20 September 2010

Foodies - Stuffed Pretzel Bites

Awhile back (Fernandina Beach?), Kyle and I picked up a copy of Gourmet magazine that someone had donated to a boater's lounge.  It was filled with many delicious recipes, but there was one that really caught Kyle's eye.  Homemade stuffed pretzels and some jalapeno dijon mustard...it took me some time to come around to it, but Kyle really likes salty things so today I dove in.  

 I must be losing my touch, because I completely forgot to take photos of the first part.  I made some basic bread dough (this recipe called for brown sugar instead of white, and more milk than water) and let that rise.  Then I divided it into four parts.  Each part was rolled out to about 12"x4" and then I put some chicken, cheese and jalapenos on that and rolled it back up.  Then I cut the stuffed dough log into 12 pieces and sealed the stuffing in.  I did leave one log "unarmed," because Kyle's dad isn't a fan of jalapenos.  

The next step is boiling each pretzel guy in a solution of water and baking soda for about 20 seconds.  You can see how much they puff up in just a few seconds of being in the water.

Next, time to bake!  Fifteen minutes at 400 degrees F, they turn a nice golden brown and start smelling amazing.  Then brush with a little butter and top with some pretzel salt.  I'm not really sure what pretzel salt is, I'm assuming it is just a coarser table salt, so I think coarse sea salt works just fine.

Last but not least, the mustard.  It is just .5 c. dijon mustard (I used whole grain) with 1 jalapeno and a tbs of honey.  Very simple - very spicy.  Since the ratio of jalapeno to mustard is so high, I removed the membranes for the most part (the lighter green stuff inside).  Even so, it still had some decent heat.  Absolutely delicious.  I think it's more like bread than pretzel, but I've never tried making pretzels before.  The pretzel bites with the mustard, however...to die for.  You get the full flavor of all the ingredients, and then the pleasant burn starts to tingle on your tongue.
 In other news, I am now working part time at the ice rink in Chesapeake.  I retrieved my skates from Michigan, so Kyle and I went to go try out the ice a week ago, and while we were there I asked if they needed any help.  To my surprise, I started work on Wednesday.  It's only part time, but I get to skate for free :)  It still seems weird that there are ice rinks in the south though.  I suppose Virginia isn't that far south.  It was much more shocking when I lived down in New Bern.

12 September 2010

Green Monsters and Hermit Crabs

Well, I finally took the plunge and started making Green Monster smoothies.  Rachel told me about them a while ago, but a blender takes up a little too much power to justify their use (although we do actually keep one on board).  Oh, plus there was a shortage of ice aboard the Southern Cross.  The thing that makes the monster green is spinach.  In my smoothie, there are an abundance of other healthy things, including coconut milk, a banana, kiwi or blueberry (but blueberries always overpower spinach in coloring the smoothie), and wheat germ or ground flax.  Rachel warned me early on that if I put in more than a handful of spinach, I would hate the smoothie, so I've been going easy on the spinach (the original recipe calls for two cups!).  And in Kyle's effort to eat healthier, he's been joining me in my smoothie consumption.

In addition to making food, we've also been attending various events in the Hampton Roads area (Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, etc).  I think I can safely say that the weirdest has been the hermit crab races.  Apparently this event is really for kids.  For some reason, I thought all of Virginia Beach would share my enthusiasm for this crazy event and there would be tents of activities everywhere.  Not so...

We arrived a little late and they were already crowning the queen of the beauty contest.  Or dress up contest.  Technically I believe it was a painted shell contest.  At any rate, I never did get to see what the winner was dressed as.  What I had really been curious about was how they were going to make the crabs race.  They started with all the crabs confined to a circle in the middle of the table, then the crabs "raced" (ambled, scampered, scooted, crawled) to the outer ring on the table.  Click the picture below for some hot action shots, I can't believe they're not blurry :P
The winner was Zeus, and Zeus's owner was obnoxiously exuberant.  Come on, man, it's for the kids!  He was pretty excited about his trophy though.
Then later in the day (I'd say about eight minutes later), I was attacked by a giant inflatable crab.  Once those pinchers get around your ankle...I was sure I was a goner.  You can see the extreme terror on my face.
A little disappointed by the whole event, Kyle and I started walking around town.  There are an obscene amount of tourist shops, and we went to every one of them.  We found these little gems in a store named "Useless Crap to Burn Your Vacation Money On."  Southern Cross is now an armed craft, pirates beware!

08 September 2010

Hurricane Earl's Side Effects

Kyle and I spent all Wednesday night preparing for Earl's Thursday night arrival.  Southern Cross was streamlined; no sails, no boom, no solar panels, and about 8,000 fenders.  Then Earl turned out to be not much more than a whimper.
Of course, the thousands of tourists on the Outer Banks had to prepare for the worst.  And they started preparing right around the time I decided I needed some mushrooms to saute for the poached pike dinner I was planning for the evening.  Look at me bypass all the traffic on the way to the grocery store!  Wheeeeee!
The pike was delicious, poached in a white wine sauce with sauteed vegetables, served with a side of penne topped with stewed tomatoes, fresh basil and lemon zest.  Delicious!
But back to the hurricane....  Earl was maybe a whisper of wind in these parts.  The real issue was the next day when the water dropped three feet.  It is incredible how the geography of the outer banks and sounds allow the wind to have such an effect on the water level.  This picture hurts my heart.
It was not all a loss, however!  This weekend the water came back with a vengeance, rising above normal levels.  So, for the second time since arriving back in this area, we took Southern Cross out for a spin on the bay.  She was soooo happy to be out and about, even boom-less and sail-less.  And frankly, Kyle and I were slightly giddy about being "home" again.  We cleaned her up (on the outside at least).  Sitting under pine trees does her no favors.  I found every single spider web on deck yesterday.
The water is still high so maybe I will talk Kyle into taking her out for a quick jaunt tonight after work.