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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Crockpot Chocolate Cake
February 4, 2009, 12:59 pm



Recipe found here. It is definitely one to try, even if you have an ovento bake cakes in! Marianna says ( and I agree) that the cake batter is one of the most delicious things she ever has tasted.

The cake ain't too shabby either.



1 pkg. two layer chocolate cake mix
3 oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup water
2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chocolate chips



Spray a 4 quart crockpot with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and pudding mix. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the water, then add the sour cream and oil and beat until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and beat well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour into crockpot. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until top springs back when touched very lightly with finger. Alternatively, as I can never properly follow a recipe - we cooked it on high for 1 hour and low for 2 or maybe 3 additional hours.



Very moist, very delicious. We melted chocolate chunks over the top and smeared it around like frosting, upping the delicious factor by 10%.

Just try it. You'll like it!


I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Autumn Trail Mix
September 26, 2008, 10:20 am

Autumn has arrived! We've had several rainy days this week, both Hal and Marianna are sick and it is the first week of school! Gotta be Fall.

To maintain my energy this week, I shelved the vitamins and went straight for my favorite Autumn Trail Mix. So yummy and all mine -mostly - as Marianna hates candy corn still and is banned from nuts and dried fruit with her braces, while Hal always looks for any chocolate bits in a mix like this, carefully selecting those precious pieces and leaving all the "rabbit food" for me. Unfortunately for him, I forgot the chocolate this time. Maybe I'll toss some Dove Dark Chocolates in for him tonight. :)



My ingredients:
Ann's House of Nuts - Nuts and Fruits Mix, contains peanuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, dates, pineapple, raisins, coconut and other goodies, I'm certain.
Candy Corn - I chose the original, traditional style though I did see that they have a new Caramel Blend this year. I may have to get brave and try that one next! Anybody else had it yet? Is it yummy?



Next step in this highly scientific recipe - pour in bag, carefully mix while admiring all the deliciousness awaiting you. A piece or two may now be snitched for tasting, rather like cookie dough prior to baking, one must make certain the ingredients are top notch, correct?



Last but definitely not least, artfully arrange in bowl by dumping. Bowls are the preferred method of serving as they facilitate the filling of large fistfuls of pure energy resulting in an increase of housework completed, books read, rosaries recited, menus planned and marathons run.

Bon appetit!

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Ignatian Chicken & a Tomato Salad
August 1, 2008, 4:32 pm

Mary M has a lovely post over at Catholic Cuisine suggesting a Feast in honor of Saint Ignatius.

We enjoyed the Chicken with Parsley and Garlic so very much that I thought I'd share a few of the photos today.



Basque styled recipes seem to call for lots of parsley - yum!



Marianna got into the act, smushing the garlic, parsley, olive oil mix onto the chicken breasts enthusiastically.



Still smushing away.



Lovely evening to grill, if one ignores the mosquitoes!!!



The additional herbal mix was tossed over a sliced tomato for a refreshing salad.

And then I stopped taking pictures and ate.

Thanks, Mary, it was delicious!

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Isidore's Sunset
May 15, 2008, 8:23 pm

Beautiful evening tonight, Hal and I wandered down the docks to view the sunset with a fine glass of wine. The air was warm while the breeze was cool. I took a million photos of clouds that look like they'd be perfect backdrops for those celestial infant photos new mom's are drawn to purchase. A few turned out slightly more vivid as the sun sank lower, more sunset while listening to Beethoven rather than Brahms, if you know what I mean!



Of course, anytime the sun approaches the horizon here a chorus of conchs begins, A-Dock is echoed by C-Dock, boats on moorings join in. Some folks pull out air horns (cheaters!) or even flutes (who is that, anyway???).



Others jump in boats for a little cocktail cruising. This particular lady is just back from the sandbox and her kitty won't hardly leave her side. Have you ever seen another cat that would eagerly jump into a dinghy for a ride?



Finally, a recipe I don't want to forget as it is soooo good! Today is St. Isidore's Feast Day. This Spanish farmer inspired a grilled vegetable with picada dish tonight. I doubled the picada and breaded some orange roughy for the grill as well.



On the grill:
Bell peppers
Japanese eggplants trimmed, cut lengthwise into 3 slices
Green or yellow zucchini trimmed, cut lengthwise into slices
Olive oil (for grilling)


For the dish:
6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp wine vinegar (which I couldn't find so left out)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano (left out, too $$$, a whole plant was cheaper than a package)

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add breadcrumbs; stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Season breadcrumb picada to taste with salt.

Place vinegar in another small bowl; whisk in 3 tablespoons oil. Mix in parsley and oregano. Season to taste with salt. (or dump oil over parsley and call it finito)

Arrange vegetables on platter. Spoon herb dressing over; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.


Deliziosa!

