Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where Did May Go?

Cool Quinoa Salad
Peruvian quinoa, asparagus, bean sprouts, carrots, and ginger dressing
Each and every month seems to be passing even faster than the one before.  May has been largely about working - lots and lots of hours at the hospital.  Nicely placed in the middle of the month was an amazing week-long Carnival Cruise.  If you've missed the posts recapping the ship, the food, or the places, be sure to check them out.  I feel like in the limited time I was home, I did nothing other than workout or sleep.  Occassionally, though, I tossed together some nourishment.  Here's a glimpse at some odds and ends that found their way onto my camera.

Roasted tofu and vegetables with a garlic-basil dressing

Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad and pizza bread

Check out my baby squashes!  I can't wait until I have a garden full of fresh summer produce.

Coffee - lots and lots of coffee needed to keep an ortho resident semi-happy on general surgery

Brunch at 4pm
Meals become a mix of breakfast and lunch when I'm working the night shift.
Whole Grain Goodness toast, hummus, avocado, tomato, and fried egg sandwich + orange 

Whole Wheat English Muffin + Almond Butter + Banana Mash + Cinnamon
Look what I found on my doorstep when I arrived home from vacation.  It's my foodie pen pal package!  Thanks Karin for a great selection of goodies!  I've already had my hand in the sugared nuts and will have to hide them in the back of my pantry or they'll be sure to disappear in a week's time.  I can't wait to try the pear chocolate bar, and the rice will likely find its way into an upcoming dinner.  Be sure to check Karin's blog, Savor The World, for a foodie tour around many cultures of the world.

Wild Rice Blend, Dark Chocolate Pear and Almond Bar, Stash Teas (Mint and  Lemon Ginger),
Kashi Granola Bars (unpictured) and  Sugared Nuts from her family's bakery.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cruise 2012: Exploring Ashore

You've seen the ship and the food we enjoyed, now it's time to showcase the places we visited.

Playa Uvas
Cozumel, Mexico

After docking in port, we took a short 5 minute taxi ride to Playa Uvas, a private beach.  It was a great little place, complete with sandy beach, crystal clear water, a bar and restaurant (serving a huge plate of fresh guacamole and delicious fish tacos), and snorkel gear.

Mom, Dad, Royce and Erin made their way into the water and enjoyed snorkeling and checking out the undersea life.  There were lots of small fish and a few areas of coral.  I overheard some of the other people on the beach calling it an "incredible reef".  Funny how my definition of a true reef is shaped by our annual trips to the Florida Keys and snorkeling at Looe Key.  I chose to pass on the community snorkels, and chose to enjoy a good book on the beach (finally finished the 3rd Hunger Games book - not nearly as good as the first!).  Later, I headed into the ocean and enjoyed an open water swim.  Too bad all of the Georgia lakes we swim in for triathlons aren't a little less murky and a little more beautiful.

Quite an impressive view of the Carnival Dream as we make our way back to the boat.

Belize City and Lamanai Ruins

Unlike the other ports, in Belize we anchored 5 miles offshore and had to take a tender to land.  We were up bright and early to be the first on the 7am boat.

Leaving a big boat for a ride in a little boat.

Mom did tons of research as she planned each and every aspect of the cruise, from selecting the ship to finding the most enjoyed excursions.  Again and again, she read great reviews of Lamanai Ruins in Belize.  The only concern was that it wasn't a Carnival excursion and it was an all-day events.  Hence, if we were running late, the ship wasn't waiting for us.  After some debate, we decided the excursion was not to be missed, and took our chances.

The day started with a 70 minute bus ride from Belize City into the back-country of Belize.  We then boarded a boat and took a winding and scenic 35 minute boat ride to the ruins site.  Once we arrived we feasted on a homemade lunch that had been prepared for us.  With full bellies, it was time to take a hike.

The Mayan ruins were impressive, especially considering that they lacked the modern machinery that we think is essential in today's construction.

The jungle was filled with towering trees.  It's hard to see them here, but there were howler monkeys climbing the very tops of several trees.  Did you know that they used howler monkeys to make the dinosaur sounds in Jurassic Park?

Our challenge for the day was to scale the tallest of the Lamanai Ruins.  As you can tell, it was a very steep staircase.  Without much thought, we all powered up, tempted by the promise of amazing views at the top.

Check out the panoramic views.  It was breathtaking!

Mom has a huge fear of heights, but she made it!  She doesn't remember the view from the top, however, since she says she couldn't stop shaking and focusing on getting down.  The climb down proved challenging, but she made it.  Way to conquer a fear!

