Sunday, May 24, 2009

7 Things I Learned on Vacation

I just got back from vacation last week and I'm so thoroughly rested I'm popping up early in the morning to run errands and just start the day off nice, no snooze button yet! We decided on a two-part vacation. One half roughin' it and the other ... not. We both enjoyed the roughin' it leg of the trip and learned so much more about the country we visited that way. Without giving too many details, here's a list of the things I learned while on vacay ...

1. Breaking down a conch is hard. 
We bought 8 or so from the dock and all the guy did was release the muscle part from the shell and throw the conch -claw and all - into a big plastic bag. I thought, what am I gonna do with this??? I searched the net for some videos and after watching several very shaky and non-descriptive videos, I decided to let my culinary instinct lead the break-down effort. We were in a house with a stocked kitchen, but I really should've brought my knife kit. It took me about 2 hours to trim, clean, cut and pound out all that conch. I smiled the whole time though because, boy was I hungry for some fritters and I knew I'd never run into conch in such a raw form back home. I then chopped it and made some conch fritters adapted from my Codfish Fritters recipe. Very yummy, very. 

2. Fried "Barry" is bangin'. 
After a gentle foodie tussle with the owner of a local take-away spot (that's what they call" takeout"), I got my hands on some fried barracuda and loved it. She warned of it's potency ... almost to the point of not selling it to me! She said that some people get sick from it. I think by people she meant Americans lol ... because not a second later several natives stopped in for some of her Fried Barry and she didn't give them the quiz like she did us. It totally reminded me of my "No Poi for You!" story from last year. Really the thing is, if you tell me I'm not gonna like it ... chances are I feel compelled to try it and know why you think you know my taste buds lol ... boy was it good! So good we saved half and reheated it the next morning for a part of breakfast!

3. Interventions need to happen on the beach. 
I have no flick of this, but at our second location ... omg there was a woman on the beach that was much darker than me and she was originally fair-skinned. She'd sit there from dawn to dusk, just laying there, oiled up! Very unhealthy and I just wanted to go tell her to stop, she was already super dark, why overdo it? Even crazier is she was in her mid-20s. With her tan, she was much darker than me with my tan, feel me? Crazy.  This is me on the balcony after I'd had enough sun, I was sun-screened, sun-blocked ... all of that. Still got a bit darker though ...

4. It's hard to go on vacation with a blog.
I pre-posted some blogs, but found it hard to leave the laptop home. I wanted to make sure if you had questions or comments that they could be posted and answered. It actually didn't bother me to do on vacation, but I think next time I'll have a guest blogger or something, I dunno. 

5. The Amazon Kindle thingy is an amazing gadget. 
I love to read, but hate toting books on vacation. If dedicated I can do a book a day, so imagine carrying all that weight. Right before we left, I buckled and bought one. I am the slowest on technology, mostly because I want to wait until the definitive product is released instead of getting the first-stab offering. Look, I just got an ipod lol. Anyway, had I known about the Kindle earlier, I would've bought it. Full books download in seconds and they are cheaper than buying at the store. Sure the Kindle is expensive, but for a reader it'll pay itself off soon with the discounts. It is so easy to use and the screen didn't even glare in the sun. I read 2 Chelsea Handler books and parts of a Brad Metzler book and it also downloads newspapers and magazines. Very neat.

6. A Garden can turn into a jungle in 10 days flat. 
We had a nice neighbor water our garden, but that doesn't mean weeds don't grow while unattended, heck, that's actually what they need to grow! So, yesterday was garden day. Plenty of weeds, but beneath them all .... my first harvest of mixed lettuce!!!

Doesn't it look store bought?! My dude and I hugged when I showed him the leaves all washed and lined up. Neat feeling. I had to rush and harvest these because they were about to go to seed and flowers were about to sprout. I'll take a wide shot update of the garden soon, it looks so wild!

7. There's no place like home.
Besides missing my garden and my cats, boy did I miss sleeping in my own bed! We were speed walking from the airport to our car all the way talking about how happy we were to get home. Vacation lasted just as long as it should've ... now back to work!

