Archive | August 2012

Under the Bahamian Sun

Under the Bahamian Sun.

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Under the Bahamian Sun

Lately, as Jonathan has been studying at the kitchen table, I’ve been simultaneously working on our websites and watching movies on my computer with my headphones on so he can study in peace.  We brought a big CD case full of DVD’s (I’m still unable to access our Netflix here, so if any of my loyal readers have suggestions on how to do this, I would be immensely grateful!).  Last night I watched Under the Tuscan Sun.  It’s one of my favorite “feel good” movies.  You know the kind.  One of those movies that you can watch over and over again (I watched it 2 times in a row last night!) and it still makes you smile and laugh and get a little choked up.  It makes you feel good!  Under the Tuscan Sun has so many great quotes, and last night while I was watching it, I just couldn’t pass up some of the parallels to our situation here in the Bahamas.  So I thought I’d share a few of those parallels here!  Let me give you a little background on the movie for those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to watch it yourself (I highly recommend it!).

Francis is a middle aged author in San Francisco who is financially supporting her husband (also an author) while he “works on his book”.  She finds out he’s having an affair and her world comes crashing down.  Everything she thought was normal and good and right is all out of whack and bad and wrong.  So her friends push her to take a tour of Tuscany as a vacation from the hell that has been her life and she ends up stumbling upon a villa named Bramasole which she buys somewhat on a whim.  So the movie is about her life in Tuscany trying to fix up a huge run down heirloom house, trying to find love, and trying to sort out her life in an unfamiliar place with a life she swears is not her own.  She has experiences that make her resentful of her situation and experiences that make her wonder how she has come to be so blessed.  In the end she realizes that all the things she has hoped for and dreamed of have already happened to her.  Just in a different way than she thought they would.  I cannot help but identify here!

Of course, I have not experienced a divorce!  Jonathan and I are happier than ever, so I can’t draw that parallel in any way.  However, this idea of needing a life change and not really seeing that change coming until it hits you square between the eyes is DEFINITELY something both me AND Jonathan can identify with.  Many of you may have wondered how we arrived at this conclusion of starting medical school.  Jonathan taught school for 3 years before starting this seemingly “out in left field” career change.  He was so unhappy while he was teaching.  He spent many anxious and stressful months just trying to hear his calling…he knew teaching wasn’t it.  So he came to me one night while we were in bed reading and basically said “I am supposed to go to medical school.  I keep going back and forth and then just coming back to this.  So I’m gonna do it.”  How could I argue with that??  And so the journey began!  

As far as I’m concerned, about a year into the prerequisit process, I kept feeling like there was something else out there for me (of course we didn’t know we were destined for the Caribbean at that point!).  In conjunction with that feeling, there was that still small voice that was clearly telling me “Rachel quit your job.”  Which was outlandish to me.  Almost funny!  How could I do that?  That’s our livelihood!  That’s what I do?  Quitting is not an option.  And honestly it wouldn’t have been…IF we had been lead anywhere but a Caribbean school.  God knew this!  So He made it so that His plan for me was played out just like His plan for Jonathan was!  God is blessing us both simultaneously!

I can’t just write this blog and tell all my readers that being an “island housewife” is all perfect and wonderful and without challenges.  I would be lying!  There’s a scene in Under the Tuscan Sun where Francis’s friend Patty says “There comes a time in everyone’s life where they’re standing at a crossroads.”  And we were standing at a crossroads a few months ago.  Took a leap of faith that brought us to Freeport.  All the signs pointed here, and we couldn’t ignore it.  So here we are.  That leap of faith was not an easy choice.  I have to MAKE THAT CHOICE almost daily!  I have to choose joy…because some days that joy is hard to find.  Likewise some days that joy is overflowing out of me!

The onslaught of “the terrible idea”: In the movie, Francis encourages a writing student of hers to take a “terrible idea”, work on it, and make it something special.  Raise your hand (figuratively of course) if you heard me and/or Jonathan say “We’re moving to the Caribbean!” and you thought…”Gee…that sounds like a terrible idea”?  I know you’re out there!  The beach sounds fabulous, I know.  But I’m sure there are lot’s of you out there who’ve thought “That’s all well and good, but I couldn’t do it”.  Well let me be the first to tell you that you can!  Maybe moving to the Caribbean is not the “terrible idea” you’ve been contemplating.  But whatever it is, chances are that it’s more possible than you think.  Maybe the idea is not as terrible as you think it is!  How often in our day to day lives to we limit ourselves because of what we feel we have to “lose”.  Trust me when I tell you that what you have to lose is not something lost on a leap of faith!  I “lost” a beautiful house, a nice car, beautiful furniture, a comfortable church home, an income, a great job, the comforts of “home”, etc. The things that are really important though (my husband, my friends, my family, my future, my faith) were never lost.  So take that chance!  From the other side of a “terrible idea” I can tell you it’s worth it!  God’s plan for you cannot be derailed, so it’s gonna happen whether you resist it or not.  Learn to listen even if the suggestion seems impossible!

“There is a section of the Alps, that is a very steep, very high part of the mountain.  They built a train track over this area to connect Venice to Vienna.  They built these tracks before there was even a train in existence that could make the trip.  Because they knew one day the train would come…”

Do you sometimes feel like a dreamer?  Like maybe the things you’re hoping and praying for are things that are a part of a life that is not yours to live?  I do!  So don’t feel alone in that feeling.  I’m reminded often (and that quote from the movie last night was another reminder) that God WILL provide the desires of your heart!  He put those desires there Himself!  But it’s the “waiting for the train to come” that we all have problems with.  However, it shouldn’t keep us from building the track with the hope that one day it will come.  It will!  Think Noah.  He built the Ark before the flood because he knew it would come!  Think Moses.  He took the children of Egypt out of bondage before he even really knew where he was taking them!  Think Mary.  She accepted the challenges she was given knowing the “consequences” because she had faith in the outcome!  So find hope in the outcome!  Have faith in the finish!  Because train or no train, He’s building a life for you way beyond where you can see and it’s fabulous!  Be fearless in your pursuit of the plan…He will bless you’re “blind faith”!  He asks us to come to Him with childlike faith.  That kind of faith that says “I’m gonna jump off the side of the pool without my floaties because I know you’re gonna catch me!”…He’s that Daddy out there treading water encouraging you to jump in because He knows that what you’re “jumping into” is safe as long as He’s there.  He wouldn’t tell you to jump if it wasn’t…would he?  

“Regrets are a waste of time.  They’re the past crippling you in the present. How are you ever gonna be happy if you keep wallowing?? When I was a little girl I would spend hours looking for ladybugs.  Finally I would just give up and fall asleep in the grass.  When I woke up, they were crawling all over me.”

