Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Very Own Master Gardener

Okay, full disclosure here: My husband, Bill (the handsome guy pictured below) is the master gardener in this household. This year we got REALLY adventurous and decided to try our hand at growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, with a focus on SALAD!

So what's out there getting watered, sunned & loved, then devoured before the main course each night? Well, we've got iceberg and green field & sweet peppers. And, not tyically used for salad, but we've also got strawberries, blueberries, grapes, broccoli, cucumbers, and a variety of spices including cilantro.

Our berries aren't doing too well, though I'm told the garden lizards think they're utterly divine, and the grapes and the tomatoes aren't anywhere near ready, but the lettuce is making an appearance on our table DAILY! Obviously, lettuce alone does not a salad make, so we hit up the local farmers' market today for fresh mixings like chopped red onions, hothouse tomatoes and radishes.

And while I baked my first classic pound cake from scratch--a recipe that is delish, and you can find it right here--Bill fixed some homemade salsa, also from scratch. I happened to pick up the Mission tortilla chips on a recent trip to the supermarket, since we've always liked Mission's other products, and how better to enjoy them than with some salsa you whip up in your own kitchen? Did I mention our homegrown cilantro came in very handy? Yep. The hubby told me, "How'd we get into all this fresh, homemade stuff, anyway??? Is that what happens when you grow your own garden?"

Who knows? But it sure beats the processed stuff!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

For Papi

JORGE VAZQUEZ, JULY 8, 1934 - APRIL 5, 2011

How I loved this man. My dad died at the age of 76 last week. During my life, I've made so many trips down to Miami, Florida where he lived. On the flight down last Friday evening, I remember thinking it was the saddest trek I'd ever make to Florida.

Between my sister Sandra and I, we were able to put together a memorial for him that was held at La Ermita de la Caridad del Cobre, a pretty little chapel in Miami named after the patron saint of Cuba. Papi loved that chapel, which is set by the sea, with its mural that included Cuba's history, and attended it often. Since there was no casket, we instead tossed roses into the sea in his honor. Afterwards we assembled at Sandy's house for an intimate gathering of friends and family to celebrate a man who was always filled with life and laughter.

Our relationship might not have been perfect--Mami and my dad divorced when I was about 3--but my father and I loved each other. More than anyone, Papi taught me that you don't have to have a perfect relationship with someone to love them with all your heart. As an adult, I shared many a heartfelt conversation with him. That's him in the picture above, taken at my 50th birthday party last year. My sister affectionately claims he was always eating! He was a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was part of that great generation belonging to my mom, Madrina, Padrino, Soledad and others.

There will never again be anyone like Jorge Vazquez. And when I tossed down that rose into the sea, that large part of my heart that belonged to him also disappeared into the waves.