Month: September 2015

“If I had my life to live over…” Erma Bombeck

Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything.

My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.”
― Erma Bombeck, Eat Less Cottage Cheese and More Ice Cream: Thoughts on Life from Erma Bombeck, courtesy of goodreads.com

Sue’s Mexican Chicken

One of the first times I went to eat at my in-laws to-be, Owen requested we eat Mexican Chicken. I love ethnic food fusions, blending two cuisines together. This dish reminds me of a Mexican chicken lasagna. It is loaded with fantastic flavor. I mean really, the depth of flavor is extraordinary. It’s creamy and cheesy; it’s full of veggies and tender pieces of chicken. It’s still one of Owen’s favorites.

As organic as possible:

2 bone-in Chicken breasts

4 large Flour tortillas

2 cans Condensed cream of chicken soup (I like Pacific organic; which actually comes in a cardboard container)

12 oz Cheddar cheese

1 15 oz can Chili (I like Amy’s organic)

1/2 cup Onion, diced

1/2 cup Green pepper, diced

1/2 cup sliced Black olives

1 can diced Tomatoes with chilies

*Divide the ingredients in half

Sour cream for serving (optional)

Boil the chicken until tender, saving the broth. In the mean time preheat the oven to 350º. Spray a 13×9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray (I like organic olive or canola oil), set aside. Shred the chicken into bite size pieces. Briefly dip the tortillas into the broth and line the baking pan, covering the bottom and sides. Begin layering with 1 of the soups, half of the chili, onion, green pepper, olives, chicken, and cheese. Repeat the process again beginning with tortillas, except this time top with tomatoes and green chilis (and a few more olives if you’d like). Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until bubbly. Allow to cool slightly and set before serving. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

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The organic cheddar I used is white, so yours may look a little different depending. Regardless, I just want to grab a spoon and go for it.

The Versatile Blogger Award

I am very thankful to be nominated by PetersFoodAdventures for my first Versatile Blogger Award! Peter has an amazing blog with as ethnically diverse recipes as Peter himself. He was born to Russian parents (who were born and raised in China). He was raised in Canada where he met his now wife on holiday from Australia; which is where they currently reside with their two sons. And I am envious of his garden. Thank you Peter!

Rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Show the award on your blog
2. Thank the person that has nominated you
3. Share 7 different facts about yourself
4. Nominate 15 blogs of your choice
5. Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination.

Seven facts about myself:

  1. I am concerned that after Peter’s introduction nothing I say will be interesting.
  2. Sometimes I think I could be a playwright.
  3. I used to dream in French. (But I haven’t spoken it in over 15 years!)
  4. My first and favorite paying job was as a dock hand at my family’s marina.
  5. I regularly find myself buying every unusual pantry item at the grocery store, and realize I have actually bought nothing to make for dinner.
  6. I was a flight attendant.
  7. I want to live near a lake on a self sustaining farm in the country side, like in a Jane Austin novel.

And now for my nominations:

  1. Life Bellissima
  2. Aromatic essence
  3. Marisa’s Italian Kitchen
  4. Indfused
  5. My Heart of Mexico
  6. What’s Bec Cooking
  7. A Taste of the Caribbean!
  8. Bright, Shiny Objects
  9. Chorizo & Thyme
  10. Emerging Adult Eats
  11. Smiling Notes
  12. The Richmond Avenue
  13. This kitchen is for dancing
  14. Stephysweetbakes
  15. The Travelling Pantry

Maple Pecan Pie

I love pecan pie. It’s sweet and sticky, nutty and buttery. My grandma used to make one, in which she would over-bake until it was hard but still chewy and tasted like candy. It’s the only dessert I remember her making. I wish I knew how to replicate that pie! However, years of practice has left me with this family favorite. And I have tasted and made A LOT of pecan pies. In fact, one time I even made about 5 or 6 and had a taste off for family and friends! This was the clear winner. I love that it incorporates the maple syrup in the flavor! It’s honestly one of the most simple pies to make. From my table to yours, I hope you enjoy!

As organic as possible:

2 Eggs

1/2 cup Sugar

1/4 cup Brown sugar

3/4 cup Maple syrup

1/4 cup light Corn syrup

3 Tbsp Butter, melted

1/2 tsp Vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups Pecan halves

1 unbaked pie crust (I use Martha Stewart’s Paté Brisée)

Preheat the oven to 375º.

