Monthly Archives: March 2014

20 Cheap, Delicious, and Healthy Black Bean Recipes

Ever since I spent a summer in Cuba where black beans are ubiquitous and each family has their own special slow simmered recipe I have liked frijoles Negro and buy them, eat them or order them in restaurants. They are flavorful, cheap and versatile!

This winter, I’ve even bought them dried from the Tuesday market for about 6 pesos a half kilo and soaked them overnight in anticipation of making my breakfast burrito. I make this  rice and bean concoction in quantity to freeze, defrost and warm up to make an oh so cheap, satisfying and high fiber desayuno! I also use a can or packet or two of refried beans for moisture and this is a good way to use up any odds and ends onions or green peppers that may not be at their ultimate freshest.

To make a whole pot while you are at it, simply cook half a pot of rice, any kind and then mix in the different kinds of beans, onions, jalapenos, what have you and there you are. If I have a can of coconut milk I use that for about half of the liquid to make the rice which is something I picked up during a trip to Belize one spring break. This gives the rice a wonderful tropical yet subtle flavor. Each batch will be slightly different and that’s part of the appeal!

I have also used scrambled eggs with this mixture when assembling the burritos in the morning but it is not essential. You would be amazed at how much you can put into a supple tortilla!

Tia Rosa is a muy bueno brand to pick up at Sorianas o Mega but fresh tortilleria are everywhere. Just remember that a kilo of tortillas is about 50 so modify your order unless you are feeding a crowd at a fiesta. Nothing like standing in line for your quarter or half a kilo of fresh, warm tortillas right off the creaky tortilla machine wrapped up and eating a few off the top of the stack totally unadorned. Each tortilleria makes slightly different or even flavored ones so keep some loose change in your pocket whenever you see a line up at one join the queue!

It’s no wonder that tortillas are a staple even north of the border because they can be used for such a wide variety of dishes, flat, fresh, dried, rolled, layered and chit into strips for tortilla soup! I don’t know about you but there’s kind of an’acid test’ dish for every ethnic restaurant. For Thai it’s pad Thai and for Mexican it’s tortilla soup.


Earlier this month I picked up some chorizo flavored vegetable ground ‘meat’ to try out. Sometimes these meat substitutes are a bit lame but in this rice and bean concoction they should be well camouflaged. Previously, I’ve even tested this fake ground beef on staunch meat eaters with no protest or mutiny!

The link above is a nice collection of simple black bean recipes that can be prepared even in a mini kitchen like mine with a two burner counter top gas hormone/stove. It’s sheep the trash down the long driveway to the gate day so I’m up early to make up my next rice and beans batch that when portioned into freezer bags generally last a couple of weeks ma o menos.


This post does remind me that sometime on April, my finale month I simply must fit in a cooking class or two. Tomorrow,I rip off month four on my calendar. Yes, already…


Cooking School Research in SMA

I’m now moving into my finale month and I’ve saved attendance at coming school for last. In the interest of authentic research, I have tracked down a recipe for a fresh tomato sauce on a light fish like tilapia.

A couple of weeks ago at Cafe Monet on their Movie and dinner night the main entree was fish with a tomato based sauce which although a bit unusual brought the rather bland tilapia fish alive. I didn’t think anymore about thus dish until I happened upon the fairly easy too make recipe.

It appears to be a regional pescado/specialty here so when the fresh seasonal tomatoes start appearing here’s a recipe to use them up in with tasty results!


Guest Postings for Two Different Sites Pending this Week…

It is almost the very last day of the second last month of my third snowbird winter and I ve got two articles pending for two different sites so to move them to the front burners I ll list them to be accountable.

The first request was from Nora Dunn of and the most recent one was

Okay, that s the two front burner writing projects for this week!  Now time to do an hour blog scan at this cyber cafe in Centro and add some cut and paste links to expand and amplify my individual postings. I m pushing 175 postings presently and I would like to hit 200 by the time I m at the Leon International Airport in the wee early hours of the 30th of April.

It seems lately that the blog postings are almost writing themselves as I reflect on my first winter in San Miquel de Allende. My Artist Way grupo led by Joseph Bennett , a LifePath practicioner, interior designer, AW leader, improv troup leader, assemblage artist, art marketing consulting wrapped up this week so an afternoon has freed  up to do some serious writing.

Btw,this talented entrepreneur wears many top hats and wears them very well. As I told him as I was exiting his home on Subida de Caracol after the final hurrah of the 12 week themed program on Tuesdsay afternoon, ´It s a long time since I felt like seasonal riffraff.

Ánd it s very true. I don t live like a typical tourista, I m not in a gated gringo gulch enclave hanging out exclusively with other Canadians and I m really endeavoring to improve my espanol cada dia. Being here has been benefiicial for that as I use espanol every day in the tienditas y con the taxi drivers to return home each night after going out for the day and/or night. Centainly, Plan B or what ever letter it turned out to be has worked out just fine. But yes, I will do a day trip to Queretero to visit English Works/Spanish Works Escuela to see the owner of the school where I thought I was going to be working for actual pesos this winter.

