Monthly Archives: June 2011

¡Hola from Zihua!

Christian and I took our (second) honeymoon to Zihuatanejo last week. This trip wouldn’t have been possible without the overwhelming generosity of Bart Cousins and Missy and David Boone. Thank you!!!

We stayed at The Tides resort. Upon arriving and taking note of the flowers tucked neatly into the toilet paper rolls, we realized that this would be the nicest hotel we’d ever stay in.

Soft and scented!

They also had palapas lining the beach front where you could lounge and raise a little orange flag if you needed something, such as a deliciously fresh michelada.

Lounging under a palapa

In Mexico, a michelada is made with fresh lime juice, beer, and salt.

We swam in the ocean…

That's not our boat.

And met the local residents…

Sarah greets Juan

And of course, ate a lot of food.

Scallop ceviche

Parrillada de mariscos, a.k.a. "Los misterios del mar"

Huevos motuleños (eggs with ham, plantains, black beans, tortilla, and ranchera sauce)

Frutas tropicales y jugo de mango

Tacos de queso oaxaca y huitlacoche

Tiritas de atún (tuna ceviche)

Early on in our stay, Hurricane Beatrice paid us a visit. We got heavy rains, but not much else. Luckily, there were marble backgammon boards built into the bar. So we kept busy!

A friendly game of backgammon to pass the time

Hurricane Beatrice left some beautiful skylines in her wake…

¡Adiós Beatriz!

But that’s not all…Sarah tried to go for a swim the morning after and was terrified to be warned to “get out of the water, ahora” by Eduardo, the head of hotel security. Apparently, the local crocodile population particularly enjoys a swim across the bay after heavy rains. Sarah’s worst fears about swimming in open water were confirmed, and she steered clear of the ocean for several days. Thankfully, The Tides had some really nice pools.

Crocodiles? WTF?!

Our Spanish skills helped us to quickly befriend the hotel staff, and we reaped the benefits. Israel, the gardener, brought us some fresh coconut water on the beach.

Agua fresca de coco

We ended our stay with a spectacular sunset and a gorgeous wedding between our two best friends, Sandra Sotelo-Miller and Tom Simmons.

I should be a postcard photographer.

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Memories of Dad and Golfing

Dad at Grandview in Brainerd, MN

My father taught me how to play the great game of golf for which I will be forever grateful (and my runner’s knees will be, too). When I was younger, my dad worked long hours – and still does – in order to save for his three kids’ college educations. If he had time off in the evenings or on the weekends, he loved to play golf. So in an effort to accumulate some valuable father-daughter time, I often accompanied him on those warm Minnesota summer evenings to the driving range.

Three young people (myself, my dad, and my brother) after a round at Rochester Golf & Country Club

Coach Myhro and I at the 2002 MN State Girls' Golf Tournament

At first, I wasn’t so into the sport. I don’t recall actually despising it, but I do remember being quite bored and whining to be taken home very often. My dad, determined to hit at least a full bucket of balls after a day’s work, usually sent me off on a “hunt” for tees. I delighted in finding the colorful ones. For some reason, they seemed to be worth more. On the weekends, we sometimes played a few holes before dark. He would play two balls, and I would scurry along behind him, brutally whacking away at a pink golf ball with a beat-up old putter.

Beautiful fall golf in Amherst, MA

Amherst Women's Golf team 2006-7

At some point, I must have begun to like the game, because I ended up with a full set of clubs and a trip to junior golf camp. But my favorite golf outing was still a trip to the range with my dad and his best friend Buzzy (“Uncle Buzzy” to me). Over the years, I became more competitive in the sport, joined the high school team, and competed in the State tournament twice. The more I played, the more I realized just how lucky I was to have my dad as my “coach.” He wasn’t like the other dads who hovered over their daughters on the range critiquing every minute detail of their swing, or who lived vicariously through their daughter’s talent – often to the detriment of her game and her social life.