Just quit trying to force it.  Quit thinking so much!  Quit letting your failures dictate your future.  Quit letting fear run your life!  Just let go and it’ll happen.  Release that grip on whatever the heck it is that you’ve got clenched in your fists, relax, lay it down.  When you “wake up”, it’ll be done for you…

This entry was posted on August 27, 2012. 1 Comment

What’s the deal with storms that start with “I”??

So yes, if you’ve been wondering, we have been keeping an eye on the elusive Tropical Storm Isaac.  Right now, it looks like the best we’re gonna get is a little rain.  Maybe some gusty wind.  But he looks like he’s steering more toward the west right now, so I think we’re safe.  Though that has not done much to quiet the fears of both our friends and family at home and Oklahoma OR the students here who have never lived near hurricanes.  Having lived through more than a couple hurricanes and tropical storms myself (I did live in Houston for the better part of my 27+ years…), I don’t get too worked up about them.  In 27+ years of living on the Gulf Coast (I lived in Beaumont, Tx in my younger years), I’ve only really had to dodge 4-5 big storms.  And I’m also taking a little credit for Rita, even though I was in school in Oklahoma when she came through.  I can remember evacuating for Andrew (I was so young I only remember bits and pieces of that adventure) and Ike (which sucked royally…I’ll expand in a minute…), and then all that entailed my parents evacuating for Rita (which came right after Katrina in 2005) which was quite dramatic.  

We had tropical storms come through fairly often, but most were not anything to write home about.  I remember waking up the morning we were headed to summer church camp to find our street flooded (Allison had developed basically overnight and stalled right on the coast line and was basically scooping up the ocean and throwing it onto land…).  My dad piled me and all my stuff in the Suburban to head to my friend Glienke’s house to pick her up and take her to the church.  EVERYTHING was flooded!  When we got to her neighborhood, we had to cross a little bridge that goes over a creek.  There’s chain link fence on either side of the bridge, and the creek was basically lapping up on either side of the bridge.  There were literal DROWNED RATS clinging for life on this chain link fence!  They were soaked to the bone and there were probably 40-50 of them all over the fence!  So we continued plowing through in the tank to her street. We turned in, and there were people CANOEING down the street!  Crazy!  So we get Glienke and head to the church.  Somehow, by only the grace of God, we make it there.  And an even bigger miracle is that all the youth going on the trip made it in and we actually left for camp.  On our way out, we took a big overpass exchange near downtown.  When we looked down it looked like tops of houses floating in an ocean.  You couldn’t see streets, all you could see was water and the tippity tops of houses.  To this day I have no idea how we didn’t have more trouble traveling that day…

Rita was a different story entirely.  You see, because she came really quickly after Katrina (if you don’t know, Katrina was a massive storm that hit New Orleans in 2005…almost wholly devastating to that area and sent people packing all over the country in FEMA trailers for YEARS after…), people were completely freaked out about the possibility of a double whammy situation.  So everyone ran screaming from the storm all at once on the same day.  I remember calling my mom terrified from Oklahoma to tell her to grab this that or the other before they left.  In my mind, there wouldn’t be anything left when they got back.  The storm itself didn’t do much to our area (she curved to the northeast at the last minute wreaking havoc on Beaumont, Tx and surrounding areas), but the drama surrounding the mass exodus was enough trauma for everyone.  It took people DAYS to make what would have been a 4 hour trip to Dallas.  There was no place to go to the bathroom, all the gas stations ran out of gas and the gas trucks couldn’t get there to replenish them, people were running out of gas in parking lot traffic, etc. etc. etc.  Kind of a post apocalyptic picture.  It wasn’t until after all of that, the Texas Department of Transportation came up with the “counter flow” idea that when there was a big evacuation the southbound side of the highway would become northbound too.  So everyone would be going the same direction and there was twice as much space for people to drive on.    My poor parents were exhausted when they FINALLY made it to the Rice’s house.  And then they basically had to turn right back around and go home because the storm hadn’t damaged much of anything in Houston (other than stripping a few trees and blowing down a few fences…).

Now Ike, ugh.  Where to start with Ike??  He came through in September of 2008.  Because of all the “let down” with Rita, Ike didn’t get much hype as he was making his way through the Gulf.  It’s almost like the weather center didn’t want to incite mass panic everywhere.  But then about 48 hours before he hit, it became apparent that he was making a B-line for us and he was getting stronger every day.  They were predicting a CAT 4 or 5 by landfall.  I have to tell you that the fall of 2008 was also my first year of teaching.  I was frantically trying t run a band program by myself in my very first year, and then this hurricane comes through.  Pasadena ISD didn’t want to make a big deal about it if it wasn’t necessary, so they stayed open ALL DAY on the day that the State Department was issuing mandatory evacuations.  We piled all the band, choir, and orchestra kids into the band hall and kids were getting called out of class to go home once or twice every 5-7 minutes.  Finally, when more than half the kids had gone home in the school, and lots of the teachers’ homes were in mandatory evacuation zones (like mine), we piled the kids into the gym (all that were left in the school) and waited for parents to call.  I scrambled home to prep my little rent house for a hurricane and pack and get out of town.  We really had no idea what to do.  We covered stuff in trash bags and moved it away from windows.  We duct taped glass and cleaned out the fridge (NOT the freezer), loaded down the car, and got the heck outta dodge (with the dog and cat smashed into the front seat with me…the cat screamed all the way out of town).  A lot of people stayed because of what had happened with Rita.  People just didn’t want to go through that again.  For that reason, Jonathan and I had a relatively easy time getting out of town.  We drove to Tyler, Tx and slept there for the night before heading on the OKC.  We watched the waves lapping up over the seawall in Galveston on the news, watched beach houses already start to crumble, watched news anchors in the bottom floor of the hotel we stayed at on our wedding night getting whipped by wind INSIDE, and the storm itself hadn’t even really hit yet.  Very scary.  Galveston ended up with a direct hit.  The town was under water for weeks.  Some things have yet to bounce back from it 4 years later!  Our little town of Clear Lake took somewhat of a “peripheral hit” but we had some serious damage in our front and back yards.  We stayed gone for nearly 2 weeks in OKC and schools were still closed in Pasadena and CCISD (where Jonathan was working).  On our way back into Houston, the farther south we drove, the more dramatic the damage was.  Highway signs crumpled, windows in sky scrapers blown out, trees uprooted, cars flooded out.  When we got back to our house every single side of our fence was down, a pine tree in the front yard had been basically uprooted and was dangling precariously close to our roof in the front yard, and our pergola in the back yard had miraculously not gone through our sliding glass doors into the master bedroom.  Though it looked like God had crumpled it up like a ball of paper.  Our French doors in the living room had blown open and we had to peel plant matter off our furniture and wood floors.  The most traumatic part was cleaning out the freezer.  The electricity was STILL out 2 weeks later and everything in there was rancid.  We drug a giant garbage can to the end of the driveway and we took turns taking huge breaths, holding it, and running inside to scrape as much as we could out of the freezer and running it out to the trash can, tagging the other one to take their turn while standing in the grass dry heaving from the stench.  Not to mention the fact that you really didn’t know exactly what you were scraping out because it was all greyish-brown and goopy no matter what it “used” to be.  Needless to reiterate, it was all very traumatic.  The people that opted to stay in town were even more traumatized than us.  Brett Farrell said “I will NEVER stay again!”.  She described her and her husband huddling together at her parents’ house listening to sounds outside that were out of this world.  Wondering when the wind was gonna just rip their roof off or send something flying through a window. Very scary.  

