Friday, September 25, 2009

It Could Have Been Worse

It's not pretty. It's still brown. It's still gooey. The cake did not rise to an appropriate level, and the slices of kiwi are not where I left them.
I guess, it could have been worse. Some how. In some way.
I still have high hopes that'll it taste good...
I realize now that I may have left off out a crucial part of the recipe:

" *Put on your apron - mix yourself a drink. Maker's on the rocks is nice. "

I'm sure that integral step would have improved something, even if it was only my disposition. And I don't mean the apron...what kind of sissy actually wears an apron?

The good thing is I already had a fabulous dinner planned for compensate for a sub-conscience premonition of imminent doom?Perhaps. Eh, who knows?!
Last night's dinner will be hard to top, but tonight's is definately at the very top of my favorites list: Perfectly marbled, ribeye steaks; baked potatoes w/ butter and sour cream; and a fresh green vegetable - which this evening will be locally grown, organic zuchini sliced in half, olive oiled, seasoned, & grilled. Mmmm. Accompanied by a nice red wine blend, the only thing that would make this meal any better [besides a dessert cooked the way it's supposed to be] would be a nice lobster tail and the only reason I didn't go procur a couple of those is that I thought it would be just too much food. Knowing I could have lobster makes me happy enough.
So, lessons learned?
~Live & learn.
~Play to your strengths, stick with what you're good at, & leave the baking to the apron-wearers of the world.
~Don't be too hard on yourself the first time you attempt something new.
~Just go ahead and ask Jeff's Momma for her recipe.
~And always bake with a little bourbon...maybe even add some to the cake!

Let Him Eat Cake!

So, I told Jeff I'd make him a cake today. It was totally my idea although right now, I'm wishing I had just kept my mouth shut. I am not a baker. I do not follow directions well...if ever. What was I thinking?
It all started because someone sent me a link to a blog that I might like. Well, I did like the blog. The latest entry was about cake [among other things]. I was inspired. I had also brought home from the buying club a whole bag of kiwis. New Zealand kiwis - as if there were any other kind. What am I going to do with a whole bag of kiwis? Ah, ha, I thought, "I'll make a kiwi-pineapple upside down cake!" Jeff loves pineapple upside down's his favorite and he hasn't had one since the last time his Momma made him one. I decided I would do it on Friday, and never gave it another thought. But now it's Friday...cake-making day. So, I looked back at the recipe that started the whole thing. It required separating eggs. Why, if all the parts are going into the mix anyway, must I separate them first? Eegads. It also required baking that anything like baking soda? I have baking soda...powder is a stretch. A mixer? Forget about it. My egg whites will have to remain un-stiffened. Alright, plan B. I ran for the nearest search engine and typed in "easy pineapple upside down cake recipe."
Ah...cake mix! Long live Betty Crocker!
But I still have my doubts. There's that whole topping thing...which is currently the bottom thing. It's brown. And gooey. And I just don't know.
I'm going to go stare at it though the oven door...that should help.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


As of the Equinox on Tuesday, fall has fallen even if the temperatures here have not. Although there are no visible signs of the change in seasons, something in my psyche has noticed the shift and has manifested itself in my cocktail preference. Normally, rum would be the drink of choice here in the islands. Boats and rum have gone hand in hand throughout history ever since the Royal Navy captured Jamaica in 1655 and made rum part of the daily rations. But rum isn't what flows into my cups these days. Since the arrival of Autumn, I've switched to bourbon.
Maybe it was remembering touring Woodford Reserve Distillary with family while the leaves were changing colors or maybe it was the season opening UofL vs. UK game...always a good day for sipping bourbon no matter who wins although, I am very disappointed to add that UofL lost 27 - 31. Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part that by switching to my cool weather cocktail the weather will have to follow suit.
I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Will Work 4 Veggies

