21 March 2010

Bread & Cheese

Well, we finally ran out of ice in the cooler and are now completely without any refrigeration.  So we are not eating much meat, and we have started to explore our other options.  We did open a jar of canned venison burger (delicious!).  When meat is typically cooked, a lot of flavor is lost, but in canning, all the flavor is contained in the jar - the canned venison is much more flavorful than normal burger.  It is also a little more crumbly, and definitely cannot be used to make burgers.  We used it to make giant piles of nachos with everything.  I take food pictures all the time, I have no idea why, but this is good news for you, because you get to see my giant plate of nachos and be wildly jealous.

Also, I have been faithfully turning over my serving-sized cubes of waxed cheese.  For those of you that missed my earlier post on waxing cheese, cheese that has been waxed does not need refrigeration.  The only caveat being that the cheese will continue to age.  I waxed mild cheddar, and so now we have medium to sharp cheddar.  There are four cubes of cheese that have a moldy corner, but the rest (twenty or so) are all looking really good.  Yesterday, I cut the corner off one of the moldy cubes, then peeled the rest of the wax off - natural oils in the cheese make the wax come off as easily as peeling a banana.  The cheese was really good.  It was also more flavorful than regular cheddar.  I cut it into tiny cubes and put it in a bowl of some delicious guacamole, which we ate for lunch (see the avocado in the background of the first photo?  I am not lying :P). 

Finally, I made a first and fatal attempt at making bread in a pressure cooker.  This procedure went south before I even tried to bake it, so I'll definitely be trying again.  Apparently when they say the flour is "self-rising," they only mean in terms of cookies and banana bread and cornbread and the like.  French bread is definitely out of the question.  I did not find this out until today, when I had a chance to ask the Interwebs what I did wrong.  At any rate, after an hour of rising, the bread had not risen at all.  I decided to try "baking" it anyway, because there was still learning to be done in this experiment.  According to the Great Google, there are basically two ways to make bread in a pressure cooker:  either one must use a trivet and a couple cups of water and a bread pan that fits in the pressure cooker to steam the bread (which never really gets a crust, more of a bagel-like surface), or put the bread directly in the pressure cooker.  Our stove is really hot, so putting the bread directly in the pressure cooker would undoubtedly burn the bottom long before the rest of the bread baked.  This left steaming.  Of course, the loaf size I was making (even if it had risen) was a weird size so no recipe could tell me exactly how long I needed to bake...er, steam it.  I steamed the whole mess, at pressure, for half an hour.  It looked like pureed porridge.  So I steamed it at pressure for another half hour.  Sad day.  Kyle said he'd try it if I did.  So I cut a "slice" of bread and broke a small bit off to munch on.  It tasted like a soggy, floury noodle.  I guess there's always tomorrow.  I just sent Kyle to the grocery for some yeast so I feel like I've already solved half the problem.  Since it would be really handy to have small loaves of bread and not need a grocery store, I will update you WHEN I find a solution to this problem.

Booyah.  Behold the bread that I have made!  On the stove, in a pressure cooker.  I could not be prouder of this delicious feat.  This was made directly in the pressure cooker, no trivet required.  The pressure cooker was oiled and floured, and the bread was cooked on the small burner on the lowest heat.  The cooker was not sealed (aka not cooked at pressure), and it was "baked" on the first side for 50 minutes, and then flipped and cooked for another 20.  Okay, 18.  I couldn't wait those last two minutes because it smelled so good.

Further, behold the amazing burgers and fries Kyle and I created (with homemade bread and waxed cheese):

Lastly, the green wine we had in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.  No green beers for us; just a bottle of what had been white wine.

18 March 2010

Update from Oriental

So, after a thorough inspection of SC following our rather rough running of the Neuse, a few things came up in need of repair or replacement. Deciding it was better to fix them now in the "Sailing Capital of North Carolina", rather than later when such ammenities may not be available.

As far as stopovers go, Oriental is one not to be missed. We spent 4 days at the town dock, and no one cared in the slightest. Currently, we're known as "The kids with the pink dinghy" around town. Not wanting to impose and take up half of the two slips available at the head of the harbor, we've relocated to an anchorage a mere 50 yards from the town dinghy dock, in between a packed marina and a half dozen shrimp boats. Expect more on Oriental in the near future.

12 March 2010

Belhaven to Oriental

So, we made it into Oriental! We're currently tied up to the town dock (48 hours of complimentary dockage!), drinking coffee at The Bean looking out over the boat. However, to start this post, we're going to revert back to finish our post about Belhaven...

So, after we left the library, we decided we needed two things: fresh provisions, and FOOD! Now, the cruising guide says the nearest grocery store was "inaccessible" by foot, but after consulting with our friendly librarian, it was determined that a mere two miles separated us from fresh goodness. So we walked.

On our journey, we came across "Jumbo Grump"...

