A recipe and a request…from a tugboat captain

The wonderful FurFiles (meow!) is back from her Jamaican vacation, and it’s about time!  I’ve missed her astute blogging and pithy commentary, like the many ways I can exact revenge on my tugboat man should the need arise.

ex=lax signNo, I’m not going to put ex-lax in his food. Not this time, anyway.

Ms Fur has furrily requested the recipe for another version of carrot bread I made last night, loosely based on a recipe from my 1970s Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook.

I’m not the magnificent artist of decor and whimsy like Judy at Petit4Chocolatier  nor do I possess the versatility of (bakery owner in another life) Tonette of tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily but I have my most consistent success with everyday, homey, mom-like healthy breads, apple pies, lentil cookies, and black bean brownies.pastry bag and tips

Confession: I’ve been known to wield a mean pastry bag to build roses with tip #12 and #104 on flower nail #7 (as well as shells and garland)  but I save that skill set for special occasions only.

A Schwarzwälder kirsch kuchen similar to one I made to celebrate my son’s graduation.

Black Forest Cherry Cake

Black Forest Cherry Cake dripping in kirschwasser

 

First the request...I’m conducting an interview of my resident mariner for a future post. In the wake of today’s ferry accident in New York and other recent vessel related incidents, it seems timely.  

Anything you’d like to know?

I’ve tortured used my not inconsiderable powers of persuasion to convince my tugboat man to put up his surfboard for a moment and consent to an interview. The convincing involved all sorts of things like I need to wear nothing but a pair of six-inch heels and red lipstick and must refer to him as Most Exalted Master Seaman, but that is my cross to bear, not yours.

It was his idea to take requests from my readers in the wonderful world of blogging and Twitter and FB and I agree that’s a great idea–which should prove to doubters (and children) that hubs does have an independent thought once in a great while.

He’ll entertain queries about maritime-related stuff, what it’s like being married to me(!), technical stuff about boat handling/boat restoration, marlinspike seamanship,– ask away!

Certain things can’t be revealed of course, but he’ll do his best to answer all questions. He’s a USCG certified instructor, so you know he’s got the cred and he’s not just another pretty face.

You’ll discover the funny side to life as a seaman–they have a weird sense of humor–creating witty rhymes such as, “It’s not gay when you’re underway…” [urban dictionary]

I’ll credit the question with a link or you can remain anonymous–your choice.

And now for the recipe….carrotraisinbread2 carrot raisin bread

Carrot Raisin Bread
It’s moist and delicious with a rich texture! The difference is in the process. Try it and let me know what you think about it. Hubs loves it!

Ingredients
One cup grated carrots
One cup raisins
3/4 cup honey (I didn’t have a lot of honey so I used 1/4 honey, 1/4 agave, 1/4 brown sugar) Maple syrup would be yummy, too.
One teaspoon each: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Two tablespoons vegetable oil
One egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups water
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, not sure how to do the conversions.
In a medium saucepan, cook carrots, raisins, honey/sugar, oil, and spices in the water for about ten minutes. Let cool. When cool, add beaten egg and mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and add to wet ingredients. Pour into one or two loaf pans depending on size. I made mine in one large loaf pan. Bake for about 45 minutes but check carefully so it doesn’t over bake. Let cool before slicing.

 

Yes, I really AM that annoying.

And every once in a while, it’s really black and white.

While I’m absorbed in the embracing and releasing of my inner beeyotch, there’s an overriding theme that’s emerging around Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

It seems that I am annoying in different ways to different people. Some might find that to be a negative character trait and should be “worked on.”

Not me.

I consider my annoying self to be a value-added option or a gift with purchase–to the liberation of my beeyotchiness.

There are some aspects of parenting and marriages that don’t reveal themselves right away. Sometimes it takes a child moving out to give him/her perspective and a spouse can also evoke a similar epiphany.

