Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Greetings From A Much Needed Vacation!

I was sitting in my kitchen in High Point, NC, the day before I left for Santo Domingo, when I left wrote this post. I may or may not have been watching the Food Network and making potato salad to leave behind for my dad, as my mom got ready to return with me to the Dominican Republic for a week. Some delicious food and unforgettable moments have occurred since then, but I'll leave that to later and let this go on, even if it is a little bit late...

Man, what a legit trip. The change of pace breathed new life into me - going from the big (and dirty as ****) city of Santo Domingo, to calm, quiet, and oh so green High Point,  How did I not notice how lush High Point always has been? I was desperate for time with friends from home, and it feels like these moments recharged my battery. Sometimes you need to feel connected to those people who really know you - I am one of the lucky ones that can say that I know exactly where my home is.

...Or, I know where it has been until this point in my life. I'm assuming that for many people, something that goes along with growing up should be being able to be "at home" wherever you are. "Home is where the heart is," right? My new home is with Mario, wherever that may be. It felt so renewing to be around the support network that I know and love so deeply, but it's time to take a deep breath and jump into what is waiting for us.

Tomorrow I'm going back to the Caribbean to be with the fiancé in my brand new casita, and my mom is coming with me to spend some time with us. As sad as I am about saying goodbye again, I know this time that I'll be back at Christmas, and hopefully with the fiancé in tow. I'm crossing my fingers and toes that we will be able to come back together.

While I've been home, I've been cooking up a storm for my parents. I'm going to share a recipe that the fiancé and I love for Sunday lunches - Baked Fish with Rice and Pigeon Peas. I made it for my mom and dad, as well as teaching it to my mom - should that have been the other way around? Whatever, I'm more than happy to break tradition. 


Baked Fish in Foil

2 fillets of whatever fish you're into
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 handful scallions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
aluminum foil
baking pan

First, measure the thickness of the fish.  For every inch of fish, plan for 10 minutes of cooking. Fish cook at high temperatures, so preheat the oven to 425-450 degrees.

Second, cover your baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place each fillet on a piece of aluminum foil. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper to each, 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika, and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Top with the chopped scallions, and sprinkle each with the juice of 1/2 lime. Wrap the aluminum around each fillet like an envelope and place them on top of the aluminum covered baking pan. You can always add chopped vegetables if you wish! Change the seasonings and cooking juice depending on your cravings. Be creative - onion powder and cayenne pepper, lemon and orange slices with parsley and garlic, or dress to impress by cooking it in white wine.

Bake for the time you decided based on the thickness of the fillet.  The fish is ready when it is white and flaky. Squeeze another 1/2 lime on each of the fillet and pretend you are at a restaurant by the water, watching the yachts sail by in the distance. Make your own vacation.



Moro de Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

1 14 oz. can gandules verdes (green pigeon peas)
2 cups uncooked rice
3-4 cups water
3 tablespoons salt
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

First, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat in a medium-sized pot. Here in the Dominican Republic, I use a "caldero" or a "cast iron cooking pot" (picture to the left), with a perfectly fitted top.  Add the onions and stir. When they are translucent, add the garlic for about 1 minute. Then, add the can of gandules and salt. Stir so that the onions and garlic do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Scoop your uncooked rice into the pot along with the water and stir again. 

Let the pot boil on medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, or until the rice has soaked up all of the water. Then, take a large spoon and scoop the rice off the sides of the pot so that it is mounded together in the center. Sprinkle the second tablespoon of oil on top of the rice, lower the heat to low, and cover. Let the rice sit for another 15-20 minutes. When you take off the cover, the rice should be moist and fluffy.

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