What's Cooking in...

Grandson J.J. with his grand catch. Photos by Sandra Scott

During the 2019 Christmas holiday, I spent a wonderful two weeks in Pochomil, Nicaragua, located on the Pacific coast a little less than two hours’ drive from Managua’s airport.

Our family rented a house on the beach (with an infinity pool) for $250 a night. It can be found at www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p368251. The three air-conditioned bedrooms were a perfect fit for the eight of us.

Even though there was a complete kitchen, at the suggestion of the owner,...

Tikin Xic Fish, with fried plantain and rice, ready to serve. Photos by Sandra Scott

In December 2020, when I came to the realization that the United States was the least safe place, COVID-wise, I decided to take a trip. A little research led me to feel that Cancún, on the Yucatán Peninsula in southeastern Mexico, was doing a much better job of mitigating the spread of COVID, so I booked a visit to Cancún, staying at the InterContinental Presidente Cancún Resort (www.ihg.com).

Room rates varied but averaged about $190 per night. I stayed for two weeks, enjoying a free...

The Chicken Paprikash when done cooking.

I think we all have a grandmother who had some incredible recipes. My Hungarian grandmother made the best pie crusts. The secret? Lard, preferably home-cured.

Many Hungarian recipes call for lard, and, it turns out, there is a reason for that. The extensive use of pork and lard originates from when the Ottomans occupied Hungary (1541 to 1699). The official religion of the Ottoman Empire was Islam, which forbade the eating of pork, so the occupying forces confiscated all of the...

Chef Nicolas Preger at work. Photos by Sandra Scott

I am just becoming comfortable traveling solo since my husband, John, passed away. He and I usually traveled independently, never doing group travel for more than day trips. In January 2020 I spent a week on my own in Panama City, Panama. I had been to Panama several years before but had not stayed in the city.

I was able to use frequent-flyer miles to fly from Syracuse, New York, to Panama, which was an important factor in my decision to visit. Also, I have a credit card with...

Sara Ayedris with a plate of <i>vigorón</i>. Photos by Sandra Scott

Now that my grandkids are older, their parents often gift them a trip for Christmas. When possible, I join them. During the 2019 Christmas holiday, I spent a wonderful two weeks in Pochomil, Nicaragua, a little less than two hours from Managua’s airport, on the Pacific coast. 

Our family rented a house on the beach, with an infinity pool, for $250 a night (www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p368251). There were eight of us, so it was a great deal. The three air-...

Adding water to the simmering Hungarian Goulash. Photos by Sandra Scott

When I was in Budapest, Hungary, in October 2019, I booked a cooking class with Chefparade (Budapest; phone +36 20 316 1876, cookingbudapest.com). Aside from myself, there was only one other participant plus Chef Geri Hajas.

The lesson included three recipes, including a variation on goulash, which in America has become a generic term for any one-pot concoction, but the word gulyás, commonly written “goulash,” means “cowboy” in Hungarian. The Great Hungarian...

Chef Doreen Williams-James with Sea Purslane Fish Cake. Photos by Sandra Scott

Before going to Bermuda in July 2019, I searched the internet for a place to take a cooking class or see a cooking demonstration there. I ended up booking a unique experience with Doreen Williams-James of Wild Herbs N Plants of Bermuda (St. George’s, Bermuda; phone, in US, 441 335 1958, wildherbsnplantsofbda.com). 

Doreen calls herself a forager, an expert in locating and preparing foods that grow in the wild. Foraging runs in the family; she learned from her father....

Chef Dwayne of <b><i>Ciao Jamaica</i></b> with a plate of Jamaican Goat Curry — Negril. Photos by Sandra Scott

In March I needed to get away from the cold and snow of Upstate New York, so I flew to Jamaica and stayed at the SamSara Cliff Resort (West End Road, Negril, Jamaica; phone, in the US, 876/957-4395 or 315/307-4395, negrilhotels.com).

The hotel is a couple hours from Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport, but the hotel provides transportation for $87 one way.

The hotel is located on low cliffs, with several flights of steps down to or into the water. Guests enjoyed...