Don't forget to catch Good Morning America on ABC tomorrow morning! I'll have some Memorial Day eats and should see ya in the 8AM hour!

31 comments:

downwithabsolutes said...

I hear ya on the temptation of blogging while on vacation! Silly me decided the do the same thing with my PDA on a trip to Ireland two years ago. Rung up a $4000 cell phone bill during the two-week vacation! Was sending video and pics back to my fifth grade class. I got charged by the BYTE! Now I've got a laptop that thieves WiFi wherever it's available. Totally free for me!

Conch fritters=yum.
Fresh lettuce= even yummier.

ken said...

happy memorial day...

im glad u enjoyed yourself....on vacation...home sweet home....u look to cute in that pic...lucky dude....if he ever mess-up...its a wrap - im gonna snatch you up....here to catching u on good morning america...ken aka guitar hero world tour....

Sunny Anderson said...

downwithabsolutes, OMG! that phone bill! so, how about my first year in the air force, i was in korea and cooking for myself for the first time, i called home almost everyday to get recipes and tips from my mom, i'd also just call to find out where stuff was in the grocery store lol ... that bill .... was huge. didn't pay it off until i got out of the military. i'm with ya on the wifi stealin!

ken, thanks, vacation was fun, seriously i'm so happy to be home! i missed little stuff. i'll give my dude a warning about that ... just make sure you are ready to play guitar, cuz i'm the drummer in our guitar hero band!

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

Can I just say that I am way jealous of your mixed lettuce? I've been wanting to start a garden for the summer but I kill every plant I touch. Ha ha.

mo

ken said...

good morning america my sunny....ok it a little late in the evening but you no what i mean

u always no what to say...to make my days even more sunnier....i c y people love u...wait sunny we might have to wrestle over the drums just playing ok me sunny the drums are yours because i go into a jimi hendrix/prince zone on the guitar....hey the concerts in my living room been selling out...sunny u-rock....u will for ever more be my little drummer girl...ken aka the guitar hero

Nkoyo said...

Hey Sunny, sounds like a cool vaca. We all need a good getaway sometimes. I can almost feel it in my bones when it's time for a change. You just get that itch ya know? By the way, is your guy a foodie also? What does he like to cook?

Darius T. Williams said...

Of course I saw you on GMA - I was just watching while I was prepping for a catering gig and heard your voice - i was like - oh, that's Sunny! Loved you on there - especially at the end where you decided to pass out chimichurri to all of the folks there - hilarious!

Sunny Anderson said...

monique aka mo, girl, you have no idea how amazed i was to harvest it myself! don't be jealous ... my green thumb is on loan and i'm sure i'll have to turn it in soon!

ken, u r hilarious. trust me, you don't wanna see me on motorhead lol ...

nkoyo, yeah it was a needed break, i hadn't taken one since 05 really, so it was nice.

dtdub, glad you caught it! yeah the audience was nice, different from before, some people actually watched and knew about cooking for real, so things are starting to really pick up. no way i was gonna leave them hungry!

Julie said...

Wow the vacation spot looked awesome. I have a fear of sharks though so the mountains sounds even better. hehe. Anyway, I'm glad to have found your blog. You have by far one of my fave shows on FN.

One quick question, although it has nothing to do with your post (sorry bout that). Where the heck did you find your mixing bowls that you use on Cooking for real? I AM IN LUST with those deep glass bowls and can't find anything close. Spill the beans woman. LOL.

Hope you had a great Memorial Day. As an air force brat, I too have a deep respect for everyone serving! Oh and I'm commenting from near Shaw AFB in Sumter, SC. Later!
Julie

Sunny Anderson said...

julie, thanks so much for watching and i'm even happier you found your way here. it was nice and needed. did i mention we ran into a shark??? yep. crazy. ok, the bowls you can find at kohl's, they are food network brand, of course :-) ... and hopefully soon i will begin work on my cookbook ... holla south cacalaka!

Jaelle said...

Heya, Sunny!

Fresh conch is sooooo worth the struggle, mmmm. Do I hear a conch fritter recipe on your show?? :)

I come from an AF family, were ya'll ever stationed in Wiesbaden??

ken said...

sunny sunny...

ok sunny....whenever u-r ready...have your peeps call mine peeps....so we can become peeps to get this gig off and running...if u-r as good as u say u-r then i'll cook for u 4-real....ken aka see u on tour...

