Wednesday, November 14, 2012


(No part of this post is sponsored…but maybe should be!!)
I’m not a huge burger fan, as A&W is, I’m sure, figuring out (or doesn’t care). Those millions spent on their “Burger Bliss” campaign, totally down the drain if in hope of securing me as a devout customer.  Give me a nicely grilled bone-in chicken breast with a good side of Macaroni Pie (which I think I’ve covered), or salad…and I’m happy… I won’t be fighting with you on the burger front.
            And yes, there is always an exception.  In Barbados, that exception would be the burgers at Bert’s Bar. Yep! About a mile and a half from our apartment sits this quirky little bar with burgers that are out of his world!!  I’m not sure if it’s the beef, the spices, or the ambience. Might be the staff that inquires immediately if Sandra would like her usual… Cheeseburger and Macaroni Pie, and if she’d like to start with her usual Rum Punch? Yes, on all counts (That little bit was for my friend and blog-follower Bradley)!
             And, of course she’d like the works, tomato, crisp lettuce and bacon (all costly extras in Barbados)!  Then, our esteemed waiter, Palmer, brings an array of condiments: Lottie’s hot-sauce, of course (it’s in a mustard squeeze bottle so, consider this your warning)!  Ketchup and mayo…real mayo…  So good on these burgers.  (We’re not counting calories or fat grams at this point). I’m sure if Bert, his ex-wife and his Ottawa Senators’-owner partner chose, they could put all Canadian burger joints out of business.  Bert is perfectly in his element holding court at his bar-like “table” with TV remote in hand, dressed in a casual shirt with shirttails hanging on the outside of his vintage 1970’s bell-bottoms (the exact ensemble he threw on immediately after his 2 pm dip in the sea).  As you walk in, Bert, at your left, greets you with a quick wave of his unoccupied hand, and a hurried “hi”.  As I said, the ambience lends much to the dining or drinking experience.  It can be quiet and romantic or Bajan-bar-like (Jivin’and loudish).  To one’s surprise the television, mounted in the corner above Bert’s head, does not detract from the setting, and, perhaps, rather lends to it.  We’ve watched everything from The Olympics to Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro.  The open-air restaurant is dominated by an old solid–wood bar, featuring several wooden bar stools.  Behind the bar is that always-helpful mirror watching over every drink you have!!  There, behind the bar is also a large assortment of keepsakes given to Bert by his loyal regulars (including Labbat’s Blue Olympic-issue, collectors’ series beer can sets from Kent).  White-painted iron and glass patio (emphasis is on the word patio) tables (circa.1975) surround the pool, which is separated from the adjacent property by a cute little fence and a hedge of Frangipani, with its small, thin, bright pink paper-like flowers, looking somewhat like what we know as azaleas. The entire dining/pool area looks to be straight out of an issue of Good Housekeeping magazine from the 1970’s.
            The staff is, perhaps, the most endearing aspect of Bert’s Bar.  I’ve already introduced stately Palmer.  Just past the bar are the one-armed bandit slot machines, dinging and buzzing their way into your consciousness.  Bobby immediately darts you a smile from a customer’s table or from behind the bar.  He’s undoubtedly preparing his latest joke or another large jug of rum punch.  You will then feel Maxine’s warm presence and be enveloped by her engaging smile.  They are all uncannily attuned to your every need.  Each of the staff members plays off the other (much like the dancers in a production of Swan Lake), serving the patrons, largely after-hours businessmen and women, or tourists.  Though they’re all Bajan, (except Bert, who is Canadian), they work together to create a very happy, warm, Canadian-like atmosphere of camaraderie and friendship that has made Barbados a travel destination famous throughout the world.
            You can just feel yourself leaving the workplace after a hard eight hours to spend time here, with these friendly, warm people, perhaps meeting your spouse or friends visiting from afar.  Friendly atmospheres are good, but, no need to go without some of the basics…  Pizza, man, pizza!  As you all well know, I’m addicted to pizza, available on the island in a number of restaurants, from gourmet to fast-food. 
We often make pizza in our apartment.  Each time we do, I expect to see a lineup outside our door!  About three times a week we go to friends’ homes to make our homemade pizzas for them…the children and adults gobble it up, looking forward to “the next pizza night”.  There’s Nothing like homemade pizza.  When we are finally living down there permanently in our own home, we’ll be able to host “pizza nights” in our home, as it will be much larger than our small, but perfectly acceptable, apartment.  We make our own crust, take along our own pepperoni (no Brothers pepperoni down there!), and use the readily available fresh veggies and “mince” (ground beef). Paradise Pizza (sounds kitsch, I know, but it’s a great restaurant, and makes great pizza) is the greatest little spot we’ve found, and believe me, we’ve looked around!  Walter, the owner, is friendly and accommodating and also puts out a fabulous, authentic Bajan lunchtime buffet.  OK Bradley, here we go…fried flying fish, macaroni pie, chicken curry, pumpkin fritters, cou cou, pudding and souse, garden salad, peas & rice.  Wow!  What a spread – and he does this every day!  And, Walter will deliver our pizza.  Bonus… whether we stop in before going home at night and order in person, or call in an order from “home”.
The tell-tale sign of really good Bajan cooking is the number of locals it attracts.  Walter packs the place every lunch time.
Our other friends, Gina and Martin Field, own and operate The Ackee Tree.  Gina is an amazing chef.  If you visit my Facebook page,  you will often see posts from her, and often an indication of the Friday Lunch Specials, and sometimes a copy of her menu - and, no, Bradley, you cannot order take-out from Canada!  They’re our friends and we can’t even get take-away from here!  Oh, if we could!!!!  Martin and Gina were once participants and hosts of the Friday night Limes…Martin the bartender, and oft-times the entertainment; Gina, the Chef.  Those were REALLY good times.  Theirs is an interesting story…maybe one of them would tell it here in this blog.  The Ackee Tree / Blue Bench was located on the road just behind our apartment (the main road to “town”, Bridgetown, The Country’s capital)…it is now located down at the bottom of our road and around the corner, just a bit.  I know their establishment is excellent with great food, and I can recommend it unconditionally, because I know Gina’s cooking.  We’ll be regulars when we return to the island.  My personal favourite in her repertoire is something called Doubles – curried channa sandwiched between two little circles of fried dough They’re wrapped in waxed paper and eaten out of hand. Scrumptious!!  They’re time-consuming to make, so they might not be available all the time.
 You are, no doubt learning that in my life the name attached to something may not completely and totally describe the object.  Remember this when reading, and participating in, my blog!  And my blog may not be a blog in its most recognizable form, but it allows me to pursue my writing, and share my experiences with you all.  Just to warn you, Macaroni Pie isn’t really pie, as we have come to know pie.  Flying Fish don’t actually fly, but Paradise Pizza IS, in fact, my version of Paradise!  The Ackee Tree is a restaurant named after the tree.  A lime, as I know it, refers to both the green citrus fruit and a party…I like the party version best!
Oh, the poor little flying fish,  It’s one of the BEST kinds of fish I’ve EVER had. Wish you all could try it!!  He doesn’t really fly, but, when being chased by other, bigger species, he gets his little fins going so fast that when he breaks the top of the water, he and his buddies appear to be flying across the top of the sea!  Incredibly, at the moment he breaks the water, he can be going speeds of up to 30 /mph. Only then to be caught by a fisherman and turned into a “cutter” ( sandwich) for yours truly, complete with mayo and Lottie’s. If you see an entire school “flying” across the water, it looks as though someone threw a handful of diamonds sparkling in the sun!  It is truly a sight to behold. Sparkling blue Caribbean water as a backdrop to sparkling flying fish.        
Stay healthy and safe!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What’s in a Name?

