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.
This is a flavorful meal that presents beautifully in minutes. I’ll eat any seafood but hubby is a bit pickier, especially when it comes to shellfish. We both love scallops as they don’t have a strong “fishy” taste and do have a “meaty” texture.
The trick to scallops is twofold: they need to be fresh and not overcooked. If they have a fishy smell or are slimy, don’t use them. The ones I bought were out of the shell and cleaned, fresh (not frozen) vacuum-packed wild products of the United States. If you buy frozen and defrost, they may have a mealy texture.
When you cook, watch them closely and only cook until opaque on both sides. Take one out and cut in half to test for doneness. We personally like ours a tad on the undercooked side so ours are done when still just a bit transparent and shiny in the very middle. If you aren’t a fan of almost-sushi, cook until firm but not hard and fully white in the middle.
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!
Why squid ink pasta? Well, because I bought all the other ingredients for this recipe and forgot the pasta and just happened to have this in my pantry. The bold black color seemed odd when I was cooking it, but actually made for a dramatic presentation. Most often used in seafood dishes, squid ink pasta does have a distinct flavor of sea salt not found in other pasta. I didn’t add any salt to the recipe and it came out absolutely delish!
Hubby loves pasta and we most often feature an Alfredo sauce or he makes his famous red sauce. I wanted to try something different and found turkey tenderloins on sale so did a bit of recipe research and then developed this one with my own twists. It’s rich and creamy comfort food and the celery adds a nice little crunch. It can be prepped and assembled in advance and then popped in the oven 35 minutes before you are ready to serve.
Athena did the dishes after dinner and poured herself a glass of wine. She wasn’t sure she was ready but there was no reason to delay any longer. She took a deep breath and opened the envelope. Her eyes glanced over the paragraphs explaining the test and jumped to the results.
Just as she had always believed, the people who raised her were not her biological parents. There was never a doubt that they loved her, but she always had a feeling that she was different. She questioned her mother once when she was a teen and was quickly and sternly rebuffed for asking. She never brought it up again.
When her father passed she discreetly trimmed a bit of his thumbnail and stored it in a sealed container. She did the same when her mother passed a month ago, and both were sent to a genetics lab.
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.
Mmmmmmm! If you love asparagus, this is a quick, easy and creamy soup that presents beautifully. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread to sop up all the goodness! It is very rich and makes a filling main course, or serve with a salad or lighter protein such as grilled or poached fish to round out the meal.
Asparagus is a good source for vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as fiber and folate. It also contains chromium, a trace mineral that assists in getting glucose into your cells, which is important if you are diabetic or monitoring blood sugar. It is also believed to be good for brain health and fighting cancer.
Fun fact about the stinky urine caused by eating asparagus, according to Smithsonian magazine: Asparagus is the only food to contain the chemical asparagusic acid. When this aptly named chemical is digested, it breaks down into sulfur-containing compounds, which have a strong, unpleasant scent, and are released in the urine. They are also volatile, which means that they can vaporize and enter the air and your nose. Asparaguisic acid is not volatile, so asparagus itself doesn’t smell. There are no harmful effects to eating asparagus or the scent. (So now you know!)
Variations: Change the color but not the taste! American and British asparagus is green, but you can also find it in purple (French) and white (Spanish and Dutch). It can be made vegetarian by using vegetable instead of chicken stock, and vegan by using dairy-free butter or olive oil, and blending equal parts soy, rice or oat milk and coconut cream instead of half and half.
Winter means Comfort Food. I love cooking hearty stews and soups that take all day to simmer and develop complex flavors. This one is super-easy as it’s just a bit of chopping with the majority of the ingredients coming from cans.
Canned foods will be a staple for us when we are on long passages and in many cases actually provide a greater source of vitamins than fresh ingredients. Fresh produce, for example, is often harvested before it is fully ripened in order to get it to the markets before it starts to spoil. Canned foods are picked at the peak of ripeness and cooked and processed within hours, preserving the vitamin content. Check ingredients to ensure that no salt or preservatives have been added if you are concerned with sodium intake. Many canned foods are available in organic, no/low salt versions.