So where does that leave us now? Number One, Ross has an evacuation plan for students and they take any storm that poses a threat VERY seriously.  They watch it hourly until it’s no longer a threat.  One year they flew all the students to Miami and they had class at the hotel that they put everyone up in.  This storm isn’t posing so much of a threat, so we aren’t too worried.  Though we are prepping for potential loss of power (canned foods, jugs of water, etc.).  Michelle sent Matt to the store to get “hurricane food” (you know…stuff you can eat without needing refrigeration or heat) and he came back with chips and cokes.  Very important you know…  I went to the beach yesterday with Matilda and you can already tell that there’s something brewing out in the ocean.  Here’s the pics:

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Clearly Matilda is not concerned…
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As a matter of fact she’s so relaxed, she believes she’ll have a quick nap…

Don’t worry though, those are only the outer rain bands of the storm that are likely the only action we will see from Isaac.  We are also watching this new invest that just came off of Africa, but it will likely be several weeks before it makes it’s way to this neck of the woods.  It may not even do anything at all.  The Bahamas definitely are more susceptible to tropical weather than Dominica is, so don’t worry about what we’ll do when we’re down there.  It’s too far south and east to really be in the line of any storms that have gained strength.  And most of the time the storms pass so far to the north of the island that there’s really no threat at all.  In the meantime, we are taking the proper precautions and we will be fine.  Don’t worry!     

This entry was posted on August 25, 2012. 2 Comments

Have you just been lying on the beach eating bon-bons??

Well…not exactly.  It has been WAY too long since I last posted.  Forgive me for feeling like I’d be silly to post my every day goings on.  I sometimes forget that what is everyday for me now is still novel outside of my little bubble here in Freeport!  But I also feel inclined to inform everyone that NO, I am not lying on the beach eating bon-bons (yes, I have actually been asked that!).  For the last week my days include the following:

6:00 am –     Peel myself out of bed BEFORE Jonathan and stumble to the kitchen to cook him breakfast and pack his lunch for the day.  This is the only time I get to spend with him until about 7:30 at night when I get about an hour or so to sit and eat dinner with him.
 

7:20 am –    Jonathan catches the bus headed to campus.  Once he leaves I do my morning Bible reading.  This is a nice quiet time in my day that centers me and helps me to stay focused on what is important.  I sometimes switch on KSBJ on my cell phone which helps me relax, but at the same time it makes me miss home a little.  They talk about traffic and weather in Clear Lake and Pasadena and I-45 and what not, and it feels almost like I’m there!  My Bible readings are a quick little devo called Jesus Calling and then a reading plan that is the entire Bible in 90 days in chronological order.  It’s a lot of reading, but God has intensely blessed that time for me. More on that later!
 

8:20 am –    I get going with the cleaning for the day.  I make the bed (pull the sheets for washing at least once a week), and sweep out the house (sometimes I have to do this 2-3 times a day!  Thanks Matilda…).  I also go in to the kitchen and wash any dishes that are dirty (no I do not have a         dishwasher…everything is by hand) and wipe down all the countertops and surfaces (any food or sugar that stays on the countertops attracts teeny little ants and possibly larger friends…that’s a no go for me!).
 

9:00 am –    This is when I start “working”.  If you know me at all, I’m sure you have been wondering how in the world I’ve been making it without having a “job” to go to every day.  I will tell you that I have had to literally sit on my hands at times to keep from “meddling” in the stuff going on at Keller.  I have to turn off my need to give advice to the two guys who are taking my place with the band.  It’s not my place anymore, but it is SO hard for me to not do that.  That band has been my life for 4 1/2 years! So in the place of starting a new school year, I have thrown myself into launching our jewelry business (A Different Kind of Flair) into the 21st century!  More on that later.  Suffice to say, for this purpose, that I am spending about 4-6 hours a day working on the webmastering and administrative end of this business.  There are so many facets of it!  But that definitely keeps me busy!
 

12:00 pm –    SOMETIMES I actually break for a little lunch, sometimes I just keep right on working.  At this point I have to attend to my bread dough if I started a batch (Mondays) or transfer, fold, and put away the laundry (Mondays and Thursdays), sweep again and/or mop the floors, shower and clean up the bathroom.  Go back to work!
 

4:00 pm –    If weather permits and I’ve accomplished enough sometimes I take a quick walk down to the beach with Matilda (sometimes just by myself).  Wednesdays are the perfect day for beach time because it’s like dead during the day (cruise ships don’t usually come in on Wednesdays and the         locals wait until the fish fry later that night to come down to the beach).  I don’t go to the beach every day though.  I would like to!  But most week days I just get wrapped up in working either on the business or in the house or cooking and by the time I get a second to go down to the beach it’s time to start dinner or it’s raining or it’s just entirely too hot to walk down there.  Weekend are my beach days!

5:45 pm –    Usually around this time is when I get the text from Jonathan that he’s headed home.  He’s usually starving by the time he gets here, so if I’m really on top of things I try to have dinner done or mostly done by the time he gets home.  Sometimes I just throw together a little snack or something so he’ll have some brain food.  When he’s not snacking or eating dinner, he is in the books.  He studies pretty much from the minute he gets home until I bug him to go to bed around midnight or so.  We get an hour or so to talk and eat dinner. 

 
7:30 pm –    This is when I work on jewelry or skype with family or just wind down from the day.  I don’t go to bed before Jonathan so we are usually up until about midnight sometimes later. 
 
Then I get up and do it all over again!  Mondays are my big cooking days (I make bread, cook Matilda’s food, etc.).  Tuesdays are my big work days (I shoot for 6-7 hours), Wednesdays I try to make it out to the beach, Thursdays  are grocery days, Fridays are “make-up” days and Jonathan and I try to go out to dinner or go down for an evening beach walk or go see a movie.  Saturdays and Sundays the boys (Jonathan and Matt and Conrad and a smattering of others that seems to change weekly).  These are the days that the wives spend girl time and beach time.  Last weekend Michelle and I sat out on Taino on Sunday for like 2 hours just chilling on some lounge chairs.  Fun!  I think my tan became at least 2 shades darker just from that!