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Mayo Margaritas
May 8, 2008, 10:51 am



Well, they weren't really Cinco de Mayo Margaritas as I had to work Monday but my, my, my! have they been delicious Seis de Mayo y Siete de Mayo Margaritas! It has been the week of the quesadilla here aboard the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen, chicken on Monday and steak on Tuesday and last night a super terrific and easy Mexican-inspired soup.

To one box of broth add one can of green enchilada sauce,
one can beans (I used black beans) and shredded chicken to taste.
Top with Sharp Cheddar, diced tomato and sour cream.





Dick the Dog just in at the Navigator Monday evening from skateboarding down Duval Street. Really. I don't make these things up! He is a great 'boarder, you may have seen him on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN or on the cover of the Washington Post.


************************************



Eeww!!!

I just saved my post and saw the title "Mayo Margaritas" and nearly grossed myself out - mayonnaise margaritas??? What the...?

I apologize profusely if you too were taken aback and I can assure you no mayonnaise jar came within 1 foot of the shaker when making the margaritas.

Tequila - yes.

Key Limes - yes.

Triple Sec - yes.

Mayo - NEVER!

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Unexpected Kitchen Science
December 10, 2007, 3:05 pm

Eeeeww!!!

Certain things should not be wrapped tightly in plastic and hidden behind the bananas.

Anyone care to place a guess as to what it was?

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Kitchen Science - Maia!
December 7, 2007, 7:22 am

As Marianna and I were walking through Winn-Dixie we noticed a display of many types of bananas in the produce section. One of our favorite things to do is taste test either different varieties of foods or new to us foods so we quickly came to the conclusion that bananas and plantains would be a great topic to address next.


Caribbean Plantain on left and Hawaiian Plantain to right


Now I have to pause for one moment to tell you how amazing this is. Marianna hates raw bananas passionately. This developed relatively recently, she claims she simply ate too, too many when she was a little tyke and she just may have a point there! As a toddler she named herself Nanna and since that sounds very similar to her preferred food at that time you can imagine a typical day.

Toddler in kitchen - "Nanna!"
Mommy at counter - "Oh! She said her name! What a sweetie!"
Toddler a little louder - "Nanna!"
Mommy, crouching down, starts cooing.
Toddler, reaching for bananas just out of reach on counter, starts screaming.

To avoid this many times a day senario, I promptly renamed that preferred food Maia, the Hawaiian word for banana since we were watching the totally cute Keiki Calabash 4 times a day at that time. You can hear a portion of the song featuring Maia here.


Demonstrating proper cutting technique.


Now I suppose would be as good a time as any to introduce two additional books we are thrilled to be using, 21st Century Cook and Big Snacks, Little Meals.


Caribbeans are flipped, Hawaiians are not.


The first is subtitled the Bible of Ingredients, Terms, Tools & Techniques and I think that is an accurate description! It is loaded with easy to find information, but the book is a decent size, about 8x5" maybe, so it doesn't take over the entire counter when you're working with it, very important in small places!

The second book is a fun cookbook written for older kids, as it says - "This is a book about real cooking, not some little kid's book about making PB&J sandwiches that look like bunnies. You'll start with fresh, basic ingredients, and put them together to make nutritious, substantial dishes." The recipes range from one entitled Ooey Gooey which I was pushing to try since it involved bananas, peanut butter, chocolate and marshmallows to Fried Green Tomatoes which is what we went with.


Green Tomatoes Frying and Spattering

Marianna's reasoning? If we're frying plantains the skillet will be hot so we might as well toss a few green tomato slices in too.

She's way too practical for me sometimes. ;)


Chef in the Galley



Kingdom Plantae - (Plants)
Subkingdom Tracheobionta - (Vascular plants)
Superdivision Spermatophyta - (Seed plants)
Division Magnoliophyta - (Flowering plants)
Class Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
Subclass and OrderZingiberidae -
Family Musaceae - (Banana family)
Genus Musa L. - (banana)
Species Musa acuminata Colla - (edible banana)

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Kitchen Science 101
December 3, 2007, 3:16 pm

Marianna requested a round of Kitchen Science for December and I more than happily agreed! I think I'll share what we've studied here fairly regularly, maybe not every day but hopefully several times a week at least, so do keep checking back to see how our budding chef boils over with her new-found culinary skills!



The first topic we addressed was SALT, the only natural rock consumed by humans. The Story of Salt by that wonderful author, Mark Kurlansky, who also wrote those fabulous books, COD and The Girl Who Swam to Euskadi which is a bilingual book in English and Euskera, (the Basque language) was a great starting point for us.

But our spine is What Einstein Told His Cook, which is very much along the lines of what would happen if Bill Bryson was set down in the kitchen, very readable in a highly intelligent, yet humorously snortable way.



We next decided to try our hand at a bit of a salty art project. The first step is to saturate the page with watercolor, making certain to thoroughly wet the page while laying down a thick coat of paint.



