Friday, March 31, 2017

Free Range Friday ~ Culebra

This is from LAST Friday, which is how long it has taken to get someplace to actually post a post! Today, unlike then, is sunny and blue and breezy and beautiful. But we'll use my magic mirror and go back in time, before we get to, eventually, today.


Unlike yesterday, when we saw rain but lots of sun, today started cloudy, cool and with showers. Here it is mid-day and it is much the same. A day for soup! 

Soup on the simmering boil
I was inspired by the weather but also by my new baby Crock Pot, but didn't want to use it until I got the okay from Jesse that my solar set up would handle it. But then, I couldn't wait, it was just too much of a cooking day to resist (as it turns out - I found out after I'd already cooked the soup - the solar set up will work just fine)

(Update! I used the baby Crock Pot to cook soup later in the week, it works just like I was told it would; great!! Using the sun to cook a different way, saving propane, very exciting)

Into the pot went boneless, skinless (not fatless, unless you trim them a lot, which I didn't; the fat can always be skimmed off later) chicken thighs, onions, garlic, ginger, yellow squash and some fresh herbs from my little kitchen garden, thyme and lemon grass to be exact. Along with a half a bottle of TyLing Natural Thai Green Chili sauce. The sauce has only a bit of spiciness and a lot of flavor, it works for me, even though I'd already put in half the ingredients of ginger, lemon grass and garlic. Subtle but definitely there. 

And it was delicious.

Before that, though, I had a haircutting day with Debbie and David. David said, 'Bring your camera!'. I said of course, because they have this awesome deck on the place they rent and there are always some good photo ops. But that isn't what he meant. Not at all. Oh dear. Debbie said she'd been waiting to do this a long, long time. She and a few other people...

Before. Don't be afraid, they said. I wasn't. Not much anyway.

Debbie is a pro at this. I am a pro at that.

Speaks for itself

Haircut done! A jump in the shower to get off the itchy bits

"Did I get it all?"

After. Thanks, Debbie (and David, and Hound Dog too!)
A thank you lunch at Dinghy Dock. 
The following are random moments around the island. Time goes by and everything is still beautiful. That stability keeps my sanity alive and that's a good thing.

We were all impressed. Talk about a trust factor of 12+!
They had this down.

Often my first view of the day.
This was one of the first mornings the sun decided to shine
after days of rain. It was pretty glorious.
Just another dawn in Paradox

There is this light that defies being captured in the early morning.
But this is pretty close. 

This was one of those days about 10 people tell you they could see St. Croix

Pulling down the curtain

Gazing from the rock

Ending the day and the last sunset of Ann's time here -
until the next time!
PSA! Things happened in-between. Being sick as a dog was one of them, along with a whole lot of other people around here, luckily not as long as some, unluckily long enough. I'll just take this moment to say one thing: if you are sick, PLEASE don't hug anyone. Or kiss them. Or breathe on them. Really. Each year the bugs get nastier and last longer and it's the one of the few things that is not nice to share. I have friends who are still sick. They miss work, they run up doctor bills. I know not all of it can be avoided but we're a hugging crew around here, so just think before you hug! Por favor! Gracias!

I don't know what I'll cook today, but hopefully it will be something really good and when I'm hooked up again, I'll share it. In the long for now, Ann, and a whole bunch of other people who are flying out today, and welcome home, Peri!!!!

Have a full of Freedom Friday! Do something frivolous. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Free Range Friday ~ Culebra and Crab Cakes Oh My!

What seems to be turning into a sort of weekly round up is once again at hand! 

Not having immediate connection makes me realize the  immediate fashion I've been viewing the world in. If news is a day or two old, it's O L D. Whatever did Laura from Little House on the Prairie do with mail that was months old, where new borns were already toddlers by the time she got word? It's strangely comforting even as it is frustrating as hell...Events are still eventful even if they didn't happen five seconds ago. What a strange lesson to learn at this stage of the game.

One of the events that made my week(end) was seeing Jimmy and Kat of Coqui Fire in Vieques when they came over for the weekend. Last weekend. It's always good to catch up with their news, how the restaurant is doing, what's happening over 'there'. 

But there are other moments.

Water diamonds at Melones
I love when Dale and Kelli are talking about business and I interrupt them and they look like they've just been lazing around having the best time ever. 
Ok, there is a bit of 'that smile' - MJ, we love you AND we're busy!
 First things first!

Staying on the less windy side of the bar

There's always time for a Chuck story
We are now at the food part of Free Range Friday. David and Debbie  and Hound Dog (Jane the vet's dog that has moved deeply into their lives) are down for their yearly visit. That usually means some totally unexpected food treat, be it ham hocks or something else I've been wishing for, even if I didn't know it.

This year, it was lump crab meat. As in Jumbo Lump. For crab cakes. David not only had ALL the ingredients he wanted, he had some ideas I'd never thought about as well. What a fabulous treat!

Better than ice cream!
So many goodies in here for flavor
(I'd tell you but then you'd have to kill me)
A feast in the making

Pancetta for the rice and grains

It's the little things

Using the cooking water from the asparagus for the grains

Making it pretty
(why do I never think of this?)

An simple remoulade sauce for the crab cakes
The thing about remoulade is that, from what I can gather, it's sort of like potato salad. No one makes it the same way. Which can either be exciting if you like to experiment or frustrating if you don't trust your own palate. I choose excitement! So should you - life is too short to not have fun cooking. 

There was an almost visceral pleasure watching this meal being put together. Debbie and I wandered in and out from the porch where our double vices were being enjoyed, watching it grow from start to finish, flavors and aromas building upon one another, melding to the causation of drool state.

The big covered casserole was not part of the meal.
Don't tell that to Hound Dog though; it's dinner in his world.
 While back at the prep station...

Finishing touches

Making it pretty

Wa la!

Oops! Not quite done yet!
For a while there were only the contented sounds of eating an amazing meal, punctuated with the occasional continuing compliments. And then there was dessert. Crepes. Really.

Can you smell the warm fruit/honey/cinammon/whipped cream
wafting through the air?

I was sated enough to take them up on their stay over offer; rather than wrestling with the dinghy in the wind it was much nicer to wander down the porch to the extra bedroom and tuck in to a peaceful sleep. A pretty perfect ending to a very enjoyable evening. 

I'm not sure how I managed to not get a photo of David and Debbie together but I didn't. Yet. 

Have a fragrant Friday. Do something feelingly.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Simple Sunday ~ Culebra

35 years ago this week my (our) Dad left the planet. But I cannot, ever, cut open a grapefruit without thinking of him. This man who grew up with cooks and chauffeurs, would prepare 4 grapefruits halves for our 4 breakfasts (with the mandatory eggs, toast, juice and milk), at 6 in the morning. Most days. Where did that come from? I choose love.

So when I take my grapefruit knife (of course) in hand, I think about those early mornings - when I didn't think at all - about how each section would pop into the spoon so easily. It took time, it took effort. He didn't have to do it, but he did.

I don't remember my Dad ever saying to me that the little things matter. He just did them, over and over again. There's the lesson.

So here's to you, Dad. You'd love this view and I love you.