Friday, May 10, 2013

A Food Author is Born

It seems my distractions have been many lately and I've had little time to sit and update on all the comings and goings - the BIG NEWS is this:

I'm currently writing for a new FOOD JOURNAL called HOT PINK APRON  as a regular contributor and this month of May marks my second article published to the site.  I'm having a blast and really am enjoying the new interaction of hobnobbing with like minded foodies out there.

My desire to eat clean combined with my bazillion digestive issues, a MAJOR food allergy and an intolerance to gluten have left me no choice but to become a ninja in the kitchen.

In this case it's paying off as I get to share my experiences in the kitchen with you here and on Hot Pink Apron.

April's Article:  You Can't Name it THAT! Chocolate Cake

May's Article:  A Post for the Histamine Challenged and the Picky Eater

Enjoy & drop me a line with some feedback if you are so inclined!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Squee! I Made the National Post paper AGAIN!

I have to tell you how surprised I am about how much I suddenly love cooking.  It's my new creative outlet born from a quest for whole food, clean eating, no preservatives, nothing processed and allergy friendly.  This past weekend I catered our yoga retreat for 12 people with ease converting more than one person to eating kale and one woman tried beets for the first time since childhood and she liked them!

So I guess since it's close to launch and my first article is handed in and approved I'll let this cat out of the bag:  I'm one of eight women who will be contributing to a new on-line FOOD MAGAZINE titled HOT PINK APRON. 

Here is the link to the National Post - I even have a head shot!

Gotta run I have a cake to make.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bumming Around Leon, Nicaragua

Leon, Nicaragua is the closest city to our new home in Salinas Grandes.  This is where we will come to  do groceries in the big central market or at the Pali which is believe it or not owned by none other than Wal-mart.  We spent three days here puttering around exploring the down town core.   Leon is not a touristy town it survives on a local economy made up of the Universities and local business and is surrounded by some of the biggest agriculture farms in Nicaragua. 

We stayed at Los Balcones Hotel which was really pretty inside the courtyard and the rooms had HOT WATER so I was stoked - even if it was my first time in a suicide shower. Clearly I survived! 

Me seconds before I tried out the suicide shower.

View from our balcony from our hotel room.
Fin pointing to a bird inside the courtyard of a restaurant while sipping fresh juice.

There are SO many really great restaurants in Leon I will have to write a post just about food.  We tried only a few restaurants this time including a sushi bar that could have been set in Manhattan it was so swank and we are looking forward to exploring and dining when we return next winter.  We ducked into little bistros to enjoy a cold beverage and a light snack often as it was a reprieve form the heat. And well, why not we were on holiday!

We stopped for a cold beer and a snack in one of the many fine food establishments in Leon.

There are several big old Catholic churches including The Cathedral de Leon which is the largest Catholic church in Central America.  It was beautiful inside and was all decked out for the Festival of Mary's Conception on December 8th.  For the week leading up to the feast every evening at dusk the streets were filled with kids lighting firecrackers.  It was quite something to see and hear

Big Daddy P & Fin walking inside the cathedral.

A view from inside the Cathedral looking out at another church across the square.

This is a tribute to Mary.  People hang the hand painted houses to ask Mary to watch over them in their homes.

Outside the steps of the Cathedral

Aside from wandering through the markets and churches and stopping at restaurants we went to the
Museo de Arte Fundación Ortiz-Guardián which was well worth the visit.  They had some beautiful Renaissances art and the second building housed modern art by Central American artists in multiple mediums. This gallery even has a couple of Picasso's sketches!  We were not allowed to take photographs in the gallery ... so you'll just have to come visit us and see for yourself!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

National Post Gastropost - Bacon VRS Buffalo Cauliflower

Hey Michelle,

Congrats — you made it into today's National Post!
In case you can't pick up a copy of the newspaper,
I've taken a PDF,check it out!
Thanks again for picking sides in our
latest tasty battle, and enjoy the rest
of your weekend.
Team Gastropost


Thursday, February 28, 2013

So This Happened Yesterday ...

The funny thing  was that I was having a bad kitchen day and this meal was the one I pulled out of the hat to save dinner and The National Post's Gastropost thought it looked pretty yummy too.