You're probably getting a little tired of hearing about vegetables, but it's my blog and you'll have to humor me.
It's not our week to get a share of produce from the buying club. We're on a by-weekly basis. But, I had stopped by the health food store, Food for Thought, to get a book [Anne Bishop's 2nd book of the Black Jewels Trilogy] & some Happy Hen eggs and I asked Ellin [owner/proprietor] if she was going to need any help the next day. She thought she had it covered. Later that evening, Jeff's phone rang and after answering it, he handed it to me. It was Ellin asking if I could lend a hand after all, but instead of just volunteering for free, I'd get 1/2 a share of veggies.
I arrived as the truck was just finishing unloading and got to work sorting, counting, and weighing. For about 2 hours of work...which I LIKE doing anyway...I brought home a bag of broccoli, kale, peaches, pluots, green beans, grapes, strawberries, purple onions, 3 bulbs of garlic, and 1 golden kiwi.
So, I work for veggies!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast, me maties!
Today is National Talk Like A Pirate Day!
So don your gold earrings, eye patches, and peg legs and go out and plunder something, damn ye! Arrg!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On the Radio

Boot Key Harbor is quite the Cruiser's campground. While some travelers only spend the night; some stay for an entire season. While some stop here on the way to somewhere else; some make it the destination. The harbor is well protected and The City Marina offers many amenities such as mooring balls, parking, a new bath house w/ 12 showers, designated men's & women's rooms, & a new laundry facility. There are multiple places you can reach by dinghy...bars, restaurants, and West Marine. The grocery and Home Depot are less than a mile away as are many other restaurants,
a deli, and a liquor store. A concerted effort is made to ensure that boater's feel welcome. A "Harbor Pack"- a bag of goodies and information of the surrounding area including menus and coupons for local attractions as well as the Cruiser's Guide [see above] - is available to all new arrivals. One of the most unique amenities that help form this community is the Cruiser's Net, a VHF radio broadcast that occurs everyday at 9 am on channel 68. On the net, arriving boats are encouraged to introduce themselves, and departing boats are given the opportunity to say good-bye. Announcements are then made for any current goings-ons and special events and then the broadcast is open to comments, questions, and requests for help. At any point, any boater can announce themselves and provide a response. Next on the air is the flea market section where you are welcome to announce anything you may want to buy, sell, trade, or give away. Last year, I traded my hand-me-down 6 qt. pressure cooker for a brand new 8 qt. pressure cooker...great trade up for me and the other guy just wanted something smaller. The net ends on a fun note with a call for trivia questions and then wraps up with final business.
To ensure that the net runs smoothly, each day there is pre-designated Net Controller who starts the ball rolling and keeps it moving along. Yesterday, I was the Net Controller, subbing for Captain Deb while she headed for the mainland for the day. I was a little nervous at first talking on the air but outside of a little tongue twist with the words "boat" & "boot," I think I did a fair job. I'll be trying it again next Thursday [subbing for Deb again] so I'll be practicing until then...boat, boot, boat,boot, boot, boat...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Veggie Tales

Yesterday we received our 2nd box of organic produce. I went to pick it up at Food for Thought, the locally owned and operated health food store and went early so that I could volunteer to help divy out the shares of veggies. When I first arrived at 12:30, the truck was not yet there, so I ran another errand and came back. Still no truck, so I browsed around the store. While I was glancing at greeting cards, there was a knock on the back door. The produce had arrived and in the door it came by the box full.

Boxes of cabbage, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, cilantro, greenbeans, apples, bananas, poblano peppers, limes, roma tomatoes, strawberrries, advocados, delicato squash, kiwis, nectarines, and a very large bag of carrots soon littered the floor of the small storeroom.
Now the fun part: dividing everything into 18 equal shares. We [there was one other volunteer] started off in one corner of the room with as many empty boxes as we could muster and started dolling out veggies. We had 8 boxes done before the first person showed up to collect their share. We made a little more room, emptied some half-full boxes, and kept on parcelling produce.