If making your own pie crust, place the dough into pie plate. I reserve a little left over dough to press out Maple leaves, for the “Maple” Pecan pie.

In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs and sugars until creamy. Add syrups, butter, vanilla, salt and mix. Add pecans and stir until incorporated. Pour into pie shell and bake 30 minutes. I use the remnant from the melted butter dish (from the pie filling) to lightly coat the top of the maple leaves. Quickly, place the dough maple leaves in any artistic formation you would like on top of the pie and continue to bake 15-20 minutes, until the center of the pie is set when slightly shaken (not completely unmoving, but not liquid-y). Pie will continue to set while it cools. Allow to cool and set before serving. (It’s a great recipe to make a day ahead!)

Tip: It making the pie ahead of time, do not cover with plastic wrap, it can make it “soggy.” Instead use wax paper or aluminum foil.

Maple Pecan Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light Corn syrup
  • 3 Tbsp Butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Pecan halves
  • 1 unbaked pie crust (I use Martha Stewart's Paté Brisée)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375º.
  2. If making your own pie crust, place the dough into pie plate. I reserve a little left over dough to press out Maple leaves, for the "Maple" Pecan pie.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs and sugars until creamy.
  4. Add syrups, butter, vanilla, salt and mix. Add pecans and stir until incorporated.
  5. Pour into pie shell and bake 30 minutes. I use the remnant from the melted butter dish (from the pie filling) to lightly coat the top of the maple leaves.
  6. Quickly, place the dough maple leaves in any artistic formation you would like on top of the pie and continue to bake 15-20 minutes, until the center of the pie is set when slightly shaken (not completely unmoving, but not liquid-y).
  7. Pie will continue to set while it cools. Allow to cool and set before serving. (It's a great recipe to make a day ahead!)
  8. Tip: It making the pie ahead of time, do not cover with plastic wrap, it can make it "soggy." Instead use wax paper or aluminum foil.
https://sadiesnest.com/maple-pecan-pie/

Forty!

My husband turned 40 this week; which meant we could listen to Coach Mike Gundy’s sound bite incessantly, “I’m a Man! I’m 40!” (Are you familiar with the speech from a couple years ago? He was defending one of his young Oklahoma State players…) I think Owen even made it his ring tone for part of the day, because it was finally legitimate. It also meant that an event I had been planning for about a year was finally ready to come to fruition. I didn’t tell a soul until about 3 months ago, which was my mother, when I was confirming a babysitter. It seems like I plan a lot of events throughout the year, but this had to be special. I wanted it to be memorable (and something to commemorate his manhood, thank you Coach Gundy. -Honestly, I don’t think we could wear it out.) So when I was struck with the idea of a surprise private hot air balloon ride, I didn’t waiver!

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The other details took a little thought. Owen’s favorite food is pizza. I needed a place that could hold a crowd and be conveniently located by our landing site. I also needed a cake place that could pull off my Pinterest find and wouldn’t be far from the restaurant, because I wouldn’t be able to store it. Thankfully my sister offered to pick it up before dinner. There was the small issue of having the kids ready for the party before we left… but all of that could be worked out, no problem.

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So it was hard to believe that my parents were ill (exposed to Shingles/Chicken Pox), and couldn’t babysit. As well as my sister’s kids, so they couldn’t come and I would have to pick up the cake. The wind was too strong to go on the planned ride (a chance I knew I was taking). And the pizza place that we were supposed to meet everyone at afterwards had an oven fire and sprinkler situation. They called me the morning of to say they couldn’t serve us… What are the odds?

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However, our very accommodating friends made the switch to a different location without issue. (And BTW a huge shout-out to the Moosejaw employee who will never read this and who was working at the store when I received the phone call about the restaurant mishap. You are dear to my heart for making phone calls and getting us relocated, while keeping our children entertained with the store video games none-the-less!!) I’d also like to thank my in-laws who offered to watch our children in place of my parents, and although our flight was cancelled allowed us to have a lunch date. And last but not least I’d like to publicly express my gratitude for “Money” and “Clutch” (aka Nanny Tara and Molly O) who once again came through like champions on a perfect windless night so we could balloon high in the sky and I could actually give my gift to my husband on his actual birthday! (Not a bad ending after all.)

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Happy Birthday Owen, I love you!!

