Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
"Hi MJ: Sandy here, thanks for all the news you are supplying and info. We got in touch with Pat finally and had over a 30 minute conversation with the two of them. Bless their hearts! As usual, they are making the most of what they have. She had gotten him a wheelchair and found a tavern where she pushes him daily so they can have some fun. Pat was very excited about some new theory related to "passing" and it has provided the perfect path for her at this time it seems. She was very enthusiastic as always about her healing abilities and life in general and I believe that is good for Jack. He would not get a chance to feel down and out with her there. He sounded so incredibly weak and sweet...
"...We had a Jimmy Buffet concert on their behalf immediately following a tearfully ending conversation, Serge filled the air with Mother Mother Ocean and we were back on the boat for the entire album at least and filled with loving memories of the sea and our Karma and of course, about 8 years living next to Pat and Jack. Through so many hurricanes we blasted our music, baked bread, ate Pat's famous lasagne and saved our little boats from harm out in the mangroves, while dancing and singing and loving our lives. In our lives before the boat I most likely would have never come to know them. But, I cannot help remembering that wonderful peaceful feeling, falling asleep at Dakity in the anchorage or over in the duckpond, rocking so gently at anchor, with Pat and Jack right beside us, or coming back to the boat after a hard day as the Contessa and having her shout out to join them for dinner."
"I can see Meeka Jane (our German Shephard) now, how he would stand at our stern and lean as forward as he could to sniff out Pat's cooking. We all managed to keep things pretty simple back then and basic and those years are filled with lovely memories like these. It was very hard to say goodbye to Culebra for me. Serge has always been real good at moving onward, but I am a sap. I miss all those Culebra guys and I love seeing my little wagon has become so much a part of Culebra and how it has passed between women so beautifully and continues on it's way.
So to all of you who might want to give Jack and Pat a call, do it! As Pat's number is public knowledge (her Tanama number), I'm posting it here for those who don't have it easily at hand. 787 501 0011. I know they are missing Culebra, which means missing friends as well as place. Sooner than later would be a good time to call! Virginia Beach is EST, just in case you live in Europe or Asia or California (its own zone) and don't want to call in the middle of the night!
Lots of us who know Culebra now have heard so many wonderful stories of how it was *then*. I often feel the connection and am so glad I know people still here from those old days. Culebra magic still has strong power, but like every island I've ever lived on, that refrain echos..."You should have been here then, MJ". I wish I had been, even as I'm so glad to be here now.
Here is another photo of the past and the present...so beautifully right here, right now. Kathy and her granddaughter Dyami. Does Culebra past and present have some gorgeous women or what?
Saturday, June 27, 2009
(that's us, on the leading upper western edge)
And now, on to Breakfast Burritos, a la Island Woman, just in time for Saturday morning breakfast! See, I can be on time...in a manner of speaking.
This recipe makes 8 burritos. There are two reasons that 12 eggs make 8 burritos, especially because they are also stuffed with other ingredients. The first one is that I can't buy large eggs all the time here. In fact, hardly ever. And the medium eggs are really more like small eggs. So, I figure it's the equivalent of 10 or even 9 eggs. Another reason I need to get those chickens some day soon. These are 8 FAT burritos!
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sausage or bacon
1 T. butter or olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1/4 t. cumin
salt / pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I also threw in some olive oil marinated feta - use the cheese you like best, or as many kinds as you like, totaling no more than a cup or so)
1 cup refried beans (I used vegetarian refried black beans, but any kind, even beans you cook and mash on your own are fine).
1/2 cup salsa (I made my own, it's easy and I know what's in it, recipe below)
8 large or extra large flour tortillas
The most important thing I know to tell anyone cooking is to have your ingredients together before you start doing anything. A couple of reasons are 1) you'll know if you have everything and either need to substitute or go to the store and 2) it's just easier to work. If your hands are covered with onion juice, it's messy to go hunting for salsa in the fridge. That sort of thing. I'm a firm believer in washing my hands a LOT while I'm cooking, but not between every move.
2 fresh tomatoes or one 16 oz. can peeled tomatoes (whole, diced, doesn't matter) chopped fine
1 medium onion, finely minced
10 cloves garlic, finely minced (more or less; I think I've mentioned I like garlic - a lot)
hot peppers of choice, to taste (I used peppers out of my garden and some dried poblanos because I had them, you can use canned jalepenos or any other kind, but something with some smokiness in it would be good)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro / 10 leaves racao finely minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Now, I know I keep writing finely minced. You can toss all of this in a food processor and avoid all of that mincing, but if you do that, just use the pulse feature to keep it rough. For some reason this makes a more full flavor salsa. That's what I think, anyway. And that's it. There are lots fancier salsas, but for a fast good salsa, this works. Put in a covered container and let it sit for a couple of hours minimum to get a better flavor. But if you can't wait, no one will complain.
