house guests.12

More couchsurfers in Cayman! This time we hosted E&L, two girls from Chicago doing a mini-Caribbean tour. By the time they reached their third and final island destination of Grand Cayman, they were just a bit worn out. So we had dinner at home the night they arrived.

Honest confession: I'm no domestic goddess. I don't make dinner very often. I usually cook once or twice a week, and we live off that dish in the form of lunch leftovers for the next few days. I keep telling myself that someday I'll cook regularly, decorate our home more, and take the time to be properly crafty. But for now, with a full-time job, training for a half marathon, helping with our church's worship team, taking oodles of photos (and of course, digitally editing the same), and keeping this blog somewhat up-to-date, home-cooked meals fall to the wayside. Fortunately, I'm married to Mr. Flexible, and we often resort to pancakes, peanut-butter toast, or fruit smoothies for dinner. It certainly isn't fancy, but my excuse is that this is the way to stay lean and mean: Eat a "big" meal (in our case, the afore-mentioned leftovers) at lunch, and keep dinner light and breezy. (That being said, as soon as kids enter the picture, I'll be all about the family-dinner-table scene. But I guess that requires regular cooking... darn.)

I said all that to say this: When I do make the effort to put a home-cooked meal on our dinner table, I want it to be reliable delicious. I don't want to go through all that effort just to wish I had stuck with cinnamon-oat pancakes (which, by the way, always satisfy.) For that reason, my latest obsession is getting my recipes from food blogs. And if I'm making something new for company and I want to be assured of a winning meal, it has to be from the Pioneer Woman.

Since we were hosting girls, I clicked right onto PW's Cowgirl Food link and found two winning recipes: 16-minute Shrimp Scampi and Spinach with Garlic Chips.

Another current obsession: Cooking from the iPad. It's greener than printing the recipe and takes up less counter space than a laptop. NS helped me by turning off the auto-off feature so that I wasn't always tapping the screen with a buttery pinky to wake the thing up.

What I loved about the Shrimp Scampi: It combined my "meat" and "starch" categories into one dish (so all I had to do was supplement with a vegetable.)  ALso, the angel hair pasta and regular-sized shrimp cooked so quickly that 16 minutes was really all it took. Fresh basil on top added a nice Mediterranean green flavor. And there was plenty of cheese to go around, so who could complain?

And for the side: Spinach is one of those wonderful vegetables (a SuperFood all-star!) that is so good for you and cooks in only a few minutes. This recipe calls for the spinach to barely wilt, and you're already taking it off the stove! I enjoyed the garlic crisps - such a unique way to eat a familiar flavor.

Anyway, I can't speak for our guests, but I found the above combo to be a winning meal - one I'll be making again.

During their visit, E&L made sure to swim with the stingrays, dive at Eden Rock, eat at Copper Falls, and (unfortunately) spend an afternoon in George Town hospital (due to a bit of stomach illness from their previous island.) ¡Que lastima! They recovered in time for me to take them snorkeling at the Wreck of the Cali - my first experience there. I loved it! I think it was my favorite snorkeling experience yet. It's a beautiful site right off the George Town shore near the Casanova restaurant with interesting coral formations and, of course, the remnants of a ship wreck. I was excited to see a flounder and a few puffer fish among the sea life in the area.

As a thank-you to us, E&L made us breakfast Saturday morning before they packed up to leave. This worked out perfectly for us, because we had been on the road at 5:30 a.m., trying to beat the Cayman heat with a 6-mile run in the early part of the day. Let me tell you: There is nothing cool about 5:30 a.m. in the Caribbean this time of year. I'm not sure we can get up any earlier! In any case, we enjoyed having a home-cooked breakfast ready for us about an hour after we returned.

Yum - a family-style omelet with pepper and bacon toppings, and with lox on the side. I was more than eager to get out the Philly cream cheese and go to town on a lox-topped piece of bread (my make-shift bagel; there is no such thing as a proper bagel in Cayman - we're much too far from NYC).

I hope E&L enjoyed their Cayman stay. They were a pleasure to host, and since Chicago is on our list of places to see, they might be running into us sooner rather than later!


  1. I know how hard it is to find time to cook, socialize, picturing, blog (I'm very very bad with that), and plan and go on weekend trips!!!