Last night my shining bright star boy child called and I was APPARENTLY nagging (his word) him about his eating habits and not eating enough. A great multi-tasker, he was chewing while chatting and told me he was eating a Subway sandwich. Always a caring and concerned and nurturing mom, I told him it didn’t have enough calories for a skinny boy like him and he needed to take bcare of himself and eat higher quality protein and more frequently, blah blah blah.

I said, ‘Maybe I should come back there and cook for you.” “No, that’s OK.”  “Why not? I would have loved it if my mom cooked for me.” “No, I can cook for myself” “But DO you?”

“Were you always this annoying?”

That about sums it all up for me, and anyway, the answer is yes, I have always been this annoying.

In fact, the captain asked me the same exact question yesterday. I was bugging him while he was hiding from me working on a project–and he said, “Do you have any idea how annoying you are?”

To which I answered, “Yes, I am very well aware of how annoying I am. This is not new information to you. I did not suddenly emerge from my chrysalis and become an annoying person. I didn’t misrepresent myself. You knew full well what you were getting yourself into more than twenty years ago. So stop complaining. Your complaining IS annoying.”

“Once in a while, you should try to not be so annoying.”

Like really, like does he not know by now with whom he’s dealing? I was gonna say, does he not know who he’s dealing with, but that’s not proper English, so if it sounds strange, whatever. Deal with it. Oopsie, just let a bit of my beeyotchiness out, like a silent but deadly you know.

I felt picked on and since I’m only sixty inches tall, I feel a good old Napoleon Complex simmering just below the surface, ready to boil over real fast, rear its ugly head, and take no prisoners.

I added that snide remark to his Frico/Freaky sharp-witted comment of the other day. Like an elephant, we women don’t forget. We just tally up the misdeeds in one of our brain’s compartments, and when it fills up, watch out.

Thar she blows!

Here’s a little confession. Pissing me off is expensive. He paid dearly and with much pain. He was forced under duress to accompany me to South Coast Plaza in Orange County. I’ve  spoken of this place before, I know, but it really is a shrine, a shopping mecca, a retail temple of the beautiful–and Chanel, or as my new friend calls it, ChaCha. (Check out her blog, reversecommuter–she’s awesome.) I love Hermes and Valentino and Versace and Gucci, but Chanel holds my heart.

It’s a beautiful drive to SCP and takes about fifty minutes or so. We could see the surf at Trestles on one side and snow-covered mountains to the east. We parked at Bloomingdales. I wanted to check out their Chanel department and compare it to the actual Chanel shop’s designs. I know I just got my Grand Tote Shopper in November, but she was a bit lonely and I thought a little sister (in other words, a matching wallet) would make her happy.

I pulled out all the stops on this one.

My crazy came out in spectacular form. Here’s what I said to the captain. “My mom called and she said that I really need a matching wallet.”

Hold on. Stay with me. Don’t stop reading now! You might be thinking to yourself, “That doesn’t sound too crazy.”

Well…when I tell you that my mom died in 1989, you might think differently, huh?

So…treading lightly here–very lightly, the captain said, “Tell your mom that saying things like that is not very helpful and you also can tell her from me that she raised a very spoiled daughter.”

I walked away and came back a few minutes later.

“My mom said you’re annoying.”

(We chat with my mom all the time as if she were still here, so it’s not that unusual to bring her into a convo.)

Back to SCP. Focus! Bloomies didn’t have a huge selection and the sales staff was EXTREMELY unpleasant and didn’t seem to really want us invading their space, so we left.

We took the escalator down to the first floor. As we were descending, I looked behind me…and there it was in all of its black and white magnificence. I swear the place was glowing, beckoning me in.

I almost forgot hubs was with me.

Marie greeted us as we walked in and made a grand tour of the salon. She commented on the beauty of my GST. I asked to see the black caviar wallet that would complement my bag. She escorted us to the proper glass case, and then beckoned me to go behind the counter where she OPENED ALL THE DRAWERS AND INVITED ME TO TAKE ALL THE TIME I WANTED TO LOOK AT THE DOZENS OF WALLETS IN EVERY COLOR AND PATTERN. My face turned  bright red, I almost broke out in tears. The captain parked his ass somewhere–at this point I had no idea he existed.  I WAS IN HEAVEN. Pink and blue and green and red and quilted and patent leather and imprinted with Coco’s signature camellias.