And a rather unique visitor info box...
And "Crabby the Crabber"...
And finally, found the Food Lion. Some fresh chicken, peppers, and a toothbrush later, we began the journey home. But 'twas not long before we were distracted by the wonderful smells emanating from a nearby Hardee's... yes, even fast food sounded delicious to our growling stomachs. Hunger nullified, we continued onward. Of course, the way back was not without it's distractions as well... (the speed shown is actually a Mach number, not MPH)

We left our anchorage inside the Belhaven Breakwaer around 7am this morning, and made it here, to Oriental, in about 7 hours. 20 knot winds, 2 foot seas, and a small craft advisory made it an interesting day for sure. Oh, and the constant drizzle. But, we're here. A two day break to visit friends in New Bern, and we'll be on our way down the ICW once again...

11 March 2010

Porpoise Attack!

Wednesday morning, the waters were gloriously calm.

The water on the Albemarle Sound was equally pleasing, although a little foggy.

We faced a short bridge...

...and a tall bridge...

...and a channel that went on forever.

And finally, we were attacked by porpoises.  Kyle loathes dolphins and anything dolphin shaped.  I asked him for the difference between porpoises and dolphins, and he said "Nothing, they're both evil."  Thusly, when a porpoise surfaced right next to the cockpit where Kyle was driving, Kyle immediately honed in on how one porpoise distracted us by surfacing in the bow wave while the other sneak attacked him in the cockpit.  I did have my camera out but I did not expect the ninja attack from behind so the only picture I have is where the porpoise was (I have inserted my best rendering of the offender):

And here is his illusive sidekick:

And because Kyle brought up a spelling 'error,' I meant illusive as in putting up an illusion, not elusive.

Cheers from Belhaven!  We made it through our first two days of travel and are currently sitting in the Belhaven Public Library.  We've gone 90.1 nautical miles in the past two days.  I would write more, but neither of us have eaten lunch and we're hungry.

09 March 2010

Pepper Pots: the BEST STORY EVER

This is actually an email that was such an engaging story that I decided to share it with the world. But first, a little background for those who haven't always been a part of the adventure that is my life...

I love gardens, but when I was in school, I moved back and forth between MI and NC every three months, which didn't really allow for me to keep a garden (it was also a different house every time). So finally last summer, I purchased some baby peppers and nurtured them and took them to Carolina with me, upon whence I transplanted them into the infamous Pepper Pots. I plan on putting peppers in them once again someday soon, but for now the pots are empty aboard the boat.  Look at last summer's peppers...aren't they cute?

So, back to the story:

When Kyle and I first arrived back from our failed attempt and were trying to get the sailboat down the main canal, just as we entered it, I lost the pepper pots. Now, the pepper pots are decent sized pots, replaceable at no less than $8. Fairly cheap, but I am currently at zero income. Anyway, not something I wanted to replace.

These pepper pots have been with us through it all, sitting calmly on the stern. Gale force winds, waves crashing over the boat, snow, ice and rain, they sat through it all, unmoving. They weren't even tied down in any way, just sitting there!  I kept expecting to lose them but Kyle thought they'd be fine.  Finally, in the calm of the main canal, they fall off and float away (I might have bumped them a tiny bit). We, of course, were fighting the depths and widths of the canal to get home, and could not be bothered with inane details like the pepper pots, floating away as sadly as Wilson on Castaway. I will never be able to lose something from the boat without feeling immense sadness. You have to watch it float away, knowing you can't leave your boat, and that the likelihood of ever seeing it again is slim.  Very sad.

So this was a couple weeks ago, and since then, the winds have changed, the water levels have risen and fall, and it's rained. The pots could be anywhere. They could have floated out into the river, filled with rain and drowned. They could have blown a mile down the river and gotten snagged in the reeds. They could have even drowned of their own accord at the mouth of the canal!

But didn't I say it was the best story ever? Yes. Yes, I did. Because despite the fact that we haven't gone through the main canal since we've gotten here, I kept hoping. So yesterday, when we went out on the bay for the first time, Kyle scanned the port bank and I scanned the starboard bank of the canal, hoping against all odds that they had somehow come back into the canal. And there, at the very mouth of the main canal, on the bank, were two lowly, unattended pepper pots, just waiting to be loved. And do I ever love them...

So, next on my list for today: take the dinghy down the main canal and retrieve the pepper pots! I've been thinking about it every so often, "Maybe today if the weather is nice..." But that is such a long row, especially when I didn't know the pots were there at all. Today is a gorgeous day, and I know exactly where my pots lie.

Save the pepper pots, SAVE THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!

 In other news, I know we've said this before but we're really leaving this time.  The last time, the water was supposed to come up but never did (the winds never really changed).  But now, we're two months (good grief...has it been that long?) past our original leave date.  The winds of change are upon us - spring is here, and with it, the water.  So today we are preparing for the adventure to begin again!  We leave tomorrow.  We're going to have a big day, from Tull Bay through the Albemarle Sound, but neither of us wants to see that first anchorage again.  It is supposed to rain, an extra challenge, but we're both just relieved to be able to get out of the canals.  Even with the extra two months of no progress, we both feel fairly comfortable with the time we need to get to Guate, although we may spend a little less time exploring and a little more time traveling.  The biggest issue I now face is what to do for St. Patrick's Day...