Cooking Mama said...

Sounds like you had a relaxing time on vacation and a lot of fun too. About that Kindle . . I have mixed feelings on that. I'm a huge reader and I thought I wanted one of those for awhile. In fact, when I first heard about it I was telling everyone about it and how amazing it sounded. Then I got to thinking. I really enjoy holding an actual book in my hand--the way it feels to turn a page. Though, for those who travel a lot the Kindle is great because you don't have all that extra baggage. If I lived in a big city and took the subway or train every day I'd probably invest in one. But for me, a mom who is mostly at home I'll just stick with actual bound books. That reminds me . .I need to get on my Paperbackswap account and to the library! :-)

Sunny Anderson said...

jaelle, u r sooooo right! it was more than worth the struggle. i think i'll work out a conch salad recipe using the skirt part. and i visited wiesbaden and lived in wiesloch for a minute, close enough? :-) germany was the best! miss the food and the people, gotta go back and brush up on my language!

ken, again, hilarious.

cooking mama, ok i totally agree with you on the flipping pages thing. i have a bookshelf that is overflowing with stuff. i used to have a book exchange at one of my last jobs and all us readers would freely trade books. i think i'm like you, but then i tried it ... and i gotta tell you there are some cool benefits. font size changes. it also has an audio function that reads to you any download (used it once, pretty good. not great). the size is perfect. i dunno, if you were close to here, i'd let you borrow mine to see ... it isn't too bad. i think the biggest seller was it not getting soaked like everyone else's books on the beach. i saw more damaged books and mags than i could handle. hmmmmm let's see ... also there's the green aspect, which i didn't even think of until now lol ... so what kinda books do you read? i like bios, autobios, mystery & crime thrillers

Cooking Mama said...

Oh yeah . . I didn't even think about the green aspect of the Kindle. Mostly I like to read contemporary fiction and biographies/autobiographies. A good mystery is refreshing every once in awhile as well as some fantasy. My favorite authors I've just discovered within the past year are Sandra Kring and Sarah Addison Allen. Have you ever read any of Jodi Picoult's novels? Those are pretty controversial and are great for discussion.

Right now I'm reading The Making of a Chef: Mastering the Heat at the Culinary Institute of America by Michael Ruhlman. It's really good! Like he says in the foward, you either will really want to go to culinary school after reading his book or will definately NOT WANT to go. I'm leaning toward "not" at this point. :-)

t2ed said...

Conch is the most disgusting looking food in the world. Until it's battered and fried. Then so delish.

Seriously, who knew mucus came in a shell?

Sunny Anderson said...

cooking mama, hmmm give a try to brad metzler and i'm gonna check your suggestions out. as for culinary school, i agree, pros n cons, but not really. it's all how you tackle it and what you want from it. i think a chef is born. and i'm more of a home cook, so really i know what i know, but i also love to learn ... books and travel and eating out and taking adult classes here and there are where i'm at. i once began to look at night school when i was in radio, then as fate would have it, i was asked to fill in for someone on maternity leave ... at night lol. so, i've taken one off courses, but i think i'll read that book you mention as soon as i get these others off my list. sounds interesting.

t2ed, OMG you are sooooo right! I was like, ick ... but really dug in because i knew there was a pot o gold at the end. funny thing, i just sat and watched martha chop a teeny frozen one on her show not 10 minutes ago ... i'm here to say my conch were all about 2-3 pounds each, pretty big ... and as you mentioned slimy.

Nkoyo said...

You know, sometimes I think about the whole debate of a cook vs. a chef, and, before I got into the food biz I used to think that one went to culinary arts school and the other didn't. But in the past 3 yrs or so, I've totally changed perspectives. I personally think it's a state of mind thing. Esp since I've seen a lot of ppl who have gone to culinary arts school who can't cook any better than my mom, and other fantastic chefs w/ plenty restaurants who are self-taught. Kinda like college ya know? So it seems to me that it's about the level of passion and professionalism that you carry yourself with. Also I think cooks replicate recipes and chefs create them. What are your thoughts?

