Just about this time every winter I start longing for summer and since it can be a long time coming on the Canadian prairies, I yearn to hop on a plane to wiz me away from snow banks and ski pants. For many years, when our kids still needed us around the clock and the extra money went towards braces and kids’ sporting equipment this was not to occur, no matter how much I wished it so.
Recently though, we have had the opportunity to travel to a rustic little island off of the coast of Cancun called Isla Mujeres (Isle of Women). We love it there because it is like going to the lake but in the middle of winter. There are only a couple of resorts on the island and we like it that way. We typically rent a little apartment or stay in a small hotel. But the main thing that takes us back year after year is the food! I love Mexican food in the first place, but Mayan food in particular. I am crazy about the fresh, clean taste of cilantro and love the refreshing flavour of lime.’ I have taken to squeezing lime on everything even my French fries, instead of vinegar.
There are no fast food outlets on the island and no North American chains. The food is all cooked to order and the fish is often caught the same day that you are eating it. We typically make our own breakfasts and lunches and save our dining budget for a restaurant meal; which can run the gamut from very simple and inexpensive like tacos for a $1 each or multi-course and gourmand at $50 per person. We prefer the former and also do a lot of cooking ourselves. One year we hosted a New Year’s Eve dinner on a rooftop and entertained 20 people!
I have always had a vivid imagination and if I can recreate the sounds and smells and tastes of a place, it is almost like being there. So if you are land-locked this winter, what about recreating a Mexican dinner for your family or for a girl’s night in? How does Mango Gazpacho and Cilantro Shrimp sound?
Start your “pseudo” vacation off with a pedicure and even a bikini wax (I look for any excuse to pamper myself…). Buy a bronzer to create that sun-kissed look on your face. Get your summer dresses out of that Rubbermaid storage container. So what if you have to wear leggings and a t-shirt underneath?
If you haven’t been using your barbecue this winter, now is your chance to shake the snow off of the barbecue cover and fire it up. Your local grocery store will likely have all the ingredients that you need but it will be more fun to make a trip to a Mexican specialty store. This way your shopping can be part of your imaginary get-away.
- 2 c fresh mangoes, diced into ¼ inch pieces
- 2 c orange juice
- 2 T canola oil
- 1 English cucumber, diced into the same sized pieces as the mango
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced as per above
- 1 small white onion, diced as above
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded & minced (optional)
- 3 T fresh lime juice
- 2 T cilantro, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Process mangoes, orange juice and oil in a blender or food processor until pureed. Transfer to a medium bowl, along with remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Shrimp Skewers with Cilantro Pesto:
- ¼ c canola oil
- ¼ c minced garlic
- 1 T sauce from a can or chipotles in Adobe sauce
- 16 large shrimp, peeled but tails left on
- 2 c packed fresh cilantro
- ½ c canola oil
- 2 T sour cream
- 2 T fresh lime juice
- Salt to taste
Pre-heat grill to medium high range. Process all ingredients for the pesto in a food processor until smooth and set aside. Thread 4 shrimp onto each of 4 skewers through both the tail and head end to hold in place. Reserve chipotle marinade sauce for basting.
Arrange skewers on grill with the handles hanging over the edge of the grill and grill for two minutes per side. Brush shrimp with marinade as they cook. Serve skewers with the pesto.
So there you have it-a vacation without renewing your passport!
Kathryne Grisim grew up in the hospitality business and she and her husband of almost 30 years, owned their own family restaurant at one time. She currently teaches social media and hospitality and is a food, travel and restaurant writer for Winnipeg Women Magazine, the Canstar newspapers, and her own blogs: www.foodmusings.ca andwww.boomchicaboom.ca. Food Musings was selected Winnipeg’s favourite blog by Uptown Magazine in 2012 and is Urban Spoon’s number one Manitoba Blog. Kathryne is proud to be a regional ambassador for Food Bloggers Canada, Canada Beef and Sobey’s. She is an imaginative cook and especially enjoys preparing food that will demonstrate to her family how deeply she cares for them. In Kathryne’s world food=love!