Here in SMA, I ve had the opportunity to volunteer in two different schools at Level 1 and Level 6 and I m happy with that. It s always good to gain actual f2f 3experience if I want to move into online TESL tutoring for PayPal dollars. I m aware of an established Chinese school that is seeking native speakers for online English instruction which I basically do from anywhere in the world!

The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should)

There’s a wonderful phrase in this article near the end…

Recalibrate your reality.


Wow! Three words that encapsulate my post teaching retirement lifestyle philosophy on both sides of the border. And I’m keeping in mind that it wasn’t even my idea to come to Mexico in the winter. So, Randie Mills, real name, even though our paths have gone in diametrically different directions I say a sincere mil gracias for tipping the first domino over in the domino effect lineup leading to sunny, warm winters in Ajijic, Jalisco and here in San Miquel de Allende, Guanajuato. Fantastico idea!

Too bad you aren’t here, babe…

HappyCow- San Miguel De Allende, Mexico Vegetarian Restaurants – Smartphone Edition

It’s not easy being a vegetarian here, not that I am one, but there are a few places worth checking out in my finale month. With fruits and vegetables so plentiful and inexpensive here it totally makes sense to move towards a more plant based diet.


Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything which I own has adopted what he terms the VB6, vegan before 6 lifestyle which imposes some healthy restrictions on part of your day but imho does not cramp your socialization in the evenings when you want to enjoy your dinner meal without obsessing, dissectingc sourcing or worse rationalizing every mouthful.

And yes, k.d. lang, I agree, the term’vegan’ is used loosely, very loosely and not strictly in keeping with the PETA doctrines with their, ‘Don’t eat anything that has a face’ philosophy but dammit, sometimes I just feel like a really high quality burger OR…gasp…hotdog.

So shoot me.

Fortunately there is absolutely no controversy at ALL about the vegan status of cervezas o Margaritas.

Viva Mexico!

San Miguel de Allende Rental Apartments – The Actor’s Studios

As luck would have it when I was strolling down Calle Anima I spotted a Se Rente sign. There are dos apartiamentos above this hair salon that I’m going to check out tomorrow en la tarde. Not, regrettably these way cool units but …

The price is right as they say. Checking with a few expats that I know they tell me that the location is great, handy dandy to the market and tortilleria and of course neighbourhood restaurantes and cantinas. I d like to secure clean, safe accommodation prior to my departure from San Miquel de Allende. I ll be checking out of my casita in Los Balcones on the 28th when the maid shows up to clean the place, head to the Alcatraz Hostel in Centro for my last day/night in SMA! At 160 pesos, once again the price is right. On the morning of the 29th I ll be heading to Leon to be closer to the airport for an early, early departure on the 30th. I have to go through two airports enroute to Victoria International arriving at about midnight mas o menos.

As they say, the sands of time are slipping through the hourglass…sigh…

Statistics about Mexican Expatriates

Yes, Juan, there are over a half million expats living in Mexico and even with the new tighter regulations with a much higher qualifying monthly income the exodus south continues.

And I’d be lying if I said this hadn’t crossed my mind because it has especially this last week when I’ve been in a bit of a funk looking at the kijiji and Craigslist rentals for Nanaimo.

I really need a CO rent situation with other travelers/boomers like myself OR I’m basically sentenced to living in a dark basement suite spending half…or more of my teachers’ pension on rent and utilities. Despite the above average vacancy rate in Nanaimo and seeing the same overpriced places month after month after month the rents have not adjusted to the market reality.

My mortgage payment in Penticton was 1200. plus utilities. Why would I want to pay this for a subterranean basement suite with nosy, inflexible landlords like I had last year? I was a landlord for 17 years in Penticton so I know up close and personal that it’s not ONLY about the money.

And don’t even get me started about what kind of VILLA I can rent here for the same kind of money where typically the places are fully furnished and included maid and gardener service. I may start weeping…

In any case, I have the wonderful Mulligan clan in Hammond Bay who has has graciously welcomed me back for ? mes for the summer road trip season and is storing my Mustang convertible in their garage as we speak. Muy grande gracias shoutout to Neil, Kristine and of course the LBD wonderdog, Suzi!


Regretably, THESE particular RayBans have met an untimely demise but my collection current contains not one by four versions and there are still a few Tuesday Markets left this month!

Phantasmagoria and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll (C.L. Dodgson)

My preceding post used the word ‘phantasmagoria.’ This was in reference to the shape shifting vagaries of the so called online dating world. The word just popped into my composing brain, I ran with it and now that I’ve looked up the source, C.S.Lewis who as we know had quite a lot of unresolved’issues’ with girls and women, I now know I was spot on.