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Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately #1: Grilling Outdoors

I know the official BBQ season is all summer long. And I really do enjoy all of the hamburgers and hot dogs, etc. But there is something about grilling when it’s not ridiculously hot out that makes it so much more fun! These cool evenings are amazing, such a beautiful reminder of how good life can be! I love grilling! (A new hobby I picked up this year) And I really love grilling on cooler evenings, while the sun is still out and the breeze blows the smell of BBQ everywhere. It’s like the best ever.

The Pioneer Woman’s Ranch Style Chicken isn’t bad either;)

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Loving Lately #2: Molded Bakeware

Do you see what I tried to do there? Anyway, I am gaga over shaped ‘tins’. I haven’t even scratched the surface of my molded bakeware stockpile. Nordic Ware is where it’s at. And rightfully so! They make everything look like a piece of art. Any cake or bread baked in these and served on any table or given as a gift is an instant winner. If it tastes half decent but comes out of one of these in a perfect shape, then you have succeeded. It does the work for you. Does Nordic Ware sponsor? How can I sign up for that?

A Failure and A Liebster Award

Sadly, I have to admit that my WordPress Cooking Challenge, to make the dishes of eight bloggers is a bust. At least for now. I was able to make seven great dishes by seven diverse and fantastic bloggers from around the world. It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s something I plan on continuing to do in the future! My last dish is from What’s Bec Cooking, one of my favorite blogs because of getting to know Bec; who is supportive and kind, and her dishes and desserts look amazing! I also have recently become a huge fan of some Indian curry chicken dishes. So, when I read the title for the recipe Quick and Easy Curry Chicken, I was enthusiastic to try this dish with an Asian twist. Unfortunately, I have been unable (to date) to locate Kaffir lime leaves and curry leaf stalks. You cannot imagine my disappointment!!! I’m not giving up, let’s just say I’m putting it on hold, until I can expand my ethnically diverse grocer options.
In better news, I have been nominated by Chronicles of a Keeper for another Liebster award! I’m so appreciative! She has a great blog about food, family and faith… My three favorite things! I also love sharing great blogs I find in hopes that others will enjoy them as much as I do!
The rules of the award are:
• Link back to the person who nominated you
• Include the instructions in your post
• Answer the 11 questions given to you by the nominator
• Display the Liebster award logo in your post
• Nominate up to 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers
• Create 11 questions for the nominees
• Notify all nominees via social media/blogs

Here are the questions for me to answer:
1 What brought you to the world of blogging?
I had very little knowledge of what blogging was about before I started. But I did have a strong desire to contribute in another way than just being “mom”- without quitting my day job.
2 What do you find to be the hardest part about keeping a blog?
Achieving the level of creativity I’d really like! My priority is still being a stay at home mom of four. I clean house, pack lunches, change diapers… it takes time, literally.
3 Do you try and mimic others’ writing style or do you thrive on being your own style of writer?
I wish I felt like I had a writing style! I keep thinking I should take a class (in my free time). I pretty much just write the way I speak and think.
4 If you were to ever host a “famous” writer for a guest post, who would you choose?
My leisure reading these days is pretty much limited to cookbooks, which is befitting for a guest post on my blog! Maybe Ina Garten, since she doesn’t have a blog of her own.
5 How does your faith impact your writing?
I want to be a light and a positive influence. I want to feel like anyone, children even, could read my blog and it would be safe. Jesus is the center of my life, but I didn’t start this blog to preach. I’m just sharing my life, and hopefully He shows.
6 How does your writing impact your faith?
Specifically, knowing that I’m putting my words “out there” maintains a level of accountability.
7 What other outlet do you have besides writing?
Baking and cooking, but I really keep telling myself I’m going to start regularly exercising.
8 Do you sometimes wonder you share too much in the blogosphere world?
Definitely. Almost daily. Four months ago I didn’t have a Facebook or an Instagram account, it’s a culture shock.
9 Do you sometimes feel that maybe you are too guarded in the blogosphere world?
No.
10 How did you decide on what (and how much to share) about your family?
I can’t say I haven’t thought about it. But I really have just taken it one story/event at a time. I decided the people I relate with most, and who I have connected with the most, and ultimately who have been the most helpful are those who have shared their experiences openly.
11 Do you have any blogs you really faithfully follow (as in actually consistantly read)? (If so, share!)
I follow about 100 blogs plus, I read at least half of them in their entirety (the majority being recipes). I consider many of them to be friends. Off the top of my head (including but not limited to and in no particular order): Natascha’s Palace, What’s Bec Cooking, Life Bellissima, Healthy in all Hues, Lynz Real Cooking, Quirky and Wonderful, OLD Country Girl, Old Orchard Chronicles, Chorizo & Thyme, The Richmond Avenue, Clair Neriah, Rachel Mankowitz, The Annalist, My French Heaven, Smiling Notes, Bright Shiny Objects, The Pioneer Woman, How Sweet Eats…

I think I have nominated most (if not all) of those blogs in the past, with the exception of Chorizo & Thyme. Which is why I’d like to nominate Roberta of Chorizo & Thyme for the Liebster Award!