I touched and stroked and smelled them all.

With a nod from my tugboat captain–KING OF ALL MEN- best husband in the whole world–I chose my prize. When Marie asked if this was for a special occasion, my wonderful hubs shrugged and said it was “Just because.” He’s really a very special guy, my tugboat man.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, I was a very appreciative and grateful recipient.

Chanel south coast plaza

Hubs isn’t a very good photographer and he would only take one pic

On the way home from SCP

On the way home from SCP

So beautifully packaged, I didn't want to open it!

So beautifully packaged, I didn’t want to open it!

Chanel ribbon too!

Chanel ribbon too!

Can you hear the angels singing? Isn't it brills?

Can you hear the angels singing? Isn’t it brills?

chanelwallet2

A Grateful Monday

As part of my 2013 resolution to release my inner beeyotch, Helen Reddy‘s inspiredI am Woman helps me stay on track!

I would like to thank three awesome women for their creativity and imagination, especially since it’s all about ME!

1. Rarasaur’s delightful interpretation of ME! Check out her incredible blog and just try to figure out how her mind works! She’s another SoCal girl and she loves cats! And she’s only 60 inches tall just like me! I love her a lot and you will too. Rarasaur doodle enchanted seashells

2. IB DesignsUSA banner in nautical flags, because sometimes the best answer is “Meow”.  Kathy loves all things nautical and is a lovely lady with a great business. International maritime navy signal flags are a colorful way to spell names, messages, or to decorate your home. Give a personalized signal flag banner or wall hanging as a nautical wedding decoration, an unusual boating Christmas gift, or just for the plain fun of it!

Meow banner

3. In response to a tweet of mine bemoaning my lack of mail–no packages, no invitations to a ball, no requests to attend a movie premiere with Tina Fey–wonderful, awesome Red Dirt Kelly sent me a t-shirt!! I was so excited to return home (from my all day torture of my tugboat man as I dragged him from store to store at South Coast Plaza in the OC until he was so exhausted that he was at my mercy and he begged me to buy something, anything from Chanel so he could go home) and find a package to open and it was this t-shirt! Everyone needs to read the Red Dirt Chronicles!

reddirtkelly

Don’t miss Tuesday’s exciting blog! I’ll share an in-depth reportage of our day at South Coast Plaza, a day of torture and retaliation, culminating in a new Chanel acquisition!
Beeyotches RULE!

The secret of a successful marriage

What is marriage all about? Based upon my personal research, experimentation, and analysis, I have the answers to your questions.

This is for all you young’uns who’re on the cusp of searching for a mate or for the older and hopefully wiser female who perhaps wants to dip a toe back into the dating pond.

Where’s Harry? A Wet Republic pool party in full swing

Do you want a life partner with whom to share your laughs, your tears, your bout with intestinal flu, your pillow and cat-laden bed, and to assist in the breeding of your offspring?

What’s the secret to my long lasting (twenty-two years together, nineteen married) relationship?

The secret is…COMPROMISE. 

Not really. I’m only messing with your head.

What works around here is torture and retaliation.

That’s it. Simple. Torture and retaliation.

It works like magic.

Case in point: My tugboat man goes out to sea for quite a while-usually two months or so at at time. When he returns, all he can think about (other than THAT) is surfing. Yes, he’s a big old surfer baby. Right now there are big winter waves pounding our coast.

sufingdragger-san-diego

This is not my captain because he’s not a dick dragger. That is NOT my term. I didn’t think of it but I wish I had. It’s what the young folks call a boogie boarder. Very descriptive, right? Think about it…

dog_surfing_01

This isn’t him, either. He’s not that cute but thank goodness, he’s less hairy.

sunset_cliffs_05

This isn’t him either, but this is how big the waves were at Sunset Cliffs.

