Saturday, March 10, 2012

Life as we know it

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Our Winter Holiday

Like our mother, we all love taking a winter holiday. A few years back we discovered Isla Mujeres, a wonderful little place off the coast of Cancun. While typing Mom's column, I was amazed that she'd commented on the smell of sea air - like her, it is what I love and remember the most about those few moments after arriving at a hot, coastal destination.

The week before Mom & Paul died, Nance and our brother Mark said they wanted to go and they were trying to talk our sister Darlene into coming along. We booked our flights for February 24th.

We all agreed that never before did we need a holiday as much as this one and so we went, despite the grieving, the rigors of dealing with the estate and concerns about Grandma. Darlene and her family had decided not to go afterall, which made it easier for us to leave knowing that she and niece Emma would be home to watch over Grandma.

Mom & Paul
When it came time to get ready, I took the large, green Samsonite suitcase out of the closet and put it on the bed. It is the same suitcase I'd used just a month earlier to bring home treasures from Mom's house. It was her suitcase and the tag attached still has her name and address.

As I was packing I remember hearing about the time shortly after Mom and Paul married that she'd been hinting for months about how she wanted to go south that winter for a few weeks. It was right after Christmas and Paul made the mistake of saying, "If you can be packed and ready to go in 45 minutes, I'll take you." Mom was and they went.

Nance & husband John
Three of Mom's grandchildren came with us this year: Lace, Kassarah and Laurie.

Lace & my brother Mark
 While on the trip, Lace reminded me that in 1995 Mom & Paul took her and an exchange student from Germany (we remember his name as "Stretch" because he was so tall) on a winter holiday to Myrtle Beach, just a few years after she wrote her column about the trip in 1974. So she did get the chance to fulfill at least part of that dream.

Kassarah and boyfriend Rob
Our holiday was everything we'd anticipated. Because we'd booked it prior to their untimely passing, we'd made plans for a two day stop over in Ontario which had originally been intended to visit Mom, Paul & Grandma. It felt strange being there in the house without them there.

Laurie & fiance Dayna
When I got back to Manitoba, I made a pot of chili in Mom's memory, using the same cast iron pot that she used when we were kids. It is one of the treasures from Mom's kitchen that now means so much more to me than it ever did.

Karen's Chili

Olive oil
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
1/4 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Cook until tender.

Add 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef and cook until brown

1 398 ml can diced tomatoes
1 398 ml can kidney beans
2 398 ml cans brown beans
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
2 tsp. Victorian Epicure Pueblo Bean spice
1 tsp. Victorian Epicure Guacamole spice
1 squirt Mexican spice
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
Garlic powder to taste

Cook on medium heat, stirring regularly until it starts to thicken and stick. Switch the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally all afternoon.

Serve in a bowl with a large spoon. To fancy it up a bit, add a teaspoon of salsa and sour cream; crushed tortilla chips (I use La Cocina) and grated cheddar on top.


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