Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tropical Fruit: Current Favorites

One of my favorite things about living in the DR is the abundance of cheap, local fruits that I still consider "exotic" as a foreigner.  Unlike in the US, the fruits and vegetables are sold much cheaper than packaged foods in the supermarkets, which is very motivating when trying to maintain a healthy diet.  A couple times a week I buy a big fruit plate on the street for breakfast, and for a little over $1 I can eat mango, papaya, pineapple, clementines..  The list goes on. 

The local fruits are obviously worked into all kinds of beverages and foods (especially desserts); these are some that have been in my diet a lot this month.

Passionfruit.  Its usually too sour to eat by itself (its like biting into a lemon!), so most people dump a whole spoon of sugar on top when eating it raw.  We never buy passionfruit at home, but we love it on cheesecakes, in mousses, and in margaritas.  Last Sunday I ate this cereal coated cream cheese french toast with a thick and creamy passionfruit syrup at La Dolcerie.  Delicious!

Starfruit.  Its called Carambola in Spanish and despite how much I eat it, I seem to never learn how to pronounce it right!  A always laughs at me..  It always reminds me of the math term Parabola [nerd alert].  In the past month I've had it as a juice and as a dessert, marinated in a sugar syrup.  I had plans to use it as a marmalade on toast, but I ate it too soon!

Lulo.  I really don't think this one exists in English!  Its called "tiny orange" in some South American countries and is originally from Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru.  I had never heard of it until recently and I had it as a juice a few nights ago.  Its a citrus fruit about the size of a plum, and is of course very high in Vitamin C.  Are you familiar with it? 

I love the way this tropical island has affected my diet; I am much healthier and I snack on more natural fruit than ever before!  Is it easy for you to incorporate local produce in your diet?  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Holiday Birthday

Boyfriend FiancĂ© {its still weird to call him that} is the only boy in his family and has 3 sisters.  All three sisters have birthdays on national bank holidays here in the DR - how cool would it be to never have to work on your birthday!?

A's oldest sister, Afife, turned 34 on Saturday.  This was the girl that consoled me as a cried about turning the deathly ripe age of 25 and feeling unaccomplished on my last birthday.  She is 34 now and I swear you would think she was younger than I am.  Her easy breezy personality and happy spirit will forever keep her young - I wish I was more like her!

We celebrated with a birthday lunch at their parents house.  A's youngest sister is always in charge of the table settings.  She is creative and resourceful and always finds things around the house to use for decoration.  She plucked flowers from the yard and put one under each water glass.

The middle sister of the family, Michelle, is a wonderful cook and our menu consisted of a garden salad, a cheesy butter baked bread, quiche, and a creamy shrimp risotto, carbs galore!  I was super proud that I cooked the shrimp.  They may have been a little overcooked; I thought the pinker the better!  Can you tell how little I cook?  So disappointed that I didn't take pictures of the food :(

For dessert we had a cake with prune filling.  They are very common here and although they don't sound so mouth watering they are actually quite delicious!  Tastes more like a raisin or date filling than anything.  Have you tried one?  Prunes are so good for you!

Sunset view from the house

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I'm Engaged!!

I have been engaged for 15 days!  Here's the story: 

In mid December, then-boyfriend called my parents and told them of us his plan to propose to me.  He asked them whether he should propose with his family, with my family, or alone just the two us..  What a gentleman..  They told him it was up to him!

Blurry Us on Christmas Eve
I had been picking up on hints of it coming soon, so Christmas I was prepared.  New manicure, new dress, hair that was blown dry (it has only happened about 3 times while living in the DR), the works.  The big celebration came on Christmas eve, and nothing.  No sign of a ring.  Christmas day, we had a fancy dinner on the beach, just the two of us, and nothing.  No signs, only crickets.

My great Aunt Costi, me, my mom on NYE
We spent New Years with my parents in Orlando, Florida.  My great aunt came up from central Florida to spend NYE with us at Fulton's Crab House in Downtown Disney.  Before heading out that night we cut our annual Greek bread that she made, which has a hidden coin inside.  Tradition says that the person who finds the coin in their slice will have good luck in the coming year.  As my aunt Costi was cutting into my slice, the coin appeared!  (75% in my slice, 25% in my mom's, but my mom would tell you it was 50/50.)  

I took it as a sign, but didn't tell anyone..  ;)

We made it to the restaurant {note: if you have dinner reservations at Disney on NYE, arrive eeeeearly to find parking!}.  We had a few appetizers and for our main, A & I shared the biggest lobsters and crab legs I had ever seen.

He was acting waaay too normal, so I thought it was a no-go, yet again.  Little did I know that he was plotting the proposal.  He was going to do it in the restaurant, but due to our seating arrangement his chair was too close to the table behind us and he would not have been able to get down on one knee.  He had to improvise.

We soon learned that at midnight there would be fireworks, and that we would be able to see them from the roof of our restaurant.  We finished dinner, a few minutes before midnight and went up to the roof.

The clock struck 12 and about 15 seconds later the rest of our group joined us.  My mom had us go around in a circle and say what our resolutions were for the coming year.  Boyfriend was last, and when it was his turn he said that his resolution would beat the rest of ours...  And he got down on one knee ! ! !  {he had more of a speech prepared, but forgot it in the moment! hehe}

I was shocked and just stood there for a few seconds.  Even though I should've known it would be coming, it still felt like a surprise in the moment.  He hadn't said anything, so I blurted out, "You're not going to say anything?!" and finally, "Will you marry me?!"

"Of course!!" I said.  Cue to my mom's bad quality camera phone. 

2013 will be a great year.