It’s the simple things that give us joy!…Yesterday’s event was a perfect example…A new plan…

Raphael, our new vegetable guy. We were thrilled to meet him and buy his fresh produce. Check out that smile!

When we heard that a vegetable guy drives around the neighborhood every Tuesday, we kept the front door open all day, hoping we wouldn’t miss his honking. All we knew was that he could appear anywhere from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or…not appear.

At 5:30 pm, we heard a horn honking while I was upstairs changing, and Tom couldn’t move fast enough to try to explain to Raphael, who speaks no English, to wait a minute or two until I could come downstairs, put on my shoes and head out the door. I hadn’t moved that fast in a long time.

Once outside, I squealed with delight when I saw all the fresh-from-the-farm vegetables. I had to remember what we couldn’t eat that wouldn’t be cooked, but since we won’t be eating anything that may have been washed in the bad water here. It’s too risky. I did buy some carrots that I will parboil for a few minutes and then refrigerate, hoping they will be okay to snack on from time to time.

His truck was packed with produce in a somewhat disorganized manner, but we didn’t care.

With my way of eating, I avoid carrots, but while here, I am a little more lenient, and Tom likes to snack on carrots occasionally. We had been talking about how wonderful it would have been this past week if we’d been able to have green beans or broccoli. Tom won’t eat the cauliflower. It’s a favorite of mine due to its low-carb content.

As we use each item, I will wash it with bottled water and then cook it to ensure any bacteria is killed, perhaps a little longer than usual. Soon, I will cook the cauliflower for breakfast to have with a few hard-boiled eggs. Tom hasn’t been wanting breakfast lately. Instead, he’s been having toast and jelly each morning with his coffee, which seems to hold him all day.

After we purchased all the vegetables from Raphael, we managed to explain to him to come by every Tuesday so we could buy more. None of these vegetables were available in the grocery store except for the onions. Next time we go to Manta in three weeks, we’ll find a different market, hopefully with more options, but we will continue to buy produce from Raphael.

His truck was packed with a wide array of vegetables, many we don’t eat. However, we were able to find those we do eat and that are non-starchy.

We enthusiastically thanked Raphael, shaking his hand, and he seemed genuinely pleased to have provided his farm goods for us. I don’t think the price was a bargain, but at this point, there was no way we’d negotiate. After all, we only spent $8 and were happy to do so.

Once back inside with the vegetables, I found myself back in Afib. The result of moving so fast to get dressed, going down the steps from the bedroom, and putting on my shoes was enough activity to send me into a full-blown Afib event. Although my pulse never got over 103 beats per minute, I could feel the awful flutter in my chest that lasted for a few hours.

Resting and deep breathing after eating a light dinner, and eventually, it settled down. One can get Afib without a fast heartbeat. I wasn’t due to take the drug until 9:30 pm, so I waited patiently and calmly. I am not freaking out each time, as I had previously. We watched a few shows, but my mind was spinning on how much I needed to get some exercise. I have been sitting a lot over the past several months since this started again.

We’ll go through this batch in no time and look forward to Raphael’s return next Tuesday.

Today, I started a new, very slow, and easy exercise routine. Every 15 minutes, I stand up from the sofa or chair and step in place, vigorously swinging my arms for a step count of 25, not much but a beginning. Each day, I will increase the number of steps. In the interim, I test my heart every few hours to ensure I haven’t gone into Afib.

Doing this is a massive commitment since I plan to do it for 10 hours daily. This should contribute to improved cardiac health and potentially, eventually, improve the Afib. Also, I have set a goal to lose ten pounds, which I have carried for the past few years. I want to accomplish this before we leave here in 68 days, which is less than 1½ pounds a week. Losing even 10 pounds can significantly improve Afib.

I must thank Gary, one of our readers who said I should take advantage of the time here and get fit. I agreed with him but questioned if I could exercise with the problems with my legs and the Afib. Today is only Day 1, but those 68 days will pass anyway. Why not use them to improve my health?

That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 1, 2013:

No, I didn’t edit the mouth on this camel, which appeared to be laughing. For more photos, please click here.

Barramundi…Tom bit the bullet…

We stumbled upon the Preston Fresh Seafood Wholesaler on our drive to Yorkeys Knob which is a quick five-minute drive from our home in Trinity Beach.  With many more items I like to try, we’ll surely be returning soon.

While making dinner last night I was apprehensive for two reasons; one, Tom doesn’t like fish and two, it was the first time I was making Barramundi, a locally caught fish, popular in Australian restaurants which we mentioned on the day we visited the pier in Palm Cove.