A couple days ago he left at 5:30 a.m. to surf in La Jolla. In case you’re a surfer yourself, waves were mostly six feet with an occasional eight foot set. I was just about on my last nerve with this surf obsesh, so I blocked the driveway with sawhorses and trash cans so he couldn’t pull in the driveway.  Hee hee.sawhorse2C11TrashCanOld.jpg2F5B174A-5A60-43AB-8E0F6CCF2434E2ED.jpgLargerHe had to get out of his truck, move the obstacles, and then pull in.

After that, I used my wiles to torture him into building four more shelves for my lovely collection of shells and rocks.

And that brings us to today. Sunday. I guess the honeymoon’s over.

I was out in the garage chatting up the hubs about tonight’s dinner menu: freshly baked French bread, Caesar salad with my signature dressing, and thought I’d make some Frico at the same time that I make the croutons. I asked him:

“Have you ever had Frico? Do you know what it is?”

“Yeah, I know what a Frico is, I’m married to one.”

How RUDE. HOW RUDE!

This is Frico, I am not Frico.

This is Frico, I am not Frico.

I was being the  best wife ever; I brought him lunch on  a tray while he was working on restoring his rowboat and building yet another shelf (I love shelves, OK?) and THIS is the attitude I have to deal with!? After I brought him a wheatgrass smoothie, fresh pear cut in half and filled with nonfat cottage cheese dusted with cinnamon–blueberry-smiley-face-berries-pixmac-photo-75642785and to make it extra-special, a smiley face out of fresh blueberries–he retaliates with a comment like that? Oh, he’ll pay all right, oh yes he will. We’ll see who’s FREAKY when he takes me to South Coast Plaza tomorrow. We’ll test the limits of his stamina and endurance throughout the huge shopping center. We’ll whet our whistle at one end with Bloomingdales as we march determinedly toward my personal holy grail, (do you hear the trumpets sounding?) as we round the corner to….Chanel–Chanel, the holder of my bliss.

Torture and retaliation-the stuff of which great marriages are made.

Frico, not Freako

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Using largest holes on a 4-sided grater, coarsely shred enough cheese to measure 1 cup. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick liner. Stir together cheese, flour, and pepper. Arrange tablespoons of cheese 4 inches apart on liner, stirring cheese in bowl between tablespoons to keep flour evenly distributed. Flatten each mound slightly with a metal spatula to form a 3-inch round.Bake frico in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on sheet on a rack, then carefully transfer each crisp (they are very delicate) with metal spatula to rack to cool completely.

Meow

Finishing up three or four posts that aren’t cooperating. They’re not funny enough, they have no point, no denouement, no zing–nada. Instead of a rational thought process, I’ll offer up a scattered smorgasbord of tasty appetizers instead of a whole meal.

Remember these cats?

bandit in a boxOur Bandit used to talk to us that way. After a while, I started answering her back. She’d say, “Meow“, I’d respond, “Meow”. She’d stroll into the kitchen and greet me with a head nod and a brief “Mew”. I’d imitate her head nod and answer her. She tried so hard to communicate with us! If we didn’t go to bed at the same time every night–if we stayed up a bit longer than usual–Bandit marched into the family room with an outraged sense of purpose-maintain eye contact–and kind of growly-meow, walk a few steps toward the bedroom, and then walk back to us. If we didn’t follow her, she’d leave in a huff and wait on the bed and if we didn’t move quick enough, one swipe of her her paw let us know she was pissed. She had the sharpest claws. They spoke volumes.

One day, the captain said something to me and I didn’t hear him. Instead of saying, “What did you say?” I said, “Meow?” He seemed to understand what I meant because he repeated himself. That one meow led to complete conversations in cat language. Angry meows, grunting meows, questioning meows, and mews in agreement. We just have to remember not to do it when anyone else is around. I’m not sure many people would understand. Meow?

