Carolina and Giovanni’s Visit to Puerto Vallarta

This is the story of my sister and brother-in-law’s visit to Puerto Vallarta earlier this month.  Carol preferred to cook while she was here instead of eating out, and when anyone wants to cook for me I don’t argue.  The cooking venture started when Carol sent me a grocery list of what we would need for the meals she had planned.  It’s a good thing I had about a week’s lead time because shopping for things here in Puerto Vallarta can sometimes equate itself to a scavenger hunt.

Here is what I was hunting for:  lentils, walnuts, port wine, hemp seeds, chia seeds, fresh basil and oregano, spinach, cherry tomatoes, gigante beans, fresh string beans, shallots, garlic, medjool dates  and various other food items.  Asking for hemp seeds here in Mexico had some store owners looking at me strangely.  What would I want with hemp seeds? (they are viewed as a drug here and they can’t be found anywhere).  Anyway, since we don’t have a car here I went from store to store to gather the foods and probably lost about 5 pounds during the hunt.

The first night of Carol and John’s arrival we did have to eat out as it was about 8:30 pm by the time they got from the airport to the rental car place (and that is a whole other story) and we got back to our condo it was too late to cook.  Carol and John had rented a condo in our complex; however, it was in a separate building across from me and near the common area and the pool.

The next morning we took inventory of what was in the kitchen of the rented condo and a list was made of what Carol would need to prepare dinner.  Thus began 8 days of transporting kitchen items from my condo to hers.  The people in the common area watched every day as pots and pans, cookie sheets, knives, paper towels, garbage bags, etc., began to flow from my condo to Carol’s.  We even named our Mother’s 70 year old dutch oven “the village pot” and that pot made many trips back and forth during the time of the visit.

One day Carol grilled peppers and onions outside in the common area.  The smell wafted through the pool area and soon there was a gathering around the grill and Carol was doing a cooking lesson.  People came from everywhere to see what was going on and what smelled so good.

Each night John and Carol would move the dining room table in their condo to the balcony and we would eat “al fresco” on a beautifully set table with bright green and red foods.  My husband, Sam, was not to happy with our dining on those nights as the only thing he likes that is green is the grass around the pool, the trees on the mountains and the Green Bay Packers.  Anything else green is poison to him.  Being a good sister in law Carol relented and made her wonderful pasta sauce and she served it to Sam on, OH NO!!! WHITE egg noodles.  He was in his glory, especially since he brought over two slices of his white bread with butter on it to have with his meal.

The days passed quickly and every day was a new cooking lesson for me, especially since Carol and John brought me a gift of a Cuisinart Food Processor/Blender, for making some of her recipes and for blending smoothies.  Now, whenever Sam hears the food processor turning spinach into a paste for smoothies he rolls his eyes.  Maybe, just maybe someday he will relent and try one.

By the end of the visit almost my whole kitchen was at their condo and the trek to bring everything back to my house began.  The neighbors looked on is awe as I wheeled a full grocery cart of food and kitchen supplies over to my house from Carol’s.  I was left with all of the ingredients necessary to make the delicious foods we ate and all of my cooking utensils to cook them in, and best of all, a new food processor and healthy, wonderful tasting recipes to make with the processor and blender.

We had a great week dining on the likes of roasted peppers and onions, lentils and greens, fresh pasta sauce with a kick, and John’s French green beans with garlic and shallots and cherry tomatoes and white wine.  Due to the lack of butternut squash here in Mexico we did not get to have the butternut squash soup. We even had flourless chocolate cake if you can believe it.

I am convinced that Carol’s lifelong interest in eating healthy foods is the way for everyone to live a wonderful healthy life.  Our Italian Mother was the ultimate “health nut” and she lived to the great old age of 92 years old.  We used to kid her about eating at 7:00 am, 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm every day, and how she snacked on nuts and fruit in between meals.   I am sure she is looking down at Carol in her kitchen and saying “I told you eating healthy was good for you,” and her famous quote when she was done talking “end of discussion!” God love her and the gift she gave us of knowing about good nutrition.

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