I've been cooking a lot lately and am really enjoying toying and modifying recipes to suit my gluten free, meat free and dairy free diet.  My husband won't eat any of it, he is a meat and cheese kinda guy, but Fin and I and my friends are enjoying the Mother Ship kitchen experiments.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Operation Freedom Forty

So, this is what operation freedom forty looks like people.  Our new house is located nearby the fishing village of Salinas Grandes, which is on the coast of Northern Nicaragua just about a 25 minute drive into the city of Leon.  

We were told in December that our house would be turn key move in ready in February. Looks like we'll be moving in next week!   Don't worry we never believed for a second we'd be closing on this house in 60 days from that day in early December.  We are in fact aiming to move in this fall for the entire winter. 

We are having a zinc roof put on the house.  The metal framing is complete and the zinc will follow hopefully in the next two weeks. The zinc will be covered by a layer of clay tiles. (Seen in the previous post.) The ends of the clay will be filled in with cement to keep the bats and lizards OUT! The inside of the roof will be lined with cane which looks really nice when complete. The cane itself is treated to detract bugs before it is hung.  Any metal framing will be covered with wood and then stained a natural colour.  

Front entrance of the house.  We will build a dip pool out front here. The water will help cool the house.

Nothing moves quickly when building a house in any country.  This house began in early October. The house is only 900 square feet.  If you look closely at  the photo above you can see the workmen are beginning to smooth the walls under and around the windows.

Side view of the house. Ocean to the left.

We have plans to add natural fencing down our lot lines comprised of short palm trees for shade and privacy and cactus for security.  These plants are native to this area and once we are down there living we can spend the time to keep them watered so they will establish.

Other side of the house with side door.  The outdoor bathroom & shower will go on this side.
We have seen plans and actually stayed in a hotel with an outdoor shower that drained into the root bed of the tree which was within the privacy wall of the outdoor bathroom.  We have definite plans to work with a similar model for our second bath.

Of course Big Daddy P has been researching solar power for the hot water heater in the shower and to add to along the line so that we can support the electricity to power the house. Electricity in Nicaragua can be spotty and is very expensive. Besides that, we like the idea of existing off grid as much as possible. 

We have left a large portion of our lot on the back side of the house undeveloped at this time. We want to see how life in Nicaragua will unfold for us before we commit to building anything more. If all is working out great then a two car garage with a full two bedroom two bathroom suite with 360 degree views of the ocean and volcanos will be built on top of the garage as our main living space. That will leave the little house as a full time rental and to house our guests. 

Given that we've bought and built on a kick ass surf break and we are only 2km to Puerto Sandino surf break we anticipate a lot of visitors and a healthy rental return on our investment!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hate Grocery Store Plastic Bags? Me Too.

If the winter blahs have you trapped in side and you need a project to do I have one for you!  Do you have a stock pile of plastic grocery store bags hanging around?  You don't have a giant dog to pick up after and use up those plastic bags? Well how about a crochet project!

One of our local artists, Mary Helen Ellis, is a client at the yoga studio where I guide classes.  She came in with the most amazing yoga mat bag I had ever seen.  She had crocheted it out of plastic grocery store bags!  Yoga and crocheting or knitting go hand in hand (pun intended) as both lend themselves to the practice and study of movement meditation allowing the hands to be busy while the mind gets to relax. So it was not a surprise to see Mary Helen was mastering both.

I have a disdain for plastic grocery store bags. I usually carry my own reusable grocery bags but when I saw this yoga mat bag I was totally stoked about the possibilities of reusing bags so they don't end up in our landfills or worse yet our beautiful ocean.

Just before Christmas Mary Helen gifted me with my very own hand bag crocheted out of grocery bags.  The gift came with a caveat - that I learn to crochet my own bags.  Mary Helen is a self taught crocheter and she has confidence in my abilities...

Crocheted from plastic grocery store bags by Mary Helen Ellis

This week Mary Helen arrived, true to her word - and left me with the directions to make my very own bags. Thought I'd share them with y'all:

Directions on HOW TO make your own STEP ONE.


To find out more about Mary Helen Ellis & check out her beautiful property check out her website Hawks Rest Cabins.