While the paint is still wet sprinkle salt on the wet paint.



Let everything dry and then use a dry brush to knock the salt crystals off the paper. Where the salt landed nice little random white dots will be left leaving lovely background paper for all sorts of science reports, personal stationary, or recipes!

A great recipe celebrating all things salty would be Chicken with Green Onion Salt Dip, a yummy Vietnamese recipe. The chicken is cooked and chopped into bite sized pieces and then dipped into the flavorful sauce just before eating.

1/4 cup green onion
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 1/2 Tbsp Oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups cooked chicken
2 cups hot cooked rice

Combine first four ingredients in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Arrange chicken over rice, serve with the dip.


Other cool links:
The Exploratoreum has a Science of Cooking area, which we recently found thanks to Theresa!

This link to Salt Stories has a great listing of salty stories and I'm (for once) not talking only of the ocean! You'll find links tracing such wonderous stories as Like Meat Love Salt and Cap o' Rushes throughout the world from Asia to the Bard's rendering in King Lear. Great place to browse on a December afternoon!

Do you have a favorite salty story?


I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Food for Braces
November 28, 2007, 1:01 pm

We are becoming quite the soft foods connoisseurs on this boat, Smoothies for Breakfast, Mac and Cheese for Lunch and Soups for Supper!

We've tried many soups and stews in our quest to find satisfying suppers for all, those of us with braces and those without. The best chowder we've sampled so far is a highly adaptable one from Better Homes and Gardens.



1 cup celery, thinly sliced and leftover from Thanksgiving relish tray
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup flour
2 14-oz. can veggie broth
1 lb. refrigerated diced potatoes with onions
3-1/2 cups milk
* 12 oz crabmeat
* 14 oz artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
* Handful of fresh basil

To make the basic Chowder, cook up the celery in the butter and oil, adding flour gradually after celery is tender. Slowly add broth stirring constantly to avoid a lumpy chowder. Add the potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in milk and add the crabmeat and artichokes. Just before dishing out stir the fresh basil in.


Now rather than the last three *star* ingredients the original recipe suggests adding 8 oz of cooked salmon, one red sweet pepper and a dash of dried red pepper flakes or 8 oz of cooked chicken and 1 cup of peas and carrots with a handful of oregano or tarragon.

Marianna and Veronica are driven crazy by the fact that I use a recipe as a point of inspiration more than a rulebook, unless I'm baking, of course! I kinda see what they mean here, I tried really hard to write down the chowder as I cooked it last night and comparing it to the BH&G recipe you'll find it slightly different. I didn't go crazy adapting this time, just increased the broth and milk and so the flour, too. Added olive oil to the butter to prevent overbrowning of the butter (my theory), doubled the potatoes to correspond to the increased liquids, besides who wants half a pack of potatoes kickin' around the fridge? I'm still trying to clear out the fridge from Thanksgiving!

On that note, I'm thinking of putting all the leftover turkey in the bottom of the crockpot with the gravy splashed over it. Then topping it with a layer of corn and sealing it with a batch of mashed potatoes for a Shepherd's Pie a la Slow Cooker. This is one of Marianna's fav dishes now too, so easy to eat! I never thought about how many foods would be so very difficult to eat with braces, even sandwiches and wraps are out since she can't bite! She has developed a very dainty rip-it-to-pieces-with-my-bare-hands technique though because there are certain foods where a knife and a fork just won't do.

So she tells me.


I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Last Autumn Gasp
November 27, 2007, 1:49 pm

On this beautiful Autumn evening I wanted to post what may have been the best thing we baked for Thanksgiving - Acorn Cookies!

A little more complex than many of my recipes in that you'll actually need an oven, if you can believe it! But still worth while, really! I promise it is totally worth borrowing an oven at a friend's home or even heating up your very own kitchen for these delectable treats.



Roll out your chosen Sugar Cookie Dough, ours came in a tube from the grocers, so much easier to carry a tube to a borrowed oven rather than Flour+Sugar+Baking Soda+Salt etc...

Grab a plastic cup. Give it a squeeze to shape it from a circle to an oval. Cut out oval sugar cookies.

Roll out Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. Continue with the squeezing and cutting of ovals but this time slice those PB Cookie cutouts in half and place them on top of the Sugar Cookies.

Use a fork to mash a little texture into the PB Cookie Caps and bake till golden. We thought an almond would make a terrific stem on the cap but then remembered Marianna can no longer eat nuts with her braces. If you have a Braces-Free Household though, I think an almond stem would be the perfect finishing touch!

And you better make them quick. I'm calling Autumn over on Sunday. That'll be our official start to Winter which will probably run till Valentine's Day. Maybe.

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!

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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Who: Capt. Hal, Jennifer, and our daughter Marianna, a great photographer!
Port: Boca Chica
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