Friday, 12 April 2013

Cabbage Rolls!

After a very successful borscht adventure, Lisa and I decided to stretch our talents even further to making cabbage rolls!

Here's Lisa making the mountain of cabbage leaves.
The ingredients all lines up: rice, cabbage, onions, butter,
garlic, bacon and ground pork.
Hm, I wonder what temperature "3" is for the oven??
Delicious, gooey cabbage rolls made in a
Mexican cazuela (casserole)!

And for your viewing pleasure, an action-packed video of cabbage roll making!

Thanks Lisa!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


I've known Lisa since kindergarten. Our paths have crossed in our adult lives, but until recently, other things always seemed to get in the way of us holding on to a consistent connection. Now, it seems like our paths of "meaningful relationships" have intersected and we are getting to know each other while hanging out in Playa del Carmen!

One of our common interests is food! Another is that we are both from Ukrainian heritage. So, what else to do but make borscht in Mexico (ie: beet soup)!

Note A: Dill is nowhere to be found in Playa.
Note B: Some use sour cream, some use sweet cream to finish the borscht. However, the common thing to find here in Playa is crema, a cross between the two, more like a thick creme fraiche. I must say it was the perfect finish, one I liked better than either sour cream or sweet cream.

Lisa peels the beets and preps the other vegetables.

Rich, red goodness simmering away!

Manuel gives his hearty approval of our Ukrainian meal!

 Next on our agenda is cabbage rolls!

Monday, 18 March 2013


My gorgeous and talented friend, Veroniek, along with her handsome and talented husband, Jamie came to visit me for 4 days. Much bonding, talking, eating, laughing and walking took place! I believe that I successfully helped them to achieve a bit of a crush on Playa.

I'm thrilled that when the question was "what was your favourite meal in Playa", each of them named a meal that was prepared at home! However, a nearby Italian restaurant was also near the top of the list.

Here is Jamie's grilled salmon with handmade spaghetti.

Caprese salad.

Handmade meat ravioli in roquefort sauce.

Tiny empanadas.

Friday, 15 March 2013


I've been asked by a few people now to do henna for money. I've never charged for my work before. Help me price my henna. What would you pay for some of these different designs, ranging from simple to elaborate?

Adventure Day!

I had the opportunity to explore a Mayan adventure in the jungle: ziplining, repelling, and the most beautiful cenote that I have ever seen. It was booked through Aventural Mayas; a little more expensive than some of the other tours, but also a little more polished. Compared to some other activities I've done, the safety standards were a little higher, the ziplines longer and faster, the cenote much more beautiful, and the lunch buffet at the end was outstanding!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Yal-ku Lagoon

Darla is visiting! Yay!

We planned a day trip to Yal-ku lagoon in Akumal, which is a protected sweet water lagoon.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Breakfast of Champions

Mexico is amazing, but it does have its downsides. For example, the other day in the middle of cooking lunch, I ran out of gas. Now, for you Canadians and Americans, I'm going to have to explain that the gas that operates the hot water heaters and stoves does not come in from a central line. There are individual tanks in the back yard that feed into the house. You would think that when it gets low, that we could just call someone to top it up. But no, that's not how it works here. You wait until it's empty, then you call someone. So, when I ran out of gas, I called my landlord who promptly called the gas company.

That was 2 days ago. I'm getting tired of sandwiches and cold showers.

So, this morning hot food was in order for breakfast! What else do you have for breakfast in Mexico but empanadas from a food cart on the sidewalk?

Here is the cart surrounded by wise Mexicans, with mama at the back making empanadas as fast as she can. Each one is handmade before deep-fried (notice the huge pile of corn dough in the green bowl). The corn dough is filled with different fillings: bean, cheese, or chicharron. What is chicharron, you ask? It is deep fried pork skin with bits of pork meat... or otherwise known as the most delicious heart attack on a plate known to man. Less than 100 pesos got enough to feed at least 3 people.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Another Henna Day

Back in January, my Minnesota family (as they have now been fondly dubbed) booked me for a henna day for their return visit in February. We had a lovely day lounging on the beach, visiting and doing henna.

I'm thinking about doing henna for tips here. Think I can make a go of it?

Friday, 15 February 2013

Beach Adventure

An adventure day to a very unpopulated beach. No restaurants, bars, loud music or loud people. I've been asked to not disclose the location, so don't ask... and if you know, don't tell.

A little wild, and so serene.


On the path to the cenote next door. So much wildlife in here. At one point we were surrounded by about half a dozen beautiful blue birds circling us.

The gorgeous cenote.

Filled with fish!

That nibbled at my constantly! People pay big money to have fish clean the dead skin off their bodies.

The water so clear.

And many iguanas enjoying their day at the beach too.

Casa Adela

I rarely eat on 5th avenue. However, today I had the opportunity to share lunch with some people at Casa Adela. It was a feast!

We started with guacamole made table side, with natural fresh ingredients and sides of pico de gallo.

Then we were brought two huge platters of various foods. I'll try to remember it all...
whole fried fish
rice & veggies
mini quesadillas with 3 different kinds of sauces
chiles rellenos
mixed meats with peppers and onions
handmade tortillas

The presentation and show was lovely. The flavours were mild and tasty. The menu in general is extensive, and you can sit anywhere from streetside, to upper floor terrace, to an air conditioned room in the back.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Old and New Friends

Farewell to Cathy and Jeff today. Their last day in Playa, I invited them to a picnic on the beach. Leftovers from my supper the night before and barbacoa made from a local kitchen, otherwise known as "street food". I'm so grateful that they got to meet Playa-Lori and that I got to share my Mexican treasures with them! Love you guys!

And another story about how things are simply done differently here in Mexico. My housekeeper arrived with a little package in tow... her 4 year old granddaughter. She made no apologies, just came on in, set Ingrid up with some coloring, and got to work. Well, I took that as a great opportunity to learn some Spanish! One of the reasons adults find learning a second language so difficult is that we lose our fearlessness at making mistakes. Little ones like this don't judge. We found our way through the language barrier as I began teaching her ABC's, and she taught me the names of all the things in my apartment. Best Spanish lesson ever!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Adventure Day!

No longer a tourist, it is rare that I do touristy things. However, sometimes opportunities present themselves and I accept them. So, today I went on a half day tour of ziplining, ATV'ing and visiting a gorgeous cenote.

There were 10 ziplines across the canopy of the jungle of varying length and intensity. I was only scared on the first lift off! As I was about to get clipped into the first line, I noted that my guide was wearing a simple wooden rosary. I jokingly asked if I could wear it. He immediately took it off and placed it over my head. I don't consider myself a religious person, but somehow I felt safer. After the ziplines were finished, I went to give it back the rosary and he said, "No, you keep it until the end of the day." I love those kinds of moments.

No pictures of the ziplines or ATV ride, but here is the amazing cenote. The water was so refreshing and clear. I've been to a bunch of other cenotes, and they are all different. Some dark and dank, amost spooky. Some deep in a cavern. This was one of the nicer ones.

There's a cliff that you can jump off. I did! It was one of the scariest things I've ever done in my life. Way more scary than The Hulk roller coaster at Universal Studios. No picture of me doing it, but here's a little video of my friends doing it. It's higher than it looks.