Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Best Gravy...From the Weirdest Ingredients

We such a small oven on the boat that cooking a turkey is out of the question, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I asked my husband to make his famous turkey and cranberry chili. He won’t tell me the recipe, but it involves turkey and dried cranberries. I set off for the ingedients, and rather than the dried cranberries, I bought fresh. They looked so good, and I have never actually eaten a fresh raw cranberry. Well, husband absolutely insisted that fresh wouldn’t work in the chili, so I had to find another recipe to use the cranberries. I stumbled upon Brisket with Cranberries, and the ingredients sounded so weird I knew I had to try it: brisket, a pack of dried onion soup mix, a bottle of catalina dressing, and a bag of cranberries. The recipe called for combining everything and roasting, but I did mine in the crockpot with some pork shoulder.

The shoulder was a little fatty, so I had to skim some grease off but the sauce tasted amazing! I made a gravy out of it, and it is my new favorite - fruity and meaty. We put the pork in bowls, topped with mashed potatoes and the gravy. I will definitely make this again, though maybe try chicken next time.

We came in $7 under budget for the week, and this is what else we ate for the week: Jerk Chicken, BLT’s with soup, Burritos with rice, Veggie Calzones, and a Mediterranean Tuna Salad. And Thanksgiving, of course. We went to a friend’s for dinner- no cooking, no cleaning, perfect!

We received this huge papaya from a friend's tree...I think I may make a salsa out of it!
Have a great week, and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 21, 2011

West Indian Jerk Chicken

Despite living in the West Indies for nearly 10 years, we don’t often cook West Indian cuisine. My preferred meal is any kind of carb and lots of cheese (favorite food= fried mozzarella sticks). Not a lot of cheese in West Indian cooking. Curiously, goats are raised here and goat meat is popular, but I can’t find anyone making goat cheese, one of my favorites. One of my first jobs on island was working for a resort, whose employee cafeteria served local food. I got to try all of the favorites: oxtail stew, goat water, funji, saltfish, and callaloo. I was very appreciative of the salad bar.

I do, however, like a good jerk chicken, and husband found a recipe that sounded similar to one he likes at a local restaurant. Lots of ingredients, but fairly straightforward and easy to make, a gravy rather than a rub. He served it over a rotisserie chicken from the market ($6.99 while a similarly sized uncooked chicken can average $12. I have never understood that.) On the side were boiled sweet potatoes (actually U.S. yams. The local sweet potato has a similar taste, but a blue-grey color that just doesn’t appeal to me.) and pigeon peas in sauce over rice. This was my new food for the week, pigeon peas. They kind of look like a pea but taste like a bean, straight from the can in a sweetish sauce. Good in the context of the meal, but I’m not sure if I’ll try them again. The verdict on the jerk sauce: I loved it but T thinks it would make a better marinade, and that it was too vinegar-y.

We came in right on budget, $105 for the week, and this is what we ate:

Sunday: Ok- I hate to admit this, but my very favorite frozen pizza is Totino’s party pizza. I know all the ingredients are ultra processed, the crust is nothing but grease and air, and the ingredient list is as long as my arm with words I don’t know, BUT, a weakness and a splurge. The market had them on sale, so I bought a couple, added some pepperoni, and ate a whole one by myself.

Monday: Oh lasagna, how I loved having you in the freezer! This was the last of the 6 I made and froze earlier, and we have had at least one a week. I may be tired of lasagna for a while.

Tuesday: Falafel with cucumbers, red onions, and homemade tzatziki sauce on pitas. I used to make my own falafel from chick peas, but tried a box mix on the recommendation of a friend, and it was much better.

Wednesday: We had planned on eating out with friends, but that was cancelled at the last minute, and I hadn’t been to the market, and didn’t feel like going, so put together what I could with what I had. I ended up with toasted bread topped with a fake chicken patty, turkey bacon, a fried egg, cheddar cheese, and marinara sauce. I don’t know what to call it, but it was good!

Thursday: Polish sausage with pierogis and sauerkraut. Yum.

Friday: Rotisserie chicken with stuffing and Caesar salad. Stuffing is another weakness. I could make a whole meal out of nothing but stuffing.

Saturday: Husband dragged me to new Twilight movie, so it was popcorn, French fries, and a slice of veggie pizza.

Wow, I feel like we ate a lot of junk this week! I resolve to eat more fruits and veggies this week. Since I neglected to take any food photos, here’s the view from my window at my studio.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tapas and Fondue!

Our dinner highlights this week were definitely Tapas and Fondue! We love to have tapas dinners on the boat…small bites, small plates, small table! We usually eat in the cockpit of the sailboat, and our table is maybe a foot by two feet. Tapas nights are also a great way to use up random things in the fridge.

