Saturday, October 31, 2009

Perfect Day for a Paddle

We got up today and had absolutely nothing on our agenda that we HAD to do... but the day wide open for things we WANTED to do. This is a rare occurrence these days and we took full advantage. Bruce called up Steve and Jacque to see if they wanted to kayak around someplace. Of course, they were in.

Steve picked Packery Channel Park just over the bridge on the island since the tide was high. It was very easy to put in there. The current wasn't running too fast but we set out up current and upwind.

We paddled along and stealthily crept up on all the creatures along the channel. This great blue heron decided to take a casual stroll as we went by.

We were lucky enough to catch these Red Crested Night Heron out late (for them). Steve says they're nocturnal. Oh well... I guess they've gotta be somewhere. Hiding in the marshy areas away from civilization looks like it's the place for them to be!

Always my favorites as we don't have flamingos... the Roseate Spoonbill. We caught these beauties spooning up the mud along the shore. I've never been this close to them before. They were just breathtaking.

We just paddled around enjoying the warm sun and the cool day... watching Sandy literally bound and leap along as we glided after her. There's just something so joyful about watching a pup play. She was having a blast!

I got soaked since I always insist on the back position in the kayak. The person in back controls where the boat goes... so with my control issues, it's the only place for me. Bruce is as indulgent as always.

We took off on one tangent to see where it lead. It lead to nowhere so we turned back around to head for the barn. There were a lot of fish scattering before us and I'm sure Bruce was wishing for a rod and tackle. This was not to be.

We had such a lovely day out communing with nature, chatting with good friends, and watching Sandy play. There are some drawbacks however... She likes to get back into the kayak after all of this pouncing through the mud. We were all drenched and muddied by the time it was over. But somehow, that just made it all the more fun...

Crepes Flambe

Crepes Flambé

Make a pancake batter using:
½ cup plain flour
1 egg
1 cup milk
pinch of salt
¼ tsp. white vanilla
1 Tbsp liquor (I used Chambord)
oil for frying

Makes 6 to 9 crepes
Wisk together first 5 ingredients then stir in liquor.
Heat heavy skillet and coat with oil.
Pour out batter into skillet to make a thin lacy crepe. Best to keep it “flipable”. Heat until edges brown then quickly flip for a few seconds on the other side. Remove the crepe from the pan and fold in quarters on a plate. Repeat until all batter is used.
For the sauce:

1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp of liquor
Plus 4 Tbsp liquor for flambé!

Heat butter and sugar in a heavy based pan until thick and syrupy then add 2 Tbsp of liquor.
Place the folded crepes into the skillet. Heat on low and spoon sauce over them to heat through. Warm 4 Tbsp liquor in a ladle or small pan then tip it over the pancakes and set alight. Serve hot with whipped cream dots.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday John D.

Bruce and I were once again invited to the home of friends John and Yeda for an evening of good food, wine and lots of laughs. It was the occasion of John's XXth birthday.

Also on the guest list were Tom and Nadia... who met Tom while he was travelling in the Ukraine. They fell in love and she returned with him to the US and were recently married. Young Mark was there as well to round out the bunch.

Yeda made a delicious Brazilian cous-cous unlike any I've ever seen or tasted, and a butternut squash bisque. Both of which we brought home for later. Yeda... recipes please! I furnished the carrot cake for the birthday wishes. It was a great evening but now it's our turn to host! The bar is set very high.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Melissa's Housewarming Party

Melissa had sent out invitations to all of her friends to show off her new place... I think they ALL showed up! Brittney had the day off and it's a good thing... we needed all the help we could get preparing all of the goodies Melissa planned to serve.

Bruce did the honors of Master BBQer on the new pit Melissa's very good friend Denise and her hubbie had given to her the day before. He did chicken, fajitas and sausage.

The family did the work while Melissa played hostess... welcoming her friends in and showing them around. It was such fun to see her in her circle of friends, laughing and joking around. It was also good to see her pride in ownership... she DID IT!

I was in charge of making sure the food was ready at about the same time. Meat, vegies... all done finally!

And of course, it was my job to make sure we didn't run out of margaritas! This is a task I take very seriously!

Denise and Danny have been Melissa's friends for some years. I have a lot of respect for this very special young couple and I'm glad Mel has them around. Denise also makes a really great pico that I had to try very hard to weasel the recipe for... Danny finally told me the secret ingredient and I didn't believe it! video

Another of her long time friends is Elizabeth. She's seen Melissa through thick and thin. It was good to see her again. I heard later that she had been giving Brittney relationship advice and for that too... I thank her.

This advice was much needed as Brittney had invited a friend to the party who wished to be more than just a friend. Brittney needed all the help she could get in finding ways to break this to the guy. Here he is trying his best to ingratiate himself to Bruce.

Melissa finally got around to opening up the gifts... always my favorite part. She got some really cool things but there won't be any problem coming up with a gift list this Christmas. The party was great and the best part about it was that Bruce and I got into our car and drove away when it was over... leaving the cleanup to the kids. Congrats again Melissa!
Oh and it was KETCHUP!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Busy Day with the Girl's in San Antonio

Bruce and I spent our birthday with the girls this year. No party, no candles, no half naked dancers... we went out searching for treasures at the San Antonio area garage sales.

Treasures we did find too! We got this beautiful set of chairs and coffee table for $115 bucks total.



I wasn't sure what Melissa's tastes were but was happy to see her eyeing this beautiful table. It's solid oak with thick walnut veneer. It has inlaid wood around the edges and slide out extensions at each end. It's beautiful and sturdy.

