We are committed to crewing with our dockmates, Scott and Joanne, on the Baja Ha-Ha and, come Hell or high-water, we are going to be sailing south on their gorgeous Bavaria Vision 46 for the first three weeks of November 2021. (Please, God, don’t take this as a challenge to mess with our plans. We really, really need this sea time!)
What, pray-tell, is the Baja Ha-Ha? (Doesn’t it just make you smile to say it?!) It’s not a race … it’s a cruiser’s rally that starts in San Diego, makes a couple of stops along the coast for rest and partying, and ends in Cabo San Lucas. There’s no trophy for being first to an anchorage or to finish. The goal is to safely traverse the Baja Coast in the company of others. Basically, the Ha-Ha is a 10-day slow journey south buddy-boating with about 150 other vessels. Power boats are welcome, but since there’s really only one stop for fuel, it’s generally about 99 percent sailboats. It’s a great segue for folks looking to spend a winter (or a few years) in Mexico, prepare for the big Pacific Ocean crossing to the Marquesa Islands or Hawaii, or perhaps continue south to Central or South America or go through the Panama Canal to reach the Caribbean. Just thinking about the possibilities makes me yearn for our turn to go.
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.
My hubby is a huge fan of mole sauce. He loves the bold flavor profile of chocolate and smoky peppers and a healthy bit of spice. Traditional mole sauce made from scratch calls for literally dozens of ingredients and a whole lot of finely grinding of spices. I took the easy route and started with a store-bought jar of sauce and doctored it up to what hubby says was “perfection.”
Hubby smoked the chicken thighs and they shredded up nice and juicy. You could simply buy a rotisserie chicken or bake or poach breasts, but make sure you don’t dry them out.
It’s hard to describe this sauce … It is velvety smooth and rich with an earthy-sweetness that mellows upon baking. And best of all … so easy to whip up in a few minutes! I made a package of Spanish rice for the side and added a can of diced tomatoes and a dash of chile pepper and it was the perfect compliment. Black, pinto or refried beans would also go nicely.
I started this blog on April 16, 2018 … one year to the day we planned to cut the docklines and begin cruising the world on our floating home. This was already a delay from our original dream of retiring early and leaving in 2015. Life happened and we changed the departure to 2019. Family circumstances and necessary medical procedures for the Captain and First Mate didn’t allow us to leave the country then either. So being conservative, we readjusted to leave in the fall of 2020 and winter in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
This would give us the summer to put a bit more money aside, finish final boat projects and make sure our family was healthy, happy and settled. In Spring 2021 we’d decide what our next course would be and go from there.
Then COVID-19 rocked the world. Back in March, we all believed that we’d be through this and back to life as usual in a few months; six at tops. We’d wait until December or January and then head south.
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.
Both of my parents were born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and the majority of my family lives in the United Kingdom. I am first-generation American and proud of my Orange-Irish heritage and can’t wait to one day sail “home” into Belfast Harbor.
Many who know me well have been schooled on St. Patrick’s Day and the difference between being Orange and Green Irish. I DO NOT wear green on St. Patrick’s Day as I am absolutely sure my father would look down with horror. One year, my father caught me sneaking out of the house with a bit of green on and said sternly, “Get back inside and take off that green and put on your orange. No daughter of mine will be caught wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day!” He didn’t care that we might get pinched by our school mates … his loyalty to his Orange Irish roots ran deep. I passed on the same traditions to my children and now my daughter ensures that the Grands wear their orange as well as green.
The Orange Irish celebrate Orangemen’s Day with bonfires kicking off the festivities on July 11th and parades on July 12th. Homes and buildings are adorned with bunting and people crowd the streets waving the British flag. Read on for a wee bit of history about the holiday.
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.)
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.