The link above goes to the poem in it’s entirety included for aficionados of obscure literary references.

I now return you to more pleasant discourses about the life and times of being a muy feliz jubilada. Just a fantastico Spanish word. Sounds like the English word, ‘jubilant.’

And jubilant I certainly AM on this lovely sunny domingo. In previous years, not that long ago I would have been distressed that my two week compressed living spring break was drawing to a close.

No longer…


Walkabouts in San Miquel de Allende


This is so very true but really applies to my style of travel or exploration almost anywhere. Here in SMA the Centro area is just a rabbits warren of narrow cobblestone streets going every which way always with something new and interesting to discover. It’s like opening your eyes in the morning and finding yet another unwrapped Christmas present.

You can delay the unwrapping by having a shower, breakfast our coffee building up the anticipation because you know that day or night something will happen to you that has not happened before. Essentially, it’s like being a kid once more. Even with another birthday looming when I return in May I’m still in awe when I travel anywhere. For me it’s a spiritual practice and I don’t say thus lightly.

Yesterday, for example I had a slow mo morning and didn’t get out and about till mid afternoon but I still had time to tell the guy laying the cobblestones he was doing good work, walk down the very steep Homobono Calle into Centro, walk through the huge market there, decide to stroll down Calle Anima, saw a Se Rente sign, stopped to ask about it, had a full enchilada verde dinner with two tall jimaca drinks for only 40 pesos in an unnamed/no sign family restaurant for only 40 pesos, walked towards the Plaza stopping to see this very large, very noisy biker street ride bookended by policia cars for traffic and crowd control, had my first Miguito with fresh mint at a hip, happening place called Chopperia and walked through a tiende selling really high end leather work made by prisoners sold to help their families.

I them hailed a cab, chatted with the driver en espanol and because of road construction had to walk the last part of the way home just barely beating the rain, thunder and lightning. I was actually standing AT the tall black metal gate fumbling with my keys when a lightning bolt flashed overhead.

OMG! Did this ALL happen completely unplanned, unscheduled and in that chronological order?

Yes, and I purposely write out in one stream of conscious sentence to convey the f l o w of life here. I didn’t have my smartphone, I did have my camera in my pocket for east access and I want concerned about finding a place with wifi to check in or post our upload something. I brought my small portable 100 page journal and a nice flowy poem to tremendous some thoughts if I was on my own someplace. Writers have been writing in restaurants, bars and cafes forever so I think it’s much more socially acceptable and less isolating than powering into and touching a small screen.

I think last night was Earth night where people all over the world were encourage to turn out their lights for am hour. I got home about 830 in the middle but I did check my now fully charged phone and someone posted this great Durex commercial with the theme, Turn Off to Turn On. I’ll have to check but presumably Durex is a condom maker so the little vignettes were humorous but also rang true! Instead of the couples interacting with each other they were ‘parallel playing’ with their respective sometimes not-so-smartphones! Even this bridal couple shown in their full wedding regalia sitting side by side in bed!

I guess the point is, and Yes I do have one is that all the social media in the world will not and should not replace f2f and telephone contact with your amigas y amigos! And don’t even get me started on the whole ‘online dating’ phantamasgoria mess because I’ll just start weeping.

And why wreck another beautiful warm, sunny domingo here in Mexico?


RETIRE IN STYLE BLOG by Fellow Blogger

LOVE the title! And yes, it’s being updated and maintained. This I have found out is the true challenge of travel blogging. Are you living the life OR living the life just to report on it. What is your real m.o. or motivation.

For me, it’s certainly a creative outlet and most postings almost write remarks. My following is grieving and zip find that gratifying. I’ve been asked to write a guest post for and http://www.retirement which of course is an honor. And yes,I truly do want to offer some insider information and connect with like minded retirees with a similar retirement philosophy and lifestyle.

Not every retired boomer is living in s paid of house with a swanky golf club  membership, not that there’s anything wrong with that to use an old Seinfield expression. It’s just not for me even IF it was possible which it isn’t. I didn’t but my first house until I was 40 and I struggled for 17 years to keep out afloat AndI struggled to sell it. I struggled to survive in the last remaining old boys network school district in B.C. I struggled to like Penticton because the name of the city means’Place to Stay Forever.’

I just cannot and do not want to struggle anymore. Each and every single one of these struggled perhaps have made me stronger but they have also had a tremendous toll on my physical, emotional and spiritual health. And I’m still paying the price years later for this overwhelming burden of stress that I can hardly believe I survived.

So yes, now that I’ve put all that firmly in the tear view mirror do I still experience dark nights of the soul. For sure bit they pass and right now I can look outside the window and see that another sunny warm day in San Miquel awaits me filed with a myriad of delightful surprises!


Like hopping on a five peso bus to nowhere in particular and being spontaneously serenaded by a guitarist and his sidekick bongo playing buddy boisterously singing Spanish, English and Spanglish songs!