     I suppose you’ve been thinking, “What’s with that Blog name? Sure, it ties in nicely with my passion for cooking But, it’s not that!!! For those who may not know, a Blog is the name given to a Web Log, generally written by an individual or individuals writing and /or commenting on specific topics. But, for me it’s not just the topics I write about, but how I ended up being able to do such writing and commenting, either on my web log or others’.   But, I am the woman you’ve been introduced to through this Blog largely because of my father. And, no, he has not passed… he’s still teaching my sister and I from lessons he has learned (mostly, the hard way, I might add) and, we’re still learning; The learning in our family just never seems to end, I should and am grateful for that. He also has a beautiful grandson (who’s more like me than my sister, his mother), and then he has his three three great-grandsons to whom he can continue to pass along his “hard-learned” wisdom and you can take the word wisdom quite literally. 
Dad has always said to me, “Can’t you learn from me? I’ve been through it” I guess you can see how that cycle goes. Goodness, my little boys have quite a trip on their hands! My dad is a very wise man. And THIS is where the phrase comes in.
Throughout my life, thus far I’ve insisted on doing absolutely everything my way,  which Dad always says is the hard way, Why don’t I always know that before I start something??
            He loves to remind me how I constantly “get myself “ out of the frying pan, only to find myself right, smack dab in the middle of the blazing fire So, it begs the question, can I start better learning practices now as I’m getting older?  In some ways, I hope not, because I’ll miss half the fun!! And, have far less to share with all of you.

