Before I dive into explaining Island Time and all that it entails, I want to disclaim the following:
I am not a chef.
I’m not even a real cook.
I’ve had zero professional training.
I most DEFINITELY am not a nutritionist.
Not a wine sommelier.
When I was five years old, my parents did something they had been working towards, dreaming about, saving for. They opened their own business, a Mexican restaurant. I remember moving to a small city, in the middle of nowhere to a place that didn’t even have a stop light. It smelled of cow manure and the American Dream and we were knee deep in it.
It was a small place, just full of hopes and ownership. They did all the work themselves, at least from what I can recall. They painted, made brick archways on the walls, hung some tropical ceramic birds from the ceiling, bought some fake plants, set up a used cash register. There was endless days of cleaning and preparing and I can remember most of it. The opening day, though? It’s nowhere in my mind. Maybe I wasn’t privy to be there or maybe it happened while I was in school. All I know is that one day it was a “soon” and the next it just “was.”
In no time or maybe plenty of time it was a happening place and had created a buzz around our tiny hometown. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was welcoming. I think back to the beginning and I smile, because it was pure. As I grew, the restaurant grew. I think about it in terms of falling asleep. It was gradual and then all at once. My days revolved around enchiladas, rice and beans, burritos and so on. Within five years we had outgrown the cozy dwelling on Front street and we moved closer to the Canadian border, away from our roots.
In all its growth and all its success, I never found myself in the kitchen. The cooks were rough looking, older, spoke Spanish (unlike me at the time). They were intimidating, deviant looking people that towered over me. I wasn’t one to find myself conversing with them, or them with me. It just wasn’t an acceptable thing. And then the end of sixth grade came. My Dad decided I should spend some time in Mexico, with some family, so I could learn my culture, my language, my roots. And off I went.
I lived in Chihuahua, Chihuahua (yes, that’s a place) for a little over a year. I attended seventh grade there. It was a literal sink or swim for me, in terms of communicating with anyone. Naturally, I began to really understand Spanish. More than that, and more rewarding, was understanding this foreign notion to me. family time. With the business, my parents were so busy. We had limited time for family meals or hanging out. It’s just how it was and it was all I knew, really. Mexico, though. It was amazing and harsh and scary and fun. My Aunt and Uncle taught me so much with so much love and patience.
My Aunt Celia was a phenomenal cook. She would get up early in the morning and make her two older kids and myself breakfast. She would pack me a lunch. We would all sit and have dinner together. She was the first to show me how to make homemade salsa, Mexican rice, enchiladas. I taught her how the cooks cut onions and tomatoes faster (I was watching, if anything). She was everything you could ask for in a teacher, but the reality was that I only enjoyed eating the food. That’s the truth! I never found the joy in cooking like she did.
When I came back to the states, I began to pick up on certain assumptions that people made when you tell them your parents owned a restaurant. The most common was they would give me that sweeping look, the one that says, “Oh YEAH they do because you are CHUBBY.” Or, they would ask me if I could cook amazing food. Yes, I was overweight. No, I couldn’t cook. Not like their employees at the restaurant and certainly not like my Aunt Celia. I didn’t want to.
I got married at nineteen years old and kept hearing from my ex MIL that I had to start learning. That I needed to put the food on the table. That it was my responsibility and I think as sort of a big EFFFFF YOU, I refused. I didn’t want to learn. I wanted boiling water to be near impossible and I wanted to burn all the things. I wanted to make certain foods on repeat EVERY DAY and I wanted cereal for breakfast for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to be fancy. I certainly didn’t care if it was healthy. People deal with depression and anxiety in many different ways and this was one of mine. I had zero control over almost everything so this, this unreasonable aversion to cooking and house-wifing, this I would have on lock down. I wanted to fail and I made it obvious.
When I met Ku, who is a TOTAL FOODIE, my mind woke up. It started to remember what my lovely Aunt had shared with me, things I had seen in my parent’s kitchen, stuff I had seen on TV. My memory started to flash things back at me and this DESIRE to come out of my shell just took over. It’s been on fire since! Not a kitchen fire. A SOUL FIRE. And somehow, somewhere in that, a show was born.
There seems to be this misconception that cooking healthy is boring, bland, blah. It is salads on the daily and baked chicken breast with steamed broccoli. Friends. IT MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT! I promise I’m not making this up. I’ve had this EXACT conversation with NUMEROUS friends! And because of this, I started to put in the work myself and taste test away. I’m SACRIFICING myself for my friends and life has never felt more perfect!
We gave birth to Island Time with Vee (which is this homage to both the island in our kitchen, where we always congregate with family and friends, and a nod to our family in Hawaii, where our true Island time is) from this place of wanting to share healthy, easy recipes with everyone. My whole goal with it has been to keep it light, far from preachy, and fun! I make a show almost EVERY Sunday (sometimes life gets in the way and when that happens, I kick a throwback episode in there) and I bring some wine to the island because WINE IS LIFE, friends. When I can and it makes sense, we go live on my Facebook page to really showcase the simplicity and time saving recipe I found and tried before sharing it with you. There have been times I think something will be delicious and then try it and I’m like THAT IS NOT DELISH AND I CANNOT SHARE IT WITH MY FRIENDS and we scrap the whole thing in the garbage!
This latest episode is a skinny egg salad recipe and it’s easy to customize and AMAZING. Unless, of course, you don’t like eggs and if that’s the case, I don’t know what to say to you! I LOVE EGGS! If anything, watch it for a laugh, because you all know how MUCH I LOVE TO LAUGH. That’s the ONE thing I can promise on each episode! I hope you try it and share your thoughts with me! And the next time I post one of my videos here, I won’t go so deep into my backstory so we can cut straight to the chase!
And PS, the moral of this story is that it is INCREDIBLE how fantastic your food can taste when you use LOVE as your main ingredient. And if you would like to see my other Island Time episodes, find me on Facebook!