Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Point well taken.

Sometimes I'm surprised by how busy I can be. My day runs away with chores and the mundane necessities of life and I forget to look around. If I don't pause and breathe I miss the beauty and life abundant in Grenada. My significant other experiences the same routine dismissal of our tropical surroundings. Lately, Justin and I have been trying to plan more regular together time (beyond watching a movie). Exercise became the chosen activity. We both need more in our lives and saw running as an opportunity to take in our beautiful neighbourhood as well. So far the running had been fairly casual but we've decided to run our first 5K on November 11th. Signing up for an official race has given us due motivation to push ourselves. I found a training schedule that instructs us to run/cross-train alternatively everyday until the race. One cross-training activity choice is to walk for 1 hour. Yesterday we decided to walk to an outcropping of land that can be seen from Grand Anse beach. Equipped with water bottle and camera, we set off on our morning walk. What we came across was more beautiful than we expected. We found this.

Faded welcome sign
We found Quarantine Point. Beyond the faded signage is a spectacular lookout area. Neither of us has heard of Quarantine Point but deducted that the name must have some medical significance. Indeed, it does. Quarantine Point once lodged leprosy patients and the personnel who cared for them. Toppled columns and a small foundation are a tribute to the past facilities. Today, Quarantine Point is a protected landmark cared for by Grenada's Rotary Club. Several cement picnic tables are scattered around the large property. But really, you don't go to Quarantine Point for the tables. You go for the view.

This is Grenada!

The first peeks of the ocean were well worth the walk up steep roads. As we continued on to the tip of the point, we were (almost) blown away by the phenomenal view. Ocean colour was indescribable, but I'd say it varied from turquoise to a green to deep royal blue. Cliffs formed by ocean waves crashing against ancient lava flows added to the drama and beauty of the panorama. Our survey led us to a sketchy path down to lava rocks churning the surf.

 Another side of the cliffs gave us equally breathtaking views. A peculiar wind-shaped tree stood out to me. I wondered what stories that tree would tell if given a chance.

Can you believe that places like this exist?  Our "exercise date" became an equally healthful and amazing time together. We have fewer calories than before, are more in love than ever, and have a bigger appreciation for the wonderful place we call home. Busyness serves a purpose but taking in a view of the ocean is good for the soul. If you wonder where I am from now on...can you blame me? This is Grenada.

Saturday, 27 October 2012


There's a lot in life to be thankful for. Many countries around the world set aside one day per year to reflect on the topic of thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving occurred a few weeks ago and American Thanksgiving will happen in another few weeks. Nestled between these two is Grenada's thanksgiving.

A day off of classes for the medical students presented the perfect opportunity to invite several of Justin's classmates to our house for a home cooked, non-restaurant meal. Justin and I have a friend from undergrad who also attends SGU so we invited him over as well. Long before we decided to open our home, I wanted to make a chicken pot pie for Thanksgiving. Lately I've been wanting comfort food so I thought a pot pie would hit the spot rather well. Just because we invited the guys over didn't mean my craving changed so I decided to go ahead a make it anyway. Problem: I've never made a chicken pot pie before. Well, it wasn't until a couple hours before our guests were to arrive that I realised I might have made a terrible mistake. In addition to the pie, I was balancing baking a carrot cake and boiling sweet potatoes for a casserole. All need the oven. All bake at different temperatures. My pot pie required poached chicken. I've never poached chicken before. I should make stuffing but I'm using all the burners...
All of those relatively small problems collided sending me to the couch whining that I don't want to do this anymore. For a minute, I didn't care about the hungry men who have been studying all day. Justin, patient as always, sat with me and reminded me about how I love to cook and how I really can do this. After a moment of thought on his words I got up and finished what I started. No, it wasn't perfect but everyone ate it, was full, and had a good time.

I tell this little story as an example of what I'm most thankful for: my husband.

So many people choose to think about the negative rather than the positive. I struggle with this myself, sometimes. I could tell you about how I hate it in Grenada sometimes. How it's hard. How I miss the familiar. However, one of my primary reasons for starting this blog was to document my adventures in an exotic country. I want to remind myself about how blessed I am to be experiencing this incredible life.

Remembering blessings is why Thanksgiving exists in Grenada. October 25, 1983 commemorates the United States rescue mission to Grenada in face of Cuban invasion. The United States played a vital part in returning proper governmental power on the Island after a coup from several years before. There's actually a movie about it. They also evacuated hundreds of SGU students from the island to safety.