Holding the flag on No. 12 "Golden Bell" at Augusta National

Dad and I with the Master's trophy

Eventually, I went on to play golf at Amherst College and continued as an assistant coach after graduation. Golf opened up a world of opportunity for me…It instilled in me a deep appreciation of the outdoors (the sights, smells, and sounds), walking, talking and making friends. Some of my best friends and biggest role models are golfers: Michelle Morgan, Steve Myhro, Meg Sullivan, my husband, Carolina Gonzalez, Buzzy Hermann, both of my grandfathers, and of course, my Dad. Happy Father’s Day, and thanks for teaching me the game.

Dad and I on the 10th tee at Augusta National

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Filed under Family, Fathers, Golf, Nostalgia

We Love Dirty Laundry: or How to Get Your Husband to Wash Clothes

Last week my husband and I were having a standoff to see how long we could go without doing laundry. It was an odd sort of competition. No one talked about it. It just sort of happened. Typically we do laundry once a week, when the basket begins to overflow, but it had been two weeks and “overflow” was a serious understatement…

Don Henley would be proud.

Eventually my husband caved. It probably had less to do with a clear victory for feminism than that fact that he possesses fewer pairs of underwear than I do, but I was still proud that I held out as long as I did. Here’s a few tips that might help modern women get their hubbies to pitch in when it comes to the dreaded task of washing and folding clothes…

Avoid talking about the subject. Rather than saying, “My goodness, look at this huge pile of laundry! I wish someone would help me with it,” try this approach: “I’m exhausted. How about we go out for a nice dinner? You could wear that handsome button down.” When he realizes his favorite shirt is in the laundry, he’ll have to confront the overgrown pile of dirty clothes spilling out into the hallway.

Divert your attention to other tasks that you enjoy. Your partner arrives home and asks, “What were you up to today?” You respond, “I tended the garden this morning, then went to work, and afterward I made this delicious meal. Aren’t I amazing?” Most likely, he’ll agree.

Put the hamper in an inconvenient location where he’s bound to notice it. Maybe scatter a few items around the base of the hamper to create a more messy, treacherous path to tread on.

Plant a stink bomb in the bathroom. When he asks what the blazes is smelling so badly, calmly reply that you think it’s his workout clothes that have been in the hamper for a week.

Hide a few of his clothes, like a favorite tee that he loves to wear or all of his socks, so that he’ll be forced to do laundry to “uncover” them.

If desperate, don your granny panties. If he makes a move, say you’re “not feeling up to it” because your lingerie is in the laundry basket and your current undergarments are making you feel undesirable.

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Dinner with Friends: a Tribute to “Homesick Texan”

I recently hosted some friends from Quality Seafood for a farewell dinner party. I made the food and they provided the adult beverages (Hi-C, milk, imbibe-ables of that nature). There were two inspirations for the menu: first, between our CSA farm box, my in-laws, and the garden at Flat Creek, I had a serious quantity of summer squash and jalapenos that needed to be dealt with. Second, I asked myself, what do we have a plethora of in Texas that we won’t have in Virginia? Ehem…Mexican food. And where better to look for authentic Mexican recipes than a Texan gringa living in New York? She may not be from south of the border, but her recipes have an authentic essence that is hard to replicate. I hope you enjoy oggling at the photos. Please forgive my amateur point-and-shoot camera.

A Fishmongress’ Farewell-to-Texas Party Menu

Chile Con Queso – Note: Make right before serving to avoid separating!

Sopa de Lima – Note: My friend Sandra recommends using lemon juice instead of lime to avoid bitterness. Garnish with lime slices if preferred.

Summer Squash Enchiladas

Watermelon Agua Frescas – Note: Add mint simple syrup to taste.

Key Lime “Itty Bitty” Bundt Cakes (from Whole Foods Market) and Black Forest Bundt Cake (brought by Skylar)

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Filed under Dinner, Food, Friends, Recipes, Texas

Being a Coffee Snob is Really Inconvenient

I love good coffee. I’m not a coffeeholic who hits up the local Starcorps (phraseology borrowed from Tina Fey) on a twice daily basis. Actually, I try to limit myself to less than one cup a day (you do the math), but I do appreciate the taste and “mouth feel” of extremely good coffee. By “good” I mean, well-raised, not-burnt, flawlessly-executed-by-a-career-barista coffee. Does this make me better than the average person? No. Does it make my life less convenient than yours? Yes. Allow me to explain…

So what if I can't make a rosetta with my froth? Barista-in-training here. Tips welcome.

