For My Dad

My Dad just left this morning after visiting for 4 days. He drove here all the way from BC. He loves to drive and dislikes flying – hard for me to understand that. Anyway, we had a great visit. I think the last time we had a visit that long and unrushed was before we had kids. I was a different person back then. Actually, Ron and I are nearly unrecognisable from ourselves of back then. I think that if him and I were to meet that couple now we wouldn’t like them. We’d probably hate them. We stood for everything that we disagree with now. So when he visited the last time we didn’t have much to talk about. Actually he ended up leaving a day early. Since that visit all of our visits have been pretty quick. Short and sweet we’d say. So now jump forward about 6 years and things are different. I found that I really loved having him here. We have a lot in common now. I enjoyed just hanging out with him. We didn’t really do anything and stayed close to home. I loved to see him with my kids. It is a very sweet side of him that I can’t remember seeing before. I know he was always like this but I just don’t remember seeing it. It warmed my heart to see him cuddling Justus and feeding him. He read to the girls at night and tucked them in at night. That made my heart swell. My dad loves music and brought along his mandolin. (He plays in a bluegrass band that I have yet to hear play, much to my disappointment.) Sage and Rori love music too. Sage would sing, making songs up as she went along and my dad would accompany her on the mandolin. It sounded great to this mommy’s ears. Rori would dance to the music they were making and Justus watched intently and excitedly kicked his legs. I can’t think of a better Christmas gift. I also enjoyed cooking for him. His favorite of the week was a Latin themed dinner. I have posted the recipes so that his sweet wife Cari might make it for him. The black beans and rice dish would be good all by themselves but we always add the Picadillo. I first had Picadillo in a Cuban restaurant here when I was in labor with Justus. It was very good but kinda pricey. Then I found a recipe for it on and I have been making it frequently ever since (and for a whole lot less money). The original recipe was posted by a DarcyStarz7 and I have made a few changes that work for us. Now I like this version much much more than what I had in the restaurant.

Cuban Black Beans

2 cups dried black beans, washed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
6-10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 T dried oregano
1 T cumin
2 cups chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with green chili’s
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
salt to taste
1 TBSP white sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper

Soak beans overnight. Drain water and replace with fresh water. Boil beans in water only for approx 1.5 hours until they are tender. (Adding anything acidic i.e salt, tomatoes, onions etc during the initial cooking process makes the skin of the bean more tough so it takes much longer to cook.) In a large pot add olive oil. When hot add onion, garlic and green pepper. Cook until tender. Add cumin, oregano, tomatoes and chili’s and cook until fragrant about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and cook covered over med low heat for another couple of hours. Keep enough stock in the beans so they don’t dry out but not enough that you have a soup. Think thick stew consistency. When you are ready to eat you can remove the lid to reduce the liquid if necessary. Then add salt to taste, apple cider vinegar, sugar and pepper. Serve along side white rice.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup chopped prunes
3/4 cup chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, drained

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef. Cook and stir until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Stir in the onions and bell pepper. Cook until soft, then add the garlic. Season with cumin, chili powder, oregano, paprika, and cinnamon. Cook and stir for about one minute to release the fragrance. Pour the tomatoes and beef stock into the pan, along with the sugar. Stir the prunes, olives, capers. Simmer on med low for 20 – 30 minutes. Add vinegar before serving. Serve along side white rice and black beans.

Here are a couple pics and a video of my dad’s visit. Thanks for everything Dad/GranDan. We love you!


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