Every Monday I drive by a wall that says "Thank you USA for liberating us." Grenada saw the sacrifice and help of a friend and chose to set aside a day to remember. Personally, I think that's pretty incredible. I'm glad to be living in a country that chooses to be thankful.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, 19 October 2012

Island Photos

Yesterday I accompanied a group of "Significant Others" on an exciting tour of Grenada! The day started bright and early...but rather than write about the day, I'm going to show you. And maybe narrate a little as necessary. 

Pearl Airport, St. Andrew's Parish.
These are remains of a Cuban airplane. The 26-military plane was apparently a gift to Cuba from the Soviet Union in the 70s. After the US intervention in Grenada, the plane and airport were abandoned (or so says the internet).

Our mode of transportation

The next stop was Belmont Estates. Cocoa beans, that will eventually become chocolate, are grown here. The property is family owned, employs 100 workers, and is comprised of 400 acres of land. Most of the cocoa beans become dark chocolate bars produced by The Grenada Chocolate Company! These chocolate bars are organic and completely island derived and produced.
For real, these chocolate bars are the best dark chocolate bars I have ever had!

Cocoa beans are white when they come out of their pods. The beans are placed in large bins to ferment for 7 days. I'm not sure why...I wasn't listening to the tour. I think it's supposed to bring out the flavour of the beans. Banana leaves and cloths are placed on top of the beans to keep the heat and moisture.

Fermented cocoa beans begin turning the characteristic brown but continue to darken as they dry in the sun. Hundreds of thousands of beans are dried and raked for multiple days to air and heat dry before becoming wonderful chocolate.

We opened up the outer shell and tasted the cocoa bean inside. Strong flavour. They definitely needed some sugar. I will interject that The Grenada Chocolate Company does sell 100% cocoa bars. Our tour guide said that they taste pretty much like this bean. I'm gonna stick with the sugar-kind of chocolate.

Cocoa tea sample

Visiting the parrots and monkeys on the estate

Finally, we visited River Antoine Rum distillery. The entire rum distilling process happens in this old cement building, complete with functioning water wheel and giant copper vats of boiling sugarcane liquid.

Sugar cane enters this huge crusher to extract the sweet juices. The dried cane stalks are then used to fuel the giant boilers used to process the soon-to-be rum.

Fermenting sugarcane juice

One hundred thousand bottles are produced in this distillery every year. Almost everything is done manually. I mean, men with buckets transfer the cane liquid from one vat to another and the finished product is bottled by hand. Rivers rum is another organically produced product of Grenada. River Antoine is too small of a facility to export, but demand is high enough in Grenada that they have plenty of work to do.
Illegal rum. At least, illegal to export into the US. Notice the 75% symbol..
Our grand adventure was supposed to end with a beach swim but weather prevented us. We did end up stopping at Grand Etang National Park to visit the monkeys as we were driving back. I definitely enjoyed seeing more of Grenada with a fun group of ladies. I live in such a beautiful place, eh?
Mom and Dad, see what you have to look forward to?!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Our Home

Moving to a new country isn't easy. Fun, but not easy. I have moved to a new country once before but that experience isn't really comparable. The transition from Canada to the United States was strange, but not really that difficult. My move was for University. Everything was automatic. I moved into a dorm room, brought only what would fit in my two large suitcases, and purchased whatever wouldn't fit into my bags.

Not true for Grenada.

Grenada is really a foreign country, not to mention a third world country. Many more considerations were required for the big move in much less time. Justin's medical school acceptance letter arrived the end of April. We were in Grenada in July. Yup. Several.. difficulties come to mind when I think about that crazy move.                                          
Firstly, flights. Have you ever tried finding flights online? It can be a headache and a half. Because I attended university in America, I was quite used to finding flights to and from Canada for school breaks but I had never searched for flights to the Caribbean...for a dog. Zoey added a fun new addition to our flight plans. I'd never flown with an animal so I researched procedure with different airlines. Apparently, several different airlines want to quarantine your loving companion for up to six months before they will allow the pet to enter the country. That wasn't about to happen. After several phone calls with airlines, we found our flight. A one way ticket to Grenada, West Indies. 

