Saturday, February 9, 2013


Limin:  Verb meaning to hang out, go out, or relax.  Source: Cruician Dictionary

Through these posts I plan to share a photo dominated post, chronicling our adventures on St. Croix.

Hope you enjoy!

Sweet, playful, and hungry baby goat we met in the rainforest

Drinks downtown pre Super Bowl

Our fearless bush kitty in the backyard

Cane Bay

Reluctant Dorothy at the Mardi Croix Parade

Mardi Croix Parade Pirates

The winning float!       

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

White Pizza with Slow Roasted Tomatoes

 The key to this recipe is this pizza dough recipe featured in Bon Appetit, a little time and patience, and slow roasted tomatoes.  This is my new favorite way to eat a tomato.

You do have to plan ahead to make this pizza because the dough has to rise for approximately 19 hours and the tomatoes cook for about 3 hours, give or take a little in the oven.  But it is totally worth it.  A quick pie won't taste this amazing. 

 I've also made this pizza using the slow roasted tomatoes as a sauce - this works with big heirloom tomato slices which get to a point where you can just break them up on top of the dough and then top with whatever you desire.

I also did two variations with the cheese.  J prefers mozzarella and goat cheese; this time I liked the mozzarella and Parmesan. 

I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to be in the midst of tomato season right now and to those people I have nothing but remorse for you.  I've been there. 

Without further ado...

White Pizza with Slow Roasted Tomatoes 
For 1 large pizza (approximately 8-10 pieces)

Pizza Dough - follow this recipe from Bon Appetit (1/3 of the recipe is enough dough for 1 large pie, but it never hurts to have extra pizza dough around) * The initial rise for the dough is approximately 18 hrs followed by a second 1 hr rise, so be sure to plan ahead and make the dough the night before. *

Tomatoes - 4 to 5 medium to large fresh tomatoes (heirloom preferred but any type will do) * Also need to plan ahead for slow roasting time (see below)*
Onion (I used 1 shallot)
Garlic - 2 cloves thinly sliced
Olive Oil
1/2-2/3 8 oz ball mozzarella, thinly sliced
2-3 oz goat cheese (could sub other cheese like shaved Parmesan)

Preheat oven to 200 F.  Slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices and place in a bowl.  Toss with olive oil until tomatoes are coated.  Lay out on baking sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt and coarse black pepper (you can also add rosemary).  Roast for 3-4 hours until tomatoes have shrunk to half their original size.  The house will smell delicious.  Once they are sufficiently slow roasted, remove from the oven and allow to cool, then set aside until ready to use on pizza.  **  Tomatoes can be roasted days ahead of time and placed in Tupperware in the fridge until ready to use. 

Follow instructions from Bon Appetit for pizza dough but when you divide into balls for the second rise, I used enough dough for 2 balls (in their recipe) into 1 to have enough dough for a large pizza.  This dough is soft and bubbly; you want it to stay that way, so don't overwork it. 

While the dough is rising for a second rise (1 hour) covered in a dish towel, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. 

Now for forming you pizza pie.  Bon Appetit has a nice video here which can best instruct you.  I will say that I do not have the fancy pizza peel or baking stone (yet) but you can still make a great pie. 
Here are a few photos of me forming my pizza crust (and desperately trying not to drop it on the floor).
Now place you pizza crust on your baking sheet or pizza peel, brush with olive oil and throw on your toppings!  Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 500 F until crust is bubbly and browned. 

Eat immediately!

All photos courtesy of Justin Shatwell.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Balancing Act & Hearty Whole Wheat Tortillas

Loving baking can be bad for the figure.  Especially when you're someone who likes to bake with real butter and eggs.  Full of flavor AND fat.  I've been experimenting with many bread recipes recently but my body does not do well with scores of carbohydrates across the day.

So in order to create a bit more balance with my love of carbohydrates and my desire not to gain 10 pounds, I often eat whole wheat tortillas.  Tortillas are a great base for hundreds of meals, especially on the go meals.  I do breakfast wraps, make lunch wraps to bring to work, burritos for dinner, and I've eaten many a peanut butter and banana wrap.

You may not have thought about it, but food in the VI is really freakin' expensive.  Anything that is not made here (i.e. most packaged things you buy at the grocery store) has to be shipped in which ups the costs.  I once asked J to pick up a jar of almond butter at the store, maybe a few months after we moved here.  He brought it home but had never looked at the price.  Unpacking the grocery bags I saw on the lid the sticker - $21.98.  Seriously!!  You always have to price compare here - it is not worth $22 for a jar of almond butter.

So we try to shop local for what we can (fortunately you can grow fruits and veggies year round here and there are some amazing local farms) and cook some things from scratch.  So we make our whole wheat tortillas at home - super easy, fun, and tasty!

I tweaked the recipe recently and changed the all purpose to bread flour and this resulted in a heartier tortilla, able to hold more robust contents.  Yum!  In these pictures I doubled the usual size to make a larger deli sized wrap, but usually we make the smaller ones and they are perfect for small burritos, wraps, or enchiladas.  For my typical breakfast wrap to go, I keep it simple - fried egg on top of sliced Parmesan with fresh greens (usually arugula - my fave) on top.