We worked out at the gym this morning. Before we left, I asked the hubs to take a couple pictures of me. See the hairband with sparkles and the Hello Kitty slippers? Starfish?

me2 Pictures of me

Late this afternoon I heard a hawk in the eucalyptus tree across the street. It let me get really close for these pics! The colors were magnificent. I wish I took better photos.
hawk2 Hawk in tree
Chocolate cake was requested by my tugboat man; I whipped up an easy one bowl version. It was sooo good! It’s lowfat but really moist. The recipe is below.
choccloseup chocolate cake

One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze
from Better Homes and Gardens

  • cup all-purpose flour
  • cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk ( I use half non-fat milk and half cold coffee)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • teaspoon vanilla
  • egg
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease and lightly flour a 9×1-1/2-inch round or 8x8x2-inch baking pan.2. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat 2 minutes more. Pour batter into prepared pan.

    3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Spread with glaze.

Chocolate Glaze
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1  cup confectioners sugar
3 tbsp. water or coffee
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa and water. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens; do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, gradually add confectioners sugar; beat with wire whisk until smooth.

Hiking on New Year’s Eve

On New Year’s Eve, the waves must not have been big enough to entice His Highness the Surfer because he suggested we go for a day hike. It was a gorgeous day to be outdoors; crisp and clean air, blue skies.

If all you know about the OC is what you’ve learned from the Real Housewives of Orange County or The Hills, it’ll surprise you to learn that there’s a lot of beautiful preserved land.

cougarThe last time we were in this same mountain range at Caspers Wilderness Park, there were active mountain lion sightings and warnings. I studied predatory animals in college; wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, and bobcats. The mountain lion is the only animal that I’m afraid of. They’re incredibly strong and their behavior is unpredictable. I’ve only seen or heard them a couple of times but there have been several attacks in this area over the years, and I’m always a bit anxious, searching for prints, scat, and looking in the trees where they like to stretch out and take a snooze just like any other kitty cat.

mountain-lion-warning photoIt was unsettling to see this sign as we entered the park.  I wondered what exactly the park rangers meant when I read, “Convince the lion you are not prey and that you might be dangerous yourself.”

OK, that brought on an episode of role playing. As we drove to the trailhead to park, I told the captain his role was to be the mountain lion and my job was to convince him not to kill me.

“Hey guy, you’re lookin’ pretty good today, nice and healthy. How’s about we have a little convo? I’d like you to try and put yourself in my shoes–not literally, of course!  (Little joke there, Mr. Cougar) I’m here for a nice little walk and I’m sure that we don’t want to ruin my day, do we? Look at it from my point of view. I’ve seen many moons and my meat is no longer tender and young–although to be perfectly honest, I have been described as a cougar in my day. You probably wouldn’t enjoy the meal anyway. Why don’t we just agree to disagree? And if that doesn’t convince you, I have been known to go batshit crazy for no apparent reason, and you do NOT want to set me off.”

The captain didn’t really think it was a very compelling argument and probably wouldn’t convince a mountain lion that I might be dangerous, although he did agree that I have been known to go batshit crazy at times, and actually he IS kind of scared of me.

(So there’s that. Good to know; I’ll stow that gem away for future reference.)

I have no idea if the park rangers were trying to be funny since the sign didn’t elaborate, but we didn’t have to debate any mountain lions that day or yesterday, thank goodness!

We drove to Orange County near the quaint Ortega Oaks Candy Store on Ortega Highway/Highway 74 from Interstate 5, about an hour away from home.

The Bear Canyon Trail is about 6.5 miles, although we took a detour that added time to our hike and it took us about four hours. It’s not the most strenuous hike I’ve been on, but it was still challenging.

Here’s the captain at the trailhead. I don’t carry anything but water and makeup. Hee hee.captaintrailhead

I created a gallery of the other pics I took. Check out the snow on the San Gabriel and San Jacinto mountain range.

