Life Balance

Admitting you have a problem is the first step…

winter-olympics-2018I must confess, I can’t stop watching the Olympics. I’m obsessed. In prior Olympic years, I couldn’t have cared less about any of the winter sports other than figure skating. This year, though, I’ve become fascinated with the extreme skiing/snowboarding, luge, skeleton, bobsled, the US/Canada hockey rivalry (how about that final women’s game last night???), and yes, I’ve even watched a few games of curling. At times,I’ve caught myself wondering if I missed my calling in freestyle snowboarding or skiing….the tricks they do are just so cool! I very quickly remember, though, that I am extremely afraid of heights and even more afraid of barreling downward at top speed from high altitudes. And let’s face it, this Texas girl has zero gracefulness on snow or ice. I’ve only been skiing twice in my life and the first time can be described as nothing less than a disaster. It was a high school band trip and my “pizza wedge” was more like a “pizza half” – I was so afraid of going too fast that I turned my skis in as far as they would go – and I spent more time on my butt than on my feet. At one point, I got my skis tangled up with one of my classmate’s skis and we both went tumbling. We weren’t even on a slope. Sorry, Bobby! The second time was better, but let’s just say I won’t be winning any medals for my bunny slope skills. Clearly curling would be more my speed. Then there’s the dedication it takes just to get to the Olympics. The TV broadcast sometimes shows clips of the workouts these athletes do to get competition ready and my dreams of glory come to an abrupt halt. I think I would die after 2 minutes. I’ll stick to running slowly on relatively flat land that’s free of snow and ice simply for the joy of feeling good for now.  You might find me on the 2022 US curling team, though.

PyeongChang '18: Ice Hockey Women: USA 3:2 CAN
Just after the US women’s hockey team beat Canada for the gold…such an amazing moment!

As much as I’ve enjoyed the games this time around, I’m glad it’s coming to a close this weekend.  To say it has put a damper on my productivity would be an understatement.  There were three saving graces in terms of eating regularly during these past couple of weeks.  The first, and most helpful, was my boyfriend being in the mood to try making some new recipes. I have eaten very well considering I haven’t really cooked anything. The second is having some standard staples on hand, including canned beans, rice, salsa, cheese, greek yogurt, this trail mix, flour tortillas, and spinach. The third is my homemade pasta sauce.  I made it early into the Winter Games and used it for multiple dinners – we put it in lasagna, on spaghetti squash, on chicken parm, and on pizza.  It is a great go-to sauce that is so easy to make and uses carrots for sweetness instead of the sugar found in many jarred pasta sauces. I’m smack in the middle of watching some Olympics right now, but I promise to post the pasta sauce recipe in my next post!

USA! USA! USA!

Chicken Recipe · Shrimp Recipe · Travel

Making Do

As mentioned in my previous post here, my boyfriend and I had a nice little vacation in the Caribbean to kick off 2018. After our adventurous night in Antigua, we headed over to Montserrat via the tiniest plane I’ve ever flown on. That was a little nerve wracking because even just a slight wind would push the plane around, but we made it safely and the rest of our trip was amazing.  We swam and played in the sand like 10-year-olds on beaches where we were often the only ones there, we swam in the pool and lounged on the patio of our villa just watching the ocean or the huge iguana that lived in the tree next to the pool (we named him Igor the Iguana), and we ate well. Usually, when I say I ate well on vacation, I proceed to provide a list of restaurants I tried.  Montserrat is a small island with a population of just about 5,000, so it’s not exactly a fine dining mecca.  On this vacation, we wanted to enjoy the peace and quiet at our villa as much as possible anyway, so we ate in a lot.  Before we left New York, I pulled together a couple of recipes for Caribbean food using fish and shrimp, thinking these items should be easy to find and super fresh…we were going to an island, after all, right?  Wrong!  Even though there is great fishing in the Caribbean, the people of Montserrat apparently don’t really fish much.  Most of the food on the island is shipped in from larger islands, so all meat is frozen.  I’m ok with frozen shrimp or chicken, but I prefer my fish to be fresh, so we had to adjust.  Sometimes when in a new place, you have to adapt and find ways to modify the plan a bit.  We had a fun challenge ahead of us.

MontserratRainbows
This island might be short on food variety, but they have rainbows every day…sometimes 2 at a time!

The first day we arrived, the property manager for the villa took us to the grocery store to stock up on supplies.  It was a tiny little store and it didn’t have everything we were used to seeing in our grocery stores in the US.  We also felt rushed because the property manager was waiting.  It was all a little overwhelming.  Not a problem.  We pulled together some canned goods, a bag of rice, and some cheese and crackers to get us through the next day or so.  Our “pantry meal” actually ended up being really good!  I used black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, jarred jalapenos, rice, and spices to make a really tasty beans and rice dish that lasted a couple of days.

On day three, we had a little more time on our hands, so we took a taxi back to the store and spent a little more time exploring.  We found the frozen meats and got a bag of shrimp and a couple of chicken breasts.  Then we realized that the fresh produce is all in the refrigerator at the side of the store – makes sense because the doors to the store are always open and bugs are everywhere.  Armed with this jerk shrimp recipe from Lawren Moneta, we went looking for everything else.  As mentioned, this was a tiny store where variety was limited, so once again we adapted.  Instead of cantaloupe, I just put some pineapple in the salsa.  We couldn’t find a scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, so I used the jarred jalapenos we previously bought.  Honey was extremely expensive and we couldn’t find limes, so the juice from the pineapple pulled double duty for sweetness and acidity.  We also didn’t have thyme or cilantro, so I just left it out.  The shrimp was still very good, and the sweetness from the salsa was a really nice compliment to the salty and spicy shrimp!  In fact, it was so good that I made it twice during our 9 days at the villa.

JerkShrimp
The second time I made the jerk shrimp, we didn’t have a cucumber or kiwi, so I just made a pineapple & jalapeno salsa.

Another dish we really enjoyed was chicken curry.  Curries are very common in Caribbean cuisine, and the grocery store where we did our shopping was owned by an Indian couple, so we decided to buy a bag of Indian curry powder so I could attempt my own.  It was really easy and tasty!  Here’s what I did:

ChkCurry

 

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 potato, diced small
1 box frozen spinach
1/2 cup chicken stock (I couldn’t find this, so I used a bouillon cube)

Saute onion a couple of minutes, add garlic and cook for a minute.  Add chicken, potato, curry powder, and chicken stock and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through.  Add coconut milk and spinach and continue cooking, breaking spinach apart as it thaws.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft and spinach is thawed and integrated well.  Add salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, more curry powder.  Serve over rice or, as they often do in Montserrat, wrapped in a roti.

Enjoy!