"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Great Little Cookbook

In one of my random searches for recipes and free cookbooks, I found this little gem, The Great Little Cookbook, written by Sally Mackay, produced by New Zealand's Ministry of Social Development.

Ms. Mackay has created a cookbook jam-packed with information regarding shopping and creating healthy meals and snacks for adults, children and babies.

Her creative layouts pack a plethora of tips on each page using lists, boxes, shaded callouts, and a few graphics.

Some of the topics she covers are:
  • serving sizes, types of vegetables, grains and milk 
  • good fat vs bad fats 
  • sugar and salt  
  • eating sweets and dental health 
  • menu planning and menu plan tips 
  • shopping and pantry lists and tips 
  • substitutes 
  • food poisoning and food safety tips 
  • food label analysis

Every page features multiple variations.

Mackay offers a wide range of recipes from Breakfast, to various meals with meat and fish, salads, soups, and birthday parties, and healthy baby tips.

I found the School lunches pages interesting.

The sandwich page is an example of how Mackay puts densely packed information on one page.

I laughed when I read her note on the Beans and Lentils pages, she said, "Lentil patties are not just for hippies."

I choose to try the Pasta Salad and Curry dressing on page 72. 

Pasta Salad
from: The Great Little Cookbook, pg 72 

Mix cooked pasta (not noodles), cooked mixed vegetables, chopped cucumber and sunflower seeds

Curry dressing
Add 1 teaspoon curry powder to yoghurt or mayonnaise

As usual, I adapted the recipe to work with what I have. I made two different types servings.

For one, I used cold spaghetti noodles and leftover frozen mixed vegetables. For the other, I used cold spaghetti noodles and some canned mixed vegetables. Plus, I made my own Curry Dressing.

Ria's Curry Dressing


3 heaping tspns mayo
a small pour of plain yogurt
1 level tspn cumin


Add ingredients to empty glass jar and stir.
Add any number of spoonfuls to the spaghetti and vegetable mixture. Stir and mix well to coat the mixture.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Seven+ Free Cultural Activities in Mérida, México

When you visit Mérida, México, there are plenty of cultural sites, events, and activities for you to enjoy.

Some the many free cultural activities, the city of Mérida, Mexico offers are:

Regional Dance
Palacio Municipal
Plaza Grande

Musical Memories
Parque de Santiago

Cemetery Tour
Cementerio General

Serenata Yucateca
Parque Santa Lucia

Video Mapping Cathedral

Noche Mexicana
Paseo de Montegjo y Calle 47

Juego de Pelota Maya "Pok ta Pok"
In front of the Cathedral

Merida en Domingo
Plaza Grande
All day
Bic Ruta
Start from Gran Plaza or Paseo Montejo y Calle 35

Vaqueria Regional
Plaza Grande
All day

Friday, June 22, 2018

Anthony Bourdain on Learning to Cook

Anthony Bourdain
6/25/ 1956 - 6/8/2018

On learning to cook: “Basic cooking skills are a virtue... the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill. [It’s] as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.”

Source: https://www.eater.com/2018/6/8/17441238/anthony-bourdains-most-memorable-quotes

Other sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Bourdain

Cafe Chokoh

 Cafe Chokoh

Cafe Chokoh
C39 #510G x 62A y 64
Lunes a Viernes de 7:00 am - 4:00 pm

Cafe Chokoh is a new cafe on Calle 39.
Offerings include:  Coffee, Cappuccino, Latte, Herbal Teas, Fruit, Omlettes, Pancakes, Sandwiches, Fruit de Aguas, Yogurt, Salads and more.

Cafe Chokoh offers a surprising number of unique details:
  • Vegetarian options
  • Certified organic coffee from Chiapas
  • Pet-Friendly
  • Beautiful art work
  • Japanese stone garden
    Soft background music
  • Book shelf with books and games
  • Free wifi

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I Ate the Whole Thing -- Dragonfruit


Dragonfruit or Pitaya was the first fresh fruit I met when I arrived in Merida. It was growing on a vine in the backyard of the house where I rented a room.

I was fascinated by the fruit. It was uniquely strange and beautiful. The fruit itself has a mild sweet taste which I liked. You eat the fruit and the seeds.

(Dragonfruit or Pitaya, Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitaya)

After washing the whole bulb, I sliced off the end.