Good coffee is expensive. The average price of Folgers ground coffee is around $0.30 – $0.40 per ounce (I looked it up on the interweb, okay?). The average price of whole bean coffee that tastes good and doesn’t have bits of ground up cockroach in it (more on that later) is about $0.60 – $0.80 per ounce. That’s double the price!!! “Ouch,” goes my pocket book.

Delicious coffee is complex and requires, yup, you guessed it…expensive equipment. Sure, a French press costs just $20, but what about a coffee grinder? That’s another $20. And that’s just the average blade grinder. Sooooo amateur. A sexy Burr coffee grinder that allows you to consistently grind all your beans to precisely the right coarseness (coarse for drip or French press, fine for espresso or Turkish style, otherwise known as “tasty sludge”) will run anywhere between $60 and $150. And what if you’re like I am and you’re married to someone who lives and dies by French press, but you have thick, rich espresso coursing through your veins? Well that means you have to have an espresso machine, silly! Breville Espresso Machine = $200. Thank God for wedding registries.

This is all the equipment that I need to make one cup of espresso (Not pictured here: microwave).

Oh, and since my paycheck actually qualifies me for food stamps (you’re probably scratching your head, thinking, why does she waste her money on $0.60/oz. coffee?!), I can’t splurge and buy myself a vintage Mazzurco espresso machine with a ridiculously powerful steamer. Instead of watching the grass grow every time I try to steam milk for my cappuccino using my novice home-espresso machine, I bought a milk frother (a.k.a., God’s gift to the world) for $20. All the pro baristas zap their milk in the microwave and then whip it with this battery-operated piece of genius, right? Totally hip.

The Aerolatte in action

So that brings the total value of my snobbish addiction to: $320 (as you can tell by my math, I opted for the cheap, $60 burr grinder. Food stamps people. Food stamps!). And this doesn’t even include the cost of coffee, mugs, a teapot (for my French press-loving hubby), and an Italian Bialetti stove-top espresso maker which I slaved over before the glorious days of Breville ownership.

Coffee for snobs takes forever to make. Now that I’ve assembled my coffee paraphenalia under one roof, I get down to business. First, I grind my beans (and I curse the grinder as it jams and spews coffee grinds all over my kitchen counter.) Second, I pack coffee grinds into a 2 oz. cup thingy (I’m sure there’s a more technical name for this) and attach it to the espresso machine. Third, I make the espresso. This sounds waaaaay less complicated than it actually is. In reality, I need to be sure I have the machine turned on way in advance, so that it has sufficient time to heat the water and I don’t get stuck with room temp. espresso. While I’m actually making the coffee, I have to “eyeball it” and make sure I don’t leave the machine on too long, lest I end up with a very watered down cup of Joe – think Starcorps.

This is my most-used wedding gift.

Crema to die for

While the espresso is pouring, I need to be heating up the milk in the microwave. Whilst… I turn the espresso machine off and then take the hot milk out of the nuker (tip: don’t burn the milk, it tastes really bad and mixing it with coffee will not cover up the burnt flavor). Now I froth the milk with the battery-operated gift from God, add espresso to a mug, then top with frothy milk, as desired.  I indulge while I dread the fourth and final reason why being a coffee snob is really inconvenient…

Doing dishes ≠ having fun

Did I mention cleanup? Run hot water through the espresso machine after each use. Ugh. Thanks instruction booklet. Clean drip tray. Clean 2 oz. cup that I’m sure has a more technical name. Clean milk frother. Clean glasses I used to make the espresso and froth the milk. Clean coffee grinder and coffee scoop. Clean counters that are littered with coffee grinds. Clean sink that is clogged with espresso grounds. Wash mug. Seriously consider how things got this bad and why I can’t just enjoy a cup of “the best part of waking up” already. Oh yea, the roach thing. Damn you NPR for exposing me to that horrid story! Did I mention that when I visit people I bring my own coffee because I know I’m not going to be able to stomach theirs? I’m such a snob. At least I don’t drop phrases like “single batch” and “estate grown” into my coffee parlance, yet…

Got beans?

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