Monday, May 26, 2008

Puerto Rico!

At the beginning of the month, Mark and I took advantage of his week off between semesters and took a trip to PR. I'm always itching for a vacation, and when I saw tickets on AirTran for less than $100 one way, we jumped on them. The trip was seriously so much fun; if you want to see more pictures, click HERE. Otherwise, here's the abreviated version...
Day 1
- Arrived in San Juan at around 2:30 in the afternoon
- Explored Old San Juan
- Visited the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, which really wasn't that cool. I couldn't even remember why I even had it on my list of "Things to See" until we got back to the car and remembered that Ponce de Leon is buiried there. So we had to go back later on and take a picture, of course.
- Got pooped on at Pigeon Park - bummer.
- Headed to Fajardo (on the east side of the island) to stay at the Passion Fruit B&B. The staff was super nice (and they made a killer breakfast). But don't ask them for directions...they were seriously challenged in that department.
Day 2
- Took the mini plane from Fajardo to Vieques (a small island about 8 mins flight away). Loved the views from the plane.
- Arrived at our next B&B. Realized we were the only guests; got upgraded to the best room.
- "Rented" a Hawaii-style car, which I think belonged to a staff member.
- Visited some amazing beaches, and saw tons of sweet lizards. And stray horses everywhere.
- Went on the BioBay Kayak Tour of Mosquito Bay. Definitely one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.
Day 3
- Flew back to main island.
- Went hiking at El Yunque Rainforest.
- Checked into our awesome apartment in Isla Verde. Loved the view - right on the beach!
Day 4
- Visited the forts of El Morro and Fort San Cristobal. Almost got blown away (seriously) by the crazy wind.
Day 5
- Drove to the west side of the island to see the Arecibo Observatory and the world's largest radio telescope.
- Visited the Rio Camuy cave park...were sad that the caves were closed, but still liked seeing the giant sinkhole and the huge cave openings.
Day 6
- Spent the morning at the beach
- Flew home; tried to get caught up on sleep!
Hope you enjoyed the pics...if you want to hear more details about the trip, give me a call!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Family News

Although I have tons to write (ok...tons of pictures to post) about our fun week in Puerto Rico, I’ve gotta keep things in chronological order or my obsessive compulsive side would freak out. So first I’ll write a quick note about all the exciting news in the Gouker/Pearce fam. A few weeks ago, my brother-in-law Jason and his business partner Jeff bought a restaurant in Sandestin. It’s called Graffiti and The Funky Blues Shack. It's pretty exciting news for all of us; you can read about it on my sister’s blog here or here. I'd highly recommend checking it out if you're in FL...especially if you're staying at Hotel Pearce!
Hopefully the restaurant will be a good investment,
especially for my dad, because he retired on April 30. I’m really happy for him, and wish I could’ve been there for the awesome surprise party my family threw for him. I heard the food was great (especially the cake). He’s already got a new gig at the golf course, and is sure to enjoy his endless days of free golf.In more Pearce news, my younger sister, Wendy, graduated this week and I'm super happy for her as well. Mark and I couldn't make it down, but we're really excited for her. Well, I'm excited...I think Mark is just jealous ;)Here is Atlanta, Mark and I have been having a seriously fun time recently. On May 2, we had a fabulous time laughing at Jerry Seinfeld with our friends Chad and Stacey (even though we were in the last, yes - the very last, row at The Fox). It was actually fun being way up there...I'd never noticed all the amazing details on the ceiling (and yes, I'm being serious). We made up for those seats by having great seats at The Lion King the next night. The show was just as expected - wonderful! That weekend we also attended our first birthday party for a child (very was kind of like daycare with cake) and celebrated Mark's mom's birthday. Then, we headed out for a week in PR. Don't worry...there will be tons of pics and stories in the next post.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

True Love

Cafe Rio...where do I start. I was there when it opened in Provo, and it's always held a special place in my heart. Maybe it's the fact that it's impossible to go there without seeing someone you know; maybe it's the eccentric employees (3 fingers, anyone?); maybe it's just the fact that it's the most delicious taste ever to enter my lips. Whatever it is, it's amazing. Since its been nearly 2 years since my last experience at the Rio, I decided it was time to attempt to recreate the goodness. Although it was seriously more cooking than I've done in the last 2 months combined (ok, 4 months), it turned out super good. Thought I'd share the recipe for those who also are in withdrawals. Enjoy. Dressing: 1 pkg Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Dressing; 1 cup buttermilk; 1/2 - 1 clove of garlic (minced); 1/2 t lime juice; 1 cup mayo (or light mayo); 2 tomatillos; 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (chopped); 1/2 small jalapeƱo (seeds removed) Mix all ingredients in blender. Refrigerate at least one hour prior to serving.

Pico: 2 tomatoes (chopped); 1/2 white onion (chopped); 1/4 bunch cilantro (chopped); 1 clove of garlic (minced); 1/2 t lime juice; salt and pepper Mix all ingredients together (duh).

Cook white or brown rice as directed (use chicken bouillon in place of water). Once cooked, add 1/2 bunch cilantro (chopped); 2 tsp cumin; 1 small can of diced green chiles; 1 T lime juice; pepper.

Cook 3 lb pork roast in crock pot (covered 1/2 way with water) on high for 3 hours. After 3 hours, drain most of the water and add 1 bottle taco sauce (8 oz); 1 T cumin; 1 cup brown sugar; 1 can Coke (not diet). Cook on low additional 3 hours. Shred before serving.

Now for all you Rio virgins, this is how you eat it - warm a burrito-sized flour tortilla on the stove, melting some cheese in the middle. Next you heap on the rice, then some black beans, then tons of pork. Top with romaine lettuce (shredded, naturally), pico, guac, and some crispy corn strips (cook a corn tortilla in the oven to make). Finish with tons of dressing and a lime slice on the side.

I know this is a lot of work, for all you non-chefs (like me), but it'll last you a few days at least. Delish!