Then, I made a slice through the skin with the tip of my knife and cut the skin to the top of the fruit bulb. I peeled away the skin and cut off the tip, pulling the whole skin off. This left a bulb of fruit. I cut the fruit into thin slices and ate whole thing.

Estética de Belleza Princess - Beauty Salon

Estética de Belleza Princess

C 41 x 66 y 64
Centro, Mérida, México
99 923 37 74 telephone

Just got my usual Pedicure with a French Gel nail polish for $280.00 Mx.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Bistro Cultural Cafe and Market

Bistro Cultural Cafe

Situated on Calle 66 x 43, in Centro's Santa Ana Colonia, Bistro Cultural is a true community cafe. Bistro Cultural opened in January 2013 in Mérida, Yucatán, México.

The Bistro serves breakfast, lunch and an early dinner, seven days a week, featuring omelettes, quiches, chicken and fish specialties, soups and sandwiches, cafes, frappes, fruit juices, postres, and more. Most meals come with a small salad and vegetables.

Plus, there's free wifi.

Bistro Cultural is a community cafe. If you go frequently, the staff know you by name. While a lot of expats frequent the Bistro, tourists and locals also enjoy the Bistro.

The Bistro also hosts and promotes a variety of cultural events including yoga classes, music nights, movies, arts and craft fests, and art exhibits. 

The Cafe also supports local artists and authors with art and book displays.

A variety of seating is available. Besides seating inside the main rooms, there is a large, shaded garden seating area as well as an air-conditioned, dining room.

Bistro Cultural has been featured on Trip Advisor https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g150811-d4112684-Reviews-Bistro_Cultural-Merida_Yucatan_Peninsula.html  

and in Yucatan Today http://yucatantoday.com/restaurant-month-bistro-cultural/?lang=en.

Recently, Bistro Cultural opened a market across from the cafe. The Bistro Cultural Market offers fresh fruits and vegetables, and a variety of food items including jams and sauces made by Bistro Cultural.

Bistro Cultural Market

Bistro Cultural Cafe
8:30am - 5:30pm Lunes - Sabado/Monday-Saturday
8:30am - 4:30pm Domingo/Sunday

Bistro Cultural Market
7:00am - 2:00pm Lunes-Viernes /Monday-Friday

Calle 66 #377 x 41 y 43
Mérida, Yucatán, México 97000
999 923 2013


The Star of My Kitchen -- the Mabe Refrigerator

Soul, wilt thou toss again?
By just such a hazard
Hundreds have lost, indeed,
But tens have won an all.
Angels' breathless ballot
Lingers to record thee;
Imps in eager caucus
Raffle for my soul.
--Emily Dickinson
     via Project Gutenberg

The Star of My Kitchen
The Mabe Refrigerator

I rent an apartment. It came furnished. But, I don't have an oven. I am on my fourth two-burner hot plate and it doesn't always work right.

I have few fancy gadgets.

(Manufacturer: Mabe)
But I love my Mabe Refrigerator. Without a refrigerator, I would be lost.

While I rely heavily on canned goods and my pantry, I marvel at the invention called a Refrigerator.

Where would we be without refrigeration?
Plus, ice cubes!

I try to freeze a lot of leftovers, homemade desserts and chopped vegetables. Plus, I keep some spices in the freezer as well as crushed crackers and cookies for casserole toppings, dessert crusts, and more.

When people say "fresh" fruit or vegetables, those items would have a short-shelf life without the refrigerator.

Source of interest:

Food Storage: Cupboard, Pantry, Refrigerator, Freezer -- University of Nebraska - Lincoln

The History of Refrigeration, Wikipedia

Peg Bracken -- I Hate to Cook Book -- 50th Anniversary

"I Hate to Cook Book" by Peg Bracken

I remember when I saw Peg Bracken's "I Hate to Cook Book" because it made me feel like I was not alone in my dislike or inability to cook.

While I never mastered her bulk cooking methods, I still appreciated her approach.

I had her book in mind when I wrote "Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook" knowing there had to others who struggled to cook healthy meals for themselves and others.

So, I was sad, I was late in seeing the revised I Hate to Cook Book for the 50th Anniversary of her first cookbook.

(Source: Barnes and Noble)

So, better late than never!