Many of the ruins had marble sculptures.  Based on historical record, the carvings were changed with each successive ruler, and multiple different images are hidden behind the currently excavated structure.

Mahogany Bay
Isla Roatan, Honduras

Mahogany Bay is a privately established area owned by Carnival that features shops, a chair lift, kayaking, beach lounging, and restaurants.  We arrived in port to cloudy skies and rain, so that limited our activity.  Dad, Mom, Royce, and Erin took a driving tour of the island and enjoyed seeing the truly impoverished nation which lays outside the confines of the tourist area.

Our last stop was Costa Maya, Mexico, and I failed to take any pictures..  We were only in port from 7am - 2pm and it was a cloudy day.  We walked from the ship into port to check out some of the shops, but quickly discovered there wasn't much to offer.  Instead, we enjoyed a lazy day on the ship.

Well, it appears that brings me to the end of the cruise.  The week was filled with lazy days at sea, exciting excursions, fun entertainment and comedy shows on the ship, and an abundance of food.  Minus the cloudy/rainy weather the last few days, it was a perfect vacation.  We all returned home rested, re-energized, and filled with great memories!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cruise 2012: Endless Eats

Where do I even begin when describing to you my culinary experience on the Carnival Dream?  First, a brief look at the many dining options.
  • Gathering: This is the main buffet section located on the Lido Deck.   Multiple sections included a theme section that changed daily (Italian, American, Caribbean, French), Tandoor Grill (Indian), Mongolian, Make Your Own Pasta, Salad Bar, Pizza, Grill (hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries), Fruit, Frozen Yogurt, and Desserts.  Breakfast was also served in this area and was probably my greatest disappointment on the food front.  Choices included omelets, eggs, multiple greasy meats, yogurt (filled with HFCS), pancakes, fruit, and sugary cereals.  By the end of the week we were all missing our usual whole grains and fresh berries.
  • Wasabi Sushi Bar: Each night from 5-8pm they served snack plates of fresh sushi.  Each plate featured 3 unique pieces along with a mix of sides (Japanese applesauce, aoili, pickles, ginger, and wasabi).  Combined with a cocktail, it was the perfect plate to wet our appetites before heading to the dining room.
  • Crimson Dining Room: We elected the 6pm reserved dining and enjoyed waterfront dining each evening.  The nightly menu featured several items that were always available and then a separate page of appetizers and entrees that changed nightly.  On the daily menu there were 6-8 appetizers, an equal number of entrees, and 3-4 desserts to select from.  I was impressed with the variety and complexity of the entrees, as well the inclusion of a vegetarian selection each night.
Without further ado, let's get to the food!  I'll let the pictures do most of talking.

Lunch Buffet Day 1:  My favorite way of dining - lots of little bites.  The Indian entrees and fresh salad were a hit!

Baked Corvina and an Assortment of Steamed Veggies

Vegetarian Chile Relleno, Mexican Rice, and Veggies

Caribbean Buffet Lunch
A huge salad full of fresh veggies, falafel, chickpea masala, coconut bread, and a sampling of desserts.

Mom and I all cleaned up and ready to enjoy dinner

Herbed Parmesan Polenta and Mushroom Ragout

Warm Cinnamon Raisin Date Cake and Rum Raisin Ice Cream

Lunch at the Mayan Ruins
Marinated Farm Raised Chicken (thankfully not the iguana they initially said they were serving),
Rice and Beans, Slaw, Salad, and Watermelon.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

White Fish, Pumpkin Mash, and a Caribbean Fruit Sauce

Roasted Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, and Squash Pot Pie

Pumpkin Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream
This sounded really good, but was a huge disappointment.  Sugar free desserts are just not worth the effort.

Black Bean and Vegetable Enchiladas with Guacamole and Sour Cream

Tropical Fruit Dessert

Chilled Bing Cherry Soup
So good, but would have made a better dessert rather than appetizer.

Seafood Delight
Tiger Shrimp, Smoked Salmon, and Ceviche

Mixed Vegetable Salad with Marinated Tomatoes

Giant Prawns, Pesto Cauliflower, and Mustard Mashed Potatoes

Amaretto Cake

Marinated Mushrooms and Greens

Zucchini and Eggplant Lasagna

And last but not least, lunch at the airport while waiting for my flight home.
Spicy Tuna Sandwich on Multi-grain Bread from Au Bon Pain
Pretty great spread of food, right?  It was certainly a week of indulgences and large meals, but when you travel with the Perkins family, we are all about the food!