Not a Sunflower

And not an artichoke, either.

These are SUNCHOKES.sunchoke1 I wonder what they taste like. Anyone tried them?sunchoke2According to Wikipedia, The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called sunrootsunchokeearth apple or topinambour, is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America.It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.[2]

I haven’t harvested my tubers yet ‘cos I’m still enjoying the flowers — that’s about all that’s flourishing in my garden during this horrible drought in California — but when I do, I’ll probably roast them with garlic, since we got a HUGE string of garlic from Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, the last time we drove through central Cali.

Sunchoke Liqueur

Sunchoke Liqueur

Have you ever tried sunchoke liqueur? Maybe best of all, in Baden-WürttembergGermany, over 90% of the Jerusalem artichoke crop is used to produce a spirit called “Topinambur (de)”, “Topi” or “Rossler”.[13] By the end of the 19th-century, Jerusalem artichokes were being used in Baden to make a spirit called “Jerusalem Artichoke Brandy”, “Jerusalem Artichoke”, “Topi”, “Erdäpfler”, “Rossler”, or “Borbel”.

Jerusalem artichoke brandy smells fruity and has a slight nutty-sweet flavour. It is characterised by an intense, pleasing, earthy note. The tubers are washed and dried in an oven before being fermented and distilled. It can be further refined to make “Red Rossler” by adding common tormentil, and other ingredients such as currants, to produce a somewhat bitter and astringent decoction. It is used as digestif, as well as a remedy for diarrhea or abdominal pain.

If you’ve cooked with them, please send me your recipes. Thank you!

 

My Tugboat Man is Gone and I’m Blue

And so it begins…

Tugboat man withdrawals. Cold turkey.

I took him to the airport at 4:30 a.m. yesterday.

Once again there’s that lonely ride home.

This time he’ll probably be gone for a month or so.

blueskywrds

I pointed my camera straight up because the sky was so blue, more blue than I’ve seen in a long time. Not a cloud in the sky.

And nope, I can’t go with him, in case you were gonna ask.

Sky blue, SO BLUE — can you believe this is an un-retouched pic I snapped in our backyard? Kind of heart shaped, can you see it? If you tilt your head just a teensy bit to the left, can you see it now?

blueskythursday2

My old friend, Willie Nelson, singing “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin

Foursquare Helps Vegetarians Celebrate National Cheeseburger Day

northstarToday is National Cheeseburger Day and it seems to be a particularly good time to extoll the virtues of a non-animal, meat-free, violence-free burger.

Do you have a favorite veggie burger restaurant?

 

Have you visited any of these locations?

How about your own recipe? I’d love to hear about it!

(I received the following news release and thought I’d share it with y’all who live in different parts of the country.)

goldenmeanTo help enjoy the beloved sandwich, Foursquare has made is possible for vegetarians to get in on the celebration by rounding up a list of the country’s best veggie burgers.

Forget “checking in” with Foursquare’s new app – now we’re all about leaving tips at places you love (or hate) and finding recommendations personalized for YOU by allowing you to pick from over 10,000 “tastes” (everything from “veggie burgers” to “veggie pizza,” “veggie pho” and “vegetarian curries”). We have over 55 million people using the app, all of which have contributed to the making of this list of meat-less beauties.

Details on the top veggie burgers (and a popular tip for each location) according to Foursquare around the country are below.

BEST VEGGIE BURGERS IN THE USA

Top Tip: “That veggie burger was better than a lot of regular burgers I’ve had. Definitely recommended.”

Top Tip: “Best veggie burger ever- I couldn’t believe it wasn’t meat. The kale salad is also a must-order. Hillstone is surprisingly very vegan-friendly!”

Top Tip: “Very cool vibe! Maca hot latte was amazing and yes the burger lived up to the reviews!”

Top Tip: “$6 burgers/veggie burgers during happy hour. Perpetual happy hour on Yuenglings ($3). You can easily spend very little or live like a hip king here. Awesome brunch, too.”

Top Tip: “Bring a carnivore here who you want to convince that being a vegetarian, vegan, or hipster is cool. Also, amazing playlist when DJs aren’t spinning.

Top Tip: “The spinach dip is what I come for & the veggie burger is the BEST!!!

Top Tip: “This is hands down the best veggie burger I have ever had. It has substance, flavor, texture, and obviously a little love. Wow.”