I wish everyone a healthy, happy, prosperous 2013!

A wintry day in Southern California

It’s a cold and rainy Saturday. I’m baking an apple pie and my captain is making yet another shelf for more seashells. Good times, y’all.

We don’t have snow on the ground, but some trees do lose their leaves and change color, like this fruit-bearing mulberry.

yellow leaves on treeI snapped a pic of a super active yellow finch in our artichoke plant.

yellow finch in artichoke plantTake the steps up to the second level

steps to the second leveland more steps to the highest point of our yard planted in California natives-sages, buckwheat, sumac, and cactus.

up to the third level

A view to the east of Calavera with Mt. Laguna further in the distance.

view of calavera and laguna

Check out our lawn and house from the hill. It’s a work-in-progress.

looking down from the hillI hope everyone is enjoying the last Saturday before 2013!

 

Our nautical Christmas 2012

My tugboat man brought back some treasures and cool marlinspike seamanship projects he worked on while he abandoned me was away for two months.

What do you think of the captain’s welcome home signs?

whatever

This picture frame is huge–2 ft. x 3ft.

Marlinspike seamanship picture frame

This is a close-up view of his masterful work.

close up frame

My mariner found a float in the harbor and crafted a delicate netting in black.

netball

And then we worked together to make it into a lamp! The base is a piece of driftwood. The captain’s making some fancy knotwork to embellish the shade.

lamp

Princess Rosebud was spoiled with a necklace from a craft fair somewhere near where Santa lives.

Sparkly!

Sparkly! Shiny!

 He fashioned a pretty little handmade tray with copper tubing sides and handles and filled it with shells and driftwood!

tray

We had welcome home festive cocktails of cranberry juice and vodka with a fresh cranberry in our antique champagne glasses.

cranberrycocktail

And yummy ginger cookies…

gingercookies

Our Downton Abbey-inspired dinner table.

xmasdinnerHis mess, which has since been cleaned up!

suitcases

Now he has a new project–when he’s not surfing– refinishing a rowboat and making it seaworthy.

rowboat

Such is the life of a tugboat captain’s wife! I’m a happy girl, that’s for sure!

Happy Everything, Everyone!

Aside

I’m going to spend the next couple of days reading and commenting on a crapload of posts piled up in the old inbox–oh yeah, and enjoying the homecoming of my very own tugboat man! Merry Christmas to all and I hope you all get the presents you asked Santa for! Hugs and kisses from SoCal
xoxo

The little sign says Princess Rosebud but it doesn't show up very good

The little sign says Princess Rosebud but it doesn’t show up very good

T’was the night before the captain comes home!

A miracle occurred and at the very last minute, my tugboat man has been released from his assignment and is on the long  journey home. Because of the great distance he must travel, it takes two days but he’ll be arriving on Friday, which means another drive to the airport at midnight. It’s an unexpected joy, and in honor of this great occasion, I have written a poem based very loosely on “Twas The Night Before Christmas“.  It won’t win any prizes, that’s for sure!

Twas the night before arrival
when all through the house
there was a lot of vacuuming and bleach
with not a single dust bunny too far to reach.

The little sign says Princess Rosebud but it doesn't show up very good

The sign says Princess Rosebud but it’s hard to see.

The f-me boot was hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Capt Cranky wouldn’t be too tired to…you know, (overshare).

The sheets are perfumed and ironed with care
because FINALLY my tugboat man would soon be there.

There’s granola and cookies and cupcakes, too
And vodka and whiskey, and champagne flutes.
Let’s all hope I can find that missing corkscrew.

I did a mani and a pedi and some ‘scaping, too
for the reason that you-know-who would heed the clue

I’ll  drive to the airport and what might I find
but a very, very tired husband who’s ever so kind.

And what to my wondering eyes will appear
but last minute gifts so shiny and sheer.

And I in my vintage Valentino
and he in his new fuzzy robe
will sit by the fire and sip champs ever so slow.