Seriously?... You can’t expect me to teach them, can you?  I’M STILL LEARNING! So, when any of them make the giant leap Out of the Fryingpan, I’ll be right there in the fire waiting on them ( haha… See what I did there?)  Or perhaps, they’ll all choose to listen to Dad the first time around, Yeah, Right!!
My dad is a very wise man. And THIS is where the phrase comes in.                                                                          Stay healthy and safe!                                                                 Sandra

Friday, October 12, 2012


Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, leaving in its wake one bare-bones,skinny bird, and several not-quite-so-skinny over-stuffed revelers, at least in this family.

I love the anticipation of thanksgiving almost more than the day itself… getting together any recipes that will be needed, and getting family members to decide where they plan to mark the day, and. by that, I mean with whom they plan to stuff themselves, because, it seems to be a traditional requirement, You MUST leave the table, having eaten so much you’re in pain!

I’ve just got to share Stephanie’s wonderful method for cooking squash. It’s a brilliant, no-fuss affair that I wish I had have thought of first… No peeling, no wrestling with the thing, just cut out the top, as you would to carve a pumpkin, cut a small bit off the bottom, so it sits up straight, scoop out the seeds and gunk ( is there a more appropriate word to describe that slimy stuff!!?) inside. Put some butter in the cavity (how much depends on your taste, sprinkle in a little brown sugar. Set the lid back on lightly. Put the whole squash in the microwave. Cook on high for 10-12 minutes, and Voila! Squash is ready to be scooped out and served, in an almost mashed condition, complete with butter and brown sugar… it’s a method that takes squash from holiday dinner to weekday dinner!!

Well as for the aforementioned Holiday dinner requirements, Check, check, check and check, Our youngest daughter, her boyfriend, Kent, and myself have all met that seasonal requirement, a relatively small group for this house.
One daughter, a boyfriend and three young grandsons doing the holiday elsewhere this year… accounts for the massive amount of turkey left over, and, we all know what that means, But, Oh, well, better to celebrate with some than none. I prefer to have a houseful, no matter the confusion and “mess” to clean up. We can always recruit a couple of sous-chefs and dish washers. Mind you , things were much simpler when I was on two feet and using two hands, especially keeping young grandsons in order!!

There have been Thanksgivings and even Christmases that Kent and I have had dinner with only ourselves at the table, sadder times I don’t dwell on, Well, you know how family dynamics can be I just try to take the happy times when they come and be grateful for that blessing. There’s the one we spent alone, and another which we would have spent alone and apart, but, I had been graciously
permitted a weekend “pass” from the Rehab center following my stroke. I likely don’t need to explain how happy that celebration was!

