Saturday, November 07, 2015

Finally some sunshine and the smell of fresh bread

Yesterday was 11 straight days of cloudy weather for us. That's unusual because what ever we can say about Manitoba, we are generally sunny - both in weather and in disposition. Although I didn't notice that it was that many days (I was just glad to see the sunrise each morning on my way to work now that the clock has turned back), for some people, it was depressing. 

I decided last night that whatever the weather today, I was going to do some baking. The smell of baking on a dull Fall day always makes me feel better. This morning it was bread. If you are a carbophobe (is that even a word?), too bad for you. I decided to bake wholewheat parkerhouse rolls so I made a batch. I love the smell of yeast as it sits in sugar water waiting to spring to life again. Instant yeast is so easy to work with that I simply skip the first proofing and shape the buns right away. 

This recipe is similar to a challah bread so it yields softer, less dense buns. If you bake bread with a bread machine, throw it out (the machine) and make the bread the old fashioned way. It tastes better and is good for the psyche (you get the satisfaction of turning out something beautiful made with your own hands.  

Parkerhouse rolls
 As the bread was proofing, I decided that one set of rolls was not enough. I modified the same recipe by decreasing the sugar, adding extra butter and chives (which I grew in my garden this summer and dehydrated last month) and made cloverleaf rolls. Oh my goodness, the smell of chives when it hits the heat of the oven makes me want to eat even when I am full. 

Cloverleaf rolls

I waited just long enough to take a picture of the rolls and broke open one, added a pat of butter and sat down with a cup of coffee - freshly ground and brewed - to enjoy it. Warm from the oven rolls. As close to heaven as you'll get and is a good substitute for sunshine which we are also getting plenty of today. Is there a better way to start my weekend? Double treat. No better way. 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Successful Caribbean Canada Heart Health Gala Evening

I am very happy to say that our first Caribbean Canada Heart Health Gala evening on October 21 was a huge success. A great team of volunteers from several Caribbean countries came together and worked really hard to plan and execute the event. 

Considering that we only started planning the gala evening in early summer, it was a lot of work in a very short time to accomplish what we did. The community ought to be commended for supporting the initiative. 

We were also fortunate to have a world renowned keynote speaker -  Dr. Grant Pierce from Winnipeg's St Boniface Research Centre's Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences. He talked about his research on the benefits of flax on lowering blood pressure. It was quite astonishing how much evidence there is on the benefits. I got to thank him for his presentation and told him that Robin has been on a flax kick for close to 10 years so we use it quite frequently and have now started using the oil as well. I am not sure if I can attribute my good blood pressure reading to taking flax but a visit to my doctor this week for my annual check-up was very good.

Although it was a Caribbean initiative, there was a group of international students attending a culinary program at Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology - taught by Louis, an instructor from the Caribbean - who helped to cook and serve the delicious East/West fusion of food at the buffet. Why East/West? The function was held at the Punjab Centre which is owned by a family from India who also contributed to the success of the event by sponsoring the wine, ornaments and offering a reduced cost for the meal and facility. 

I am quite proud to be a part of this community and I am looking forward to doing more for our community in Manitoba as well as in the Caribbean in promoting heart health. 


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back in Miami

Last night we didn't get a towel animal. We got a towel heart so we saved it for this morning because it was cute. 

We had one last breakfast in the dining room away from the crowded Lido deck and we were off the ship by 9:00am. Very organized exit off and through Customs and Immigration.  

We hung out at the airport for several hours and within 10 minutes of being on the plane from Miami to Minneapolis, Ronin settled in for a good sleep.

Then it was another long wait in Minnie. Good thing for iPods. We didn't let the kids use them too much on the ship because there was lots to do but waiting for hours at the airport can get tiring and boring after so much activity on the ship.

Another little nap on the plane from Minni to Winnipeg; through Customs and Immigration (nothing to declare) and it was home at midnight.

The end of one of the best vacations.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nassau, Bahamas

This is my first time in Nassau (really my first time in Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay too) and it was as I expected - lots of pretty buildings with soft pastel colours and very clean streets. Hot too but the ambiance made up for the heat.

Breen loved being here. She told me on the way back to the ship that "I loved Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay but possibly my best place is Nassau." Possibly her best place... what a kid!

Breen and I checking out a jewellry store

My rasta grandson

And my rasta grand-daughter

And hey.. they have a rasta Nani (keeping it in the family)

Sightseeing in Nassau

Enjoying a fresh water coconut (USD $5; Winnipeg CDN $2))

Looks like all we did was eat. Good thing we have other pictures to prove we did other things. Tonight was another great dinner with baked alaska for dessert. Breen's favourite. Hanna like Creme Brulee on her cruise. For Breen, it was the baked alaska.

Last movie night at the Dive-In. We didn't dive into the pool to watch the movie. We sat in the loungers and it was a glorious night under the stars. One more sleep and we are going to love every minute of it. Tomorrow will be a long day. We get off the ship by 9:30 and we don't get home till midnight.

Getting ready for bed.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Another glorious day of sand, surf and a million degrees. Today we had to get on a tender to get off the ship. Trying to get 3,000 people off a ship a few hundred at a time can take a long time. We decided that we would wait for one of the last set of people but even that took a long time. The kids were so patient. We made sure we had lots of sun screen and big hats but even that wasn't enough. 

The beach was really crowded making it hard to find a shady spot (very few and far between). I managed to find a branch with a modest degree of shade and Breen preferred to stay there and play in the sand. 

Ronin opted for the water but after just a few minutes, I started worrying that it was jus too hot to be comfortable and not wanting him to get sunburned, I kept checking on him.

Lunch was a bit of an event. The food was quite a distance away from us and too hot for the kids to walk so Robin went off to get some. He managed to bring back a couple of burgers and some chicken for us but I I really had no appetite because of the stifling heat. The kids didn't do much better. After an hour or so, we decided to go back to the ship before it got crowded again and we'd have to stand in long lines with no shade to get onto the tender.

We had a nice shower which was a nice cool down. That was followed by a long nap then off to dinner starting with lobster bisque.
Yummy lobster bisque

Fruit plate starter

Off for an after-dinner walk  

A late night game of mini golf and a few treats.

Another wonderful day (except for the intense heat).


Monday, August 24, 2015

Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos

We arrived in Grand Turk this morning and there was an actual pier that we could exit the ship. Sometimes it's a tender (small boat that holds about 200-300 people that comes along the ship's side because the harbor is too shallow for the ship to get into). which takes a long time to get on and off.  

The kids wanted to do some crafts before we got off so they went to the kiddies camp and painted sun catchers. 


Then it was off to the pier and a dip in the ocean. Ronin and Sabreena were really surprised at how close they were to palm trees and were excited to get to the beach. I explained to them that the water was salty just like it was in the pool on the ship. Ronin was surprised about that. He jumped into the pool and quickly jumped out and told me the water was full of sand. What he meant was - the water was salty. 

Some random man wanted in on the picture

Standing on the white sand in Grand Turk

Enjoying the sand and surf

More fun on the sand and surf

Baking in the incredible heat

Giant sea Urchent (urchin) - according to Sabreena
We spent a couple of hours on the beach and went off to the souvenir shop to get a couple of trinkets and it was back to the ship for an afternoon nap  then dress for dinner.

My grand-baby with her newly acquired necklace

Fresh fruit plate as a starter

Sushi for me

Soup for Breen and Grandpa

Then it was a yummy soft centre chocolate cake

And off to the "dive-in" to see a movie
Great day for all of us.