“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Pool is Open

The pool was officially opened last Wednesday. But, that does not mean it is swimmable. Lynne ran Robby the pool robot for a couple of days to get it clean. Then, this weekend we fired up the heater. 

It started at 65 degrees and got up to about 76 on Saturday. Today, it make it the rest of the way to 80 degrees which is very comfortable swimming. It is a warm, sunny day and our first day spent out by the pool.

I am surprised by how little propane we are actually using, it took about 40 gallons to get from 65 to 77, and maybe another 10 gallons today to get to and maintain 80 degrees. My predictions were for a lot more use, so this is a nice surprise. I am adjusting the timing so it runs from about 11:00 am to about 7:00 pm instead of 8:00 to 4:00. That way it is running during the hotter part of the day when it is needed less, and it will run right up to the time we take evening swims.

Lynne will post some photos, I'm sure. So, check out her site soon.

Balsamic strawberry and arugula salad for lunch. Ceviche for dinner!

Tags:  at-homepoolfood
Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know! • by Rick on 06/08/2014 at 01:52 PM
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Sunday, June 01, 2014

This Week’s Cocktail - Mojito

The pool isn't open yet, but we had a nice day by going to the Warwick market, having lunch at the vineyard, driving Mia, and then hanging out at home. We sat out by the pool and had a Mojito.

In a cocktail shaker, gently muddle a few fresh mint leaves. Add 3/4 shot of simple syrup, 3/4 shot of lime juice, 1-1/2 shot of white rum. Add 6 ice cubes and shake well. Pour, unstrained into a highball glass. Add club soda to taste, about 3/4 to 1 ounce, stir once and serve garnished with a fresh mint leaf.

Tags:  at-homemiatacocktailrecipe
Posted under: New JerseyStuff You Gotta Know!Food and Cooking • by Rick on 06/01/2014 at 03:24 PM
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Pretty Perfect Day

Yesterday was pretty perfect.

We had great weather. It go up to the mid-70s with low humidity. Sunny with a light breeze. We washed Mia first thing and then went to the farmers' market in Warwick. We bought a few things there including some potatoes for potato salad, then headed to Penning's for lunch and to buy some herbs. We also got a couple of new Spring flags including one with a lady bug theme for use with the T@B. We picked up some baby back ribs at the Shop Rite in Warwick. 

When we got home, I did a few chores. I planted the herbs, so now we have rosemary and mint leftover from last year, plus: sorrel, cilantro, sage, thyme, chives, oregano, and even a borage plant. Most are freshly planted in soil I dug out of our compost pile. A little water and TLC, and we will be set for summer.

We opened up Lady Bug to let her air out. We are planning our first away-from-home camping trip next weekend. We sat with a glass of wine and chatted for a long time.

I hung the hummingbird feeder because it is Mothers' day. And, we were amazed when a couple of hummers started using it!

We had baby back ribs with potato salad on the deck. There are a few bugs around, but nothing that bites so we were very comfortable.

A Pileated Woodpecker paid us a visit.

Later, we built a fire in the outdoor fire pit and sat by it as we talked. I even saw a couple of bats.

I know it doesn't sound like much, and maybe I've leaving some things out. But, short of a bear siting, it was a pretty perfect day.

Tags:  at-homeweather
Posted under: 55 Ponderosa PlaceNew Jersey • by Rick on 05/12/2014 at 11:09 AM
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Sunday, May 04, 2014

Cobblestone Streets

Here are some photos taken with the Lytro plenoptic camera. Just click anywhere in the photo to refocus on that point. These show the cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende.

Tags:  travelphotoslytro
Posted under: Travel • by Rick on 05/04/2014 at 08:42 AM
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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Food in San Miguel

In this post, I want to chronical the meals we ate during our recent visit to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Mostly so we can refer back to this post in the future. (This post was written over a period of 6-7 days. And, as I look back over it, it is about more than just food.)

We arrived in SMA (the local shorthand for San Miguel de Allende) on Saturday. We had an uneventful trip from Newark, NJ to Houston, TX and then on to the Leon/Guanajuato airport. Then, it is a 1-1/2 hour drive to San MIguel. A driver was waiting for us and after a short delay to report Lynne's bag was missing (okay, it was not completely uneventful), we rode through a rain storm to get here. Great, a rain storm. I thought we'd left those behind in New Jersey.

After a briefing from the land agent and maid, we unpacked. Well, Lynne didn't...but Mom and I did. We got a call that Lynne's bag arrived on a subsequent flight and would be delivered between 9:00 and 9:30. I guess there had not been room for the bag on our flight (pretty small plane). Since we needed to be home for the delivery, we knew we should eat somewhere close and quick.

