We have a running joke in my family that because I have a few followers from other countries, that I’m an “International Blogger” and the “celebrity status” has gone to my head. It’s said very tongue-in-cheek with many eyerolls and laughter.
The truth is that I am very proud of the planning and hard work I put in to launch this blog back in April 2018. This was when we believed that we would finally Live the Dream that Aaron and I had since buying Sonho in 2009. I would blog about our preparations to cut the docklines and circumnavigate the globe beginning in April 2019.
I blogged at least once a week. Every. Single. Week. For almost three years. And I really had grown a huge following from people all over the world. Even when we had to put off our plans to go cruising in 2019, I still posted recipes from my tiny kitchen and fictional short stories. I was a Writer.
The pandemic took the wind out of my sails. My entire life shifted and I no longer knew who I was. I wasn’t a cruiser, I wasn’t a writer, I wasn’t making a difference in the corporate world. I was basically a responder to the needs of others. Being of service brings me great joy so I did find happiness in keeping a nice home for my husband, home-schooling my Grands and working as an administrative assistant at Beth Chaim synagogue.
Macaroni and cheese is one of our favorite comfort foods. I’ve made it a kazillion ways using different varieties of cheese, baked, straight from the pot, with a bread crumb topping, and without.
This recipe was invented because I had a half cup of Alfredo sauce in my fridge and didn’t want it to go to waste. I figured it would meld well with the other ingredients I had on hand, and I was right! It was ooey, gooey cheesy and so easy to throw together.
Variations: Choose your own cheese blends and try different flavors of creamed soup and Alfredo sauce. (The sauce I had was garlic flavored; otherwise I would have added a couple of minced garlic cloves as we are garlic lovers.) Add a diced jalapeno pepper or a dash of cayenne if you like it spicy. Use different pasta shapes, but I suggest staying with one that will hold the cheese, such as shells, elbow or penne.
Sometimes my recipes are created out of necessity, as in this case. I bought a 4 lb pork loin that I thought would be great for my hubby to smoke. I’ll be the first to admit that I have no clue as to the fine art of barbecuing, grilling and smoking. He mentioned that this cut might dry out but went ahead and brined and smoked, spending all day tending to our main course for the evening. And lo and behold, he was right. It was far from tender and juicy and instead almost inedible.
I come from a long line of thrifty cooks, so wasn’t going to throw away the whole loin and thought long and hard hard to bring moisture back to the protein. (Although, I did pick this up from our local Grocery Outlet for a bargain price!) I knew I needed to simmer it in a liquid and with fall just beginning, our evenings have been getting cooler so a soup came to mind.
Hubby has been doing a ton of meat smoking since we were gifted with a mini-Traegar barbeque from his Dad. We’ve done salmon, whole chickens, corned beef (which makes pastrami), and beef and pork roasts. Roasts end up in recipes for two or three meals and I try to be creative in changing up the flavor profile so we aren’t eating the same thing every night.
This was a 6 pound lamb roast that started with a nice fat cap, making the meat tender and juicy. After serving it sliced the first night, I cut the leftovers into bite-sized cubes and made a stew for my daughter with potatoes, celery and peas, Shepherd Pies for us and finally this curry served over jasmine rice.
Chicken wings don’t have to be a guilty pleasure. I’ve found that baking them is as delish as deep frying, and far more heart-healthy (not to mention less messy).
You can take the easy-peasy route and simply make a batch of basic wings and then serve a variety of dipping sauces on the side. Or you can go a bit more fancy and flavorful by tossing them in one of the sauces below near the end of the cooking time. I usually serve with a platter of raw, cold veggies.
Variations: Recipes for my basic wings and two favorite flavors are below: Buffalo and Ginger-Soy. You can toss the wings in a multitude of sauces of your choosing and finish in the oven. Oil based salad dressings are a good option. Stay away from cream-based sauces as they will burn; offer them for dipping instead (ranch and bleu cheese are a favorite). An easy way to create your own dipping sauces is to start with a base of 1/4 cup sour cream and simply stir in herbs and spices of your choosing.
My husband’s family hails from Portugal and they observe an annual Christmas Eve tradition of gathering for breakfast at midnight. I wanted to contribute to the table and found a recipe that I tweaked for Pasteis de Nata, Portuguese Custard Tarts. They were declared “the real deal” by those in the know and hubby’s dad had a few more than his fair share. 🙂 I’m posting this on “Portugal Day,” an official national day of celebration, commemorating Luis de Camoes, a poet and national literary icon. (Click here for more info from Wikipedia.)
Today is a significant date. First and foremost, it is my husband’s birthday. Aaron, the Captain of our boat and my heart, was born in 1964 and is 56 today. He unselfishly gives of his time and talent, and most of all, Love, to his friends and family. He is completely devoted to our three Grands and drops everything to care for them. He coaches Little League, builds props for my daughter’s photography business, mans the barbecue and is known as the “Tickle Monster” by the GrandBoys. He’s a great role model for Cody and Matthew, and Ellie is definitely a “Papy’s Girl.” This from a guy who never had children of his own and became a step-father when my kids were teens! We are blessed to have him in our lives.
Matzah Ball Soup is a staple first course at Passover Seder’s and also served year-round in many Jewish homes. It’s a close second to Chicken Noodle Soup for treating colds and oh, so good on any dreary day.
My all-time favorite recipe was made by Nana Yetta Finberg, my former husband’s grandmother. Her balls were dense yet not doughy and it has taken me over two decades to get them just right.
Her broth was made from a whole chicken and veggies simmered for hours then strained many, many times to get it perfectly clear and golden. I cheat by using chicken broth to save time but I do roast veggies and add to the broth to simmer for an hour before straining. My broth is not as clear as hers, because I simmer the balls in the broth and then strain one more time. The flavor of both the broth and balls is pretty satisfying!
When we purchased our 42 ft 1979 Tayana Vancouver sailboat in 2009 we had hoped to take a sabbatical from our jobs in 2015 to do some cruising. We chose to name our boat Sonho, as it means “Dream” in Portuguese and adopted the motto, “Vivo O Sonho” … Living the Dream.
But Life Happened: lay-offs and, most importantly, my care for my beloved Nana kept us tied to the dock. There was no way I’d leave her; we just didn’t expect her to live as long as she fortunately did. After Nana passed in the fall of 2017 just shy of her 99th birthday, my sister and I made the decision to sell her home that we had inherited. Aaron and I would use our share of the proceeds to finish the work on the boat and invest the rest to take early retirement.
Winter is all about the soups for me. I love filling my floating home with the scents and warmth of long-simmering yumminess. While my husband will never-ever give up beef, I could probably be a pescatarian. Most likely, when we are cruising we’ll probably rely mostly on fresh seafood, fruits and veggies, so I’ll be a happy camper.
Lentils are dried and easy to store. They and chick peas are a great source of protein, making them a great meat alternative. They are also full of iron, which is sometimes lacking in vegetarian diets. Other vitamins include B, magnesium, zinc and potassium, as well as containing fiber.
I live aboard a 42 ft Tayana Vancouver sailboat, hull #5 laid in 1979, with my husband and little dog. We are preparing to head to Mexico in Fall 2022 and I enjoy blogging about our preparations for our journey, cooking in my tiny kitchen and writing short stories.