Archive | May, 2011


26 May

Does this look appetizing to you?

No, none of us are sick. The subtitle of this blog mentions; “Travelling around, eating well and having fun on a budget”.  This is the eating well and budget part.

It came about due to a huge salad. My youngest daughter Liz, is well known for making huge, amazingly good salads. Lots of times they are strictly vegetarian, but once in a while she adds a meat protein, usually chicken.

When we stay with either of our daughters, I share some of the cooking chores and the salad was my contribution to dinner one night. We had found a coupon from one of the local grocery stores that was offering 2 for the price of 1 on roasting chickens. We bought them, brought them home, froze one and roasted the other for the salad. I picked all the best bits off, added it to dinner, and was left with a fairly meaty carcass. Not being able to pass up really good chicken stock with meat in it, I tossed all the bits, including skin, into a large pot, covered it well with water and left it to simmer most of the evening. When the bones dis-articulated, I tossed it all into a container and shoved it into the freezer.

Simmering away!

Now, I’m not what you’d call cheap, but there is nothing I like better than  getting more than one meal out of a purchase and being able to make soup from any bones left over is always a bonus. As far as I’m concerned, soup is a wonderful comfort food that evokes memories of childhood and hey, everyone deserves to revisit their childhood at least once in a while, even when the weather is warm.


Chicken carcass, skin and any leftover meat. If you have it, use cheese cloth to wrap all the pieces in. Tie it up well

Place in large, heavy pot, cover with water, bring to boil and let simmer till the meat falls off the bones. Cool. As the broth cools, the fat will coagulate and the broth itself will turn into a jelly. Skim off the fat and  warm until it turns back into a liquid.

Remove all bones, skin and anything else that isn’t meat.

At this point you will have a small amount of very flavourful broth with meat in it.

The necessary vegetables


1 cup coarsely chopped Onion

1 cup sliced celery heart including leaves

1 whole Jalapeno, (YES, 1 whole Jalapeno!)

6-8 cups more water

Salt to taste, if you must

( 1-2 bouillon cubes, see note below)

Any extra chicken meat you might have, cubed

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a couple of more hours.

Anara thought it was pretty good.

Now at this point, I should mention that most chickens bought these days are factory raised and will have white fat, which add little or no flavour. If you use one of these, you will need to add a couple of bouillon cubes. If you are lucky enough to have found a free run chicken, you’ll notice that the fat is yellow. Free range birds produce much more flavourful eggs and meat. If you use one of these birds, this soup really will taste like your Grandmothers!

As for the Jalapeno, it adds a peppery, spicy taste, and is not added to the final product.

After a couple of hours simmering, slice up 2 carrots and add, continuing to simmer.

One hour before you want to serve dinner add 1/3 cup white rice and remove the Jalapeno. Just throw it away.

Remove from heat 10 minutes before you wish to serve it. Serve alone or with bread. With lots of meat and rice in this, it is a fairly filling meal.

Hope you enjoy it!


Why on earth do you bother to come home?

17 May

You’d be surprised at how often we hear that comment? Mostly after people hear me whining about the cold and wet here at home. I mean they listen to me rant about the weather being colder than I can readily handle and how much I hate the rain, they nod sagely then ask us why we bother to come home. My answer is supremely simple, I go home because of my kids and their kids.

There are no other circumstances that could drive me away from the warmth and beauty of Baja and it’s people.

Richard and I have 2 beautiful daughters and between them, they have 3 children. Now, I’m not being parent blind about my daughters being beautiful; every time we go through an Army checkpoint in Baja, the young soldiers who inspect Grummy, stop at our fridge, where we have family photos displayed, and point to the picture of the girls. They want to know who they are, when we tell them,  almost to a man they say, “Bonita!” (Pretty) One young fellow, asked, was answered, made the same comment about them being pretty, then stared for a few moments more, said “Bonita!” one more time then left the van.  Thanks to those photos we don’t often get much more than a cursory inspection, I can tell you!