So, yes, I miss home.  Some days it’s more difficult than others.  Michelle heads home for a while on Saturday so I’m sure my “homesickness” will increase during that time.  I really don’t want to classify it as homesickness though.  I just miss everyone and miss the convenience of the states.  I miss being able to hop in the car and go somewhere.  I miss being able to just meet a girlfriend for lunch.  I miss starting a school year!  Matilda helps that a lot.  She knows when I’m feeling low and without fail will come and snuggle.  She’s the best dog ever!  She got sick last week and it scared me to death so it’s making me reconsider whether it’s the right decision for her health for me to take her to Dominica when we go.  It’s the right decision for ME for her to come, but I don’t want something to happen to her down there.  I would be devastated.  That’s a decision to make later on though.  It’s just on my mind. 

Michelle has been sort of the bench marker for blogging.  I need to keep up!  I posted a link that was apparently bogus to her blog earlier.  So let me post it again.  It’s http://www.thewellses.blogspot.com.  You can cut and paste that into your browser.  She is able to pull her pictures so much easier so I’m working on that I promise!  I promise I’ll be better about posting than I have been this week!  I’ll keep ya’ll posted with all the “boring” details ;).  Happy new school year teachers! 

Pad Thai, Homemade Bread, Dog Food, and Kolaches!

This weekend was a fabulous weekend!  We spent basically all weekend with the Wells’ an the Grays.  The boys studied for like 5-6 hours a day and us girls hit the beach and the port for a little shopping!  More on that in a bit.  As far as today…today has not been so fun.  The start of lobster season was a week or so ago around here, and people have been pulling them out of the ocean left and right.  Jonathan and Matt did a little snorkeling here at Taino beach yesterday and claim to have seen a whole brood of them.  They couldn’t catch any, but I’m sure they’re going to eventually!  So what does that have to do with today??  I mentioned before that I have a slight allergy to iodine and that prevents me from eating lobster.  However lobster seems to be on everyone’s menu in lots of different preps, and in some of the restaurants it’s really reasonably priced.  I shouldn’t eat lobster, but I do love it.  Usually if I eat a bite or two of it and make sure I’m drinking a lot of water and eat a few other things, it’s not bad.  Well…I’ve learned my lesson!  I don’t know if it’s more “potent” here or if I just ate too much, or what.  But I woke up this morning with a hugely swollen lip.  Very uncomfortable.  I’ve taken Benadryl, but that doesn’t seem to be helping too well.  I’ve been on the couch for most of the morning because that stupid medicine makes me feel really crumby.  I’m feeling like a really crappy housewife today because I haven’t gotten anything done!  So, I apologize now, but the pictures for this post will have to come later.  Maybe tomorrow.  And no, I WILL NOT be putting up pictures of my swollen lip!  I look a little like a cartoon character…

So today I’ll just post a few of my recipes because I know there are a lot of you out there who’ve been waiting for them!  There are some other stories from this weekend which I’ll share later, but for now…on to the recipes!

Easy Pad Thai

This recipe is SUPER easy and turns out tasting really authentic.  Surprisingly I was able to find everything I needed to make it here in Freeport, so that should tell you something!

What You’ll Need:

8 oz. (think like a quarter’s diameter bundle) of either rice noodles or linguini noodles (I used linguini because I had it around…)

2 tbs. brown sugar

3-4 limes

3 tbs. soy sauce

2 tsp. veggie oil (whatever you have on hand…I think this would also be awesome with sesame oil…)

1 bunch of green onions

1 garlic clove

2 eggs

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1 chicken breast

 

How You Make It:

1) Make sure you do all the prep work first before you start “cooking” anything because once it all goes in the pan, everything goes really fast.  You won’t have time to chop or prep once everything starts moving!

2) Soak the noodles in a warm water bath.  This goes for rice noodles (the primo choice) or the linguini noodles.  It’s imperative that the water be warm and that all the noodles are submerged.  I used a casserole dish to do this in.  Put it in the water bath and leave it alone while you do the other prep work.

3) Squeeze one of the limes into a small bowl.  It should equal out to be about 3 tbs. of juice, so if you need to put another lime in there do.  1 should be enough usually though…

4) Add the 2 tbs. of brown sugar to the bowl and whisk together until the sugar is all incorporated.

5) Add the 3 tbs. of soy sauce and whisk together.  If you’re a fan of spicy food and you happen to have this, you can add a squirt of Siracha sauce.  We didn’t have any and didn’t use it, but if you do, go for it!  Set the sauce aside.

6) Now cut up your green onions.  Cut the “root” part off first and toss that.  Now slice the “white” parts into 1/4 inch slices.  Set the white parts aside (very important!).  Now slice the green parts into 2-3 inch strips.  Set them aside too…

7) Take your clove of garlic and peel it and mince it or chop it.  I used my trusty Pampered Chef peeler, but I didn’t have my mincer.  So I just chopped it and it was fine.  If all you have is jarred minced garlic, go for about 1 tbs. of that.  Again, set aside…

8) Crack two eggs into a small bowl and whisk until they are well beaten.  Set aside…

9) Slice up your chicken breast into 1/4 inch thick slices.  If you want a little more flavor, you can put a little lime juice and soy sauce into a bowl and do a quick marinade on your chicken.  It’s fine plain too.  Set aside…

10) Chop up your peanuts and cilantro.  Don’t chop your peanuts too fine!  You can also just tear off the leaves of the cilantro if you like a little more of that flavor.  I chopped mine (it ends up being about 1/3 of the bunch I bought).  Set aside…

11) Now you’re ready to cook!  Check your noodles in the water bath.  They might seem a little “leathery” and that’s fine.  If you’re using linguini, you might want to just pop your dish into the microwave for a minute so they soften up a little more.  If you’re using rice noodles, leathery is fine.  They will soften up the skillet for sure.

12) Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the white parts of the green onion and the garlic to the hot oil.  Saute until you can smell them (about 30 seconds). 

13) Add the beaten eggs to what’s already in the pan and cook scraping them along the pan (like you cook scrambled eggs) until the eggs are just barely set (they’ll seem “sticky” but not runny).  Transfer this egg/garlic/onion mix to a plate and set aside.

14) Add a little more oil to the pan (just a little!) to make sure that oil is covering the bottom of the pan.  Now add your noodles to the pan and toss around a little until they’ve been coated in the oil.  The pan needs to be pretty hot at this point, so if you’re not hearing that sizzle, turn up the heat!

15) Add your chicken to the pan now.  If you marinaded it, DO NOT pour the juice into the pan.  It will make the sauce to watery.  Just toss the chicken around until the outsides are white and the middles are still a little pink.

15) After about a minute or 2, add the green part of the onions and the brown sugar sauce to the pan.  Continue to toss to coat and cook the onions.  The sauce will sort of thicken up on it’s own.

16) Lastly, add in your cooked eggs and break them up the mixture.  Toss around until it is all incorporated.

17) Serve it up!  After each plate is served, add the chopped cilantro and the chopped peanuts to each dish.  I like to serve each plate with a lime wedge too.  Enjoy!