It took about 2 hours to finish, then I took my box and headed back to the boat - stopping by the grocery on the way to pick up a pork roast for dinner...gotta have some meat to go with all those fresh new veggies!

So, now all I have to do is figure out what we're having for dinner for the next 2 weeks to incorporate all these vegetables & fruits. We'll be eating a lot of squash and I see stuffed poblano peppers and dandelion green tacos in our future!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekend Update

Jeff found himself a new guitar. There's a local radio show weekday mornings called Biz Baz & it's basically an on-air flea market. People call in if they have something to sell or if they are looking for something to buy. For several mornings, someone called in with an almost-new little Martin [LX1] guitar for sale. Jeff finally called, and now the Martin is proudly positioned next to the Ovation. He spent a little time over the weekend giving it some playtime both on the boat and at the Tiki Hut.

Besides the sounds of guitar strumming, it was a fairly quiet weekend. We ordered pizza for dinner on Friday, and then I went out with the "Girls" to see Julie & Julia [good movie - worth seeing!] and then to Castaway's for a drink.
Saturday was spent running errands & eventually music @ the Tiki. We had a bit of a storm blow through in the wee hours before dawn to no consequence except for an especially STEAMY, humid, Sunday morning. We ventured out into the muck and ate breakfast at the Wooden Spoon...a Marathon institution and a local favorite. Then later, we had a great dinner of french dip sandwiches and sweet potato fries.

I'll try to get better at this video thing...right now I have no way to edit and I should have turned the AC off so you wouldn't hear it in the background. Better than nothing though, right?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Long Labor Day Weekend

I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday weekend. Jeff had the day off on Monday...which made it a good long weekend for us.
Friday night, we ordered pizza because that seems to be becoming the tradition around here. We've actually managed, through patient deliberation, to get Pizza Hut to deliver ALMOST to the boat. What made this night interesting is the massive thunderstorm...we're talking monsoon...that hit just as the pizza was due to arrive. And since the driver only gets ALMOST to the boat, someone had to wade out in the parking lot for the cash for pizza exchange. I elected the bald guy...water rolls off of him better.

Saturday night was music at the tiki hut. People brought food and ate and they also brought their guitars [and drums and shakers] and played and sang. The weather was fabulous with a nice breeze and cool temperatures and a big, orange full moon rose up beautifully over the harbor. It was a lot of fun, and we stayed up entirely too late. Since there are no places to grab a late night bite to eat, we made breakfast at 3am. The bacon, corned beef hash, eggs, and toast were just what we needed to cap off our night.

Sunday was definately a day for sleeping in...although the dog kept us from staying in bed for very long. While we were gone to the tiki hut, the dog discovered and ATE a whole box of chicken bouillon cubes...foil and all. I figure he consumed 10,800 mg of sodium. He was very thirsty. He drank bowl after bowl of water and had to go out every couple of hours. I'd like to think he's learned his lesson, but I'm pretty sure if given the opportunity he'd do it all over again.
All in all, it was a lazy day of watching movies...some of them pretty good: The Hours w/ Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman; Murphy's Romance w/James Garner & Sally Field; Juno w/ Ellen Page & a great soundtrack; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes w/ Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell; and the action thriller Taken w/ Liam Neeson.

Monday was like having a second Sunday...a little less lazy and the dog didn't have to pee as much. We finished up a few small projects, marinated some country-style ribs, spent a little time socializing at the tiki hut, and then took a dinghy ride out past the bridge & back.
After all that, Jeff did a little grilling on the new Weber that arrived just in time for the weekend. We had burgers cooked on it Sunday and BBQ ribs on Monday...both were delicious. Jeff wanted one of these weberQ's a long time ago, but didn't think it was practical to have on the boat. Instead, we went the West Marine route and got the grill meant for boats. It was a disappointment from the very beginning, difficult to position properly so that baked potatoes didn't roll off into the water, and impossible to keep a good flame. We have since passed it on to an unsuspecting friend and we hope he has better luck with it than we had.
Long live the Weber!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rotisserie Reminiscence