Top Tip: “I don’t know what I love more the cornbread or the veggie burger”

Top Tip: “Veggie burger was awesome! Handmade fresh with great seasoning. The Kentucky bourbon is exceptional too.”

Top Tip: “The food here is unbelievable! Just enjoyed a Veggie Burger that was absolutely outstanding.”

 

BEST BAKING HACK EVER.

Trust me.

This is SO easy. And SO awesome.

For realsies. This could be the BEST tip I’ve ever shared.

Did I conjure this up myself? I’m not 100% sure…but it’s too good to keep secret.

OK, say you’ve made a batch of Brownies (recipe below) or a One-Bowl Chocolate Cake or even an Hot Milk Sponge Cake (super light and fluffy).

Would you LOVE to drench your creation in a dreamy, creamy, fudge ganache?

Don’t have the time to make frosting from scratch? Or you’re out of powdered sugar? Don’t want to resort to that chemically-laden and overly processed frosting in a can?

No worries.

Here’s the ONLY ingredient you’ll need.

You probably have a package of semi-sweet chocolate morsels around, right? I mean, ‘cos who doesn’t, ya know what I’m sayin’?

SO AMAZING.

In one easy step, you’ll create a  to-die-for topping.

Ready? This is all there is to it…

bakinghack1

Photo by Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

Take a handful of chocolate chips; I think this is about 1/2 cup.

Sprinkle the chips evenly over just-out-of-the-oven brownies (or cake).

Ya gotta do it while it’s hot enough to melt the chocolate. (See my special seashell table?I can make one for you, too!)

Simply take a butter knife or offset spatula and spread the melted chocolate chips gently over the top.

Look how glossy and shiny and YUMMY chocolaty good that looks.

bakinghack2

Photo by Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

DELICIOUS-ness. Guaranteed.

A no-brainer, it’s a success EVERY time.

bakinghack3

Photo by Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

It starts out soft and if you’re like me and store any leftovers in the refrigerator, the topping develops into a firm but not too hard coating that serves to protect and preserve each and every moist mouthful.

  • Works great on cookies, too.
  • I’ve never tried milk chocolate/mint chocolate/peanut butter chips, but I assume they’d be good; if you try them, let me know!

Here’s Princess Rosebud’s Brownie recipe. One bowl, super easy!

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cold coffee (I always use a bit of coffee with chocolate)
1/3 – 1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup flour
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Option: 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix thoroughly oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee. Incorporate cocoa and mix well.
Add flour, salt, baking powder, and nuts, if desired. Stir together, but not too vigorously. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes just until the edges pull away from the pan. No one likes dry brownies!

 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife:

This post really spoke to me and is a serious counterpoint to my silly post about my hub’s fake mistress!

Originally posted on Crazy Train To Tinky Town:

Like many of you I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  Whilst, I think that it has certain advantages for keeping in touch with family & friends located in faraway places and as a writer it does have certain benefits but for many it’s a bit of a dual-edged sword. Too often I have come across inappropriate posts and videos which in my opinion have no place on a social networking site. It is alleged that this week Facebook have failed to remove a video of a helpless & vulnerable kitten being deliberately doused in fuel and set alight; what purpose does that video serve? I also fail to see why you would want to give the sociopaths that committed this heinous and cowardly act their fifteen minutes of fame. Furthermore, you have to ask yourself why certain Facebookers would feel the need to “like” this type of posts. Whilst…

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My Husband Has a Mistress and That’s All Right With Me

I did a bad thing, tricking you that way.*

SORRY!

(But it made you click on it, haha)

My tugboat man doesn’t have a mistress.

Or…does he?

He might as well have one.

Listen to the facts:

1. He spends a lot of money on her.

2. Sometimes when the tides are right, he spends more time with her than at home.

3. He found her on Craigslist.

Here’s my hub’s newest love, a Kies custom surfboard.

Apparently John Kies is one of the best surfboard shapers out there; at least that’s what I’ve been hearing for — well, it seems like for the last twenty-four hours. Nonstop. “Look at her shape!” “Isn’t she beautiful?” “I can’t wait to get her out in the water.”

Kies custom boardSo. Here she is.

Gaze your eyeballs on her beautiful and young body, so fresh and clean, no wrinkles or stretch marks or cellulite.

I actually drove with him halfway across San Diego County so that he could check her out — get a taste of her — stroke her and examine her from all sides –all the  while I sat in the car and read a book until it got too dark to read.