 

Dog Food (for the spoiled puppy in your life)

This is SUPER easy and versatile.  When I cook this for Matilda, I freeze the stock that’s left over and use it for chicken stock.  It’s way better than the stuff you buy at the store!  Also, you may want to watch where you step while you’re cooking this, because if your pooch is anything like Matilda, they’ll know you’re cooking for them and will be right behind you the whole time!

What You’ll Need:

1 whole chicken

4 large carrots or 3 cups of baby carrots

4 stalks of celery

1 package of frozen peas

2 cups brown or white rice (this is 2 cups of it dried…not cooked)

2 cups of rolled oats

1/2 cup of wheat germ (you can find this at any grocery store probably in the baking aisle…it comes in a jar usually)

How You Make It:

1) Start by cooking your rice.  In a medium sauce pan, add your rice and your water.  It’s ALWAYS a 2 to 1 water to rice ratio.  So 2 cups of dry rice needs 4 cups of water.  Put it all in the pot and watch it until it reaches a rolling boil (don’t stir it!).  Once you see a rolling boil, turn the heat down to a simmer (low!) and cover it.  Once the timer goes off, remove it from the heat and just let it stand.  Again, don’t stir!

2) While the rice is cooking, tend to your chicken.  Rinse off the chicken and put it in a large stock pot.  Put about a tbs of salt and rub that bad boy down.  Then cover the chicken in water.  It doesn’t need more water than that!  Put it on the stove on medium high heat, cover it, and leave it alone.  Set the timer for 1 hour.

3) While the chicken is cooking chop your veggies.  This is not exacting because it’s all gonna get mashed anyway.  Just cut them up into “bite sized” pieces so they will cook quickly enough.  Set them aside.

4) When your chicken is done, take it out of the water, but DON’T DRAIN THE WATER!  Set the chicken in a large bowl and pop it in the fridge.  You’re gonna want him to cool quickly so you can “de-meat” him soon.

5) Too the water that the chicken just came out of, add your chopped veggies and the package of frozen peas.  Cover and put over medium high heat for 30-40 minutes.  The carrots should be tender enough to be mashed with a fork.  Cover it and let it be.  

6) Once your veggies are done transfer them with a slotted spoon to a LARGE mixing bowl.  Leave the water if you’re wanting to use the stock later.  Let it cool and then transfer it later to a freezer bag to put in the freezer to use later as chicken stock.  It’s delish!

7) Put the rice in the bowl with the veggies.  Now add the rolled oats (yes, they’re dry).  Now add the wheat germ (again…yes it’s dry…kind of looks like fish food).  

8) Now take the whole chicken and tear off ALL the meat from the chicken.  White and dark.  Be very careful to remove any bones because DOGS CANNOT EAT POULTRY BONES!  They splinter easily.  So run your hands through the shredded chicken to make sure there aren’t any bones.  Yes, the skin is fine to keep in.  It’s good dogs’ coats to have that fat in there.

9) Add your chicken to the bowl with the veggies, rice, oats, and germ.  Now you have two options.  You can either squish it together with your hands or use a potato masher (or a Pampered Chef Mix and Masher!).  It will look like mush when you’re done.

10) If you’re VERY ambitious you can portion it out into servings for your dog.  I just put it all in a freezer bag and put it in the fridge and serve it out of there.  Serving size should be about 1/2 cup per 10 pounds.  So Matilda gets about 3 cups.  When you feed it to them, you can heat it up or serve it cold.  It’s up to you!  Matilda only gets fed in the evenings, but if you prefer to feed your dog twice a day, just split up the total serving in half for each feeding.

(Side Note: The more vitamins you can add to this, the better.  This recipe is a great base, but you can add just about anything to it.  I have added chicken livers to it for a little iron [just brown them in a sauce pan].  You can also add apples or boiled eggs or cottage cheese to this, not to mention you could put a doggy vitamin in there too.  You can also serve it with a pat of butter to help your pet’s coat shine!  Go nuts!  Just make sure you don’t add a bunch of “seasonings” to it or garlic.  Your dog doesn’t need it and it will only upset their stomach!  If you’re transferring to this from a different food, do a half and half blend for the first 3-4 servings to acclimate them…)

Versatile Bread That Even I Can Master!

This was Round #2 of the bread adventure and it was PERFECT.  I used a Pinterest recipe and sort of tweaked it to my taste.  It turned out beautifully and I’ve used it in 2 different preps so far.  Very easy and idiot proof (which is a must when it comes to me and baking…we don’t always get along…).  Make sure you have all your stuff out and ready to go.  Especially the flour.  Measure it out and have it ready because you don’t use it all at once.  Also remember that all your ingredients should start at room temperature…

What You’ll Need:

2 tsp of instant dry yeast (it is VERY important that it be instant dry yeast…this recipe won’t work if you’ve got something else…)

4 tsp of warm water

1 cup milk (I used whole milk, but I’m sure anything other than skim would be fine…)

1 tsp. salt

1 tbs. white granulated sugar

3 tbs. margarine (NOT butter…it won’t set right…)

5 cups all-purpose flour (NOT self-rising or bread flour…)

How You Make It:

1) Yeast is first.  Be very careful…this part is the make or break (no pressure).  You have to sort of wake up the yeast without killing it!  Put the yeast in the bottom of a large mixing bowl and put the warm water on top of it. From your measured out flour, add about 2 cups of the flour to the mixture.  Mix it together.  At this point you should be smelling the yeast at least a little.  The mixture will be dry.

2) Add the margarine to the mixture.  Make sure you break up the margarine so as not to have “chunks” in your dough.  Again, this mixture will be dry.

3) Take your 1 cup of milk and pop it in the microwave for like 40 seconds (if you’re anti-microwave you can do it on the stove top for a second…).  The milk should be warm, but not so hat that you can’t put your finger in it without getting burned.  It should be like “bath water” temperature.  Add this milk to the flour mixture.  The “batter” will be VERY sticky and thin at this point.  It may even look like pancake batter.  That’s okay!

4) Now add your salt and sugar to the mixture.

5) Take off your rings!  Yep…the best advice I can give you is to mix all this up with your bare hands.  Put in about another cup of flour and mix it around.  At this point, you’re going to add flour and “squish” to combine until there’s no more “dry” parts.  At first it will stick to your hands, but you’ll know its “done” when you can pull it off your hands without leaving dough on them.  I added almost all of the flour, but you may not.  It’s a feel thing.  Your dough should be able to be molded into a large ball.  Don’t let the dough get too dry, though, because then it will bake into REALLY hard, dense bread (learned that the hard way). 

6) Sprinkle flour on your counter top (no more than about 4-5 tbs of flour).  Knead the dough (all the while picking up the flour on the counter as you go) until the dough feels silky and only slightly moist on the outside. 

7) Ball up your dough and place it in a large clean mixing bowl that has a TEENY bit of oil in it.  Place a moist dish towel over the bowl and place the bowl in a warm dry place.  LEAVE IT ALONE!  Come back and check about 90 minutes later and it should be doubled in size (cool!). 