Your 11 questions (should you choose to accept) are as follows:

  1. What got you into blogging?
  2. You’ve been at this a little while now. What drives you to keep posting?
  3. You’ve traveled quite a bit, where is your favorite place you’ve been?
  4. Where would you like to go that you haven’t been?
  5. Who do you love to read?
  6. You and a guest have just been awarded dinner anywhere in the world; Where are you dining and who are you bringing?
  7. The president of Malta has read your blog and is coming for a no fuss home cooked dinner, what are you making?
  8.  Are you more of a coffee or tea person?
  9. What bothers you most about being a blogger?
  10. Which is your favorite season, and why?
  11. It’s a perfect rainy afternoon all alone: do you pour yourself out over a typewriter, read a book or watch a movie?

Thanks again Chronicles of a Keeper!

Cranberry-Pecan Pumpkin Bread

I make this bread every Thanksgiving. It’s like edible baked Autumn.  It’s got texture, body and flavor. It’s sweet enough to serve with dessert but so pretty served with dinner. Besides, can you have too many dishes on the table for a holiday? But don’t limit yourself to just one day! I make this bread other times too. It’s great with coffee for breakfast, it goes fantastic served with salad, and I serve it as a sweet bread side dish with all of our regular staple dishes (soups, stews, even pasta…) to give them a Fall feel. No one is disappointed to see this bread being served.

As organic as possible:

1 cup Brown sugar

1/2 cup Sugar

1 cup cooked or canned Pumpkin

1/2 cup Walnut oil

2 Eggs, beaten

2 cups Flour

1 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground Ginger

3/4 cup dried Cranberries

3/4 cup chopped Pecans

1/4 cup Water

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix sugars, pumpkin, oil and eggs. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. In a small bowl toss cranberries and pecans with a couple tablespoons of the flour and spice mixture. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and combine. Add the cranberries and pecans and stir until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake 65-75 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack*.

*If using a molded loaf pan: The bread does rise. I have used a thin string to slice the loaf and give it a flat bottom to invert onto a plate. However, I have found that the best method (and prettiest on a plate) is to use a serrated knife and cut the loaf about 1/2″ over the loaf pan. That is also the best part about using the loaf pan, because you get to eat some of it without cutting into the presentable part! (And you’re going to want to taste it right away.)

Cool completely before slicing.

Cranberry-Pecan Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup cooked or canned Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup Walnut oil
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground Ginger
  • 3/4 cup dried Cranberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped Pecans
  • 1/4 cup Water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix sugars, pumpkin, oil and eggs.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. In a small bowl toss cranberries and pecans with a couple tablespoons of the flour and spice mixture.
  4. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and combine. Add the cranberries and pecans and stir until incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake 65-75 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack*.
  6. *If using a molded loaf pan: The bread does rise. I have used a thin string to slice the loaf and give it a flat bottom to invert onto a plate. However, I have found that the best method (and prettiest on a plate) is to use a serrated knife and cut the loaf about 1/2" over the loaf pan. That is also the best part about using the loaf pan, because you get to eat some of it without cutting into the presentable part! (And you're going to want to taste it right away.)
  7. Cool completely before slicing.
https://sadiesnest.com/cranberry-pecan-pumpkin-bread/

Life Bellissima’s Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am loving my WordPress Cooking Challenge to make recipes of fellow bloggers! (Of course what’s not to love when you’re making chocolate chip cookies?) And I’m almost to the finish line! My seventh selection, out of eight recipes to try, was from Life Bellissima, a beautiful blog about her faith, family, recipes and life on a farm- including chickens (My dream! And, by the way, if she starts roasting coffee and opens a little cafe, I’m moving my family to Idaho!) Anna of Life Bellissima, is also an advocate of organic eating, just another thing we have in common. Sometimes you just have those instant connections, when you know you are kindred spirits (like from Anne of Green Gables). This is one of those times.

