Thursday, March 31, 2011

Viva Mexico

Last week I attempted a blog post.  I sat down at my computer on a porch overlooking the Carribean.  I pecked out a sentence and looked out at the view above.  Then I looked back at my computer screen.  Then I looked again to the sea, and I thought "what the hell am I doing on the computer right now when I could be splashing about in that water?"  Do you blame me dear readers? 

Tulum, Mexico.  It is where the Mayans would come to relax and heal, and it is where I decided to retreat to with my family and 8 close friends in celebration of my 30th birthday.  Chef, as my gift rented this hideaway...Nah Uxibal "House of Good Energy."  A house complete with a chef that cooked for us breakfast and dinner.  Here is a taste of how we greeted each day sitting on an open porch with a vista of Del Caribe.  Behold Yucatan style huevos rancheros.

We had Javier and Victoria, the caregivers of this little piece of paradise, who cleaned up our terrible toddler beach mess every day.  We had hammocks on every porch swaying in the sea breeze, a coral reef at our fingertips, a literal super moon rise every night, and margaritas galore.  

When I told people I was going to Mexico for a week they looked at me in horror.  "Helloooo...Drug War?  Are you crazy?  Are you bringing your kids?"  My mocking response, "The more drugs the better!  And yes, I am bringing my kids!"  We traveled to Tulum, a little European tourista hot spot on the Caribbean coast in the state of Quintana Roo far away from the violence of the black market.   Over 400 people were murdered in Chicago alone last year, and if I told you that I was going there for a weekend getaway to the windy city to dine at Charlie Trotter's would you look at me with the same shock?  My guess is no.  Mexico is a giant glorious country, and like gang violence in the US, it is limited to particular regions.

Enough soap boxing. 

I heart Mexico.  I love it's people, polite and hardworking.  I love its food, bright and flavorful.  I love its art and expert craftsmanship of ceramics and textiles.  I love that it makes for inexpensive travel. We are lucky to have a nation so rich in culture as a neighbor, and such an affordable place to visit.  Over the next few weeks I am going to share with you some vibrant morsels of our trip, with the hope that it inspires some of you dear readers to pay this fabulous country a visit.  

Spring is officially here!  What better way to kick it off than with a margarita recipe...the drink practically emanates sunshine!  It was just my luck that one of my best gals from college married a producer/audio engineer and expert mixologist.  Chris Barron, margarita guru extraordinaire, juiced 2 to 3 pounds of limes a day to provide the most delicious and authentic margaritas I have ever tasted, and margaritas are a favorite cocktail of mine. This recipe originates from his place of work, Ecco, an extraordinary seasonal eats restaurant that is a must dine when visiting Atlanta (one of Chef and my favs).  This is the drink, nestled in the sand at happy hour.

The Ecco Margarita

  • 2 oz of Herra Durra Blanco Tequilla
  • 0.75 oz of Agave Nectar or Simple Syrup (you can make your own or buy Habama Jarabe Natural)
  • 1.5 oz of fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 orange wedge (1/8 of orange) squeezed for juice
  • Add all the ingredients into a shaker
  • Shake vigorously
  • Strain and pour over glass of rocks
Go forth this weekend and greet the Spring with this glorious margarita!  You will thank me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Taking Stock

Whew.  I missed you all last week, but it was one of those weeks where I blinked and it was Sunday.  I wrapped up cooking all sorts of wonderful soups for my mom, each of which contained the glorious golden broth of the above chicken stock.  Ina Garten's recipe, this stock was so chock full of gelatin that when refrigerated it turned to jelly.  I left my mom in good spirits, with good food to help nourish her back to good health, in good company, and in good weather.

Spring has arrived in its beautiful shades of green and pops of pink and yellow.  Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons, because they are seasons of transition.  The air is seems to carry less weight, as if the all the life that is coming or going boosts the oxygen content, lightening the load of the dead of winter or in the case of fall, the slog of the dog days of summer.  Spring sneaks up on you, she plays peak-a-boo for a few weeks with her bulbs and blades, and then Bam!  She is arrives, quivering with the shimmering youth of baby leaves and bursting buds.

Speaking of shimmering youth, The Sprout turns one today...our little lucky charm. We threw a fish fry for our small frye last Saturday, a whirlwind of seafood, picnic salads, and little toddlers teetering about.

And of course cupcakes.  Lovely cupcakes from a new cupcakery that has just opened here.  I would have normally baked them myself, but given that I had 48 hours to put together a party for my little darling girl, I cut myself some slack.    Glad I did because the chef at Bliss did an exquisite job...don't you think?

This has been the fastest year of my life to date.  This Spring, more so than any other, I am feeling the winds of 30th birthday 3 weeks ago probably has something to do with it.  This season of new life is a time to take stock and reflect on the end of the past year.  As we leave behind the droll days of winter, take a deep breath and hold in all the richness of birth Spring brings as she blooms and let it fill you with seeds of new beginnings.  We have a lot to learn from nature, and her annual process of death and rebirth.  She has an amazing capacity to let go and move on.  

This Saturday I am letting life go and getting my move a little sun dress on a beach in the Caribbean!  Chef gave me the most fabulous birthday gift a gal could ask for...he rented a house in Tulum for a week for our little tribe of 4 and a handful of some of my dearest friends to share some time without a care in the world.

I am feeling more than a little lucky this St. Patty's Day!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Do's and Don'ts

My poor mom, like so many other people who suffer from a digestive disorder, is faced with a list a mile long of stuff she can not eat. Actually it is a few lists...a list of foods that can cause pain.  A list of foods that can cause constipation. A list that can cause loose stools.  A list of foods that make your poop stink.  As if poop can't stink. 

I have been scouring cookbooks in search of recipes that exclude the foods on my mothers shit list.  The thing is that my mother's disease, Crohn's disease, unlike other digestive disorders, does not have a specific diet.  It is a diet of trial and error.  If a food makes your stomach feel like it is being impaled on a hot poker, then it is one you should avoid. 

It has been tough trying to create a meal around what a person can not eat.  So I have decided to take her don't lists and create a do list.  I am going to make a master list of foods that are safe for her to eat, and from it find recipes that will fit.  Vichyssoise, which I made for her last night, is a keeper.

It is so easy to focus on the negative when you are sick.  You feel terrible physically, and your brain often follows.  But the old adage, mind over matter, is so true.  If you train your brain not to focus on the bad, and instead think of the positive you are more likely to get well.  

Science confirms it as fact.  

Spirit sings it as a song.  

There is an old Irish adage, "Laughter is brightest where food is best."  Nourishment for the tummy and soul for ostomy patients...I see a cookbook in the making!