Crack all the eggs into one bowl and whip, adding milk, cheese, salt, pepper and cumin as you whip. Set aside.
In a large skillet or wok, heat olive oil or butter. Add onions & garlic, saute until onions are barely browned and translucent.
Add bacon or sausage (sausage can be removed from casing or cut into 1/2 inch pieces) Cook until done - bacon shouldn't be *over crisp* though.
Add whipped egg mixture. Let the bottom set a bit and stir to turn bottom to top. Repeat that until egg is completely cooked. It's not a fast process, don't try to hurry. It will have a bit of a wet consistancy, but there will be no runny egg white.
While cooking the eggs, put the refried beans in another pan, along with the salsa. Stir to mix over gentle heat. Turn off heat. You can put this in a separate container or just keep it in the pan, your choice.
When heated, you're ready to build your burritos. Tortilla advice: warm tortillas are easier to work with than room temperature or cold. There are lots of ways to warm a tortilla, the point is that you only are aiming to warm it, not cook it. I put them in the oven one at a time as I'm making burritos. One tortilla being filled, one in a very low oven.
I use a slotted kitchen sized spoon for this. Take one spoonful (not heaping, just a regular spoonful) and place it in the middle of the tortilla, spreading the spoonful a little bit lengthwise, leaving an inch or so of tortilla uncovered on the sides.
Use one heaping tablespoon of the bean mixture and spoon it on top of the egg mixture. There is no way to make refried beans look pretty, but they sure taste good! Especially with the salsa added.
Fold in both sides of the tortilla to the edges of the egg and bean mixture. Fold the edge of the tortilla closest to you over the egg and bean mixture, holding those side in at the same time. Continue to fold the whole thing over the last part of the tortilla farthest from you. If the sides flop open, don't worry, just gently open it back up and tuck them in. Burrito folding is easy but practice helps keep it a nice package rather than a falling apart mess.
If you can serve right away, fine. If not, you can wrap in foil and these will keep warm for literally hours if wrapped in a warm kitchen towel. To freeze, you can wrap in waxed paper and then the foil.
Friday, June 26, 2009
What's in that...Friday will be coming along later today.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The trip from the Marshalls to Fiji was entirely to windward. Almost 1800 miles to windward, in fact. The wind was never abaft the beam. North of the equator we enjoyed the Northeast Trades which helped with our “easting”. The equatorial zone provided variable winds and calms through which we motorsailed, still making good easting. Once south of the equator we met up with the Southeast Trades and it was hard on the wind from then on. Fortunately the wind and seas were not too strong and we managed quite well. The new sails that I put on the Deev in the Marshalls made the trip much more pleasant than it would have been with the old sails. No doubt about it, with the old sails the trip could have been miserable indeed!
The fishing was excellent and we caught more fish than we could eat. We seemed to catch Mahi Mahi and Tuna at will.
As I said before, I had two crew aboard the Deev with me. I really believe that the trip would have been as good or better if I had single handed. It seemed that I had a full time job just babysitting and making sure that the crew didn’t mess up too badly. The crew has been discharged from the Deev. As my former shipmate and Captain, Pete, used to say to me “You just can’t get good crew these days”. He would say this while looking me straight in the eye! Anyway, it sure is good to have the Deev back to myself.
(but they made the fish look good, didn't they? <--- MJ addition)
So far Fiji seems like a wonderful place. The unsettled political scene doesn’t seem to be a cause of concern to the visiting cruisers. The government seems to realize that the visiting boats provide a good source of income for their economy.
Vuda Point Marina, where I’m currently staying, is one of the nicest marinas that I’ve ever been in. The prices are very reasonable as well.
After the long windward trip I’ve found that I have quite a lot of things to do on the boat…engine problems, some rigging issues, charging system snafu’s… the TO DO LIST is keeping me occupied and out of trouble! Progress is being made.
I’ve found some good prices for flights back to the States and hope to fly back in mid-July for a couple of months Stateside and in the West Indies. I look forward to seeing many of you this summer.
Cheers and Carry On!
I'm looking forward to some great story telling sessions on Jost with Chuck and Tessa & Foxy...oops, now MBE Foxy. Good lord...does this mean I have to practice my curtsey? If I must say so myself, and I must, I have a fine curtsey from back in the day when it was thought to be something every little potential debutante needed to master. In real life, I found it came in handy for sitting on the ground in tight spaces (rock concerts for instance) without having to move your butt around a lot. Instead of standing back up, you just keep on going. You know you want to try it...