Secondly, Apartment Shopping. Neither Justin nor I had ever been to the Caribbean.  We didn't have the time or money to fly here ahead of time to find a place. Back to the trusty internet we went! Again, we had difficulty in finding an apartment because of dear little Zoey. At one point I was afraid Justin was going to say I couldn't bring my puppy. Well, we finally found an apartment...had the lease faxed to us...signed it...ready to fax it back when I decided to read through it one more time. I noticed a subtle phrase about mandatory housekeeping. As in, we had to pay an additional $50USD every week for a maid to clean my house! THAT wasn't going to happen! We contacted the landlord about removing this clause but apparently the maid was a family member. No go. Back to square one. We found a small place that would do for now. The pictures were few and the description of the apartment vague. We decided to go with it and hope for the best.

Our backyard with drying line
What we ended up with was more than the best. :) Justin and I arrived in Grenada a few days before our lease became effective. We spent a few days walking around our hotel wondering what our new place would be like. We would walk down the street pointing to houses wondering if it could be that one or this one. Two days later we found out that our hotel was directly across from our new home! Instead of the sketchy tiny apartment we were expecting, we came "home" to this! 

Front door from the inside

     We were blown away by how nice our new home was! I have a full kitchen, vaulted ceilings, air-conditioned bedrooms, white tile floors, beautiful furniture, tons of closet space, plenty of appliances, beautiful kitchen table...
Justin and I have been seriously blessed with the perfect apartment for us. The website made this place look small, cramped, ugly, and in a bad area. In reality, our home is in the perfect location for me to walk to the grocery store and bank, as well as the best resort beach on the island. I feel safe here and we have great neighbours. Our plan is to stay here at least through the end of the school year. We haven't yet received our electricity bill (which can apparently be up to $300USD per month!!) for the months of August or September so that charge will be the determining factor.

I love our cute little home! Maybe these photos will be a little extra encouragement to come visit me...

Master bed

My bedroom closet! <3

Living/Dining area. Excuse the mess; we'd just moved in.


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Hummus and Tilapia Gyros

I'm pretty sure that I have the best husband ever. Justin surprised me last week with a brand new blender! This action instates him as husband of the semester. During my growing up years, blenders were only used for milkshakes and the occasional smoothie. When I got married, I didn't include a blender in our registry because of the rarity of uses I supposed it would receive. My mind has been progressively changing about the usefulness and desirability of the common blender. Recipes require blenders and/or food processors to make soups, sauces, dips, pestos, frozen drinks... I want to be exposed to these foods! My dear husband used his birthday gifts to purchase his wife a blender. Have I mentioned that I have the greatest husband ever?

A nonchalant agreement was formed upon arriving in Grenada that we needed to eat a lot of hummus. Fresh fruits and vegetables are nice foods to eat in Grenada because they are fresh and cool, something the weather is not. Sometimes it's just not nice to eat a hot pork chop and steamed carrots when you're sitting in 31C/87F stickiness. Canned hummus was the only option available here, at a ridiculous price. That just wasn't going to work for us. The ultimate terms of the agreement were therefore determined: Justin buys blender/Kristina makes hummus. As Justin kept his end, I felt I should return my end promptly and abundantly.

Tilapia gyros with tzatziki sauce along with fresh hummus and sliced veggies fit the terms nicely. Justin and I loved this meal! The flavours are unique and deep. Raw rules this meal. Above all, I was amazed at how easy it was to make such a good spread. The tzatziki sauce took a bit of forethought but was well worth it. The hummus was made without tahini as the sesame paste is expensive here.



  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3-4 tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato
  • 7 oz Greek yoghurt (or plain yoghurt, see below)
  • 1 cucumber, cut in half
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup dill
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • assorted cut veggies for dipping

  1. Blend first 4 ingredients in blender. Add olive oil and lemon until desired consistency. Set hummus aside.
  2. Preheat broiler.
  3. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Place fish on greased broiler pan or baking dish. Cook for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
  4. Grate half of cucumber; squeeze out extra moisture then place on paper towel.
  5. Combine yoghurt, grated cucumber, garlic, and dill. Add lemon juice to taste.
  6. Spread 2 tablespoons of tzatziki sauce on one half of flatbread. Slice tomato and remaining cucumber. Place cucumber slices, tomato slices on tzatziki. Place fish on veggies. Top with avocado slices or mashed avocado. Fold in half and enjoy!