Husband prepared it all on Monday night, when I get home a little later from the studio. He made a homemade pate which was fantastic and maybe I’ll get him to guest blog about that. Also on the table were toast points, warmed marinated olives and red peppers, sliced apples and pears, roasted almonds, several kinds of cheese, and a great bottle of wine. Unfortunately, the lighting in the cockpit consists of a rope light which doesn’t make for great photos!

We house- sat for some friends a couple days this week, so we took the opportunity to have a fondue party with two other couples…one other couple is pretty much max for entertaining on the boat. We served a lot of the same things as the previous tapas night, plus a whole lot of melted cheese! For dipping we had lots of bread and fruits. Everyone brought wine, and I think my favorite part was the wine tasting! Husband had ordered a wine aerator several months ago (and it still hasn’t arrived!) so one friend brought hers. I have never used one before, but the difference was pretty amazing. We all tried several different wines, before and after aerating.

For the rest of the week, we had hot dogs and sliders at a football party, pizza, chicken Caesar salad, vegetable lasagna, and chicken and veggies with pasta. We spent $94, so $11 into vacation fund!

I have been trying to try one new food item each week, last week was the pizza yeast, and this week it was this Philly cream cheese sauce I found on sale. I used it with our chic/veg/pasta dish. It’s already seasoned, so you just stir it in for instant sauce. It was pretty good, but I wouldn’t pay the normal price of $4.99. I got it on sale for $1.99

I guess that’s it for the week! Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere...

One of the best things about living in the Caribbean is the (usually) great weather. This week however was gray and rainy and almost cold at times. Though bad for the island visitors, most residents love it when it rains! The island does not have a fresh water source other than the rain- most people have cisterns that are filled by the rain, and this supplies the household water. On the boat we do not have a cistern, and we’ve never perfected a water-catching system, so we buy our water. Of course it is expensive, so conserving water is a way of life here. It always strikes me as ironic when I am paying to fill the water tanks while it’s raining and we’re surrounded by water.

Of course, we like to eat comfort food in cool rainy weather, and we did all week long! In the coming week I am really going to try for a salad or two.

First week back tracking the budget after taking a year off, and I’m definitely out of practice! We try to spend $15 a day, $105 a week (yep, my math was wrong in last week’s post!). This week we spent $123, and this is what we ate:

Sunday: Tortilla Stack. This is a great recipe that is basically lasagna with corn tortillas; seasoned ground beef, cheese, tomatoes, onions, etc. I splurged on cilantro ($2.99 for a small bunch). I usually do this in the slow cooker, but this time baked as a casserole.

Monday: Lasagne. A few weeks ago we were housesitting and had some room to spread out in the kitchen. I made 6 lasagnes ( they are each about 4x8 inches in disposable foil pans), with different combinations of sauces, meats, and veggies. I left one for the house, and froze the other 5 on our boat. Mondays I work late, so it’s perfect to pop in the oven with no fuss and no clean up.

Tuesday: Husband makes an amazing curry sauce with coconut cream, which he tossed with stir-fried veggies and served over rice. We also had some mini eggrolls that I made last week and froze in batches of ten. I think I made 60 egg rolls that day! Time consuming but very simple: cabbage, carrots, and onion.

Wednesday: We just joined a softball league, and we had a team meeting that night so we ate out. We will be playing Thursdays after work, so we will probably not be cooking that day.

Thursday: Sausage stew with sweet potatoes and apples .Husband is always asking for stew for dinner, but I really despise the beef stew/carrots/potatoes dish, an try to come up with alternatives. The flavors in this dish were fantastic!

Friday: Chicken Parmesan. We really love the veggie fake chicken patties, so we used these instead of real chicken. When I made all that lasagna, I had some leftover pasta that I froze and used it here. Homemade sauce and lots of mozzarella cheese!

Saturday: Pizza. I recently discovered pizza yeast! I was very excited to try it as the package says no rising is needed, and it doesn’t give dough that “spring back” quality when you are trying to stretch it into the pizza pan. However, I have now tried it twice with different pizza dough recipes, and I really don’t like it. It gives the crust more of a biscuit taste and texture.

You may remember that when I was writing last year, we were eating vegetarian. We were both kind of tiring of meat, and we stayed veg for about a year. Gradually we started eating meat again, and we are back to a few times a week now. I don’t know if makes a difference to the budget, since meats and veggies are equally expensive.

The sun finally came out again on Sunday, and I spent a great day at one of my favorite beaches.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!