Thanks Peg Bracken.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Apple Salsa

Apple Salsa
(Adapted from: https://www.farmflavor.com/recipe/apple-salsa/ and https://www.sixsistersstuff.com/recipe/apple-salsa/) 


2 Small to medium Granny apples, cored and diced
1/2 Medium white onion, diced
1/2 Cup pepino*, or cucumber, diced
1/2 Bell pepper, diced
1 Jalapeno pepper, diced
1 Capful lime juice concentrate
1 TBspoon olive oil

1/4 Cup Apple cider vinegar
1 Teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste.

To make this recipe GERD-Friendly, do not use the onions and Jalapeno pepper. Remove or reduce amounts of olive oil, cider vinegar.

*A pepino resembles a cucumber but has a lighter green skin and milder taste.

UPDATE: I changed the picture. This is blanco pepino which is similar to the cucumber.

Add ingredients to large bowl. Mix well.

Other reference: U.S. Apple Association

Apple Slaw

Apple Slaw
(Adapted from: USDA What's Cooking Recipe and http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-apple-cabbage-slaw/)

 Note: I try to give credit to the real cooks I go to for help. While I have collected recipes from various sources over time, some of the recipe sites have changed. For example, the USDA What's Cooking recipe site has been revised. I can no longer find many of the recipes I referred to in the past.


1/4 cabbage head, sliced thinly (julienned)
1 8oz carrots, julienned
1 medium apple, cored, and sliced thinly
1 Yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly (Any color bell pepper is fine.)
1/2 red onion, thin slices
1/2 large jicama, julienned

To make this recipe GERD-Friendly, do not use the onions. Use the yogurt dressing or other mild dressing.


After slicing the vegetables. Add ingredients to a large bowl. Mix well.
Make Mustard or Mayo Dressing. See below.

Mustard Dressing
In a separate bowl, mix the following -
1/2 Cup Apple cider vinegar
6 TBspoons olive oil
1/4 Cup sugar
5 dashes of red pepper sauce
2 heaping TBspoons of yellow mustard

Alternative Mayo or Yogurt Dressing
1/3 Cup Mayo or half Mayo, half plain yogurt*
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 TBspoon vinegar or lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well.
*Options: Use low-fat varieties of Mayo and Yogurt.

Pour dressing over slaw mixture. Toss ingredients, mix ingredients to coat the mixture.

I choose the mustard dressing, so with the yellow bell pepper, the slaw looks yellow which is not a bad color. I am glad I choose the mustard dressing. I have concerns about a mayo dressing. It may not keep well over several days.

This recipe made so much slaw, I am going to take some to a neighbor.

No-Bake Cheesecake Experiment

I have been thinking about making a no-bake cheesecake for over a week. So, after some research I found three recipes that might work for me.

Initially, I thought I had all the ingredients.

As I examined each of the three recipes, I realized one called for condensed milk, didn't have that, so I dropped that one.

The other two were recipes for a much larger cheesecake than I planned for, so I had to halve the recipes to see what I could do.

Eventually, I adapted Valerie's recipe with insight from the other two and that's when the recipe became an experiment.

I knew I had confectioner sugar but I had several unlabelled jars of white powder in my cupboard. I tasted them. Two were baking soda, two were confectioner sugar. I labelled the jars.

I used a gram to ounce online converter to determine amounts.

With only two "pans" to choose from, I choose the 7" round glass pie pan.

No-Bake Cheesecake Experiment 
(Adapted from: https://www.fromvalerieskitchen.com/easy-blueberry-cheesecake-dessert/


113g (3.98 oz) cinnamon flavored crackers or sugar cookies, crushed (depending in size of cake pan, you may have some crumbs left)
olive oil

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup confectioner sugar
1/2 Cup Whipped topping
1 Tspoon vanilla flavoring
1 Tspoon lime juice concentrate
Optional toppings: slices of fresh or canned fruit (drained), dried blueberries or chocolate syrup


To make the crust, put crackers or cookies (I choose the cinnamon flavored crackers) into a large baggie. Smash crackers with the bottom of a heavy glass or measuring cup until it becomes a bag of crumbs.
(Sugar Cookies or Cinnamon flavored crackers)

Add crumbs to large bowl.
Add a bit of olive oil. Stir and smash crumbs and oil thoroughly.
Add a bit more oil until the mixture sticks together.
Stir thoroughly.