Their colorful signs in the somewhat remote location made it easier to spot from the highway.

With my forgiving taste buds, I had no fear that I’d like the fish. Tom, on the other hand, is picky and normally won’t eat fish let alone a wide array of other foods and vegetables making cooking for him challenging at times. 

As a result, it’s not unusual for me to make two separate meals to allow myself variety and to try new foods befitting my way of eating. Yesterday, I’d offered to make Tom a steak and give him a small piece of fish to try, but he insisted he’d give the fish a try.

When we arrived at the wholesale fish market, we were intrigued by what could possibly be “cooked bugs.” Could this possibly be some type of sea “insect?”  Check out the photo below of “cooked bugs.”

Usually, for myself, I’ll grill fish instead of sautéing it with garlic, spices, butter, and olive oil. I knew Tom wouldn’t like it grilled. Last night I prepared a bowl of beaten egg with cream and a plate of seasoned almond flour, dipping the fish into the creamy egg mixture and then into the almond flour. 

I preheated the only skillet in this house with an equal mix of coconut oil and olive oil in a medium-sized non-stick type which I wouldn’t normally use if stainless steel was available, keeping it from getting too hot due to the pan’s coating.

Gee, we’ve never seen scallops in the shell. We can imagine a plate of six of these covered in almond flour and Parmesan-crusted buttery topping. Tom likes scallops so this will be a no-brainer.

The fish was so thick, it took a good 12 minutes, turning it once to ensure it was cooked thoroughly but not overcooked. Without a lid for the pan, it had to cook longer than usual while I kept a watchful eye.

Finally, I plated our meals and we sat down to dinner at the dining room table. I tried not to watch Tom’s face as he took the first bite, instead focusing on my own delicious plate of food. The fish was mild, cooked perfectly without a single bone to be found.

These are “large cooked bugs” which are similar to crab but according to the salesperson, they taste similar to prawns. Next time we visit, we’ll try a few of these.

After his plate was clean, he turned to me and said, “It was OK.” Oh. What an enthusiastic response. Then again, that’s a typical response for Tom or, shall I say for many men who a less inclined to “jump for joy” than us more enthusiastic women. Sorry, women, for the stereotyping but men are different than us in some ways, aren’t they?

Will I make this for him again while we’re in Australia?  Most likely not. I was grateful he tried it once. And, if I make it for me, most likely I’d grill it to avoid making such a mess on the stovetop especially when the oil spattered when I turned the fish with a less than ideal spatula and hot grease hit the stovetop and a few spots on my hand. No big deal.

We selected a filet from this batch.  Keep in mind, for those of you reading from countries not using the metric system, AUD $32.50 per kilo translates to 2.2 pounds which would be USD $14.77 per pound, not too bad for fresh (never frozen) wild-caught fish. We purchased about one pound of which Tom had 9 ounces and I had approximately 7 ounces.

As for the smoked fish shown in the photo, this morning we had scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, and smoked fish on the side. What a perfect way to start the day! 

Recently, Tom has been having two meals a day, with me having one meal plus and an occasional light breakfast or afternoon snack. Due to my strict way of eating, a ketogenic diet, I have little appetite until dinnertime.

At AUD $64, USD $49.26, all of these items includes a huge Barramundi filet, two pieces of made-without-sugar smoked fish, and two containers of crab meat which we’ll use to make low carb crab cakes this weekend (lasting for two meals) will result in four meals for the two of us. As a result, the cost per entre results in a cost per day of AUD $16, USD $12.31, not bad for such delicious fish and seafood. We struggle to be motivated to go out to dine when we do so well at home and have just as good a time.

Yesterday, we headed out for our weekly trip to the grocery store which now entails a trip to Woolworth, the meat market, and the indoor vegetable stand (they call it “veg” here in Australia). Tom waited in the car while I shopped, reading a book on the Kindle app on his phone. I wasn’t gone more than 40 minutes, now that I’ve become familiar with the market.

There were a few types of fish that had been frozen but it was clearly marked.  We don’t purchase defrosted fish preferring to buy only fresh when available.

Luckily, the other shops are outside the door of Woolworth in the mall making accessing the other stops easy and convenient as I wheeled around the “trolley” that had an annoying wheel with a mind of its own. Making my way to the car was challenging when I had a hard time with the crazy cart while attempting to maneuver the speed bumps (sleeping policemen).