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
We pre-arranged a meeting spot because it is dark on the beach at Flamenco, beautifully dark, and in other years there were big crowds that could make it difficult to find each other. Mission accomplished, the secret handshake done, we made it down the path by flashlight until a voice came out of the dark...."Turn your flashlight off, please!" I was happy to oblige, since we couldn't trip on anything except sand at that point. There were no big crowds to wade through this night.
With no moon and very little ambient light, the stars were insanely bright and beautiful, whole galaxies dancing over our heads, with the occasional shooting star. We immediately ran into some people we knew and joined them for the not too long wait until midnight. One of the group broke out a little bit early and hearing her voice full of laughter while she howled a little sea song brought a few more of us to our feet. While some kept an eye on the clock, it really wasn't needed because as the moment occured, farther down the beach the clear sound of yells and splashings were heard.
By that time we were thigh deep into heading backward into the sea, with bioluminescense sparking off our bodies, finally falling back completely to get up and do it again...and yet again, the traditional three times. The water temperature was, for the first time, warmer than the air and with no wind, calm and silky and full of light. Floating and looking up to the stars was a massive tranquility infusion. We could just feel the luck pouring in!
Back on the beach, we all sat talking and laughing and watching a group take care of their seriously inebriated friend. It was time to go home, another yearly marker drifting by. No pictures because...some things just have to be done without trying to capture them forever (however long that is). Thanks, amiga!
I wasn't quite ready to wake up at my usual dawn time, but the cat insisted, as usual, for a good reason. The sky, with a tropical wave moving through, was going all out with a color show. You'd never know now with the bright white sky of later morning, how incredible it looked only a short while ago. Good on ya, cat!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Yesterday was filled with long beach hikes on three different beaches and I didn't even make it to the other side of the island, as I thought I would. I also took a long dinghy ride, and coming back in, I looked at Culebra and thought, why do people consider this a small place? Because unless I'm in town, it doesn't seem small to me in any way. There are still places I've never gone here. Just yesterday I was in a neighborhood I'd never seen. But maybe I'm just really slow...which makes it a good thing I live here. Among a few dozen other good reasons.
This is a slideshow slice of my day. If you know where these places are, excellent. If you don't, sorry, I can't tell you because then I'd have to move. And I'm not going anywhere. Enjoy. I had an excellent day. Hmm, I'm doing that today too. Yippee! Life is good.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Soon off to see if the flamingo is still hanging around, a beach walk, and on with whatever the day brings, which ends up being the best way to celebrate birthdays these years, and living here. The *what happens next?!* approach to joy works. My whole mission is to find some good driftwood for my seed wind mobiles...and remember where I put them for tomorrow.
These are from an very beautiful summer solstice day...
Happy birthday to me!
The Luckiest Woman in the World
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I wrote this for my Dad last year and seem to feel exactly the same way this year...Here's to you, Dad. It's better than a sharp stick in the eye!
with the tie tack and/or cufflinks, year after year after year, always to his delighted surprise. Dad's are funny, yeah they are.
My father raised four of us from the time I was four years old. He wasn't perfect, but he loved us all the best he knew how...and did a pretty damn fine job of it. The dark spots brighten in the light of his love (which, as I tell my own children, covers a multitude of parental errors).
He taught me how to cook and that the cook's helper gets to, and in fact, must *taste test* whatever is cooking. That's the law.
He taught how to capture fish and clams and shrimp and crabs, and how to clean and eat them too. He taught me how to swim and ride a horse and how to drive a car. But not all at the same time.
He taught me to see in the dark by taking us to watch sea turtles lay eggs on the beach at midnight. He taught me how to be quiet (yes, really, sometimes I am). He taught me to see in the light what is to be seen and to not overlook it.
He taught me how to sail and how to not be afraid of most things. He taught me to take care of myself, whether I wanted to or not. He taught me to not hold back on hugs or kisses or saying 'I love you'. He taught me not to pretend affection, and that I didn't have to do any of those things if I didn't mean it, that being polite was good enough.
He taught me that good manners are a way to live in the world more easily; a ticket to glide, not a false chore. He taught me that there are good people and bad people and anything else about them really doesn't matter. Stick with one, stay away from the other: once you know which is which, it's pretty easy, though the mistakes will be costly, they can be lived through and beyond.
He taught me to love stories in life and stories in books, not to litter, not to lie and not to steal. And that if I had only one true friend in the whole world, that I was wealthy beyond measure. I am beyond any wealth in the universe if that is true. I think it is.
He taught me about good food and good liquor and how to live well without a lot of money. He taught me that simple is better than showy, and lasts a lot longer. He taught me none of this with words, he just did it, lived it and brought me along for the ride.
He's still teaching me, the same way. Happy Father's Day, Dad. Thanks. Hope you like my Culebra view (I know you do).