The closest restaurant is called The Restaurant at Sollana 16 -- just up the street from us. So, that is where we went.

The entry door to The Restaurant. Like most colonial buildings, the entrance gives no clue as to what lies inside.

A peek inside.

I ordered an appetizer of grilled calamari in a spicy sun-dried-tomato and preserved lemon sauce with capers. We split that. Delicious.

For main courses, my mother had seared Pacific salmon with a Moroccan barbeque sauce with vegetable couscous; Lynne had grilled scallops and shrimp with asparagus, zucchini, sweet corn and heirloom tomato jalapeño relish. I had roasted breast of chicken with oven dried tomato, preserved lemon, parsely, kalamata olives and garlic confit. We split a nice bottle of red wine. The food was awesome, the service impeccable. A bit expensive, I think we spent about $240 for the three of us before we were done. But, well worth a visit if you are ever in San Miguel.

After dinner we walked around a bit because we had some time to spare.

The bag arrived at 9:30 sharp.


We ate breakfast at a cafe on the Jardin. Lynne had eggs with ham and Mom and I had huevos rancheros.

We did not have any lunch, but nibbled on some Doritos and cookies instead. So, dinner was early--around 6:30. We went to Hank's New Orleans Cafe & Oyster Bar. We had eaten there the last time we visited many years ago. We each had an appetizer since we were hungry. Lynne had octopus carpacio which was very good. My mom had a shrimp cocktail which was cooked shrimp served in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. And, I had the same thing only with a mixture of shrimp, octopus and oysters.

Hank's from the outside

For main dishes, Lynne had a grilled skirt steak with guacomole and beans. Mom had pasta putinesca. And, I had blackened redfish. To be honest, even though this is one of the top rated restaurants in the city, it was not great. Lynne's steak was gray and mushy instead of nicely browned on the outside with a medium rare interior. The sauces for both the appetizer and my main dish had been thickened, perhaps with arrow root or corn starch, giving them a glistening color and strange gooey consistency. The flavors were good, but not great. I'd say this was the least favorite of the restaurants we tried.

We walked home--taking a few long-cuts--then later Lynne and I walked back down to the Jardin and had a nightcap of whiskey roja. It was great to sit and watch people in the town square socialize. Kids were playing. A mariache band was playing. Church bells rang. Very relaxing and fun.

Okay, day three.

Juanita, the maid in the house we have rented, make us huevos rancheros for breakfast along with fresh fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice. She comes to work at 9:30, so it was about 10:00 before we ate. Our strategy was to have a big breakfast and then snack for lunch, just like yesterday. Tonight, Polla Feliz takeout at home, but more on that later. I did have a cactus filled gordito mid-afternoon for lunch.

I broke a wine glass. I'm sure it would be covered by the damage deposit, but I felt so bad that we decided to replace it. So, in the early evening we took a taxi to the Mega--the local mega-market that rivals a WalMart super center, only maybe better. There, we stocked up on wine, got some nice pastries to have with fresh strawberries that Mom bought at the local town market, got some cheese and chorizo for lunch tomorrow, and 4 new wine glasses. Should work...replacing one broken one with four new ones. Across the street is Pollo Feliz. They do chicken right. It is rotisseried over a charcoal fire. But, first the chicken is marinated in and/or rubbed with a wonderful spice blend. They don't get a lot of tourists there, so Lynne and I struggled some. Ordering the chicken went well: an "entire" chicken. But, we got stumped by the assortment of side dishes. The waitress finally decided for us and gave us some of everything: salad of lettuce, tomato, carrot and cucumber; grilled jalapeño peppers; corn chips and salsa; and, corn tortillas. Wow, the peppers were hot. It was a delicious meal eaten "at home" and it was nice to spend the evening at home. We watched the sunset from the roof deck, then had fresh strawberries with a variety of pastries. Now, that's life.


Chilaquiles for breakfast along with fresh fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

As promised, bread and several cheeses (blue, jalapeño, and goat) along with chorizo slices for a mid-afternoon snack after walking the city some more. Not having any problems with the 10,000 step program on this vacation.

Afternoon marguaritas at the roof top tapas bar at the Rosewood Hotel. It is called "Luna". From there you can see the entire city. Must be fantastic at night. 

By the way, a piece of advice. The first day you are here, buy the local newspaper "Atención". You can get it for 15 pesos anywhere papers are sold, including the Jardin. It is a combo English/Spanish newspaper with all the daily activities listed. It has great editorials tailored for the tourist and expatriot, and can fill you in on all the art, music, food, museums, etc. as well as the local festivals and other events. Get one.