The tables are solid mahogany with horse hair seat covers. There are small holes on the seat covers but it will be easy to cover them over if Melissa decides to do it. I think she's going to keep the horsehair for a while. They're very cool looking.

We also found a set of china dishes... service for 12 with platters, cups and a creamer for $15. I got on the Internet and found out that the large platter alone can be had for $99.95. The whole set probably would cost nearly $1000. if bought on the website I found. What a coupe!

After we put all those things away, we started working on home projects. Bruce showed Brittney how to use the cordless drill Melissa received from a friend as a housewarming present.

She got way into the do-it-yourself thing!

She went to town with the drill doing all the work herself with a few tips from Bruce. Her first project was to install a shoe rack she got at a garage sale for $2.

Getting 18 pairs of shoes out of her floor... priceless!

Next project was to measure for the installation of a drawer in the bottom of her bathroom vanity. I measured and Brittney did all the hole drilling.

Then she placed the runner...

And Voila!!! It works! Now all those things she put down there will be easily accessible.

Melissa's turn with the drill next! She, with Bruce's help... installed a hanger in her bathroom to put towels.

This we purchased earlier for a buck! It's very nice wrought iron and looks great in the room. It was also very much needed... there are few places to put things down in Melissa's place. It'll be fun to help her fill it with beautiful things for months to come. There will be no difficulty in coming up with a Christmas list this year! We had a great time helping her pull things together.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pastelon (Sweet Plantain Lasagna) at the Kid's House

Bruce and I drove up to San Antonio on Friday afternoon in preparation for the Housewarming party on Sunday. We brought all of the ingredients for making Pastelon. We discovered this Puerto Rican dish while on vacation this past June. I found this delicious recipe on "Thenoshery.com."

Pastelón (Sweet Plantian "Lasagna")

1 lbs ground beef
1 onion,minced
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, minced
1/2 chopped cilantro
2 tsp adobo
2 tsp oregano
2 Tbs vinegar
1 envelope sazón
2 bay leaves
8 green stuffed olives, halved
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup tomato sauce
4 plantains, peeled and sliced into strips
3 eggs
2 Tbs milk
2 cups white shredded cheese
vegetable oil
salt
Preparation
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter square pan with 1 tbs of butter.

Combine, beef, onion, pepper, garlic, cilantro, adobo, oregano, vinegar and sazon. Mix well.
Heat a large skillet at medium-high heat with 2 Tbs of olive oil, add meat mixture.
Cook beef until brown and of the juices bubble up, add bay leaves, olives, raisins and tomato sauce. Mix and let simmer for 10 minutes, set aside.

Heat a large frying pan with vegetable oil, just enough to coat the bottom. Fry plantains for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden and slitely crispy. Drain on a plate with paper towel, set aside.

To assemble pastelon: Take your prepared square pan, start with a layer of plantains, then beef, then a fistful of cheese, repeat. You want to finish with cheese and plantains. Beat 3 eggs with 2 Tbs of milk, pour over the pastelón. Let it sit for a minute allowing the egg to soak in. Top off with just a bit more cheese.

Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Eat like a pig, scarf it down, don't share with anyone and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Final Days as a Port A Marina Resident

Bruce spent the day at the boat doing guy things. I raced out there after work to spend our last Wednesday night in Port A. We have decided since joining the BYC in Corpus Christi, to move the boat back to their city marina. These last times were more "big" to me as they will be few and far between for a while... We sat in the cockpit enjoying a sundowner and the dolphin cruising right off our stern.



We took a walk and saw three turtles performing an underwater ballet...



We saw a magnificent post-sundown display while walking along the channel in the cool evening air.


We saw the pelicans settled in for beddy-by on our way back to the boat alongside the shrimpers docks.



We spent a peaceful night in the v-berth then I drove back to civilization for work on Thursday while Bruce did more guy things at the boat.


We had reservations about leaving Port Aransas. It's been nice for the past two years having our "condo" in the little resort town. But since we joined the BYC, we have been torn between attending their functions and spending weekends on our own boat. We added all of the pros and cons and decided to make the move. I'm already missing being a "local"... but I'm sure we'll have a great time in CC with all of our new BYC friends and in using the Club.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dinner with John and Yeda

We had the pleasure of a dinner invitation to the home of friends, John and Yeda on Tuesday night. I made a carrot cake to bring as our contribution. Yeda has moved to CC to be with John and I think the social scene will be heating up.


Alex, long time friend of John, was also on the list of invites as was a young man we haven't met before, Mark.


Yeda shared with me, the preparation process for John's signature drink... the Caiparinha. First you must peel and cut up a small lemon. Add about a teaspoon of sugar and muddle.



Pour in the pinga, or cachaca (cashasa) and ice then stir and pour into a highball glass. I was shown the process then took charge of the preparation of drinks for the duration of the evening. I got pretty good at it! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caipirinha

John was the Master Griller as usual. He served some very juicy steaks. I couldn't finish mine of course.



Yeda served a delicious black bean and rice that I couldn't get enough of. Why did she go and mess up her record by serving collard greens alongside. I've never had them and did try them... but I think I'll pass next time.

Caipirinha is a very potent drink so laughs were abundant. I just love this guy. He is so charming and sweet I want to take him home with us. I think he'ld go too!

We stayed long past my bedtime sitting over carrot cake and decaf. I didn't get to sleep until 10:30 by which time I was looking decidedly orange. But it was worth it. The evening was such fun and I laughed and laughed. I'm looking forward to many repeats now that Yeda is here with John. Thanks to both for a fabulous evening as usual!