 Note: Regular yoghurt may be used in place of Greek yoghurt (which I did). To prevent the tzatziki from being too runny, strain yoghurt in two coffee filters over a colander on the counter for an hour.

Original recipes: Tilapia gyros here, tzatziki sauce here, and hummus here.

By the way, like the tablecloth? It's a picnic everyday at the Fox house!

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Tannia: the beginning of something good.

Apparently I eat too much because we emptied our propane tank suddenly one night last week. After a consultation with our neighbour and several days of procrastination, I now have a working range. Sort of. The range is functional however the smell of leaking propane is throwing off my groove, to quote the Emperor. We've set up a little fan to blow the poisonous fumes away from the lighted flame. I'm sure this is completely safe.

Our neighbours have been incredibly great to Justin and me. The family of five is a wonderful group of people to have living next door. The three boys love to play with Zoey, and she with them. Kai (the six year old middle child) adores Zoey and has decided that I must make Zoey a birthday cake with kibble icing. Jay (he's seven and in charge) enjoys playing with Zoey but prefers bossing Kai around. Coco (2yrs and such a cutie) is currently afraid of my puppy but has moments of bravery while his big brothers are nearby. Kesha and Devon, the parents, have been open and welcoming to us, helping us in any way they can.

Last night I decided to make a wonderful Grenadian food: Tannia log! Strange sounding, I know, but it tastes oh-so-good! I first tasted tannia log at a hash (I'll write more about hashes, later) and after tasting the warm, coconuty goodness I decided that I needed to learn how to make it. Tannia log is a porridge made from the tannia root. Tannia root looks like a hairy parsnip but has a milder flavour.

Tannia being peeled

After searching google for hours (not really, but a long time) I found the semblance of a recipe. I was excited as I headed to the grocery store last week. My confidence was high as I walked up to the root section of produce but faltered a little bit when the roots looked rather small. A Grenadian woman was next to me so I confirmed that I was choosing the correct vegetable. She kindly told me that I had indeed chosen the correct pile of ugly roots. Since she was so friendly, I thought I'd ask her how to make tannia log. It couldn't hurt, right? She proceeded to explain the process while piling the tannia into my produce bag. I ended up with two pounds of tannia, a coconut, and instructions to pick up a can of condensed milk. I didn't make the tannia log immediately as I wanted. We don't have a machete to cut open the coconut so my plans were at a standstill. A few days ago I was talking to some friends in the US who had grown up in foreign countries (Brasil and Fiji) and they explained to me the precise method of opening a coconut. Throw it on the cement! Since I wanted to save the coconut water, they recommended that I use something sharp to pierce the softer places in the coconut. Apparently those three holes depicted in cartoons are good for something!


I smashed my coconut and pulled it apart into multiple pieces. Not cutting myself on the sharp shards of coconut husk was more difficult than I thought but finished the job unscathed. I peeled and grated the tannia which was a slimy and equally dangerous job. The coconut flesh was harder than I expected it to be so when I grated it most of the flesh did not come off. Oh well. I ended up with a big pile of shredded, white flesh ready to be boiled! My online recipes conflicted on how much water to add so I added enough water to cover the tannia plus an additional two or three inches of water. A bit of freshly grated nutmeg and some ground cinnamon completed the soup. I was warned to be ready to stir the porridge for a while. Justin had finished studying for the night so stirring the pot was a welcome break for him. He brought his laptop into the kitchen and we watched a show while stirring the thickening pot of tannia and coconut. This Friday night compromise worked out perfectly as we both had our entertainment fix while cooking! The timing worked out perfectly; the porridge was thickening up just as the show ended. I added a can of sweetened condensed milk to complete the porridge and we were ready for a snack! And yah mon, it tastes great!

I just took Zoey outside and told my neighbour about making tannia log and my attempt to add shredded coconut to the mix. He laughs and tells me I should have added coconut milk, not the coconut itself. Ha. Well, I guess that's why we have the unexpected crunch. The grocery store tricked me by placing the tannia root and coconuts side by side. I blame the system. However, all-in-all, I believe that the tannia log making attempt was successful. My recipe made a little too much for two people...and by "a little" I mean that we'll be eating this stuff for two weeks. I'm ready to enjoy! :)

Shredded tannia. Slimy stuff!

Tannia log porridge thickening

Finished product! Yummy midnight snack.