Last night’s dinner of lightly battered with egg and almond flour, sautéed in coconut and olive oil Barramundi, fresh organic green beans, homemade LC muffin, and salad on the side was a perfect meal we both enjoyed.

Today, we’re off to a local travel agency, again in the Smithfield Mall, to arrange a few upcoming flights.  Normally, we don’t use travel agencies but with the high cost of data using the SIM card why not let someone else do the looking when it won’t cost us any more using a travel agent?

Many more fabulous scenery photos are stacking up which we look forward to sharing each day. 

Have a lovely day!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2014:

With the summer season in Madeira, roses were blooming in almost every yard in the neighborhood. For details from that date, please click here.

An experience we’ll always remember about Madeira…One year ago today…Cote d’Azur, Toulon, France…

 We took this video yesterday morning as we scurried up the steep hill to see what goodies the musical truck had on hand.
What a wonderful morning we had yesterday! We heard music blaring from loudspeakers that may have been either the produce or the fish truck. There was no way to determine which it was from the outside of the truck.
We were excited that the musical truck had fresh fish on hand. Check out this video.
We didn’t need more produce for a few more days and we were hoping it was the fish truck. When we heard the music we figured it was worth checking it out.
The fish guy held up a tuna for us to inspect. It was smaller than some of the others, but this size was perfect.

Looking up the road we saw two neighbors making a purchase wondering, as we worked our way up the steep hill while making the above video. Alas, we were in luck! It was the fish guy with the morning’s catch on ice. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. Tom is not usually interested in eating fish, but on occasion will have some shrimp, scallops, or lobster. 

Next, he weighed our tuna. It was slightly under 8 kilograms, approximately 17 pounds.

To my surprise, he seemed enthused and agreed to eat whatever fish we’d purchase as we stood at the back end of the fish truck taking photos and trying to decipher what types of fish the two fish guys had on hand. 

First, he removed the head and tails using a huge knife.

There was a small handwritten sign posted as shown in the below photo listing the names of the fish and the prices. As one of the fish guys rattled off the names of the various fish with tuna as the only fish we could decipher, which in Portuguese is “atum.” 

The names of the various fish they had on hand we impossible for us to determine except for the tuna which was our first choice in any case.

“Atum” sounded like “tuna” which once he cut it, I was certain that it was. Tuna is second on my list of favorite fresh fish with salmon in the number one spot. I could hardly contain my enthusiasm. 

He continued cutting.

After watching him cut a fish for the neighbor, we realized we’d have no option than to purchase an entire fish.  He selected a small tuna for us weighing in at 8 kilograms, equivalent to 17 pounds.  Of course, the cost is based on the weight per kilogram before cutting off the head, the tail, and removing the entrails.

At US $4.76, EU $3.50 per kilogram, the cost of the entire fish was US $38.12, EU $28, coming to US $2.24 per pound before cleaning. If this doesn’t make sense bear with me. 

He reached into the cavity and started pulling out the entrails.

Once fully cleaned, we were left with 12 large servings at US $3.18 each or US $6.36 for two. We gave Judite, who was still here cleaning the house, a good-sized bag of the fillets we cut once back inside, leaving us with 10 servings. Luckily, we managed to make room in the tiny freezer to store what is left after we’ll cook it for two dinners in a row.

He was highly skilled most likely as a result of years of experience. Plus, he had all of his fingers.

Although we’d prefer not to freeze any of it, we had no choice. We already had excellent leftovers from last night’s dinner for tonight. Thus, we’ll have the tuna both Friday and Saturday nights. 

Finally, he began cutting the tuna into manageable chunks which we later cut into fillets.

Ah, the simple things…they delight us. We’ll never forget the sound of the musical trucks driving on the steep hilly roads in Madeira to awaiting patrons relishing in the organic produce with the freshest and strongest flavors we’ve ever tasted and, the fresh-caught fish brought in from the sea practically to our door. It’s all magical.

This was our remaining tuna after we gave Judite a good-sized bag, some of which we’ll cook over the next few nights and the remainder which we sealed in Ziploc bags and froze for future meals.

Today, we’re off to Funchal to deal with the package currently held at customs in the main post office where we’ll be required to pay custom and VAT fees on the contents, returning home after a few errands (provided we can find the mall) and to cook our tuna. 

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2013:

Our ship docked in Toulon, France, Cote d’Azur, where we disembarked with a lovely couple, Nicole and Jerry, who were from Montreal, Canada and we’d met onboard the ship. We spent a lot of time together, enjoying every moment. Together, we wandered the area near the port of Toulon. For details on that date, please click here.