And now he’s applying a coat of fresh StickyBumps warm water wax so that she’s primed and ready for their first ride. Together.

But don’t worry about me.

I’ll do all right ‘cos I’m a SURVIVOR.

I have my eye on a sweet little pearl Chanel necklace.

All’s fair, right?


 

*P.S. Apologies to anyone who may have thought I was going to reveal marital dirt…I’ll admit to gentle teasing and snarky humor at times, but I almost never share personal dirty laundry in a public forum. Not my style. Not my thing.

 

 

The Great ANT Invasion of 2014

English: Small hand-drawn ant graphic

English: Small hand-drawn ant graphic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a day like any other day.

My tugboat man and I awoke to the caw-caphony of a million restless crows, wishing us either a good morning or something less pleasant from the tops of every eucalyptus tree in Southern California.

I could almost taste that first fragrant sip of coffee as I put on my glasses and pulled open the drapes.

Trader Joe’s French Roast, freshly ground, filtered water — I was salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs (need I interject how much I abhor and detest any kind of animal experimentation?)

Tugboat man opened the patio doors.

“Good morning. It’s gonna be a hot one”, he said.

“That’s what they say”, I replied. And “Good morning to you!”

We are polite like that, we really are! (Well, most some of the time.)

“You’re not gonna like this”, cautioned my tugboat man.

“Uh oh, what’s wrong?”

“The kitchen is covered in ants.”

“On every surface.”

“I know you’re going to go crazy. I better leave now, haha.”

“OH MY GOD!”

“AY DIOS MIO”

This day just turned into the worst day ever.

Can you imagine what a roomful of ants, not only on every surface, countertop, floor, sink, and cupboard DOES to someone like me who is ever-so-slightly OCD?

I didn’t know where to start.

But I knew we needed coffee before anything was going to happen.

However long this cleanup would take, my strategy was to begin where it was most needed — the coffee pot area.

Can you believe there ware ants INSIDE THE GLASS CARAFE?!

Because of our ongoing drought and extreme heat, I guess they were searching for water; quite possibly that’s why the kitchen sink was black with swarming ants.

Or maybe they just decided to choose Casa de Enchanted Seashells for some sort of karmic retribution — for what, I have no idea, as I try to NEVER hurt or maim one of Mother Nature’s creatures.

But this was too much to bear.

I could foresee the hours of my day…purging all of the pots and pans and dishes out of the cupboards and food out of the pantry — cleaning and sterilizing every f***ing thing.

Like soldiers marching on the Rhine, they broke me.

I retreated.

I waved the white flag.

But it was only a strategy designed to divert those little soldiers from their goal of full-scale conquest.

I reached under the sink, surreptitiously pulled out a gigantic canister of ant spray, and with a battle cry reminiscent of Mel Gibson In Braveheart I let loose a vigorous stream of poison with the force of General Leslie GrovesManhattan Project atomic bomb testing in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Princess Rosebud won this round. I’m not proud that I surrendered to the use of toxins to win this war, but I felt I had no choice.

steaming-heart-cupFinally, we enjoyed a well-deserved mug of life-giving, life-sustaining dark, rich, bold coffee.

The spoils of war, my friends.

Mission Accomplished.

P.S. As much as I wanted them GONE, I can’t help but admire their determination. Let’s all sing along with Frank Sinatra in “High Hopes”

http://youtu.be/vWZ-pLUb9L8

SUNDAY UPDATE…BREAKING NEWS…
Mission NOT so accomplished. A terror cell of insurgents split from the main army, invading our bedroom. Coming from the attic, this has nothing to do with being thirsty. This is a military coup. Princess Rosebud is fighting back alone; her tugboat man retreated to the safety of a beach. 


 

Gif source: http://webhost.bridgew.edu/jhayesboh/coffee/steaming-heart-cup.gif

YUMMY Old Fashioned ORANGE Meringue Pie

Sometimes it satisfies a certain nostalgia to crack open my mom’s old Betty Crocker Cookbook and recreate her tried and true favorite recipes.

They may not be TOTALLY the most UBER healthy…but once in while it’s OK to indulge.

This time I had a hankering for an Orange Meringue Pie…a bit of a change from the standard lemon meringue — not that lemons aren’t delicious — but I had a few organic oranges around and wanted to work with that specific and intensely ORANGE flavor.

I served it after a dinner of Chile Rellenos with Guacamole (post soon.)
The citrus was the PERFECT finishing touch to a spicy meal.