Hearty Whole Wheat Tortillas
Recipe modified from Troy Hakala's recipe at
 - makes 4 large tortillas or 8 small tortilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour (can use all purpose here)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp canola oil
2/3 cup + 1/2 Tbsp room temperature water (if using all purpose flour just use 2/3 cup water)

1)  Whisk together dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking powder).

2)  Make a well in dry ingredients, pour in canola oil and water, and mix well.

3)  As the ingredients begin to come together, put hands in to finish combining ingredients.

4)  Form into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface to roll out tortillas.  Split ball into 4 or 8 small balls depending on how large a tortilla you desire.

5)  Flatten ball into a disk and then roll out into thin "round" tortilla.  These may not be perfectly formed but that's the beauty of homemade.  It has more character.  While I'm rolling it out, I'm picking it up and turning it a quarter turn every few rolls to get it more evenly shaped.  I also turn the tortilla over about halfway through.  I usually roll out one at a time, while the one before is cooking.

6)  While you are rolling out the first tortilla, preheat a frying pan (no oil needed!) over medium heat.  Place rolled out tortilla on pan and cook about 30-45 seconds per side.  When a side is done it will have golden brown specs.  Can use immediately or save in the fridge for later, wrapped in plastic wrap.

7)  Top with your favorite ingredients, roll it up and enjoy!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


There are so many other terms for it.  I like to call it itchy feet and there’s this awesome song by The Be Good Tanyas that calls it the wandering blues.  

I get it about every two years.  That’s probably how we ended up on this quirky little island in the middle of the Caribbean.  Midwifery here is very different than on the mainland – some ways better and some not.  One thing I love is that everyone knows what midwives are and it is never surprising that your baby may be caught by a midwife.  Also there is an extremely low epidural rate, mostly based on the fact that women here don’t want them and have the inherent knowledge that they can have a baby without it.  There are downsides however.  Working as a staff nurse midwife at an extremely short staffed hospital where an old school hierarchy prevails means that I am responsible for nursing and midwife duties (sometimes both for one patient), a ridiculous amount of paperwork, and simultaneously have both a lot and next to no autonomy.  This is also a high risk population, one of the reasons being that many women do not receive adequate, or any, prenatal care. 

A little side note on my choice of working in a hospital.  I love out-of-hospital birth, but often those options are not available to the underserved populations – clients who are uninsured or have government insurance.  This is because many will most likely have to pay out of pocket to have a birth at a birth center or at home.  Before I knew about midwifery, I knew I wanted to provide good care to those who may not get it otherwise and that is why I choose to work as a staff nurse midwife at a hospital.

Wow.  When I actually type those words out, it is actually kind of reinvigorating.

But there are days when my feet get itchy and I dream of other jobs or other places.  When I was a new midwife and nervous I might accidentally kill someone, I would sometimes think – I could always quit and be a bus driver.  Sure there is a lot of responsibility in driving a bus, but there are days when you just want to do something else.  Recently I’ve been daydreaming about starting a bakery.  Or teaching.  My dream before we came here was to just travel the world, or work at a clinic in rural Honduras.  Some dreams are obviously more fantastical that others. 

I love being a midwife and connecting with women, not only is it a perk of my job but I actually (not to be too boastful) think I’m pretty good at it.  But unfortunately working can be hard (whine) and my father was right when he said as much to an idealistic 16 year old determined to always enjoy her career.

I’m not sure yet what the solution is yet but my 2013 Resolution is to stay positive and not bring the stress of work home with me.  I’ll expand that to remind myself why I do this.  I came to the Caribbean because they needed health care providers and in that situation you know there will be challenges to overcome.  And I guess when I can’t stay positive I will bake the sorrows away or go enjoy some of the plethora of beauty here.

Ha'Penny Beach

Enjoying our walk

Sunset off the F'sted Pier

Friday, January 25, 2013

Getting Back to Blogging...

So clearly I've been gone for a while.  It seems to take me about a year to get settled anytime I move somewhere new.  But I've still been baking and catching Cruzan babies and I'd like to start sharing that again.

I haven't really written much about our new home in the Caribbean so here are a few updates.  We spent the majority of our first year on island living in a one room cottage in the rainforest built into the ruins of a Danish schoolhouse for slaves from the 1800s.  Obviously very cool and very cozy, but unfortunately we were cohabiting with some natives to tropical climates - cockroaches and roof rats.  There was also a very startling encounter where we woke up to squealing, which turned out to be a frog being killed by a centipede.  Yes.  That happened.

The other downside was the drive - it took about 35 minutes to get to the hospital and a large portion of this was down a road affectionately called "Pot Hole Preserve".

So we started looking for a new place and found a larger, bug free apartment with a gorgeous view.

Along with gorgeous view unfortunately came about 5 minutes of arguably the worst road on St. Croix - and if you've been here, you'll understand how bad that is.