8) From here, you’ve got options.  You can use all the dough if you want, or just some.  You can refrigerate it and use it later.  It will keep for about 3-4 days wrapped in saran wrap (be careful to not wrap it too tightly before putting it in the fridge…it’ll bust through the wrapping!). 

9) To prep for baking, mold the dough into the shape that you want.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Put it in whatever baking thing you’re using (this makes great rolls or loaves and even kolaches!  I’ll share that later…) and let it sit.  It’s gonna have to rise again.  Cover it loosely in plastic wrap and let it sit for about 45 minutes.  It should basically double.

10) Put in the oven for 20 minutes and then let it cool.  If you flick it, it should sound hollow.  If you want softer crusts, brush it with butter after it comes out of the oven.  Enjoy!

Ultimate Breakfast Kolaches

I use my bread dough to make these, but you can also use Grands biscuits or crescent rolls.  These are super easy, super quick, and super tasty.  They’re Tyrone Approved!

What You’ll Need:

1 can of Grands biscuits, crescent rolls, or HALF THE DOUGH FROM MY BREAD RECIPE ABOVE

3 eggs

1 small block of your favorite cheese (I use cheddar)

4 slices of bacon (you can also use ham)

1 Tbs melted butter

Here’s How You Make It: (Preheat your oven to the specifications on the package OR if you’re using the bread dough from above, preheat to 375F)

1) Scramble your eggs, cook them, and put them aside.

2) Cook your bacon, cut it into 2 inch pieces, and put them aside.

3) Slice your cheese into 2 inch long slices that are about 1/4 inch thick.

4) Separate your dough pieces.  Roll them out flat with a rolling pin into round-ish shapes.  Don’t worry if they aren’t perfect.

5) Place a piece of cheese in the middle, top that with the egg, then top the egg with the bacon.

6) Bring the edges of the dough up around the insides and pinch it together.  There shouldn’t be any holes in the dough or the cheese will melt through.  Again, they may not me  be perfect, but that’s fine.

7) Place them on a baking sheet with the “cheese side” up.  If you’re a salt lover, you can sprinkle a little bit on the tops before you pop them in the oven.

8) Place them in the oven and set the timer for either the specifications on the package OR 18 minutes for the homemade bread dough.

9) They will be slightly golden brown when they’re done.  Take them out of the oven and brush them with the melted butter while they’re still hot.  Let cool, and enjoy!

(Side Note: This is versatile!  Put  different cheese in there, or ham, or fruit even!  That would probably be awesome with a little slice of cream cheese instead of cheddar.  Experiment with different meats and fillings!  We’ve even done pepperoni for a quick and easy lunch or afternoon snack…)

 

So there ya have it!  If you have a question, feel free to ask.  Again, if you try any of these and love them, let me know!  Hopefully you’re a success!  I will post the Nutella No Bakes soon!

A pack of wild dogs, a mystery fruit, and a nude beach…

Juicy sounding huh? 😉  I’ve been a busy bee the last few days.  I’ve hardly had a second to sit down!  But I’ve been writing notes to myself about little things I want to blog about!  I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I’ve made any more kitchen attempts.  I have to say I’ve steered clear of any adventures beyond the norm in the last few days, but as soon as I finish with this blog I’m gonna head in there and show that kitchen who’s boss!  I have mastered Matilda’s food recipe (I’ll share it eventually) and I’m a breakfast making fiend.  Today I’m going to attempt some no-bake nutella cookies, bread #2, and chicken pad thai for dinner.  This time in making Matilda’s food, I decided (when I saw these for $2.50) that I would add chicken livers to the recipe for a little iron.  I was pretty proud of myself for being such a responsible doggy mommy!  Let me just say that after I was done with this batch I turned to Matilda (who is sitting behind me begging) and said, “You know I must really love you.  Because these chicken livers smell like mud and a fresh toot AND I’m fixing peas to go in this stuff (which I hate with a passion, btw…)”.  I gagged on a few occasions while fixing those livers.  It looks and smells like something that’s already been eaten and digested.  So yes, I must really love her to put myself through that.  Nicole said it best when she said that Matilda must be the most loved dog in the world.  I think so!  She’s spoiled rotten but she deserves it!  Though in my defense, the reason I’m cooking her dog food is because a bag of dry food here in Freeport is over $50!  So I’m a loving and CHEAP doggy mommy…

Speaking of dogs, Matilda and I had an adventure on Wednesday on our foray to Taino Beach.  Oh my!  We walked down to the beach which includes a trek over a bridge that goes over the channel.  The channel basically splits the island in half and opens onto the ocean on both ends of it. 

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It really is a gorgeous body of water because it’s turquoise and completely clear to the bottom.  We’ve seen skates and conch shells and tons of fish in it.  We always look on our way both to and from the beach.  Wednesday when I looked I saw like 3 skates at once (those things are like leopard printed sting rays…very pretty…) and then about 50 yards out I saw this HUGE fish.  I thought it was a shark!  So I watched it for a minute and when it got closer to the bridge I realized…it’s a DOLPHIN!  It arched up and took a breath at the surface and kept swimming on it’s merry way.  Oh.  My.  Gosh!!  I have been wanting to see one as long as we’ve been here and this one seemed to be in that channel just for me to see!  It was very cool.  Sadly, nobody was there to see it with me.  I still think Jonathan thinks I’m crazy!  So we continued on to our destination and spent an hour or so sunning.  When we decided to head back to the house, we walked across this little parking lot and all of a sudden we hear like 6 dogs barking.  Matilda bristled up (like she always does when she’s trying to protect me) but I really didn’t think anything of it.  I figured it was just peoples’ dogs in their backyards.  Until I realized…there are no “backyards” around here!  Then I started getting scared because I’ve heard there are wild dogs that live on the island.  So we started walking faster and I’m like running through my head what I’ll do if a pack of wolves descends on me and Matilda.  And then I see them pop out of the jungle around the corner.  They are most certainly wild.  Meaning they live in the jungle and do not have owners.  They are most certainly a pack because there’s clearly a “pecking order” here.  But these dogs are kind of “The Replacements” when it comes to a true dog pack.  The “alpha male” (ha!) is this brindle colored dog that looks kind of like a tall skinny pit bull.  There’s a spotted little terrier looking thing, a golden retriever, some other brown mutt-like dog, and a little chihuahua thing.  And they’re all staring at us and barking.  I’m certain they’re going to charge and then Matilda and I are gonna be puppy chow.  So what did I do?  I mean mugged the crap outta them.  I gave them the meanest look I could muster and then I barked at them like a crazy person.  I barked and rushed at them and mean mugged them and then those sorry dogs all put their tails between their legs and ran back into to jungle.  That’s right!  I scared them off (and probably anybody else that saw me do it…).  Matilda was just wagging her tail and smiling like “Good job Mom!  You showed them!”.  Hopefully when they see me from now on they’ll keep their mouths shut and stay in the jungle…

So then yesterday I went to the grocery store because we were “running on fumes” as Ashley puts it (well played).  She actually went with me to the store which was very comforting.  I had honestly put off the whole grocery store trip because I didn’t want to go alone, so I was so grateful that she went with me!  I found out that Thursday is THE DAY to go to Butler’s because their shipment truck comes in on Wednesday, and Thursday is their stock day.  Their produce was off the chain yesterday!!  So I grabbed up some massive fresh mangoes, bananas, and then I spotted this thing that looked like a papaya.  It was quite pretty actually.  Bright green and shiny and as big as my forearm.  So I was like, meh, I’ll give it a whirl.  Never messed with a fresh papaya before so I’ll try it out. 