Add some of the mixture to the pan.
Smash mixture down into center of pan. Add more mixture. Smash down mixture from center of pan to sides of pan until bottom and sides are coated with crumb mixture.
Set pan in frig while making the cream cheese mixture.

Cream Cheese Mixture
In a large bowl, add cream cheese.
Add confectioner sugar. Stir well. Stir to remove all lumps. Smash lumps with spoon. Stir until smooth.

Add Whipped topping. Stir well.
Add vanilla flavoring and lime juice concentrate.
Stir thoroughly.
Get pan with crumb mixture.

Carefully, add the cream cheese mixture into the center of the pan. It will be a mound of cream cheese mixture. Using a spatula or a spoon, carefully spread cream cheese mixture over bottom of pan up to the sides.
Smooth top of cream cheese mixture with the spatula or spoon.

Put pan in frig.
Refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight, until firm.
Add toppings when serving.

I tried a slice with some dried blueberries I had heated in the microwave with a little water to soften.

Later, I tried another slice with chocolate syrup. I liked it better than the one with blueberries.

It was also good without any topping. The cracker crumb crust was good.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Chia Frozen Yogurt with Dried Blueberries and Almond Slivers

After I researched Ratatouille recipes, I worked on one I adapted from SimplyRecipes (See previous post, 12 Step Ratatouille).

While I waited for the liquid to reduce, I was inspired by another SimplyRecipes Recipe, Chia Pudding with Blueberries and Almonds. But, as usual, I had to adapt the recipe according to what I had and what I could do.

Chia Frozen Yogurt with Dried Blueberries and Almond Slivers
(Adapted from:  https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/chia_pudding_with_blueberries_and_almonds/)

I used three small containers with lids.

(Not Shown: Vanilla, Honey, Cinnamon)


1 8oz liquid apple yogurt
milk as needed
1/2 teaspoon chia to each
1/2 capful vanilla flavoring to each
1/2 capful honey to each
sprinkle of cinnamon to each
dried blueberries
almond slivers


Divide the yogurt into the 3 containers.
Add a bit of milk to almost fill the containers.
Add chia, vanilla, honey and cinnamon to each.
Stir each.
Put caps on containers.
Let them sit for 15-30 minutes.
Place in freezer.
Serve after freezing several hours, eight hours recommended.

When serving, tip container into small bowel.
Top with dried blueberries and almond slivers.

Some of My Favorite Mexican Treats

Some of My Favorite Mexican Treats -- Updated 6/6/18

Mazapan de la Rosa -- Chocolate covered marshmallow


Chocolate and Vanilla Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Creme Filling

(Manufacturer: http://www.gamesa.com.mx/marcas but this item not shown.)

Nut Bread, Sliced

(Bimbo Nuez Pan. Manufacturer: https://www.grupobimbo.com/es)

Microwave: Mug O'Zucchini Cake

Microwave: Mug O'Zucchini Cake
(Adapted from: https://kirbiecravings.com/zucchini-mug-cake/)


4 level TBspoons flour
1 level TBspoon sugar
1/4 Teaspoon baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
A sprinkle of cinnamon
4 TBspoons milk
Almost 1 TBspoon olive oil
3 Level TBspoons grated or shredded zucchini (remove excess moisture)
1/2 TBspoon Peanuts, crushed
Honey (optional)
1 baggie
1 8oz mug
1 heavy glass
Several tablespoons and teaspoons
Cheesecloth or paper towels


Put peanuts in a baggie. Smash with bottom of heavy glass to crush.
Combine dry ingredients in mug.
Stir thoroughly.
Add milk and oil.
Stir until batter is smooth.

Remove water from zucchini either by placing in cheesecloth and wringing out excess moisture, or use paper towels and pat dry.
Add zucchini and nuts to batter.
Stir well.

Microwave on high for 1 minute 15 seconds.

When done, overturn cup on a small serving plate.

I drizzled a little bit of honey over the cake (not pictured).

It was interesting. There was no egg in the recipe and the nuts made it tasty.

Note: I did not have any cheesecloth or paper towels. But, I had some leftover clean, lacy curtain material. I cut a small swath and used it to wring out the excess moisture from the grated zucchini and it worked great. It also washed up well and dried quickly.