Cohen, at play in Beaconhill Park

All of you know by now, that we own nothing anymore except the Grummy, it is our only home. Our daughters live in 2 completely different places, one on the Saanich Peninsula, outside of Victoria, the other in Penticton, in the Okanagan. Both have made sure that there is enough space for us to park comfortably in their yards, that way we can be part of their lives for weeks on end. I have to say that as far as we concerned, we couldn’t have better kids. They actively try to recruit us to stay with one as opposed to the other, though without acrimony. Sure sometimes they have ulterior motives, but mostly they just like to spend time with us. Who could ask for more ?

It’s not just our daughters who enjoy our company, our son-in-laws do too, and we really enjoy being with them. We consider ourselves blessed that our kids and their spouses get along reasonably well with each other and us. They are all intelligent, bright and interesting people and we really like to visit with all of them!

Isla, looking pretty in her necklace.

We also get to spend time with our 3 Grandkids. The oldest, Cohen and the youngest, Isla are my youngest daughter, Liz and her husband Adrian’s kids. Cohen turned 3 in February and Isla turns 1 in June. Alena, my eldest daughter and her husband Dave, have Anara, 18 months old. Both of us are discovering the joys of being a Grandparent. Richard has always had a built in ability with small children and animals. He  stayed home with the girls until Alena was about 4, so he’s damned good with them. For me it’s still a bemused amazement every time I look at any of the  grandkids and realize that my babies, have babies of their own!

This is why we come home. Those who know me well, probably wonder when the transformation took place because I was never what you’d call maternal. I guess a change takes place in most of us when we are presented with a new, small life that comes from our own children, progeny of our progeny. We  are a little older, a little calmer, hopefully a little wiser, and have tips and techniques that have been used successfully by our own parents and grandparents that we are more than willing to pass on! When we get home we act as babysitters, counsellors, maids, gardeners, and any other needed occupation. At least for a little while.

Anara, "Who me?"

When the noise level reaches rock concert levels, the diapers start to pile up and the shit really hits the fan, we can always hand them back to their real parents and escape to Grummy, parked in the back yard!

Ah, a bit of quiet time!

7 May

I know, I’ve been remiss, I haven’t posted anything for over a week. That doesn’t mean I’ve been lounging about drinking tea and visiting with friends and family. Far from it! I, my friends, have been working like a dog! A dog, I say!

Little did I know what was under all the wild greenery.

I have personally been responsible for taking a veritable jungle and turning it into a recognizable yard, with five flower beds. Richard looked after the lawn mowing (which needed to be done, 3 times!)and rototilling of the vegetable gardens(twice). Sounds easy doesn’t it? Trust me it wasn’t, but we managed to get it all done in 1 week.

The big veggie garden. Can you see the smaller one behind?

We arrived on Vancouver Island on April 24th, Easter Sunday. Our kids had just moved into this new place on the 22nd and were leaving for Calgary, for a cousins wedding, on April 27th. They’d had no time to do anything except move, unpack the important stuff and get ready to leave again. The property was 1/3 of an acre and had not been looked after since last summer, and since we were going to stay to look after the dog, the hamster and the chickens, the kids asked if we could weed the garden for them as well. Sure, we said!

God, we have got to stop volunteering! Me especially, since I’m slightly OCD, I can’t stop until everything is perfect. Man,  it took a lot of work to get it perfect, but it sure looks pretty now doesn’t it? I should have taken a before photo, but I just never thought of it.

Isn't this a pretty garden?

I can’t remember the last time I did so much weeding, brickwork, edging, raking and sweeping. If only my arms were working right!

Now, we’re sanding and painting bookcases, side tables and a big dresser and reupholstering chairs. The house inside is lovely, natural wood with white accents. Most of the kids furniture is hand-me-downs, so it needs a bit of an upgrade. Nothing like living with a 70’s motif in a New Millennium style home.

Painting in progress.

The reason for all this frenzied work? We’re hitting the road again on Tuesday or Wednesday and Liz’s husband goes back to work on Monday, so unless we get all this stuff done, she’ll be trying to do it while juggling her 2 kids, the dog, the chickens, her very successful food blog and her new photography business, oh, and the hamster. So we’ll slave for a while to give them a hand getting done, the things they need to get done!

By the way did I mention the new fence Richard put up for them?

New fence and gate. Chicken coop in background.

That’s all for now folks, got to go put on another coat of paint. If I get finished today, I’ll get to take Mother’s Day off!

Oh, and just so you know, the weather still SUCKS!