We love it though and the plus side to living up a rocky hill is that it sure keeps the traffic down.  Downside - it also keeps some friends with small sedans away and I have a fear that any future babies could get brain damage.  I guess we'll cross that bridge at a later date.

Other exciting news - in the spring of 2012 we went to our favorite farm stand to buy tomatoes and ended up adopting a kitten!  Fitzgerald, who was a mere 2 pounds when we got him, has now taken over the house and forced everyone, some reluctantly, to fall in love with him.  He is our daily alarm clock and entertainment.

Photo courtesy of Justin Shatwell

I hope to stay more consistent about blogging and post a little more about midwifery in 2013.  But my other passion - baking and cooking will also get plenty of attention.  I have a lot of recipes I'm excited to write about and more I plan to explore.  I have a new pizza recipe that I'm in love with that includes a special ingredient; plus I've been baking a lot of bread and experimenting with lots of Indian recipes.

Here is a photo of a Cranberry/Pomegranate Rustic Tart (with a rye tart crust) that I indulged in for Thanksgiving as a little preview.

Hope you'll stick around for the journey!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Simple Comfort Food

I have to admit.

I am one of those health care providers who notoriously does not take great care of herself. It's not that I don't want to eat when I'm working. It's just that I don't always have time. I like to be at a stopping point or at least a moment of solace.

As other midwives and nurses know there are days where your feet hit the ground running and they don't stop until your shift or call is over. A favorite medical assistant of mine used to say to me, on days where my schedule was booked and double booked, hope you have your roller skates on! These are the days where I don't eat or drink anything and am so busy I even forget to pee!

So needless to say, at the end of a shift like that I need to carb load. Not the best thing to do at 8 pm or midnight, I know, but after running a marathon on labor and delivery up and down the halls this midwife likes to unwind with a large bowl of whole wheat penne.

I dress it simply but deliciously with my concoction of olive oil, crushed red pepper, sea salt, and shaved Parmesan - all to taste. Then I curl up with the penne and my laptop and watch an episode of Sex and the City.

Comfort food for the belly and soul.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Turtle Sign

We found an incredible spot to call home in the Caribbean.  It's a cottage that is actually built into the ruins of a Danish school house from the 1840s.  To top it off, we inherited some neighbors when we moved in - 8 Red Footed Tortoises who live in the rest of the ruins which is essentially our backyard.
They are fun to watch and feed and I think they have become quite fond of us too since they associate us with food.

But this post is not about these turtles.  I wish I was talking about a cute turtle sign, a picture of a turtle swimming or eating.  I'm talking about something that happens in childbirth.  No recipes today, just a midwife talkin' birth.

Birth is messy.  And rarely textbook.

After being a midwife for 5 years, the order of things gets easier to read but it's still hard to know when the birthing goddesses will throw you a curve ball.  These curve balls can be nice, like a first time mom coming in at 8 or 9 centimeters, or they can be wicked, like the dreaded shoulder dystocia.

In a shoulder dystocia, the baby's head comes out - but sometimes not all the way, maybe the chin is still waiting there - and then immediately does something called the turtle sign.  The turtle sign is where the head sinks back in close to the perineum, like a turtle slinking back into it's shell.
 After the head emerges, this is usually where the rest of the baby easily slips out.  With a dystocia, something is holding the baby up and it typically is the anterior shoulder that's not coming down.  Then we have a set of maneuvers and positions we do until we get the baby out.  It may seem chaotic to a women or family involved (and maybe sometimes it is) but midwives, doctors, and nurses practice for these emergencies.

Some of these dystocias are mild and some are severe.  None are fun.   They all leave you with a sigh of relief when the baby comes out and cries quickly and vigorously, waving his or her arms around wildly.  One of the hardest thing about obstetric emergencies is that they are sometimes unpredictable, so while you have to always be prepared, as a midwife you also need to keep in mind that most of the time birth is normal and healthy.

I had the amazing opportunity to work with a home birth midwife as part of my clinicals for midwifery school.  So the first 8 babies I delivered were all at the women's homes.  In fact the first baby I delivered was on a water bed, which is not an easy feat.  I always remember this midwife talking about the process of becoming a more seasoned midwife.  As a newbie all you can see during a birth is the baby's head, and can focus on nothing else.  Then as you get more experienced you can start focusing on other things - like the fact that thereis a women there, her face, her feelings, the baby's heart rate, the feel of the room.

This applies to emergencies as well.  With your first shoulder dystocia, your inner monologue is going something like this, " Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god." After awhile that may be going on in the background after 45 seconds or so, but I've drowned it out with my steps and the faith that most of these babies will come out unharmed.

My scope of attention has expanded since I was a new midwife, not to say I'm an expert.  I still and always will have much to learn from others - both colleagues and especially women.  But I can do the maneuvers, call out instructions, and hear what's going on around me.

Oh and breathe too - that's important.

For my days off I will stick to these turtle signs  - signs of impending cuteness.