Dinner was at La Posadita, a very short walk from "home". We did not realize that, so took a taxi. He looked at us like we were crazy, and even tried to talk us out of taking us (I think), but we paid him $3.00 to take us about a block. La Posadita is a touristy place. It is a popular recommendation for tourists first night in town because: 1) it forces you to find the Jardin and Perroquia; 2) the views are great and you can see a lot of the town and get a reference; 3) the food is pretty darned good.

I'd go back! (We did.)

Tamarind Marguarita

We started with their famous Tamarind Margauritas. They are served frozen and slowly melt in the glass providing meal-long refreshment. Lynne had green enchiladas with chicken. The green sauce was tomatillos, chiles and lime juice. Mom had grilled chicken fajitas. I had Cochinita Pibil, a slow-cooked pork dish with onions, achiote, chiles, orange juice and other goodies, usually cooked in banana leaves. I've made it at home but never had a flavor reference. I do now! Just spoon some into a corn tortilla along with picked onions and maybe a bit of habañero chile, if you dare. For dessert we had some pecan pie and chocolate cake with coffee. 

Wednesday was moving day. We had to move from the posh place we've been staying. We are moving to the house we had originally booked for this vacation. But, it sold before we came and the new owners were here planning rennovations and remodeling. (The realtor put us up in his own home instead.) We had wonderful scrambled eggs with salsa along with fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast. Then, we packed for the 1 block move. We walked a bit for exercise, but around noon moved to the new house. I'm sure we looked funny dragging our suitcases over the cobblestone streets. It was like a parade, Juanita, Hugo, Mom, Lynne, me and the real estate agent each carrying or pulling something. Before leaving we had to say goodbye to Skipper. See Lynne's blog for details.

We just snacked on cheese and bread for lunch. Dinner was at a Peruvian restaurant called La Parada. We had Pisco Sours while we perused the menu. Lynne settled on Ceviche Levanta Muertos which is a ceviche of octopus, shrimp and white fish with mango, corn and sweet potatoes. Mom had chicken livers stir fried with soy sauce and chile paste with a side salad and fried potato chips. I had a rice dish--Arroz Afrodisiaco--I liked the sound of that! It was ancho chile and tomato jasmine rice with a variety of seafood. All was delicious and we may return tomorrow for lunch (small plates).

It is Thursday, 1 May. Labor Day in Mexico. We had breakfast at a restaurant in one of the hotels close by. I had huevos rancheros, Mom had pancakes, and Lynne had poached eggs on toast. We are not sure what to expect on Labor Day and we don't have any special objectives for the day. So, we'll see what comes. (I guess I am settling into the Mexican way of life).

Lunch was back at La Parada (named for a bus stop in Lima, Peru). I'm not sure we set out for there, but it was on our photo-taking path, so we went in for some "small plates". Not only is this our favorite restaurant of this stay, but it is also very economical. We had bottled water, a couple of glasses of wine, three "small plates" and one normal plate (all shared) for about $45 including tip!

The door to La Parada

The inviting interior

I had Muchame de Pulpo which is a ceviche of tomato, octopus, avocado and a garlic vinegrette. It was about 4 nice bites. Lynne had Tiradito Ponja which is a ceviche of thinly sliced fish, mirin, soy sauce reduction, avocado and sesame seeds. Mom had Ceviche Patria which is a ceviche of white fish, corn, onions, glazed sweet potato. Then, we all split the Causa de Pulpo al Olivo - Cold Ají Amarillo and Lime Mashed Potato Filled with Octopus, Peruvian Black Olive Mayonnaise and Sliced Avocado. Absolutely delicious and beautiful, too!

Causa de Pulpo al Olivo

The bar which is laminated bus tickets from the La Prada bus stop in LIma, Peru

Our last meal in San Miguel was at La Casa del Diezmo, a restaurant that features Yucatan food. We split an appetizer of Panuchos which are like small burritos stuffed with chicken, pork or cheese and covered with a pumpkin seed sauce. They could have been a meal. But, we went on with main courses. I had Carne Asada, Lynne had a Queso Rellano (cheese round stuffed with hamburger and a tomato sauce with a hint of cinnamon), Mom had Papadzules which were like small tostadas topped with grilled chicken. (Sorry, no photos.)

It seems like all we did was eat, sleep and walk this trip. But, we saw great sights, got good exercise and ate great food!

Tags:  foodtravel
Posted under: Food and CookingTravel • by Rick on 04/27/2014 at 03:33 PM
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