Sunny Anderson said...

nkoyo, i mean i agree a bit. it's a liberal art that i think is hard to teach. there are certain instincts involved. now for the chefs creating and home cooks replicating ... i'd argue that a chef didn't create the recipe for pasta, nor bread, nor many of the basics to food and the culinary arts. i think really like you said the dif is a state of mind and also given the circumstances how long or how much of the kitchen you've worked your way through ... there are certainly many people that call themselves chefs and rightfully so, that have never stepped foot in a school for training.

Emerson's Mom said...

Sunny, glad you had a great vacation. I so agree about the Kindle! I've had mine for over a year now and I love it. I read more than I ever did before and it's so convenient to carry around a whole library the size of a large paperback book. :) I wish schools could start using Kindles for students. Imagine kids no longer carrying around a 40 pound backpack of books?? Schools could even negotiate "subscription" updates to textbooks so students would no longer be learning from outdated content!! Oh, well...in a perfect world, I guess. :) I enjoy "Cooking for Real" so much. Have you published cookbooks? I'd love to purchase, but can't seem to find any!

Sunny Anderson said...

emerson's mom, thanks! i think you have the BEST idea about the kindle ... THE BEST! schools need it and students really need it. i bet a mention to the right people in the right places could bring that discussion to the table. good stuff. thanks for watching cooking for real, i don't have a cookbook out yet, but hope to get one out as soon as i get a chance to write it and take all the mtgs involved. we do have videos available at target and the magazine features many of my recipes as wel as the other hosts.

Nkoyo said...

Point taken in regards to the creating bread, pasta, etc. I guess what I meant by "creating" is that chefs are keenly interested in how they can put their own stamp on something, whereas generally for most home cooks, simply getting food on the table that tastes good is enough for them. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. lol Remember that Seinfeld ep?). It's almost like, cooking is something you do, and a chef is something you are. Thats my observation at least. On a diff note,there are several foods that I hear you haven't had until you've had them in NY, so I'm like, on my next visit these are so going down: 1) steak 2)pizza 3)hotdog 4)bagel 5) cheesecake. For which of these do you feel that the hype is actually well-founded? I have my own ideas but I figure you would have first hand experience.

Sunny Anderson said...

nkoyo, i'm still gonna beg to differ with you on that. i know many home cooks, myself included that always try to 'put their own stamp' on dishes. cmonnnnnnn ... you can't say the home cook isn't inspired. i think the dif is simply a chef is someone that gets a check for their expertise more often than not. it's a professional term. as we can agree on, not all chefs even attended culinary school. i'd also argue that before you are a chef, you are a home cook. i bet you can name several uninspired meals you've had out to eat and many of them, i'm sure, were chef creations. i just think in liberal arts there's always the divide btwn degreed and non grads, the real thing i always say is talent isn't taught. you either have it or you don't. and i'm a seinfeld addict. love the ref ... ok, as for the foods ... i'd say a bagel is a must ... it never tastes the same outside of nyc, gotta be the yummy nyc tap water. no joke. and i think pizza needs to be tried as well, the best is in brooklyn. for the hot dog, i'd go to detroit and steak ... texas. the cheesecake? well, anywhere really. haven't noticed anything spectacular here. all the usual spots like juniors or lord's in brooklyn are great, but cheesecake is pretty great already.

Nkoyo said...

Sunny, Sunny, Sunny, . . . First of all, I really want to give you props for not being afraid to voice your true feelings, even if it means disagreeing at times. I'm loving every minute of it because I think this is such an interesting subject to be explored. It seems as though we actually are agreeing and just don't know it. If I had to put my thoughts in a nutshell, it would be this(to quote my orig comment): Being a "chef" is a "state of mind". Being a "cook" is something you do. Neither of which should be directly concerned with schooling, paychecks, or a jacket. A similar comparison can be made by saying I'm a "painter", vs. , I'm an "artist". We each determine what we call ourselves. Although I feel that the latter has taken it to the next level, they certainly are in no position to criticize the former. B/C as you mentioned, even a chef was a cook first. In fact, I would venture to say that if a home cook is inspired, they have every right to call themselves a chef. I hope that helps. Oh, and thanks for the heads up on the food spots.