Carin Huber, on the website The Anticraft says of this creation: "Let Baconhenge be the site of your seasonal celebration! Let bacon stand in for the sacrificed Year King, French toast for the Grain Goddess, the eggs in the frittata for the Cosmic Egg, and the vegetables for the bountiful Earth on which we live."
That's exactly what I was thinking...no, really, I was. Well, maybe not the Cosmic Egg part. And I don't know what the Year King is. But that bountiful Earth thing? She nailed it! In an eggy sort of way.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Bill Kunke was kind enough to send along this wonderful photo of Jack and Pat, so we could have a full face view! Anyone else is welcome to send along from their collection to share. Ann K told me she had a great conversation with Pat at the same time I got an email of a hard, sad but good conversation with Jack. And that's how it is to leave someone we love. Laughter and tears, memories, all of our lives in the great play we are in on this stage. Stories are good. Even if they make us cry while we're laughing. Send 'em along to me to share or to Pat and Jack to enjoy right now, via his daughter's email address (see previous post). Who among us doesn't like to hear a funny story about ourselves? Now is the time. Thanks so much to Bill for this photo!
I did this meal a little on and off, so I don't have the food blog sort of pics going on here. But here's what I put in Couscous Chicken, a la MJ:
4 skinless boneless chicken thighs (because the truth is, I like dark meat, be it chicken or turkey, even little cornish hens; maybe that's why I like duck so much - sure, I'll eat/buy breasts but that's because I think I should and it's a challenge to make it taste as good as dark!)
Roland pre-cooked couscous - one cup + 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil. I love couscous. I love cooking couscous. But tonight, I didn't feel like stirring forever and hoped this product, which I've never tried, would measure up to the Roland label. And it did! I may never stir couscous again, this is good!
I went by the veggie guy's late in the afternoon because I wanted to buy a stalk of sugar cane I'd passed over in the morning. No sugar cane, but snow peas, oh yeah. And shallots...uh huh. That all worked.
To continue: two large shallots, sliced thin thin thin
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Basil, 12 good sized leaves minced if fresh - if dry....um...a few good dashes
Chives - 5 or 6 chives, cut into 2 inch pieces. Save a few for garnish
knock on wood
!/2 cup orange juice
A handful of snow peas (I just bought enough for this dish, serving one - buy and add according to your needs)
and oh so glorious find, Pickapeppa sauce!! Milka has this in right now and I have to say, this is one of my favorite sauces from a bottle beside my own. It's not really a hot sauce, if you like lots of heat; it barely has heat. But it does have wonderful ingredients, is all natural and is just one of those standbys. I forgot how much I missed it until I re-found it. There is an old Florida sauce it reminds me of...and I cannot remember the name, though three seconds ago it was right there on the tip of my brain. Ah, as the sharp edges soften...
Here we go:
Saute shallots and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil until almost translucent. Add chicken, cut into bite sized pieces, saute another few minutes...enough to get the outside of the chicken brown, not pink. Add orange juice, put on simmer, uncovered.
In another pot, boil the same amount of water as couscous used, with either the olive oil or butter. I used the whole box (OOPS! I realized after posting this that I didn't use the whole box, I used a cup!) Now, the instructions say to add the water to the couscous but I added the couscous to the water, with no apparent harm done. So when the water is at the boil, turn it off, add the couscous and let it sit the recommended time, 7 or 8 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
At that point, add the snow peas to the chicken mixture, cover to create a bit of a steam bath for 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and add the couscous, mix. Let the flavors blend awhile (amazingly the couscous can stand even overnight sitting without getting clumpy or nasty). Can be served immediately or put in the fridge and re-heated briefly for serving.
We have two (plus their well-loved other halves) friends and neighbors who are giving us pause to ask about and care about. One is Jack LaRoque of Jack and Pat, Muff, Tanama, etc. Jack is in Virginia Beach with his family, awaiting the Big Move to the Other Shore. Pat is with him. After getting out of the hospital, he & Pat will be staying at his daughter's house. If you want to send a card or email, just ask and I'll be glad to send it along.
Wednesday night Sean and Nancy went to a baseball game way up there in the Far North along with about 35 accompanying friends and family. Among them were Sue and Tuck, Harold and Laurie Knowlton, with her beau Phil. Somewhere in the fifth inning (and then again a few more times), the scoreboard flashed this message that was arranged beforehand (and it actually happened! I wanted to salute the flag). Laurie was nice enough to call about then so I could be there a little bit. And with a few of Laurie's photos, the circle grows. Thanks so much, Laurie!! I'm not sure who took the photo of the scoreboard that Sean sent, but thanks, you, too!
Harold & Sean