First of all, I’m going to be a bossy pants and insist that you spend just a few minutes to create your own baked pie crust. It’s not THAT difficult and is SO much better than store bought. (Recipe below)

orangepie4

Old school juicer. VERY low tech.orangepie1 Work it, work it! Don’t leave it for a minute, keep stirring, continue whisking…orangepie2 …until the mixture thickens and become silky, smooth, and emanates an amazing orange perfume.orangepie3

As soon as the filling is done, quickly turn to your mixer and whip the whites into light peaks of pillowy soft clouds.orangepie5Very stiff peaks is what you’re looking to achieve.
orangepie6

The last few steps are the MOST important. Fill the baked pie shell with the orange filling.
orangepie7 Spread the uncooked meringue over the filling, spreading to completely cover the pie. orangepie8Slide gently into the oven for about five to seven minutes. DON’T leave the kitchen ‘cos a minute too long and your meringue goes from luscious lightly browned goodness to crispy burned in a HEARTBEAT.

LOVELY. Very marshmallow-y.
orangepie9 BEYOND GOOD.

HONEST. :)orangepie10

 

Orange Meringue Pie (thank you, Betty Crocker!)

  • 1 (9 inch) pie crusts, baked
  • cup sugar
  • tablespoons cornstarch
  • egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • tablespoons butter
  • tablespoon lemon juice
  • tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 -3 egg white, meringue

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch.
  3. Combine egg yolks, orange juice and water; stir gradually into sugar/cornstarch mixture in the pan.
  4. Cook stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils.
  5. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly; stir in butter, lemon juice and the peel.
  6. Immediately pour into pre-baked pie shell.
  7. Cover completely with meringue-carefully sealing to the edges.
  8. Bake about 10 minutes or until meringue browns lightly.
  9. Cool on wire rack out of drafts.

BAKED PIE CRUST
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
2-3 tablespoons cold water

Directions

Heat oven to 475ºF. Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.

Roll pastry, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.

Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown; cool on wire rack.

Fog + Condors, and California’s Amazing Big Sur

Remember when I ran away from BlogHer14?
(Click HERE to read my sad tale.)

My tugboat man and I headed west to take the 101 back home to SoCal.

We stopped in Carmel for a lovely night to celebrate hub’s birthday, and thought we’d camp for a few nights as we travelled south.

It was obvious that everyone else had the same idea. No open campsites and no hotels meant we drove all the way home, sad and dejected, at 2:00 a.m.

Even though we didn’t camp anywhere and there was heavy fog, every so often the sun would peek through and I was able to snap some amazing pics.

Ultimate optimists, we’re giving it another try.

We figure that everyone is back to school and we should have a road less travelled. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Until we return with more pics, here’s some of my faves.

See you soon!

California Condors with attached radio collars. Too bad I couldn’t get closer pics but we could see the collars with tugboat man’s superior binoculars.

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Boats hidden on a hillside only seen if you hike down a secret trail (and I’ll never tell)…

bigsurboats bigsurboats2

Weird things hanging off a tree.bigsurcrazytreeFog…
bigsur12
bigsur8 bigsur4 And once in a while, the fog cleared…bigsurtripbigsurfog10bigsurfog9bigsurfog8bigsurfog7bigsurfog2bigsurfog4bigsurflower bigsufog4

Don’t be cruel to your family pet

Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife:

A day for re-blogging the posts of animal lovers who share a great message.

Originally posted on Russel Ray Photos:

Out & About San Diego

Near one of the places where I go walking quite often is a colony of feral cats. During bad economies, the colony grow because people who can no longer afford to feed or care for their cats drop them off at the mouth of the San Diego River where this feral colony lives.

During one visit in 2009 I counted 187 cats. This morning I counted only six, and not a single one was photogenic. Thus, I returned home with not a single new picture of a fine, furry, feline friend.

Not to fear, though, because I have many pictures from past visits, and I’ll share eight of my favorites with you today.

1Feral cat in San Diego, California

2Feral cat in San Diego, California

3Feral cat in San Diego, California

4Feral cat in San Diego, California

5Feral cat in San Diego, California

6Feral cat in San Diego, California

7Feral cat in San Diego, California

8Feral cat in San Diego, California

Remember, folks, if you don’t want your family dog or cat, or can no longer take care of it, please take it to a no-kill animal shelter rather than…

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