Going through this recipe was fun. Firstly, I rarely use almond milk in baking (for no particular reason). But it was fun to feel like I am making a treat with a different kind of nutritional value. It also called for coconut oil, which I have out on the counter top at all times, but I don’t think I’ve put in my cookies before. I love trying new things! However, the best part of this recipe is that there are no eggs, so it’s is nice to have a cookie recipe in case you are out of eggs (which Anna probably isn’t since she has chickens…). But is even better when you can without hesitation tell your assistant, aka your four year old daughter, that yes indeed she can eat taste the batter!

Anna did mention that she had to bake the cookies a little longer than the recipe she adapted these from, and I did too (about 14 mins, as opposed to 11). And even though I let them set for a while, they were still so soft and pliable that some of them could still fold and break… which was AWESOME! They were so soft and chewy! And very chocolate-y. I loved them and so did my my nine year old chocolate officiant. He aptly claimed they taste like “brownie cookies”!

For the original recipe and instructions visit Life Bellissima!

A Tale of Three Dishes Part III

The last of my trilogy in the Tale of Three Dishes of elusive foods from my travels is different from the rest. The other dishes are delicacies I have been unable to replicate. No amount of research and effort has allowed me the pleasure of recreating or enjoying them again. All I have is an increasingly distant memory of the taste and pleasure I received by eating them. This is an unfortunate tale of an edible experience I’ll never know.

Last year we had a family trip planned in the spring to finally see the Grand Canyon. It’s one of the wonders of the world that I’ve never been able to experience first hand, and it was finally time to be able to take in the beauty. The trip was still in the planning stages when Owen was informed that he was required to go to Porto, Portugal during the very same week of our projected vacation. Alas, my canyon experience would have to wait… looks like we’re all going to Portugal!

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As anyone traveling with children knows, it gets increasingly difficult with the more children you have, especially when they are young. I wasn’t willing to spend the money on the first class flight that Owen’s company was sending him on for myself and three children, so I began to research more affordable options. Our arrival time would be similar if I just planned to leave a little earlier, and it was actually more economical to book a hotel room in Frankfort to accommodate a long layover on our flight home. However, I started to get concerned about traveling alone with the kids. What if I had to go to the bathroom and the stroller holding the two babies didn’t fit? I didn’t want to leave Isaiah alone to watch them in an airport. Owen had to work many of the days we were there… The only thing to do was bring “Nanny” Tara. Believe it or not it was still a substantial cost savings over flying with Owen, and the peace of mind was priceless.

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Owen was able to meet us at the airport and we (luggage and all) were able to fit into a large taxi to drive us to our hotel. Gone are the days when we could get away with sleeping in the corporate hotel room, now we have to add on a suite. Fortunately the hotel was modern, beautiful and accommodating! There was plenty to do there, a swimming pool and restaurant; which is comforting to know when planning a trip with kids since you can’t always project what’s going to happen. But more impressively was that there was so much to do within walking distance, because we could always stay-in at home and we were here to see the city of Porto!

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It was also good to know that taxies were relatively inexpensive and could accommodate three children and two adults because shortly before I left for our trip I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child, and didn’t feel like walking! (Although I still did plenty of sight-seeing by foot.) The city was beautiful and had the best of what all European vacations had to offer in my opinion. There were sandy beaches and cafes full of pastries and good coffee; there was rich history and beautiful architecture; and there were plenty of parks and attractions (such as an aquarium and museums) to do with the kids.

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Almost everywhere we went offered a menu in English, which was very appreciated since I don’t speak any Portuguese. It is also one of my joys in life to try new cuisine. Sadly, however, my current condition, being with child, prevented me from being my usual adventurous self (it also prevented me from touring the wineries and enjoying the famous Port wine). Overall I was having quite a bit of food aversion so I tried to stick with dishes I knew. When I saw “Francesinha” on the menu of almost every Portuguese restaurant I was truly curious and my not-pregnant self would have tried it in a heartbeat. But it translated on all of the menus as “special sauce,” which was so (almost comically) non-discript that I couldn’t force my queasy stomach to do it. I did inquire further about the sauce on more than one occasion which was also funny because apparently many of the “special sauces” are a house secret, which only fueled the mystery. And when finally one of the descriptive words included liquor, well that was it. I didn’t think my sensitivity could handle it. So alas, I have regretted the not trying of the special sauce ever since, and unfortunately the Francesinha eludes me, and in truth I may never know what I have missed.