This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Yacht Repairs Nearing End

Our Bayliner 32 is sitting on jacks at the B & J Fiberglass yard with the finishing touches being placed on her hull, the transom, the flybridge, the starboard and port sides. We have visited her twice now and noticed the fine progress taking place. Where the work is completed it looks absolutely pristine.

No one except us will ever really know what the boat did look like. But it will appear to be so much more finished and polished and beautiful to us as we begin to restore our boat. There will be far more to do and it will take time and, yes, money. But we will get her there and there will be years of fun cruising the San Juans, the Canadian Gulf Islands and beyond.

So what's next? Well, tomorrow I will head to Costco to purchase four new batteries and turn in the old ones for the core refund. The seller has graciously agreed to install them as he puts the engine room back together following the transom repair.

We are also having the zincs replaced while the boat is drydocked.

Next Tuesday the hull portion of the survey will be completed and, baring any unforeseen issues the following Monday will be the sea trial. If that goes well the boat should be ours within the week. Then off to her new digs in a private berth at Sandy Point. Whatever is left of the summer will be spent as much as possible on the boat. The boating season for a boat this size and with its amenities could well last into November and even December.

Our long wait may finally nearing a happy end.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Summer Picnic Dinner

Such and so friends are coming for dinner is a frequent refrain at our house. My wife seldom lets a week go by when we aren't entertaining either a couple or a whole herd of friends.

This week we are having two small dinner parties, both informal, outdoors, not requiring anything other than good food and company. So for last night's dinner I wanted to do something a bit exotic and yet, well, informal.

Fred and Peggy are great friends of ours and we are all great foodies. Fred and I love to cook, so I guess you could say that whenever one or the other of us cooks a meal we try to do something that will impress the other--not competitive, but fun and just wanting to make sure we are doing something unusual and different.

After a recent trip to the Fremont district of Seattle to try the outrageously delicious Cuban Sandwich at
Paseo on Fremont Street, ( I recently wrote a blog entry about this restaurant) I decided I wanted to try and come up with a Cuban sandwich of my own.

Another item on my menu was an Arugula Salad with Watermelon, Feta Cheese and Lime Vinaigrette. This I found in recent pages of
Bon Appetit Magazine. So here are my recipes for this dinner.

My Cubano Sandwich with Carmelized Onions and Garlic Aioli Sauce

1-5# pork shoulder

for marinade in a gallon zip lock bag place:

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
juice from 1 lime
2-3 sprigs of fresh ros
1 T brown sugar
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2-medium Walla Walla sweet onions

Seal zip lock and toss and turn bag mixing and spreading marinade evenly over the pork. Place bag in the fridge for at least 24 hours turning from time to time to keep all sides of the pork marinading.

Turn on y
our BBQ so the temperature is around 200 degrees. Place pork on BBQ and let cook slowly for about 5 hours turning occasionally and mopping with remaining marinade. After this length of time the pork should have a dark crusty outer finish and yet be juicy on the inside. Let the meat rest 15-20 minutes and then either pull the meat or chop into small chunks. Pulling requires that you use a fork to "pull" the meat apart. I use a knife to cut the meat up into various sized chunks. Place in a bowl and cover with any remaining marinade.

In a hot saute pan with olive oil, place chunks of 2 medium Walla Walla sweet onions and saute until browned and carmelized. Toss onions with the pulled meat.

For Garlic Aioli Sauce:
2-egg yolks
1 t-lemon juice

1 t-kosher salt
2-3-cloves of garlic
1 cup--Olive Oil

1 t-cold water

Mince garlic. Place in mortar, add salt. Crush with the pestle un
til creamed. Place in bowl. Add egg yolks. Slowly pour in half the oil whisking continuously as you go. Add lemon juice and cold water, then slowly pour in remaining oil continuing to whisk. You should have a light yellow mixture not quite as thick as commercial mayonnaise. Cover and chill until needed. Best if made 24 hours ahead. Serve pork by filling a crusty sandwich roll with as much pork as will fit and with aioli sauce either as a condiment or mixed into the pork. Add sliced jalapeno for more heat, lettuce, whatever else sounds good.

Arugula Salad with Watermelon, Feta and Lime Vinaigrette

3 cups--Arugula or mixed micro greens
3 cups--Watermelon, cut into 1-inch square pieces
4-8 ounces--Feta cheese, crumbled

1-2 limes, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T Grey Poupon Mustard
1 t salt
1 t fresh ground white pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a blender except oil. Blend ingredients adding oil slowly until emulsified. Chill for 24 hours for
best results. In the bottom of the salad bowl place half of the salad dressing. Place salad greens and watermelon together with Feta tossing until coated with dressing. Add any additional dressing as desired. ___________________

Remember, as always, you should consider these recipes as a starting place for your own creativity. Don't like watermelon, try some other fruit like strawberries. Don't like pork, try a piece of beef or do chicken. Do a little research at any of the food websites found along the right margin of my blog and come up with your own creation or variation. Make it fun and make it your own! Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Netting Your Fruit Trees

I planted a dwarf Bing Cherry in my back garden shortly after moving into this house 15 years ago. In couple of years I noticed that the dwarf tree was no dwarf at all but a full size cherry and by the time it began baring fruit it became obvious I was going to get very little of it. Due to the position of the tree in the yard and the height of the branches the birds and my squirrel friends were getting most of the beautiful deep red fruit. Nothing to be done.

As I planted other fruit trees over the years, I more carefully made sure they were all dwarf stock and in some cases trees that had multiple varieties of the same fruit grafted onto them. As each tree began to bare fruit however, my bird and squirrel friends decided to help themselves to this fruit as well. Enough was enough.

I researched possible solutions and found netting to be the best answer. So a stop at the hardware store and I was on my way home with a big roll of black poly netting. You cut this stuff with scissors or a razor knife and with the help of a friend drape it over the top of the branches. I also use twist ties to connect the overlapping pieces of the netting. To dissuade the squirrels from simple climbing up the trunk of the trees I use garden yarn to loosely tie the netting to the trunk.

I have had no further issues with birds or squirrels getting to my apples, cherries, pears, plums, blueberries or hazelnuts. So, for now at least I seem to have solved my problem. The original cherry tree? I have given it over to my furry and feathered friends who annually enjoy its fruit.

I'd like to address the one issue I have heard marks the netting as a hazard for wild creatures. I have read about and even seen photos of critters that have become ensnared in the netting. I have yet to have any birds or any other critter become ensnared or if they have they were able to disentangle themselves in which case I imagine they learned their lesson.