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So then I’m checking out and when the girl gets to my papaya she plugs in this code and the screen says LOCAL AVOCADO.  I was certain she just plugged in the wrong code because there was no way this thing was an avocado.  It was massive!  So when we get back into the van with Tyrone I ask him if he likes avocados.  And he just goes nuts!  He says they have a tree in their backyard with them and he’ll bring them to me.  But I’m still not convinced that what I’ve bought is an avocado.  So I ask him “Are they bigger than normal avocados?” which is probably a stupid question because the local ones are all he knows.  So he says “No, they’re just normal size.”  He says they taste good.  So I’m like okay.  I’ll just have to split this bad boy open when I get home and see for myself…

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So clearly it’s an avocado.  Weird right??  I’ve never seen anything like it.  It tastes almost exactly like a Haas avocado (the ones I’m used to eating) but it’s a little sweeter and nuttier.  It’s delicious!  And one avocado has the same amount of “meat” as like 3-4 of the Haas variety.  Crazy!!  So much for the papaya deal, but I was excited to learn about these local avocados.  I hope Tyrone actually brings me some from his backyard!

So yesterday morning before our grocery store trip, I was doing my little morning Bible reading.  I’ve found an app that lets me listen to KSBJ (which for those of you who are not Houstonians, that’s our Christian radio station…) over the internet.  So I’ve been playing it in the background while I do my stuff.  Yesterday Susan O’Donnell (who’s a celeb among DJ’s on the station) was talking about believing what God says about you and not what others say.  She mentioned the verse that says “the sheep know the shepherd’s voice” which I love.  I am learning how true that is lately and how important it is to stay focused on Him.  Not get distracted by all the “scenery” on the path…just keep moving forward.  So I decided to email the “DJ on air” and tell her how grateful I was that I could still listen to the station even while in the Bahamas.  I told her briefly what I was doing here and that I was “learning to hear my Shepherd’s voice” daily, how appropriate was their talk today!  Then literally 2 minutes later, a song finishes and she comes back on the air.  She says “Before I move on with the news, I have to share with you all this email I just received.”  I almost have a heart attack… “This is from Rachel who is listening in the Bahamas.”  And she proceeds to read my email on the air!!  I was SO pumped!!!  And then she says “Wow, what a leap of faith Rachel and her husband have taken.  Rachel, we just want to encourage you in your journey!”.  Wow…  Didn’t see that coming!  But I was very excited…I’m famous! 😉

So now you’ve come to the end of this post and you’re still searching for the “nude beach” experience, huh? 😉  Well let me share a picture from the nude beach here in Freeport (it’s near Banana Bay) which we DID NOT GO TO…

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But since I’m sure you guys were all dying to hear some sort of nude beach story from me, I’ve decided to venture into the “story vault” here and tell you the one nude beach story that we do have.  The above sign was not on the nude beach we happened upon, and that’s probably a good thing.  Because I’m pretty sure I broke the “gawking” rule!  Jonathan and I went to Sandals Montego Bay (Jamaica) on our honeymoon in 2007.  Gorgeous!  One of the perks of Sandals is that if you pay to stay at one resort, you have full access to all the other resorts within proximity.  The Grand Bahamian resort had this Thai restaurant on this private island.  You have to take a boat there.  So we decide to head up there for lunch one day.  When we arrive at the resort we are mesmerized by how cool it is and just about can’t wait to get to this Thai restaurant.  So we take the boat over and discover that the restaurant is closed.  Dang!  We decide to Carpe Diem and just enjoy the beautiful beaches on this island.  So we venture through the woods to the back side of the island to this amazing stretch of beach.  I saw a hammock that was being occupied, but I decide then that I MUST have a hammock.  I’m envisioning those Sandals commercials!  So I prance off down the beach to find an empty one.  I’m basically paying no attention to the other beach patrons.  But poor Jonathan looks out into the surf to see this 70 year old wrinkly woman coming up out of the water “super model style”…and she is butt naked!  So he gets to looking at the other people and they’re all naked too!!!  I still have not noticed.  But my cognition is thrust into reality when I slow down a bit and look to my right to see this 40-50 year old man with a huge round beer belly.  He’s sitting on this lounge chair with his hands behind his head and the bottoms of his feet together.  He looks like a road kill toad!  And yes, he’s butt naked.  I almost puked!  Suffice to say, for your own mind’s eye, that the people on nude beaches ARE NOT the people you might enjoy seeing naked.  It is not a stretch of beach from a movie where all the women are super model beautiful with perfect everything and the guys are Baywatch chiseled.  No.  Not so much.  Jonathan grabs my hand as I’m standing there trying to refrain from screaming/laughing/puking and says “Rachel, let’s turn around.  It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.”  So we leave and literally run out of the woods to the other side.  From now on, we will try to be more observant…

So there ya have it!  Hopefully that’s enough adventure for you for one post!  Saturday the boys (Conrad, Matt, and Jonathan) are getting together to study some in the morning.  The Wifey Trifecta (I’m using it!) is going down to Coral Beach while they study and then all 6 of us are going to do dinner together.  Should be fun!  It may be Sunday before I post again and when I do, I’ll post the Dog Food Recipe, the Kolache Recipe, and (if it’s a success tonight) the Bread and Pad Thai Recipe!

The first day of school, a jammin’ haircut, and some not so jammin’ bread…

So Jonathan survived his first day of school!  Well, today was technically orientation.  Yes, he went to orientation last week.  But that was actually considered “pre-orientation”.  It turned out to be sort of like a cattle call for all the students to pick up their books, get their ID’s and swipe cards, and calibrate their computers.  Today was the true orientation and he was gone most of the day.  Tomorrow is the start of true classes so we are grappling to get into a routine right now.  We know that once this party starts, there’s no stoppin’ it!  Jonathan did work it out to ride to campus with Connor so we are SO happy about that.  I was sort of stressing about having to spend $50+ a week on bus/taxi fare.  That’s really iffy considering our budget for the moment.  I am trying NOT to have us at less than $1,000 left by the end of December when we are waiting for our next loan disbursement!  So thank you, thank you, thank you Connor!  You’re such a life saver!  And since Delancey can’t be here with you, I’ll try to send Jonathan with some “portable breakfast” periodically in at least partial payment for the favor!

