Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Cove on Christmas Day

It doesn't quite feel like Christmas when the weather is 85 and sunny, so husband and I usually celebrate island style. Go to the beach, take a swim, work on our tans. Shortly before Christmas this year, we added another boat to our "fleet". In addition to the sailboat that we live on, and the dinghy, we bought a 24-foot run-around power boat. This is mainly for T's spearfishing charters, but we've been having fun visiting neighboring islands a lot faster than on the sailboat!

One of these islands is Great St. James, with a cove named Christmas Cove. Supposedly Columbus stopped here on Christmas day while discovering the Virgin Islands. Is there a better place to christen the boat than at Christmas Cove on Christmas Day? We packed a light brunch, bread and cheese and fruit, and headed out early.

Dog must wear her lifejacket! Yes, she is mostly lab, but she's also 11 and not the most confident swimmer.

We had a pleasant ride out and found a nice place to anchor. Time to christen the boat! A little champagne for her...

and a little champagne for me!

We spent a very nice morning just relaxing and enjoying the scenery...then something hit our boat- hard! Turned out to be a someone...a snorkeler from another boat was so engrossed with the underwater view that he ran head first smack into our boat! Luckily he wasn't injured, but it sure was funny!

We decided to spend the whole day by ourselves, so we begged off the various invitations from friends and neighbors for lunch and dinner. What did I cook for Christmas dinner? T's favorite, blueberry pancakes!

We did pretty well on the budget for the week, $16 under, and this is what we ate:
Sunday I made a turkey breast in the slow cooker with sweet potatoes and stuffing
Monday we had homemade mushroom calzones
Tuesday was turkey meatloaf with mashed potatoes and carrots
Wednesday was leftovers
Thursday we had dinner with friends, I brought an appetizer tray- crab dip, cheeses, olives, and homemade focaccia bread
Friday was the pancakes, and
Saturday was stuffed squash

I hope everyone had as nice of a Christmas as we did, and see you in the New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Tree on a Boat

When you live on a boat like we do, there is not enough room for a Christmas tree...and you certainly don't want it tipping over when the boat rocks! So instead of a tree we decorate the part of our mast that comes into the boat. Doesn't take up any space at all!

My siblings and I have a tradition of exchanging Christmas ornaments every year...we get a lot of mermaid and diver ornaments!

We did pretty well on the budget this week- $105 for food and drink, breakfast and dinner- we were able to put $26 into vacation fund. I was so inspired by my homemade pita breads last week (see last post) that I tried hamburger buns this week. I used the Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns recipe from AR. It makes a ton of buns!

Actually, it makes 12, but I have never had luck with scaling bread recipes, so I made all twelve and gave some to the neighbors. They turned out really well, though a bit biscuit-tasting. I did the same thing I did to the pitas, after they came out of the oven I put them between damp paper towels, then between 2 paper plates, and the whole stack sealed in a plastic bag. This is to keep them soft- I ate the last one this morning, and it was still soft after 4 days!

So the menu for the week was: Sunday- Veggie Burgers with potato salad; Monday- Felafel on pitas with cucumber salad; Tuesday- Pasta with peas, goat cheese, and chicken; Wednesday- Fried egg and vegetable sandwiches ; Thursday we had dinner at a friend's house and I brought crackers and a garlic potato dip for an appetizer; Friday- Veggie burgers with french fries; Saturday- Pizza.
Hope everyone has a great week!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Magic Pita Bread

I love to bake fresh bread, but one type I have never tried is pita bread. I had a taste for felafel for dinner the other night, but the flatbreads from the grocery all tend to have a freezer burn taste, so I figured I'd give pita bread a try! Husband took the laptop to work, so my only recipe available was from an actual cookbook (I'm so addicted to All Recipes, it's been a while!), the Moosewood Cookbook.