You may have seen the late night infomercial for the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie. The catch-phrase is "Set it and forget it"...ring any bells? Jeff use to own one but gave it away when moving on to the boat full time. Space was an issue as well as the electricity. But, as of late, the rotisserie has been dearly missed and so another one was ordered to fill the void. It arrived yesterday and we wasted no time before putting it to use. I realized as dinner slowly rotated that I have quite a few fond memories involving rotisseries past. When Jeff and I first met, he would call to say he was cooking lunch & I would come over and spend the afternoon. His speciality was pork tenderloin, seasoned to perfection and then turned to a crusty, crispy goldness in the rotisserie accompanied by green beans and mashed potatoes. The "set it and forget it" method of cooking was condusive for cocktails and conversation and here we still are today. A girl loves a man that cooks.

Then, there was a trip we made to visit friends, Emmet & Theresa, in the smoky mountains. We arrived late [because Emmet got us lost and then stuck in traffic] and we were tired and hungry. Upon entering the house, a fire burned cozily in the fireplace, and in the kitchen a rotisserie was cooking dinner and filling the house with it's pleasing aroma. A great start to a great weekend. That particular rotisserie saw a lot of use, perhaps some abuse, and during a visit to their home in Ocala [another really great time!], while we "set it and forgot it" the door just fell off and crashed to the kitchen floor. When Jeff gave his old one away, that's who it went to...we at least knew they were going to get some good use out of it.

Another fond memory: our first Thanksgiving spent together... and the turkey was rotisseried.
Shortly after sampling that bird, my mother went and ordered a rotisserie of her own and her and I have shared many a companionable meal cooked with it as well as a holiday turkey or 2, and even holiday racks of ribs.
And who could forget the Thanksgiving all the boys [Jeff, Rob, & Dan] got involved in the kitchen concocting a blend of herbs and seasonings to inject into the turkey breast, because Jeff's rotisserrie came with a super-sized syringe for just that purpose.

Who knew you could feel so sentimental over a kitchen appliance?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eat Your Veggies

We had kale for dinner last night. Kale. I've never bought kale before. I've never cooked kale before. I'm not even sure I like kale...although, the stuff we had for dinner was pretty tasty. I hear it's really good for you, too. So, why, you ask, kale? Yesterday we received our first order of veggies from Annie's Organic Produce, a buying club that recently came to our attention, and as you may have already guessed, there was kale.
We joined the club last tuesday after seeing someone else's box of produce. It looked good, so we thought we'd give it a try. We picked our box up at a near-by health food store and this is what was in it:
  • Strawberries
  • Black Mission Figs
  • Ginger Gold Apples
  • Green Goose Pluots
  • Bananas
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Slicing Tomatoes
  • Baby Chioggia Striped Candy Cane Beets--traded out for an extra tomato!
  • Lacinato Dino Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Red Peppers
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Scallions
  • Parsley
  • Celery
  • Garnett Sweet Potato Yams
I was disappointed that very little of the produce was locally grown. The bananas were from Ecuador. The strawberries, figs, and cherry tomatoes were from California. I'd like less miles on my food, but I understand the Florida growing season has hardly gotten started. Overall, the produce was fresh, in good condition, and everything we've tried thus far has been delicious. Now, the challenge lies in planning meals with what came in the box. The kale made a great side dish to a couple of balsamic vinaigrette marinated chicken breasts. I looked at Bobby Flay's recipe to get me started and then improvised. Tonight, I'll be stuffing a couple of the peppers with leftover chicken, whole wheat couscous, and various veggies from the box. Jeff nor I really like sweet potatoes, so it'll take a little creativity to make them edible...but I already have an idea. For detailed recipes, check out my other page: What's for Dinner?