Sunny Anderson said...

nkoyo, i love chatting and never mind differing views, so i agree ... i am having fun with the chat. i think you are right, we agree in certain areas. bottom line is, all us foodies should be nicer and less elitist. like no one knows everything about cooking or food, because everyday it changes and grows. and it does so on such a global level ... i don't like the snobby foodies, chef or not. food should be a happy place. at least it is for me!

Nkoyo said...

Now I couldn't agree more with you on this one Sunny. Food is a God-given right, and I hate when ppl act like you gotta belong to some sort of club to even appreciate it. To tell you the truth, although a lot of ppl always have something to say about Rachael Ray (and usually negative) I think that they are the main ones responsible for her enormous biz success. Her audience responded so positively to her b/c she made them feel like: yeah you can do it, too. A sharp contrast to many of the "foodie snobs" before her. Although I appreciate how some chefs have elevated the respect for the industry, they have at the same time put a distance between themselves and the people. Have you noticed that ppl will find a way to make anything elitist? Even the barest essentials to life: food, clothing, shelter-- all have an elite society. Crazy.

Sunny Anderson said...

nkoyo, wow ... u r right on point. i can't tell you how annoying it is to listen to a chef talk down on people. i've seen it up close and it ain't sweet. like, who are you to act like you know everything? food is subjective, you might not even do anything for my tastebuds, but because you have a degree ... you are the know-it-all ... very annoying. i think sometimes it's insecurity and also annoyance that someone else is doing what you are doing without the tuition bill lol ...i dunno, but foodie snobs need to chill lol. and you are so right about the success of miss rr. she's accessible, relatable and works hard, these are just a few things that catapulted her, along with some intangibles that only she has. the people that dislike, only add to the flame of success, because they spread the word faster than lovers. funny thing is, the person they spread it to, may fall in love ... and that is what people don't understand. but the elite junk is just that, junk.

Nkoyo said...

Girl, you know I never even thought about your last statement! The haters do spread the word faster than the lovers! I gotta keep that in mind. BTW, I saw that you mentioned you may be doing a book soon. I've noticed that most stars on FN eventually write a cookbook. Is this a mandatory part of the program that FN pushes you to do, or is it totally optional? I've often wondered myself what process you have to go through to get publishing? Do you mind sharing some tips?

Julie said...

OMG! Glad to see you didn't lose any body parts to the shark. I have a theory that if ever in the water you should keep your left arm out of the water. Strange I know... everytime I've watched animal planet or discovery everyone always has their left arm attacked. hehe. I notice freaky tidbits like that.

Thanks so much for the info on the bowls! Seriously.... its damn hard to find stuff when you're looking for it. (Tis my life lol). Looking forward to more shows and the cookbook!!! Yay! - Julie

Eric said...

YUM! Conch fritters are definitely one of the foods I miss since moving away from Florida, I hope yall enjoyed them.

and you're right about people over-tanning, I saw a woman at the beach once that looked like the leather backpack i took to the beach that day LOL

Sunny Anderson said...

nkoyo, yeah ... secret to success. to hate is to love. lol, sometimes people don't realize they are the best press agents when they don't like someone. plus, in order to pick on every little detail, you must know every little detail, so it's almost a crooked compliment lol. and a cook book isn't mandatory, the cool thing about food network is you are left to be yourself. do what you want. it makes sense to do a book though because it's what people most ask for. a collection of your stuff. much easier for some than an internet search for the recipe. getting publishing isn't hard and it isn't easy ... just gotta have the right pitch and all the elements in place, then the various houses bid on the book through an auction. i don't know it all, but i plan to get more educated as the time nears for me. stick around for that.

julie, i know right? we still talk about out shark encounter ... funny thing is now the shark is 10 feet long lol ...and yeah, the bowls are good for tossing and whisking, never have splatter.

eric, i think now that i've made them and had them made by a local ... they are my new thing. guess i gotta take a trip to florida and find the right hood to get it, some say that u.s. fishermen are frowned upon for harvesting them ... ever see that?