It was a pretty standard bread recipe, rise for an hour or so, then divide into 6 equal portions:

(I know there are only 5 portions here, the 6th is on the board!) They are rolled out very thin, the recipe says no more than an eighth of an inch. By this time I am making quite a mess, flour flying everywhere, including on the dog who is watching me attentively. Since we have VERY little counter space here on the boat, this is my least favorite part about baking. Elbows bumping into things as I am rolling out the dough.

They go into a 500 degree oven for 6-8 minutes, but my oven is not big enough to do more than one at a time, so it was about 45 minutes with the oven that hot...and it's 88 degrees outside! They got puffy and light brown, just like the recipe said! To keep them soft, you are supposed to put them between a damp tea towel and into a paper bag. I have neither, so they went between a damp paper towel, sandwiched between 2 paper plates, and the whole thing into a plastic bag.
Look how pretty!

To go into the pita, I made felafel, cucumber salad, tahini lemon sauce, and garlic dip, all from the Moosewood Coookbook. We had the neighbors over for dinner, and finally the moment of truth had come...would the pitas actualy have a pocket? I sliced the first one in half, and yes, it opened into two beautiful pockets! Everyone wanted to know how I got the pocket inside?! I honestly said I really don't know...just the magic of pita bread.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Favorite Beach

Yesterday we took the day off and headed to my favorite beach on St. Thomas, known as Lindqvist. The sand is soft and white, the water is warm, and it has a great view of of neighboring island, St. John. It's also one of the few beaches on our side of the island that doesn't have a resort or condo built on it. All beaches in the Virgin Islands are public though, so it's perfectly acceptable to go to the Ritz-Carlton and hang out on their beach. But we like Lindqvist better!

We packed a cooler full of ice, mixed up a jug of gin and tonics, and husband T whipped up a batch of guacamole and chips. The avocados were $2.49 a pound, but perfectly ripe and worth every penny! We met a few friends, including our boat neighbor L, who is back here for the winter. They live in Winconsin most of the year where temps are 22 below right now! We are sure glad they are back on island.

Every day on the beach is a good day, and yesterday was no exception. Came home a little tired and a little toasty, so T made an early dinner of cheese ravioli with a roasted butternut squash sauce (addded some great Wisconsin swiss cheese that the neighbors brought down), and some cheesy breadsticks. Yum.

We came in slightly under budget for the week (we try to do $105 for food and drink), and had $7 left to put into vacation fund. We don't have a freezer on the boat, but recently the dive shop where T works has made a little room in their freezer for us, so we were able to buy a few things for the next couple of weeks. What a difference a freezer makes! We bought a whole sleeve of veggie burgers from the big box store for $7, instead of paying $7 for a box of four at the regular grocery.

Our menu this week was: Sunday- Pork Gyros, Monday- Veggie Burgers, Tuesday- Whole Chicken in the slow cooker with carrots and potatoes, Wednesday- Pizza and salad, Thursday- Chicken Enchiladas with leftover chicken from Tuesday, Friday- Pizza (we could eat pizza every day!), and Saturday was the Pasta.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Squash Pasta Sauce

Wow! High Season has hit the Virgin Islands...I have been so busy the last few weeks that I haven't had time to write my blog! I have been keeping track of my meals, though, and I think we have come in under budget every week. (Our goal is to spend $15/day on food and drink).

I wanted to take a quick moment to share a GREAT pasta sauce that husband made last night (yes we are still sharing the cooking!). We found this funny little squash at the market, I don't remember the name, but it was smaller than an acorn squash and orange and white striped. He cooked it in the microwave, scooped the seeds, and pureed it with a quarter cup of cream cheese, salt, pepper, and a splash of milk. (Enough to make it the consistency of pasta sauce). He heated it gently and served over cheese ravioli, with a side of grilled vegetables. Really good! I've never had a pasta sauce like this, and couldn't find a recipe here either, so I hope some of you will give it a try. I think it would have been good with a little sage or cinnamon, but we had neither. I forgot to take a photo, so here are some from our latest Sunset Happy Hour dinghy ride, and I apologize to those in the cold climates!

Have a great week everyone!