There is one memorable Thanksgiving when I was only a small child, but, which
my dad won’t let be forgotten and we all laugh quite heartily upon being reminded.  My mother had worked very hard to put the meal together for her two young daughters and husband. Mom, I know, was trying to create memories for her children to take into adulthood, I know my eyes were sparkling at the holiday crackers we’d get to pull open, and perhaps we’d get a crown-shaped hat to wear for the entire dinner!  The table looked as festive as if it was out of Ladies Home Journal or Chatelaine, festive and beautiful, yet simple and tasteful, reflecting the rather meagre upbringing in an outport in depression era / pre-war Newfoundland as we all sat down to Thanksgiving Dinner.  Everything in its place: Turkey, squash, Brussels sprouts, dressing (as Mom always called stuffing (probably not liking the implicated image of the word “stuffing”), when suddenly, much to Mom’s horror, and Dad’s chagrin it was noticed There were NO

My dad is first-generation British immigrant, brought up as a farm boy in B.C.
Potatoes were, and still ARE, de rigueur for most meals, and especially holiday meals.  Will Mom ever be allowed to forget this faux pas? Not likely, but therein lay the life-long memory holiday dinner (not quite likely what she was going for, but memories, nonetheless)!

Stay healthy and safe!


Thursday, September 27, 2012


            Well here I stand, staring down my life’s timeline, squarely into the steely eyes of my half-century celebration. To be honest, I haven’t been beating myself up about the whole thing. Well no point in belabouring the point … it’s here and from what I do know, isn’t going anywhere.

            My other “significant” birthdays came and went with little or no notice. But so much has happened since I turned 40!  So much I’ve learned about life and how important it is to celebrate the people and events in our lives, how strong we can be when called to the task.  I’ll honestly tell you, I fairly kicked and screamed my way out of the Kentville hospital, and then out of Rehab! Looking back, I see how easy it might have been to sit back and let my life continue without me!

        I’m sure most of you have set about nodding your heads… and, what I’ve said certainly isn’t news! But, there is a burning passion in some of us that makes us WANT to participate in our own lives. I guess I have what my dad calls his British stubbornness! Or is it spunk? It doesn’t really matter what you call it, you either have it or you don’t.

         But, sometimes the tedium of it all threatens to swallow me whole! Pedal, pedal, pedal, until I get to 3 miles… is anyone aware how HARD it is to count out those squats? Down and up for one… I think you get it. Then, intentionally wearing clothes with buttons or zippers to learn that again, because your Halifax therapist warned you that you’d better choose clothing without those fasteners because you’d never be able to accomplish either on your own. Yet, Here I sit with a beautiful blouse on that my mom gave me, with six buttons on it … DONE up by ME, I might add.

           The truth of it is, in just the blink of an eye, your life can do a u-turn, forcing you to take stock and decide how best to deal with it… do you do nothing and sit out the rest of what could otherwise be an exciting life? Or do you grasp what’s left as tightly as possible and prove to yourself what you’re made of? Sorry, if you’re thinking I’m talking of the rest of my life as something I might want to cast aside. Actually, I already acknowledge I had a brief interruption in life, but, it really is quite a rewarding life. I’m discovering talents and interests I didn’t know I had… and may never have otherwise  discovered! 

             I do know for sure that right now I CANNOT walk in heels (that is, YET!!) I am still cooking… maybe not as quickly or as efficiently. I CAN and DO clean up after myself.

            Of course, as we move through the various phases of our lives many of us find ourselves  re-examining our lives, perhaps a new career, a new partner and such. And while I navigate those waters, after suffering serious trauma to my body and my brain, I find I’m looking more at the positivity than at the negativity, more so maybe than some others who’ve not experienced trauma. Don’t get me wrong!  I certainly have my dark times, sometimes hours, sometimes days. I’m sure many of you have experienced the same, I try very hard to shake myself back to reality (and I know it likely sounds morbid),  but I take stock of those who are much worse off than myself.  It truly makes me examine all the blessings I have had bestowed on me… If it wasn’t in these 50 years, than when? So there it is - 50 years of blessings and one “interruption.”            

          So I’ve lived  half a century… and BOY HAVE I LIVED!!
          For me, a huge part of my recovery, emotionally, physically and educationally, has been the writing this blog and the friends I have made through it!  Thank you all!

Stay healthy and safe!