Jonathan came home around 4:00ish after having run some basically fruitless errands to find me brooding over a giant batch of homemade bread.  I guess I should have known it wouldn’t turn out well, because the recipe stated that the prep time before you bake it would be 1 hour and 15 minutes.  4 hours in, it still hadn’t risen.  Yeah…probably not gonna turn out well.  I will say that the recipe I chose was one I pinned on Pinterest and the girl did not have very exacting directions.  She’s what I like to call an “eyeballer”.  Which is all well and good when it comes to cooking in general…that’s the way I like to do it.  But when it comes to baking (especially bread!) you MUST have exact directions.  So the “Texas Roadhouse Rolls” (yum!) I intended to bake came out like hard tack (in the words of Jonathan).  VERY dense and chewy and tiny (again…the stupid dough had all dang day to rise and it did NOT follow directions…)  I guess they had good flavor (maybe great flavor if you’re a starving child in Africa), but they were basically inedible.  So I will try round #2 later.  Not tomorrow.  I’ve got to recover!  As we keep telling ourselves here, “necessity breeds invention”!  If you buy bread here, you run the risk of grabbing “the wrong bag” which will be moldy in T minus 3 hours after you get it home.  We have also experienced the same thing with “the wrong jug of milk”.  I use the term WE lightly, though, because it was me gagging on sour cream flavored milk (I was so looking forward to an ice cold glass of cow juice!) and Jonathan laughing hysterically at me.  Not funny!  Probably one of the grossest things I’ve ever tasted.  We have bought a jug of milk since then and it is completely fine.  I guess I’m gonna have to use the force to decide which jug to grab from now on.  I mean, lesson learned.  You can’t just go grabbing any jugs you see…you’ve got to be discerning (ha…)!  I, of course, do not have any inventions on hand to replace milk.  Bread though, I’m willing to give it another whirl.

Jonathan got a smart lil’ haircut this evening from a VERY talented barber.  This barber wields the razor and scissors like a pro, but her costs are unimaginably low.  Would you believe FREE??  Yeah…it’s me.  I cut Jonathan’s hair.  While this was not the first time for me to cut his hair, I have to say he looks pretty sharp.  It’s very “Caribbean” (meaning a little shorter than we usually go), and I must say I think this is the best one I’ve done!  So a much needed pat on the back for me after the bread disaster.  So picture A is this morning (isn’t he cute all spiffed up for his first day!) and picture B is him post haircut.  So much better!

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He sort of looks like a deer in headlights.  Not sure what that face is about.  Probably some thing like “Rachel, seriously.  This is the last picture today!”.

I decided that in light of the fact that my cooking skills we somewhat sub par today, I’ll post a recipe that WAS a success (and yes I cooked it right here in the Bahamian test kitchens…).  This one worked out beautifully and we will most definitely be making it again! I’ll try to post some other recipes along the way too.  A little tip for the recipe below…if you’re freaked out by the “conch” part of it, read on.  I gave you some variations that are a little more approachable for those of you who aren’t here in the Bahamas!

Conch Salad

What you’ll need:

2-3 fresh conchs (if you aren’t here in the Bahamas and don’t have access to conch, I think this recipe would be awesome with shrimp, crab meat (for those of you who are freaked out by raw seafood) or ahi tuna…as a matter of fact I might be trying those variations myself when I try this recipe again…  if you are here in the Bahamas, you can buy fresh conch down at the International Bazaar…they’ll crack it right there in front of you!)

1 medium red onion

2 green bell peppers (you can substitute any color you want really)

2 large tomatoes (I like romas myself but I can’t find them here…we did better boys…  if you have access to romas and prefer them like I do, I would put 3-4 of those in…)

1 navel orange

3-4 limes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or any vinegar you have on hand…see #5 below…)

Salt to taste

Directions:

This recipe is basically a ceviche but it’s a little heavier on the veggies.  A ceviche, if you aren’t familiar, is a dish where raw seafood is tossed with citrus fruit juices and the acid from the fruits cooks the meat.  If you’re skeptical, just drop a shrimp or something into a bowl of lime juice and let it mellow for about 10 minutes.  That thing will pink up and you’ll be amazed!  I wanted to give a sort of disclaimer about that for all of you who might be thinking I’m nuts for serving what might seem like raw seafood…

1. Slice up your conch (don’t put the orange parts in…slice those off and toss them…) and toss it in a bowl of salt water (if you’re using another type of seafood I would just rinse it…don’t put it in the salt bath…).  When you’re slicing the conch, cut it into long thin strips.  Not too thick.  If you’re using shrimp I would cut each shrimp into 2-3 pieces so that the citrus can cover more ground…

2. While your conch is hanging out in the salt bath, dice up all your veggies.  Your onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes.  Everything diced (as Tyrone would say).  Toss it all in a large bowl.

3.  Now squeeze the juice from all your limes (a trick I learned is to cut it in half short-wise and squeeze it with the rind facing the bowl…that way you don’t have to fish out any seeds).  You should see like 1/8 cup of lime juice in the bottom of the bowl at this point.  Toss everything around to make sure the juice coats the veggies.

4.  Toss in your conch (or other seafood).  Make sure you drain off the salt water if you’re using conch, but don’t rinse it!  That salt will give the conch a little flavor.  Again, make sure you mix well so that lime juice is basically coating the conch too.

5.  Throw in your red wine vinegar.  I personally like red wine vinegar because it’s a little sweeter than other vinegars.  But if you like things more sour or tart, you could opt for a white vinegar or even a rice wine vinegar.  It’s up to you.  Don’t go overboard on any of it though.  About 1/4 cup will do on all varieties.  Again, toss to coat.

6.  At this point, you’re basically giving your salad a chance to “marry”.  Set your big bowl aside and get to your orange.  Peel it and segment it.  Then you’re gonna want to cut up the pieces and pull some of the pith (the white part) off.  When I made this, I tossed all the orange pieces right into the salad, but you could also squeeze the juice from half of it and segment the other half.  That would give you more of an orange-y flavor.  Toss your orange pieces around in your salad, and you’re ready to eat!

7.  Try a bite.  If you like it, it’s done!  If it needs more flavor, you can add salt a little at a time.  We just served it chilled just like that, however next time I think I’m going to shred up some green cabbage and serve it over that for a little crunch.  Jonathan also suggested maybe seeding a jalapeno and tossing it in.  That might add a teeny kick but add a little flavor.  You could also add some cilantro or even some avocado to each serving (I wouldn’t put the avocado into the salad…the acid will brown it out…)

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So there ya have it.  Super easy, super cheap, and this salad refrigerates beautifully!  It’s even better after a day or so because the vinegars and acids flavor things even more the longer it sits.  It’s a perfect hot afternoon lunch or even a little appetizer.  Let me know if you try it out!

This entry was posted on August 8, 2012. 1 Comment