One thing I honestly love about New England is the ability to experience the seasons.  Living in Miami where we are in eternal Summer, I never appreciated things like flowers or even the leaves on the trees themselves.

Sunrise taken in Scranton, PA on our drive to our new home in New England

When we first moved up here, La Suegra would go on and on about how much she loved the Spring since it was like a rebirth after the death of Winter. I wasn't sure what she was talking about but I took her word for it.  I was told that we had moved up during a relatively mild Winter and that I should not use it as an example.

Spring came and it was ok.  La Suegra set up a little garden and she planted flowers and a few vegetables -- an attempt at becoming self-sustaining.

Eh, what's up Doc?

Cilantro that I conveniently use in my Ropa Vieja recipe

A fly!

In a few weeks, that little green ball will be a ripe tomato!

Summer was nice, maybe only about a week or so of Miami-like heat.  My only complaint was the lack of central A/C in this old house.

Then Fall came.  Wow.  Nothing can compare to watching those leaves change color.  The weather was crisp and gave me a skip to my step.  I started craving pumpkin everything (for a while there, I thought I was pregnant - me wanting to eat calabaza?). This is what people had been preparing me for all year.  When people would find out that I had just moved here, they'd say, "You will LOVE the Fall!". They were right! Que belleza!


Gould Hill Apple Orchard, Hopkinton, NH



Winter came next.  What can I say? Coño que frio, mis amigos! I started to think that I was an extra in a movie titled Ice Age 4: Afternoon of the Popcicles! Let me tell you, when its 5 degrees below - you know! I loved it, though.  I think that every time it snowed, I would stare outside the window at the pretty  snowflakes coming down.  I only really got sick of it when it was still snowing mid-April.
Our driveway became an ice way. Ice-cleats were all the fashion at this point!

Got Snow?

Not a greeting card -- that's our barn!

Spring? Where are ya buddy? It came late this year, but when it did, I was wowed. La Suegra was right! You really start to appreciate something when it isn't there 24/7.

I never thought I would see the end of the ice and the snow, but soon enough, beautiful things started sprouting from the ground. The trees got thicker and the bugs started to buzz.

Arizona Sun Blanket

Who doesn't love roses?

Columbine

Poppy

Petunia

Peony

Tulips

Lilac

The first day of Summer is just two days away and I am going to enjoy the season of my youth, but also mark it as my countdown to Fall.  I can't wait!

I love living in New England for all its beauty and nature and history.

Do you experience seasons where you live?